My own worst enemy

There is someone close to me. This person, I love very dearly.

And yet this person, frustrates me with their immaturity. Because when life doesn’t go to plan, they sulk.

It’s a tad annoying. I mean, Life… ups and downs, right?

This person, as wonderful as they are, gets really down and out about themselves and everything when things aren’t happening to them. Other people may be moving house, buying a car, going on a holiday, or even just going out to brunch every weekend, and this person, just can’t take the joy of it, because something positive isn’t also consequently happening to them.

This person, who I shall name X (to reduce the incidence of constantly repeating ‘this person,’ and also avoid accidentally giving away the gender) was in a fairly stagnant and stationary period for a while. They had gone through a wonderful time before that, where ALL the attention was on them. But then came upon that ‘desert phase,’ you know the one –  where the wind blows the tumbleweeds around them, and they watch idly while others are on horses playing cowboys and Indians and going to bars to drink or shoot people, or meet Clint Eastwood or even John Wayne. Yep, even John Wayne.

And they are standing there idly. It’s a stage that happens to us ALL.

It was a bit difficult to watch. I really wanted to put my two cents in and offer some words of comfort. We had been in that very same phase before moving house. We were standing there at parties, all the while people were all excited and super-interesting in their life plans and goals, and meanwhile –

  • we had bought a new car which had just been hit
  • we wanted to Sea change and had no idea if we could do it (or afford it)
  • toddler stages were FUN! (super-sarcastic here)
  • and I was still, for the 4th year in a row, top-secret on my writing projects. So when people asked me/us “what’s new?”

We were all tight-lipped with that face-planted smile of “nothing much.”

Life goes up, Life goes down. Sometimes, things don’t go to plan. Sometimes, you are embarrassed with events that have occurred. Other times, it is boring as batshit.

A lot of the time, in any of the above circumstances, you don’t want to say a thing, because you are frustrated.

But we are adults here. We don’t sulk.

So on one night, when I offered up this piece of enlightening advice to X “I know, I’ve been there, everything is happening to everyone except you,” I got the most sullen of stares.

I felt like gently saying “Grow up.”

We don’t always have things happening to us.

We don’t always have the attention on us.

We aren’t always the star of the show.

Up and down, up and down.

And now to Me. The last few months I’ve been stressed for a manner of things. I’ve come to grow accepting of many of these annoying issues, or find ways around my stress, but it has been trying. When many facets of your life bring you down at once, it is hard to practice at positivity…

I was trying really hard to get into a regular exercise routine. I was seeing all these perfect bodies on facebook, these Mums who have gone from pregnancy flab to post baby FABULOUS, and looking all trim and taut with their sculpted tummies, while I just felt like a pile of shit. Lack of time to exercise properly, with a girl that constantly demands attention of me, made me feel worse about the situation. I can only manage what I can, and even that isn’t too much.

I was falling very behind in my writings. I started to question how beneficial my blogs were, when the main reason for starting these, creating an online Writing presence… well it didn’t mean squat when I had completely stalled on my creative endeavour to get published with my young adult book which I hadn’t added to in months and months! I was taking on and writing more than I could keep up with, and I started to wonder whether any of these writing tasks, I just had to give up on.

You know it’s a bleak day when you consider giving up a passion of yours. When you ask yourself “what is the point?”

And then there were the comparisons. Here I was, all this time, quietly plugging away at my passion, and then boom! This person has their work published! boom! And this person gets recognised with a new blog (and I didn’t even know they were inclined to write)… boom! more literary success from yet another person!

And then there I was, grinning… in stupefied shock.

What about me?

Don’t get me wrong, I am all about abundance. I am ABUNDANCE-CITY. I know there is enough love, and success, and happiness and all that wonderful jazz, for everyone in this entire world. I truly believe that. And yet, when I heard all these people, both who I had known wrote, and others who I had no idea were even interested in the task, were experiencing success both on small and large scales, a little part of me went

“When will it be my turn?”

It was really hard to swallow.

And now, the clincher… where I expose more than I ever planned to. Because I’m super secretive about some things, where with others I blab for the world to see.

Because I’m a contradiction that way. But I feel like I need to write this down, for some unknown, possibly therapeutic reason, and then I may never repeat it again…

Because I just found out that Wills and Kate are expecting their third child… and I was downright devastated.

And I don’t think I need to clarify why.

And in all of these cases, I have found it really hard. Really hard to just move on. Really hard to just be accepting of the hardships that life throws at us. Really hard to stay positive.

Really hard to NOT SULK. Because I have. On a zillion occasions. Including right now in fact.

I may not do it outwardly, but boy oh boy have I sulked. And pouted my lips. Asked “why?” a million times. And now I just might cry again, and I think, that’s ok.

Because I realised that I am my own worst enemy. Here I was, judging X for being all sulky and cranky-pants over life not going to plan, and once I started to get the same, I reverted to the same old behaviours.

X and I might as well be the same person. Maybe we are all the same people.

I have no answers, I have no solutions. Sure I should stay positive, or keep on moving on, as I always say. I should toughen up, yet also I think unless you are in something, you don’t really know how crap or annoying it feels to be in it.

And as for X? Xs ‘down time’ has since passed, and they are currently in the midst of a great, great high…

I guess X is proof of things going up and down. I should hold out, and Hope my luck turns soon too.

 

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Things that shit me… #11

Hate is a strong word. I try to avoid using it.

So instead I will begin with this:

“How do I intensely dislike thee July? Let me count the ways.”

  1. My Mum was told she would have to have an operation.
  2. Then she was told she doesn’t have to have an operation, but she was nonetheless stressed beyond belief with the recognition that her life had to change.
  3. Because of her health and this life change, everyone’s lives have now been impacted, including mine, Hubbie’s and baby girl’s, and she and my Dad cannot babysit baby girl when I go to work.
  4. Because they cannot babysit anymore, my babysitting arrangements have had to drastically change and now I am stressed beyond belief over how she will cope.
  5. I feel like I have lost a part of my parents.
  6. On another note, I had a major repair to my new car! Hooray!
  7. It’s still not 100%.
  8. I have been sick.
  9. Baby girl has been sick.
  10. Hubbie is still sick.
  11. Baby girl has developed some kind of ear ache that flairs up whenever it wants to, as a side effect of her cold.
  12. It has been really cold.
  13. I am cramping at this moment at 10:17pm July 31st mother f*&ker.
  14. I have had many decent cries and sobs this month, including tonight.
  15. I have heard of two relationships ending this month, both long-term serious ones, and one of them involved children.
  16. Other people I know have had issues with personal stuff and their family life, so its not just me folks. I think the planets were screwing with us all this month.

I actually think I’ve forgotten stuff, but this is just the initial list that springs to mind. By highlighting all this July-crap, I have in effect reversed the efforts of my carcrashgratitude blog, where I have also written about the crapola month that has been July.

Funny writing about something that’s annoying you as an item of gratitude, right?

It’s called Balance.

GOODBYE JULY. You shit me.

Metaphors, everywhere

It was cold. I was sick. The day had been long, but now I was headed home.

Life throws obstacles at you, life is not smooth.

I walked quickly, shoulders hunched, trying to turn my body into itself to shield myself from the cold. There was not much wind, but nonetheless, it hit me on every available bit of exposed skin: face, ears, hands.

No matter how fast you try to speed things up, things will come at you. Don’t let them stop you. Keep moving on, moving on. Don’t let them stop you.

I pulled my woolly scarf over and around my ears, burying my mouth into it so as not to intake the sharp Winter air.

You will need to use all your resources and depend on your closest crew to help you get by. Have them on call for a word of support, and make sure that those that surround you will only give you that. You may find you only have one, two, if you’re lucky three people like this. You’re rich already, that’s perfect.

I shoved my hands into my coat pockets trying to temporarily shield them.

You will need to dig deep to find that ‘thing’ within you: passion? belief? truth? courage? inspiration? determination? ALL OF THE ABOVE.

It’s so cold, it’s so cold… no it’s ok, it’s ok, one step closer, one step closer, each step is bringing me closer to my destination…

You will be tired, and hungry, and maybe even cold, but you must not lose sight of the bigger picture. You must not forget why you started. Why did you start? Don’t give up. Each step, each setback, each failure, is bringing you closer to where you want to go.

I get to my car, and sink into the seat with a sigh. Ahh. Finally. I’m here.

When you get to your destination, use whatever creative release to celebrate. You have made it.

You will make it.

(These were my background thoughts to my latest post #132 over at my other blog, carcrashgratitude).

Shameless self-promotion

Hey You. Yes, YOU.

In case you, or anyone else didn’t realise, that little sidebar on the right of this screen running alongside my blog posts, that refers to a ‘carcrashgratitude’? That’s my other blog.

It all happened when I had a car crash you see. Aptly named, I know. Because from that deeply stressful incident, I decided to try my hand at posting a different item of gratitude per day for the rest of my life. If you want to read the full story, it can be found here.

Huge task, right? You got it. I’ve currently completed 127 days of attitude. I know there will undoubtedly be tough times ahead (as much as I am a glass half-full gal I know this), but I hope that no matter what happens I can still find some piece of hope or happiness in that particular hard day to share. Not just for me, but for you too. Because everyone can do this. If you look hard enough, sometimes in the tightest of corners or stupidest of places, you can find it.

I find a lot of gratitude in food. I find gratitude in my closest such as baby girl, hubbie and my family. Sometimes just a cold walk will make me happy, and you can’t forget coffee. My love. Yes, coffee definitely gets a mention.

I write about frivolous things. I write about deeply personal things, like my recent #127 post. I take photos and share those that I love. And of course the weather, writing and parenting is another big contender on my site.

I love the challenge to write about things in a different and novel fashion every time. There will undoubtedly be days where I don’t have anything new I am grateful for that I haven’t already posted about. The challenge is to find the countless ways in which I can express gratitude to one particular thing, take coffee for instance (of course I would use that as an example again). I’ve mentioned it several times on my gratitude blog already, and I will probably mention it 100 more, finding different avenues of appreciation for it.

I know this site only presents one side of things. Some people get pissed off when others are happy. I’m not saying I’m not bored, depressed, shitty or cranky with people EVER. I mean hello, I’m human! I have a Things that shit me tag on this site for that very function for when I have to blah! and purge everything out. I need the balance.

But I also know that gratitude is very powerful. It’s nice to count the ways you can be grateful, and I promise you, when you start, you won’t believe how good your life actually is.

Don’t you want to know how good your life really is? Yes YOU! I’m talking to YOU.

Come on, have a go. It won’t hurt. I promise.

carcrashgratitude.wordpress.com

(I may end there as I think I have exhausted my use of links for self-promotion…)

Women vs. Men #3

Scene 1. When I am driving the car, and baby girl is whining and crying.

“Baby girl, stop it! Stop crying, why are you crying?”

Hubbie.

“I don’t know why you’re upset, I just ignore her. We’ll be home soon.”

Scene 2. 24 hours later. Hubbie is driving the car.

Baby girl: whining, crying, yelling, da da da!!!! (repeat endlessly).

Hubbie – “Oh my God she is doing my head in, I can’t take it.”

I sit forward. “Are you serious now?!”

Women vs. Men, part 3.

Worthy Drive to Ambrosia

Ambrosia Café Bar Foodstore
Shop 13, 84 Bemersyde Drive Berwick

We weren’t expecting much for lunch on that hot Monday. We were in Berwick, on the other side of town to see a potential new car for me, and needed to get to an eatery quickly as baby girl was starting to get really irritable; and honestly, having been walking around in the uncovered persistent heat of the car yard, so were we.

I had perused Berwick eateries on Urbanspoon the day before, so I knew some names that rated up high on the leaderboard. When I searched for ‘local cafes’ on my phone, Ambrosia wasn’t too far away from our location, and I remembered it sitting high and pretty on the café-Berwick list.

We almost didn’t go in. It was more me and my anxiety and paranoia than anything else. The restaurant/café/bar/foodstore looked fancy from the outside, and with baby girl’s incessant cries of “not happy!” I worried that the place would not cater to the family crowd. I was worried her shrieks would annoy the other diners, and that we would get those dreaded ‘looks.’ Hubbie however liked what he saw, and pushed us inside.

I was so relieved when the waiter who immediately came up to us upon entry offered a high chair. Phew. Well clearly they were prepared for kids, in some shape or form.

It was noisy, and busy. The noise could drown out the sound of baby girl’s impatient yells. Uh yeah, no. That’s not possible. However we didn’t receive any looks even with diners nearby, and I think the nearby wedding function underway in the adjoining section of the restaurant was keeping the attentions of everyone occupied and elsewhere.

We were seated near this funky-looking picture

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Kind of tucked away. Right to my liking on that anxiety-riddled day. Not hidden away, it was just a little cozy corner.

We ordered Warm Flatbread with Dips for baby girl

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I got the lunchtime special which was the Roasted Pumpkin and Spinach Risotto with Chicken and Parmesan

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Which came with a glass of bubbly for $19.50. I thought this was a great deal, since I was going to get the same risotto from the regular menu, which outside the lunchtime hour went for about $24-25. And I got it cheaper, with alcohol. I did wonder if the ‘special’ menu meant the portions were different, smaller. I’ll take a punt and say yes. Still, by the end of our visit I didn’t leave in the slightest bit hungry.

Hubbie ordered the Ambrosia Burger: fried onion, Swiss cheese, bacon, & egg w a salad of homemade dill cucumber & beetroot, aioli, served with fries & salad

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And his usual pint of beer.

We had asked for the flatbread to arrive first, as we wanted to get baby girl eating and becoming her usual content self again. Our mains arrived first however, and we had to ask for the flatbread which had apparently been forgotten. We didn’t mind, because there were things from our plate to feed to baby girl. Luckily. Our flatbread arrived soon after and by that stage we were all very happily digging in.

The flatbread was warm and delicious, clearly super fresh since we know it hadn’t been ready! It came with a pumpkin and a beetroot dip that was fresh and tasty, but to be honest I love eating warm/fresh breads as they are, on their own, no extra condiments/dressings/sauces/dips required. Baby girl loved it too, and happily chewed on a piece and was kept busy for a while, while we had our mains.

My risotto was creamy, with a good hint of garlic. I loved it, I could easily have had more. I would have liked more chicken too, and like I said, I reckon if ordered outside the lunchtime menu, I may have gotten more of a serving. It did come a bit lopsided though, looking as if someone had poured it into the dish only to then teeter it on an edge and have the whole lot slide to one side. The taste was very yum despite this.

Hubbie’s burger was great too, as I tried a few bites. Wholesome burger patty with, egg, bacon, and an interesting tasting relish that I couldn’t put my finger on the taste. He loved his burger, and all the food on the table hit the spot for us very hungry bunch of car-shoppers. We scoffed it down happily.

Because we’re on holidays, Hubbie said “f$&k it” and we ordered cake and coffee too. Well the coffee was a must, the cake was a “I’m gonna squeeze this in I don’t know where” cake.

We shared a Tiramisu

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Hubbie got his latte; I got my cappuccino

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And baby girl got her babycino

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Before ordering our coffees we had gotten very excited when Hubbie had noticed the coffee beans displayed on one of their counters. It read Melba, and it’s the brand we buy for our own coffee machine at home, from a great organic café in our fave shopping haunt. So we had high hopes for our daily caffeine fix. However, hubbie’s latte was too milky, which is why there is no photo to display above – he was disappointed. He says it still tasted alright, but it wasn’t strong enough. I admit, it looked rather pale. My cappuccino was great, and though like hubbie’s latte it wasn’t strong, I did enjoy the smoothness. So we’re not sure if Melba was the coffee used, but if it was, it wasn’t made like our café back home does it.

Baby girl LOVED her babycino, and got upset multiple times that we didn’t spoon-feed it to her fast enough.

The tiramisu also seemed to be lacking some of the caffeine strength we were expecting to get. It was good, just nothing spectacular. I have had better.

What I did notice upon looking at our bill later, is that the babycino came in at $1.50. Now that just slightly peeved me off, as it did hubbie. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I don’t think any dining establishment should be charging for babycinos. All it is is frothed milk with chocolate sprinkles. Now I know there are some out there that come with bells and whistles – a skewer of baby marshmallows on the side, a special gingerbread cookie – and I’ll admit that this one we had seemed to have chocolate milk beneath the froth, with a marshmallow on the side. So ok. But still, I kinda think the least these establishments can do, is not charge already-paying customers for a tiny portion of milk. The babycino probably costs them 5 cents, if that much. Even if you throw in a marshmallow, I think, like I said, not charging is the least they can do for paying customers. I don’t go around expecting things for free, but sometimes giving back, for something so tiny, is more a requirement than a gracious act.

Despite this, we were really happy with where we had ended up, and Hubbie was particularly happy with my Urbanspoon detective work. It was a cool and funky place, it was busy for a Monday in early Jan over the holiday season, and there were a lot of staff on hand meaning we were looked after and our requests were promptly met, but that was probably because of the wedding taking place. That too gave it a nice atmosphere. The waiters were lovely and accommodating, waving to baby girl and giving her attention every single time she cried out for it or waved to them, and God knows that happened at least 20 times.

I was impressed with the bathroom, as they had a handwash that read ‘organic and natural ingredients,’ ‘made in Melbourne.’ That along with the fake lavender in the corner, gave it a lovely atmosphere. I wouldn’t mind getting me some of that organic Melbourne stuff for my own bathroom! Nothing like promoting your own.

Awards outside the bathroom door indicated that this place was as good as we indeed had experienced, a place that all people should check out and enjoy.

Food: 8/10. If that tiramisu were up to scratch, my score would have been higher.

Coffee: 7.5/10. I wanted a bit more strength.

Ambience: Busy due to the nearby wedding function underway, and loud due to the volume of people which suited me just fine every time baby girl screamed…. which happened even beyond her lunch. It wasn’t an overwhelming constant vibe though, it was still very chilled despite all that.

Staff: Kind and friendly. Accommodating to baby girl’s demanding attention-seeking! However two waiters did trip over the legs of her high chair a total of 3 times, nearly causing the high chair to topple… but it didn’t. It is some kind of precarious looking chair, maybe new ones are needed that aren’t so trip-inducing? 😉

People: We had a family near us and some older people, as well as the whole wedding party. I think it caters for all sorts, as we certainly witnessed in the crowd that day.

Price: Mid-range to up-side. The combination of café-restaurant-bar-foodstore makes the price acceptable, as the awards attest to as well.

Advice: A great place to dine at, and I noticed there was an outdoor section that was inhabited primarily by the wedding guests that would have been lovely to eat at, seeing as it was such a sunny day. Go outside if it’s nice out. If your baby is in their old high chairs, a hand on the tray when someone walks behind won’t do no harm. Don’t get the tiramisu if you’re relying on a real coffee hit, but the other cakes behind the glass looked smashing. Maybe the New York baked cheesecake would have gone down better. The mains are yum-city, and if you’re coffee addicts like us, make it EXTRA STRONG.

In a nutshell: It’s a shame this place isn’t on our side of town, as with its set-up, atmosphere, the food and drinks on offer and the style it conveys, it’s right up our alley. If we go back to Berwick to buy that car, we’ll be lunching there for sure.

Look out for the red GTS. You’ll know we’re there 🙂 

Ambrosia Cafe Bar Foodstore on Urbanspoon

Murder comes to Darcy’s town

(Disclaimer: I wrote this review earlier in the week, days before the death of P.D. James. R.I.P.)

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P.D JAMES – Death Comes To Pemberley

“If this were fiction, could even the most brilliant novelist contrive to make credible so short a period in which pride had been subdued and prejudice overcome?”

I love this little homage that James makes in reference to the predecessor, and inspiration behind the novel that continues the tale of a little-known couple called Elizabeth and Darcy. Not only did it highlight to me just how little time Darcy and Elizabeth did spend together in Pride and Prejudice before actually making their commitment to one another, but it cemented just how good an author P.D. James is to make a quip such as this one and make it part of her follow-up on the future life of the Darcy’s.

I got a precursor to her clever wit before actually beginning the book though – In the Author’s Note she wrote that she owed Jane Austen an apology for involving her Elizabeth in a murder investigation, with Austen’s views on these matters made clear at the end of her novel Mansfield Park:

“Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody not greatly in fault themselves to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.”

James’ response:

“No doubt she would have replied to my apology by saying that, had she wished to dwell on such odious subjects, she would have written this story herself, and done it better.”

I loved the book already, and I hadn’t even started it.

What also amazed me before actually commencing the book, was reading that James had been born in 1920. What? I did the calculations… she was 91 when this book was published, now even older at 94! I only hoped I could still be writing at that age. What an accomplishment, of both age and career.

In a spoiler-less nutshell, James’ take on the future of the Darcy’s takes place 6 years after the end of their tale in Pride and Prejudice in 1803. It is the eve of an annual ball, and the estate is shook by the sudden and unprepared arrival of Elizabeth’s sister Lydia, screaming that her husband George Wickham has been murdered. What follows in the rest of the 6-part book (not including the prologue) is a discovery, a scandal, an inquest, trial, and of course a resolution.

As I started to read through the book, the amazement with James’ ability to match Austen’s prose, and my old love for these characters grew. It was like meeting up with old friends and seeing where they had been and what they had been doing for the last little while. Although there can be fear of a follow-up tale, especially one that is not written by the original author of the successful bestseller, not being even half-way up to scratch against the predecessor, Death Comes to Pemberley is such an original take on the romantic story dealing with issues of class and convention, that many times I actually forgot that Austen hadn’t written this herself.

You see that James shares Austen’s cheeky wit and sense-of-humour in the following line:

“It is my belief that, for a woman, love more often comes after marriage than before it and, indeed, it seems to me both natural and right that it should.”

I find these lines utterly amusing and fascinating. Perhaps I find them so novel because I’m not living in a time where men’s opinions of women are more of ownership, than equal partnership. And of course the above was quoted by a male. Figures.

There was also this beauty:

“It is never so difficult to congratulate a friend on her good fortune than when that fortune appears undeserved.”

There is also mention of a man named Joseph Joseph, so called because his parents were so enamoured by their surname they gave it to him also in baptism. Surprisingly, the fellow ain’t so bright. I loved being pleasantly surprised in moments here and there, giggling at little things like this that lightened the ‘thriller’ aspect of the book, much like I had smiled too often while reading Pride and Prejudice.

For me, reading books such as this one is not only enjoyable because of the writing and the characters, but because of the different time and place in which it is set. I find it fascinating to read of a time where this stuff was the norm, a time when such innocence was prevalent in almost all dealings, while interestingly and factually a decent amount of indecency was usually present.

I found it almost mind-blowing reading about the ‘help.’ Darcy and Elizabeth’s staff are overly accommodating to them and their guests, constantly on top of everything and helpful to the point of almost being able to forecast what is going to happen and prepare for it beforehand! Or at least that’s how it felt like. It would have been a very lovely and innocent time to be living, more so if you had the resources to be waited on hand and foot. Elizabeth observes:

“She was unlikely to encounter them on this floor, but if she did, they would smile and flatten themselves against the wall as she passed.”

There is also a couple of mentions of letter-writing, and the notion of a relaxed and luxurious time when one had the opportunity to sit and write, or just read for hours on end, just sounds so splendid to me.

Another amusing yet also innocent moment comes when the men get together to talk and get their stories straight regarding the night of the murder at Pemberley. All I could think of is “isn’t this like tampering with evidence, that being your minds and memories?” Isn’t that why members of a jury are forbid from being exposed to outside bias during a trial, so as not to be swayed by opinion, and hearsay? I found this absolutely ridiculous, but I think it was deliberately inserted to show the innocence and naivety of the time, even in an age where the law was taken so seriously, as stated later during the inquest and trial.

I could go on and on about how well James imitated Austen’s world, and how fascinating I find that world. I love how during the night of the murder, Elizabeth finds it appropriate to say this:

“But you could at least stay and have something to eat and drink before you go. It is hours since dinner.”

How one could be concerned with eating in knowledge of a dead body is beyond me.

Like in Pride and Prejudice, there are important and very thought-evoking questions of class, society, and manners. One amusing example of this is in an event where Darcy has to make a trip, and knows that it is preferred he arrive in a coach, though he would prefer to ride in on horse, but compromises by taking a chaise. The reputation and prestige associated with what mode of transport you arrive in is baffling, but then not so when I remember that Hubbie and I too are wanting to update our car. James also imitates the same spell-it-out fashion that makes you want to sometimes yell ‘why do I need to know that the larger of the two keys was used to unlock the door?’ It all adds to the style I guess.

What else frustrated me about this spelling-the-details-out, and also similarly the great lead-ups to events and long drawn-out establishing scenes, was that as a new writer, I’m not allowed to do them! I do do them, however I am told that new writers must stick to the rules (that of getting to the point), while established writers are allowed to break them all. As witnessed in Austen’s books, and to some extent in James’ one, as mentioned above. Sigh.

I was happy with quite a few additions James made. She showed a bit more intimacy between Elizabeth and Darcy, something we didn’t get too much of in the original. Maybe because they got together at the end of the book, but perhaps more so because of the time. Not that we don’t get much more than a hug here and there, but still, the contact is nice.

Most characters from the original are in this follow-up, and even if not so they are mentioned in hearsay or via letters, so that you get to find out how everyone is going. Even if there are only brief mentions made of someone, James captures their personality and demeanour perfectly to match Austen’s. A particularly fantastic example is made of Mrs Bennett. If you can remember, she was rather impossible, though hilarious to us as readers (and probably at least a tad annoying). When Mr. Bennett is visiting the Darcy’s, he receives a letter saying she has been hearing footsteps outside the house and has been suffering from palpitations in his absence.

“Why was he concerning himself with other people’s murders when there was likely to be one at Longbourn if he did not immediately return?”

There is a quite sudden tone change towards the end of the book, one I found striking given the type of world the story takes place in. All the good stuff though… gore, chaos, tension, nastiness. Like a soap opera, as I observed at one point. James ties up all loose ends very nicely, however at one moment I was overwhelmed with information to the point that I couldn’t keep up, but fortunately some of it was repeated and I got with the program.

I did find it interesting that later on in the book James chose to explain Darcy’s deeds from Pride and Prejudice, as even further closure. First I went ‘no! she can’t do that!’ Should it be allowed, since it’s not from Austen? But then I realised, neither is this book! I guess writing a follow-up, in some ways a completely different book on where the characters have ended up, is quite different to referring specifically to events from Pride and Prejudice, and explaining the actions of the characters then as written from another author. Food for thought.

Oh, and not to spoil, but I have to mention… in the last section, Elizabeth says something to Darcy, and says she cannot promise him something. This part, is beautiful. Watch for it. Because you know what? Somewhere, someplace, she can 🙂

This book was an absolute pleasure, a joy to read. If you loved Pride and Prejudice, and love thrillers… well what are you waiting for?

Please let me know your thoughts on Death Comes To Pemberley in the comments below, I would love to discuss with you 🙂

Things that shit me… #4

Staying with the car theme… people with big cars, that can’t drive. Add to that also, people with small cars, who still can’t drive.

Two cases in point. 1.

The other day as I was leaving my local shopping centre car park, a huge tractor-type thing pulled out in front of me, rather annoyingly I might add. Knowing she couldn’t drive, she should have let me go before blocking my path. I watched, unimpressed, as she reversed out of her park, having a metre between the back of her car and the car parked behind her, and then moved forward again. And then again she moved back, turning her car… and then leaving that whole metre (maybe more) of space behind her, she stopped, and then moved forward again.

She did the whole thing AGAIN, before finally managing to take off.

Some advice lady. Firstly, know how long your car is, so you don’t have to resemble the stupidest (and also funniest) scene in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

austin

Secondly, just learn how to freaking drive.

2.

Randomly, cars that are turning right into a street, that have to veer widely around to the left forming a semi-circle, before making their turn. Just drive straight, then turn right. You are driving a matchbox after all. It’s not hard.

Also small car drivers that *gasp-shock-horror* perform the above case 1 scenario, unable to get their car out of a park and having to do the back-forward dance a zillion times… and they have a small car.

(Shakes head).

Things that shit me… #3

Citylink. Frustration is another level for this one.

For non-Melbournians and our close interstate neighbours in the (un)fortunate position to not be well-acquainted with this man-made device, just know that I am speaking of a ‘toll road’ and that most people living in populated areas will have some measure of understanding of this much-needed but could-really-do-without ‘accessory’ to our roads.

Hrmph.

Since I have started back at work, I’ve decided that it’s long enough not seeing baby girl ALL day, to then drive home through the city in peak hour. Yeah, in the mornings I do the drive-through-city thing, but when I wanna go home and see baby girl ASAP, I use Citylink.

The first time I used it: not too bad.

The second time I used it: absolute shit house.

Let me explain. It’s simple really. Citylink is meant to provide you an alternate and faster route home without having to deal with lights, congestion, and just general peak-hour nonsense that sends the gentlest of humans mad. I’ve had a look at their charter on their website, and they even state that their promise to their customers is to provide free flowing traffic: they call it ‘travel certainty.’ So even if you remove the ‘get-home-faster’ idea that most people have about Citylink, the fact that they want the traffic to move constantly, is kind of in the same field, yes?

(Deep breath).

So what is the freaking point of paying tolls on their road when your trip home takes about the same time as what it would if you were actually travelling through the city in peak hour? Huh? WHAT IS THE POINT?

I was secretly fuming over this notion last Friday. I was driving home via the ‘blue,’ and right after I entered near Footscray Road, the stupid freeway was full. I drove slowly, slowly, slowly, thinking ‘what the hell has happened? Is it an accident?’ When I passed the 1st ‘incident’ (many, many, many, many, many, many, many – get it? minutes after driving SLOOWWLLYY) all I saw pulled over to the left of the road in the EMERGENCY lane (note, out of the traffic) was a car pulled over, apparently broken down, with roadside assistance helping them out… and that was it.

That was it. There was a break-down not affecting the outbound traffic in any way, yet that stupid group known as rubberneckers just had to slow down, and take a geez.

Like seriously, in the words of Big Brother “how does that affect your time in the house?” Dickheads.

And all these rubberneckers, all these dickheads, were preventing me from getting home to see my daughter. Keeping me from hugging her and being with her just that little bit longer, making damn sure our night-time bonding was limited and making the whole night that much more rushed, because slowing down to look at a woman who’s car had broken down was going to enlighten their sad, sad, pathetic lives.

Those morbid people with their perverted little eyes. They drive me freaking insane.

On I continued, past the broken down car, hurtling insults at the cars in front of me: “just drive!”

Closer to home, the traffic slowed down again. I’d heard something on the radio about there being an accident at a certain point, on an access ramp, but I thought it had cleared by when I drove by it, as there had been no sign of a bingle anywhere. Still, the traffic was really slow. ‘What the hell is going on?’ I thought. Again.

And then. As I finally came to drive past a ramp that entered onto the freeway I was on, I saw a car pulled over with an assistance vehicle behind it. On the ramp. Before entering the freeway. Out of our route. Yet the rubberneckers were at it again, and ogling the scene to the side of them.

I wanted to scream.

Now, you might argue that this is no fault of Citylink’s. You might say, “it’s not their fault that people have accidents and don’t know how to drive efficiently.” True, on both points. But when you are promised a service, a certain outcome, especially in exchange for your money, well I think you bloody hell should get that service promised, don’t you?

I’m only talking about a few dollars on the trip home, but why should I part with dollars that haven’t even brought me home any quicker? To make things worse, the kms I spend using Citylink are far greater than when I drive through the city the LONG way home, if that makes any sense at all. So I’m also contributing to the further wear-and-tear of my car, parting with money, AND not getting home quicker. Dollars are nothing, but you know what, over time they add up to a lot. And more than anything, it’s the moral of paying for something, and not getting what you paid for.

This isn’t just a ‘shits me’ post though. No. I’ve come up with a plan. 😉

I think, that Citylink should install scanners and cameras at all of their entry and exit points on all their tollways. Not unlike what they do now to charge us for using their roads. And as these cars enter their roads, they should be scanned. And when they exit at any of their exit points, they should be scanned. Not unlike what Citylink do now.

If the time taken to travel from point to point, exceeds the average time for that time of day, (with normal traffic congestion due to peak-hour also taken into account), then the Citylink user should be refunded what they normally would have paid. The trip should be FREE.

To be fair to Citylink, if the trip from whatever to whatever point is double or more the average, that’s when the refund should come into place. And the cameras serve the purpose of establishing that yes, there has been a genuine incident keeping drivers from getting from point to point in more time than normal, rather than that customer just trying to score a free trip.

This would also benefit Citylink too. By establishing this ‘get there quick or don’t pay’ initiative, they would attract more customers to their network, and just generally promoting a fair service where one actually gets what one pays for would skyrocket them into the popularity and money-making stakes, even more so.

And do you know where they would get that money for all those refunds from?

The accident-causing idiot drivers and the rubberneckers.

And the cameras would be catching them.

Of course, if you weren’t at fault in a tizzle, you wouldn’t pay at all. Only the stupid drivers would be forking out any cash. It would work by encouraging drivers to educate themselves further on the roads by learning the proper rules, staying focused, keeping their eyes on the road and to the task at hand (um, driving?) and this would benefit EVERYONE. The costs of paying such a high amount, to refund all those customers their tolls because of their incompetent driving, would be enough to deter anyone from slacking off on the roads.

I have thought of it all.

I still have to further determine how rubberneckers would be identified. I think maybe their kms would be an alert: for example if the cameras detected an average of 80 kms an hour for that time of day and traffic was moving at about that rate, and then one car slowed down to 50 kms an hour for no other reason (weather excluded) than to peer at a crash or scene on the side of the road that wasn’t directly affecting his drive home, well then going by the rule of slowing down more than 10 kms an hour, would make him the culprit and person payable for all those fees, if it was enough to slow down everyone’s drive home and make their trip DOUBLE the duration. Capiche?

The only drawback to all of this would be that these new Citylink rules could certainly intimidate many drivers into not using Citylink at all, in fear their driving would not be up to scratch and they would incur many fines. But this too sounds brilliant, thinking of the possibilities of an uber-army of Citylink drivers who are so skilled at driving, easing into the freeways and exiting with the greatest of efficiency and street smarts. Drivers who have their eyes on the road and to the task at hand – getting home, not getting the goss on the side of the road. This could create a magnificent reputation for Citylink and their customers – only the best drivers – and for a company, that ain’t too bad either.

So, in summary of this fine and brilliant idea:
– If it takes a Citylink customer at least double the time than is the measured average for that time of day to get from point A to point B, they are refunded the cost of that trip
– Exclusions to this would be bad weather likely to cause danger; over-congestion due to holiday peak periods
– If in the event of an accident, or another event disrupts the drive home causing a longer than normal drive time, the perpetrator of the unnecessary event (the idiot) is payable for all damages, for all cars that have had to endure at least DOUBLE the drive time home.
– Likewise for rubberneckers: the ones who initiate the rubbernecking, and those who have adequate space in front of them to drive but still choose to slow down at least 10 kms to have an ogle, will be subject to pay the refunds of any drivers whose trips are doubled due to their need to ‘know.’ Are you going to want to know how much you’re going to pay? Well?
– Scanners and cameras at all entry and exit points, as well as other select locations, will be implemented to check point to point durations and also determine for accuracy’s sake, whether there is an ‘incident’ or not.

I don’t think I’m asking for too much. I am a Citylink customer, and all I want to do, is get home efficiently, and without incident. I want to be home as soon as possible, to see my girl, to see my husband, and because I don’t have time for traffic. I’ll pay to get home quicker, but I expect results at the same time.

Otherwise I’ll just take the scenic city route home.

“In being a responsible company we promise to listen and improve.”

Listen and improve.

Happiness Is… #5

Hubbie’s well-timed jokes.

Similar thread from another ‘Happiness Is,’ but I just had to share regardless.

I was so shitty yesterday morning (not actually my fault because this time it was hormones), and because I had vented onto my parents that morning of course I had guilt, and that guilt turned to anger and frustration, and that just made me more shitty well into the afternoon.

Hubbie came home from work, and with his car still running in the garage, came inside to get some paper towel. “Bird shit on my car.” Again. Hubbie’s car is this orange-gold colour (fusion is the name, if that helps to paint more of a picture) and for some insane reason birds are always crapping on his car. He’s coming home from work, unfortunately usually when it’s been a beautiful day out, and fuming that the birds targeted his car, again. He’s tried parking a few metres front and back from his usual spot to see if it makes a difference, but gets the same result every time.

Winter has kept the birds at bay, however with some awesome sunny days occurring lately (remember my excitement about the 20 degrees?) the birdshit has returned. Hubbie is a big car enthusiast, but I think the shit would be annoying even if you didn’t care much for cars. It’s shit, after all.

Funnily enough, maybe because he hasn’t had to deal with it lately, he wasn’t too shitty (pardon the pun) about it. He came back from cleaning it up, and I tried to kindly inform him of my mood: “Just warning you, I’m really sensitive, and really cranky today.”

He was ok with that, and we kept kind of small-chatting. And THEN –

“I saw all that bird shit on my car, and it made me think – ” (Here I foresaw something funny about to occur) ” – I felt like I should take a dump on it too.”

OMG. Thank you Hubbie for breaking my cranky spell.

I had one of those great laughs where you do the ugly face laugh, and then you can’t breathe. “Haw haw haw.” It was great.

Sometimes we forget to laugh. Which makes it all the more important to surround ourselves with the best people, who hold our best interests at heart, and who make us laugh, the best.