Friday, 31 October 2008

NaNoWriMo Eve!

Also, Exam Eve.

Kick-off today. Nervous. Worried people will end up at wrong venue. Must remember to take goodies. Will I have to buy snacks for whole table?

Tonight. Stay up till midnight to write first few words? I do like being the first person in the world to update their word count (first equal last year).

Must study. Exam tomorrow. Must study.

Want do NaNoWriMo. Want plan novel more.

Must study.

At some stage, attempt to re-locate ability to write sentences.

Also, attempt to lose nervousness.

I may not be updating blog again till after exams (Thursday).

I probably will, though. But I shouldn't.

Must study.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Story ideas abound! Study... doesn't.

Exams are horribly, hideously soon — and NaNoWriMo's still top-of-mind. I have a 120-point breakdown of what I'm going to write (with the number of words each point should take), and that's only for the first half of the story. I think the whole novel will probably end up being about that length; which isn't to say that I've decided to try for 100,000 words — I haven't — but just that that's how long it'll probably be in the end.

I have, however, decided that some minor character will die in the second half, so that they can have the burial, cos I thought of a cool way of burying someone due to my burial research a lil while ago. But when you know NaNoWriMo's coming up, everything starts turning into story ideas.

Oh, and in the shower the other day I came up with an idea for the sequel to this year's novel, assuming this one goes well. Which is irrelevant, but it does show how much I'm thinking about NaNoWriMo rather than exams. I have three exams in five days; so far, I've done about two hours' study.

I got another A+ for my last sub-editing assignment (I now have 47 out of a possible 50%), so I'm not too worried about failing that one.

The other two exams are far more real possibilities, and for some reason I'm not finding ancient Rome and revolutionary France as interesting as I should be. Although, it must be noted, I've got a couple of story ideas from studying both topics, and almost named my villain "Gaius" after Caligula.

Again, I think that shows just how focussed my mind is on exams.

My first exam is the day after tomorrow....

Maybe I should stop spending all my time on the NaNoWriMo forums.

...and on my blog.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Elections '08

First, the American one. Although I think Sarah Palin is pretty blonde, I like her recent Saturday Night Live skit — it wasn't hilarious, but it showed she has a sense of humour, can laugh at herself and isn't holding a grudge at SNL. Having said that, she's far too ditzy to really help run the country. The fact that, as per a recent poll, a third of American women are now more likely to vote for McCain because he has a female running candidate, is pathetic and sexist. Vote on the basis of capability, not gender.

Having said that, I'm much more interested in the New Zealand election.

I hate the two-horse race, and in previous elections I've always voted for a minor party, in the interests of coalitions. However, this election looks more like a two-horse race than ever — either National, or Labour with four minor parties backing it up to give it seats.

Now, my opinion of a good way to run elections consists of focussing on the benefits of your own policies. My opinion of a bad way is to focus your entire ad campaign on trying to diss the other guy.

This election, National's ads have been focussed on their policies. Labour's have been focussed on dissing on John Key (culminating in a shot of Helen Clark photoshopped beyond all recognition).

Are you serious? Your ads consist of bringing down your opponent? Let's hear some good positive work about your own policies! Labour's current ads just make me want to vote National.

And the one ad which Labour's cracked out not focussed on John Key wasn't actually engineered by them: it was good ol' CHAFF making an ad starring the future MUSA president, and regardless of the truthfulness of the statistics it quotes, it still rocks.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


I believe in karma like I believe in luck, and I believe in luck like Thomas Jefferson did: "I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."

Which obviously isn't to say I don't believe in luck, per se; just that if I work hard, I'll have better luck in life; and similarly, if I'm generally a good person and behave well at work and in personal life, good karma will probably generally follow me as well, in some aspects of life.

I'm talking about online karma, too. Earlier this year, an employee was fired from The Warehouse for abusing the management on Bebo; last week, some poor schmuck was refused sick leave because his boss saw that he'd posted, "Still trashed — sickie WOOHOO!" on Facebook. Employers are googling potential employees, and checking out Facebook and Bebo, and for a lot of people that's not a good thing. It does, however, prove that Facebook and Bebo's potential for evil is limitless.

I used to put a lot of crap on my diaryland blog; whining about exes, work, and friends. I also hurt people's feelings, and some people found my blog who weren't meant to find it, and it almost ruined one friendship. These days I try to keep my blog content so that anyone can read it — friends, family, boss, co-workers, editor, ex-boyfriends... I don't want to offend anyone, and if someone stumbles onto my blog for any reason, it's good to have a clear conscience and know there's nothing on there they can't read.

The internet's a public forum, and I think it's just good common sense to keep issues with other people private. Bitch about it to your friends or your partner privately; there's no call to take it public. And, if I don't get any good karma out of it, at least I'm stopping the bad karma.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Embalming and shallow graves

So Ang asked me to explain two points in my recent "Death wish" post:

1. I don't want to be embalmed.

What is it? They suck all a corpse's fluids out and inject toxic chemicals into blood vessels, the abdomen, chest, and under the skin; and paint other chemicals and cosmetics onto the skin to hide the fact that the body basically doesn't contain anything natural but skin and bones any more.

Why do it? There's a misperception that embalming kills diseases. But most diseases die within 24 hours once the body's dead; and other diseases (e.g. anthrax) aren't killed by embalming. Other reasons are to keep the body looking and smelling acceptable for the funeral; however, if the body's kept cold enough, it should still be fine for up to four days.

Why not do it? Embalming keeps the body preserved for years longer than natural, as insects won't go near the embalming fluids. When the body does decay, it won't all go at once. First your legs will decay, and your butt. Last — because injected with the most chemicals — are your chest, arms, hands and face, so you end up melting away like some weird decaying mummy from a crappy horror film. And those parts won't stay looking normal before they finally do decay; they shrink.

2. I want to be buried in a shallow grave.

This one's easier to answer. Your body decays in under two years; it's much better for the environment. Deeper graves make the body take longer to decompose, and it's too cold for the soil to properly absorb your body's nutrients. The minimum depth you can be buried in New Zealand is one metre. You can be buried at one metre deep in the Palmy cemetery.

Any other questions?

Sunday, 26 October 2008

I quit

It's always such a good feeling to resign a job. Not that this has been a bad job — I've enjoyed it — but it's just always a good feeling. Maybe it's the knowledge of moving forward, of going somewhere, of change.

Although currently I'm going more backwards than forwards: I'm going back to the job I had last summer...and the summer before. A job for which a degree is wholly unnecessary. I would like to get a job which utilises my degree, but I may need to wait until I've completed postgrad for that.

I still remember my dismay a couple years ago. I was at a contact course for a paper, really proud that I was finally getting on with my degree, should have it finished within two years or so, and then:
"It's a shame you can't even get a job with a BA," someone said.
"You really need to have an MA for it to be worthwhile," someone else said, and everyone agreed, as I saw my future study suddenly double....

Although that's fine, I'm now quite happy at the thought of doing postgrad, especially if I'm lucky enough (or good enough) to get into that MA in Creative Writing. Massey's selection, sadly, seems to be extremely limited.

But my point is, new job. New people (to some extent), new challenges, new money (always good), new hours. I'll probably miss spending so much time with my kitties at home — they probably won't miss it at all — but it'll be nice to have a bit more order in my life before I come home and desperately try to crank out 4000 words in a day.

I'm leaving my current job on good terms. I don't like burning bridges: it all comes down to karma, I reckon. But that's a topic for another post....

Friday, 24 October 2008

Doubling the stakes

So I've done NaNoWriMo — and won NaNoWriMo — five times running. That's cool. I've had different challenges all the way through. But my problem is that I don't really have a challenge this year. In fact, this year will be easier, since for the first time in three years — after exams — I won't be studying at the same time.

Actually, when you look at 2007, it was frickin' insane. I was working full-time; studying full-time; had exams; only had 17 days; was writing in a new genre; and moved house. I think the only way it could've got harder would've been if Dan and I had broken up, got married or had a baby.

I started idly thinking today what new challenges I could set myself. The answer's pretty evident: word limit. I wrote 50,000 words in 17 days last year. That's a lot of words in not a lot of time. What if I upped the challenge?

I don't know if I could do it; I don't know how many words my storyline would even last for. But I think my storyline is pretty fluid; and I hope I'll be adding lots of new scenes and characters and sub-plots along the way.

And out of my five different NaNoWriMo novels, only one — last year's, which had abysmally little plot — was actually finished in 50,000 words (actually, 50,087). The others are still, embarrassingly, waiting for me to go back and finish them. But maybe that shows I can write more than a 50,000-word story.

A 70,000-word novella? Maybe.

A 100,000-word novel? Probably not. But that first year, I didn't think I could do a 50,000-word one either. And isn't not knowing you can do something, part of the challenge of doing it?

I haven't decided on anything yet. I'm just thinking.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Death wish

No, I have no desire to die. But having just done an article on burial, cremation and embalming, I would like to make the following things clear:
  1. I don't want to be cremated.
  2. I don't want to be embalmed.
  3. I want to be buried in a shallow grave (one metre deep).
  4. I want to be buried horizontally (so far as I know, there aren't vertical graves available in NZ, but just in case).
  5. I would prefer a pine coffin from the fella in Kimbolton who makes eco-friendly caskets.
  6. If my family want to have my funeral at a church, I don't care. If it makes them feel better, then do it. Just don't try to make out that I believed in God.
  7. I don't want the cost of my funeral, burial etc to run over the cost of what's in my savings account. I don't see why anyone else should have to pay for me dying.
  8. I would like a tree planted at the head of my grave as a memorial (if not a very good memorial, since I know nothing about trees).
At the moment, the only "woodland" cemetery in NZ is in Wellington, and I don't particularly want to be buried in Wellington, as I have no emotional roots to it or reasons I'd want to be buried there. I guess I'd prefer either Dunedin or Palmy. And as there aren't any woodland cemeteries yet in either town, I guess I'll just have to wait a good few long years before dying.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


No more assignments ever! Ever, ever, ever, ever! I'm so glad.

I just handed in my final assignment for Feature writing, a feature article on eco-friendly burials. On my way home, I realised: free! No more assignments to do, ever! Unless I return to study at some stage.

End of the semester, and of my study overall. This has been the most stressful semester I've ever survived, and the last month or so has probably been the most stressful of my life.

End of writing for CHAFF. I enjoy writing for CHAFF. But writing two columns a week, one of which requires careful research and takes about six hours; and writing reviews and feature articles as well, just gets stressful.

End of assignments. My assignments have been a constant assault on my time and life. My assignment due on Monday — worth 50% — kept me up till 5am on Tuesday morning, and the 1.5 hours' sleep I had before work did not make me a happy (or attractive) little cookie.

I've also decided not to apply for that MA next year. I think I'll take the year off from study of any kind, apart from night classes at QEC which don't count cos there's no assessment... unless I decide to enrol in one paper so I can get the discounted price for Massey students at the gym (cos that makes sense... do a $500 paper to get a $300 discount).

Now I have only exams to look forward to, and in a fortnight today I'll be at the end of those, too! At least my sub-editing one should be easy.

Which reminds me, today I got back an essay I honestly was afraid I'd failed: A++. I didn't even know there was such a grade.

I am happy.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Absurdist CHAFF: Issue 26

The last issue of CHAFF this year! Oh, I'm so glad. Oh, I'm so glad. I couldn't handle any more, and the last few issues have been so hard to get out with everything else I've been doing. I just haven't had the time; have had to put it off to do assignments; have had to put assignments off to get articles in at the absolute last minute possible.
  1. Last week in history
  2. (editor didn't have room for Issue 25's week, so I told him to just put it in this week and I'd have a week off)
  3. Horoscopes
  4. Feature article on NaNoWriMo
  5. Movie review on The Edge of Love

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that. Done. The end. Finit.

Until next year, when I have to decide if I still want to keep contributing, despite the fact that I'll no longer be at Massey... my editor seems to be assuming I'll keep contributing, and I'm loath to disappoint people's expectations of me.

But we'll see.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Too tired to think of a title

I'm tired.

I'm so tired.

I've been tired for several weeks, and every day I fall asleep on the bus to or from work, and I'm sleeping in more and more, and I still can't find time to get to bed earlier than 1 or 2 am.

I'm so tired.

When I say I'm sleeping in, I should note that that means I sleep in till 7.10am instead of getting up at 6.30am.

I've been working on assignments, writing articles for CHAFF,...

I'm so tired I didn't have the energy to finish this post yesterday and went to bed instead.

I just want to sleep in. I just want to have one week off. Unfortunately, once my exams are finished and I finish at my current job (which starts at 8am), I'll be going straight into my new job, which starts at 7am.

But I won't have any study to do then. Or CHAFF articles to write.

Just 1667 words to write every day. And you know what, I'm looking forward to NaNoWriMo as being a much more relaxing month than this has been. Oh no, and it's only half over.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

October goals

I did poorly on last month's goals, as I was much busier than anticipated. So, anticipating this month — which, with assignments and exams galore, will be far busier than last — I've decided to cut down on my October goals. I'll just be too busy; I hope to have more time from November onwards.

I think that every year: while I'm working, I look forward to study because I'll have so much more time; and when I'm studying, I look forward to work for the same reason. However, after exams and NaNoWriMo I really do think I'll have more time, since I won't be doing any study at all. My evenings and weekends will be my own! Oh, I'm looking forward to that.

Tasks to complete
#67: Go for walks with Dan twice a week. (2/5)

Reading goals
Any two books I own which I haven't previously read. (1/2)

Writing goals
Do outline of NaNoWriMo novel; 50 bullet points. (50/50)

Tasks to work towards
#17: Complete six chapters of Russian textbook.
#25: Sort out one "Unsorted" folder.
#78: Burn 1000 calories at the gym each week. (5/5)

#82: Use plaque stuff ten times. (0/10)
#92: Write Francis a Christmas card and send him a photo.

Actually, even looking at my "tasks to work towards", I wonder if I'm setting myself too many goals. But I guess we'll see.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Children's CHAFF: Issue 24

Oh man, I rock. Oh man, I rock. Check me out in CHAFF this week:
  1. Childish horoscopes
  2. This week in history, covering R. L. Stine (author of the Goosebumps series); Orson Welles; Werner von Trapp; Louis XII and Mary Tudor; and a UFO sighting by some Ukrainian kids
  3. Movie review of Eagle Eye
  4. DVD review of Beauty and the Beast
  5. Feature article on the origins of nursery rhymes

I don't think I've ever contributed so much to any single issue before (later: apparently I have). Five articles! Five! For anyone wondering, Women's CHAFF (aka "Fem-O") was pretty cool, and I'll try to scan the cover at some stage to put it on here; it was just so... woman's magazine-y.

Anyway, I think writing those five articles has sapped my strength to the degree that they'll be my last for the year; apart from my regular week-in-history and horoscope columns, of course. Also, the assignments are beginning to pile on thick and strong, and I need to start turning my attention to them — and then to exams!

So much to do... so little time. Still just hoping I pass all my papers....

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Internal struggles

I'm tired.

Tired tired tired. I slept in this morning till 7.24am, which is a problem since I usually leave at 7.26am. Woke up, brushed hair, got up at 7.26am, and left at 7.28am after literally pulling on the first clothes I found, grabbing my wallet, keys and cellphone and running out the door.

The good thing was I ran nearly all the way to the bus-stop, and that I caught the bus. The bad thing was that I left my student ID (i.e. free bus pass) at home, so had to plead with the bus driver to let me on.

The other good thing was that it showed I can actually get ready in two minutes (on days where I'm not going to the gym or to any lectures).

But it's pretty bad that I did get that overtired — even Dan slept in, and Dan never sleeps in. We're both just so tired, and I'd love to think we'll get an early night tonight or tomorrow, or sleep in on the weekend; but my assignments are starting to pile up next week so I can't afford to sleep in, and for tonight I need to finish off one last, last-minute article for CHAFF.

I should be prioritising my assignments and exams more than I currently am, but they aren't really top of mind for me. When I've been trying to pass papers (i.e. handing in assignments, etc), I've never failed a paper; so it's easy to feel complacent, to put assignments on the back-burner because, never having failed, I find it hard to believe I really would fail any.

But if I don't start putting more effort in, I might.

Although I doubt it.

But I should stop doubting it.

Internal struggles!