in another life

In my last post, I mentioned briefly that I’d drafted another post but hadn’t been bothered to refine it yet. I still haven’t really refined it that much, but I don’t like having unpublished posts sitting around. From past experience, I know that if I start a draft and don’t publish it within a reasonable time from when I started it, then it’ll probably get abandoned altogether. So… I’m posting this now.

The following mental excerpt was just something that crossed my mind randomly the other day, and I gradually realised that I could build quite an argument for it. (I could probably build an argument (logical or nonsensical) for just about anything if I was so inclined but that’s beside the point here.)

It occurred to me the other day that, irrespective of whether or not I actually believe in reincarnation, if I have been reincarnated, I must surely have been a dog in my previous life. Here are the reasons why:

  1. I like eating meat – all meat, including offal. I’m particularly partial to liver, which, I hear, dogs consider to be a real treat.
  2. I also like chocolate, onions, garlic, milk, avocado, etc (separately, of course). Ok, I know that dogs aren’t meant to eat any of those things because they’re toxic or something (yeah, I did my research for this post …kind of) but I figured that maybe I like them so much in my current life because I never got to eat them in my previous life, and now I’ve discovered how amazing they are because I can actually eat them. (Yes, that logic totally works…)
  3. I like running and being outside. It’s a rare thing for me to turn down a chance to go for a run. It’s very rare for me to not have enough energy to go for a run. And although there are days when I want nothing more than to stay inside forever, there’s just something really uplifting about being outside, with nothing between myself and the sky and the earth.
  4. I’ve been told that I’m very loyal. In fact, my so-called “mortal enemy” has been known to say that I am “loyal like a dog”. (Not sure how offensive that’s meant to be… But it helps my argument here, so I’ll let it slide.)
  5. And finally: I’m a pack animal – because, let’s face it, as much as I like a bit of solitude and serenity, life is just better with family and friends around.

a rambling train

I am now more than halfway through the “100 Happy Days” challenge. How the time flies! Thinking about the challenge so far, I don’t think that it has significantly changed me. Maybe at the start I thought more about what to post about and that sort of thing, but now I reckon I can pretty much think up a post and get it posted in a matter of minutes (I probably put more thought into what I’m going to write than what the photo will be of, which is only natural, me being a writer rather than a photographer).

I’m quite glad that I’ve managed to accompany each post with a photo or picture of some sort. I reckon I’ll keep posting photos on Twitter after these 100 days are over, since it at least adds a point of difference on this blog of mine with its picture-less posts… I’m also quite glad that I haven’t had any duplicate entries – I’ve found something new to be happy about every day – or, at least, I don’t think that I’ve repeated anything yet…

Feels like it’s been a bit of a slow, quiet week this last week. I was trying to start a habit/routine of getting my post for the week written and published earlier on in the week, but it just hasn’t happened this time. I did start a draft post, and I could have published that one on Tuesday, but I’ve been too tired to properly proofread and refine it. Might schedule it in for next week instead.

Now I feel reasonably alert, with the knowledge that it is finally the week-end, and all I really want to do is write this post, wherein I can just ramble on about everything and nothing in particular. I simultaneously feel like I have too many things to write about and not enough to write about.

Reading ‘The World According to Garp’ is inspiring me to write. I read something the other day that suggested that a good way to write a good book is to firstly think about the things that you like about the books you read. One of the first things I thought of was inspiration – I like books that inspire me and make me feel like writing. (Whether or not I actually write anything is a different matter.) It probably helps that Garp is a writer, so I end up reading and thinking about writing anyway.

This made me think about MasterChef. Watching MasterChef and other cooking shows makes me want to cook. There’s just the small problem of time… and energy, and obtaining the necessary ingredients, and even deciding what to cook in the first place…!

Speaking of food, I feel like my appetite has been more voracious than usual recently. I’m not sure why. It’s almost like my self-control is slipping. (Yeah, ok, a bit melodramatic there.) I have to consciously tell myself to stop eating. But maybe it’s because I haven’t exercised as much lately, my food intake seems disproportionate, and it’s actually nothing to do with my appetite changing. Who knows…

Going back to writing and fiction and such, I was just thinking about the weird dreams I’ve been having recently. They’re not weird in any particular way – more just completely random and seemingly meaningless. I read somewhere once (a lot of my random knowledge comes from me “reading something somewhere this one time”) that it is not possible to have a dream of someone you’ve never seen in real life, but sometimes I’ll wake up from a dream and really struggle to figure out where I’ve seen those faces before.

And so I wondered if that rule applied to fictional characters or to imagined people. I mean, surely if you develop a fictitious character in enough detail, then they can appear in your dreams. And if that is possible, then why can’t you imagine people within the dream? Does the subconscious not have access to the imagination?

I feel like there’s a lot more that I wanted to ramble on about, but this post is starting to get a bit too long, so I might leave it here. Besides, have to save some material for future posts, right?

mmm… smokey…

I think a good measure of how much I enjoyed something is how eager I am to write about it afterwards. This probably doesn’t apply for everything, but it probably works for certain things like novels, movies and food. Of course there are other factors that affect how much I want to write/blog about something, but as a general indication, it’s alright.

So, keeping that in mind, let me now say that I was very eager to write a post about camping at Gordon Country after getting back just this afternoon. Coincidentally quite similar to the last time I went camping.

That first time I went camping, there were toilets and showers and such. This time, at Gordon Country, there were no such amenities, and the place is so massive that I don’t think I saw any other people in the entire time that we were there (except for the odd 4WD/ute driving by on the other side of the creek, and that one guy on a mountain bike). I believe my friend said that this was more like “real” camping, and I reckon “real” camping sits well with me.

It’s kind of funny because leading up to this week-end, I mentioned to a few people at work that I was going camping, and their reactions were less than enthusiastic. They seemed to not understand the appeal of camping. This made me reflect on why I like camping (I always hesitate to use the word “reflect” in that sense because it brings back memories of all those reflections I had to write throughout uni…)

But what’s not to like? I reckon it’s a great way to spend a week-end. You get to get out of the city, relax, slow down, unwind and just enjoy life. Sure, there’s the issue of sleep not being as comfortable (especially if it’s really cold, as it was this week-end), but the way I see it, any rejuvenation gained from a week-end sleep-in is almost completely negated by that first alarm on Monday morning. Sure, there’s the issue of having to deal with “the elements” – rain and hence lots of mud, in this instance – but that’s never dampened my spirits.

And, sure, there’s the lack of creature comforts but, you know what, I reckon that helps me to be less “princess-y”. Well, to be fair, I don’t think that I’m that princess-y to begin with, but I do care about cleanliness and hygiene and that sort of thing, which is probably expected considering my line of work. Slack food prep practices make me a bit squeamish (by this I mostly mean stuff like washing hands before touching food and stuff like that) and I tend to avoid eating anything that’s burnt (like, at the charcoal stage, unless that’s how it’s supposed to be cooked and presented). But going camping, even just these two times, has made me feel more at ease with all these things. I can let go of my OCD and just go with it.

I suppose a big determinant of how much you enjoy camping is the people you go with. I guess I’ve been lucky enough to always go with the right sort of people (i.e. easy-going people who know what they’re doing). And dogs make it more fun, too.

I will not, however, deny that having that hot shower after getting back was so damned good. But it does make me a little bit sad that I’ve already washed off all of the smell of the campfire smoke.

snapshots

Those who have been following my Twitter feed on the side there will have noticed that I’ve been away this week-end. I don’t take many week-end trips, but I’ve found, from the ones I have taken, that the best thing about these short trips is that you can get that same refreshed feeling that you’d get from a “proper” holiday without going away very long and without even using up any annual leave.

So this last week-end, I went to Byron Bay, with a brief stop-over in Tweed Heads.

Ok, I have to pause for a bit here. I’m trying to figure out how to write this post, but also trying to watch Master Chef (watching online because I missed it on TV), so I’m kind of distracted, and this isn’t really working. But I feel like I need to post this tonight because this is a short week because of the long week-end just gone and the likelihood of being away next week-end too, and it just feels like there’s too much to do in between (plus the possibility of not finishing work on time).

Yeah, ok, maybe over-dramatising a bit, but maybe I’m still on a bit of a high from the Byron trip (no, not that sort of high…)

Well, to summarise, and not kill it with details, the highlights of the trip for me were probably the walk over to the Cape Byron lighthouse and the “most easterly point of Australia”, spending time on the beach, and going fishing (even though it started pouring rain about half an hour in, so we couldn’t even hang around long enough to catch anything).

The food was good too (I don’t think that I can not mention food when writing about holidays). What I liked most was the emphasis on local produce, and the way that cafe/restaurant staff were so hospitable. In particular, I was quite impressed with Bayleaf, and I’m not surprised that they were packed on the morning we were there. It was also very clear that they had a lot of regular customers, too – and not just regulars who are remembered by their coffee order, but regulars that they have a chat with or know outside of the cafe (arguably not a difficult feat, considering the size of the town).

I was also impressed by the ubiquity of bicycles, and the lack (or complete absence) of road rage. Sounds like my sort of place.

1158 and other numbers

Today was a good day. I know that today was a good day because, after finishing work more or less on time, I had enough energy and concentration left in me to do some reading all the way home. This is good because usually I’m either too tired or distracted, and cannot focus long enough to read more than a few pages.

Can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this in a previous post already, but my current commute book is “The World According to Garp” (by John Irving). I’m finding it to be a very interesting book so far, to say the least. It’s written quite well – it’s so easy to read – but it’s also incredibly random. More than once I have found myself thinking, “what did I just read…??”

But I’ll write more of a review of it after I’ve finished the full book.

When I was reading it on the bus this evening, I came across the number “1158” in a sentence. For some reason, that tripped me up a bit. I felt like, in that brief second when my eyes scanned over that number, my mind couldn’t decide if it wanted to read it as “one-one-five-eight” or “eleven-fifty-eight” or “one thousand, one hundred and fifty-eight”. The final option sounded better in the context of the sentence (it was about how many pages of manuscript one of the characters had written) but because I’d considered the first two options, I lost a bit of reading momentum.

This is where I almost got distracted and didn’t continue reading. Almost.

I put a mental post-it note on the topic for later revision. What I was interested in wasn’t why I’d considered those first two options (it’s kind of obvious if you know my line of work – I spend all day dealing with numbers in the thousands, and it’s just quicker to read the digits than to read the number in full). What I was interested in was how people say numbers in a certain way.

This kind of relates back to that post from last week about listing things …and also kind of doesn’t. I mean, reading the number “1158” is sort of like reading a list: one thousand, one hundred and fifty-eight. Sure, the order is kind of pre-determined because that’s the order of the digits and whatever. But, theoretically, you could also say “fifty-eight, one hundred and one thousand”. It’s just that no one does that because it sounds weird and is confusing. I suppose it sounds less weird if it’s a two-digit number, such as “one and twenty” (21), and the writing style/context suits it.

But that wasn’t the end of it.

I started thinking about other numbers – mostly about numbers without any “tens” or “ones” (gee, I mustn’t have used those terms since, like, grade two), such as one thousand, five hundred (1500). Why don’t people say “one thousand and five hundred”? If it was 5043, it would be read as “five thousand and forty-three” (the “and” mightn’t be properly enunciated, but it’s still there).

So much to ponder about, so little time. Have to go to bed so I can be awake enough to read on the commute tomorrow.

lessons from the internet

I’ve been noticing something rather strange and ironic that seems to be happening more and more lately. (Well, it seems to have plateaued or abated a bit since I wrote the draft for this post – handwrote, mind you – but still worth posting, I suppose. I don’t usually handwrite drafts for posts, but I was being lazy and didn’t want to turn on my laptop, so I just grabbed some scrap paper and a pencil. And then I forgot about it for a few weeks…)

The phenomenon I speak of is this trend of using social media against itself. More specifically, it’s all these videos and photos (or “memes” if you will) that are circulating on Facebook that either encourage people to stop spending so much time on social media sites, or that make fun of how obsessed everyone is with FB/Twitter/Instagram/whatever other sites people use to consume every spare waking second of their lives.

Now, to be clear, I have nothing against these things, just as I have nothing against social media, as such. I just thought it was ironic. But, then again, how else are people going to get these sorts of messages out?

While on the subject of social media, I’ve also been noticing a lot of people “sharing” articles about life lessons and stuff like that. These are usually titled something like “Ten things you learn in your twenties” or “Seven things every 30 year old should know”, and (from the ones that I have been bored/curious enough to read) these articles tend to offer very generic/repetitive advice like “prioritise your life – work isn’t the most important thing” or “it’s impossible to keep every friend you’ve ever made”.

The funny thing about a lot of these sorts of articles is that they also tell readers to not worry if they feel like they don’t have everything figured out, because there’s no master formula that will work for everyone. If the article does include a point like this, it’s usually at the end, which basically translates in my mind to “just ignore everything you just read – you’ll probably figure it out for yourself and still survive”. Great.