Routines

We all have our routines.  Logically I would even call those who have no routine being routine in their lack of routine, so to speak.  My routines at times border on being extremely habitual to mildly obsessive and I’m just under the threshold of OCD according to my psychiatrist – which I am not too worried about considering I’m one of the saner ones in my family.

All the door locks in the house must be checked before going to bed and before leaving the house.  This is non-negotiable as safety will always come before paranoia in my books.  My husband has another word for it and won’t even check the locks before we go out anymore as he knows I’m going to do my once-over anyway.  As he has been known to leave doors open and cars unlocked in a less-than-secure neighbourhood in the past I’m not taking any chances with our personal protection anytime in the near future.  Our home is equipped with an alarm system, window locks on Amplimesh safety screens and I have been entertaining the idea of getting some surveillance cameras for the front door.  The latter isn’t so much for security as it is to catch the smug would-be graffiti artist in the act after the defacement of my last political sign during the last election.

My dogs have routines, too.  If I’m still sitting on the lounge when their bedtime rolls around they will take themselves off to find a good position on the bed, taking the opportunity to find the best spot on the pillow before I can get to them.  Dinner time is apparently 5 o’clock in the evening no matter what.  It does not matter if the sun is blazing in the sky in the summer or pitch black in winter.  They seem to know.

My husband has his own routine.  He is up with the sparrows while I am still in bed long after the sparrow has fed the kids and gone off to forage.  He takes his naps seriously as he works away a lot and can be found in his favourite chair while home checking out the insides of his eyelids on a regular basis.  His routine borders around the time he is home and the time he is away and we all just have to go with it – hence my preoccupation with aforementioned lock checking and security no doubt.

My son also has a routine although we are not quite sure what it entails.  I gave up trying to get him into patterns years ago after he nearly blew the house up and not long after that losing the keys to the house in an unknown location.  My only routine with him is to not leave him in charge of the house or in possession of too many keys at once.  It seems to work.

I generally get by with my routines.  Every now and again I will leave the sameness and safety of my regular patterns and do something completely left field and erratic – more than likely having planned it all out in my head beforehand.

 

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Plane sailing

I’m not a frequent flyer but I do enjoy the occasional flight to an even more enjoyable destination.  I use the term ‘enjoy’ loosely, however, when I am flying with my husband, a serious frequent flyer and notorious frequent-flying grump –  no doubt aggravated by years of flying with every bad cliche known to man.

Flying with my husband is like buying a ticket in the lottery.  You have a million-to-one chance of winning – and I have a million-to-one chance that my husband will enjoy his flight with nothing and nobody to annoy him.  If the inevitable does occur and we travel together I say a prayer for a vacant seat in another part of the plane if something gets on his last nerve.

The usual protagonists include screaming babies, undisciplined children, rude people and exceptionally bad body odour – any of which you are bound to encounter when you are packed like cattle in anything less than business or first class.  My husband can tolerate screaming babies up to a point, as even he understands what air pressure can do to little ears but he will loudly ask the flight steward for another seat if it goes on for two hours with no reprieve and he can get away from it.

He has been known to ask mothers to stuff socks in their screaming two year old’s mouths and threaten old-enough-to-know-better children from kicking the back of his seat to near death when he can no longer take it.  Older kids have seen the death stare on more than one occasion as he looks over the top of his seat to confront his aggressor.  It seems to work.  Parents are not sure if they are flying with a maniac or not so they act fast so as not to find out.

He has had near scuffles in the aisle when a cantankerous Texan with a large hat couldn’t keep his elbow to himself and another similar elbow jousting match with an overly large gentleman who really should have bought himself two seats and not one.  On both of these occasions my husband was transferred to first class – no doubt because my husband is no fool – you can be an ass but only to another ass who is being an even bigger ass to the flight steward by complaining about my husband being an ass.

Smells and body odour fly high up there on my husband’s personal gripe list and I have witnessed him coming out of a near coma of sleep by the stench of a passenger sitting in the opposite aisle and yelling at the top of his lungs “Poo!  Jezuz, you stink!” and then going back to sleep again.  I am ashamed to say I almost laughed out loud at his antics that time, as there were at least seven people around us at the time all nodding in agreement but suffering in silence.. including me.

My husband, bless him, is no shrinking violet and never has been.  He will always tell most people what he thinks and rarely keeps it inside if he is irritated.  Once it is out, however, it is generally gone and won’t be rehashed or groused over at a future time and date, unlike some people who hold grudges forever and are perpetually unpleasant people.  I wouldn’t call my husband unpleasant and believe it or not he’s not honest to a fault – he knows strategically when to exercise discretion about my choice of outfits, hobbies, my family weirdos, friends and sometimes my less-than-fantastic ideas.

My husband is an original.  I’m not giving him back.

 

Abnormalities

It’s common knowledge around these parts that my family is full of eccentric-type nutters, myself included.  Not that it’s a bad thing but it has its moments.  In a world where mental illness and mental stress are now the norm – some members of my family can give those categories a run for their money, be somewhat challenging or at the very least, downright entertaining.  I’ve managed to keep a lid on most of mine over the years but I suspect that if I had ever done drugs or alcohol I would be spending a bit of time in the local mental health unit by now.

My father is no exception.  I wouldn’t call him crazy but he is definitely out there.  I suspect he has undiagnosed adult ADHD from my stints working with psychiatrists and my discussions with them about him over the years.  He has managed to navigate through his life in blissful ignorance in times of stress with a somewhat childlike attitude to problems and an attention span of a mudskipper.  Mum undoubtedly has shouldered most of the day-to-day burdens, bills and disasters and would probably only now just be getting out of prison for murder if they hadn’t separated twenty years ago.

I get along pretty well with Dad although it can be hard work keeping up with a conversation with him as he flits from one subject to another, talks loudly at lightspeed, looks blankly at me when I ask him a question, says “eh?” and then answers it.

Shopping is fun with Dad albeit a little scary because I never know what he is going to do next.  I have lost him in department stores because he has wandered off or stopped to have a detailed conversation about almost anything he can think of with somebody he doesn’t know.  Going to the cinema is a real challenge as I can’t hear the dialogue over my father’s constant queries about what is going on.

I often take him with me when I go to buy something because he gets bored and has nothing better to do but I try to refrain from taking him into electronic stores because he is likely to come out with something that he didn’t want and knew nothing about but just had to have because it was shiny and had a lot of buttons he could press.  I took him with me once when I went furniture shopping and he managed to smash a three hundred dollar lamp because he was so excited looking around at all the fancy items he wanted to buy he didn’t see the two-feet-tall designer lamp sitting on a side table near his gesticulating right arm.  The manager insisted, however, that we didn’t have to pay for it after I purchased a very expensive guilt-driven dining suite and my father purchased a plush leather recliner that he said he was going to buy anyway.

They certainly broke the mold when they made my father – and for all his oddities and foibles growing up with him was never dull.  He often took me on his adventures and I always returned home not always unscathed but still alive.  He added to my childhood ideals and experiences.  To me being different, odd or eccentric is just another facet of being human.  Thanks to my father and my family I don’t really believe that there is an ideal to live up to.  Human beings are made to be faulty – it’s just the way it is.  We break, cope or strengthen in different ways depending on our map of the world.

I’m not even sure that there is such a thing as being ‘normal’ or whether it is just a media-generated phenomena that the disillusioned and brainwashed feel the need to aspire to. Thank God for weird dads.

Tattoo me

I’m a tattoo lover.  I’ve had tattoos for quite a while and most of them have been placed in covert places to avoid the scrutiny of stuffy co-workers and management lest they have a conniption.

In the last few years, however, I have come out of the tattoo closet in a big way and decided that it is okay to display tasteful body art in places that can actually be seen all of the time by every freaking person on the planet.  I have decided that I really don’t need to please anybody but myself and can be an eccentric nonconformist if I want to be regardless of that woman in the corner store’s worry that I’m going to steal something from her shelves.

I now sport an expression of creativity and of love for my pets, past and present, intertwined with roses down my right arm.  Some people like them but others behave as if I am going to rob them at gun point.  This isn’t a real problem for me as it sorts out the cheese from the crackers as far as I’m concerned and I am left with those who actually like me for what I am regardless of a bit of extra colour on my skin.

My mother came around eventually.  She is stuck with me regardless and she knows it.  The same goes for my husband.

One day when I am old I might regret having had them done but I doubt it.  When my memory fades a little all I will have to do is look at my beautiful body art and be reminded of my life and the happiness those furry little souls gave me when they were around and I will almost certainly smile.

Beginning Again

It’s been a while since I posted but lately I have found that I have more time on my hands and more motivation to put my ‘creative writing’ skills to use once again.

I am having somewhat of a sabbatical from work at present – or rather a prolonged ‘holiday’ suggested by my husband after my work-from-home job as a medical transcriptionist became less than desirable and started to create moderate-to-high stress levels in our household.  Five years as a medical transcriptionist was enough for me, particularly as our company transferred to foreign ownership and I found that after a long-term projection I would wind up doing the same amount of work for less money – but with the same amount, if not more, stress from line count quotas, English second-language dictators and other transcriptionists with a propensity to cherry pick the best dictators given half a chance.  My recent difficulties in a Singapore hospital and the resulting anxiety and insomnia from my health issues sealed the deal and I sailed off into a semi-retirement sunset and slept soundly for the first few weeks afterwards.

Over the last two and a half years while I have been working I have also been dabbling in photography and what started out as a sideline interest has now blown out into a full-blown obsession with all things pertaining to Canon cameras, lenses, shutter speeds, apertures and ISO.  I am devouring camera magazines, doing online study courses and joining photography groups locally and online.  I am offering my services to all and sundry in an effort to gain more experience working with light and attempting to direct my models like a true professional.

Of course now that I am no longer chained to the computer for prolonged periods of time I am taking obsessive to even greater levels with softboxes, speedlights, strobes, a gathering of an assortment of toys, blankets and fluffy objects for future anticipated shoots of babies, puppies and anything in between.

My husband, as usual, keeps his distance most of the time from my hobby and rarely bats an eyelid over my purchases or my must-have items.  His motto in life of having a happy wife is to have a happy life might be short lived if he ever got wind of my pro Canon 5D Mark III I bought for a ‘good price’ last year, however.

In the meantime, I am slowly becoming what is known as the uncle Arthur in my husband’s family.  I get invited to all the best parties and functions and my popularity is soaring in my small social set.

I am slowly finding myself again.  My grandfather, the only other member of my family to ever pick up a camera and do something worthwhile, would be very pleased.

The Black Dog

I watched a program on television recently that dealt with the issue of suicide and mental illness and how prevalent it is amongst our younger generation.

Don’t get me wrong.  Suicide and mental illness are not limited to the younger generation but it is especially heartbreaking to lose a young and troubled soul without feeling sorrow for a life not well-lived and the unimaginable anguish of the parents, grandparents, siblings, friends and school friends left behind.

Suicide has touched us all to some degree, whether it be somebody we know, somebody close, a friend of a friend or even our own morbid thoughts at times when things have been at their darkest in our lives.  I have not escaped unscathed with my various health difficulties without wondering at times whether it is worth the effort of struggling with the pain and functional difficulties that I have been left with.  I keep on top of it.  I keep busy.  I work and study and develop interests to keep the black dog at bay but others may not have the support that I have had or indeed the will to keep on dog paddling when they would rather sink to the bottom of the abyss.

The reality of the abyss was brought home to me again last year when my son’s best friend decided that he simply did not want to keep on paddling for another minute more.  He left behind a beautiful family, many friends and a community of people who he had helped in his short life wondering what had happened.  He didn’t drink, smoke or take drugs.  He went to church and believed in God.  He was kind, generous and loved.  He was planning a trip overseas and had booked the tickets.  He did not appear to fit the profile of a depressed and mentally ill young person and he simply slipped through the cracks.  He had sought help a few months before his death and unfortunately was not followed up.

The abyss will always be there.  It does not discriminate.  It can affect anybody.  There is no clear answer but it is clear that we need to become more aware of our fellow man and be a little more compassionate.  ‘There but for the grace of God go I’.

I’m back…..

Well I’m back.  It’s been a while.  Nearly a year in fact.

I will now use the old cliche that ‘life got in the way’ but illness and time has a way of not playing fair… and so here I am.  I hope to be able to add reasonably regular content this time around.  I will also attempt some half decent stories every now and again.

I have my good friend Jo to thank for bringing me back from the writing dead.  She has started her own blog and I don’t want to be outdone.  So thank you Jo.  I hope to be critiquing your blazing good foray into legendary writing status in the near future.

For the record it has been a nearly interesting 12 months in parts.  I’m still soldiering on with my MT work and making a half-decent attempt at pegging doctors’ and their linguistic idiosyncrasies.  I fear I will never reach the great heights of MT elitism but I’m earning a regular income and that has got to account for something.  I’m not aspiring to great levels, simply because I would like to have a life and health restrictions limit me to part-time MT semi elitism only.

In the meantime I will be finding at least one or two days per week to jot down my thoughts and process the flickerings of literary creative goop bouncing around between my ears.

Stay tuned….