Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell To Bacon

Dearest Bacon,

There's no point pretending: I'm writing to say goodbye. I want you to know that this isn't easy for me. Over the years you've always been there for me, with a greasy salty kick on a sleepy morning that would turn my whole day around. Your presence makes even the most boring risotto or pasta or potato salad so much more exciting. I'm smiling now just thinking about you.

I don't think I can easily explain why I need to do this. It's about ethics, and pigs, and the state of the world, and a whole bunch of things that I don't expect you to be able to solve. Forgive the cliche, but it really isn't you. I'm not sure that it's me either. Perhaps it's life, it's a shitty circumstance, it's not fair. I'm sorry.

Don't be sad, Bacon. I will never forget all the good times. And I'll try not to be jealous when I see other people enjoying you (although, you know me well enough to know that I'll be fighting a white hot anxiety - but I promise not to let it show). You are so scrumptious, I know there will be dozens of girls just waiting to wrap their mouths around you as soon as you're available. But I will always cherish what we've had, and I hope in time you will remember us as special too. But I feel that this parting is the right thing to do.

I'm sorry I didn't let on this morning, as I enjoyed you for the last time. It was selfish of me I know. You were just so delicious, snuggled in next to my tomatoes, I had to have you one last time. I wont be so weak again.

I wish you all the best, my King of Meats,


P.S. As for your brother, Salami, my fantastically dirty stick o'meat, don't even get me started. Late nights will never be the same.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lazing On A Sunny Afternoon

I've already lost track of which day of the week it is. Everytime someone asks me what my plans are later/tomorrow/for the holidays I reply "Dunno. Don't really have any." There are vague plans involving gardening, cooking, reading, possibly cinema. Hannah and I have scheduled in a sewing day for Monday which I am looking forward to. There's talk of a swim tomorrow. But mainly I am following my whims. It turns out that my whimsy is fairly lethargic and there's a lot of reclining on my bed flicking through recipe books and singing along to Billie Halliday and Peggy Lee.

Despite experiencing my first paid holiday in some time, my imminent tax bill and credit card debt mean that I am living very frugally. And in a strange way I'm finding it quite liberating. I'm very housebound. I'm not rushing anywhere because there's nowhere to rush to. The house is clean. I have ample Christmas presents to potter around with. It's so warm.

I will go to the supermarket later and get some noodles to make a stir fry for dinner, and I am also having thoughts about a slurpee. I ran this morning and have been sweating ever since. I sat at Ray with Andrew, who is going overseas tomorrow, and usual suspects Leith, Brendan and Casey, and my brother turned up by chance as well, as the odds might have suggested he would.

I ambled home, buying myself an apple at La Manna, stopping in at Sugar Dough where I've heard Emma Uttinger, an old workmate, is now working, though she wasn't there. I looked in a vintage shop, promptly bought a skirt (though only $12 it was about $11.50 more than I could afford), and then removed myself from further temptation by riding home. I tended to my tomato plants, watered the garden with the shower water that had cooled sufficiently, using Donald, my handsome new blue watering can. I ate some toast.

I might read.

and I love to sit so pleasantly, in this life of luxury

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Resolutions: First Draft

For a while now I've been mulling over my resolutions for 2009. I always like to get the wording just right, and go through a number of drafts before I commit them to hard copy on the inside cover of my diary. I like the opportunity to stop and reflect on what I'm doing and where I'm heading, and see if I want to make any changes. This year has involved so many quite large changes for me already that the ideas that have been floating around in my head are I think more about consolidation than major change.

Some of the rules of my resolutions are: that there may not be more than five; they have to relate to a specific action or goal rather than an intangible quality, for example: "I will throw a dinner party for friends once a month" rather than "I will try to be more sociable"; they must be achievable within 12 months or apply for 12 months (so I try not to make them about something whimsical that I will have a change of heart about in a few months); and each one has to pertain to a different facet of my life. These facets usually break down to: health, career/money, social/personal, and learning/doing something new (in the past this category has included learning Spanish, overseas travel and get a tattoo), but they don't have to be as strictly adhered to. Often my resolutions result in a list of projects I want to undertake. One final and very important rule of my resolutions is that they must be realistic in terms of ambition so that I am not setting myself up to fail. I tend to prefer less fantastic resolutions that I'm actually likely to keep, and I'll check in on them across the year to keep myself on track.

A few months ago I read Clive Hamilton's The Freedom Paradox and while I agreed with much and disagreed with a little, the idea in it that has stayed with me most is around having an order of preferences. Hamilton's notion is that human's (unlike other sentient creatures - a tangly premise that is not for tackling here) are capable of having both first and second order preferences. A first order preference is lodged in the present and is a direct desire cultivated by our ego. Whereas second order preferences are the preferences we have about our preferences, and are cultivated by our superego. Therefore we have the potential to curb our first order preferences to align with our second order preferences, should we wish to (a Hedonist would actively dismiss second order preferences in favour of always satisfying their first order preferences). Hamilton posits that most people fail to do this, and this is a source of much personal dissatisfaction.

A good example is exercise. A person may have decided that they wish to be fit, and understand that this means that they should go to the gym 3 mornings a week before work. This is their second order preference: to be fit. When they wake at a 5:30am alarm call and want to go back to sleep, this is their first order preference: to sleep. The person who drags themself out of bed and off to the gym is obeying their second order preference, and Hamilton believes (and I am inclined to agree) that this person generally experiences greater personal satisfaction and contentment in the long term than the person who stays in bed (even though that person may be less sleepy), because they feel that they have mastery over their will, rather than being its servant.

So anyway, this is something I've been thinking about a bit in terms of my behaviours and the things I do, and most of my resolutions this year are I think particularly intended to align my lifestyle with some of my second order preferences.

The resolutions so far:

I will run (or do equivelent heart-rate raising exercise) for 20 minutes a minimum of two times every week.

I will build my expertise at work to encompass policy design and evaluation, and to this end, enrol in a Masters degree for 2010.

I will travel to Japan, China and Vietnam.

I will make no purchases on credit that I can't pay off within 48 hours.

I will become a more ethical eater by only eating animals that have been farmed without cruelty, not eating fish or seafood that are overfished, buying local, seasonal produce as much as possible and growing and making as much food for myself as I can.

The last one is going to particularly hurt. No more freezer box party pies on a hangover! I have to admit to having eaten more meat than usual this December to savour those some last few treats.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Things I Love About Christmas

This year, more than in any other, I have been regularly encountering earnest and impassioned anti-Christmas sentiment from those around me. I've found it wherever people feel safe to complain about their family: on blogs, and over drinks in a bar, and in passing around the house.

The main source of anti-Christmas sentiment seems to involve grown children (my friends) who begrudge enforced time with their families. And to be fair, as I've listened and tried to understand these complaints, many of them seem damned reasonable. I have friends whose parents are acrimoniously divorced and demand exactly equal time spent on Christmas day, then try to undermine the other parent by guilting the children from leaving. I heard of insane step-parents and drunken racist relatives and right-wing siblings and physical fights. And the upshot of all this is that I feel both a little sad about the world and also terribly grateful for my far-from-perfect-but-nevertheless-pleasant-and-respectful family.

And so while I don't mean this as a gloat to people who suffer these relative torments (haHA - pun of the day right there), I feel the need to speak up in favour of Christmas. Christmas fills me with that internal wiggly feeling that is a sort of combination of contentment and excitement, and usually I also get a big childlike grin. Don't get me wrong, there are also many things that I can't stand about Christmas, but none of them are unusual or original, and there are plenty of outlets for them without me listing them here. Rather, I would like to pay tribute to the things I love about Christmas:

Decorations. It's like the houses are all dressed up and hoping to dance with that boy they've been looking at all year but been too shy to talk to, or at least have him smile and think they look pretty.

Presents. The buying of them. I like having to pay that little bit extra attention to the shortlist of people I love and am shopping for, so that I can anticipate something they will genuinely enjoy. I also like making things in bulk and distributing them a bit more broadly in general goodwill.

Mystery Charity Shopping. Having no little children in my family at present (a great shame at Christmas time) I like to go to the toy department at Myer, ogle all the frankly fucking awesome toys that get made these days, and buy something small for one of those wishing trees. I usually do this at the end of the long and frenzied day I've spent squeezing all my Christmas shopping into because I left it to the minute.

Wrapping. I love choosing coloured papers and complementary ribbons and baubles and then making a hack of them as I impose my terrible wrapping skills on them.

Food with Friends. I like that there is a time of year which places an onus on catching up with people you care about, because otherwise it would be all too easy to let some of those people drop right out of your life. There are degrees of friendship and while there are many people that I don't need to see regularly, I do like to stay in touch with. Then there are my good friends and the barbeques and dinner parties with them that involve great home-cooked food, good wine and the perfect company. Love 'em.

Christmas Dinner. Oh my lord my family is good at food. I wont go into too much detail, but let me just say that Christmas dinner with my family is a meal to revere.

Goodwill. Let's face it, there's a place for it all year round, but a bit of a boost never hurt anyone.

Little Kids. They can be horrors, and they can smell foul, but little children on Christmas, when their faces light up with the wonder and magic that they feel present in the world, are just the absolute best. If for no other reason, filling children with wonder is surely more than justification enough for Christmas.

Disclaimer - I am not religious and don't care two figs for the spiritual significance of the day. I like celebrating loved ones with food and sparkly things. Werd.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ode to Thursday

Dedicated to one who shall remain unnamed here on the Internets, as I'm sure he'd want it that way.

Oh day,
You've seen so much of the week
already, yet
You are not the bringer of sweet relief
which is Friday.
To some, you portent joy, to others you are
a cunt.
You are Thurs.
And I am thirsty.