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Category: Diary (Page 1 of 16)

July 31

I am woken in the night by some lower back pain. I guess there’s a first time for everything. I manage to get back to sleep. The pain is still there in the morning, but eventually fades. I get up and start work on a new draft of When The Stars Go Out, the first story I wrote after my marriage imploded. I’ve been tackling how to represent what happens to my main character, and have decided I can leave most of it to the end and leave the reader guessing (alongside the rest of the characters).

We enjoy some heavy rain and startling thunder at work, which enlivens the average Monday. The Elderbeast has asked for risotto one night this week; it’s one of Rachel’s specialities so I ask if she’ll cook us some up after picking up the kids from school. This gives me enough time to sit down and play some board games with the kinderbesten before dinner. We choose Machi Koro again, which has quickly established itself as a family favourite

After that I finally consign the kinderbesten to sleep, and settle down for my traditional Monday night’s viewing of Watch Game Of Thrones.

July 30

I get up at 8am for my Sunday morning shift and finish the second draft of my creepy lighthouse story. I have time for a bit of breakfast and to get some pulled pork cooking in the slow cooker before I need to leave.

The Elderbeast has a party to go to, and his best friend is also going. The Elderbeast’s best friend’s Mum is going on a lunch date, so she has asked if I can take her son to the party–which I can. This clearly my penance for having a bonus #childfree night: I go from zero children to an excess of of them. I pick him up on the way to collect the kinderbesten from their Nan’s house. He talks at me at great length about Zelda on the way, which makes him an almost exact clone of the Elderbeast. I then have to stop by the shops to pick up a gift card (for the birthday boy) which I’d forgotten to pick up yesterday. Doh.

We get to the party a few minutes early and lurk suspiciously in the car until we see other people turning up. I drop the Elderbeast and his friend off, and have to summon the Kinderbeast back as he has automatically wandered in to join the party. The two of us head home and watch Jurassic World, or at least a bit of it until the Kinderbeast gets bored.

A few hours later it’s time to pick up the Elderbeast and his friend. I get to the party and there are a couple of parents relaxing in the driveway. There’s no noise. No sign of kids. They’ve hired the ‘Game Vault’ for the party: basically a truck which has been fitted out with a bunch of games consoles, and all the kids are inside. As the father says: “It’s the quietest party ever!”

We get home and the Elderbeast asks if his friend can stay for a few more hours, which I agree to. I manage to shut out the incessant noise of their play until the friend eventually gets taken home. Then it’s time for dinner and bed.

I invite the Elderbeast to watch 10 Cloverfield Lane with me, and he accepts. I’m glad I’ve managed to avoid reading too much about the film, as it keeps me guessing right to the end. The Elderbeast is almost literally on the edge of his seat, asking: “Why is this so tense?!”

Needless to say we both enjoy it. I’m particularly impressed by the way the script navigates the is he/isn’t he conundrum. Afterwards the Elderbeast capitalises on the movie, complaining he’s too unsettled to sleep in his own bed, and scores a night in mine.

July 29

It’s Saturday, which means it’s weekly shop day. The kinderbesten are most excellent and we make it to the shops by 9:30am. For Saturday Morning Cinema Club I get a random urge for something John Hughesy, and realise that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off would probably be a fine choice for us all to watch. I don’t own a copy–shocking!–but luckily it’s on Netflix. The Kinderbeast gets bored early on, but the Elderbeast thoroughly enjoys it, as do I.

The kinderbesten have requested a sleepover at their Nan’s for the evening, granting me a bonus #childfree night. I tuck into the usual steak dinner, and then decide to watch Midnight Special. I’ve had a friend’s copy for some weeks now, and figure it might satisfy the mild Stranger Things craving I’ve had since watching the season 2 trailer last night.

It’s pretty good, but not as solidly satisfying as I’d hoped. It seems underdeveloped in parts, and when I later find out that one of the original plans for the script was for it to lead into a TV series, it all makes sense

July 28

It’s leftover chicken soup for dinner, which is kinda boring for a Friday, so I head to Coles on the way home to pick up some interesting bread rolls to go on the side. And maybe some cookies. However, I find Coles has only stocked up on disappointment. I come away with no cookies and bread rolls of merely passable interest. The kinderbesten don’t complain, anyway.

For Fridate Horror we’re a bit stuck, until I review my Plex library and find all sorts of long-forgotten downloads. We pick an old british anthology movie called Vault Of Horror. It’s splendid, the sort of horror film that would be impossible to make nowadays without turning it into a parody, or removing all of the slightly intentional humour.

July 27

I’ve made plans to go and see Dunkirk with a friend. The Elderbeast has also expressed interest in seeing the movie, so he gets to tag along. I want to see it properly, which means either ‘Xtreme Screen’ or IMAX, and there’s an IMAX screening at 7pm.

This requires some logistical effort. I need to leave work, get home to pick up the Elderbeast, drive over to collect my friend, and then get to the cinema by 7pm. I also want to eat before the movie, and parking is currently a shambles at the particular shopping centre we’re heading to, so I need to allow time for that.

In the end we arrive ridiculously early. We buy our tickets, tuck into some sushi, and still have an hour to kill before the movie starts. Naturally we spend the time looking at toys and blurays. Eventually it’s time to go and find our seats. The Elderbeast has been given some cash by his Nan, so he gets to buy himself some outrageously overpriced coke. The first thing I like about IMAX is that we get no adverts; only trailers. That alone may make it work buying IMAX tickets in future. I realise that this is my first experience of IMAX since leaving London. Consequently I’m used to the extravagant dimensions of the BFI IMAX which, I am told, is six times larger than the screen we are currently looking at.

In the end, it doesn’t matter. Dunkirk is outstanding. Easily the loudest film I’ve seen in a long time, and one of those rare films where the sound is as much a part of the experience as the visuals. It’s also unusual in its almost complete lack of character development: the characters are constructed entirely in terms of how they react to the events we see on screen, and yet, against all laws of screenwriting, it works perfectly.

I’m especially pleased that the Elderbeast comes away with nothing but praise for the movie. As an added bonus we’re home not long after 10pm: an awesome night out *and* a relatively early night. Win!

July 26

The Kinderbeast comes into my room during the night telling me he can’t sleep. I think it’s almost morning and tell him to get into my bed. He does and promptly falls back to sleep, as do I. Then he wakes up again, this time needing the toilet. I check my clock and it’s only 4am. Regardless, I wake up feeling surprisingly refreshed and plough through a second draft of my flash fiction piece.

We get stranded in the car outside the school: the rain has started hammering down in the short drive from our house. We wait for it to stop, but it only gets heavier. I see plenty of parents dropping their kids at the gates and ejecting them from the car, leaving them to take their chances against the elements. Finally it stops and we get out. I walk the Kinderbeast to his class and find at least two of his classmates dripping from their encounter with the rain.

After that I get the exact same routine when I get to work.

Later on I tell the Elderbeast he won’t be staying up tonight to watch The Bachelor, on the basis that it’s a school night and The Bachelor doesn’t exactly provide the best example for him. This triggers an extended rant focusing largely on school, and I realise we’re already back in the same boat we only just got out of.

It’s gonna be a bumpy ride …

July 25

Tuesday. I get up and finish the first draft of my new story. It’s come in at flash fiction length, just a whisper over 1,000 words, which is a new realm for me. I’m pretty excited about this, and pleased with how the story is shaping up.

At work we have to tolerate Christmas In July (for which I have made banana bread). It turns out to be relatively pleasant, and I enjoy a couple of platefuls of damn decent food. I’m also impressed that the winner in the ‘best dressed’ category has shown up with a jumper stating “Now I have a machine gun, ho ho ho”. Brilliant.

After all that I spend the afternoon feeling like I need a Christmas Day nap. I get home very tired, and have one of those evenings where any and all noise unreasonably stresses me out. It is, of course, one of the those evenings in which the Kinderbeast talks at me incessantly, and the Elderbeast unleashes any random noise that escapes his brain cavity. It doesn’t help that both the rates and my water bill choose today to arrive on my doorstep as well.

I figure I’m probably coming down with something and retreat to bed at the earliest opportunity for more Locke & Key.

July 24

It’s Monday. Also known as the Day Of Sorting Out The Court Papers Kerfuffle. Also known as the Day That Probably Needs a Catchier Title.

I start the day well, however, by getting up and starting a new story; one inspired by 30 Days Of Night and also, indirectly, by the terrific short film Zygote. After that I drop the kids at school, at a slightly leisurely pace given that I don’t need to go to to work today.

So here’s the plan: because there was one detail missing on one of my court papers, I need to provide a revised version of that particular document. I need to print it first, which I can’t do because I don’t have a printer. I then need to get it signed and witnessed, for which reason I am dragging Rachel along for this adventure since she needs to also sign it. I need to go to Garden City, where they have a Justice Of The Peace, for this to happen. Once it’s signed and witnessed, I then need to make seven (!) copies to file at the Family Court. Which is up in the city, as you may remember from such exciting diary posts as June 29. I may not need all seven copies, but then again I might, and I don’t want to get turned away at the last hurdle just for being short of a copy or two.

We make good progress. First stop: Officeworks, where it costs me 95c for printing. Next, we drive to Garden City to see the JP, who is obligingly open early just before 10am. Luckily the library next door has a photocopier, so we walk there for step three, forking out $5 for about 28 copies (seven of which have to be in colour).

After that it’s barely even 10:30am and we stop for breakfast. I anticipate a long wait at the Family Court, and do not want to be sitting there dying of starvation. We drive up to the city, taking a beating from the rain on the way, and take our place in the queue (by which I mean we take a ticket and sit down to wait until our number gets called). A little more than an hour later we get called up. I hand over my document, plus three of the copies, and we’re done. Now I get to wait several more days while the judge reviews the file and decides whether this amended document has done the trick or not. We grab some coffee and donuts and then head back to collect the Kinderbesten from school.

I need to make some banana bread to take into work tomorrow, which seems almost a waste of good banana bread. Luckily I have enough ingredients for two loaves. While I make dinner, I persuade the Elderbeast to make the packed lunches for tomorrow, which goes better than expected. We enjoy a second round of meatballs for dinner (which continues to prove popular) then have enough time left over for some board games. I choose Machi Koro, which we’ve not played nearly enough of. I’m delighted to find that the Kinderbeast gets the hang of it right away Looks like this could be another family favourite, along with Exploding Kittens.

Later, the Elderbeast wants to watch the Masterchef finale, which I decide to allow, but I’ve claimed the front room TV for Game of Thrones. He eventually settles for watching his show on his iPad. It’s still going long after Game of Thrones has finished. I leave him to it so I can go to bed and finish volume one of Locke & Key.

July 23

It’s a glorious childfree Sunday. I get up and manage an epic morning shift, finishing a full second draft of my ‘doorbell’ story (entitled: The Doorman). I don’t need to prepare any dinner as I made meatballs last night with the, in retrospect, ridiculous amount of meat I bought. I enjoy a bacon and egg sandwich, and more coffee.

Then the angst about the court papers sets in again. I put it aside and head off to my monthly Pathfinder session. I find myself properly getting into the game, which only heightens the irony of my character getting killed by a dragon at the end of the day. And not even a living dragon. A dead dragon. That falls out of the sky and lands on me. Oh well, I guess there are worse ways to go …

The kids come home from their weekend with Rachel, as always seeming to have a good time. I knock together a sauce for the meatballs (it’s awesome, so just remember this: a tin of chopped tomatoes, a small jar of tomato puree, a dose of maple syrup, and an equivalent dose of balsamic vinegar). The kinderbesten enjoy it which naturally means its the best recipe ever invented. I get them to bed nice and early, and then get myself to bed nice and early.

I’ve decided to start reading Locke & Key again. It’s a superb series, but only the first five volumes were available when I first started reading it. I’ve since acquired all six volumes (both in glorious hardback and user-friendly digital–thanks, Humble Bundle!) and have decided it’s time to give the entire run a fresh read. This time I plan to make it to the end. I get through the first three issues, or half of the first volume if you will. More tomorrow …

July 22

I manage to sleep in until 10am. Actually sleep. Which is almost unheard of. While I’m glad for the extra sleep, I’m also aware that I’ve lost about two hours of my day. I get to Coles for 10:30am for the weekly shop, and find that it’s still pleasingly quiet. After that I drive up to the shopping centre.

Oh yes, another item on the list of Things That Did Not Happen for this week is the Elderbeast’s Mindfulness class; due to start next Thursday, until it got cancelled due to people bailing at the last minute. I am, however, hopeful that I might be able to arrange some individual sessions, for which he will still need a yoga mat, which is why we end up at the shopping centre. I buy the mat, and some books for the Kinderbesten, but manage to avoid spending any more money and head home with that curious sense of satisfied dejection which comes from having preserved your bank balance, but not having any new toys to play with.

I do the sensible thing and prepare food as soon as I get back: burgers for dinner tonight, and a slow-cooked beef stew for the freezer. As I cook, I get consumed with a general sense of irritation over my court papers and the general air of Not Happening that has pervaded the week. I take a few hours determining how to resolve the court papers issue, with some very welcome advice from a lawyer friend. However, all the preparation in the world doesn’t avoid the fact that I can’t do anything practical about it until Monday, and then there’s no guarantee that the application won’t get returned again. Meanwhile, I have an unconditionally approved mortgage application that expires in another 30 days. If things go ok, I’ve got plenty of time. If there are further hiccups, I start sweating.

My planned project for the day was to design a t-shirt–I’ve had an idea in my head for a t-shirt design for a loooong time but haven’t done anything with it. Today was meant to be all about making it happen. I don’t quite get the job done, but I manage a healthy start. Maybe you’ll see it on redbubble one day …

I have an old friend coming round for dinner, and I’m looking forward to catching up. We eat burgers (which turn out to be intimidatingly massive, but delicious) and have a good chat. After that we can’t decide whether to play some PS4 or watch a movie. We jokingly suggest watching Superman III (it’s a long-standing joke between us how terrible that film is) and it quickly becomes the only sensible choice for the evening. It’s as terrible as I remember it, but also strangely enjoyable. And the Clark vs Evil Superman scene is as good as anything in moment in the previous Superman movies. It’s strange to think of an era where a production company would let a blockbuster franchise sink into the toilet as quickly as Superman did. These days we’re used to sequels being bigger and better; the law of diminishing returns seems to have been forgotten as we continue to favour past successes instead of championing fresh material

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