Don’t worry bout a thing …

bob-marleyMost of this pregnancy has been smooth sailing. And I’m not talking about the fun physical changes to me or the little life inside either. I’m talking about the emotional hormonal pregnant woman rollercoaster.

Calm. Happy. Going with the flow. Not particularly worried about anything, really. Just like Bob with a well-lit spliff hanging off his lip.

Until I hit 30 weeks.

And then HELLLOOOO anxiety! Where have you been? You almost missed the party! Only 10 weeks to drive this woman and her poor husband truly crazy before Little Miss arrives and all hell really breaks loose.

It started with antenatal classes. I decided a while back that it was worth doing them because:

a) NIH needs to have the ‘full’ experience and it’s only fair he has some warning of what’s coming; and,
b) it’s been a while and I thought a little refresher course for me couldn’t hurt.

And it was all fine … right up until the end of the first class, when the leader (lecturer? labour whisperer? ) said two little sentences:

“Partners, listen to your wives’ breathing during labour. When she goes from pushing sighing breaths out like this “whewwwwwww” at the end of a contraction, to a deep guttural “wherrrrrrRRRRRRRRR”, that’s a good sign she’s going into second stage and wanting to push.”

When she made that noise, crystal clear memories of that EXACT feeling that hits when you’re getting to the business end of childbirth came rushing in and I barely managed not to exclaim “Holy FUCK!” out loud and scare all those poor sods who don’t know what’s coming.

But I remember now. I know what’s coming. As I explained to NIH later, just because I’ve done it three times before doesn’t mean I like it. I cried at home afterwards.

And since that little meltdown, it’s like I’ve opened the worry flood gates and everything is getting to me.  I spent a good two days sitting at my desk at work with headphones on – not listening to music; not making or taking a phone call – just to stop people from talking to me. I was mortally afraid I’d cry if they asked me a question I couldn’t answer … like “How are you?”.

I am exhausted but only sleep about 4-5 hours a night, waking up at 4am to worry about anything and everything.

I worry about work. I’m currently recruiting for my job and feeling the pressure. What if I can’t find anyone? What if the person I pick is shit? Or – even worse – way better than me?  Will there be enough time to train this person or is my co-worker going to be left carrying the load?  If I’m going to be completely truthful, the biggest fear I have at the moment for work is losing my shit and crying in front of someone.

I worry about money. We are so very fortunate that I qualify for maternity leave here in NZ and get 18 weeks paid plus enough unpaid leave to have a year with Little Miss before heading back to work. But we still have a house back in Oz that we haven’t been able to sell. Luckily, we’ve been able to rent it out for almost a year but it only covers half the mortgage, so we’re picking up the slack on top of the rent we pay here. That’s fine when you have two incomes … but things will be very tight after July.

Of course, I worry about labour. The clock is ticking down to the moment where I will be required to push something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon. Last time – in fact, the last two times – I had a hot bath to soak in for most of labour and it worked absolute wonders in taking the pain away and making those hours leading up to the main event much easier to deal with.

We don’t have a bath in our flat. That scares me. The bath was my go-to. I knew it worked. How will I cope with the pain this time?

Of course, there’s the classic – Will she be ok? Is everything going to go smoothly? Will there be complications? And I can’t even bear to think about worst-case scenarios. My mind just completely does a 360 degree turn.

And then there’s the afterwards. I have 18 years of care ahead, starting with nappy changes, breastfeeding, colic and a few years of no sleep.  I’m not in my twenties anymore.

What about my other kids? Sure, they’re grown up and all but how’s this going to affect my relationship with them? Will they like her? Will she understand who they are? When am I ever going to have the money or the time to fly home to see them again?

Around and around and around in my poor shrinking brain cell head.

Funnily enough, now that I’ve written it all down and am reading it back … things really aren’t so bad. I mean, sure, labour is hard and painful but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that long.  I can choose a water birth in the pool at the birthing centre or just go in when things start getting interesting and sit in the normal bath to ease the pain.

Nine times out of ten, childbirth goes well. And if it doesn’t, we are very close to the largest teaching hospital on the North Island, with all the medical facilities to cope with emergencies.

My kids are grown ups now, and lovely warm-hearted human beings to boot. They’ll be fine and the addition of Little Miss will only add to our shared relationship. Besides, they have their own lives to lead and don’t rely on me anymore.

I’ll cope with breastfeeding and nappies. I have infinitely more patience than I did 20 years ago and after dealing with three kids under five years old, one tiny baby seems much easier to handle.

The house will re-rent for more money or sell.  And if all else fails, I’ve crunched the numbers and know that we will cope. We won’t be living the life of Riley but to be honest, we will be more interested in sleep than anything else for a while – and that’s free.

Whoever takes over at work will be fine. My co-worker is an awesome teacher and so easy-going. He’ll take care of the newbie. At the end of the day, work will go on without me and I’ll be missed about as much as the proverbial hole in the bucket of water.

In the end, perhaps Bob Marley was onto something … even without the toke on a giant spliff.

I’m dreaming of a … BIOS PXE boot?

NEMHydra_PXE_BootDevicePriority2

Oh my god what is this?

For the past six weeks, I have been on a major learning curve. Like, HUGE.  I considered myself fairly proficient with technology. Almost advanced, even. Then I started this job and now I realise what I knew was just a teeny tiny tip of the gigantic iceberg that is all things hardware, software and world wide web based!

All my dreams are about keyboards and data and trying to recover passwords I didn’t know I had to have and understanding procedures that are not procedures but merely checklists. I guess you could say that each night my brain is trying to sort through the learnings of the day and figure out where best to shove it so I can retrieve it again – a defrag, if you will.

I was warned when I started that documentation wasn’t strong and part of my role is to fix that up. I’m bugging everyone in my section with “how do you do this?” then writing up a procedure for it as I go. I’m well aware of the irony of creating the “Infrastructure for Dummies” guide that I wished I’d had when I started but at least the next poor bunny will have a little more to go on than “BIOS settings for PXE boot (Enable)” when trying to reimage a computer for the first time.

The conversation went something like this …

Me: So, how do I do this?

Them: Easy – we have a document for it. Just follow the steps.

Me: Huh. Ok.

[Finds document. Reads document. Scratches head. What the actual hell is a PXE boot? Is it small and green and pointy?]

Me: Uhhhhh. What’s a PXE boot?

Them: Oh. It’s the setting in the BIOS.

Me: [slowly, trying not to upset them] Uh, what’s the BIOS?

Them: [looking at me now like … well, like the dumbarse I am] Uhhh it’s the Basic Input/Output System.

Me: [pause. FUCK. Just say it.] Ooookkkkaaaayyy. How do I find it?

Them: [trying not to sigh] Just turn the computer on and hit the delete key until it comes up.

Me: Well! Why didn’t you say so in the first place?

Don’t get me wrong. They are a great bunch of people and infinitely patient with what must seem like a constant barrage of questions from me. But they’re computer engineers. They know this shit like the back of their hands. I, on the other hand, am a complete novice.

But I do know how to write a step-by-step guide. It’s probably been a great way to cement the learning process and build my confidence a bit at a time in the process.

And all my procedures start with the very basics, such as:

  1.  Turn computer on and hit that delete button until a blue screen of jibberish shows up.

Pain is gain?

cartman beefcakeThere’s a #Beefcake fitness challenge going on a work and whilst I do have a habit of being a ‘joiner’ and am all for office camaraderie, I think I may sit the rest of this one out.

The first week was stairs – 300 and something of them situated in a tower block not far from the workplace. The idea was to see how fast you could do it in.

Whilst I was tempted – it was one week in from starting and I do want to make a good impression – my knees said “Do that and we WILL kill you.” My left  hip chimed in with “And I will ache and ache for days so you can’t sleep.”

Fair enough. I skipped it.

The second week was 30 minutes of exercise. This could be anything from walking to gym routines – and a variety of different activities would get you bonus points. More people took up this challenge, including myself. The fact it coincided with the release of Pokemon Go was probably a major motivational factor. I did that one – mainly because I walk a minimum of 60 minutes every day to and from work. Why not take advantage of an existing situation? I didn’t care about the bonus points; just getting my name on the Beefcake Challenge ladder was enough.

Last week was “5 for 5”, seeing how may squats, lunges, burpees, sit ups and push ups you could do in five minutes. That’s five minutes for each activity, not five minutes total. I thought “Nah. I’m good.” and decided I would wait to see what Week Four would bring.

I walked past the Company meeting room around lunchtime on Thursday and the #Beefcake organiser was just finishing his session with a person checking his times and counting. I popped my head in to say a few encouraging – ok, smartarse – words. Before I knew it, I was doing squats. 80 of them. In five minutes.

Two things I have learnt from this experience:

  1. Doing 80 squats from a cold start is not going to end well. And not just for that day but for days and days and days after. The pain – oh, the pain – of trying to sit on the loo; get into the car; get OUT of the car or walk around the lake – lying in bed, even.
  2. Mr #Beefcake Challenge has missed his calling. With two sentences, he managed to get a fairly sensible woman who hates squats with a passion to do them. And not just do them but do LOTS of them. He should totally be a fitness instructor … or Head Torturer for some dictatorship.

The only thing that makes me feel better about the whole painful episode is that there are several people hobbling around the office at the moment muttering “Curse you, Phil” under their breath.

A minute to tell you about me

My new workplace is vibrant and dynamic, even though it’s full of tech-heads and web nerds. They are totally the coolest bunch of people.  They have a lunch meeting once every two weeks to allow each division to ‘show and tell’ what they’re up to with various projects, as well as nurture overall team spirit. At this meeting, any newbies are given a minute to stand up and tell everyone about themselves, either through a little speech or interpretive dance (seriously – it’s in the induction package.)

I think I’m a pretty cool dancer, especially when I’ve had a few drinkies, but I wasn’t too sure that was the way to go for me. What do you tell people about yourself? Just lay it all out on the table or little tidbits and if they want to know more, they’ll find out later?

I pondered on what I could do that would a) be impressive (like I said, they’re all cool kids and I wanna be cool too) whilst b) show them a bit about me.  So I did what I always do.

I wrote a poem. Here it is:

A minute to tell you about me
Or give an interpretive dance
Whilst I’m thoroughly tempted to Nay Nay
I’m afraid of your looks of askance!

So I’ll just offer up a short poem
To give you an insight of me
Not so epic as that Ancient Mariner
Although I did grow up by the sea.

In a country you may be familiar
Australia, the land of much heat
Where most of the wilderness creatures
Are quite keen upon you to eat.

Aussies aren’t all like Steve Irwin
Yelling crikey and cracking a smile
If I see a log in the river,
My first thought is “Argh! Crocodile!”

Karate chopping and girlishly screaming
Leaving all else behind in my wake
If you catch this performance, be assured
I’ve mistaken a cord for a snake.

I have realised that Aussies are guarded
We’re subconsciously on ‘high alert’
Approach from the rear if you must,
But warn me or else you’ll get hurt.

A librarian and graphic designer
You could say I’m a real study tart
Addicted to gathering info
Lifelong learning is close to my heart.

I’m also a bit of a traveller,
And willing to give things a go
So when hubby said “Whaddya reckon
Could you live in New Zealand – yes or no?”

I wiped off the sweat from my forehead
January. Central Queensland. Bloody hot.
“Well, it’s cooler than here,” I replied,
“Let’s do it. I’m in. Why not?”

My kids are all grown so my role
As the mother was quite obsolete.
So we sold, packed and rented the house out.
Waved goodbye to the kids, dust and heat.

Here we are – awesome sights, friendly people
We’re so glad we chose to be bold
But the best thing (apart from Enlighten)
Is the fact that I’m finally cold!

A newbie to country and workplace
So grateful for a wonderful start
I love it all – am so happy to be here
Thanks Enlighten, from the bottom of my heart.

Life achievements

tequilaYou know those times when you’re ‘in the zone’? Where it feels like a force greater than yourself takes over and life just … flows through you?

You’re playing soccer … football …. you know which sport I mean … and you feel like the ghost of Maradona has taken hold of you (just stay away from my hands, man). You perfectly trap the ball, zig and zag around the opposition and then make the perfect pass (because you’re technically a defender and can’t shoot for shite) to the striker who scores the winning goal.  I’ve felt it in those moments.

Or you’re writing something and the words just come to your brain and then fall out of your fingers onto the page like some kind of literary brilliance? I’ve had this too.

Recently, I felt The Force while writing a cover letter for an intriguing job I’d spied on Seek.  I’ve applied for three jobs (including the one featuring in this post) since we moved to New Zealand and each one I’ve carefully considered before braving the City Library computer chair bingo.

I’ve worked as a freelance graphic designer/admin assistant for the past two and a half years and I’ll be honest – working for me was pretty rad. I was a great boss. Very flexible. I let me eat at my desk and take countless breaks. Allowed the watching of daytime TV whenever I wanted. Or I could go on a long lunch date if scheduling permitted. On the down side, I only got paid for the work I delivered and quite often I had to chase it down before the virtual money owed me on my spreadsheet transformed into actual dollars in the bank account.

Working for myself not only gave me a chance to catch my breath and lick my wounds from what had been a very stressful half decade but also taught me a great deal about my skill set and how to value my time. It’s just my opinion but I believe that after working for yourself, you get a little more choosy when you decide to go back to working for someone else. Because of this, I made the decision quite early on in the job-hunting process that I was only going to look for jobs that I was happy to give up my time for (and I’d worry about the little matter of earning money later.)

I tried for a Receptionist/Marketing Assistant role and got as far as the interview stage but it was a no-go. I have to say I was relieved. It was early days and we still had nowhere to live and no furniture. I had exactly two outfits that would pass as workwear and it would mean a 20 minute drive each way every day. Not that I would have minded but it was a tapware company and I just don’t know how much enthusiasm I could have mustered for the product after a while.

Job opportunity number two was a School Librarian for a brand new Junior High School – so brand new that students had only started in February and parts of it were still being built. I didn’t make the short list for that despite having primary and high school library experience but it was a long shot anyway. I am new to the country, not familiar with the curriculum and hadn’t actually worked in a school library since 2007. Fair enough.

So when I read the line “we’re looking for someone with a gift of the gab” in the ad for job number three, I was hooked. The ad was bright, breezy and welcoming whilst successfully conveying the message regarding requirements for the role. I still had no computer and whilst you can do a surprising amount with a simple i-Pad, composing a cover letter in Word then converting to PDF and tweaking the PDF CV are outside that realm. So I girded my loins and headed off to the free-but-for-the-price-of-your-sanity computers at the library.

The thing is, as a former librarian who has worked in public libraries, I understand the necessity for time limits on the computers. I really do. But it’s very difficult to write a compelling yet pithy cover letter to a) grab attention; b) let them know you are capable of doing the job or c) at least get you to the interview stage where you can hopefully dazzle them with your genius, when you are being interrupted every 30 minutes by your computer kicking you off and making you re-register for another computer.

And I am totally down with taking turns and sharing resources but when it’s kicking you off AND THERE ARE FOUR VACANT COMPUTERS AROUND YOU, you get a little shirty. But enough of my grumbling …

Because The Force was with me that day. It didn’t go as far as making the computer bow to my will and allow me to sit in the one spot for the 150 minutes it took for the careful crafting of a worthy cover letter – but it gave me the tone and words to use to get to the next stage.  The phrase I am most proud of?

“One of the few lessons that stuck from my first foray at University (apart from the obvious ones about tequila) was that the prime responsibility of the communicator is to make sure the message is received.”

Yep. I wrote a cover letter that mentioned Tequila.

I think it’s one of the proudest achievements of my life.

I got the job.

Moving out

Wellington Airport

Wellington Airport

So. Here we are. Setting ourselves up for a life in New Zealand. How long for? Not too sure – could be as little as three years or for the ‘term of our natural lives’. The future is too hard to guess at so let’s just go with “for now” and move on.

I’m fairly experienced with the practice of moving. From the time I left home at 18, I’ve lived just about all over Australia. Born in Dubbo, I’ve lived in (in chronological order) Ballina, Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney, Darwin, Ballina, Bunbury, Carnarvon (WA town, not Central Queensland Gorge), Emerald, Yeppoon, Emerald. And now Hamilton, New Zealand.

But wait – there’s more! I’ve also moved houses within some of those towns, bringing the total number of times I’ve packed up and cleaned a house a grand total of 14.

NIH and I had discussed the possibility of moving overseas to work and experience the adventure of another culture but it was along the same lines as “What would we do if we won Lotto?”. It’s something you speculate about but deep down never imagine actually happening.

Funny how things come about though. It started with yet another explosively hot summer in Central Queensland – a terribly common occurrence and the older I get, the less patience I have dealing with it. I was looking to get away from the heat and NIH’s free spirit was feeling a little hemmed in, even though he loves his job and all his family are in the area.

I started looking at ways to get us out of town i.e. a ‘regular’ job back in libraries in another location. Of course, library jobs are like hen’s teeth so pickings were slim and I’ve been out of the game for a few years. Then one day I get a text from NIH – a job was being advertised in New Zealand. Basically, the same job he was already doing. Should he go for it? Hell, yes! It ticked both boxes – it was cooler and not where we were.

So … it’s been a while …

Why don't he writeIt’s been nearly a year since I posted. It’s slack of me but then again, writing is a funny beast. Some days you have so much to say then there’s weeks where you’re a boring and/or cranky s**t and you don’t want to have a rant or try desperately to write something witty that just comes out false.

How about a catch-up on the happenings of the last year? Let’s see …

1. The Play

I found my man – actually, two – and we adapted to a smaller cast play and it went exceedingly well. Great cast members who were lots of fun and lots of people came and clapped and spent money at the bar so YAY!

2. Work

Had an offer to do 3 months as Library Officer (casual) in a small library outpost (I’m talking one small but very cute room) that turned into 7 months. It was a lovely way to finish off my involvement with libraries and the organisation – very positive and enjoyable.

Also had a bash at some interesting contract work – editing and checking accuracy of content for a behemoth of a website before it was upgraded to a new platform. Very difficult at times but hopefully it helped them out.

Also designed the branding and created collateral for a statewide library conference – another challenging task but I loved every minute of the experience.  A bit of a coup for a just-finished-her-diploma graphic designer and will look great on my CV.

3. IVF

Yep, we’re done. No more of that shit, thanks. It’s been over a year and I feel like it’s only now my body is starting to come back into some semblance of normalcy. Thanks steroids for making me fatter for no reason, you wankers.

So that’s the highlight reel. But here’s the reason why I have the urge to write again …

We’re moving to New Zealand in 11 days’ time.

BAM.

You did not see that plot twist coming, did you?

You’re welcome.

 

Little pieces of me

billboard There it is. Loud and (thank the good lord) clear at the edge of town.

I can’t take all the credit as it was such a collaborative piece. I am very thankful that I got to play a small role in it as it has been a real learning curve. Printing something A4 size is totally different to printing something F*%#ing Huge size (pretty sure that’s a technical term right there).

One of the drawbacks of working freelance straight out of … ok, almost finished … Design College is the huge learning curve that sometimes feels more like a tsunami.

I do wish there was an opportunity to work somewhere local as a Junior Designer so I could pickcar the brains of fellow workers when sticky projects come up because my current go-to knowledge base is Google and my study notes. In other words, precious little.

Unfortunately, I believe I’ll have to leave town to get the opportunity to work in an actual agency and whilst that’s not the shittiest idea in the world (I would gladly move southwest – closer to the coast and further from the heat), NIH has a great job and is very happy. I don’t want to shake that tree just yet when I can still get by on doing what I’m doing.

It has been kinda cool to see some of the projects I’ve worked on get finished off and start appearing around town, even if they are just tweaks of original designs (with permission, of course) rather than entirely my own originals. I guess I’m the carpenter equivalent of a handyman – I may not build the house but by gum, I can fix that hole in the wall, no worries.

I’m slowly getting the gist of what I really like doing design-wise. Whilst images are cool and all, my real love is the ol’ formatting of Final_Gone but not forgotten-1documents. Another project I’ve just finished involved a local exhibition to commemorate ANZAC Day.  The design section was quite simple and low-key and it was the formatting of text in the document that took the most time.

Funnily enough, nothing gives me more satisfaction than perfectly presented text.  I think that’s the proofreader in me coming out.

My next big project is designing the collateral for Queensland Public Library Association’s upcoming conference in October. It involves everything from the initial branding design to creating programs, forms, website and bits and pieces.

Seriously, how awesome is that?

 

Busy busy busy!

coffee

Ooh pretty!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks and I honestly forgot I hadn’t done my weekly post … and I was doing so well with keeping up with my New Year resolutions too!

For the past two weeks, I’ve driven across to the closest metropolis (a 2.5 to 3 hour drive each way, depending on how many trucks/road works/caravans or how speedy you are) to do a 3 hour course. Yep, drove 6 hours to do 3 hours of learning. Twice.

However, learning to Barista is a skill I have always wanted to gain and since the course was there (and not here – nor would it be in the foreseeable future), I figured it was worth the small inconvenience.

Of course, you can’t just be a Barista with only 6 hours of playing with the machines and making pretty froth pictures under your belt. It requires practice, practice and more practice. Honestly, I had no idea of the great number of variables that can make or break a great coffee! Beans ground too fine/course; beans out too long; milk too hot; not frothed enough in first few seconds … the list goes on and on.

But now I have a small dilemma – what do I do with this training? Are these certificates destined to remain two pieces of paper decorating the walls of my office? Or do I go out and see if I can get casual work in a coffee house?

But if I do … will that kill the romantic notion that working as a Barista would be a fun way to earn a few dollars and feel useful when graphic design work is slow?

I only hesitate because I already work every second weekend and whilst I really enjoy it – I get paid to talk, essentially – it already means I have to swap with the other person if I need that weekend off.  I really don’t like doing that.

I don’t like being tied down or having to ask permission to do something I want to do.

What if I get a job and I’m so awesome, they want me to work full-time?

What if I suck?

Hmmm … I think I have a problem with over-thinking things.

And commitment.

I definitely have issues with that.

 

Joys of working for yourself

Clown

Clutsy the Clown would like to get paid. Please.

Otherwise known as the “Cashflow Blues” …

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still a fan of working from home and being my own boss. Getting to be creative on a variety of jobs from a real mix of clients is great fun. Getting to do it in comfortable (i.e daggy) clothes and no makeup plus getting those mundane household chores done as part of your working day is a real bonus as well.  I can take a long weekend and head off somewhere if I so choose, or stay in bed all day if I’m not well.

Theoretically.

In practice, I can’t really take that many long weekends because the sad reality of modern society is that you need money to do that. Money that I get sporadically at best. And surprisingly enough, I don’t seem to have as many sick days anymore …

But back to the green stuff. I’ve become a compulsive checker, looking at my work bank account daily (sometimes twice daily) to see if by some miracle people have actually paid me.  I mean, I have a deadline to work to. My invoices should be treated in the same manner.  But by and large, they aren’t. Sigh.

I’m currently studying Design Industry at the moment and this week is about contracts.  Now, they suggest doing up a full contract outlining how many hours; what equipment; who holds intellectual property; whose arse gets kicked if certain project markers aren’t met and ensuring you as the graphic designer can use the completed work in your portfolio as future promotion.  There is even suggestions of getting a down payment before any work is done to avoid cashflow problems.

My ears pricked up at that.

The trouble is that I work in a rural area. Now, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the way things work out here but most things are done on a handshake. It would seem strange to go through a five page contract BEFORE any work started, with a hokey little ol’ graphic designer who’s working from home and more than likely gets business because she’s a known entity. It’s a small town. People are very trusting. I am never asked to show a portfolio. It’s very humbling, to be honest.  I’m also cheap and get the job done quickly.

I know it’s in my best interests – protects my finances, ensures intellectual property and makes the deal very clear on paper. But I’m not sure if it would work out here. And to be honest, I’d feel a little uncomfortable doing it. Seems … pushy.

Having said that, I do have a nest egg that allows for the bills to be paid when cash is not flowing inwards so it’s not like we’ll starve or lose the house … but the tightarse in me really really hates using it.

Oh yeah, and that’s my clown. I sketched him then scanned him in and used that as a background so I could use the Pen tool in Illustrator to build a digital version of him. I feel rather pleased with myself.