last year (#2)

Occasionally, I like to look back at old posts to see what sort of stuff I wrote “back then”, or to see how my writing has evolved, or just to reminisce about old times. The other night, I had a look at the posts I published in September last year, and I came across this one about hypothetically having one year left to live. It has a list of things that I would not change about my life, even if I knew that I was going to die in exactly one year’s time.

I thought it’d be good to do a follow-up post on that one, just to see what’s changed. But, actually, I’d probably keep all of those answers the same. Of course, now that I’m writing a novel (attempting to, at least), I’d probably include finishing the novel in my list. Well, I already had a dot-point for writing, so it’d probably just be included in that.

Something else that I probably wouldn’t change (and that wasn’t on the list) is the amount of travel I do, which is very minimal. Actually, maybe I would (?) It’s hard to say. I mean, initially, I thought I’d mostly stay put so that I could spend more time with family and friends, but then I thought that maybe I’d want to take said family and friends on holidays elsewhere just because I can, and it’d be a nice sort of thank-you to them. But then there’s also the consideration of whether or not it would be better to not squander all my money, so that I have more to leave behind for the people I’m leaving behind.

Gee.. I think I’m overthinking this a little bit…

Ok, how about an easy one: I’ve been baking more this year, and that’s another thing I probably wouldn’t change. In fact, I’d probably bake more. I made shortbread this morning, which I’m pairing with a peanut butter chocolate ganache. And maybe strawberries on top. I’d continue to bake because it makes me feel happy, and it makes others happy, and, really, what more can you ask for? (Ice-cream, maybe, but that can be arranged.) Also, if I only have one year left to live, I’m not going to be counting calories (I don’t even count calories now).

If I had just one year left to live, I’d still listen to lots of music, I’d still learn the lyrics to all the songs I like, and I’d still go to concerts. Again, I’d probably listen to music more often in this one year scenario than I do now. Hmm.. Let me put some music on…

Ok, that’s better.

Let’s delve into something deeper: What would I change? I think this is the harder question to answer because you have to confront the things that aren’t quite right with life, or that aren’t as good as they could be. Ok, here we go…

  1. I would probably share this blog more. Maybe. Currently, I don’t really tell anyone I know in real life that I have this blog (I think I was going to write a post about this, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Maybe I’ll write it next week …maybe after I’ve tried sharing this blog with more people.) It’s not really a big deal either way, I guess…?
  2. I wouldn’t worry so much about getting enough sleep. Considering all the reading, writing, running, baking, etc that I want to do, there’s just no way I’d have time to sleep in or over-sleep. I’d give myself 7 hours max. – ok, maybe 7.5 to 8 hours if I’m really tired. Maybe I’d just start drinking coffee more often. Hmm… I’m sure 7 hours is fine. I’m keeping my moments of stillness, though.
  3. I would give more hugs. I love a good hug as much as the next person but I don’t tend to initiate hugs. Most of my hugs happen on some sort of special occasion, or if I’m with someone who especially likes hugs. Sometimes I feel a bit awkward about hugs, sometimes I sense that the other person feels awkward about hugs. But, according to something I read somewhere some time ago, physical contact (in the form of hugs, etc not, like, violent contact) releases oxytocin, which makes people feel good toward each other, which can’t be a bad thing, right? (Well, it potentially could be, but let’s pretend it’s all good.)

I have this belief that you need at least three things to make a list, so that’s all I’m going to write. That was actually harder than I thought because when I planned this post (in my head), I was just going to write about not changing things again. It was only as I was actually writing this post that I randomly decided to write about making changes, and then I had to sit here and think of three things I would change.

And now the pressure’s on. Will I make these changes? Will I remember to write a follow-up post from this one in approximately one year’s time?

I’m actually curious to know what other people would change / not change, so if you decide to make your own list, and feel like sharing, I’d be interested in reading/hearing about it!

one in a million

I’m just going to say straight up that this entire post is going to be about Maroon 5. If you do not listen to their music, or do not like their music, I highly recommend skipping this post (also, why don’t you listen to / like their music??). Feel free to go and read something more worthwhile. I can give you suggestions if you’re short on ideas.

Anyway, my music taste is pretty mainstream, so obviously I’m a big fan of Maroon 5 (they’re pretty mainstream, right? I mean, they get played on the radio so much… Not that I’m complaining…)

Last night, I went to see their concert and, since I did a post for The Script’s concert (actually, I’m pretty sure I did at least two posts for them), I am definitely writing one for Maroon 5. (Side note: I’d say The Script is also pretty mainstream, but less so than Maroon 5.) Part of me wants to draw comparisons between the two concerts, but I think I’ll just write about this one on its own merits.

First off, honorary mentions to the support/opening acts: Conrad Sewell and Dirty Loops. Pretty good performances from them both; got the energy going, etc.

When Maroon 5 got on the stage, though… wow… They smashed out a lot of high-energy songs at the start, one after the other. There were some nice chill moments when Adam Levine was just kind of chatting to us, but I’m kind of impressed with how many songs they fit into that concert. And they played some of their old songs, among which were my favourites, “Sunday morning” and “She will be loved”. According to Adam, they wrote “She will be loved” in about 20 minutes.

I particularly liked the acoustic intro they did for “Pay phone”, where they were all standing together in the middle of the stage, kind of in a huddle. And whenever they got the audience to join in and sing parts of the songs – there was something about that that just put a big smile on my face (as I sang along).

And the drum solos, the guitar solos, the frickin’ light displays and everything were all amazing. (Can you tell I’m kind of still on a bit of a high from last night? Might also be all those exercise-induced endorphins from my run earlier, but whatever..)

During the night, I also found myself looking around at the audience a bit, too. Just glancing around to marvel at the fact that all these people came out for a concert on a Monday night because they love this same music that I love. There were actually a lot of people in their 30s and 40s (and maybe even older) at the concert, and they seemed to be the ones who were most into the whole thing. I mean, they were all up off their seats, dancing and singing along, while some younger fans actually seemed content to just sit down for most of it.

There was one thing I was kind of disappointed with, though. It wasn’t about anything that Maroon 5 did (although I was slightly, slightly disappointed that they didn’t perform “The man who never lied”, but I never really expected them to do that song anyway, so I suppose that’s ok). What I was (kind of) disappointed with was the audience’s enthusiasm and persistence during the “fake end of the concert”. Basically, they played “Daylight” and then acted like it was the end of the show, said goodnight and left the stage; and this was when everyone was supposed to cheer and clap and whatever to get them to come back (seems to be a thing that artists do at concerts, like a test or something).

Now, I only really have The Script’s concert to compare it to, but when The Script pulled the same stunt, the energy from the crowd was tremendous – it just built and built until the band came back on stage. Last night’s crowd, however… Well, it could be because a lot of them might have been at work all day (and we all know how Mondays are) but the energy kind of just came in waves. There was still pretty incredible force behind it, but based on my previous experience, I was expecting more.

Overall, though, it was such an amazing concert. I would list all the songs they did, but there were so many. I was pleasantly surprised that they did “Lucky strike”, which I’ve actually just heard and taken a liking to this year. (Props to you if you made the connection between the title of this post and “Lucky strike” before getting to this paragraph.)

Of course, they saved “Sugar” for last, since it’s their big hit at the moment. But they also played “Locked away” and (omg!) Rock City made a guest appearance just for that song. Frickin’ unreal! Too bad they couldn’t get Christina Aguilera to come in for “Moves like Jagger” but I suppose Adam did a good job of it anyway 😛

I think I’ve said this before, but there actually isn’t a single Maroon 5 song that I do not like – and I know a lot of their songs. I knew all the ones they played at the concert, and for a lot of them I knew the lyrics too, so this was kind of the perfect concert for me.

4th grade confession

My colleagues and I have some interesting conversations around the lunch table sometimes. I reckon most of the time, the conversation starts with something seemingly benign, and then, tangent after tangent, it develops into something completely different.

The other day, we got around to the topic of cheating. I can’t remember where it started, but that’s where it ended. We weren’t talking about cheating in a relationship, but just general cheating, and someone made the comment that they reckon I would never cheat on an exam (or something to that effect). To which, being the honest person that I am, I had to make a confession. It was something that I’m pretty sure I’ve never, ever told anyone, but for one reason or another, I thought it was time to release this secret from the depths of my conscience.

The incident happened in grade four (yes, I’ve been living with this secret since I was eight or nine years old). There was a big maths test at some point in the year, and I’d gotten 100% on it. After all the tests had been marked, the teacher returned them to us, and she went through all the questions with the class so that we’d know where we went wrong. Part of the exam was about the use of the greater than / less than symbols (> and <); and it was in this section that I realised that I’d actually gotten a question wrong…

In my defence, she went through that section pretty quickly – at least, it was too quick for my young brain to register and process what had just happened. Of course, just looking at it, I knew that it was wrong, so it didn’t really matter that she’d already moved on to the next section.

But I was shattered. My 100% was a lie. I wasn’t sure whether or not to say anything – the question itself was probably only worth 0.01% or something petty. What difference does it make if I get 99.99% or 100%?

I think, at the time, I knew that I should say something about it to the teacher, but I just didn’t. I decided to ignore it, and swallowed the guilt. Maybe if someone had told me that I’d still be living with the guilt after >15 years, I might have chosen a different path.

And I don’t know if it technically is cheating, per se, but I suppose it’s similar to how an omission of truth could be considered lying. For the record, I’ve never cheated in an exam since then, and I don’t think I’ve ever cheated in an exam before then either. It was just that one time, I swear!

awake

As I walked to the bus stop this morning (it was my turn to work the Saturday shift today), I had some unexpectedly profound thoughts. I asked myself: What keeps you up at night?

(Side note: Ironically, as I was writing the initial draft for this post, I was feeling really sleepy. About three paragraphs in, my browser suddenly crashed for no apparent reason, so I lost most of the initial draft. I’m not re-typing this, and might take a different angle now that I’m slightly more awake after having brushed my teeth.)

What keeps me up at night?

Fear.

That was my first response. But what am I afraid of?

So many things. Mostly intangible things.

Things like not having the chance to tell people the things that I should tell them.

Things like maybes and what ifs and should I haves.

And a fear of not knowing.

Apologies if this post sounds a bit despondent or melodramatic. I don’t think that I’m usually sad when I have these thoughts – more contemplative than anything – but, on paper, it can come across quite differently.

And, as a final note, there’s no need to worry: I don’t lose much sleep over this. I only really lose sleep from losing track of time (both intentionally and unintentionally) and going to bed later than I should.

I wonder who else is up at such late hours, thinking, pondering, contemplating…

this post

As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I had a thought about something that I could write about for a post on this blog. Even as my mind was switching off, some distant part of it was frantically composing the first sentences of this post. I had to make a choice: I could sleep or I could open my eyes and write down this idea.

Being the person that I am (one who values sleep but often goes to bed much later than they should, and then worries about not getting enough sleep), I chose sleep. And now I haven’t the faintest idea what I was going to write about. Those sentences had sounded so good in my head, and now they’re lost forever (or probably at least until I’m just about to fall asleep tonight – at which point I’ll probably make the same mistake again).

Now and then, I have memories that seem like dreams, or dreams that feel like memories, and I wonder if I am actually confusing my memories and dreams. I worry about myself sometimes, but I suppose this sort of confusion, as long as it doesn’t happen very often, is not a big deal. Usually I can distinguish between the two if I think about it enough. I’m pretty confident that the beginnings of that blog post were not part of a dream. (But it wouldn’t be so bad if it was a dream. Heck, I could be writing in my sleep!)

So, apologies, readers, but I don’t have a fantastic post lined up for you today – just this quick post about forgetting. Whenever I write a not-so-great post, however, I feel obliged to write another, hopefully better post in that same week, so (hopefully!) I will think of something by week’s end and also actually have the right mindset for writing it (I have a list of potential blog-post topics, but I’m not going to force myself to write about something if I’m just not feeling up to it).

But, hey, this post did alright, right? I mean, if you look closely (or not even that closely because it’s blatantly obvious), you’ll see some insights into the way my mind works. Brilliant, isn’t it?

the virtues of being hungry

I like food. I like eating. They’re pretty standard things to like, I know.

At times, however, I also like feeling hungry. Yes, you read that correctly.

It’s logical, though, if you think about it. Feeling hungry is sort of an indication that you need to eat, which makes me anticipate food and eating. Feeling hungry can also just be an indication that you’re dehydrated. But, you know, most food has some liquid content…

Hunger tells me that I’ve sufficiently digested my last meal, and I’m now ready for my next one (or maybe just a snack). Hunger is a way for me to reassure myself that I haven’t really been overeating that much (I probably agonise over this a lot more than people think I do).

Of course, I’m not talking about real, painful starvation-type hunger here – I’m lucky enough to live somewhere where I have easy access to food 24/7 – but I’m talking more about that hunger that’s anything from “feeling peckish” to that gnawing hunger that distracts you from everything else that you’re meant to be doing. I think hunger, in this context, is a good thing.

Most days, I start work around 8am, and I’m usually hungry by about 10am (I would’ve had breakfast by about 6:30am). There was a point when this happened so predictably that I could guess (with some accuracy) when it was approximately 10am just based on when I started feeling hungry (and by judging the severity of my hunger). It’s a marvellous thing, to feel hungry.

I don’t mean to tell people to starve themselves. I’m just trying to encourage people to appreciate different perspectives on hunger.

Waking up hungry (in the morning) is probably best. If it’s the week-end or I have a day off, I like to lie in bed for a few minutes more, just enjoying that sort of gentle, murmuring hunger, and thinking about what I’m going to have for breakfast. It’s great. I’m hoping that I can wake up hungry tomorrow, but tonight I’ve had a burger and a donut, as well as a beer, so who knows – I could still be trying to digest that come the morning.