Day One-Hundred-and-Twenty: Full-time badass/writer

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“So I want the monogram to read M-A-X P-O-W…”

 

I am happy to announce that an actual real-life company has deemed me employable. Yeah! Not that any of you ever doubted that, right? (Right?)

So, I have a full-time job.

This is both awesome and scary.

It’s a big tick in the ‘Growing up and getting my shit together’ box, and a big step further into the adult world–which, let’s face it, still makes me feel like Will Ferrell in Elf.

I spent my first day as a technical writer being shown around the building, having stuff explained to me in a “we’re not trying to overwhelm you, but you probably need to know this” kind of way, and double-checking that they had hired the right person and I was not part of some switched-at-interview mix-up.

It’s not that I’m super surprised that someone would give me a job–I do have a degree now, and a not-useless set of skills–but a lot of writers only dream of being paid (in a full-time position) to just, well, write.

When I get a census form whenever the fuck those things come out (every five years, apparently, so I’ll be waiting until 2016), or am filling out any other form that asks for my occupation, I can actually put the word ‘writer’ in my job title. Not a vague ‘Administration’ or ‘Hospitality’ (because KFC totally counted) or ‘Sales’, but a studied-to-get-a-freaking-degree-in-this writer.

This is a serious win.

 

“I thought you studied journalism,” some of my more observant friends will point out.

This is true. I did study journalism. I also had a second major in Creative and Professional Writing.

“But didn’t you want to be a journalist?” the same friends will tactlessly push.

While it is true–though, admittedly, shocking–that a student of journalism would be considering a career as a journalist, asking the above is a bit like asking a science student, “But didn’t you want to be a scientist?” It’s kind of reductive to assume that the broad set of skills one obtains in each of those degrees would only be useful and desireable in one single job. (Besides, ‘scientist’ is about as vague as you can get. Some of those guys don’t even wear lab coats and swirl beakers. I know!)

I did consider getting a job as ‘a journalist’, and even applied for a few, but at the end of the day, my most basic desire is to work as a writer. I want to have a job where the skills that I paid a painful amount of money (that I don’t yet earn enough to pay back–writing jobs, eh?) to get are being used. If that job is as a journalist: great. I love journalistic writing; I’ll probably do it on the side anyway. If it turns out, as it has, that a job as a technical writer ticks those boxes, then I am happy to broaden my horizons beyond the expected, and get some new skills to boot. Someone actually wants to pay me to do what I love? Show me to my desk.

So, here’s to Monday to Friday, bussing to the city, budgeting with an actual income, challenges and new experiences, and the impending appearance of some kick-ass business cards.

 

TB

Technical Writer/Bad-Ass M.C.

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Day Sixty-Nine: Hey, adulthood, what gives?

I should have realised by now that this ‘grown up’ thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but I’m calling bullshit on a few things that adulthood has dished up. In fact, I’m considering suing adulthood on the grounds of false advertising. You see, there are things that were fabled when I was just shy of 20 that have not come to pass.

 

The following are entirely unacceptable and require immediate explanation:

 

Bad skin

ImageI’m calling it: 23 is too far from your teens for pimples to be attributable to teenage hormones. You know that acne is a teenage problem when you get diagnosed with ‘adult acne’. I suffered pretty badly with it through my later teens, hoping against hope that this was just a phase, that there would be a time soon where my skin would be smooth and glowing and people would stop and say, “damn, that’s some nice skin.” It’s not that I’ve lapsed back into full-blown acne at any stage in the last few years, but I am pretty consistently plagued by little bumpy skin demons who love nothing more than to arrive unannounced before big photography-heavy events (think school formal, graduation, significant birthdays). Some days I look at myself in the mirror and wonder if I’ll still be fighting spots when I’m 60, my arthritic fingers fumbling to apply globs of concealer over the offending blemishes before I head to bingo. Maybe my friends will even be jealous. Zits are super youthful, right?

I think it’s about time my skin just settled the fuck down and got its life together.

 

Money (or lack thereof)

ImageNobody in my family was ever especially rich, and, while we had some nice things and didn’t struggle, I was hardly growing up a Kardashian. Nevertheless, simple maths told me that based on the number of hours each of my parents worked, we should have been totally rolling in it. Well, they should have been totally rolling in it. I did always suspect they had more up their sleeves than they were letting on. Keep in mind that this was during a time of my life when $10 was a small fortune. I couldn’t wait–well, still can’t wait–for a time when I was making a couple of grand a fortnight and buying like 100 Ghost Drops at a time whenever the hell I wanted. Alas, adulthood has greeted me with a continuing run of casual employment, incredibly modest paychecks, and not nearly enough small flavoured lollies. It’s probably got something to do with six-year-old me’s assumption that by now I would have a job as a singer/actress/model, split my time between London and Paris, and appear on the cover of magazines (I had big plans, ok?).

Since I’ve only just finished studying, I’m going to give adulthood six months grace to address this little hiccup.

Oh, and a tiger. I want a tiger.

 

Cooking skills (or severe lack thereof)

ImageI’m not sure why, because I never was particularly involved in helping my parents with dinner, but I was working under the impression that when it came time for me to get my own place and feed myself I would be some kind of Jamie Oliver-Nigella Lawson hybrid, as beautiful as I was culinarily talented. All I can say is thank god for Google. I shit you not, I had to look up how to boil an egg. Ok, I’m not brain-dead; I get that there is water, a pot, and an egg involved, but I had zero idea how long to put it in, whether to boil the water first then add the egg (turns out to be the wrong way), or why you had to stir the water after you put the eggs in (to centre the yolks, it seems, which would have been helpful to know before I went ahead and let them sit). I sound incompetent or spoilt (the former is probably true), but I really just never had to think about this kind of stuff before now. I didn’t boil too many eggs at the family home, as it turns out. Cooking meat to non-charred, non-bleeding perfection, experimenting with flavours without poisoning myself and others, and learning the difference between a pan that is hot enough and a pan that is instant-stick-and-burn are all coming to me slowly and with much trial and error (mostly error).

I get the feeling that adulthood is going to be reading a lot of recipe books this year…

 

Being disorganised/unmotivated

ImageMy parents are both neat, orderly people, who write things down, manage hectic schedules, and stay on top of bills and birthdays. It seemed that Mum never did something unless it had a purpose, and every spare minute could be effectively used to complete a pending task (no doubt child-related, sorry Mum). I don’t know whether it’s this example or a deep-down knowledge that I only have a finite amount of time on this earth, but I feel like a total waste of space when I’m just sitting down relaxing. Not that this mentality is conducive to achievement. It’s almost the opposite. My mind seems to think that guilt is code for “fuck this, let’s eat chips”. Disorganised may be the wrong word for it. My days are heavily scheduled, just not with stuff that’s immediately important or useful for my future/present. How can I possibly tweak my resume while there’s a fingerprint on that window? I can pay that bill next week after I get paid–ooh, pretty dress, must buy! I have so much washing/cleaning/writing to catch up on on my day off *texts friends to see what they’re doing*. I’m going to get up and go for a run tomorrow–zzzzzz.

If there was a gene that was supposed to click on when I turned 20, I am yet to feel its effects.

 

Maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world that I haven’t crossed irreversibly into some realm of joyless, clear-skinned, freakishly-organised humans. I get the feeling that I’ll look back in ten years’ time and laugh that I’d entertained the notion that I was an adult. Actually, it’s just as likely that I’ll look back and laugh at all the fart jokes I’ve made. Hehe, farts.

 

TB

Day Thirty-Five: The Christmas Upgrade (iPads for everyone!)

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I shook this one and can hear the theme to Candy Crush…

 

It seems that when this time of year rolls around, I’m having the same conversation over and over with clients in my waiting room.

“Are you doing anything for Christmas?” they ask me.

“Yeah, just going up the coast. We do it every year. You?”

“Oh, we’re heading over to [insert amazing overseas destination here] for a few weeks.”

 

Now, I think that heading to the coast and having two full weeks of eating, sleeping, walking, shopping, swimming, playing, and eating (did I mention eating?) is the definition of awesome holidays, and I would have thought the same when I was a kid. But these people (and their lucky children) are basically taking a dump on my plans from a great height (roughly 40 thousand feet).

I had my first overseas trip when I was 15. I was the first one in my family who’d ventured beyond the seas by which we’re girt (Australia, if that’s too vague), and it was a pretty impressive feat. It was a school trip, though. I have never travelled overseas with my family. The furthest we’ve ever been as a group is Adelaide (from Brisbane). I’m sure the sudden increase in kids having more stamps on their passports than years on this planet is not because people today have more money–and if they do, they should be more time-poor or something, right? I get that airfares have dropped, and low-cost seats for the whole clan can be achieveable (if not affordable). But are we choosing grand overseas adventures over interstate roadtrips because we can afford it, or because it would be seen as remiss of a parent not to give their child such an amazing opportunity (depending on where they’re going, I suppose–I’ve heard that kids love North Korea)?

All this foreign gallavanting though is really just the start of the Christmas Upgrade. The other conversation I have on a daily basis goes something like this:

Me: So, Kasey, what are you asking Santa for this year? A Ferrari?

Kasey’s mother: (laughs) Oh, no, nothing fancy. Probably just a new iPod touch.

Kasey: I got one last year, but I broke it.

Me: Um, cool.

 

Did I mention that ‘Kasey’ is six? I don’t even have an iPod Touch, and my parents would probably tell me to go to hell if I asked for one for Christmas. (To be fair, I am 23, and we don’t do presents anymore.) At the beginning of this year, three siblings aged six, nine, and eleven proudly showed off their iPads. That’s iPads, plural. One each.

“Wow, that was a costly Christmas,” I said to their parents.

“Well, we couldn’t just get one, could we? There’d be fights,” their father replied, rolling his eyes.

 

The only thing I can think of is that iPads/Pods are the modern-day equivalent of a GameBoy (if you just forget the fact that GameBoys are still in circulation). For my brother and me, our enormous, black-and-white-screened bricks in stylish yellow and red were probably the most lavish gifts we’ve received to date. At the time, I’m guessing they set our parents back over 100 bucks each. Allowing for inflation, though, it’s still not anywhere remotely near to a freaking iPad. Again, I don’t have an iPad. I don’t even have a laptop that was made this side of the decade.

So, here’s a list of “expensive” Christmas presents that I wanted when I was a kid:

 

ImageThese things were the shit. Furbies came out when I was about eight or nine (Wikipedia says they launched in 1998). From memory, they were about 80 bucks a pop. My two brothers and I each got one, so that’s a cool 240 big ones right there. A 16GB iPod Touch is at least 249. Yes, yes, inflation, I know. But still. Kids of today are raking it in.

 

ImageThis little gem was my first mp3 player. Before you ask: yes, iPods had been invented. Did my parents feel it necessary to pay upwards of 500 bucks to equip me with 1000 songs? No, sir. This baby held a much more modest 15… if I was lucky and the songs were of average length. Seriously, listen to 15 songs in a row and tell me how long it takes. Then do it over and over again because you don’t have convenient access to a computer. God, I hated Avril Lavigne after that summer. My brother did eventually get a first generation iPod, but I have a feeling that he had to save up and pay for half of it himself.

 

ImageOh, man, was I ever stoked to find one of these under the tree. Again, I think we were looking at a price tag of around $80, but hey, she eats and craps, so it’s worth it, right? From what I’ve seen, dolls haven’t really got all that much more complicated since this innovation in mess-creation. But who needs the hassle of a real doll when you can just load yourself a virtual infant on your iPad? I’m sure many new parents are wishing they’d chosen a similar option.

 

ImageThis blurry masterpiece was our first flat-screen TV (not this actual one pictured, but I thought the quality was pretty accurate). It was the most exciting thing ever to happen to anyone ever when we woke up to find this monolith half-wrapped under the tree. (Half-wrapped because it was large, not because my parents are useless–although Dad did sample a little too much Cognac that year, much to Mum’s chagrin.) This one was probably a good 1000 smackers (or more, I don’t even know), but it was the present for all four of us. These days, I’m sure they’re getting one each, walled-mounted in their bedrooms, so that they can lounge on their queen beds and watch Dora without bothering their parents/siblings.

 

I shouldn’t really complain so hard. These days, we get a pretty sweet deal at Christmas. I get to move back in with my parents, but in an awesome apartment on the coast, and let them cook, wash, and just generally put up with me for two weeks. What shiny electronic device could top that?

 

TB

 

P.S. While I’m thinking about it, I remember pulling my Furby out a couple of years after it’s glory days, and it kind of reminded me of this:

ImageWuuuuuuuuv!

Day Six: Why stress-performing is killing me

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As I type I’m sitting on the couch watching TV, checking my phone intermittently to respond to Facebook posts, and baking bread. I’m still considering yoga, painting my toenails, and maybe cleaning the bathroom mirror. You know what? I still feel like a lazy slob. I know that someone, somewhere is probably making my annual wage in a day, raising a menagerie of children, and saving lives through multiple charities in their spare time.

Most of the time I do feel like good old Inspector Gadget, albeit minus the trench coat (too much of a stripper vibe).

When I was in year 12, my mum told me that I was allowed one breakdown per term (so, four per year). If you’ve completed your final year of high school, you’ll understand that this was not a generous limit. In term two alone, I had three separate ‘crying on the floor’ incidents related to the non-appearance of my formal dress. When I finished that year, sick and exhausted, I was ready to sleep for a year.

Unfortunately for me, I’m a stress performer.

A day off sounds amazing, right?

Not so much when this is how it goes:

  • Sleep in until 9am. Feel like shit because you’ve already wasted like three good daylight hours.
  • Check phone secretly hoping something urgent has come up and you will have some deadline to work towards.
  • Drag self to kitchen and consider making a gourmet breakfast. Decide against it because it’ll take minutes that could be spent job-searching/cleaning/solving the world’s problems. Eat bowl of muesli while reading phone and/or junk mail. Stop eating when you realise that the bowl is empty.
  • Mentally schedule rest of day. Feel depressed when schedule reads shower, clothes, read stuff on internet.
  • Wander around house looking at things. Consider doing a mass clean-out for the second time in a month.
  • Scroll through list of phone contacts. Text one or two people casually asking what they’re up to. Try not to sound desperate.
  • End up baking something. Fail miserably. Feel worse.
  • Nap.

The fact is, friends, that I get my kicks from being stressed out of my freaking brain. Some days, I deliberately agree to ridiculously tight schedules, assuring myself I can handle it. I spend said day cursing myself and ‘looking forward to’ the weekend. Tomorrow, I’m rushing to an optometrist appointment, backing it up with a full day at work, followed by a mad drive straight to family dinner night. On Friday, I’m working 10-1, straight to a hair appointment at 1.30, and off to choir practice and concert at 4.45. Even that may not satisfy my stress-lust. There’s every chance I’ll decide to drive to the coast and back on Friday night just for shits and giggles.

I do this to myself. I even write blog posts at 11.30pm, just so I can feel the anxiety build as midnight approaches. Right now I’m thinking about making muesli and whether I’ll still get enough sleep before work tomorrow if I start reading Games of Thrones (yeah, I finally caught up to that bandwagon).

When I saw a natural health specialist at the beginning of this year, he listened to me describing my life for a few minutes, then nodded wisely. “You have what we call adrenal fatigue,” he said. “It means your body’s normal stress response is impaired due to overuse. Now, instead of releasing the adrenaline that you need to get through a stressful time, your body just spirals into overdrive.”

Adrenal fatigue affects everything: sleep, weight, general health. And do you know what the cure is? Eliminate stress.

If I remember correctly, I laughed. “I’m a uni student in her final year, working two jobs, and playing in a band,” I told him. “Stress is kind of inevitable.”

Inevitable, but not healthy. And not a good way to motivate yourself. Deadlines are there to ensure you do the work on time; they’re not a challenge to see how close you can come to complete catastrophy before you pull it off. Stress is my drug: I need more and more to get that sweet feeling of relief that follows an achievement. It’s getting to the point where the relief lasts all of five minutes before I’m searching for the next high. I don’t know all that much about the human body, but judging by the way my neck seizes up, my teeth clench, and my temples start to throb, this is probably not a good way to live.

It’s a habit that I’d like to break, though I’m not sure it’ll be easy. I’ll start with a deep breath. I’ll cut myself some slack. I’ll spend five minutes tomorrow staring into space and thinking about a holiday (jam-packed with activities–god please help me). I’ll read something that has absolutely no bearing on my job-searching, loan-sniffing, or blog-writing. There’s enough unavoidable stresses in life without intentially adding any on, right?

(I’m still going to go and make muesli now. But I’m going to take my sweet time. Namaste.)

TB

Day Three: Dear diary, wahhh

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(Thank god this is typed, right?)

I had a diary when I was about 12. I wrote in it maybe 10 times between then and the time that I was 15. Probably unsurprisingly, most of the entries are what I like to call ‘crisis cries’. The opening lines of a crisis cry begin something like this:

Dear Diary,

OMFG, I am so effing over this bullshit. I can’t believe that she would even say that! Why am I even alive? I’m gonna go eat like two litres of ice cream. Nobody cares if I get fat anyway. God, I’m ugly.

And continues on in that vein. I think I found one diary entry where I’m just giving a straight up rundown of my day.

Went to the beach today. That was fun. Might invite Ellen over tomorrow.

Pretty dry, really. Blogging is kind of the in-between. I certainly won’t post a crisis cry every day (unless, of course, every day is completely shit. I’m not ruling that out). At the same time, you might not always get to hear how I went to the bank yesterday, came home, put on a load of washing and wrote this post. (Yes, advance post-writing. Is that a thing? I like the idea of sleeping on a post and deciding the next day if it’s suitable for the wider world to read. What’s that? I’m still stuck in parentheses? Well, shit, get me out!)

OK. So, today’s post might read:

Dear Diary,

Once again, my attempts at obtaining finance and actually paying my parents for the vehicle they gave me have been thwarted by the evil forces of banking. “Declined,” hissed the bank manager, his tongue darting out to catch an unlucky fly. “We don’t trussssst you.” (OK, so perhaps I’m exaggerating, and the lady I dealt with was lovely, but it felt pretty much like this.)

My financial position is a Catch-22. I’ve never had to borrow money–due largely to my sterling savings record and steady employment–thus I don’t have a credit rating. No credit rating means credit is very difficult to obtain. Never mind that I’m an adult, soon to be a full-time employee (probably only making slightly more than I do with two casual jobs), with a neat packet of savings to my name. Everyone tells me that borrowing money is the smart way to make large purchases (right after they urge me to never get a credit card ever), and I have to agree. Paying the money out straight from my savings would leave me debt free, but it would also leave me with about $500 to my name and no buffer zone.

I stormed (politely) out of the bank today and walked aimlessly down the middle of the shopping centre, my eyes slightly unfocussed, my head in a swirl of negative thoughts.

You’re not financeable.
You’ll always be begging for money.
The system will always own you.

That last one is probably true, but the other two are just the product of the adult world giving me a little kick to see what I’ll do. The childish part of me wants to pull all my money out of the bank and hide it under my mattress. It also wants to egg the bank and maybe post on Facebook about how shit said institution is. But you know what? Fuck you, adult world. (Adults are allowed to say ‘fuck’.) There is always another way. I won’t be leaning on Mum and Dad for this one. You just watch me. I’ll sell my body if I have to. (Actually, probably not that.)

This is the adult world’s way of saying,

Welcome, Lucy. Won’t you sit down? Ohhhh, we pulled the chair out. You gonna cry?

Maybe a little. But then I’m gonna dust myself off and look for jobs. I’m gonna make so much money and save so well that you’ll be begging to give me loans and smoke cuban cigars with me.

After all, it’s only Day Three, right?

TB

Credit cards applied for: 2
Credit cards approved: 1
Credit limits that are unhelpfully small: 1
Household items remembered to buy without making a list: 1
Loads of washing done: 4
University assignments left: 0
Swear words uttered under breath (and aloud): 205280428452