Monthly Archives of: December 2010

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I’m a creep. And, yes, also a weirdo.

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I’m obsessive. Let’s just put that out there. I think you have to be to write a whole novel — so at least there’s a practical application for it — but I take everything I like WAY TOO FAR. Like, way too far.

I’ve never had the capacity to SORTA enjoy things. I’m either mildly interested in stuff or UTTERLY CONSUMED by it. There is no real middle ground.

I like to think this quality makes me loveable and interesting. YMMV.

I mention this for two reasons. The first is that my thumbs hurt. My Scrabble fixation has, if anything, deepened since last we spoke. On Christmas Day, as my family snoozed in the sun, I played four hours of Scrabble against my phone. Words with Friends is still eating much of my time and concentration. This morning I was at the SPCA completing the adoption papers for my kitten WHILE PLAYING SCRABBLE. I have a problem.

The second reason is that my friend Jeffrey has been doing the 30 Days of Me challenge. This strikes me as a) WAY too hard and b) super cool. Finding the middle ground between these, I think I’m going to steal some of the topics but write them without a time limit. In your face, rules! I do what I want.*

The challenge calls first for 15 interesting facts about yourself. I thought I’d do 15 weird situations I’ve ended up in by being a creepy fangirl. It has a better ring to it, right?

15 weird situations I’ve ended up in by being a creepy fangirl

(Or… probably way less than 15. I think I’ll get bored before 15. Or distracted by Scrabble.)

ONE.
Everyone who knows me knows that I love Hanson. It’s weird enough to be memorable, and since regular humans think they died or are still 12 or whatever, people tend to be shocked enough to remember this fact — and to use it to judge the rest of my taste in music, which is ACTUALLY VERY GOOD, THANKYOUVERYMUCH. (Mostly because I overcompensate.)

Nowadays, I love Hanson enough to go to another country to see them live (Australia, America, Canada), but not enough to pay for the special editions of their albums. By my standards this is pretty weaksauce. In my youth — sometimes known by its other name of 1997 — I would have cut off my left arm for Hanson. Sometimes it sincerely surprises me that I didn’t.

When I was 15 (aka WAY TOO OLD) and at the peak of my obsession, Popsicle held a competition to win a meet-and-greet with Hanson. They printed letters on the bottom of their sticks, and to enter the competition you had to spell out HANSON with them and post it in.

To recap: each entry took six Popsicle sticks, plus however many double-up letters you got.

I entered this competition FIFTY-THREE TIMES.

53.

At the time I had a job after school cleaning the café above Parsons Bookshop (never go there). I got paid $25 cash a fortnight (REALLY, never go there), at which point I would run to the supermarket and buy as many Popsicles as I could for $25. Then I’d sit on a bench outside and strip the iceblocks off the sticks. The delicious treats went in the bin. The sticks came home with me.

I didn’t win the competition. When I found out, I cried all morning. At school. I had to be sent out of two classes in a row.

(Years later, I found out that the girl who won was the niece of my boss at the time, and she DIDN’T EVEN LIKE HANSON THAT MUCH. If I ever meet that bitch, I’ll take her down.)

TWO.
In this same period, I used to write my diary to Hanson. This sounds creepy because it was. I wrote it like I was writing them a letter. I had a lot of messy family stuff going on at the time and it made me feel better to write about it, but I never got the hang of writing without an audience (HI GUYS!). So I wrote to Hanson.

One day my mum found my diary (cunningly wedged under my mattress, as all good diaries are) and TOTALLY LOST HER MIND. To be fair, it was pretty weird of me. And all I did at the time was listen to Hanson and put up posters of Hanson and sit outside supermarkets disposing of frozen confectionery for Hanson.

She decided I was too obsessed with Hanson, and MUST BE STOPPED. So she took all of my Hanson-related paraphernalia, including my diary, and she locked it in a suitcase under the house.

How did I react to this?

A) I punched her in the face.
B) I decorated my empty walls with poems of mourning and flowers in their favourite colours, OH YES I DID.
C) I broke into the suitcase, took my diary, and POSTED IT TO HANSON.

I do not know what my thought process was, either. But I sincerely hope they never opened it. Or, if they did, that they’d sent it back. There was some good material in there.

(This may also explain why I never had a boyfriend in high school.)

THREE.
Many, many years later, when I was 21, Hanson came to Australia. I went, of course. Because I had to get a bank loan to go, by the time I got my ticket I was too late for the fanclub meet-and-greet tickets (even though I was still a member of the fanclub at the time (I’m not now, JUST TO CLARIFY)). The night of the show I met up with some online friends in Sydney and we ended up drinking at someone’s hotel room. (Yes, you guys, I have online Hanson-fan friends. There’s no other way to MAKE Hanson-fan friends.) These girls were HARDCORE and all had backstage passes. One of them had brought along her boyfriend. We got talking, and I explained why I didn’t have a pass. He said, “well, I have one, and I couldn’t care less” and then GAVE IT TO ME.

AND THEN I MET HANSON. I shook Taylor’s hand and told him he was “fucking amazing”, and Zac laughed at me.

I was very drunk. It was wonderful.Wasting all those Popsicles was totally unnecessary.

—–

JEEZ. This is already VERY LONG, and we’ve only covered one thing! Also, I need to RETURN TO PLAYING SCRABBLE. Maybe I will retitle this blog TEENAGE KATIE WAS A CREEPER and come back later to all my other, equally weird TOPICS.

To be covered in the future:

  • Why the crew of Supernatural taught me to pack snowballs
  • How I ended up financing and releasing an album for a former child star
  • The time I TOOK A MEETING on a script
  • Other strange shit, as appropriate.

—–

*Cartman voices, please. Kelly knows how it goes.

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It has stopped raining! This seems like a valid excuse to LEAVE.

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I have an iPhone now. Sorta. It’s on loan from a friend until I get my own. What this means, practically, is that Words with Friends is now THE ONLY THING I DO. I’ve been playing it for maybe 36 hours, and it’s already made me late for work twice. Last night I burned my baking and then almost fell off a treadmill in the course of feeding my fixation. But I did win my first game. SUCK IT, Random Stranger.

When I say I’m not that competitive, I’m feeding you a pack of lies. I’m SO competitive that I usually avoid competing, for fear of becoming CONSUMED BY WINNING. Or, more accurately, by NOT LOSING. Which I now am. I just made a foolish tactical error in one of my games, and in another my ass is getting kicked all over the board (SERIOUSLY, ÉMIGRÉ? YOU WHORE!), which means my afternoon has essentially been reduced to grinding my teeth and staring holes in my phone.

But it’s almost Christmas, so I’m okay with that.

—–

Summer is creeping in and out. It rains endlessly but it’s warm. Weird Wellington weather — still and sticky one minute, sideways rain the next. The sun sneaks out and the populace swarm the streets and bars. Last weekend I walked to the beach and waded in. The water was freezing and choked with seaweed, but the beach was full of people. I watched the waves creep over my knees and the clouds scud helplessly across the sky, and felt happy. My heart felt happy.

My heart IS happy.

I love this city. I love my new house, perched on the side of a hill. I love the precarious staircases down and the view out over the harbour. I love walking to work. I love wine, and sushi, and online freaking Scrabble, and the way I laughed until I cried last Tuesday night over something completely silly, sitting outside and watching the sun sink with good friends and hungry mosquitoes. I love that I have a new job. I love Christmas and New Year and plans to head both North and South in January.

I love the nameless, gorgeous kitten I’m adopting next month.

I love my characters and I love their story. I love my mythology. I MADE THAT SHIT UP, you guys! That’s CRAZY.

Life is good. Merry Christmas.

(Except Ang. Ang just played ‘schmooze’, and is therefore STILL A WHORE.)

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This post may permanently lower your opinion of me.

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There was a viewing before my grandfather’s funeral. I had ABSOLUTELY NO INTENTION of going. Then my brother, the ASS, told me that I wasn’t qualified to write about zombies if I’d never seen a dead body.

And, on reflection, I decided he made a valid point. So I did.

It was AWFUL. And I feel dirty for using my grandad as research (although, honestly, when you write, EVERYTHING is research. Secretly, I am storing up all of your tragedies for later appropriation. When I crashed my car, my first thought was, ‘YAY! Now I know how to write this!’). But on the upside, I made my brother come too, and I think it upset him even more than it upset me.

Which helps.

I am telling you this terrible story, internet, to warm you up. Because this next one is much, much worse.

—–

Picture the scene: we’re at dinner. It’s a nice restaurant in Petone. My friends have gathered; wine has been taken. Scott and Clint are sitting next to each other, heads together, buried in their iPhones. They look like little boys comparing Matchbox cars.

“God,” I say, “MEN. Why don’t they just knit each other friendship bracelets already?”

Mark looks at me like I’m stupid. “I’m pretty sure they have an App for that.”

Neither guy looks up.

Beside me, Rach — darling of my heart and wife of iPhone #1 — is talking a mile a minute to Bec. Her own phone is sitting on the table between us.

Mark is looking at me. I’m looking at the phone. Rach and Scott are ignoring all of us.

I take the phone.

“Dear Scott,” I type, starting a new message. “Stop playing with your fucking phone…”

“Lame,” Mark says, swigging his drink.

“Fine.” I erase that. “Dear Scott, I would like you to…”

“Oh. My. GOD,” Shelley splutters, as I outline exactly what Rach might wish her husband to do to her on the table at a busy restaurant. I take my time composing the message: I want it to be perfect. I want it to be SO FILTHY that I can’t blog it. So filthy I can’t even say it out loud.

It’s the filthiest thing I’ve ever written. Possibly the filthiest thing ANYONE has ever written.

Beside me, Clint and Scott start to stir, like they might come out of their phone-coma and actually eat their food.

“Hurry up!” Shelley hisses at me.

Frantically, I jab at Rach’s phonebook…

—–

You see where this story is going, right?

YEAH.

I composed a message on my friend’s phone, inviting the recipient to perform a number of highly illegal acts upon her person and intimating VIVIDLY the extent of her enthusiasm for them.

I did NOT send this message to her husband.

Somehow, and I still do not know exactly how, I sent this message to THEIR BABYSITTER.

Their SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD babysitter.

It ruined dinner. I nearly cried. If I’d sent it from Scott’s phone, the babysitter would have, without any doubt, called the police. I wouldn’t have blamed her.

It may still be too soon to be blogging this. It may ALWAYS be too soon to be blogging this.

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GUEST POST! Sorta.

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This one’s by my brother, guys. It’s his half of the eulogy we did at Grandad’s funeral (my half was taken from the blog I wrote about him earlier in the month). I promised several people I’d type it up and post it, so here it is.

—–

It’s funny the things you do when someone you’ve known and loved passes away. I went straight to the photos that I had of Grandad, and the very first one I found was when I was a baby and Nana and Grandad were at our house in Wellington, both on the couch, my sister and I on one knee each, mid play-time, and Grandad was still wearing a shirt and tie. I thought that summed him up pretty well: no matter what the situation, he was always well groomed and presented. A man who, despite being in his “number ones” while playing with babies, was thoroughly enjoying it and handling us with such care — and that familiar smile he had that always looked like he knew what was what.

Every time I think of Grandad smiling, I remember his wrinkly face and how it couldn’t hide his sparkling eyes. Whether it was sitting at Nana and Grandad’s dinner table with him saying to Nana (who forever seemed to be in the kitchen preparing our food), “Yuck! What’s this?” after she’d served him a beautiful quiche or a roast… and giving you that sparkly-eyed smile and a wink for good measure. Nana would reply, “Well, Doug, if you don’t like it, don’t eat it!” and as a fat child I would always hope he wouldn’t so that I could have some more… but he always did. Every last bite, usually. And he would eat the whole thing without having a drink, every single time. He’d have one sitting in front of him, but he’d never touch it until his food was gone. And then he’d almost skull it — sort of like he wasn’t sure if what he’d eaten was still alive, so just to make sure he’d drown it.

But that was Grandad: a creature of habit.

As a kid, I remember he was up every morning and straight down to the gate to get The Press. He’d sit in his chair next to the kitchen and ceremonially remove the glad-wrap from the paper a bit at a time so it would come off perfectly. It was like his little Christmas every morning, unwrapping that paper. Even when I got to be a lunchtime-rising teenager, the paper would be in the same place and look untouched, even though he’d probably read it cover to cover. It’s funny how the little things wear off on you — when I read a paper now I try and always put it back together perfectly. There was a short while there when I would actively try and get up before Grandad and get down to get the paper, but I would seldom succeed, and when I did I could never get the glad-wrap off perfectly like he could, so as a teenager I gave up and let sleep (and Grandad) win.

Another photo I looked at was when Grandad was in his army uniform with Nana. They had big smiles on their faces (like they had just shared a joke). It reminded me that Grandad wasn’t always a grandad. He served in World War 2 and went deaf from the plane engines he worked on (and probably went white from the child-size land crabs he came up against in the Pacific). I asked him once as a kid if he ever shot anyone in the war and he smiled and said he almost shot a land crab once as it rustled in the bushes. I’ll never be able to comprehend what he went through at war but I know I’m glad he came back in one piece and got straight to work on producing some children.

The deafness that the war left him with was, I’m sure, a little selective at times. I used to spend heaps of time with him in the glasshouse down the end of the property. We’d be tending to the tomatoes and he’d be talking to me about how to graft avocados — and I’d be wondering why he was trying to teach a 12-year-old how to graft fruit trees, but happy just to be hanging out with him (and every now and then looking at the odd pane of glass that was cracked from the tennis balls that careered into them from the cricket me and the cuzzies would play) – and then we’d hear Nana calling him for lunch: “Doug! DOOOO-UUG!”. He wouldn’t respond, so I’d tell him “Nana’s calling, lunch is ready”, and he’d keep doing what he was doing without pause and say “yeah, I know”. I think he just liked to make her call him a few times.

The final photo I looked at was actually one of me wearing one of the multitude of old full brim hats Grandad had, sitting on his ride-on lawnmower with Grandad in the background by the pool. That pool they had was the centre of our world over summer. We used to literally hang on the edge of it while Grandad cleaned it with the bug scoop and talked about the complexities of getting the right balance of chemicals so as to not burn the skin but kill the bugs. As I looked at that final photo I noticed that even though he was an old man and was resting lightly on a walking stick, he still had such an air of respect about him. It sounds a little bit weird but when I looked at him I always felt that he had seen a lot in his life and that I’d love to go back in time and actually have been there during the stories he told about losing gears driving from the Coast, or teaching the driving instructor a thing or two about a thing or two, or watching him as cats piled onto his lap at night. I’m glad I was allowed into his life to hear those stories, and I’ll always be a little sad, as you are, about the many more I probably never heard.

The final thing I’ll never ever forget about Grandad is his hair. As Katie said, it was always done immaculately, and it was a rare treat as kids if we’d spring him after he’d gotten up and his hair was still everywhere — though even when it was undone it was still half swished back. I also remember the day I heard that what happens to a man’s hair is directly related to his mother’s father. At 94 he still had a full head of hair… so I’ll hold onto that hope!

He was a man I was always excited to see and always really sad to leave. He fills my childhood memories. He was a breed of man that is lost in the world today – he had morals he kept to and standards he considered normal that others sadly would consider too high to meet today.

Rest in peace, Grandad. You really deserve to.

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Fwd: TRAITOR

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Dear [one of my referees],

There was a time when I thought you were a nice guy. But it appears I was wrong. You are evil and as a consequence a once nice young lady is off to join an ugly faceless corporate where she will spend hours spellbound by the pointy tail of an apostrophe. Thanks a lot pal. You remember the scene in Sons of Anarchy when the traitor gets offered the choice between knife or blow torch? That’s too good for you, you get a rusty razor blade duct-taped to Fatima’s stump. I hope a swarm of Box Jellyfish do a death dance on your Speedos as the salt water crocs circle and high five their tiny little weird croc hands.

Disappointed of Newtown

I got a new job. The people in my office are very unhappy about it.

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The Johnston family heads South

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My friends often accuse me of having a male brain. They do this partly because I struggle to accept emotional arguments unless they’re also rational (several of my friends would have other phrases for “struggle to accept”), and partly because I can only focus on one thing at a time.

My entire childhood was spent buried in a book. If I didn’t have one on my person, I’d read cereal boxes, instruction manuals, washing labels. Bills. Lists of ingredients. Road signs. I wasn’t picky. If I finished my book and didn’t have another, I’d flip to the front and start it again. Possibly because she never saw me WITHOUT a book, my mother soon learned to talk around the pages constantly covering my face. If she’d waited until I stopped reading to tell me things, she’d still be tying my shoes today. Honestly, she probably only recognises the top third of my face.

My family talk a lot in general, and they do it with exceptional persistence. Since they refused to leave me alone while I was reading, I learned to tune out my environment completely. It worked for us — I could read unhindered, and my family members could talk unimpeded. Even now, if my concentration is directed somewhere, I am ABSORBED. You can have an entire conversation directly in my ear while I’m watching TV, and I won’t even realise you’re there. It amuses my friends and frustrates the shit out of my workmates, since they have to say everything to me twice, after they’ve thrown something at my head.

My mother, however, has years of experience in dealing with this. All our conversations sound like quizzes — “What did I just say?” “Who are we talking about?” “Repeat the second word in that sentence!” — liberally interspersed with forced eye contact and enthusiastic poking at my person. When you are being poked in the ribs it is VERY HARD to concentrate on anything but being poked in the ribs.

(I do, for the record, realise that my mammy got a VERY RAW DEAL in the Great Daughter Lottery.)

Last Wednesday I spent three hours on a ferry with my parents. I spent two of those hours reading — my mother spent those same two hours talking.

After an hour spent re-reading the same page while learning more than I ever wished to know about Great Aunt Whoever’s medical woes, I gave up and retreated to the cafeteria, where I managed to chop a whole chapter in blissful silence before Mum came to find me. As she sat down beside me, a middle-aged lady settled herself heavily at our table.

“Long trip,” she said, popping open her container of fruit salad. She had sensible sandals and smelled faintly of religion. “I’m pooped already.”

We nodded politely. I lifted my book higher, in case she hadn’t seen that I was BUSY.

“I’ve come all the way from Hamilton this morning,” she continued, craning her neck over my literary shield. “My mother isn’t well. LET ME TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT.”

HALF AN HOUR LATER, Mum and I managed to extricate ourselves from this woman and her infirm mother and her FUCKING FRUIT SALAD. “Oh my God,” I said as we climbed the stairs back to Dad. “I thought we’d never escape!”

“She was VERY RUDE,” Mum said, shaking her head. “Who starts a conversation with someone while they’re reading?”

—–

Later, in the car, my father asked me if I “dig Lady Gaga”.

—–

The day after the funeral we went to Pegasus Bay for lunch. Pegasus Bay is beautiful and expensive and refined, like a big pink castle in the country. The antipasto platter is $75 and the chardonnay is delicious. It was, essentially, exactly how I imagine heaven.

As we sat down to eat, the chef lumbered past us towing a huge leg of pork. My brother, who never lets a lame joke pass, tried to order it. “I have to smoke it first!” the chef chortled, kindly pretending to be amused, and trundled off to a little shed behind our table.

Twenty minutes later, as we were tucking into our insanely expensive (and totally worth it) antipasto, there was a massive BOOM from behind us. The chef blew backwards out the door, somersaulted into the garden, and leaped to his feet, beating frantically at his head and arms.

The smoker had blown the roof out of the shed — and the crotch out of the chef’s pants. His hair and underwear smoked gently in the summer breeze. My father and brother rushed to help as the staff turned the hose on him. I sipped at my delectable chardonnay, and forked up another stuffed zucchini flower. I was busy.

My brother ran back to the table. “He’s okay,” he said, grabbing our water jug. He hesitated. “…Think it’s too soon for a dinner and a show joke?”

It kinda was.

Oh well. At least he didn’t tell him he’d saved his bacon.

Pegasus Bay is super classy.
 My brother and I, however, are not at all.