2015 report card

Since it is suddenly the last week of the year, I thought I should probably get on with publishing some end-of-year type posts (or at least one such post).

I think 2015 has been a pretty good year overall. This is mostly because if I don’t think about it too much, mostly good memories float to the surface, and the rest of it is somewhere underneath. Well, I probably said the same thing about 2014, but I kind of feel like this year has been better. I mean, I can’t really think of any super significant events from last year (but, again, I’m not thinking super hard on this one because there’s no time for that!)

I already wrote a post earlier this month (partially) about my reading goals for the year, which I managed to accomplish satisfactorily (to my standards, anyway). Next year, I only want to read (at a minimum) four books: David Copperfield, Anna Karenina, Love in the time of Cholera, and Ulysses. I’ll try to read them in that order, and hopefully I don’t get overly side-tracked by other books and recommendations along the way.

Another goal I was quite happy with (surprisingly so) was fitness-related. I’d set myself the challenge of achieving a 3-minute plank …and by the end of October I was doing 4-minute planks …and twice in December I’ve completed a 5-minute plank (5 min 10 sec to be exact). I’m not entirely sure why this has been such an important goal for me, but I was pretty stoked to get to 4 and then 5 minutes. I’ll just have to keep increasing the goal incrementally on this one.

Unfortunately, I did not achieve my other fitness goal of running at least once a week (or fortnight at the very least) because, well, life happened. I’m going to forgive myself for this one, however, because I reckon my fitness hasn’t declined, and that’s always a plus.

Something else I didn’t achieve was taking at least three weeks of annual leave this year. I wouldn’t say I’m a workaholic, but I like my job, and I tend to just not think very much about taking holidays. Consequently, I have a lot of annual leave accrued, and I kind of thought I should use some of it. This year I’ve only taken two weeks off in total, but if you count my time in Rocky as a “working holiday”, then I’ve totally smashed this goal.

I wasn’t going to mention CPD (continuing professional development) because I haven’t gotten any CPD points this last month, and I’ve just been avoiding even thinking about it at all, and I keep telling myself that I can get back into it next year …but I actually did pretty well with CPD this year, so I figure it’s worth a mention. The minimum requirement was 40 points, so of course I set my goal at 80 points. And before too long – actually, no, it did take a long time – I had over 100 points. As proud as I am of this blatant nerdiness, I might reign in this goal for next year (mostly so that I can prioritise other things).

Last but certainly not least: my blogging goal. As always, I wanted to maintain my one-post-per-week minimum. WordPress stats tells me that, including this post, I’ll have posted 90 posts this year. By my maths, that’s two posts per week on most weeks. (It actually makes me wonder how it’s possible that I have had that much to write about.) Don’t think I will change this goal for next year, since a two-or-more-posts-per-week requirement sounds like too much pressure. But we’ll see what happens.

tomorrow, I don’t know

I’ve taken a liking to the song “Reality” by Lost Frequencies (ft Janieck Devy). Last night I listened to it on loop for an entire hour, up until I went to bed. Even so, it’s not surprising to me that when I woke up this morning, and as I went about my day, I seemed to have every other song playing in my head apart from “Reality”.

It’s kind of weird how the mind works like that. It’s just like those days when I might listen to a song – maybe only half of it – and then this will be followed by countless other, better songs …And yet, the next morning, it’ll be that half-listened-to song that will be in my head.

Sometimes I won’t have heard a song for what seems like years and years, but one day it’ll just spontaneously appear from the depths of my memory, like a jack-in-the-box that’s finally been wound enough.

“Reality” played a lot on the radio and TV while I was in Rocky (I watched a lot of Channel V and Max while I was there). Perhaps I’ll always associate that song with Rocky, or at least with my memory of that time in Rocky. Perhaps not. At least it kind of captures the uncertainty and just “going with the flow”.

I think it’s a great chilled out summer song. I was a little bit afraid that I’d get sick of listening to it if I had it on repeat for an entire hour, but I could probably listen to it all day and still like it. And I would probably still not have it stuck in my head the next day.

Such is life.

disjointed

I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep these last few nights. This is just a warning in case this post becomes a rambling, incoherent mess of words.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, which also means that the end of the year is pretty much just around the corner. I feel like, this whole year, I’ve been marvelling at how quickly the year is going by. Even the weeks speed past sometimes – by Thursday I can usually be heard saying something like “I can’t believe it’s already Thursday! Where has the week gone?”

Sometimes I just enjoy work too much.

Part of the reason why I haven’t been getting enough sleep is because I’ve been putting off going to bed until it’s quite late, with the justification that there’s such a limited number of hours left in the year, so I should try to consciously absorb as much of it as possible.

But I do wonder if it wouldn’t be more worthwhile to just sleep more so that I can maximise the energy that I have during waking hours. But, you know, logic – even my own logic – doesn’t always work on me.

Hmm… quality versus quantity… We all know which one tends to win out …and which one should win.

“Sleep is for when you’re dead,” they say. But without it, you could be dead quite soon, and I certainly wouldn’t want that.

I reckon I’m pretty cognisant of various things that will increase or decrease life expectancy. It’s a blessing and a curse. I’ll admit that part of the reason I chose a health-related career is so that I could learn about all of the things that could possibly kill me, and then learn about how they’re prevented/treated.

I might be a hypochondriac, constantly jumping to worst-case scenarios for every minor symptom, but I don’t live in fear. No, I’ve been cutting out the fear this past year.

I’m not afraid to tell people I miss them. I’m not afraid to give and receive hugs. I’m not afraid to tell people what I think of them (mostly good things, though, because, you know, I’m a nice person).

Of course, I’m still at least a little bit afraid. Gotta have a healthy dose of fear now and then.

I used to be afraid of posting disjointed, stream-of-consciousness type posts because, although I am anonymous, I still feel vulnerable. More than once, while writing this post, I thought about abandoning it, and trying again another night. Then I thought to myself, “No, it’s fine. Just write it. Publish it.”

But as much as I blog for myself (or as much as I tell myself that this is primarily for my own gratification), I know I always think of my readers when I write – it’s just something that’s been ingrained into me from years of high school English assignments – and I know that your time is as precious as mine, and I wouldn’t want to waste it by misleading you into reading a rumbling avalanche of a post. (Not entirely sure where I’m going with that metaphor, but that’s probably the first time I’ve used the word “avalanche” in a post, so I’m going to stick with it.)

If you actually read this entire post, then I just want to say “thanks” (and “how did you manage to get through it all?”) If you skimmed through it, or skipped ahead to this last paragraph to see if reading this would actually be worth your while, then I don’t blame you. That’s still some sort of effort taken, and I appreciate that.

it’s so good to be home again

For most of the last three weeks, I’ve been in Rockhampton, filling in at our partner pharmacy up there. I can’t remember the last time I was away from home for so long – maybe when I went to Melbourne several years ago (?) but even then, I was with family, so it wasn’t really like I was away from “home” exactly (only in the literal sense).

I flew back from Rocky on Friday afternoon. That morning, I woke up more than half an hour before my alarm, and I felt wide awake. I was so excited, I just wanted to message people about how excited I was about going home.

I did feel a bit sad about leaving Rocky – still kind of feel a bit sad – but jeez it’s good to be home again.

Since I arrived back, I have:

  • attended the staff Christmas party (Friday night)
  • unpacked and put stuff away
  • done various household chores (laundry, sweeping, etc)
  • caught up with a friend for lunch on Saturday
  • caught up with another friend for dinner on Saturday
  • bought a gift for “secret Santa” (it’s not that last-minute… Besides, I didn’t really get a chance to go shopping in Rocky)
  • visited my uncles/aunts (it was only a brief visit, and only had to go to one house, but still…)
  • made fig and sweet potato truffles (this was a challenge set by a friend/colleague)
  • made pecan pie (recipe courtesy of Campari & Sofa)
  • ironed all my uniforms
  • caught up on some blog reading

And whatever I’ve been doing, I’ve been thinking to myself (and sometimes saying to others) “it’s so good to be home again”.

It’s not that Rocky was a terrible place (it’s actually quite lovely for the most part) but I just missed being in my own home. I missed my usual routine, and knowing where everything is. And, of course, I missed friends and family.

I probably should have gone to bed an hour ago (I start work early tomorrow), but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be on an endorphin high all week because I’m back at my usual pharmacy again. (I’m pretty sure I’ve never been away from the pharmacy for more than two weeks in all the years since I started working there.)

It feels so good to be home again!

reading insights

Whenever we get close to the end of the year, I like to look back (more than I usually do), and one of the things I look back on is the books that I’ve read. I’m on Good Reads, but long before I’d joined GR, I’d started my own reading database. I can tell you every book I’ve ever read since September 2005.

Anyway, the main reason I was looking at my book list was to check how many books I’ve read this year. My unofficial goal was to read 12 books this year, and I have well and truly achieved that. It was good having a goal like that – very achievable for someone like me – because it encouraged me to keep reading at every opportunity. There are so many books I want to read – 12 per year should be the bare minimum if I want to get through even half of these.

On the other hand, there were times when I did stress out a bit about whether or not I’d actually accomplish this reading goal. Reading a few shorter ones between the longer novels did help (e.g. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s). I’m undecided about whether or not I want to set another reading goal for next year. And, if I do, should I increase it, or leave it the same? Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to decrease the goal.

Well, there’s still time to figure that all out.

Apart from basic details such as title, author, and date (month/year) finished, I also record a number of other things in my book database. Of course, I have a column for ratings (scored out of ten), but I also have one for the “source” i.e. if the book is my own, borrowed from a friend, or from the library.

What I found interesting was that three of the four novels which were given the highest ratings by me were borrowed from others – and from three different people too! The fourth one was a book I own.

I know I’ve written before about how borrowing a book from someone might bias me toward liking the book more, but that was more of a gut feeling, whereas this is slightly more solid proof. Either that or my friends have really good reading tastes. Maybe a bit of both.

Actually, what I might focus on next year is reading the books I own, particularly the ones I’ve owned for a very long time but have never read. Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield has been strongly recommended to me by the same friend who lent me One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, so I think that one’s definitely going high up on my priority list (especially considering that this friend is actually not even a big fan of his work in general, whereas Dickens is one of my most favourite authors).

I was actually going to attempt reading Anna Karenina if I reached 12 books before the end of this year, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. It’ll have to wait behind David Copperfield, and even then, I’ll probably want one or two easy reads between the two.

I really do like borrowing books from other people, though. Not only is it great for cost-saving, but it’s a wonderful way to connect with other people. It’s like having another story enveloping the actual story. People might not discuss a book in much more detail than to say whether they liked it or what they thought of the characters, but sometimes that’s enough. I can then read through the book with this person in the back of my mind, and I develop an understanding of some part of them.

I’m sure this must happen for other people too. Otherwise, I must just be ridiculously sentimental and/or read into things too much. (Probably both; I won’t deny it.)

Another one that I should probably get around to is Ulysses, which I’ve owned since high school, but have never actually opened. Hmm… maybe I’ll add a fourth epic to this list, and I’ll just read one per season. That should be manageable, right?

Somehow I don’t think this is all going to happen according to plan, but I suppose we shall find out next year…

the last respondent hypothesis

Being an introspective person, I’d like to think that I’m reasonably good at noticing patterns in my thoughts and actions. One observation I’ve made relates to texting (and other forms of sending short messages to other people).

Before I delve into this, a bit of background: some time ago (months? years? I couldn’t tell you), I observed that, when communicating to a friend via SMS, I tend to feel “better” (in a general sense) if my text is answered by the recipient, regardless of the length (or brevity) or the content (as long as the content isn’t negative).

Of course, I know that not everyone will agree with this – I’ve heard enough people complaining about those who will reply to a message with a quick “OK” or “lol” or something seemingly pointless. I, on the other hand, appreciate that the recipient has read my message and responded. (But if I’m low on battery, I’ll probably also wonder if it was worth it for me to unlock my phone just to read that one word.)

Often, people will send messages that don’t require a response. I do that too. However, depending on the message and the recipient, I can feel a bit put out if there’s no reply. (It’s even worse when the message kind of does need a reply, but they just don’t send one.)

So, linking back to my observation from “some time ago”, I hypothesised that maybe other people experience this too – perhaps not consciously (I’m sure not everyone overthinks things as much as I do) but on some subconscious level. However, rather than testing this hypothesis as such, I kind of just decided to act on it. (Side note: Perhaps it’s all my years of schooling in Sciences and Humanities, but I quite like the word “hypothesis”. It’s nice to have an opportunity to use it again.)

This has meant that, in the majority of short message correspondences that I’ve had over the last however-long-since-I-made-this-hypothesis, I’ve tried to be the last respondent, so that others are not left with that empty feeling of sending a message into the void and not hearing anything back.

Of course, there are times when the other person’s response does not require an answer at all and/or is clearly marking the end of that conversation, so I just don’t reply. But I’d like to think that I’m the last respondent in the majority of cases (unless I just plain forget to reply (which happens) or I’m just too tired/exhausted to muster up the effort required to coordinate my thumbs over the tiny keyboard on my phone (which also happens)).

As a result of all this, I, myself, have sent lots of messages that do not require a reply, or that hint at some sort of finality, so that the recipient does not feel obliged to continue the conversation. Of course, I’m usually happy to keep messaging as long as the other person is (and as long as I’ve still got enough battery to last the rest of the day). This “last respondent” policy has thus led to a few interesting conversations with others who seem to have adopted the same policy.

I’m now realising that this is a very long “background” into the observation that I was actually going to write about from paragraph #1… and the “background” is probably going to make up the vast majority of this post… but, oh well~!

Having sent and received more messages since acting on my texting hypothesis than what I have in the time before that (I can only assume this is true, since I don’t have a solid timeline for when I started this, or any other solid data for that matter), I have been able to make the following observation of my texting habits: I don’t tend to have a set conversation style, but will adapt to and reflect the style displayed by my correspondent.

Probably the most obvious example of this is in paragraphing: some people will write everything in one long message, some will send each line/sentence as a separate message. One lovely friend will usually separate different points into paragraphs within the one message so that the distinction between the different points is clear but you’re also not getting quick-fire alert notifications (which tend to make me want to switch my phone to silent with “vibrate” off). For all of these people, and people in between, I will tend to match their paragraphing style. I noticed this from messaging said lovely friend and my sister (who tends to send a line or two per message – short and sharp).

Other things that I may reflect include a person’s propensity toward using emoticons and abbreviations, such as “lol” or “omg”; and, similarly, the level of casual-ness/facetiousness or formality.

However, something that I never compromise on (unless I’m in a rush and/or too tired) is spelling and grammar. I mean, I wouldn’t want my message to be misread or misunderstood. What if they don’t reply? I’ll just never know what they thought I meant!