Justin Cawthorne dot com

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July 21

I start my Friday by finishing the first draft of a new story I started three days. It’s come in at just under 2,000, which is nice and short, and was inspired by a doorbell. It’s possible that only introverts like myself will find it scary. But I hope not.

I head home from work looking forward to my childfree weekend, but then find out that my application for consent orders has been queried by the court. It turns out there’s a particular detail missing on one of the documents that my lawyer prepared. Given that the sole reason I hired a lawyer was to ensure that my application didn’t get returned by the court because I’d missed something, this turn of events leaves me considerably displeased.

In what seems to signal a theme of the week (that theme being ‘things that do not happen’) I also learn that a friend’s party has been cancelled. I wasn’t planning to go, but I was scheduled to babysit for the Kinderbeast for Saturday evening so that the Rachel and the Elderbeast could go. (I’d even bailed out of another social event because I’m sucky at scheduling and had double booked myself). However, I’m far less irritated at the late cancellation than I am by the fact that the party has been cancelled because most of the host’s guests had bailed at short notice – which is Ultimate Suck.

I take Beryl home and decide to leave the weekly shopping for the morning. Friday is fast becoming Improvised Dinner Day, which I’m kind of cool with. I have two lentil burgers left in the freezer; I cook them up with some melted cheese on top. On the side I stir fry some veg in maple syrup and soy sauce, which proves remarkably delicious. I open a bottle of Forester Estate (birthday present from my Dad) and enjoy a glass of that on the side.

For my Fridate Horror Movie viewing with Seb we watch a 2006 chiller called The Last Winter (SEE WHAT I DID THERE??!) which came from a list of cold-themed horror movies (NO, SERIOUSLY, DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE???). It’s interesting, and tries to do something different but has a very mild fail to it–perhaps because the reveal relies on CGI monsters, something which can bring down far mightier movies than this.

However, we then watch the short Oats Studios film Zygote – which is terrific, and ends the evening on a considerably higher note.

July 20

Thursday. The start of a busy day. As with every day recently, I manage to drag myself out of bed just before 7am for a slightly abbreviated morning shift. I’m hoping to wrap up my ‘doorbell’ story, but I already know it’s unlikely to happen. (Spoiler: it didn’t happen).

The kinderbesten are, once again, pretty good at getting ready for school and we’re out of the house in good time. Naturally, it starts bucketing down literally as soon as the garage door closes and we end up camping outside the school, inside the car, for a few minutes while the weather dies down. I drop the Kinderbeast at school, take the Elderbeast to his PEAC class, then get to work only a few minutes late.

I then have a couple of hours to get work done before I have to go and collect the Elderbeast fom PEAC and drop him back at school (you all remember this routine, right?). It’s raining again so I drop him at the school gates while I stay warm and dry in the car, because this is my right as both parent and driver. And I will fight to defend that right. Or at least argue vigorously in the comments section. Or maybe just go off to make tea and sulk…

After this I have to go and deliver one of my productivity presentations. As ever I have mixed feelings about this. I love that I have the opportunity to do this sort of thing in my job, that I can continue to get presenting experience and share some of my knowledge. I even enjoy presenting. However, I also have to deal with the anxiety leading up to the presentation, which typically gets to the point where I avoid even thinking about the presentation. Obviously there’s a real tension between these two attitudes which can be quite hard to navigate. It’s not unlike having to go out and do social things.

In the end the presentation goes ok. I have an audience of 12, they’re engaged. I know my stuff well enough to not fumble too much, but I’m not as well prepared as I should be. When it’s over I’m glad it’s over. It’s been a downbeat kind of week, and the presentation has been an additional, unwelcome shadow.

The first thing I need to do when I get back to the office is buy Dan TDM tickets for the Elderbeast. Dan TDM is one of his favourite YouTubers (naturally) and he’s coming Perth to … probably do the same thing he does on YouTube that you can watch anytime for free, but who am I to question these matters? I just provide the bucks. It’s pure luck that I finished my preso early and am back in good time for when the tickets go on sale (2pm). I log in on the dot of 2pm, mainly so I don’t forget to do it later, and start picking my tickets. I decide that the cheaper tickets are too far back, and opt for the pricier ones. I don’t like the first seats the site picks for me, so I select some other seats that are still empty – except in the second it take me to click on them, they’ve already gone! This is clearly no time to be fussy. I hurry through the rest of the transaction, sweating at the idea of having to confess to the Edlderbeast that I was too slow. But I get the tickets: it’s safe for me to go home tonight. On a whim I then start enough purchase, just to see what’s left. I count less than 20 seats left, almost all singles scattered around the venue. I’m just glad I don’t like going out and doing things, otherwise this sort of tension would finish me off!

I make chips, eggs and beans for dinner–which I think I enjoy more than anyone else this time, judging by how quickly I clean my plate. The Elderbeast is in remarkably good form, possibly because of getting his Dan TDM tickets and the evening mostly passes in a relaxed haze.

July 19

I forget, sort of, that it’s late start at school and arrive twenty minutes before the doors open. This is less than ideal. I have another day of no meetings at work, but still end the day inexplicably tired. I do, however, make the soup that I had hope to make the night before. I have a LOT of chicken left over from the weekend, so I sticj it all in the soup. It ends up being way too meaty and curiously unsatisfying because of it. Go figure.

Perhaps given the soup failure, I find myself really not wanting to make lunches for the following day. I then realise I can’t because there’s no fresh bread, which means I need to get a loaf out of the freezer and leave it to defrost overnight. It’s a sort of Schrodinger’s victory: it’s half win / half fail, depending on which way you look at it.

July 18

It’s the Kinderbesten’s first day of school. Which means back to stressful mornings, and back to getting to work latish. That said, both beasts are excellent and the morning goes exactly to schedule. I’m further rewarded with a relatively quiet day at work, which allows me to start catching up on things. I do, however, find myself very tired by the end of the day and a late meeting means I get home too late to make the soup I was planning to make, so it ends up being a freezer dinner evening.

I have a presentation to deliver on Thursday (the same productivity workshop I’ve run at least once already this year). As always I’m in a slight case of denial about having to stand up in front of a roomful of people (15 in this case) and talk for over an hour, so I’ve left everything to the last minute. Feedback from the last session has prompted me to reorganise the whole presentation. This takes up most of the evening but I’m feeling good about the result. It’s a far more focused presentation now, and with a much more logical structure.

We’ll see how it goes down on Thursday.

July 17

It’s Fucken Monday, and it brings with the excitement of the new Doctor Who being announced. I’d already decided I wasn’t likely to be awake for the announcement itself, so I ask my friend to text me when he finds out so I can find out first thing. I go to sleep desperately hoping we’re about to get our first female Doctor, and wake up ecstatic that they’ve finally done it. I show the Elderbeast the announcement trailer, without telling him anything about who they’ve cast, and experience a Proud Parent moment when I hear him whisper to himself: “Yes! It’s a woman!”

It’s the last day of the school holidays and Rachel messages to tell me she’s got a migraine, which means I also get a bonus day off to look after the kids. I somehow manage to get some laundry done, banana bread baked, and the Elderbeast showered all by 10:30am. I then start off a reset of the Elderbeast’s PC, which inspires a trip to get a new mouse and mousemat.

Rachel is well enough by the afternoon to collect the Kinderbeast and take him for his latest round of vaccinations, which gives the Elderbeast and I time to go shopping and fill up the car. The Kinderbeast returns with tales of bravery, and is rewarded with a new LEGO Creator set which he starts building immediately. At the Elderbeast’s request I make tuna mornay for dinner, then it’s back to the normal school-week routine of getting lunches ready, sorting out uniforms, etc, etc, etc

Once the kinderbesten have been banished to sleep I briefly debate what to watch. I’m keen to continue with The Night Manager BUT … Game Of Thrones is back, and the episodes will be out on Mondays, and Monday is my TV night. I, quite sensibly, decide that Monday will be Game Of Thrones Night (at least for the next seven weeks).

I briefly note to myself that this will be the first season of Game Of Thrones I’ll be watching on my own, but it doesn’t matter: the show feels like an old friend.

July 16

In a switch from yesterday, Sunday sees the Kinderbeast being dropped off with the family while the Elderbeast and I head out to see Spider-Man: Homecoming. I mess up the timing somewhat and we get to the shopping centre way earlier than we need to be. It’s so early that part of the centre is closed off. Unfortunately, it’s the part of the centre that contains the cinema. With the help of a nearby sushi chef we realise that the impressive-looking black metal fence is actually unlocked. We push it aside and continue on our way. To kill the remaining time I grab a coffee, and we end up getting to our seats after the lights have gone down–which is only a problem because it causes us to miss half of the new Thor trailer.

Spider-Man ends up being as good as everyone says it is, but I still end up enjoying it more than I expected to. I appreciate that it’s a film about Peter Parker, rather than Spider-Man, which gives it a pleasingly different feel to the other Marvel movies.

Back home we fill the void that is Sunday Without Doctor Who by watching the previous year’s Christmas special, which is a very lovely little tale but nothing anyone would call Doctor Who at its best. After that we all watch Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (one of my acquisitions from yesterday) which ends up being the second film of the day that I enjoy far more than I expected to.

July 15

Saturday. I wake up with a headache. I suspect I must have drunk too much wine last night …

I get up as late as I can get away with it. I’d stay in bed longer, except I have the kids and a birthday party to get to. I medicate myself with two coffees, two nurofen, a bacon sandwich and two panadol (for luck) before heading out. The Elderbeast decides to join his friend for a family day-trip, leaving myself and the Kinderbeast to our 11am birthday party.

It takes place at a local leisure centre, which feels like it must be a leisure centre in the Twilight Zone. Sandwiched between the indoor play area –where the first half of the party is taking place–and the room where the party tables are set up, is a conference room. Inside I spy a bizarre Saturday morning motivational business meeting taking place. It is packed. Every so often attendees emerge in search of the toilets. They all looked like they’ve ransacked the nearest op shop for whatever business wear they can find, no matter whether it all goes together. I never realised shirts, ties and jackets came in so many colours. Further down the hallway is an indoor gym, populated entirely by geriatrics all exercising very, very slowly. At the other end of the corridor, in a closed down canteen area, I encounter a another birthday party. The attendees have positioned a stroller across the entrance to deter potential gatecrashers. The ultimate in security measures, clearly.

The party proves remarkably unstressful and my headache slowly fades. Afterwards I feel well enough to drive down to the local JB Hifi in search of some CDs. I don’t find the CDs I’m looking for, but still walk out with $80 of swag, including a Neomorph Pop Vinyl (from Alien Covenant) that was definitely too disgusting to be left on the shelf.

We get back and watch Jurassic Park III. I make a big vat of lentil dahl for dinner, and for lunches, and probably for several other dinners as well. The Elderbeast eventually returns home just in time for dinner.

For Awesome Movie Night we choose The Martian, which I’ve only seen once. When taken on its own merits it’s very, very good. However, there’s no denying that it loses much of the humour and spirit that made the book such a delight to read. Either way, I enjoy it.

July 14

Friday. The week continues to be a struggle, and my morning shift is no exception: I only manage 248 words. I get to work, and find there are only two of us in. I decide this calls for consolation cake and I nip out to the shops. Naturally my director calls while I’m out buying cake. I call him back and we decide to defer a big upgrade we’ve been planning for next week, it’s at once frustrating, because we’ve been planning it for a while, and something of a relief, because more time is always a bonus.

I decide to my week’s shopping on the way home, mainly because I have to take the Kinderbeast to a birthday party in the morning. It is, of course, the Night of the Sleepver. The Elderbeast and his best friend have united to drag me into the torturous depths of hell for this one night. I hit the wine, very understandably, almost as soon as I walk through the door. I make burgers for the multitudinous kinderbesten and wonder if this is how the typical 46 year-old single father of two spends his Fridays.

I have instructed the kinderbesten that they are banished to their room after dinner, to enable Seb and I to enjoy Fridate without the cacophonous overtones of insanity. Fortunately, they both have Nintendo Switches, so this presents less of a challenge than expected.

I continue to drink too much wine, knowing I will regret it in the morning. For our Friday Night Horror this week, Seb has chosen 30 Days Of Night. I’ve only seen it once and am very much looking forward to a repeat viewing. It’s a good one, even better than I remembered. My only complaint is that there’s little sense that the story takes place over 30 days, and if it wasn’t for the title I’d assume it took place over little more than 24 hours.

I dunno, 24 Hours of Night stills sounds pretty cool …

July 13

I wake up still not feeling brilliant, but less suspect than the day before. On realising that I have failed to grind fresh coffee the night before, I almost give up and stay in bed, but apparently I’m made of sterner stuff than that. I get up, grind the damn coffee, and get stuck into my morning shift. It’s a pretty good session: I’m making good progress on the second draft of my creepy lighthouse story, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the finished piece shapes up.

I head to work with only one meeting in the calendar to ruin my day. We’re a sadly diminished team this week: one person on holiday, one person sick, one person having left completely. There’s four of us in, then another person leaves due to sickness, and one more heads to another office for the day. Then there were two.

I catch up on some work and then leave early: in theory, to give Beryl a bit of respite from the Kinderbesten. However, I’m really not feeling ship-shape myself and end up resting in bed with a hot mug of Lemsip instead.

The Lemsip revives me enough for dinner to be tackled. The Elderbeast has to devise a national dish for a country he’s invented for his PEAC work. He’s selected a chicken and potato soup–for which we’ve already worked out the recipe (a.k.a shamelessly stole another recipe)–and tonight we attempt to cook it. Things start off frustratingly when the Elderbeast achieves about a 2.3% attention level. I dispatch him to his room for five minutes to rest and recuperate, and then we get back into it: this time he’s into the task and we end up with a huge pot of steaming, delicious smelling chicken soup.

And it turns out damn tasty too.

July 12

Wednesday. I reluctantly climb out of bed for my morning shift, but end up writing a new scene for the lighthouse story that fully creeps me out. Which might be a first. I get to work and yet more things break. And then get fixed. The routine is really getting quite tiring by now.

What’s also tiring me out is not being able to find any frames for my nice movie posters. In desperation I reach out to a local framing shop to find out how much a custom frame would cost. They tell me a minimum of $150. I do not like that number, so I turn to gumtree to see what I might be able to salvage from the citizens of Perth. I find an ad offering two framed posters for just $20–I’m not bothered about the posters, but the frames easily look like they’d be large enough for my movie posters. I’m convinced they’ve got the measurements wrong, or that there’s some catch, but it’s not much of a gamble at $20, and the place as good as on the way home.

I manage to get there without getting lost, which is a miracle seeing as I’m venturing into new territory. On the drive down I watch the growing black clouds with apprehension. I arrive just as a light shower begins, but I quickly realise that Google has betrayed me and sent me to the wrong end of the street. I get back in the car, creep down the street, find the correct place, and park again. I just about have time to knock on the seller’s door and hand my cash over before the rain begins thundering down. It’s lucky I had the foresight to put the back seat down, but even in the ten feet between my car and the seller’s front door I get drenched, and my prized frames cop a sprinkling too. Nevertheless, I’m thrilled with my purchase–my first gumtree adventure–and can’t resist sneaking the occasional glimpse to the back seat as I drive home.

My luck continues later that evening: I file my tax return and find I’m in line for a handy $750 refund. Win!

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