Saturday, 23 June 2012

Are you an asylum seeker? No? Then I don't want to hear about your 'problems' today.

I can't bear this anymore. I can't even read or write about it without crying. How can my country, as I believe it to be, what I believe it stands for, allow this to continue? These are people who have already suffered so much, who are so desperate that they will get in a boat that more resembles a colander than something seaworthy. The irony of the acronym SIEV (Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel) overwhelms me! How can we continue to maintain "policies" that allow them to take such risks and die in this way after everything they have already endured? I have no problem with them coming here, hell, I even have a spare room. But I have a very big problem with them being allowed to try to come in a way that is so dangerous. Shame on our politicians, shame on us, shame on me.

I have talked about this a fair bit in my time, but now I can't not try to do something. I am horrified.

Update 28/7/12: I wrote unique letters to 13 elected representatives of all persuasions straight after I wrote this post. To date I have received one sanctimonious hard copy form letter from Christine Milne (leader of the Greens, but not the only Greens member I wrote to) reiterating their refusal to compromise their stance, and one very grateful and encouraging email from Independent Rob Oakeshott's staff outlining further action I could take to encourage a break in the impasse and providing links to useful facts and figures. From the rest? Nothing but the sound of crickets! Hmmm.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Bridezilla lurks in the heart of every woman

So. One of the big upcoming changes in my life is that I will be getting married soon. Like, in two and a half months soon. I’ve never been a girl to sit around and day dream about “the day I get married”. In fact, when I was little I used to proudly tell my mum that I was “never getting married and never having kids!” But this guy ... this guy is special, this guy is different, and I can’t wait to be married to him.

We have been waiting quite a while for circumstances to be right, so we’ve had plenty of time to work on the big picture – dress, rings, venue, vibe, caterer, etc., etc. – but not the specifics, such as, well, date! Once we had the green light we went through the process of making sure that key people were available on our preferred date (including the groom, who inconveniently lives in Montréal) and are now working out the logistics of it all before we send out the invitations. (Before the etiquettists out there tsk, tsk, the save the dates are out with the interstaters and all the locals know verbally.)

And this is where it gets surprising: I have felt the stirring of my inner Bridezilla already and I am shocked at myself.  

She first reared her ugly head while my dad was here looking after me and we were discussing how many layers of family I was prepared to drill down into on the guest list. Freak out number one was about blowing out the budget when I have to relocate internationally next year and we have a second, Canadian, celebration to throw when Charles’s family is a tightly-knit cast of thousands. Freak out number two was that I really want to have a fairly intimate ceremony, preferably around 65 people max, and the guest list is currently sitting at 94 without cousins. 94?! Do I really know that many people? I guess I, or we, do. My dad gave me a stern father-daughter talk at the time, which I wasn’t in the mood for, but, yes, he was right. He told me to get my priorities in order. My stepmother reinforced this with the sage words, “One thing you will remember about the day is the people and how they wanted to be there for you.” Shucks. 

The next Bridezilla moment was Not. My. Fault. Now there’s a dead giveaway statement if ever I read one. Right from the get-go, pretty much one week into our engagement, we knew where we wanted to get married. We had even had a date booked and a deposit paid for last year, but things didn’t pan out that way. Of course, we were back onto them in a flash when we knew we were good to go, confirmed a suitable date, yada, yada, and then they sent through their new contract. This venue is a seaside venue: ceremony on the beach then a stroll over the grass to the sweetly set tables for a long, leisurely, family-style lunch in the dappled shade of the trees – aaaaah! Except ... they no longer allow glass of any sort whatsoever. Whoa, Nellie! Not only have I been painstakingly collecting vintage glasses by the scores for the table settings (cough, Bridezilla alert, cough!), but actually I don’t feel like paying around about $6,000 for catering and venue hire and then drinking my celebratory wedding bubbles out of acrylic champagne flutes. I refuse to consider that this is anything less than reasonable (cough...)

But, ya know what? It all worked out for the best. A chance call to one of my workmates to get a phone number while I was on leave led to a chat about what I’d been up to, led to discussing the venue debacle and then led to her suggesting a venue that turned out to be perfect. It’s super cute, closer to town for post-revelry taxi fares, is wet weather-proof (essential in the tropics), has a kitchen onsite when the other venue didn’t, and it is $150 for the venue hire for the entire weekend. $150!! I feel like I am cheating them. The venue is a community hall, so when we’re done I will make a donation of equipment or something similar that I think they might need.

In the meantime I just found the budget for another 10 or so guests, so now I just have to get used to the idea of that many people watching me as I go through what will be one of the most emotional moments of my life. It’s been such a long wait I have been joking that my wedding vows are going to be, “I say yes, now where do I sign?” But then again, maybe I’m not actually joking. 

Coming up: Will the bridesmaid be wearing animal print? Will the bride be able to track down the long-lost old friend she wants to have as wedding celebrant? And will the bride ever get to have a meeting with her beloved caterers, and does this in fact even matter since she trusts them enough to just hand over cash and say, “Knock yerselves out”? Stay tuned.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Working from home: the unexpected pitfalls

Contrary to popular belief, working from home does not make you immune to common office issues.

There is still a queue for the toilet:

If you turn your back for a minute someone tries to move in on your desk space:

And someone else is always, always, using the coffee machine when you are dying for a caffeine hit:

That said, with my seven weeks sick leave shortly coming to an end, this time off from work has shown me that I could get very used to the freelancer/work from home lifestyle. Because when I say "had time off", I should qualify that by saying I spent about one week of this time finishing up editing a 96 page exhibition catalogue for work, I assessed some grant applications, I set up this blog, and I set up an Etsy shop. If I tell you that to me these were fun things, well that might just give you a better idea of who I am as a person. However, it was just enough work-like activity to make me realise that this is a way of working that suits me. It also suits the career direction I want to move in, and supports me to take care of my health the way I am going to have to from now on.

I'm not about to rush out and quit my day job just yet, this girl's got responsibilities y'know - to the company, to my project partners and co-workers, and to my personal finances. But a seed has been planted, and as the cogs keep turning to effect the BIG change that's a'coming, my little brain is ticking over too, beginning to work out ways to make this my work-a-day reality in the mid-term future. I will keep you posted as I make that transition, but I'm guessing already that it would be naive to expect my future co-workers to pitch in for their fair share of the milk.