Awkward clueless date

he wont stop talking about pool fencesIt was pretty terrible from the start. First, he was about twenty minutes late and made absolutely no apology or even acknowledgment of his tardiness. As we got the restaurant it turned out he had actually forgotten to make the reservation so we had to wait another fifteen minutes for a table. I suppose at this point he would have had to have been prince charming to make up for the apocalyptic beginning. He spent a good 45 minutes telling me about his new in ground pool and how he couldn’t decide between different types of pool fence. He told me, in great detail, about every single type of pool fence available in Melbourne. I felt like I was dealing with my own landscaping drama with the amount of detail he provided. He is really into his home. He listed his favourite features and told me the pros and cons of each one. It was actually alarming that someone could go on for so long without realising the other person is thoroughly bored. He seemed to have absolutely no understanding of social cues. After telling me about semi frameless pool fencing, he then went on to give me a rundown of all the best pool fence companies in Melbourne that he had considered along with all the reasons he chose them.

Just as we finished dinner he asked me what I did for a living. It took him a solid two hours to come up with a question for me. As I told him the answer, I am a real estate agent, he then went on to tell me about all the real estate agents he has ever met and what he thought of them. I was pretty much ready to slap him and leave at that point. I asked for the bill but excused myself before it arrived.

Let’s blame Wendy

ice skating party MelbourneWell, that wasn’t a total disaster. Goodness, when most family members say they want to find a function room in Melbourne with an ice skating rink downstairs, it’s usually pretty straightforward. People would like to have a few drinks, eat some peanuts and finger-food, then go downstairs to skate the night away. Some people wouldn’t be so good at it- let’s be honest, most people- but that’d be part of the fun of the whole party. Fun, good times, laughter, etc.

Then Wendy said she wanted to go ice skating for her 21st, and I was like…what? Did she know that ice-skating wasn’t just a euphemism for sliding around on a highly-polished floor? Like, it involves actual ice, and you have to wrap up a bit because it gets cold. Because of all the ice. Nope, she said that her therapy sessions had prepared her for it, and this was the final step in her program of overcoming her cryophobia.

I respected her wishes, but of course put in some escape routes anyway. The function room was kept really warm, there was a parka with hot chocolate standing by just outside the rink and we were all kept on high alert for any signs of panic. I know, super overprotective brother, but I think it’s what she wanted. Maybe having all of it there but just out of sight really helped. Wendy was nervous at first, and when she got out on the ice she looked like she was about to be sick. It wasn’t the canapes, I swear. But we had an ice skating instructor who was brilliant with her, coaxing her through the basic moves along with the group, making sure she didn’t fall. Pretty soon she loosened up, and stayed out there on the ice for half an hour. I think she was glad to get back to the function room upstairs, but if you knew Wendy, you’d know how incredible this is. And sure enough, she now has this new lease on life. Didn’t even know she had it in her!

Brave ice skating party

ice skating to overcome my fearToday’s the day. Party day. The day I look my fear in the eye, do that sign with your hands that either means ‘I’m watching you’ or possibly ‘I’m coming for you’, depending on how mean your facial expression is, and tackle it head on. You know the look I’m talking about; it’s the one with two fingers, like…here are my eyes. And my eyes are watching you.

Yeah, you get it. I’ve organised an ice skating party for my 21st, because I can’t live with cryophobia any longer. If I want to be a constructive Melbourne citizen, I can’t just sit in my house for half the year racking up the heating bill and giving suspicious side-eye to waiters who ignore my orders not to put ice cubes in my drink. No, we have a real ice skating instructor and everything. It’ll be great. It’ll be fun. I will have lots of fun. Yes. Lots of the fun, more than I’ve ever had.

Yep, so I’m terrified. Not as terrified as I would’ve been without the year of therapy, mind you; I’ve still managed to get to the stage where I’ve planned this party at all, and I can think about it without fainting on the spot. Everyone knows it, of course…it’s not an easy thing to hide when you feel a cool breeze and run shrieking for cover like it’s raining mortar shells. They’ve all been so supportive as well! Mum and Dad have organised a few warm safe zones for if I get too freaked out. But I really want to make myself do this, because it’s not or never. Ice skating with all the people who’ve supported me through this: I can’t think of anything better. I’m going to do it. I’m going to DO it. I’m going to do IT. I’M going to do it.

Yep, so this is happening, haha, hilarious! Just me, skipping along to the friendly local Melbourne ice skating rink for some fun times with my friends. And loads of ice. SO much ice, seriously.

Low maintenance, high impact: Native Shrubs

flowering shrubsWhen it comes to looking after your garden, it really pays to do a little maintenance every now again. I always tell people, you can either spend forty minutes a week maintaining your garden or five hours every month. In my most recent series of garden tutorials I have been drawing attention to the versatile and dynamic uses of native shrubs. Native shrubs are a great way to brighten up brown patches of your yard. One of my favourites is the grevillea apricot glow, it really pops, it looks like a beaming
sun just bursting out of your yard. A lot of people ignore native
flowering shrubs because they aren’t as sexy as more exotic plants. I am here to fight the good native shrub fight. The grevillea apricot glow is an evergreen compact native shrub that is so easy to maintain you just will not regret getting some. In terms of maintenance, a little water here and there and that’s pretty much it. They can be grown in sunshine and even in shade, and the best thing is, they attract birds, transforming your garden into a sanctuary of colourful wildlife.

Don’t even get me started on the super doopers, who doesn’t want gerberas peppering an otherwise dreary landscape! Again maintenance is super easy, a little water here and there and some pruning to keep things in order and that’s it. Just doing a little bit every now and again will save you a massive upheaval when things become unruly back there. Native shrubs are great because they really don’t require a lot of attention to look really good, and they can tie together a landscape design with their range of colours and shapes. I’m trying to create an experience with my garden. I’m not trying to win awards but if I was to enter I’d like to be on the podium so to speak.

Finding my calling

conference speaker AustraliaIt may seem a little counter-intuitive, but I think I’ve accidentally stumbled across something I’m actually kind of good at. No, I know what you’re probably thinking. How on earth is that counter-intuitive? It seems like something completely normal, sort of expected on your coming of age journey, and actually, let’s be totally honest here, pretty lucky. All of those things are true, I know I ton of people my age who have absolutely no idea what they’re doing and where they’re going in life, and so to find a bit of direction is awesome, it’s just the direction that I’ve found that’s a little strange.

I’ve come to realise that I’m actually kind of fantastic at public speaking. I know. Weird, right? Really, I should have come to this conclusion a lot earlier, but the fact is that at high school, it’s kind of cool to hate public speaking. It’s the norm, and a lot of my high school experience was spent just trying to fit in. So the fact that I wasn’t half bad at giving speeches and such was never something I never really wanted to admit to myself. Now, though, things are different. I’ve realised that this is something I would actually really like to do, to be a conference speaker all around Australia, but the truth is I have absolutely no idea how to even start down that path. It’s a bit of a left-of-field profession, how do you even get into a business like that?

At the same time, I have a sneaking suspicion that no one is going to take advice from a key note speaker who has basically no experience. I mean, the first thing I watch out for when I’m listening to a speech is what kind of credentials the person talking has. In that regard, ‘straight out of uni’ doesn’t sound very impressive. So I have to work out a bit more of a plan. The problem isn’t, I haven’t got a clue where to start.

The best therapy is a holiday in Lorne

Cumerland LorneWhen people hear what I do, they call me a happiness psychologist. I really don’t know why…it always just seems redundant. It’s not like people don’t have brains of their own, and thus the field of psychology applies to them. Is this one of those turn of phrases that I keep hearing about? Maybe, but I’m definitely more of a people person and words don’t always make a lot of sense to me.

Anyway, some people have a bit of a rough life compared to others that are straight up stable. It feels like being sad gets passed from person to person like a disease. It’s just that people are often exposed to a greater degree of trauma than others. One person might take the long scenic country road, another along a dark gravel road. My best advice is always to get away from everything have a nice holiday. It’s amazing how therapeutic a holiday can be, especially to some place relaxing like Lorne. Hotels are the best because everything is taken care of for you including cleaning and fresh towels. I can’t recommend the great ocean road highly enough, it’s a beautiful location and something that everyone should experience.

Anyway, I travel around Victoria to anyone who has a problem and see how they’re doing. Oh, nothing like a full service, though that’s something I can do if things get too serious. No, I just make sure they’re still ticking, make some notes and maybe dole out some advice on how to make things better.

I guess the ‘psychologist’ part comes in, since I’m not actively treating the people; it’s more of a general inspection, or I might listen to their problems. I’ve always kind of had a knack for telling what a friend needs or when something’s wrong. Usually all they need is a few days of sun and sand in a luxury apartment in Lorne. I suppose in the end none of the stress really matters. People can say what they want. So long as they keep sending me out to look after folks, it’s still a job.

The struggling novelist

buyers advocateI’ve been struggling recently with how I’m going to set up the exposition of my novel properly. If you’ve ever met me, probably even just once, you’ll know that having this kind of a problem isn’t really too unusual for me. I’m kind of what I like to describe as the ‘struggling artist’ type, and it just so happens that my medium of choice is my words. But I’m nothing if not a perfectionist, and I find that the meticulously craftsmanship involved in creating a story is the most time consuming part of the process. I have to get every detail, every aspect of it, right before I’m happy to move on and put my vision onto the computer screen’s simulation of paper.

My most recent conception centres around a life changing series of events faced by an otherwise ordinary woman. In order to impress the sheer normality of her life, I need to describe the biggest event in at during the beginning of the novel: she is moving from one house to another. However, I’ve felt recently that this really isn’t as unremarkable as it could be, so I’m wondering whether to add another element into the mix. At the moment, I’m thinking that my protagonist could be working with a buyers advocate in Melbourne to move the process along. Nothing screams ‘uneventfully dull’ like an added layer of bureaucracy.

Although there’s nothing wrong with consulting an advocate, of course, I feel that adding that into the exposition of the novel will just add to the overall effect I’m trying to create. Working with a buyers advocacy in Melbourne is a sensible, risk-averse move to take. It should help to establish those qualities in my protagonist while lulling my reader into a false sense of security. If it does that well, it should be worthwhile adding it in, but I need to be sure it works first.

If only I Knew Software Development

software development courseYou know how your parents always told you that you were going to get square eyes, watching the screen for too long? Well…maybe there was some truth to that. I guess it’s because I’m coding so late and it’s usually dark, but sometimes I can see what I’ve been working on in front of my eyes like I haven’t left the screen. Is it possible to look at something so long it actually becomes kind of…imprinted on your retinas? Maybe I should get my eyes tested.

Man, I haven’t felt this tired since I was back in my software development course and my final project was due. Really brings me back, in a bad way. Of course, I wouldn’t even BE this tired if I hadn’t been pulling so many hours for overseas companies. It’s the only way I can get work after the business I worked for had to pack up shop. Guess once Lawrence Corp moves in down the street there’s nothing much a small business of six people can do, especially when we’re offering the same services. They probably have legions of software course graduates, and web design people and…I don’t know, experts in turning things on and off. The cream of the crop from all the best universities, scads of business and marketing managers to help them crush the competition. What can the little guy do, right? Still, our business dropped off like nothing else. I’m lucky I even had this software development course under my belt; everyone else was either an inside hire or were connected to the family business, so they don’t have qualifications.

Hopefully we can still meet up. I know Ranjesh is doing some kind of game design course in Melbourne somewhere, so good for him. I guess we’ll all just make do with being out in the big wild world. It was fun while it lasted. Still need to go and see the optometrist though, because this vision thing just isn’t going away. Keep seeing a load of blue squares and one of them turns red for a moment…and I’m not even working on anything like that. Weird.