North or south?

December 23, 2009 § Leave a comment

Sometimes I absolutely hate the holiday season in Sydney. That is because that’s what it is – holiday season. You always feel compelled like you need to go somewhere else for the holidays, just so you can join in the holiday spirit, gossip about who went where and who did what, who went to the north coast, who went to the south coast. Except in reality, I don’t celebrate Christmas, and I don’t usually go anywhere, even though going on holidays appears to be compulsory. If I had a choice I would work through Christmas and New Years, just so I could go on holidays when everyone else isn’t.

Anyway the point of this post is that it made me think about this time last year. Exactly this day last year I was in Porto, Portugal jumping on a plane to Marseille, France, where a kindly lady spontaneously invited me to spend Christmas Eve dinner with her and her family just so I would not have to spend it alone and miserable at a train station. It was the nicest thing a stranger had ever done for me. Then I promptly bid her goodbye a few hours later in order to hop on a 6 hour train to Toulouse to spend Christmas Day with someone special. That someone special took me to his parents’ house in the French countryside, and I spent a memorable dinner with them opening presents and drinking wine.

This year that someone special is spending Christmas all the way on my side of the world with me. I don’t think we are not going anywhere but I hope it will be as memorable for him here as it was for me there. For the first time I have bought someone a Christmas present. It’s fun buying presents for people. Happy holidays everyone!

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A short list

December 21, 2009 § 2 Comments

Dear Santa

I know I haven’t been very good this year, but I’ve done my best with what I’ve got. Anyway do take a minute to hear my plea. I would try to be extra good next year if you could consider the following things on my list:

1. Shoes. High-heeled gold shoes, specifically. I know what you are thinking. I do not like heels. That is true. When nature created me along with all the other little girls, a liking of high-heels was forgotten. Replaced by a hatred of them. While my girlfriends gasp in shock at this revelation, this is due to the fact that I am an uncoordinated person. If I had a choice I would go barefoot if horizontal surfaces all over the world were clean and dry enough. Alternatively if society would permit I would be quite happy to wear thongs/flip-flops/slippers to work, functions, birthdays, whatever. But I have a wedding to attend in 3 weeks, a beautiful dress, and unfortunately, I cannot wear my Converse or Havianas to a fancy wedding.

2. A coffee table. Although my cardboard box has functioned exceptionally well in the last 6 months, graciously acting as a sturdy surface for many a cup of tea and plates of pasta, it is starting to look the worse for wear. Along with food and drink stains which mark its paper body forever, it also acts as a three-dimensional notepad for me, with names and numbers written on it since August. Also, I must admit, I am starting to get bored of it. I would like to hold a house-warming party next month, and I have a sinking feeling the cardboard box would finally fail its double duty as a coffee table.

3. A new liver. Ok, this might be a bit too much to ask, but really, you have to be responsible during the silly season. It is celebration of you, Santa, that all those bottles of wine and beer are consumed in the spirit of Christmas. Isn’t it reasonable that everyone should get a new liver this time of year?

4. A knack for networking. This one, I really need. It turns out that I am shithouse at networking. Or business socializing. While some naturally shmooze with the right people at the right time, I just seem to conveniently slither away from the big grins, fake handshakes, and dishing out of business cards. I do not know how to network. Please help me.

5. A TV. Yes, back to material things. As much as I love my laptop and the internets and all the other educational things I could do with my free time, I would really like to waste some of my brain-cells staring like an idiot at the idiot box. While people talk about the latest episode of Heroes or Grey’s Anatomy or Celebrity Iron Chef, I would like to contribute to these conversations. It is essential to my well-being as a functioning professional person. We all need to talk about TV shows. Now, let me assure you that I will not spend 3 hours a day with it. I promise.

Merry Christmas!

On the sixth-last day

December 19, 2009 § 2 Comments

Here I am, it’s a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, and what am I doing at home? It seems I am working. On the lead-up to Christmas, I suddenly find myself swamped with so much to do that in the last week or so even I have been finding myself extremely dull. In the morning it begins at 7am and flying through work at Milsons Point with no lunch breaks, then it’s back home at 7pm, dinner on the table, and straight back onto the computer at 8pm, before collapsing exhausted to bed at 11pm. I have not been socializing, going to the beach, or wasting time. And you know how much I love wasting time.

Why am I doing all this you wonder? Well, after having been unemployed for a period of time I found myself bored and sullen with no money. Working seems to produce money, which buys me holidays, nice things, alcohol, and sometimes, even happiness. So it’s hours of cramming to make 4 weeks worth of income in a short 2 weeks. Is it possible? Yes. Yes it is. I just don’t guarantee any form of sanity in my frame of mind by the end of it, that’s all.

New article

December 14, 2009 § Leave a comment

I have a new article out on Indie Travel Podcast. It is about food, so Sydney peeps might be interested. I just had a friend over for a chat, and we spent about an hour talking about food. We were planning our menu for Christmas lunch, and let me tell you now, it will be delicious. I haven’t told the companion yet, but he needs to cook something as well. I am planning to cook something called ‘rusula’. I have tried to look it up on Wikipedia but it is not there. Anyway, it is a Basque recipe, which is basically stuffed mushrooms. I am into mushrooms at the moment. Which is weird, since I hated mushrooms as a kid.

Speaking of Indie Travel Podcast, they are currently working very hard at editing my book. Unfortunately it won’t be out for Christmas, but it will out early 2010. Don’t worry, I will be mass-emailing everyone when it does.

Long gush goodnight

December 13, 2009 § Leave a comment

Beware. Achtung. Stop reading if you do not want to throw up your dinner. I am about to start a long gush.

Today I feel quite pleasant. Happy, even. The sun was shining its shiny-ness, I had been zooming around all day in my new car, plus the ipod just blasted out a couple of my favourite Chili Peppers songs by random coincidence. Yet another random coincidence is that my car number plate is the year of my birth. Do not even ask me how that happened, but I’m not complaining.

Things have been up and down, but mostly up. Life has never been busier or more interesting. A large part of this I have to thank the lovely companion, who has introduced me to the many depths and extremes of what human emotions are capable of. He is the most melodramatic, curious and illogical person I have ever met, yet in all his flawed splendour, he makes me feel like I am finally living my life.

For example if it wasn’t for him, I would never have heard of Chris Guillebeau or Smashing Magazine, two very different yet relevant resources that continue to inspire me in my writing and artistic pursuits.

I am also starting to appreciate music a lot more. His enthusiasm for it means that we are now the proud owners of tickets to two big music festivals in Sydney – Big Day Out and Future. I have lived in Sydney for this many years and they will be my first music festivals. I know, shame on me! Anyhow, I am really excited.

Being in the web business also means he regularly spews out technical terms such as SEO, HTML, CSS et cetera. To me it used to be mumbo-jumbo, but I am starting to understand its importance in my future travel writing career.

As a true-blue city girl, I am also regularly entertained with stories about his culture and life out in the Basque countryside, where his extended family milk cows, make cheese and wine, and farm animals. My childhood consisted of flight paths, highways, and dirty sidewalks, so blissful country life seems fascinating. The point is, we never run out of things to talk about. I love this. So thank you, for putting up with me, and sharing yourself with me all the way on this side of the world. Things are looking up.

No comment

December 12, 2009 § Leave a comment

In the lifespan of my architectural career, I have always worked in small offices. By small I mean you can count the number of people with one or two hands. This suited me really well, because I had the notion that the smaller the practice, the lesser the work, the more cosy the experience. I wasn’t far from the truth, for I never worked one day of overtime in my life, always got paid fairly and on time, and work was by no means extremely difficult or stressful. Hell, I even had fun. Even though I stayed no longer than 3 years in each office I worked in so I may pursue other endeavours, I always left with memories that became good in hindsight, and most importantly made dear friendships that have lasted to this day.

Small practices have all but disappeared from the face of Sydney in the past year or two. People who had established themselves for 5-6 years have packed up and shipped themselves back to the corporate world. Although sad, it’s a current reality in the construction industry and everyone, including me, have had to purse our lips and go to work in one of the few bigwig companies that are still thriving. The company that currently pays my bills employ more than 50 people. In a place with so many people one might think that the chances of making friends dramatically increases ten-fold. Ironically this is not the case, and hard as it is to believe, I do not like one single person at work. There are people I am indifferent to, there are people who annoy me sometimes, and there are people who downright infuriate me every time I see them.

For example there is Mr Arrogant who barely graduated out of uni who bosses 6-7 people around like he is the bomb. What really infuriates me is that people let him. He has amazing Pr skills with upper management and uses every opportunity to be mate-y with them. If one is having lunch alone at the balcony, he will zoom out there with his lunch. The other day I even caught him dressing exactly like one of them – ergo polo shirt with collar upturned, skinny pants and thongs. Mr Arrogant has not spoken one word to me ever since I started working there in September and I’m more than happy to keep it that way. Stay in your corner 3 meters away from me at all times.

It’s not surprising then that Mr Arrogant is good pals with Ms Airhead. Ms Airhead landed the job because her parents are friends with the founder of the company. She does not have any real qualifications and flits around asking people to draft drawings for her because she does not know how to use the computer except for Facebook. Sure, this sounds a bit harsh, but it is true. She occasionally comes around Mr Arrogant’s desk, giggles over a private joke, and skips back to her side with a big grin on her face.

Then there’s everyone else that I don’t care about. What more is there to say? I just need to hold out another 11 months.

The silly season

December 9, 2009 § Leave a comment

Over the weekend a very special event occurred, which I had the privilege to attend. A couple of dear friends got married. It was my first same-sex wedding and it was thrilling to be there. Non-traditional in every sense, the two grooms embraced the scorching afternoon heat by complementing their white shirts, vests and ties with cotton shorts. The best thing about it was the bright smiles on their faces and the happiness emanating from their bodies.

It was meant to be a casual get-together of their closest friends, sharing this special moment in their lives over a few cocktails. When they stood up at the corner, making their speeches and declaring their love for each other with matching Frank Gehry rings in an elevated bar overlooking Sydney harbour, I couldn’t help but feel emotional at that extreme moment of beauty. It couldn’t have been more perfect. I know, I am such a sentimental sod.

Anyway, congrats again to A and F. Live forever.

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