31.12.10

I'm on VYou.

VYou is kind of cool. Or weird. It's like formspring. You can ask me a question, and I will reply to you with a video. You don't need to be on video yourself, and you can ask questions anonymously. Is anybody else doing this?

27.12.10

It’s my blogoversary.

It's my second blogoversary. It's also a time when many of us look back and evaluate the previous year.

In all honesty (which I suppose is the purpose of this blog), 2010 was a stagnant year. Maybe it was a transitional year.

It was the year that Five started school, which was a more difficult transition—for me—than I anticipated.

I started off my blogging year with a cracker of a post about my crumbling marriage. (Dead End.)

Flixster - Share Movies

Then I joked about using my blog for therapy. (Where am I going with this blog?) And I tried to find an audience for my neurotic navel-gazing. (I need some street cred.)


I began to despair about the possibility of making any lasting friendships in the village. (Notes from a country bumpkin.)

Eventually I realized that airing one’s dirty laundry is a faux pas. (I’m tired of people raising their eyebrows at me.)

In August my friend Suzy gave me a body makeover, which I showed off in her sidebar.


In August I also participated in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I wrote 31 posts in 31 days!

And I ruffled some feathers whilst on my soapbox. (Clean, green New Zealand. Yeah, right. and How tolerant is America?)

I had my first (and probably only) giveaway. (Spring has sprung and a giveaway.)

I started a tumblr, and I wrote a novel for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

I joined in my friend Neil's Fifth Annual Blogger Christmalhijrahanukwanzaakah Concert, which did make me feel like a part of a larger community.


Thank you Suzy and Neil, for making me laugh and for your good advice. Thank you to Lisa and Jayne for continuing to inspire me with your replies and e-mails.

And thank you to my mother, Sweet Jane, Aliceson, The Empress, Madame DeFarge, TechnoBabe, and Happy Frog and I for your comments and e-mails.

Thank you to everyone for reading, and thank you for your comments. And a special thanks to a couple others—you know who you are—who have supported me in difficult times. It means a lot to me.

--
As 2010 draws to a close, I'm noticing a different side of New Zealand. It's a place from which many Kiwis long to escape—because of its remoteness, its provincialism, its lack of opportunity.

Despite the beautiful setting and the friendliness of the people, I do feel isolated and lonely here. I don't know if I can build "real" friendships in this village, or online.

I thought that I had found my purpose in blogging—to make friends—but it seems that most "normal" people want to separate their online friends from their "real" relationships. In time I too will treat my blog more like a column (instead of like a therapy session, or a chain letter to my pen pals).

In the beginning of the year, I wanted more "tiny heads" in my sidebar. Now I care less about the number of followers that I have. Sure, it would be wonderful to have 300 followers.

But I read some excellent blogs that are largely unknown. And sometimes I read "popular" blogs that have inexplicably large followings. I am more convinced than ever that the world is simply absurd.

Happy Holidays to everyone. Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2011.

26.12.10

The lament of a late bloomer.

I believe being a stay-at-home mum was worth the financial sacrifice. It has been a luxury to stay home for another year, and try to figure out “what I should do”.

But to put a brighter spin on things, I think I was born in the wrong decade. This may be the lament of a late bloomer.

I still have no idea what to do. Not really. Earning money by publishing novels is a stupid pipe dream. And I think I have always known this.

I have a whim to make the world a better place—by sharing the delights of Romeo and Juliet and The Metamorphosis with impressionable young people who will not read these texts.

But in New Zealand there is no shortage of English teachers. And French teachers aren't in demand here either (ref. a little incident with nuclear testing in the South Pacific, and a boat called the Rainbow Warrior).

The other deterrent to shaping young Kiwi minds is I need to spend $6,000 on a "paper”. Although I am usually in favour of gaining more education, this seems unfair. I wish the cost of the paper could be absorbed by my employer (The Ministry of Education) in exchange for say, a couple-year commitment to teaching.

If there are no jobs for English teachers, it is probably more worthwhile to toss $6,000 in the wood burner.

I do have a teaching certificate from when I lived in Chicago. I got it when I was about 25 (and confused). I'm pretty sure I had to do something to get it, even if I don’t quite remember what it was. At the time, Chicago was desperate for teachers, and they encouraged anyone crazy or stupid enough to want to teach school to give it a go.

There were trips to the Board of Education, and there may have been testing or evaluation. Even though education in America now has fallen behind, I feel like my previous experience should be worth something.

This is the plight of the immigrant. You need to jump through hoops to get a job you may have been allowed to do in your home country. Of course most Kiwis believe this is perfectly reasonable.

There is a need for teachers in New Zealand, and it would be nice to have a similar schedule and holidays to Five’s. But I also want to get in paid employment ASAP. So instead of trying to inspire Kiwi children, I think I will try to get another grey government job producing documents. Or do the paper to teach school. One or the other.

Yes, I'm happy we cleared that up.

25.12.10

Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more...


The minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight...


He brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!

Happy Holidays from our family to yours.


Vezi mai multe din Desene animate pe 220.ro

16.12.10

The Fifth Annual Blogger Christmalhijrahanukwanzaakah Concert

The Fifth Annual Blogger Christmalhijrahanukwanzaakah Concert, hosted by Neil of Citizen of the Month, is now LIVE.

It is amazing. Watch and listen to these funny endearing performances by very talented bloggers.

Five and I are about 15 or so acts down from the top, in our own special mother-son duet.

DON'T MISS.

15.12.10

Oh hi, hay fever.

I know weather-related blogging is boring, but weather is CONSUMING me. Most years in Wellington, the unsettled spring weather sails on right through Christmas Day. (Because Wellington weather is crap.)

But SURPRISE this year scorching hot summer weather and hay fever have arrived early. And we all have been miserable.

In the morning we have been waking up to sore throats, sore heads, and stuffy noses. Last week I kept Five home from school. Because I thought he had a cold. And I am soft and gooey inside.

“No, it’s hay fever,” said Adam as he popped another antihistamine tablet.

Of course it is.

Every year Adam is crippled by hay fever when the grass begins to bloom.

Flowering grass can suck it.

I really don't like this stupid flowering grass. Because along with the man flu, it's Adam's Kyptonite.

On my first visit to New Zealand, at the very onset of summer, Adam and I tried to go camping. (Or if you prefer, tramping.)

Anyway, we hiked in to a place that Adam couldn't find on a little goat trail with enormous packs. (Because Adam insists on bringing everything and the kitchen sink with us.) But after the first night, we had to turn back. Because Adam was defeated by hay fever.

This year Five and I also are suffering. But it’s churlish to complain. Especially when many of you in the Northern Hemisphere are cold, and there is snow. LA LA LA. Look, the pohutukawa is flowering.

Pohutukawa in bloom.

--
In other news I forgot today was the last day of school. I thought it was tomorrow. As it clearly should be.

I also forgot the school was letting the kids out at midday. I am that mother. Who forgets to pick up her kid.

I'd like to blame the school because they suck at communicating. But if all the other parents are on top of things, the problem must be me. Confirming that I am indeed getting stupider as I get older.

Hello, early onset dementia.

And no school for SIX WEEKS. For the duration of the long summer holidays. Which will cause me to unravel even more. OMG. (Hold me.)

--
Maybe I should think about going back to paid work. Because I am unqualified for work as housekeeper and nanny. And financial storms are causing us anxiety, which paid work would help to alleviate.

That is, if I can find paid work. It seems rather daunting. Especially since I have no discernible skills, and I'd prefer a job where nobody expects me to do anything. Are there jobs like that?

If I do have a paid job, and it's the NANNY who forgets to pick up Five, I can rant. As it is now, if I forget to pick up Five, all I can do is feel guilty.

--
Whilst on the topic of dementia, I’m going to be over at my friend Neil’s blog for his holiday concert. You are not going to want to miss this. Neil is so smart and funny, and he is kind of famous. But he still talks to me on IM and Twitter, and sometimes he even comments here.

Please stop by Neil’s blog, Citizen of the Month, and be wowed by my sounds of summer in the South Pacific, with ukulele (that I just learned to play) and special musical stylings by Five.

4.12.10

Fifty thousand words in 30 days.

I didn’t think it could be done, but somehow it happened. I wrote 50,000 words in 30 days. Fifty thousand words.

I really like how the NaNoWriMo (National Noveling Writing Month) challenge gives me permission to suck. I can ignore my inner critic. I don’t need to think about the mediocre quality of what I am writing. It is just about the word count.

After participating in NaNoWriMo, I have a sense of pride and achievement. I have produced more than I otherwise would. I have written a rough draft. And writing a rough draft gives me a larger appreciation of the books that I love.

Another thing I like about the NaNoWriMo challenge is the deadline. I know, deadlines suck. But the NaNoWriMo challenge shows how meeting achievable daily goals can help you meet your larger goal.


I excel at procrastination. I wiggle out of deadlines that I set for myself because I have a high-speed Internet connection and poor impulse control. It takes me eight hours of fluffing to complete one hour of work.

I fail to meet deadlines that other people set. I ask for extensions, or I don’t complete the task at all (unless I am shamed because I am letting someone down).

But I love deadlines. I adore the pressure of being under a deadline—not at the time, of course. At the time, I hate it. I resent it. I am angry about it. But I love how a deadline encourages me—forces me—to get things done. And the satisfaction that comes after meeting a deadline is very sweet indeed.

--
A while back I read Time’s excellent interview with Jonathan Franzen (author of The Corrections and Freedom). To avoid procrastinating, Mr Franzen disabled the Internet connection on his writing laptop. Even so, it took Mr Franzen nine years to write Freedom. He gave up HAVING A FAMILY to write Freedom.

I am struggling with this. How do I follow my own ambition—earning a living by publishing novels—without being neglectful of my child and husband?

Is taking time for myself incredibly selfish—especially if my ambition—writing novels—doesn’t produce (and likely won’t produce) any income?

I shouldn’t think about this now. I just need to focus on my manuscript and make it the best that I can. O.K. Next comes twenty or thirty rounds of revising. Congratulations to everyone who participated in NaNoWriMo. Onward...