24 November 2009

Auckland Tweeps

It really is fun meeting people from Twitter in real life, and these past few days I have been in Auckland for work have been brilliant. It was great to hear so much about @giapo gelato, that I went and tasted it myself and the man behind it introduced himself because I was there. It was great, and in a way humbling, to meet people who came out to say hi just because I was in town (#tcs). It was truly fun and yes, exciting, to meet someone “famous” whom you respect and enjoy their work, and find they are genuinely nice and interesting in real life (@johnjcampbell). It is also wonderful to have made new friendships, with people who it seemed like you had some kind of a connection with, and it turned out you do.

It’s great how Twitter means so many different things to different people, from a professional tool to social networking fun. I’ve found other aspects that interest me, but right now, I appreciate Twitter for introducing me to some genuine and interesting and fun people, I wouldn’t have otherwise met. If only we could “hang out” in the real world more often.

27 October 2009

Christmas in October

I enjoy the whole atmosphere of Christmas, planning what gift I’m going to get people, working on (and eating) an incredible Christmas feast, getting out the flash wine, Christmas pudding, and Christmas cocktails. I love the romanticism of Christmas music and movies linked to Christmas as being a special time of the year – with watching Love, Actually having become an annual tradition. I REALLY love the time off work after you’ve worked your ass off all year and the time has come for some “forced” R&R in the sun over the Christmas/New Year break. I then love the idea that a summer holiday in January or February is following just around the corner.

I know that Christmas, like many holidays has become completely commercialised – but I guess that does make some kind of sense by the tradition of it being a gift-giving time. But when malls start putting up Christmas decorations in October, it really pisses me off.

Do they think we’re going to forget to buy our Chrissy pressies?? Do they think we’ll jump into action and start buying up large because we think “oh, Christmas is nearly here I better spend money”? No. There’s no other reason other than they do it to try to milk us for all they can. Because they’re dragging Christmas out, malls aren’t “prolonging the joy” they’re diluting it. Bastards.

30 August 2009

"Sensory Overload"

One summer, some friends from work, my “significant other” and I decided that we were going to take parachute lessons. The real thing. None of this strapping yourself to the front of some manic 20-Something high on Red Bull. No, this was static-line jumping - where you throw your ass out of a plane while a tethered cord hopefully rips the chute out of the pack.

The course was great fun while we were taught what happens and what we do to avoid the worlds worst faceplant. The most fun was leaping around in harnesses practicing the “1 thousand, 2 thousand, 3 thousand, 4 thousand, 5 thousand LOOK CHECK” drill. I’m still relieved that the cutting strangulation of my nether regions did not prevent me from fathering children later in life.

So the time comes for the big jump. I’m not entirely sure what type of plane it was, but a Cessna seems fairly close. Six of us were all crammed on the floor in the back of one anyway – absolutely crapping ourselves at what was about to happen. The instructor explained to us that when our turn comes, we shimmy up to the open door, lean out and stand on the wheel before climbing out and hanging off the strut that holds up the wing. He also explained that if you get to the point of hanging out the door, then your butt would not be getting back in – supposedly it would be safer for him to push you the rest of the way out. Nice. Now, with a static-line jump, the rip-cord is tethered to the plane, so we didn’t actually have to remember to pull it – it’s coming out anyway. Unless it doesn’t come out – then we go to Plan B (reserve chute which we would have to activate ourselves).

The instructor had explained to us that the moment we leap will often cause a kind of “sensory overload”. Your whole body is reacting to a situation that is not generally in it’s best interests to be in. So he said that we can actually go blind momentarily with the adrenaline overload. I remember glancing over at my mates and we all had this knowing nod of “oh yeah, this is going to be good”.

So dangling from this strut, just as happy as you please, looking down thousands of feet below thinking WTF am I doing – I release my hands. Now at this point, I’m not sure if my eyes are closed tighter than the proverbial snapper’s you-know-what, but I can’t see a thing. I can hear myself yelling the “1 thousand, 2 thousand…” etc which was burned into our heads, but that’s it. I then "come to" becoming aware that I’m looking up at my chute fully inflated and thinking “I’m not plummeting to my death! – Nice one!”.

Yeah, the floaty bit heading back to Earth was awesome. Looking around, turning where I wanted, in charge of my own destiny in a way. It was fantastic, I even landed on my feet. The pure rush of adrenaline was incredible - it literally was one of those “glad to be alive” moments. I hadn't actually believed the instructor about going temporarily blind like that and thought "sensory overload" just sounded like he'd had too many Red Bulls. Wrong :-)

26 August 2009

Oh bugger

Toying with what to title my first blog. I thought of "When I Stared Death in the Face" or perhaps "The Time When a Nice Man Fondled My Testicles". But "Oh Bugger" came out and seemed appropriate.

Around the time when this very nice friendly man (around my own age at the time of late 20's), was gently rubbing and ultrasounding my testicles in hospital, I had developed an incredibly heightened sense
of the entire world around me. The sky seemed incredibly beautiful and blue, branches on trees gently swaying in the wind were mesmerising, and watching people interact with each other was completely fascinating. I all of a sudden was aware of every single little insignificant happening going-on around me. It was damn bizarre!

It sounds SO hippy like and airey-fairy, I completely agree, but that describes the sensation perfectly. The thing was, that I had noticed this all of a sudden, because it might all have been about to be taken away from me. I had developed a sense of my own mortality when I found a lump on my testicle.

Though, this isn't one of those cancer stories where I was brave and battled chemo and came through it better and stronger. Noooooo. I'm an imposter. I dodged that bullet - it wasn't cancer. But I spent 10 days thinking it was and that changed my perspective on my world. What kind of pisses me off in a way, is that I've actually lost a bit of that rose-tinted view of the world and have gone back to taking things for granted - but not entirely.

It did actually teach me to enjoy experiences that demonstrate that same sense of "BY GOD, I Love Being Alive!". As you might expect, that includes some experiences with death or near death. My own (kind of anyway - three times), my grandfather's, my daughter's, and the patients I've had when working in the hospital system. Not always in a morbid sad way, mind you.

I've spent most of my professional life working in a hospital and you learn a lot about life and living. Like how common depression is after (usually) older people have heart attacks. It's that old, "sense of your own mortality" thing again. They've had a major life-changing event and suddenly it's "oh bugger, I'm not going to live forever after all". And that scares the shit out of them. Fair enough I say - but get out there and enjoy what you do have left. Whether it's 3 years or 30. You don't have time to bugger around.

I think I was lucky - privileged - to have learned that in my 20's.

You'd think I'd be more like those motivational speaker people wouldn't you? No, there's no crazy zealot here. This blog is going to be my little reminder to myself that I've experienced some amazing things, and some "everyday and mundane" but very cool things. Some stupidly insignificant like my first espresso romano a few weeks ago, to the time I went blind with "sensory overload", to experiencing the absolute deepest pit of grief, to the exhilaration of "catching" my slippery-ass son when he was born. I hope it's going to sound interesting.

And guys - check your balls. Now. Go on - get in there and have a feel (don't squeeze too hard)