the inescapable truth about adulthood

Perhaps it’s the fact that my younger sister – the baby – has just turned 25, thus reminding me that I’m now on a slippery slope to 30, that I’ve been thinking about this strange concept called adulthood. How do we know we’re grown-ups? Because I certainly don’t feel all that worldly and wise.

Here are some salient truths (good and bad) about being an adult, from one who has finally decided to pretend she is one some of the time.

  1. You desperately want to see the new Disney Pixar movie at the cinema without being judged, and immediately do a stock take list of all the children you know whom you could conceivably bring along as your excuse, without being perceived as creepy.
  2. You’ve actually (on more than one occasion) started a conversation with, “Kids these days…”
  3. At weddings people will absolutely ask you when you’re getting married – complete with suggestive eyebrow wiggles – even if the person standing next to you is not, in fact, your significant other, but rather the bus boy collecting your six empty champagne glasses.anigif_enhanced-16953-1393442457-8
  4. You realise that you’re still legally allowed to be attracted to the hot guy on teenage TV dramas, since technically the male actors are at least 30 and probably already using Rogaine to fend off any potential receding hair lines.
  5. Gone are the days when you woke up dewy-skinned and fresh in the morning. For early starts it now takes three coffees, and some serious attention to detail to distinguish yourself from the creepy cat lady down the street.
  6. How much you do or don’t like a person you’ve just met is heavily influenced by how well they guessed your age.
  7. Your tendency toward power naps has increased.
  8. Your day was completely ruined by the 18-year-old shop assistant who called you Ma’am.giphy (3)
  9. Your three-year-old cousin can better navigate an iPad than you. This one is alarming… it basically means you’re about two years away from being your mother and proudly proclaiming to anyone who will listen that you were “Googling” things.
  10. You’re waiting for the day you get your first grey hair, at which point, you’re planning to shave it all off, flee to Alaska and live your life as an extreme fisherman (or woman, as it were).
  11. You now have no one to blame but yourself if the fridge is empty.
  12. You’re an absolute dynamo when it comes to building furniture from IKEA.
  13. Perky people never cease to alarm you.giphy (8)
  14. Your parents will still give you advice as though were 16, which you will promptly disregard as you’re “not a child anymore”. Of course, you’ll totally be proven wrong about it. Again.
  15. Going to a club makes you feel like your 100-year-old neighbour – despite still being in your 20s – because you’re surrounded by infants who couldn’t possibly be 18.
  16. You’re technically old enough to have a 10-year-old (at least!) child, even though you haven’t yet mastered keeping your front garden plants alive for more than three days.
  17. When with your friends all pretence of sophistication goes out the window because you’re having too much fun “meerkating”.
  18. Life is now suddenly rife with awkward moments of your own creation.giphy (6)
  19. You literally live for your next holiday, such that come summer time you find yourself glaring at the oblivious throng of teenagers strolling around in front of you simply because they’re bored and on their school break.
  20. When you’re on public transport and really want to sit down in the seat reserved for the pregnant, elderly and disabled, and seriously contemplate whether the combination of your breakfast muffin and a bit of hunching will convince people you have a baby bump.
  21. You’ve become so much more domesticated that you consider the purchase of new lamp shades for your apartment to be retail therapy.
  22. Your list of weekly errands is longer than your list of actual assets.
  23. You read the nutritional contents on the wrapper of a chocolate bar, gasp in horror at the number of calories, and then promptly eat three.giphy (5)
  24. A late night out and a few drinks too many on a Friday now means you’re officially broken until Monday. At the very least.
  25. You contemplate the beautiful but really expensive pair of shoes in a shop window, acknowledging that buying them will almost certainly mean you can’t afford to eat for the next month. You then consign yourself to tinned peas and frozen broccoli because being well dressed provides you with almost enough sustenance to get you through anyway.
  26. At work events, during the small talk portion of the evening, inevitably someone asks you if you have children too, and you’re horrified to think you look like you might be old enough for that.giphy (1)
  27. You just can’t believe property prices right now.
  28. You think back nostalgically to the days of being underage and sneaking into bars, but then you remember they were invariably disgusting and you were drinking Malibu and pineapple or Bacardi Breezers, and suddenly feel so glad you can lounge with the girls over cocktails and Pinot Grigio whenever you want.

reflections

A different tone today for my post, as I’ve been in somewhat of a pensive frame of mind recently. Coupled with home sickness, joy, sadness, and new found motivation, it has been somewhat of an emotional roller coaster. I find the best way to articulate my thoughts is by writing them down, and since I’ve never really been one for secret diaries, this seems as good a place as any to put (metaphorical) pen to paper and bring some shape to them. It will probably also help me get back to waffling away about the silly things I do so very much enjoy waffling about.

I can’t speak for everyone, but for me 2015 has been a year of change, on a spectrum I’ve heretofore never experienced. The shape of my life, the people in it, has shifted somewhat and I can’t quite decide whether the balance of all that has come out for the better or not.

I’ve made wonderful new friends, missed those lifelong friends I used to see every day, gained one truly incredible person – a veritable rock amid the shifting mass – and lost (in the truest sense) two very important souls.

Change is inevitable, we all know this, and I’ve always thought of myself as a flexible person, ready to adapt to each new situation and environment. And in many respects, having uprooted my life entirely and settled somewhere else, this is very true. But, and perhaps this is part of getting older, I’m more aware than ever of the people around me and how we’ve all collected our losses at a more rapid rate.

For me, the big takeaway in all of this is the importance of living in the moment, and enjoying those things I find full filling, spending my time with friends, family, people I love – those that make me happy, enrich me, rather than allow myself to be distracted with the inconsequential. Those things seem important at the time, but in the grand scheme of things, they really aren’t. I can reflect now on incidents when I was younger – and rather quick to enflame over some such thing – and not recall why they affected me the way they did. Perhaps it isn’t until you’ve had a truly tumultuous year such as this that you can properly recognise the absurdity in that.

It’s taken me 27 years to gain a really true appreciation of quite how lucky I am in so many respects, and so I think that is – beyond the devastating and wonderful changes – the thing that this year has given me. Perspective. And I mean to make the most of that knew found awareness.

veggie life: the abc of recipes

veggie life

When I first moved out of home all those years ago, my greatest culinary accomplishment was having mastered the ability to not always burn toast and apply just the right amount of Vegemite (Aussies will understand this… there’s a reason non-locals turn their nose up at the delicious vitamin B12 rich spread and it’s due entirely to over application). Not to mention my famous incident of ‘but how do I prepare a cucumber??’

Since that time I progressively improved out of necessity and lamentation at the thought of another dinner consisting of steamed frozen broccoli. Now I wouldn’t consider myself a Masterchef contender by any stretch, but I fancy myself to be a very good and rather creative cook when it comes to vegetarian cuisine (not to mention baking, which is where my interest and strength has always been – indeed while my fridge was often empty, I had a dedicated pantry full of baking supplies and utensils).

That being said, I haven’t had much opportunity to cook lately what with renovations and mini-getaways and am now rather excited to try my hand at a whole array of delicious and healthy meals. This will be further enhanced by the fact that Sky Living is now airing repeats of My Kitchen Rules Australia (a much loved cooking show rife with poorly made risottos and endless bitchiness), which I love to have on in the background while I cook.

Paul will be of precisely zero assistance in this matter despite claims that once taught he’ll rival Gordon Ramsay because he still requires supervision when chopping tomatoes.

Given my current desire to whip up a veggie storm in the kitchen, I’ve been perusing many a food blog to uncover delicious ideas. Far be it for me to not share these with the universe (or the people reading my blog, in any case) so I’ve collated an A-Z list of recipes sourced from other, much more infinitely skilled cooks. Some of these are staples that I love to cook anyway, and I’ve sourced recipes for them (because I tend to make my quantities up as I go) and others are on my to-do list.

Avocado and Sweet Corn Wraps – This Rawsome Vegan Life

Buckwheat and Tomato Stuffed Zucchini – Naturally Ella                                         

Cauliflower and Chickpea Coconut Curry – oh my veggies! (see below)cauliflower_and_chickpea_coconut_curry_recipe

Deluxe Macaroni ‘N’ Tease – My New Roots

Everyday Pad Thai – Post Punk Kitchen

Funky Green Tacos – Earthy Feast

Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter – 101 Cookbooks

Halloumi Salad with Balsamic Tomatoes – Tinned Tomatoes

Indian Sweet Potato and Dhal Pies – BBC Good Food

Jamaican Red Beans and Rice – Skinny Taste

Kale salad with avocado tahini sauce – love & lemons

Lebanese Chickpea Falafels – Archana’s Kitchen

Moroccan Vegetable Tagine – green kitchen stories

Nacho Cheese Kale Chips – The Roasted Root

One Pan Penne and Broccoli ifoodreal

Pesto Veggie Melts – Sprouted Kitchen

Quick Indian Pancakes with Spiced Potato Filling – The Veg Space

Roasted Pumpkin Quinoa Salad – veggie num num

Spicy Sweet Potato and Green Rice Burrito Bowls – COOKIE+kate (see below)

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Teriyaki Eggplant with Herbed Cahew and Coconut Rice – The First Mess

Ultimate Veggie Burgers – Veggie Runners

Vegetarian Pho – Happyolks

Wholewheat Gnocchi with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce – Cookin’ Canuck

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho with Cilantro Oil and Avocado – bon appetit

Zucchini Noodles with Sesame Peanut Sauce – Fat Free Vegan

puppy sitting: first time parenting for non-parents

As I recently mentioned, Paul and I were house/puppy-sitting for my cousin while she was in Spain for a holiday with her partner and kids. Given that we were effectively homeless due to the never-ending renovation saga at home, and newly returned from our stint in Killarney, this seemed a most fortuitous arrangement. Not least of all because I love dogs and have sorely missed having one. Our family dog (who lives in Melbourne with my mum and sister) is pretty much better than any human I know, and infinitely cuter. I mean really, look at that face!

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If I looked that adorable when asleep, I’d be delighted. Sadly, I’m more of a mouth-open-and-praying-to-god-I’m-not-drooling kind of sleeper, but that’s getting onto a tangent. The point is that after a year in Dublin away from my furry-four-legged friend, I’ve been quite clucky about dogs (I’ve never been clucky about the other things… the two-legged ones), to the point that Paul frequently comes home to find me whimpering and gushy at the sight of anything that calls itself a canine (and if it’s a pug, well then it’s full blown waterworks). “Bu-but look at his little ears/nose/paws/eyes/chin!!” to which he now just rolls his eyes. Paul is a dog person, and still mourns the loss of Pongo is childhood companion, but he’s more inclined to get emotional about Fantasy Football than he is about a sausage dog trying to climb stairs.

Suffice to say that upon hearing that my cousin could offer both a house to stay in and a chance to puppy sit, I was delighted. Shep, the Border collie cross something unknown, had grown somewhat in the six weeks since I’d last seen him.

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Baby Shep: the innocent little munchkin

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Shep now a lot bigger and eating everyone everything

He is so named because my four year old cousin wisely proclaimed that he was a shepherd dog, and that was the end of that. I prefer to call him the Shep Monster, Master of Destruction – if we’re using the full title.

Let’s not forget that he is only six months old, a baby really. Only he’s a baby with the ability to reach my shoulders, if so inclined, and prone to jumping on the dining table, and/or kitchen benches in search of something to eat. Such examples of this include leftover pizza (3 slices)/a box of wedges/shoes/newspaper/blinds/dishcloths. But he’s also quite partial to socks and kitchen chairs.

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Beyond the fact that he eats everything, and is able to vault over the gate at the bottom of the stairs – which was theoretically meant to prevent him from running upstairs and peeing on the carpet (or eating a loofah in the bathroom), he is hyperactive beyond all belief. This was a point that several people made when my cousin’s partner first arrived home with the teeny tiny fluff ball that was Shep. He wouldn’t always be teeny tiny, and very soon the decent sized backyard they have would not be sufficient space for him.

To combat his excess of energy, Paul and I walked him three times a day, battling with his fear of other dogs (of any size) and his incessant desire to chase cars. After a decent walk he was tired and ready to curl up next to us (or on top of us – though I’ve no idea why he thought collarbones and heads to be so comfortable) on the couch. This ten minute period of relaxation was like the Holy Grail. Unfortunately if either of us moved for a toilet break or a glass of water that signalled the end of nap time, and Shep was bouncing around again. Often, come ten at night, I could be seen standing in the garden as he ran loops around me at the speed of light, silently praying that if I stood there for half an hour in the cold, he might just wear himself out. A foolish hope as it turned out.

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Being a puppy, he was often prone to bad behaviour such as digging on the leather couch and nibbling at our ankles, and would have to be put in the naughty corner (outside or if it was raining… as was constant… in the kitchen). Of course, he knew how to play us perfectly, because after five minutes locked in the kitchen he would make his displeasure known. Upon hearing disconcerting sounds, Paul and I many times entered to discover he had ripped down and eaten another blind, over turned the bin and was standing on the dining table proudly looking about his work like Simba gazing out over his pride.

Suffice to say that when it finally came to his bed time, after a few whimpers, Paul and I collapsed on the couch, a vision of first time parents not coping with the stress and exhaustion. While I will miss Shep – he is such a cutie and gives rather excellent cuddles – I won’t miss the early mornings, the terror at what opening the kitchen door might entail, or the fact that Paul couldn’t give me so much as a morning goodbye kiss without Shep jumping between us. I suppose I’ve a new found sympathy for the anguish of those fictional families in the movies Beethoven and Marley and Me.

In any case, we did all survive the two week stint (well all of us except for one of the goldfish that is) and we are now happily ensconced in our apartment once more. It’s not a total dream as yet, given there are still builders wandering about fixing things, but at least a good night’s sleep isn’t entirely unachievable.

gaps, ghosts and gremlins: my week in killarney

As I mentioned in my previous post, due to massive renovations (and the mum factor) the boyfriend and I had to flee our home for a couple of weeks to avoid being crushed by walls and/or tiles in our sleep. The lack of a functioning toilet (or, in the boyfriend’s case, a TV with live sports) just really isn’t conducive to a happy living environment.

So on that note we booked an impromptu trip down to the south west part of Ireland, namely to Killarney – the number one tourist destination according to TripAdvisor (because TripAdvisor could never be wrong) and a large amount of American tourists. Killarney is much more in line with the preconceived view of Ireland than Dublin is, that’s for sure.

Since Paul has never been to Killarney either we decided to do it proper tourist style – including a stint on the bright green Paddy Wagon bus, which was more awkward for Paul, being from “the big smoke” aka Dublin, than myself since the Aussie accent was considered excuse enough.

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On the topic of accents, the Kerry (that’s the county – or state for us Australians – in which Killarney is located) accent is something to behold. During almost every encounter I left the talking to Paul and resorted to the standard awkward laugh-cough-smile combo and hoped for the best. In fact, in the taxi to our hotel I only realised that our driver wasn’t speaking Gaelic when I identified an English word in the mix. My Irish heritage was of absolutely no use on this trip. For those who haven’t heard the accent before, here for your viewing pleasure is a video guide to the varying accents of Ireland. Pay particular attention to Kerry and their neighbour Cork (which is where our tour guide was from, boy).

Beyond my communication issues, I loved Killarney. While it was touristy, there was a beautiful and quaint air about the town which I absolutely loved – I really do mean quaint… since the primary mode of transport is a horse drawn carriage. Fresh clean air, no scary ‘nackers’ (aka hobos, bogans, or generally alarming toothless individuals who like to yell at you for no apparent reason), and an opportunity to see another part of my new home. What more could anyone ask for?

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We did all the touristy things, like looking at castles, watching Irish dancing, and visiting haunted abbeys – more on that shortly – and sampling the local bar scene. But among that there was one absolute highlight in the Gap of Dunloe. Following a trail along a windy path through the mountains, down into valleys and beyond – it was stunning. Actually it felt like I was in Lord of the Rings waiting for Legolas to come skipping along beside me with his bow and arrow and perfectly groomed hair fluttering in the breeze. While there weren’t any elves, we did have the most wonderful guide, Mac, who led us safely through the pass. While he wasn’t much for chit chat, his mane was beautifully maintained.

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Meet Mac, my friendly guide through the mountains.

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One of our other tours was the Ring of Kerry, which is probably one of the most famous sights in Ireland. The tour was great and the views were incredible. The only irksome aspect was an incredibly annoying Dutch woman travelling on her own (you know the type) who insisted on regaling the bus driver/tour guide with stories of her own experiences, naturally confusing his smiles and nods as a sign of his extreme interest rather than the fact that he was being paid to talk to her. I, however, was not being paid to listen to her wax lyrical about how she was in a Christian girls’ choir in Holland, and loves to paint – is apparently just so talented – and just couldn’t believe that contraception was once illegal in Ireland. We were on a tour bus… not really the time to argue about condoms and abortion. 11751821_10153086521254220_7247315494904053999_n11751440_10153086521419220_7473598330919754044_n

We then took a motorised boat across the lakes and up to Ross Castle. The trip in all took about an hour and half, and scenery was beautiful – despite the lack of feeling in my toes from potential hypothermia. The only downside to this was that I was once more exposed to annoying tourists. This time from Alaska, “the most beautiful place on the planet”. I’m sure it’s exquisite, but I’d probably take the opinion more seriously from someone who hadn’t just stepped out of said place for the first time in her life. The mother/daughter act were very enthusiastic, and I suppose given it was their first holiday, I can’t blame them too much. In fact, it probably wouldn’t have stuck out so much if not for the fact that the daughter, while describing her beloved homeland, kept saying things like “the taste of first snow on your tongue” and “the fierce and beautiful storm rose up”. We were on a speedboat, not on stage at a school poetry recital.

Naturally this didn’t annoy Paul too much since he seemed to enjoy how much they were irritating me, given my generally low tolerance for other people’s foibles.

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The highlight of the trip though was the Ghost Tour. I’ve done a few of these before – including one in Dublin (during which my friend and I nearly had coronaries due to a suspiciously ghost-like face appearing in one of her photos) – but this was far better. Not only does the scenery and history of the locations lend a greater air of creepiness come nightfall, but the stories and local legends of the faeries (spirits in this context, rather than cousins of Tinkerbell) were pretty cool too. The best spot was Muckross Abbey, located down a long path surrounded by trees, and set next to a graveyard (naturally). I managed to record orbs – in fact I recall discussing them with the tour guide and all – though strangely when we left the abbey most of my photos were completely blacked out. Suffice to I was a bit scared to go to the bathroom on my own that night. Given the mysterious malfunction on my camera, you’ll have to imagine the below photo at night time to get a proper impression.

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My ghost impression… which also resembles a rather awkward duck face.

All in all it was a great trip, though we didn’t meet any leprechauns. In fact, it was about as great as an impromptu getaway can be. Absolutely perfect. Except for the time when I accidentally locked myself in the hotel bar toilet after failing to notice the neon ‘out of order’ sign, followed by numerous failed attempts to get the five year old girl standing outside to open the door for me. Oh, and there was also that last minute bout of food poisoning.

On the last day I morphed into a strange hybrid of Linda Blair from The Exorcist and the ugly gremlins (from the movie of the same name) after they get exposed to water. Not pretty. Although being forced to stay in bed and watch back to back episodes of The Jeremy Kyle Show (Who Stole the Baby’s Bracelet? Did Your Husband Cheat on You with Your Brother’s Mother’s Sister’s Neighbour?) did remind me that my life could be a whole lot worse.

Now we’re back in Dublin, house and puppy sitting for my cousin. But that, my friends, is a story for another day.

girl, boy, and the mother: an interesting domestic experiment

So in the extended period of time that I’ve taken from doing such things as working on a novel and actively blogging, I’ve had my own mini-drama occurring offline. My mum, now happily retired, has taken to spending increasing amounts of time in Dublin (place of her birth, youth and home to all the extended family), to frolic in the very occasional sun it affords, and to spend more time with me – her errant daughter who decided to live half way across the world.

All very wonderful. Except that this time around she is staying with me and the boyfriend. Not something any of us thought about when she offered her apartment here for us to rent on the cheap. However, we took it in our stride… after all she was only planning to stay here for a month (one week of which would be spent frolicking in the infinitely sunnier south of France). That was before she decided that the apartment needed major renovations. And that she needed to be here to oversee them. And that overseeing them would entail a 9.5 week stay.

Hmm. As I’m sure anyone can understand, my reaction to that phone call was a perfect re-enactment of the scene from any disaster movie in which the hero or heroine looks up at the giant tsunami/cyclone/iceberg and realises they’re about to die.

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Of course when my response to the announcement wasn’t immediate delight, a la popped champagne and balloons, the Guilt Trip happened. We all know the one. Quiet tone of voice, suggestions that the person in question (me) is somewhat ungrateful and on she goes. Suffice to say we sorted it all out and then she arrived in a whirl wind, gaze assessing every visible surface for signs of crumbs or dust. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my mum and we are very close in a Gilmore-Girls-but-not-that-extreme sort of way, but it’s one thing for me to live with her and another for three of us to be cooped up in a small two bedroom apartment which is 0% sound proof. Oh the potential awkwardness!

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Surprisingly, however, it’s been pretty smooth sailing. They get along brilliantly (which I already knew), but seem to both delight in sharing their stories about my crazy antics, tendency for melodrama, and generally embarrassing moments. Delightful. So glad to be the social glue in this experiment.

As it turns out, we are now being booted out of the apartment for two weeks while all of these renovations are happening. Nothing like an enforced holiday! But it will be nice to have a mid-point getaway amid the madness. And more than that it will be nice to escape from (and hopefully be finished with) the in depth discussions about tiles and floorboards and window blinds. All very serious subjects.

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None of those conversations has eclipsed the moment she asked me, in all seriousness, to choose between the various toilets and taps she had on display. What was most aesthetically pleasing? And did those particular taps match that particular toilet? I’ve never been so excited to escape to a Body Pump class in my life. In fact, I can always tell when her brain is in renovation-mode because upon returning home from work there is absolutely no sign of Paul. Invariably he’s hiding in the bedroom or out for a jog. Anything to escape being interrogated for his opinion on matte-black versus glossy-black finish. One day I fully expect to arrive home to him hiding in the closet.

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There are major benefits to the mum element though. Like the fact that the fridge and pantry are always full to bursting, and that in my case, my mum is a brilliant sounding board for work related stress and/or issues. The fact that she’s a compulsive cleaner would be in this category if not for the fact that she frequently laments my lack of domestic inclination.

We’re now a third of the way through the trip, with an extensive break for the next while, and no one has died or been seriously maimed. So that’s a win. Though I do wonder what’s to come on this unique little adventure.

the less than glamorous life of an editor

I have been somewhat lax in taking on freelance editing work over the last few months, between that big thing called life, full-time work, and juggling fitness and various hobbies, I’ve frankly been a bit busy. That being said, I’m now jumping back on board as it really is something that I love and find (strangely) therapeutic. That’s because I’m inherently compulsive about correcting people, much to the chagrin of my friends to whom that quality is probably highly irritating.

Of course, once I’m knee-deep in a project, that’s when the therapy ends and I want to jump in front of oncoming traffic, because of the flagrant abuse of commas, split infinitives and prolific use of ‘would ofs’ rather than ‘would haves’. It’s enough to send anyone mad.

So in reflecting upon such things, I thought I’d share some insights into the secret lives of editors, those people behind the scenes who help to shape (some more than others) and craft the wonderful books we read each day.

  1. No one else will quite understand why you get so highly strung about hyphens versus em dashes or en dashes. Or a proper ellipses for that matter. But after spending hours combing through a 300 page manuscript riddled with these problems – which, damn you CTRL+F, will never be found easily – your rage will certainly be evident.
  2. Accept that 90% of the time an author will state they only need a proof-reader when, in fact, their novel is riddled with plot holes and they do actually want you to fix them. But proofreading and copy-editing and developmental editing are all the same thing, right? No. No, they aren’t.xk
  3. You judge restaurants eternally for the typos in their menus. Vagitarian spring rolls? I think not.
  4. I’ve never given birth, and in fact am mildly terrified of children, but handing over a final edit of a manuscript, and seeing it get published is probably on par with the experience. Hours of excruciating torture, resulting in something small, and which you feel certain has part of your DNA.
  5. There are great aspects too, like working with an amazing author who you totally get and feeling like a dream team.giphy (7)
  6. Friends and family will ask you to indulge in your OCD ways and proofread papers/assignments and various other things for them. And secretly you don’t mind at all.
  7. Except when you practically rewrite the whole thing and they get an A and you get an ‘Oh, thanks for that’.
  8. You acknowledge that just as the world couldn’t survive without bees, neither could it survive without correctly placed commas. They help to avoid things like this:035527fa
  9. You have to triple check text messages to friends and Facebook status updates, because there is at least one person who will never let you live it down.
  10. Editing fantasy novels is hard. Even after three coffees it’s sometimes difficult to discern whether what you’re reading is actual prose or, in fact, the result of the author banging his/her fists against the keyboard in a moment of rage. Aksparaxis of the Smelhagahnir. Hmm.
  11. When you’re on deadline and all you can think about is wine or bed. Wine in bed, perhaps?giphy (5)
  12. You get seriously excited about a project that isn’t a dystopian young adult novel about a reluctant heroine called Catnip rallying against government regimes, a BDSM tale of love between a meek woman and a handsome but damaged billionaire who built his fortune by doing precisely nothing, or a memoir about someone who has nothing noteworthy to say except for having a great love of cats.
  13. Trying to delicately suggest an alternative plot twist that doesn’t border on creepy and perverted. This makes me wonder how much of the aforementioned wine-in-bed Stephanie Meyer’s editor had while working on Breaking Dawngiphy (3)
  14. Microsoft Word’s spell check knows nothing. Fact.
  15. You can switch from using British to US English conventions and back again without giving it a second thought.
  16. But editing a manuscript from a native English speaker (who therefore has no valid excuse), which confusingly alternates between the two – hello author, where the f#@% did you learn English – makes you want to give up altogether.giphy (6)
  17. You get stressed out by Twitter’s character restriction, which almost never allows for proper grammar.
  18. Editing super detailed and awkward sex scenes while sipping a latte at your local café, and praying the old lady with the judgy stare isn’t reading from over your shoulder.giphy (4)
  19. All those times you get queries about a project, for which the proposed rate of pay is enough that you can buy a can of peas after 20 hours of work.
  20. It’s worth it when you get a really sweet thank you email from your client, which makes all of the above fade into nothing. Until you open your next manuscript and the first sentence begins with some variation of ‘It was a dark and stormy night…’giphy (2)

the thing about fictional boyfriends

The thing about fiction, whether it be in the form of a much-loved book, a movie or TV show, or even a comic, is that it taps into the deep pool of imagination and a wealth of what-ifs. This is never more apparent than with the much adored hero of any good story, or in some cases, the villain (for fans of Damon Salvatore and his ilk).

The perfect (and, even better, the imperfect) hero usually combines good looks, with bravery, some smarts, a well of deeply repressed emotions and, say, a crown (if it’s Disney) or a fleet of oil-rigging ships (if Mills & Boon is more your thing). Or, if you’re lucky, they’ve a massive estate in Derbyshire complete with a lake, for random midday swims while fully clothed.

Of course, you then also have the sparkly-watch-her-while-she-sleeps psychopath vampire boyfriend who was entirely too popular for common sense. But then, we all have our own tastes! And to that end, I’ve compiled a brief list of my own favourite fictional boyfriends below, in no particular order. Some are, I grant you, a little strange, while some clearly hark back to my early years, but I still think of them fondly!

  1. Tuxedo Mask/Darien/Moonlight Night, Sailor Moon. While the man did have far more aliases than one ever could possibly need, there was something about him that tugged at my innocent six-year-old heart. I recall swooning when the love/hate phase of his relationship with Serena/Sailor Moon paused long enough for them to realise their true identities. And even though, in reality, he was actually kind of a jerk and almost entirely useless (dude, a cane is not ever a match for a sword, unless you’re Lucius Malfoy), pure sentimentality – in conjunction with his ability to throw roses around at the drop of a hat – secures his place on this list.
  2. darienJohn Thornton, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. Now I love the book, but it doesn’t have a patch on the BBC adaptation. Scandalous to say? Not if you’ve seen Richard Armitage and the cup scene. He’s complicated, a touch on the broody side – but then the woman he’s attempting to woo is judgy, ignorant and blind to his charms – and he’s fiercely loyal and protective. Plus, that voice! As my friend once said, I could happily listen to him recite the phone book all day.tumblr_nj5ndufvQS1qz9cu6o5_500
  3. Dean Winchester, Supernatural. Sure, he’s been to hell and back a few times, and tangled with more than his fair share of demons, ghosts, zombies and face-eating monsters, but he’s quite the sweetheart beyond all that. Admittedly, he’s more of an unforgettable fling (unforgettable because seeing him will probably be coupled with a near-death experience) kind of guy than long-term fictional boyfriend material, given his habit of never staying in the same town for long, endless stream of fake identities, and an unhealthy tendency to die for his brother on a regular basis. But with his pithy one liners, ridiculously attractive jaw line, and that cheeky grin, I quite literally could not say no.giphy (7)
  4. Jonah Griggs, On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I can’t even. Still one of my favourite books (but not one to be read before having to present myself before people and not look like a blubbering mess), and to this day I lament the deplorable lack of Jonahs in reality. Sadly we don’t yet have a movie version to pine over either! So I leave you instead with your own imagination, and some swooning.giphy (5)
  5. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Well this one doesn’t need much explanation as it only set the trend for every what-a-bastard-oh-actually-he’s-not-and-I-love-him book that followed. Misunderstood, wealthy, protective (albeit totally snobby) and attractive, he fits the ideal hero in almost every way. And Colin Firth did nothing to help to stem the flow of adoration from women the world over.giphy (2)
  6. Noah Calhoun, The Notebook. When a girl decides that in fact James Marsden, in Military dress, and worshipping at her feet, just doesn’t cut muster compared to her first boyfriend, you know he had to have had a little something-something. Low and behold, it’s a younger Ryan Gosling, talking about birds, building houses, writing a year’s worth of letters, and just generally being Ryan Gosling. So, yeah not really a tricky one here.tumblr_m5iw6uELIP1rx13qeo1_500
  7. Seth Cohen, The OC. Bless him, he was so adorable in a way that spawned a wave of lesser than Seth clones across TV shows everywhere. He loved Summer from the third grade, named a boat (the tiniest one ever) after her, and even Captain Oats and Summer’s Princess Sparkle had their own thing going on. Admittedly he was also an idiot many times over, but a sweet one with an army truck full of chuckle-worthy one liners. Nerd love!giphy
  8. Jess Mariano, Gilmore Girls. I loved Jess, even though in reality he was probably one of the worst TV boyfriends ever (until she was later with Logan, at which point Jess had matured into potentially the best TV boyfriend ever… such a wasted opportunity, Rory!). He was moody, inconsiderate and always looking for trouble, but he read prolifically and wrote notes in the margins of her books and, well, that’s hot.giphy (1)
  9. Logan Echolls, Veronica Mars. Sure he was snarky (who doesn’t love that?), had a serial killing sociopath of father, and was the ex-boyfriend of Veronica’s murdered best friend, and consistently wore that ugly beaded necklace thing, but really what’s a little baggage in the scheme of things? He was complicated, slightly damaged, but vastly entertaining (especially when compared to Duncan… must boring TV boyfriend ever) and never without a pithy response.tumblr_n4ilxgjkBe1tyccego3_500
  10. Prince Eric, The Little Mermaid, No list for me would be complete without my one-true-Disney-love! He’s two-dimensionally good-looking, like totally humble – at least enough to not want to stare at his creepy replica statue – polite enough to not comment on the use of a fork as a comb, and has an awesome dog. Really, what more could one ask for? Okay, granted his will power sucked and he was brainwashed into marrying a crazed half-octopus villain (incidentally, one of the best of all time), but hey, these things happen.giphy (6)

 

weird questions tag!

weird

The fabulous Karen of Confetti and Curves posted her own Weird Questions Tag and left it open, so I’ve picked up the mantle and here we go. Incidentally, there are a couple of really strange ones here.

Do you have a nickname that only your family use?

I have an alarming number of nicknames, of which I can’t recall the origins for most! In terms of family, Bambi would be one. Primarily because my mum, high on pethidine while giving birth, thought it was an appropriate first name for her child. My father had the sense to intervene as, given my last name, this would have been highly unfortunate. It stuck however, as did pickle, which my sister calls me, and to whom I refer to as poodle. For reasons unknown! Amongst friends I go by K-Dog, Sha-Sha (so named because of the way I dance when a favourite hip hop song comes on) and Sas (a long and complicated story involving a trip to NYC with friends, and meeting a guy whose name was so unpronounceable in our inebriated state that we debated over whether it was Szechuan like the chicken or Sasquatch). The latter stuck, was shortened, and somehow upon returning home was attributed to me.

What’s a weird habit of yours?

I have an OCD habit when it comes to knives, which to be honest, isn’t all that illogical. In any case, I am physically unable to sit still if any sharp object is pointing directly at me, even from a distance. This extends to the point where, if at dinner, and someone’s butter knife is pointing in my direction, I have to reach over and turn it slightly away. I can’t control it, and most of the time don’t even realise I’m doing it.

Do you have any weird phobias?

The above probably half counts. But I’m also completely terrified of spiders when one grows up in Australia it’s not weird but smart. I once had a few spiders (horrible black things like that one from Lord of the Rings, only fractionally smaller) on my balcony. How they got up there when it was on the 12th floor, I have no idea, but it fed my absolute certainty that they were there to eat me in my sleep. After a night of sitting on the couch watching the doors and windows for signs of invasion, I worked up the courage to exterminate the evil monsters. This process involved me wearing Ugh boots, pink shorts (it was too hot for pants despite the risk of easy access to biteable skin), purple kitchen gloves and my hair in a bun that resembled an untamed forest. Armed with super strength spider spray in the largest available size, and a dustpan, I marched out onto the balcony and created a war zone. I defeated them narrowly, but not before noticing my neighbour sitting on her own balcony watching, and looking alarmed. Probably had something to do with the flailing arms and frequent shouts of “Don’t eat me!” but suffice to say she avoided eye contact in the lift ever since that day.

What song do you secretly love to blast out when you’re alone?

Teenage Dirtbag by Weezer is a classic, who doesn’t love singing in an intolerably high pitch when no one can hear? I also have a tendency to sing Disney songs. The year of Frozen was not a good time for my neighbours, given I’m fantastically awful at singing.

What’s one of your biggest pet peeves?

Inconceivably slow walkers in busy places. I figure, if you’re there for the scenic tour, take it to a park. I’m a woman on a mission!  Bad grammar. People asking if I eat fish, given I’m vegetarian. Vegetarians don’t eat fish, people! It’s in the name for goodness sake.

What’s one of your nervous habits?

I tend to fidget if I’m uncomfortable, either by playing my hair or twisting my ring around my finger.

What side of the bed do you sleep on?

I always sleep on the left to start with and then, because I’m a notorious blanket and bed stealer, end up taking up most of it anyway, leaving my boyfriend to battle from a far too small corner.

What was your first stuffed animal and its name?

It was a white Christmas bear named Snowy and he’s still in a cupboard somewhere at my mum’s house. More recently (because what 27 year old doesn’t still love toys??) my friends gave me Harold the giraffe (who also transforms into a pillow) because of my love of giraffes. They also proceeded to use the fact that he got lost under my bed for months as an example of my lack of maternal instincts which isn’t wrong.

What’s the drink you always order at Costa?

I’m a coffee addict. In Melbourne it was always a skinny flat white, because frankly all Melbourne baristas know how to make a coffee. Now in Ireland I’ve adapted to Americanos because a latte or flat white just isn’t okay.

What’s a beauty rule you preach but never actually practice?

I don’t think there’s anything in particular as I tend to be very careful about my routine, but I have on the odd occasion gone to bed with make up on from the night before. Big no no!

Which way do you face in the shower?

Yep, this one qualifies as weird. I’d do pirouettes in the shower if I had room.

Do you have any ‘weird’ body skills?

My legs are very flexible, to the point that they may be double-jointed (makes yoga a breeze!). As a result I can put my legs over and behind my head, or do a ballerina turn out, except with my feet able to go further back so they are partially pointed behind me. Weird, I know. It’s my party trick to creep people out.

What’s your favourite ‘bad’ comfort food that you eat anyway?

Cookies and cream ice-cream is my all-time favourite indulgence. Otherwise I’d say brie on crackers. In small doses it’s okay but not at the rate that I’d happily consume it.

What’s a phrase or exclamation that you always say?

I say ‘bless!’ a lot. Like, “oh, he’s a bit of a bless.” Or “that’s so cute, bless!”

It’s time to sleep – what are you ACTUALLY wearing?

In winter in Ireland I was almost wearing every item in my wardrobe that could conceivably provide warmth, in addition to thick socks, ugg boots and a throw rug. Now it’s usually just PJ bottoms or shorts and a t-shirt.

That’s all folks! Like Karen, I’m going to leave nominations open to whoever fancies taking a whirl at the weird questions tag.

book bingo, anybody?

As you’ll all have gathered by now I am at heart a book nerd (wearing that badge with some serious pride too) and hoarder. Though I have a short attention span and can sometimes float between five or so books at a time, neglecting to go back to those that didn’t seal the deal for me.

I have a particular love for the classics, re-reading Harry Potter, and young adult fiction, though truthfully I’d give most anything a go.

Last year I stumbled upon a fantastic post on the Random House book blog. Book Bingo, the game in question, sounded just about the most brilliant thing to my inner book monster who shrieked with delight at the thought. Alas, things got away from me last year and the aforementioned monster lay dormant for far too long.

I’ve since decided to properly indulge myself in some good fiction and so I’m bringing bingo back on the table. The folks at RH have provided a 2015 version, which is for reasons unknown Canadian-based. Not sure I’ve ever read a book by a Canadian author, though perhaps I have without knowing. In any case, the bingo tables from last year included a general one and a YA focused one. So I’m being selective and going with them.

The tables are below. Personally, I’m going to print mine out and stick it on my desk so I can put sticky hearts over the boxes I’ve covered. Anyone else care to join?

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