Teacher’s Pet

Daily Prompt Post: Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?

My favourite teacher was one that I didn’t meet until my second last year of school, though it quickly felt like I’d known her for a long time.  It’s funny, at first I really didn’t like her…through no fault of her own.  I’d had a favourite teacher since Year 7, and she was supposed to be teaching me Theatre Studies in Year 11, my first class with her since Year 8.  I was so excited.  I rock up on the first day only to find she’d left the school without so much as a goodbye (in fact, she’d ended the conversation with “see you next year!” before school let out) so I was floored and guttered.  Ms Tolli had taken her place, a teacher brand new to the school.  I didn’t know her at all, but she was replacing my then-favourite teacher and nobody was going to be better than her.

It didn’t take too long for her to show us her fun and awesome she was though, and quickly the whole class were counting down to her classes.  Realistically, I probably shouldn’t have been doing that class at all (I only signed up for it because I wanted to be in the original teacher’s grade).  I was shy, awkward and wasn’t really interested in theatre at all.  Despite all that, Ms Tolli made me (and others in a similar situation) feel like we belonged and that would could do it.

She was supportive and really had our best interests at heart.  More than that, we saw her as a friend.  Looking back, I’m not even sure how she managed that, because mostly when teachers try to pull that off, they just come off as try-hards.  Not Ms Tolli though.

The main project of our theatre studies class was putting on a play from scratch, using only the people in our class.  The class was pretty small really, only maybe 15 people, so that’s no small fete.  We wound up spending a lot of time outside of normal school hours working on it, helping the actors learn their lines, building sets, working out the costumes and music.  We became more than just a class of Year-11s-and-12s, we were like a little family, with Ms Tolli as our surrogate mum.

I feel like I grew up a lot that year, thanks to her mentoring and kindness.  I started the year as shy and timid, and left with confidence and a stronger belief in myself.

We were so close by the end of the year that we celebrated at Ms Tolli’s house with a BBQ and booze.  Throughout the year we’d gotten to know her three young kids, and they were so happy we were there and including them.  Everyone was really sad the year was ending.  Half the class was finishing school completely, and others weren’t taking up her class next year (drama).  I was though, purely because I wanted another year with her.

I still miss her sometimes, and wish we were in contact.  I don’t know where I’d be now if she hadn’t given me the confidence and self-belief that she did.  Thanks for everything Vanda ❤

Sims in Real Life

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The Sims.

Some might say we potentially already live in a world like this, aka the Matrix theory.  That doesn’t make for a great answer though, so instead I’ll go the more literal sense and say I’m actually in a Sims game.

And if that’s the case, I guess it’d be interesting.  Objects would just disappear (pool steps, anyone?), it would take over an hour to walk across two rooms and go to the bathroom, I could spent two hours at a chess table and earn a promotion.  I could meet someone in the street, be married within the day and have twins within four days.  If I wanted to change clothes, I just walk up to the nearest dresser (it doesn’t even have to be in my house!) and I can chose any clothes in existence…for free!  The same goes for snacks…walk up to any fridge and pull out a packet of chips or a plate of cookies for free!  Woohoo!  If I’m lucky, money will just randomly come into my bank account…50,000 simoleons at a time, no questions asked, no repercussions.  If I don’t want to work a regular 9-5 job, I could paint a few paintings and set myself up for life, or write some novels and earn a weekly payment.  I could go fishing at midnight without worrying about anything dangerous happening (except maybe freezing over if it’s winter).  The best part is, all my fishing stuff and painting stuff and computer and everything else is stored in this invisible, enormous backpack.  How cool would that be in real life?!

What was the last video game you played?

– JD

Living with Eczema & Psoriasis

So, I’ve been meaning to write this for a long, long time.  In fact, I had half a draft done over a year ago for my previous blog, but decided not to post it.  A couple of months ago, I saw someone else post a similar blog (apologies, I can’t remember where I read it) and it reminded me of the draft I had.  I’m not going to use the draft (it’s too hard to keep going on something from so long ago), but instead go from scratch…no pun intended.  I feel like while the disease is fairly well known, people don’t know much about it, or what it’s suffers go through…usually in silence.

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Excuse the bad quality and weird expression.  The red around my face is ezcema.

So, I’ve had eczema and psoriasis my whole life.  My baby photos are full of angry red cheeks and being covered from the neck down so my skin wasn’t exposed to sharp little nails.  The soundtrack to my childhood is my parents carolling “don’t scratch!”.  I’ve always been self-conscious to the point where I just saw that as normal.  After all, any kid with yucky red rashes everywhere is going to want to hide it away, and get embarrassed when other kids ask questions about it.

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The blotches on my chest are eczema, as is the redness on my cheeks.

There are good days and bad days, which then lead on to good months and bad ones.  A large portion of my childhood was full of “bad months”…or maybe they just stand out more strongly than the good ones.  Along with the horrible rashes that would appear in random places all over my body, I’d also get this thick horrible flaky skin behind my ears (the psoriasis part of my skin issues).  This was something I lived with throughout my childhood in varying degrees.  I remember the first time it had completely cleared.  I was maybe 12.  I remember thinking that this smoothness, this clean feeling is what everyone else takes for granted.  I never had that.  Instead I had flaky shirts, weird looks and sometimes a gross smell coming from my ears.  It didn’t matter how hard I scrubbed, or what cream I used, it was always there.  I remember in year 7, a guy I didn’t get on with asked me about them halfway through class one day.  At first I thought he was just being his normal asshole self, but he apologised and said he didn’t mean to be rude, he just really wanted to know.  So I told him.  I don’t know whether he understood, or even cared.  At least he asked, instead of just giving me weird looks.

For a large amount of my youth, I’d have rashes in all the common areas – in the elbow and knee bends, my face, my back.  Thankfully I’ve never gotten it on my hands or feet (I couldn’t think of much worse).  I’ve used just about every over the counter option there is.  In my childhood, my go-to cream was DermAid, but eventually mum stopped buying it as it was found to strip away layers of skin or something and eventually made them weaker.  I’d get mum to lather me up with moisturising cream before school each day, and after showers.  After showers was especially important, as my skin would feel horrible and sore and tight if I didn’t do it, particularly my face.  I’d go through tubs of the stuff each month, and it still wasn’t enough to keep the blotches away.

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Another flare up on my face.  It seems like that’s the main area I got it when I was little.

The last couple of years have been okay, for the most part.  I finally started to outgrow it, and I suppose manage it better.  I think it is probably about 50/50.  I had my worse breakout in a very long time about a year and a half ago.  I’m used to rashes (as you can tell) so for a long time I put up with it, tried to fix it with moisturisers and the occasional tube of steriod cream I could wrangle out of a doctor (the only almost-certain way of fixing stubborn eczema).  They never ever give enough though, and once it runs out, it comes back.  In the end, it got so bad it was thick and extremely painful and it basically went from my neck all the way down my torso, stopping at my hands and feet.  It hurt to move, as it would dry out almost immediately after putting cream on.  I went to my boss in tears, telling him I just couldn’t wear the uniform shirt as it was scratchy material and making it all worse.  He told me to go and buy something to wear underneath it immediately.  I was extremely frustrated, as I felt like I should be able to control it after living with it for over twenty years.  Instead, after months of pain and it not getting any better, I wound up sobbing in a doctor’s office, feeling completely overwhelmed and in so much pain I could hardly stand it.  She immediately prescribed a large amount of steriod cream to start with, and sent me to see a specialist.

 

These are some of the pictures I took prior to going to the appointment (keep in mind, they might be a little hard to look at.  If you feel squeamish looking at them, imagine living with it.  They’re photos of my arms, legs and torso…apologies about the weird angles and undies shot, but I thought it was worth including as the pictures show more than I can explain in words.)

 

 

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It’s probably a little weird I didn’t already have a specialist.  I think when I was little, the GP mum used to take me to specalised in skin conditions and she trusted him, so I had no need to see one.   By the time I moved out, it was starting to get better by itself, so I didn’t need one then either.  I’m not sure what I expected from the specialist, but whatever it was, I didn’t get it from her.  I walked in and we talked about why I was here.  Then she got my to strip down to my underwear so she could see the damage…and judging by her face, the damage was bad.  I mean, I knew it wasn’t good, but her job is skin conditions, so I wasn’t expecting her look of shock when she saw it.  You’d think that’d mean she’d want to help…and maybe she did, I don’t know.  All I know is, she asked me all of one lifestyle question – “do you have a dog?”, and when I answered yes, she blamed everything on that.  Nevermind this flare up happened a year after I got her, nevermind I’d grown up with dogs, nevermind it could be a million other things, like diet, on sweat, or stress, or dust.  It was, in her mind, caused 100% by the dog, and I was to leave her outside at all times.  Yeah, like that would happen.

About the best thing she did is load me up with a prescription for an enormous amount of steriod creams in various forms.  I still have heaps left over now, a year and a half later, and the cream does it job well.  One thing I wish someone had told me (considering how many doctors I’ve been through, you’d think one of them might have mentioned it) is that if you use too much, it can actually effect your hormones.  During the time where my skin was especially bad, I started spotting heavily for two weeks straight, and I’d only had my period two weeks before.  I had no idea what was happening and whether I should be concerned.  It was only when I woke up halfway through the night and realized what might be happening, that I googled it and confirmed it.  Since then, I’ve tried to use it more sparingly, as it took at least a month for everything to get back on track.

So, I’ve gone through my story, but what’s it actually like?

Basically, on a bad day, you wake up with sore, tight skin.  Maybe there’ll be rashes, maybe not.  One of the perils of having skin like mine is that it’s dry all the time, and that can feel almost the same as having a rash sometimes.

If you do have a rash (and let’s say we’re smack in the middle of a flare up), you have to coat yourself in slimy, often-weird-smelling cream, feeling stingy and unclean.

You try to cover up the rash, but if it’s on your neck, or your arms, it’s tough.  Forget scarves, as wool can drive you mental from it being so scratchy.  Same goes with gloves.  Oh and nylon?  Dream on.  If it’s not cotton, it’s not getting worn.

You try to get on with your day, but you can feel the moisture leeching away, and the rashes getting more painful.  If you’re lucky, you get lost in an activity and forget it.  If you aren’t, it’s all you can think of all day long.

The first thing you do when you get home is lather yourself up in more cream.  Oh, sweet relief!  Nothing feels as heavenly as moisturiser on skin that’s been painful all day.

Later on, you have to bathe.  It’s not something you look forward to, as the water stings the rashes, and if they’re all over, it means you hurt all over.  The golden rule is to have a shower as cold as you can manage…only I can’t handle cold showers.  The heat only makes the rashes angrier later on.

You get out, towel off (pat dry, don’t wipe!) and once again, go through the gross routine of applying cream everywhere.  You try not to miss anywhere, because in half an hour you’ll know about it if you do!

Then it’s bed time and you dread it.  Firstly, the pain is often enough to wake you.  If it doesn’t, you’re still likely to wake up with gouge marks all over from where you scratched yourself in your sleep.  If you’re lucky, they won’t be on your face.  If they are, you’ll look like you came second best in a catfight.  The scratches are often much deeper than they would be if you scratched yourself when you were awake.  I guess you don’t feel pain when you sleep scratch.  Or maybe it’s just super itchy.  Either way, they hurt like buggery, and take a long time to fully heal.

And this is your life every day until the creams start to work or until the flare up goes away on it’s own.  On good days, where the rash is minimal or not there, you may only need to cream up once a day…and this is a good thing!

I have found a few tricks lately that have helped me.  If you suffer along with me, these might be of interest to you to.  Feel free to add your own tips in the comments!

  • Fake nails really do help.  I know this initially sounds ridiculous, but hear me out.  Fake nails (when done correctly) are a lot more blunt than real nails.  Blunt nails can’t scratch as hard, and don’t do as much damage.  This is especially useful at night.  Since getting fakies, I haven’t woken up with gouge marks once, purely because my nails physically can’t cause them any more.  It also helps with flare ups as you can’t scratch the rashes and make them bleed.
  • Bath over showers.  I’ve started taking baths where possible instead of showers for two reasons – one, I can use QV Bath Oil (or Flare Up Oil) and soak in it.  I used to use this as a kid and have recently welcomed it back into my life with open arms.  The second is that it helps relive stress, which can definitely cause flare ups.
  • Wash your hair less often.  Now, I’m not sure if this helps a lot or a little, but recently I’ve trained my hair to last a week between washes, and my skin is doing pretty well.  The chemicals in shampoos and conditioners run down your body as you wash them out, which can’t be good for sensitive skin.  Plus, if you can train your hair to last longer between washes, it’s healthier for it too!
  • If you’ve got a flaky scalp (which seems to go hand in hand with my skin conditions as it dries out), I use Neutrogena T-Gel.  Again, something I’ve bought back from my childhood.  It smells a little funky, but it works.  Just keep in mind it can lead to your hair colour fading quicker if you dye it.  I also really like Dove Shampoo and Conditioner, as it’s got moisturisers in it which can also help.
  • Sleep in light clothing and with light bedding, if you’re a hot sleeper.  Sweating can cause flare ups, and if you’re getting too hot at night, that’s 6-9 hours where sweat is present.  If you do have a hot night (or after a work out, or any time you’re really sweaty really), try to rinse it off as soon as possible.
  • Salt water can help fix rashes.  This is something my parents swore by when I was little, and they’d often take me to my grandparents place just so they had an excuse to take me to the beach.  Just keep in mind, the saying “rubbing salt in the wound” is accurate, and initially it hurts like nothing else.  After the initial pain, though, it doesn’t hurt at all and can help clear up the redness.
  • Try to keep bathing to a minimum.  Now, I’m not saying go days without it, but just keep in mind that even a cool shower draws moisture out of the skin.  I’d say try to aim for no more than one per day unless absolutely necessary.

I think that’s about all the tips and tricks I have.  I’m super glad that right now, my skin is pretty good, save for a few little rashes on my tummy and some dry patches on my legs.  I’ve been extra careful lately to catch rashes early, as I know in summer it’s easy for it to spread and get out of hand.  Thank God for steriod creams, because they clear it up quick smart!

Have you suffered from a skin condition in the past?  How’s it going?

– JD

Modern Family Life

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Modern Family.

Hmm, that’d be interesting.  I wonder who I’d be?  A long-lost cousin?  A college friend of Haley’s?  A tutor for Manny?  So many options.  Either way, it’d be a lot of fun.  I’d love hanging out with Phil, his dad-comedy would be awesome to watch in real life.  Cam and Mitchell would no doubt be my go-to coffee date buddies.  They’d be hilarious and I’d love hanging out with sassy little Lily.  Alex would be the person I’d go to when I need a break from the craziness…she seems like the most level headed of anyone, and would no doubt have methods of tuning everyone out.  If I was there for the next six weeks, it’d mean I’d be there for Christmas, and that’d be awesome.  Luke would probably have a prank set up, Gloria would say the wrong thing and it’d be the joke of the night, Haley would have heaps of gossip and maybe an awkward boyfriend.  Everyone would be fussing over Joe.  Oh man, of all the shows I could have watched last, this one is certainly one of the best for this question!

What show did you watch last?

– JD

Time to Change – Day Ninety-Two

So, the rain has finally come.  After sweltering through the past three days which all cleared 40 degrees celcius (that’s 104 degrees fahrenheit for those in the US), I don’t remember the last time I was so happy to see the sky grey over.  I’ll discuss this more later, as I’ll try to pick up where I left off last time.

I’d just been to the Taylor Swift concert, and honestly, that’s still probably the coolest thing I’ve done in awhile.  As predicted, my weekend wasn’t particularly interesting.  Neither was my working week really, aside from a massive sale I managed to get after the customer came in with a simple question.  Everyone at work was very impressed, and I got talked about in the next day’s before-your-shift meeting.  That was a nice feeling because firstly, my previous job never really gave any recognition like that and secondly, it makes me feel like I deserve to be there.  Or…I don’t know if that’s right…I guess it makes me feel like less of a newbie.  Don’t get me wrong, aside from asking more questions than older employees, I don’t think many people really see me as a newbie (mostly because there’s just so many of us), but I still feel like one.  It’s hard to shake that mentality, though at some point I’ll have to.  I guess after my probation ends, which will be in three months time.  We’ll see.  Either way, it was pretty cool that I was the topic of the day.  Even the store manager (who I have the occasional two-second conversation with but otherwise don’t have a lot to do with) pulled me aside and introduced me to someone (a higher up visiting the store or something) and said I was “the girl who did the massive sale yesterday”.  Apparently I was the “special mention” on their daily conference call.  Pretty sweet!

I caught public transport all week, and am really starting to get used to it.  I know when I have to sneak out a couple of minutes early from my shift to race to catch the train (or else sit around for 20 minutes waiting for the next one), I know without checking what time the bus comes each morning (keeping in mind my shifts change a lot, so it’s taken me awhile to get used to).  Hell, I’m even managing to keep my balance better on the train when I’m forced to stand up!  Thankfully, this hasn’t happened too often as I generally miss peak hour.

The commute still exhausts me.  I feel like I’ll never properly get used to it.  I know it’s probably way too early to say that but I’ve always needed a decent amount of sleep to function and often, I’m just not able to get that, which leaves me feeling groggy, grumpy and out of it in the morning.  It also means I spent a large portion of my weekends catching up on sleep, which don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with…but I don’t know how I’m going to cope longterm.  Still, each time I think about asking for a transfer, I remember all that I’d be giving up with it…and I just can’t do it.  It’d be like giving up a mansion to go back to a unit.  I’m hoping my roster will be a little better next month, but given how big our normal trading hours are, I’m not holding my breath.

I called in sick for the first time at this job on Friday.  This may not seem too interesting, but I’m one of those people that never, ever call in sick.  It’s something mum drummed into me the second I joined the work force – “save your sick leave in case you wind up in hospital!”.  While she has a point, the real reason behind her anti-sick-leave status is that her and my dad run a business and they’ve gone through a number of employees who use up their sick leave extremely quickly.  She knows what it’s like to be on the other side of them.  I guess, coming from management in my last job, I do as well.  So for me to call in sick, it’s a big deal.  I’d rather go work and try to stick it out until someone looks at me pityingly and tells me to go home.  I did vow, though, that I was going into this job with a different mentality.  I wouldn’t work excessive amounts of hours, I wouldn’t work when I wasn’t getting paid…and I’m not going to kill myself trying to work when I’m sick.  I left my previous job with something like 500 hours of sick leave, none of which I got reimbursed for.  That’s essentially weeks of paid leave I missed out on.  Now, I’m not saying I’m going to call in sick “because I feel a cold coming on” (that was a legitimate excuse someone gave at my previous work once), but I’m also going to acknowledge that sick leave is there to be used.  I think it helps that we have so many staff working that my not being there occasionally isn’t going to wreck havoc on the store for the day.

Anyway, I digress.  I woke up with a headache, but it seemed to go away within about half an hour.  I wasn’t due in at work until 2, and had scheduled a meeting to sign my building contract for my house at 9.30.  It was the first day of scorching heat, and it was already in the mid-30s by the time I got there.  My head started to hurt again, but again, I ignored it.  The meeting was dry, as my parents read through the thick wad of paperwork, pretending to understand what it was saying.  Then I had to sign countless pages, and initial them, and then do it all over again for a second copy.  Oh man, it took so long.  By the time that was done, my head was feeling pretty terrible, though at least the place had air con.  Once the meeting wrapped up, and I had to step out into the heat, I knew a sick day was on the cards.  I’m glad the place was only 20 minutes away from home, because I was feeling weak, dizzy, nauseous and wished I’d bought my sunglasses, because the light was not my friend.  I stumbled into my house, which thankfully was lovely and dark (the blinds drawn and fans already running on high in an attempt to outsmart the heat).  Despite all this, I was still in two minds about calling.  Mum had drilled her ideas into me so hard that it made me feel even more sick at the prospect of making the call.  The only reason I managed to was because I knew I couldn’t handle getting onto a hot train and then standing on my feet, making small talk with strangers for eight hours, feeling like I might vomit on their shoes the whole time.  When I called, one of the guys I feel like I know okay picked up…thank God.  If it was someone from back of house like I’d assumed, I’d have been more nervous as I don’t have much to do with them.  The guy was lovely and told me I’d need a medical certificate (I’d already mentally prepared for that), and told me to get better.  That was it.  Painless.  I then called the doctors and made an appointment for much later in the afternoon, and settled in on the couch, relieved I didn’t have to work.  I slept off the migraine and by mid-afternoon was feeling great.  And guilty, because I could have done the second-half of my shift no problem, but I tried not to dwell on that.  I’d already called in sick, they’d probably already replaced me, and besides, hoarding sick leave didn’t work out well last time.

I went to my doctors appointment, expecting to be sitting around for an hour.  It often happens at the place I go to, but I stick with it because the doctors are really no-fuss-straight-to-the-point…which is great when you just want a medical certificate, and that’s at least 50% of the reason I go to the doctors.  Instead, I was sitting there for maybe two minutes, got called in, and walked out with the med cert two minutes later.  Amazing!

I was feeling great by Friday night, knowing I still had two days off.  I think the migraine was partly from the heat (and therefore, lack of sleep), but also because I’d been running myself into the ground with work and the hour-and-a-half commute each way.  I’d been feeling off for a couple of days.   I think I’m going to have to start listening to my body more now, and using my sick days for the occasional “mental health” day.  I know that’s not what they’re actually for (and my mother would be horrified), but if I ignore my body, it only makes things worse.  We’ll see how we go though.

The last two days have been mostly spent holed up at home, determined to beat the disgusting heat without air con.  The air con as never worked properly in the place I live in, and I know I could get it fixed, but it’s not worth the trouble when I know for the most part I’m not home during the day, and that I’ll be moving out soon enough into my own place with proper air con.  Until then, I survive with lots of fans and the blinds drawn.  I quite like the darkness anyway, but my dog gets a little frustrated.  She loves nothing more than the back door wide open so she has free rein of the house and yard…and that wasn’t happening this weekend.  I’d let her out, but the second she’d come back in, everything would be shut up again.  I think overall for the three days I did pretty well.  I mean, it wasn’t air conditioning cold in the house, but it was manageable.  On the plus side, fans are a lot cheaper to run than air con, so hopefully I’ve saved some money that way!

This morning I had to brave the heat as I needed to get my nails redone.  They weren’t catching on anything yet (my sign that they’re in desperate need of fixing up), but I knew I wouldn’t have time during the week to go anywhere thanks to my commute time and odd work hours, and then it’s Christmas and everything will be closed.  I really didn’t want to go, but I really couldn’t avoid it.  I usually go to a place about 30 mins away, as I really like it there, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen today…if I had to go there, I wouldn’t go at all.  I decided I’d try the place five minutes down the road, and that I’d get there early in an attempt to beat the crowds and the heat.  They were set to open at 10, so I was there at 10.  All the other shops around it opened, and the opening hours on the door confirmed I was there at the right time, and yet…nothing.  There were no lights on inside, no movement, and slowly, other people began to join me in waiting.  I waited fifteen minutes, then gave up.  Even if she’d arrived right then, there’d surely only be one of her, otherwise someone else would already be there to open up.  And if there’s only one of her, how could she possible serve the four people waiting?

I headed to the closest shopping centre instead.  I’d been avoiding going there as this close to Christmas, I was worried it would be flat out.  I guess it was, but I wouldn’t say it was busier than usual.  The shops had only opened half an hour before though, so I guess a lot of people had slept in, or gone to Church, and decided to wait for the cool change to come through.  Whatever the reason, I was pretty pleased.  I wandered into the first nail place I could find, and there were pretty busy, but told me to take a seat.  I waited maybe fifteen minutes, but I received acknowledgement and apologies the whole time, so I didn’t mind.  Hell, I was expecting to be told to come back later when I first walked in, so I was okay with the relatively short wait.  Once I did get served, I found the service friendly and attentive.  The first girl took her time fixing up my nails, carefully removing the old shellac and paint and reshaping them.  Then another girl took her time repainting them, doing 5 layers on each, which was actually really nice as it felt like she cared about how they turned out.  She also made sure they were 100% dry, which is something I’ve had issues with in the past.  My only gripe about the place – and it’s a small one – is that they didn’t take card, meaning I had to quickly run to the ATM and pull cash out.  I could have easily done a runner, but they’d done such a great job I didn’t have the heart to do it.  Still, I wonder how many times that’s happened.  It’s their own fault really, for not taking card in the first place, and for having the smallest “cash only” sign in existence.  I’d definitely go back there again though, even if it feels like I’m cheating on my usual place for them!

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Tomorrow I’m back at work, but only for four days thanks to Christmas, and then I have a four day weekend, woohoo!  I’m not 100% sure why I have Monday off, though I’m thinking it’s because Boxing Day falls on a Saturday this year, and Saturday is my usual RDO, so they’re giving my Monday off instead.  That’s just a guess though, and I’m not going to question it in case it’s a mistake.  I mean, I don’t think it is, but I’m so looking forward to 4 days off that I’m not gonna risk it!  I also got some goods news yesterday – the store is closing earlier than originally planned on Christmas Eve, so I’m only working until 6pm now instead of 8!  Yaaay!

My diet still isn’t back on track.  I know it’s all just excuses, but when you’re roster is everywhere, you spend 3 hours a day on public transport and you don’t even have a set break time, it’s extremely challenging to find time to eat healthy food.  I’m just glad I’m getting extra exercise in to help make up for it.  I know it won’t do much, but it’s better than nothing.

How’s was everyone else’s week?

– JD

PS I realized I skimmed over the fact I signed my building contract.  I know it should be a big deal.  I mean, it is a big deal.  It’s final and locked in and in six months or so, I’ll be a home owner with a mortgage.  It all just feels so surreal though that it just felt like more paperwork.  It didn’t help I was feeling so unwell, but I think even if I wasn’t, I don’t think I’d have felt too excited about it.  Like, I acknowledge the importance of it…but until the building starts and I can finally see work being done, it’s still just a pipe dream.  It’s nothing but scribbles and words.  I’m hanging for the day when I can move in and see all the stuff I chose on colour day in real life, with my furniture in there.  Until then, I just can’t get excited about it all.

The Hunger Games, and it’s Unlikely Bad Guy

WARNING: SPOILERS!

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So, I’ve been a fan of the Hunger Games since I read the books a couple of months before the first movie came out.  I read all three books within a week, and have been hooked on the franchise ever since.

Now that the movies have all come out and I’ve reread the series again, there is one character that seems more despicable than the rest, at least on a personal level.  Oh, you’ve got President Snow and his league on pompous minons, controlling their little slice of the world through cruelty, suffering and callousness, but he’s always been the antagonist…the thorn in nation’s side, shall we say.  And then you’ve got President Coin, who came along towards the end of the series, originally positioned as a saviour, though it was hinted the whole way through her story that she was basically just a female version of Snow.  No, there’s someone in the books and the movies who’s betrayal really upset me, probably more than it should have.

Ceasar Flickerman.

Aka, this dude:

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Yeah, I bet you didn’t see that one coming.  In a book full of people who fall into two categories – brave and noble or weak and untrustworthy, there are plenty of people I could have said.  While it’s true that Gale’s betrayal (though unintentional) was tough, I still didn’t find it as uncomfortable to read/watch as Caesar.

I’ve thought about why this is for a little while now.  I mean, on paper it doesn’t make sense – he’s the embodiment of everything that is the Capitol.  His perfect teeth, his expensive outfits, his garish coloured hair and eyebrows.  He’s the face of the Hunger Games, and thereby all it stands for.  He’s shallow and fake.  Yes, on paper I should feel nothing at all about this character except mistrust and disgust.

I don’t though.

He seems like such a friendly guy in the first two books/films.  He helps the nervous contestants on stage, getting them through situations they’ve likely never even envisioned themselves in.  If it wasn’t for him, a lot of them wouldn’t get sponsors, and if they don’t get sponsors, they’re basically doomed in the arena (“If no one sponsors me, my odds of staying alive decrease to almost zero” – Hunger Games, Book 1, Chapter 8).  Plus, even as an embodiment of the Capitol, his crazy hair and over-the-top personality really make him seem like a good guy.  Even Katniss – who doesn’t seem to like anyone much, even her pretend-boyfriend most of the time – seems to get along with him.  Surely that’s saying something?

Then it all changes.  Once the dramas happen after the Quarter Quell, he becomes another minion of the Capitol.  He interviews Peeta several times, watching him appear increasingly unwell, and pushes him along.  In the films, he’s also the one that puts out the alerts for Katniss, which adds a whole other level of betrayal, and I think is what got under my skin the most.  It’s one thing to side with the Capitol, but quite another to speak in such a horrible way about someone you knew personally, who never did anything to intentionally harm you.  Yes, her rebellion affects his way of life, but he saw firsthand that she never wanted to be the figurehead of anything.  When she revealed the wedding-come-mockingjay dress, he saw her surprise.

He also saw what she went through in both Games.  I think, underneath the betrayal, his character upsets me because he had the chance to really help out the rebels.  He was centre stage.  The audiences ate up every word he said.  After watching the Games for the last fifty years, meeting all these kids, interviewing them…then watching their gruesome deaths, surely even he could understand the rebellion.  Surely he could see what they were fighting for.  If he came across as heartless from the start, or distant, or uncaring, then maybe it’d be easier to swallow.  The fact is, he was never any of that.  He seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and nice guys don’t throw kids under buses like that.

I guess the other reason he upsets me is because he is basically positioned in a similar light as Effie Trinket.  Both preening, pretentious, yet ultimately wonderful people from an otherwise messed up, wasteful city.  In fact, Effie was probably written as much more of a Capitol lapdog than Caesar, and with less power to help.  Yet, when it came down to it, Effie chose her side not on how it will affect her, but for her loyalty to Katniss and Peeta, and for knowing how completely messed up it is that she’s had to see so many kids she’s gotten to know personally die.  She lost her whole way of life by doing this, and it would almost be understandable if she didn’t join the Rebellion.  Caesar, on the other hand, fought the rebellion, betrayed people he could have done so much for and ultimately played a part in the deaths of so many people.

War is never easy, but that doesn’t excuse the actions of some people.  Especially people like Caesar.  He felt like a friend, someone I could trust, and then went and stabbed everyone in the back.  The worst part is, I should have seen it coming, but didn’t.  I just hope that whatever happened to him after the war ended, it was something Katniss and Peeta had a hand in.  After all, what goes around, comes around, right?

Climate Control

Daily Post Prompt: The idea that the weather and people’s moods are connected is quite old. Do you agree? If yes, how does the weather affect your mood?

This was something I was only introduced to when I first started at my old job, so around six years ago.  Prior to that, I’d never heard of it at all.  At first, I didn’t buy into it.  I’d heard of the theory from a guy at my work who also wholeheartedly believes in the Illuminati and also thinks women shouldn’t be allowed to drive “because they have hormones”.  Yeah, it wasn’t exactly a reliable source.

It stick in the back of my mind though.  I was curious, as the other people at work seemed to buy into it at varying degrees, when normally everything else the guy says is completely ignored.  It wasn’t difficult to forget it either, when each month he’d remind everyone “it’s a full moon, prepare for crazy customers!”.

And you know what?  He was right every time.  This was when I started to understand why everyone else was buying into it.  It seemed like he was onto something.  Each time there was a full moon, we’d cop an overload of aggressive, upset, moody customers.  It was uncanny and unexplainable.  I don’t pretend to understand why the relationship is there, but it happened so regularly that it was hard to brush it off as coincidence.

I haven’t really noticed any other relationships with moods and weather, aside from the obvious things like people are happier when it’s warm and sunny, and grumpier when it’s raining and they’re wet.

In terms of how the weather affects me, I’m not sure really.  I’d like to say it doesn’t, but that would be a lie, as I’m sure on some level it affects everyone.  I know I feel happier when it’s a beautiful day, or when it’s storming and I’m safe and warm inside.  I know I’m irritable when it’s really hot, and I’m more lethargic when it’s really cold.  I don’t think any of this is unusual though.  Not like the moon thing.  I have no idea if I’m affected by that, I’ve never really thought about it.  Maybe next time I will!

 

Always Something There to Remind Me

Daily Prompt Post: A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place. Which song(s) bring back memories for you and why? Be sure to mention the song, and describe the memory it evokes.

This song reminds me of my first real taste of heartbreak.  It was a long time ago now…five or six years, at least.  I was crazy about a guy who I thought liked me back, only to find he didn’t.  Or maybe just wasn’t interested in a relationship.  I’m still not sure, and have never had the courage to ask, even though we’re still good friends today.

When I (finally) got the “no”, I was devastated, locking myself away in my room in the dark, curled up on the floor, this song playing loudly, tears falling uncontrollably.  This song really helped me through it, though.  I don’t know why a sad song is sometimes so therapeutic, but it is.

I have memories attached to almost all of Taylor’s songs, but this one is definitely one of the most powerful.  Every time I hear it, it takes me straight back there.  It doesn’t make me sad any more though, but rather, glad I’m in a better place now, and glad I learnt so much from it.

Back to School

Daily Post Prompt: If you could take a break from your life and go back to school to master a subject, what would it be?

While I think my answer to this should really be maths, because I was terrible at it then and am still pretty bad at it now, I’m instead going to go with psychology.  Mostly because it’s been in the back of my mind for years that I wouldn’t mind studying that, but I don’t know if I’ll like it.  Had I done it at school, I’d know one way or the other.  I feel like I’d find it really interesting, but I just can’t commit to a whole course on it if I don’t know for sure.  Plus, if I had of done it in school instead of music, I probably would have gotten a better overall mark at the end of it all!

Do you wish you’d done something different in school?

– JD