Have More Pride in Yourself, for God’s Sake!

“Have some self-respect,” was the first thought in my mind as I smelled it.

I didn’t have a choice in smelling it; as he wandered past in his singlet, work overalls and gum boots as he entered the supermarket before me, the smell of body odour wafted towards me. Stuck in a jet stream of nasty odour, I moved to the side to try to avoid it, but to no avail.

Now, I personally have a thing against body odour. Maybe I have more pride in myself or am more self-conscious of body odour or something, but, as Noel will tell you, I’m one of those people who really likes to be and smell very clean. (In our entire time together, he’s told me I’ve only ever had slight body odour once, and that was when we were flying from Christchurch to Chicago and I must’ve not put enough deodorant on… but he said the smell wasn’t bad, just noticeable!)

So, after getting out from behind smelly farm worker number one, I quickly did my shopping, grabbing a few bottles of wine for our typical Friday night at Jacqui and James’s, full of pizza and booze and chips, to run into … non-deodorant-wearing guy number 2.

The problem with him was a) he was moving slow b) he looked like him, his wife and his kids all had bolts loose c) he’d been talking to himself in the aisle a few seconds before… and answering himself back and d) did I mention he smelled?

So I was stuck behind smelly number two. And I saw smelly number one quickly approaching the checkouts. Steaming past both smelly men one and two, I parked myself as the first person at a bored (yet nice) check-out operator who had nothing to do.

I find it astonishing the amount of people in New Zealand — mostly men — who don’t wear deodorant. Some of them are young men, young attractive men, who, quite honestly, stink. Noel and I had a friend who was not a frequent user of deodorant (and we tried to say nicely to him about it but I’m not sure if he sprayed under his arms or what but he still kinda had the BO problem). The other day, Dave O and I went to see Transformer and this young guy in front of us — and we’re talking about three feet between our chairs and his — absolutely ponged. To be honest, it kinda put me off the movie a bit.

I don’t know if some US men are the same, or if it’s just a New Zealand thing, or what, but I find it rather disturbing, not to mention smelly.

Deodorant is not that expensive. It’s not that difficult to use. It’s not even that difficult to remember to use! And, in this day and age, there are so many options. There’s no excuse to be smelly… at all.

So as I end a rant, a word of wise to men and women alike out there: deodorant is your friend!

Finding the Edges of Who I Am

Do you ever learn something new about yourself?

Sometimes, when I’m in a really thought-provoking mood — which is more often than not when I have a few spare moments — I think about who I am and what makes me me. And, in the process, I start finding the edges of who I am.

I think of me, as my life progresses, as the outline of a sketch of a person. The vague outlines are there but the detail is still lacking because the artist is still filling it in.

Most of us go through this process. As life progresses, we find the edges of who we are. What we like, what we don’t; who we like, who we don’t; what we will tolerate and what we won’t. Things like that.

And if you keep an open mind, you can find you can change the things you don’t like about yourself (perhaps for the better or for the worst).

For example, I was a chronic nail-biter when I was younger. Even into my 20s, I bit my nails. Now, we know nail biting is bad for your nails. And so I trained myself, somehow, to stop biting my nails.

Now, that’s not as big as, say, completing a novel or raising a child or learning to play the piano, but it’s still progress.

I often wonder if I’m the minority who think about these things, like I’m a shell with the details being filled in, or, I’m like a puzzle, with people in my life adding pieces to the main picture to help create a larger picture.

I don’t think we realize the impact others have on our lives, that sometimes they provide the edges of who we are. Our parents, our partners, our brothers and sisters, our children: If you look at them and how you interact with them (or maybe don’t interact with them), you might find they provide some of the edges of who you are.

So my dare to you is… can you find the edges of who you are?

Rant about Dumb People

Dumb people piss me off.

Maybe I’ve got a short fuse because I’m at the edge of a much-needed holiday. It could be I’m on edge because I’m traveling for nearly 24 hours next week as we head back to the US. And even Jacqui has been commenting on how grumpy I’ve been lately. I don’t know.

Today, I took a phone call that sums the frustration I feel lately all up in a short story.

The phone rang (as it does) and Jacqui was on the other phone line. I answered, in my polite tone: “The National School of Aesthetics. Good afternoon. How can I help you?” I got back a woman asking, “Is this Celtine?”

I felt like saying, “Did I say, ‘Celtine. Good afternoon. How can I help you, you dipshit?” but I bit my tongue as I try to so often do. Instead, I said, “No, I’m sorry, this is the National School of Aesthetics.”

“Oh,” she responded. “I wanted Celtine.”

Just a wee break. For those of you who don’t know who Celtine is, they are a supplier of beds, equipment and beauty therapy product lines for the beauty therapy industry. A relatively huge product house in Auckland running for over 20 years. Yes, Auckland, as in near the North-West part of the North Island. Not Christchurch, as in the mid-Eastern part of the South Island.

Back to the story:

“You mean the supplier? Like Matis, Babor, that Celtine?” I was just making sure.

“Yeah, that’s right,” the lady responded gingerly.

She was lucky I am such a nice guy. “If you hold the line, I’ll find their number for you.”

My hand reached back and grabbed a recent copy of the BeautyNZ magazine, found their advert, and then read her the details. A thought crossed my mind though. Some companies won’t let you call a toll-free (0800) number from within the same area code, so I asked her, “Are you in Auckland?”

“Yes,” came the response.

So I gave her the Auckland number.

Now, this is why I think this woman is an absolute fuckwit.

  • Auckland and Christchurch are totally different cities on totally different New Zealand islands.
  • You dial (03) to get Christchurch. She is in area code (09) and wouldn’t have to dial that to get an Auckland number.
  • Celtine and National School of Aesthetics aren’t even close to the same name. As school would imply, we’re a school, not a supplier.
  • We aren’t even listed in the Auckland Yellow Pages, so God knows where she got our number from.
  • Even if you compared our phone numbers, they aren’t even close. Celtine starts with (09) 528 and ours starts with (03) 366.

I just am frustrated with people not paying attention or not following through or not reading and then expecting the rest of us to help them along when everything goes to shit (which is more often than not). You’re a big girl now. Go out and act like a big girl.

(Another thing not helping is that we are trying to get a new Prospectus printing quote from two companies to, obviously, print our Prospectus for 2008. We gave these companies the same specs: 10 pages internally with a cover. Not very difficult to work out. One company, who shall remain nameless, has quoted us for 12 pages. I wrote back saying that we didn’t say 12 pages with a cover, but 10 pages. The company wrote back with apologies and gave us a quote… for 8 pages with a cover. See what I mean?)

A few days ago, a university professor and researcher stated that we need to encourage more intelligent people (in New Zealand, and perhaps the world) to have more children to balance things out. As things stand, according to this professor, the idiots are having more children than the intelligent people, which, in turn, leads to more idiots being around, endangering everyone. And, in a way, I can understand his argument. I’m not saying I’m the brightest bulb in the bunch, but I sure as hell can figure out that 10 pages mean 10 pages and that dialing (03) 366-5037 will not get me Celtine in Auckland.

Deep breaths. Deep breaths!

Okay. I feel better now. Thanks for listening to my rant!

The New Me

The long-haired lout is no more.

I’ve been humming and hahing about getting my hair cut short for a while now. Mainly, the knots in my hair were driving me nuts, the length was weighing my hair down and thinning it out (or making it look thinner) and it would be damned hot in Chicago with long hair.

Last year, I got my hair cut short, but I seem to gravitate back to long hair again. I don’t know if it’s the hairdresser talking me into it or what, but somehow, my hair ends up being longer again.

Until last night. Denise (who works for us) is a qualified hairdresser and she’s been wanting to get her hands on my hair for a while, from all accounts. Now, to be honest, I like the status quo. I like having the same hairdresser, the same bank, the same everything… I’m not a huge one for change in some areas of my life. Security would be the word I would use. I’m a great fan of security.

Anyway, my mind raced through the last disaster of a haircut I had when going back to the States. For some reason, with my hair long, a group of people decided my hair needed some curl so a loose perm would help that. I wasn’t a big fan of that idea. I thought, if I need curl, I can add product or take a little more time stylng it or something to make it curl. But I was a bit too weak and went along with it. Stupid me.

After hours on a cold winter’s night in the hairdressers, with the appointment running way over time as I needed to take the chihuahuas to the vet, my hair was absolutely hideous. It was overprocessed. It was frizzy. I looked like Tina Turner on a really bad hair day. And, to my embarrassment and horror, I had to take the chihuahuas to the vet where, in a small waiting room, we sat waiting for way too long with everyone staring at my hair.

I wasn’t a happy camper, for obvious reasons.

So with the frank distrust of a new hairdresser — the one who permed my hair denies she did anything wrong, as does her boss, even though both Noel and Don (both hairdressers as well as beauty therapists) agreed it was overprocessed — I reluctantly let Denise style my hair. Well, as I work with her, I trust her, so… I guess that made things slightly easier.

My long locks are gone. Short hair’s here again. It’s easier to manage (took me 15 minutes less to prepare this morning for work!) and looks good. And, as Jacqui, James, Denise, Noel and everyone else has said… it makes me look younger. (Noel says like a boy and not to let Adam near me but hey, that’s another story entirely LOL.)

I have to admit: I feel refreshed. And thank God the new me will be all-that-much cooler and more comfortable in the US!

The Pause

I hate this!

The pause being between flat-out at work and waiting to leave on a holiday drive me mad.

I’m waiting on two or three things from industry people or TEC so I can finish the last bits of two projects before I go away: an NZQA Course Approval and TEC templates. And I hate waiting. I want it done and over now!

It reminds me of when I finally finished re-doing my degree at Massey here in New Zealand. There was that lull, that break, where my learning and final exams were over, where two-and-a-half years’ worth of study were finished, leaving a great void. I felt lost, wandering, unable to focus on other, more relaxing tasks because I felt I still had homework to do.

So, that’s how I feel now: unable to unwind, unable to relax, stuck in the pause between work and holiday.

Here’s hoping people start getting me some data so the pause goes bye-bye!

Life

Life’s a funny old thing.

There are so many sides to it, so many people feeling so many different things within the space of a second on this planet that, if you really stop to think about it, it’s kinda scary!

For example, as you read these words, there will be people falling in love, people falling out of love, people being born, people dying, people laughing, people crying, people praying, people thinking about how they look, people petting their pets, people learning, people stuck on a ventilator… and the list goes on.

What made me think of this was two separate sides of life that came to me on Friday.

Don, who owns the school with Noel, came to me this afternoon quite upset. His mother, 87 and living in a home because her memory isn’t what it used to be, was taken to hospital for suspected heart failure; they didn’t believe she would live very much longer. He’d just seen her earlier in the week, and she’d been fine. And I think that struck him hard because it showed him how fragile life can be and how things can change in only a matter of a short period of time.

So Dorrie (his mother) is in hospital, in a bad way. They’re not sure if she will live, and Don reports she is seeing her husband and her daughter — both of who died years before. This, methinks, is never a good sign.

There, a life is ending. Maybe not today, maybe soon, but her life is now nearing a close.

On the other side of the world, near where I was born and raised, my sister-in-law’s twin sister, Darthy, was getting married this afternoon. She’d been searching for love in all the wrong places (to quote a song) and the tales of some of the guys she’d end up with shocked me, to be honest.

And finally, she met a man who opened his heart to her, did all he could for her and her son, and showed her the kindness and compassion she deserved to see from the start.

Together, a new chapter in their life has begun. A new start, a new beginning as a family and hopefully a successful one at that. For a man to love a woman so much that he’s willing to take her child (who’s not his) in as his own is okay in my book.

Here we are with two separate events in one day to show how multifaceted and complex life is. I often think strange thoughts like that, and sometimes my head feels like it’s going to explode because the concept is too large for one person to handle. Sometimes it feels like I am outside myself when I contemplate these things and realise that life is a lot more than just me and who I am, yet, it couldn’t exist without me or who I am. A very strange paradox indeed.

The moral of this story is love, laugh, live and enjoy life. Start every chapter fresh. As I said to one of my friends recently in response to her blog, don’t look back like Lot’s wife, for you too may never turn back. And live in each moment. For too long I was focused on the future, on the past, so much so that the present was gliding by and I was too busy somewhere else.

Big hugs to everyone!!!

Power Outages

They were on fire.

Tall burning pillars of what were once trees were on fire, and scared, I went running into the kitchen to tell my Mom.

It was the 5th of July 1980, the day after Independence Day. We had no power; a huge storm system had moved through the night before, with tornadoes and high winds. Our large elm tree had broken with the wind, missing the back of my parents’ new silver Mazda by about 3 inches. Trees were down all over Mount Prospect. Debris and litter were strewn all over the place. Some people were unlucky, and had rooves damaged or windows broken, or, like my soon-to-be-first-grade teacher, had her brick chimney collapse on her house.

So, after a short sleep in that morning — with a long night spent huddled in a basement who could blame us — my Mom decided to make some breakfast for us, and stood at the gas stove stirring a pot of something. She asked me, in turn, to keep an eye on my baby brother Brian.

Sitting in what is now my parents’ bedroom, watching my brother Brian sleep, I heard a crackling noise. Then more crackling. I couldn’t see out the window — in my parents’ place, the windows are high up on the wall — so I stood on the bed in the room to peer out the window.

And that’s when I saw it.

Our neighbours two doors down had two large cottonwood trees in their backyard. These trees must have been about a hundred feet high if not higher. They were amongst the tallest trees in the neighbourhood.

And they were on fire.

I rushed to my Mom and told her. She didn’t believe me — to this day, she said it was because I had an overactive imagination (which is still true to this day) — until the firetrucks came racing down our street.

Ends up that with the strong wind, the power lines — strung together with the telephone, cable, et cetera and accessable from power poles running through our backyards — got stuck in the tree. With the winds still moderate, the power line rubbed against the tree, exposing bare wires and… you get the idea. The feedback triggered the power outage (we had just woke up and the power was out) and must have done some pretty major damage because most of the town was out.

Now, I’m taking this from the memory of a six year old, so… some areas are a bit fuzzy, but I do recall being without power for 3 days in the middle of summer. I don’t remember being uncomfortable or angry or anything negative. It was what it was: an act of God.

As you may have read in Noel’s blog, some Aucklanders and North Islanders have been without power for a few days due to a storm that hit. And, it seems, some of them let no opportunity to complain go by.

I don’t remember that happening in our neighbourhood. Neighbours helped one another, made sure they could help out and share what they did have. BBQs seemed to be the norm for dinners. People got on and did what they had to do.

Maybe it was a different time. Lots of people had no power; other people had been or were trapped in their houses. So maybe they were thankful no one in their family was hurt and, hey, having no power for a few days was just an inconvenience and nothing more: no use moaning about it.

With that I share with you a scary but exciting small part of my life, from a time where a power outage caused by high winds and storms was an exciting adventure, not an opportunity to bitch to as many news outlets as you could.