Reflections on Romance (ft. very little romance)

Valentine’s Day is approaching, you guys. I’m not a fan and never have been, but this is not a rant about Valentines’ Day being commercialised / made up / lame / a Tuesday. If it’s your bag, more power to you. It’s not mine but it’s not that hard to just chuck all the jewellery catalogues in the recycling instead of complaining about it. Go forth and be loved, lovers, and bask in your I-got-flowers-delivered-to-work smugness when I see you on public transport. Good for you; you deserve it.

It does seem timely though, to use this opportunity to talk about dating and romance, so here we are. Don’t know what it’s like to be a single girl negotiating this whole dating landscape this day and age? Well, pull up a chair, bucko, and let me take you on a journey…

You’re a bit confused at the moment. Because obviously you are a sucker for cute boys with nice arms who laugh at your dumb jokes and are sweet to their mothers. It wasn’t a ‘thing’ though, even if you wouldn’t have minded it being so. What can you do? Sometimes people don’t people very well and it sucks. You can only be you and you’re not everyone’s cup of tea.

So you feel a little deflated, until you pick up Aziz Ansari’s excellent and hilarious Modern Romance at the airport, which fills you in on how this whole thing is legitimately HARD FOR EVERYONE, not just dorky introverted girls like you, and people are BAD AT IT, as backed up by a swag of research data. Evidence, you guys! In your face, people who reckon this stuff is easy.

But then you’re on a plane reading a book about dating while this perfect hipster poster-child couple (long hair / straw hats / sketch books) start madly pashing in the seats next to you and you start to think that if your life was a sitcom this would be one of those moments when the laughter track kicks in.

So you think now is the time to just branch out. You don’t have to be looking for anything in particular. Just find some people to go on dates with. At best, you will meet some nice, interesting people. No big deal.

And then you find yourself on Tinder because it’s quick and easy and no one can bother you unless you’ve matched with them. And this happens:

  • Within the first 10 swipe-able options: the guy with the nice arms above.
  • Within the first 30 swipe-able options:the guy you slept with before him.
  • Every other person: former colleague / school friend / presumably-fake calendar fireman.
  • Also, does EVERYONE snowboard?

You go on a turbo swipe-left marathon and then:

rejector

You’ve rejected everyone in town. Good for you.

I kid, I kid. You matched with people. It’s not all doom and gloom.

Your bestie hits you up to say a former colleague has asked after you, seeing as how you’re single and ready to mingle and all. They seem to be forgetting that THEY HAVE PREVIOUSLY MET YOU and you did not particularly get along. Hooray for the information age. Just use the damn app and leave my mates alone.

You realise your conversation skills might not be quite up to snuff when you find yourself chatting with a guy about the weather. The weather?! You don’t care about the weather. You are capable of talking about so many other things. (Sorry, Thomas. My bad.)

The point is, it doesn’t matter. Not in any real way. And it’s hard because people are hard. No one has a clue what they are doing. Look as much or as little as you like. Message, don’t message. It is no big deal. The only person you are going to end up with forever is yourself. So buy yourself some goddamn heart-shaped chocolates for Valentine’s Day, and cut yourself some slack. You’re a pretty sweet deal.

‘Til next time,

Sig

CREATURE FEATURE SUNDAY: 50 Thoughts While Watching Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre

I can’t remember who told me about Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre (2015), but here we are. I think this one might actually hurt.

  1. Let’s jump right in. Fracking activity seems to have unleashed a spiny prehistoric swamp shark from the depths of the earth.
  2. The Arkansas Department of Corrections has opted for tiny denim shorts and little white singlets as their prison uniform of choice.

    sharkansas01.jpg

    White and denim is the new orange is the new… oh, you get it. Source.

  3. “Ain’t a real man deserve a brewksi?” #scripting #acting #fracking
  4. That’s what you get for drinking on the job, bucko. Shark 1.
  5. Traci Lords is a cop with a newbie sidekick. I predict he will be the first ‘character’ to go.
  6. They’ve stumbled upon bodies inland. Let us speculate over cause of death.
  7. There’s a survivor! He says shark. I think. His ‘traumatised’ acting is awful and incoherent so it’s hard to tell.
  8. Let’s introduce the prisoners – not with names but with a list of their crimes. One of them is in for bootlegging movies. You wouldn’t steal a handbag, you guys.
  9. I am unclear what the purpose of the prisoners’ hard labour is, except for there to be a cleavage-filled digging montage. What are they digging for? We’ll never know.
  10. When you cut your arm and go wash the wound in muddy swamp water… #justbmoviethings
  11. Oh well. Better death by prehistoric shark than septicaemia I suppose.
  12. “Let’s hope this is one big misunderstanding.” What, you mean the whole movie?
  13. So this is actually a mass break out attempt.
  14. With lines like “to be continued, sweetheart – we’re in the middle of a felony here”, this may be the worst thing I have ever seen.
  15. Can the sharks just eat everyone? Please?
  16. Better change clothes out of those really obvious prison uniforms.
  17. One of the guards has made a break for it. Shocking chase scene editing (legs / other legs / legs / other legs / legs / other legs).
  18. Run, Guard dude, run as fast as you can away from this trainwreck.
  19. Aww no. There he goes.
  20. They are literally heading to a cabin in the woods.
  21. Let’s all argue about how terrible this plan is. What a good use of movie time.
  22. They keep calling the Asian prisoner ‘Soy Sauce’. I wish I was lying. What. The. What.
  23. Weird scene about a vintage glass coke bottle? “None of this plastic. It must have been here 80 years.”
  24. In a movie with a couple of porn stars, the line “let’s have a hot bath before bed” did not result in nudity of any kind.
  25. Where the hell are these goddamn sharks in this goddamn massacre?
  26. Oh wait.
  27. They can SWIM THROUGH LAND.
  28. ….
  29. THROUGH LAND!
  30. I think, if I was to make a trashy horror movie drinking game, ‘blood cloud in water’ would be a definite drink.
  31. Hmmm. Must make trashy horror movie drinking game.
  32. Peaches and beans?! Is that a thing?
  33. I googled. It’s a thing.
  34. Geologists are here to save the day / explain situation / be weirdly dressed like a cuban detective.
  35. They’ve been monitoring vibrations. “You mean like ‘good vibrations’, the song?” (Still no nudity).
  36. So, to sum up: Professor Geologist reckons the nearby fracking activity has opened a SUPER HIGHWAY between the earth’s surface and a vast underground ocean.
  37. Sharkosaurus. He just said sharkosaurus!
  38. “Do you think we can make it?” We, the viewers? Not a chance.

    sharkansas-2

    ‘Protect yourselves from these great shark effects!’ Source.

  39. Love is blossoming, you guys! Him: “What do you do when you’re not fleeing prehistoric monsters?” Her: “Five to ten”.
  40. They’ve found a secret cache of weapons and Professor Geologist has filled them in on a range of useful shark facts (guess he had a double major).
  41. The plan seems to be to go underground. Even though the sharks are from underground.
  42. Um, so, the sharks talk to each other like whales.
  43. Hey look, I’m all for character traits and whatnot but having this chick continually say “crap on a cracker” does not equal characterisation.
  44. Where the heck are these sharks? Not nearly enough people have died to call this a massacre.
  45. Are these cops doing anything? What even is this storyline?
  46. Far out. This movie is still going.
  47. This inflatable raft doesn’t seem like a terrible idea AT ALL.
  48. We’ve nearly escaped with our lives so let’s start shooting at the guard who saved us for some reason!
  49. Blood cloud! (Drink!)
  50. Annnd the guard is letting the Asian prisoner go. Probably because they were heaps racist towards her.

Honestly, and my standards for this sort of thing are pretty low, you would think busty women fighting land sharks would somehow be more over-the-top and stupidly fun, right? It was just a bit safe and a bit boring. And those sharks only killed about 10 people. Where was my schlocky gorefest? You promised me a massacre!

Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre rates 1 out of 5 blood clouds in water.

‘Til next time,

Sig

Reference Checking: pet hates and phone tag

I work in HR and I think reference checks are balls. There, I said it. I’m sorry. I know it’s an unpopular opinion. Send the HR police. I will surrender my badge.

In places I’ve worked before, ref checking has been treated in turns as anything from a box-ticking exercise to the ultimate be all and end all. The intent is of course to verify the truthiness of the candidates skills and experience. But here’s the thing: no one with half a brain is going to list a referee who is going to give them a bad wrap. And if they don’t have half a brain, how the heck did you miss that in the early stages of the recruitment process? That’s on you, kids.

The best referee, in a lot of cases, will be a candidates current manager – especially if they have been in that role for a long time. That might obviously be awkward: not many people want their boss to know they are looking to throw in the towel asap. So right off the bat, I’m speaking to someone whose knowledge of my preferred candidate’s work performance could be 4 or 5 years out of date.

So maybe my candidate lists someone else. The number of times I have played phone tag for two days with Dave, only to find out that Dave wasn’t Melanie’s manager at all – he was just a colleague. Nice chatting, Dave, but you’ve been no actual help.

And obviously there was that whole thing from last year when Hamish and Andy asked a random guy to act as a referee and he actually did a pretty good job of faking it. They called him ‘the best bloke in Australia’ while HR peeps and recruiters cried quietly into their coffees.

job-hunt

So if everyone is only listing good referees, or non-manager referees, or even fake referees, is there really value in the reference checking process? Are they a waste of time? Maybe. Are they going away? Probably not.

And that’s kind of sad, because it can be a very time consuming process that, if your questions aren’t effective, may yield very little reward. I know plenty of candidates who received glowing references and then turned out to be problematic or unproductive employees. I think value would be better added through more stringent screening processes and better interview questions which really probe for detail. But ref checking doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

With that in mind, if you are an applicant, there are a few things you can do to make this step in the process a smooth one. Help me out, you guys.

  • List relevant, work-related referees.
  • Ask before you list. Give your referees a heads up that you would like them to act as a referee, checking they will be ok with that.
  • Don’t list personal referees (unless you are a school leaver with no work experience) – honestly, no one cares.
  • Do indicate where you worked with the referee. Don’t just say “Mike Smith on x number”. Context is key. Say “Mike Smith, former manager at Woolworths, x number”.
  • If you interview, give your referees a heads up that they may get a call. It helps them prepare, it helps HR people get phones answered, and even if we don’t like ref checks, we like that.

phone

‘Til next time,

Sig

 

 

 

2016 To-Do List Challenge Part 3: Partial Credit

Full disclosure: I did not complete all 12 items on my to-do list. Gosh darn it, you guys. I KNOW.

After the success of the first six items, I was keen as mustard to crack on. And then… I didn’t really crack on. I made moves towards completing all the remaining items but didn’t get any of them quite over the line, which is disappointing. But [partial] credit where [partial] credit is due – I had a lot to try and squeeze in. The key message seems to be doing something/anything/a bit is better than doing nothing. Right?

Item #8: Invent own cocktail and serve to friends

Why was it on the list? I had visions on Tom Cruise-esque shaker-flipping and fancy-pants colourful drinks with punny names and high alcohol content which I could whip up and serve with a flourish along the lines of “why yes, this is my signature drink, the Gin Weasley”. Or, in other words, I don’t really know. The ‘serve to friends’ bit was important, because it meant the drink had to be drinkable and not just a random mix of whatever spirits happened to be in my cupboard.

Achievement? I admit I gave this one a red hot go. I researched cocktail making, learnt about a thing called ‘the golden ratio’ that is apparently key to cocktail flavour success.

I turned a little bit mad scientist and got really, very drunk in ‘the lab’ (my kitchen).

I did not nail the cocktail. At all.

(They were all terrible).

Item #1: Go horse riding

Why was it on the list? Duh, because horse riding is ace.

Achievement? Research only. I know where to go, what is costs, and what I need to do to make it happen – I just didn’t get it done by year’s end.

Item #11: Take a short course

Why was it on the list? Learning is fun.

Achievement? Turns out December is not the time to try and do a short course of any kind. Who would have thunk it, right? Partial credit though, because I will be knocking this over in the first couple of weeks in January. I’ve got plans.

Item #9: Play cricket in a park

Why was it on the list? I’m what you would call indoorsy. This seemed a good excuse to get outside. Preferably with a side of picnicking and beers.

Achievement? Purchased cricket bat from op shop. Did not use.

Item #10: Road trip

Why was it on the list? Road trips are the best.

Achievement? Created road trip playlist. While that is important, not much progress here at all. Trying to squeeze in a road trip and a bunch of Christmas catch ups simultaneously is not easy. Perhaps if I had driven somewhere slowly? Like, really slowly?

….

Item #12: Walk Lofty

Why was it on the list? God knows. Do I want to walk up a mountain? No, no I don’t. But I feel like I have failed as an Adelaidean by having never attempted old mate Lofty.

Achievement? I could say the Christmas heat wave thwarted this one, but that would be a half truth. I had tentative plans to smash this out with a friend, and weather and scheduling did prevent that, but in all honesty, the catch up was always more likely to be beers than mountains. Sigh.

beer

Beer > Mountains

So there we have it. Not quite a success, not quite a failure.To be honest, the best lesson from the entire exercise was that there is time. There is time to start, to try, and to complete a lot. 6/12 is better than 0/12, and the remainder will probably (maybe) be polished off early this year now some of the wheels are in motion. If you know anything about cocktails and can save me from myself, the Gin Weasley still needs to happen.

‘Til next time,

Sig

 

 

 

On New Year

The year is as old as it will ever be, and I am glad. Glad to see 2016 end, because what use is there dwelling on another year of peaks and troughs, yeses and nos, wins and losses and everything in between? But glad also because somehow, even though at times it didn’t seem it could, in my little sphere of existence the year is ending in a (mostly) positive way and there is much to be glad for.

For 2017 I wish for myself so many things. I wish to be better, and nicer, and kinder, and stronger, and braver and more open. Mostly though, I just want to be me. Just me. Not someone else’s version, but my own. I am accountable to myself and a new year is as good a time as any to own that.

So be kind. Be useful. Be brave. Bring wine.

‘Til next year,

Sig

52 Books

If you hadn’t already noticed, I am a fan of recaps and lists. This year I read a total of 52 books. That’s a book a week. More than that, really, since the year is not quite done.

In total, the 52 books represent 16,463 pages. The shortest was 60 pages, the longest was 841.

Some were very good and some were very bad. There was non-fiction in good doses. There were books that took me far away and some that struck too close to home and hurt my heart. Favourite authors, repeat authors, new authors; books for writers, books recommended by and even written by friends. There was time travel, parallel worlds and shrinking alphabets; trains and cows and drugs; fires, Nazis, bikers, cops, astronauts; and love and loss. A bit of everything then, and more still.

This is what my year in reading looked like (full list below).

52books2

  1. Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin (4/5)
  2. The Night Circus– Erin Morgenstern (4/5)
  3. The Pleasure of My Company – Steve Martin (2/5)
  4. Jennifer Government – Max Barry (2/5)
  5. The Hours – Michael Cunningham (4/5)
  6. Slam – Nick Hornby (3/5)
  7. Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott (4/5)
  8. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer (4/5)
  9. Ella Minnow Pea – Mark Dunn (3/5)
  10. Midnight Crossroad – Charlaine Harris (2/5)
  11. Betwixt – Tara Bray Smith (1/5)
  12. The Crane Wife – Patrick Ness (4/5)
  13. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury (4/5)
  14. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – John Berendt (4/5)
  15. Magician – Raymond E Feist(4/5)
  16. King – TM Frazier (1/5)
  17. Mad Woman – Kat Savage (3/5)
  18. Tyrant – TM Frazier (1/5)
  19. Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch (3/5)
  20. Moon Over Soho – Ben Aaronovitch (3/5)
  21. Lawless – TM Frazier (1/5)
  22. Soulless – TM Frazier (1/5)
  23. The Wicked Will Rise – Danielle Paige (2/5)
  24. Whispers Underground – Ben Aaronovitch (3/5)
  25. Broken Homes – Ben Aaronovitch (3/5)
  26. Foxglove Summer – Ben Aaronovitch (3/5)
  27. The Martian – Andy Weir (5/5)
  28. Rising Strong – Brene  Brown (3/5)
  29. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins (4/5)
  30. 31 Songs – Nick Hornby (3/5)
  31. Yellow Brick War – Danielle Paige (3/5)
  32. Bovicide, Zombie Diaries and the Legend of the Brothers Brown – Stephen Bills (4/5)
  33. Story Fix – Larry Brooks (5/5)
  34. Fratricide, Werewolf Wars and the Many Lies of Andrea Paddington – Stephen Bills (4/5)
  35. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, JK Rowling (5/5)
  36. Deicide, Vampire Confession and the Legacy of the Brethertons – Stephen Bills (3/5)
  37. Lady Oracle – Margaret Atwood (3/5)
  38. Firstlife – Gena Showalter (2/5)
  39. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S Thompson (3/5)
  40. Then We Came to the End – Joshua Ferris (3/5)
  41. Hollow City – Ransom Riggs (4/5)
  42. Girl Waits With Gun – Amy Stewart (4/5)
  43. Dark Matter – Blake Crouch (4/5)
  44. Library of Souls – Ransom Riggs (3/5)
  45. Lady Cop Makes Trouble – Amy Stewart (3/5)
  46. Rosemary’s Baby – Ira Levin  (4/5)
  47. The Murdstone Trilogy – Mal Preet (3/5)
  48. Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel (5/5)
  49. Blood for Blood – Ryan Graudin (4/5)
  50. Quiet – Susan Cain (4/5)
  51. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle (3/5)
  52. The Call of the Wild – Jack London (3/5)

‘Til next time,

Sig

2016 To-Do List Challenge Part 2: Whoa, we’re halfway there

Whoa-oh!

lizard-on-a-chair

Lizard on a chair

^ I’m so, so sorry, but this has by far been my favourite meme of 2016. I couldn’t resist. Well played, internet. Well played.

So, not to boast or anything but this list business is going swimmingly. I admit that after my last post on the matter I felt like I may have bitten off more than I could chew, but so many people have got behind the idea and have helped me figure out how this whole adventure can work. And suddenly, I’m actually halfway there!

Item #6 – learn to play a musical instrument 

Why was it on the list? As a kid I was relatively musical. I didn’t have much talent, but I loved making music and had lots of lessons in various instruments. And then I stopped, and that makes me kind of sad. Late in 2015 there was a brief foray into the ukelele which involved lots of you-tubing and one fairly mediocre triumphant cover of that 3-chord classic ‘You are my sunshine’ but the cheap, multi-coloured uke I bought refused to tune properly so now sits on a shelf, a monument to half-realised dreams.

Fortunately, my friend Jess is musical, with a background in piano and song and even a history of teaching people like me how to make the ol’ black-n-whites play a tune.

Cut to: item #7 – learn to use chopsticks

Why was it on the list? Because it’s a life skill and has been on each of my annual goals lists since oh, forever. It’s what I call a rollover goal and anyone who has been to Sushi Train with me knows the struggle is real. How embarrassment. But for this one I sort of cheated reinterpreted. Item #7 became:

Item #7 – learn to use chopsticks

So I give you this…

Yep. I was harbouring a secret musical gift. Who knew.

Item #2 – go to outdoor cinema

Why was it on the list? I was super bummed that I missed the moonlight cinema sessions last year (and the year before, and the year before) because it’s stacks of fun. As luck would have it, my mate Rose stumbled upon a free outdoor screening that the City of Unley were putting on at the Capri Theatre on Goodwood Road. Free, you say? Sold!

The best part about outdoor cinema is packing a picnic and let me tell you: when we picnic, we picnic hard.

The screening was Eddie the Eagle, a film I would not normally have seen, but its schmaltzy sentimental (and apparently historically loose) vibe was good for picnicking and made for easy watching in a outdoorsy setting. I wouldn’t want to watch anything that required too much concentration at outdoor cinema anyway, so this suited me just fine. So, is ski jumping on the list for 2017?

No, thank you.

Item #4 – go rock climbing / abseiling 

Why was it on the list? Honestly? I have no earthly idea. I can’t remember why this made it onto the list at all. Probably I saw it on tv and thought it looked cool. I do know it’s something I have never tried before, so maybe that’s a good enough reason.

Rose and I hit up Magpie Springs at Willunga – a cute but jumbled sort of hippy / yoga / cafe / gallery / winery set up which Google told me also had a climbing wall that it seemed would fit the bill. It’s not a huge wall and, no kidding, we mocked it. This was going to be a piece of cake. Well.

That shit is hard.

Item#3 – go on a wine tour

Why was it on the list? Um, because wine tours are awesome and visiting cellar doors to chat with the winemakers is always worth it.

Since we were down that way, it seemed a good opportunity to hit up McLaren Vale for a self-driven mini wine tour. We took in Alpha Box + Dice, had a pit stop for pizza lunch at Pizzateca, and finished off at Samuel’s Gorge.

Boom. Wine tour. Done.

Item #5 – write and post a handwritten letter

Why was it on the list? Letter writing is a bit of a lost art. It’s rare, but personally I love getting mail that doesn’t come in a window-face envelope and knowing someone has thought of me enough to take the time to write. I thought sending a personal letter to a friend would be a nice, thoughtful, old timey, heartwarming thing to do.

And really, it was the quickest and easiest thing on the list so there is no excuse for not knocking this over sooner.

I don’t want to overshare the contents but I wrote the letter and loved the process. Handwriting brought out a different style of writing than email or text and jeepers does my penmanship need a little love.

 

TLDR: current tally is 6/12.

‘Til next time,

Sig