Thursday, 29 May 2008

Just money

Having got a job, I'm starting to think about how to spend my extra moolah. At the moment, I'm just scraping by, but with even $20 more a week I should be fine. I have a weekly budget, and I'm still saving.

When I got a job, I mainly just wanted a bit of extra pocket money, and primarily that's what this job will do. However, I've been thinking about the Christian practice of tithing — giving 10% of your money away — although 10% is a lot.

But I like the idea of giving money away. Partly for the good feelings, for helping people who need it. But you know what? It's more than that. Money is so important to everyone in our society. You hoard it, you spend it, you moan about your pay and your tax and basically, money's right up there as a #1 love in this nation.

I think it's good to remind myself that actually, money isn't all that. I have enough for me, and what's left can go to someone who needs it.

I buy expensive things. My car. Waxing my eyebrows. One day, a tattoo. These are luxuries, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

I'd like to draw it at 10%. I'd like to remember that money isn't that important after all, and that giving some away doesn't really affect my lifestyle. It's just money, you can always earn more.

My income's enough to feed, clothe and shelter me, to save up a nest egg, to buy presents for people I love, to go for the occasional meal out or weekend away (if I save up), to have coffee with my friends.

Once I'm working full-time, I intend to expand my budget, to allow myself more luxuries. But I never want to forget that money is just money — it doesn't really mean anything.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

#86: Job; #98: Motorbike

So yesterday, I sold my motorbike and got a part-time job. Excellent!

The motorbike I've been having issues selling for a while. I sold it to a girl in Auckland who promised several times to pay, eventually gave me a deposit, and continued to promise to pay the full amount until I gave her an ultimatum; she didn't pay up, so after two more ultimatums (I'm just too darn nice, I know), I relisted it. I instantly got another offer and accepted, only to find out that the guy who'd made the offer recounted his money and realised he was $200 short. Grrr.

But third time lucky — a really nice guy came to look at the bike on Saturday to buy a bike for his student-son; took it out for a ride, asked a few questions and finally settled on a reasonable price after minimal haggling. I just hope the son knows the bike's purple....

Anyhow, I sold it for $200 more than I paid for it three years ago, so I'm happy! The price of motorbikes has gone up as the price of petrol has dropped, so it's not surprising I got a bit more, but still. It's going to be good to get the extra money.

And the job is pretty perfect — it's early hours, so won't be interrupting my normal study time, but will make me get up at a decent hour — and it's also a good amount of hours; not too many, not too few, so I get some decent extra pocket money without having to abandon my studies at all. And best of all, it's a job that requires me to be anal and obsessively tidy; what more could be better? My first day was today, and I think it's going to be good.

So, very happy. Got a job and sold my motorbike on the same day! Life's good.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

The possibility of London

For several years — almost since our family came back to New Zealand in 1998, in fact — I've been wanting to go overseas.

Initially, of course, I wanted to have a home, to experience a little security in an unsettled life. The longest I had lived in one country at a time was three years; I had spent most of my life overseas.

Ten years later, I'm done with security. I've lived in Palmy for eight years, and I'm sick of it. But I have to live here until I've finished my degree, and until we've got Dan's house ready to rent or sell.

Then an idea occurred. Working holidays! We could get visas to work in England or Scotland for a year, we could visit Italy, France, Germany. We'd be in the hub of Europe, surrounded by other countries, other cultures. I enjoyed living in Glasgow, back in the day, and I loved staying on the outskirts of London once, in this big old-fashioned mansion with its own library and park and ruined fortress. And the shopping! Oh, I remember the shopping. It would be a dream come true to live with Europe at my fingertips, if only for a year.

It's still all hypothetical, but if only it could happen! I'll work next year, save up; Dan has a cousin over there who could probably get Dan a job before we even go, and then (from what I've heard) I could get a bar job quickly; explore London during the day. Maybe/hopefully I could even get a job which utilises my degree, especially if I can get a job in 2009 which gives me good experience.

I've been wanting to talk about this for weeks, but it's still all so hypothetical and unlikely and beautiful that I hardly want to write it down, in case nothing happens. And we have friends who've taken off overseas; they've spent all their money and come home broke.

It's so exciting and improbable. But if it happens... a dream come true.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Reading tastes

I was browsing Whitcoulls today, when I realised I was more interested in the non-fiction section than the fiction. But who wants to read something like Jodi Picoult (whose every book ends with a twist which changes the whole story, breaking the "reader's trust" every time — what's the point of emotionally investing myself in a story that is, ultimately, out to mislead me?) when I could be reading about the tragedies of 1812 or what made Stalin the way he was? Why would I want to read about formulaic characters in a formulaic plot when I could read about people who lived and breathed?

This isn't to say I've gone off fiction by any means. I still love Juliet Marillier, Georgette Heyer, Ian McEwan and many others; but I just find a lot more to interest me in the non-fiction section, these days.

I hope this is some sign that my tastes are expanding somewhat; or at least that I have a wider range of interests now.

And in regards to my birthday, I was so happy with everything I got. A sheep, two goats, two toilets, Bibles, schoolbooks, two sets of immunisations, and a mosquito net. I actually feel like my birthday really has helped people, for the first time ever. I feel like I've helped people by having my birthday this way. It was a little weird to get little silver cards instead of birthday presents, but on the up-side I liked everything I got, and once I started to tally all my presents together it made me feel really good. Maybe I'll do it for my next birthday, as well. Who knows — but, at least, I'm glad I did it this year.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Impending birthday

Two days until my birthday, until I stop being in my early twenties and officially start my mid twenties. Oh, early twenties, I loved you. I only hope my mid twenties are as fun and satisfying and fulfilling.

As long as my mid twenties are better than my teenage years, I'll be happy. I don't know why anyone says the teenage years are "the best of your life". I hated mine, and the thought that they'd be the best of my life made me extremely depressed. But in recent years, every year seems to be better than the last (with the exception of my Inglewood year, which was awful); I just hope the trend continues!

I'm very much looking forward to my birthday do this year: just quiet and simple, me and seven of my good friends having dinner together, and then hopefully drinks and clubbing later on. I bought my first ever LBD, which is very exciting for me (OK, technically my second one, but the first one just isn't very formal). I think I'm half-looking forward to the dinner just for the chance to wear the dress!

Now, onto birthday presents. I've already mentioned this briefly, but I wanted to state it again, closer to the time. This is my birthday wish list: Anything from this site — presents start from $8.

I need nothing and want nothing for myself this year — except a good feeling. I don't want a clever book or nice "smellies" or anything for me: I have everything already. But you can easily buy me a great feeling by letting my birthday help someone who really needs it. And imagine how cool that'll make you feel, too.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Slightly disgruntled

Well, my Russian teacher told me tonight that I won't complete the Russian course because I missed one lesson too many. One lesson! Now I'm wondering if I should bother going back at all. It's completely useless; I'm not learning anything; she's a terrible teacher.

Angela's dropped out; and the rest of the class consists of one nice guy and one jackass. And the nice one hasn't been for the last two lessons. If it's just me and the jackass for the rest of the course; if I'm not learning anything; and if I'm not even getting a "Certificate of Attendance", is there really any point in continuing to go? I would get back two hours a week of my life, which would be nice.

I might ring up QEC tomorrow and see if they're still offering Russian for travellers in August (and that it's not the same teacher), in which case Dan's offered to do it with me. Alternatively, I might decide to take a French course instead, and learn a little bit of basic French. Dan and I would like to visit France sometime, and it does seem essential that we know some basic French before we go there!

If I don't complete a Russian course, I'll fail task #16; but I might change that task. If I'm not going to get any good out of the course, I honestly don't see the point of keeping that goal; and I still have task 17 and 18 — completing my Russian textbook and reading a book of Russian stories — so it's not like I'm foregoing all Russian learning.

I don't know, yet. I haven't decided.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Curses, foiled again!

Well, it looks like I won't be able to accomplish one of my May goals, at least; or rather I can, but I'll leave it till June.

I want to enter the BNZ competition with a story I wrote for Advanced Fiction Writing, but I decided to wait till we workshopped my story (today), to see what feedback I got. Well, I got a B — much nicer than my previous story's C+ — and I also got a lot of constructive criticism.

But now I want to seriously revise it with all the suggestions in mind, and hand it in as a revised story. Unfortunately, this is due at the end of May, so I won't get it back till June; and I don't want to enter the competition till I have the benefits of my lecturer's additional comments and feedback. I don't really want to hand it in till it's an A-grade story; I think he's quite a tough marker, though. He said that this class has given him better stories than most classes, and contains much better writers; but he only gave out three A's for our first stories, and most people seem to have also got C+'s.

On the subject of A's, though, I got an A+ for my last history essay, which I'm happy (if not hugely surprised) about. I love A+'s so much.

I'm quite excited about rewriting my story, though. I kinda felt like I'd written it to death, and haven't even changed anything since I handed it in a week ago; but since the workshop, I'm all amped to get going again, change my beginning and add extra scenes and cut out other scenes and generally just make it awesome. Yeahhh.

And in other 101-tasky news, I'm joining the gym tomorrow. Go me!

Friday, 2 May 2008

May goals

I was reading the estimable Kerryn's blog earlier today, and her April goals inspired me. I'm surprised I've not thought of setting myself monthly goals before, especially since I now have my 101 tasks to aim for. So I've decided to achieve the following in May:

#3: Write a feature article for CHAFF.
#4: Write a column for CHAFF for twelve weeks.

#6: Enter the BNZ short story competition.
#19: Include a SPBoW word in a CHAFF article.
#20: Include a Devil's Dictionary definition in a CHAFF article.
#21: Hand an assignment in at least three days early.
#25: Sort out "Unsorted" folder.

#26: Reinstall Windows.
#29: Back up "Personal" folder.
#31: Mow a lawn.
#33: Sort out boxes of crap.
#34: Keep my desk/floor tidy for a week.

#37: Get a manicure.

#60: Change a tyre.
#69: Write to Grandma and Granddad.

#98: Sell my motorbike.

I also intend to make progress toward other goals:

#8: Submit a story to Takahe.
#14a: Read Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons.
#14b: Read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
#14c: Read The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel.

#14d: Read The Godfather by Mario Puzo.
#14e: Read The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.
#14f: Read On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
#15: Organise and begin reading/selling unread books.

#16: Attend each of my Russian course classes.
#62: Play Dan at chess.
#75: Use the stepper.
#79: Join and attend gym.

#81: Eat raw fruit each day.
#82: Use that plaque-fighting stuff my dentist gave me.
#92: Write Francis a letter.

Katherine Mansfield

This post has nothing to do with Katherine Mansfield, by the way.

However, it has a lot to do with the first of May, which I've been waiting for since March and am now quite excited has arrived.

In March, entries for the Six Pack closed, and I was too lazy to even enter. So I decided to enter the BNZ Katherine Mansfield short story competition instead, which is open for entries from 1 May to 30 June.

Woo! I couldn't wait, and started readying a story in early April. I've since decided to throw out that story, but I have two new possibilities; one of which was my Life Writing story (which, yes, got a C+) and one of which was my second story for Advanced Fiction Writing.

Well, I can't enter it yet; or I could, but I want to get the feedback about my second story and rework it again before I enter it.

However, the main purpose of this post is simply to spread the word. If any writers are reading this, do be aware of the competition. There are three sections: young writers (only for secondary school students), novice and premier. The prizes are $1500 for the novice section and $10,000 for the premier section; and I'm extremely annoyed that, because I had a piece published in The Listener seven years ago, for which I was paid the grand sum of fifty dollars, I'm no longer eligible to enter the novice section. I don't have a hope of winning the premier section, but I'll enter anyway.

Now I can't wait for Tuesday, to get back my mark and comments on my story! Ohh, I hope people like it. If I get a crap mark, I just won't know what to do.