Monday, April 22, 2013

Figure Out Your True-Calling through Procrastination

Sometimes in an effort to avoid the necessary evil of whatever-it-is-that-needs-doing one can find their true calling. I've been using that one a lot lately, the true-calling theory, and have discovered that I could be a first-rate housewife, fitness planner, Facebook-stalker or cat lady. I'm not necessarily comfortable with any of these callings but they are there anyway. 

Disclaimer: These are my own personal tools of procrastination and in no way an indication of my lifestyle choices… 

1. Tea-Making: Endless cups of tea that I don’t drink. I’m not a fan of the stuff but if there’s something else to be done you can be sure I’ll need to boil a kettle and stir some teabags around a cup for ten minutes. Then sit, watching it go cold as I stare into space wondering what else I “need” to do before I get going with paying bills, writing essays, job applications … 

2. The Facebook Browse: But it’s not just a browse is it? Fast forward an hour and after boring myself to tears with the countless pictures of cute animals my friends share. I’ve fallen in love with some song writer half way across the world. I know the name of his dog, his soon to be ex-girlfriend and have figured out a way to meet him. The important thing to remember here is that I don’t act on this feverish acquisition of knowledge. I just pride myself on the ability to obtain it. Training for my future as an internet stalker for unhappily married couples. I could start a franchise? 
3. Routine Check on the Animals: I don’t even like animals. But they are here. So I feel obliged to communicate with them. This can result in a full hour whittled away trying to pretend the cats like me and getting the moronic dog to chase something other than his tail. 

4. Rearranging Clothes: When faced with something I’d rather not do I find myself folding clothes. Something I never do. Sometimes it even seems like I MUST rearrange my drawers. This involves tipping my folded clothes on the floor and then shaking them out and refolding them into different drawers to justify the chaos I've caused. 
5. Paperwork: This is a last resort when faced with having to make business type phone calls. I will first open my file. I do keep one, stuffed with receipts and bills and grown-up things. I generally avoid it, and then when I need to do something adult: I tip it all out to sort before I can get on with the task in hand. 

6. Starting a New Exercise Routine: This is one of those methods of procrastination that can take up hours of my time. First there is the planning. The decision to commit hours of each day to pain. But what kind of pain? How many days off? Targets? Goals? And then the first-step: day one of the routine. So I leave the house: stride down the road as far away as possible from what I need to get done today. I scare the neighbours by lunging about in the garden and collapsing in broken heaps, only to realise that this plan is too much, tomorrow I will devise a new one.
7. Event Attending- Fail at life and party or succeed at life and avoid party. In order to avoid become a balding hermit on a mountain-top with cats for company I normally justify the fail-at-life option.

8. Matching Socks: I become possessed by the need to find all my socks their original partner in crime. Given that I've long held the theory that socks are eaten by the washing machine this can take a considerable chunk of the day. But I’m a romantic, obviously, anything in the name of monogamy.

9. Mopping the Floor: This only happens when I have to edit my novel. I get a page in and then realise the dirt on the floor is distracting me. It must be dealt with now.

10. Channeling my inner TV chef: When duty calls you can be sure I will think of a reason to spend two hours in the kitchen contemplating what sort of cheese will go best with tonight’s dinner (never mind the fact that my choice is usually limited to feta or cheddar), mumbling to myself as I dice onions and devising new ways to cook potatoes. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

The True Confessions of a Recovered Farmville Addict


When I was in America almost everyone I knew was playing some sort of Facebook game. It was hard to ignore the fact that computer labs were full of people: not studying, but pursuing a career in bad-gaming: students clicking away lives on virtual restaurants, farms and fish tanks.

It was scary, foreign. I couldn't wrap my head around it. Then someone told me they were particularly “talented” at these games. I signed up for Farmville, simply thinking that I would figure out how to win and then leave. That was the plan, to prove that there was no such thing as being “talented” at virtual reality.

For those of you who don’t know, Farmville is a virtual game on Facebook that allows you to pretend to farm. Armed with a mouse and an easy user interface you can plough, plant, harvest and buy farm goods to your hearts content.  It also tries to rip off addicts by getting them to enter credit card details to buy flashier farm houses and more land.


It started innocently enough, a bit of tilling and planting, no real addiction. But then I started watching my leader board. I was thousands of points down.

I was going to have to up the ante. I started trading in hay bales for extra points, designing my farm for maximum productivity, and calculating the most profitable crops per hour.

I’m sure I don’t need to point out that it was becoming tragic.

But it didn’t stop there, it escalated. I feverishly monitored the farms of others. Harassed friends to join and visit my farm. At one point I had the log in details for several members of my family and I farmed their plots too.  I spent hours making symmetrical borders, purchasing pretty wells, and garden features.

I still hadn't realised how bad it was and people were starting to comment.

Then the most ridiculous sentences started rolling off my tongue.

-I can’t make that, sorry, I have to expand the farm.
-Damn is that the time, I need to go harvest my raspberries.

I spent an entire night buying and selling hay bales and went up at least three levels, a monotonous task that involved clicking and more clicking.


The next day the other addicts started asking questions.

-So how did you get so many points so fast?
-What were you doing, in one night, did you buy points?

I smiled knowingly at them all.

-Simple calculations, seeing as you’re so talented at these games I am sure you can figure it out.

Then it hit me, I was hoarding my Farmville secret. I thought I was really something. I had been sucked in. I noticed others avoiding me for fear I would spout feverish monologues about my farm. So I forced myself to quit the farm, to sell it all and step away from fake sheep and palm trees. I was never, ever playing another Facebook game again, any game for that matter.

A year later someone showed me word twist…and well….

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The One Teacher You Will Never Stop Blaming


I spent my junior cert years plagued by the Home Economics Teacher. Things might have turned out differently if it wasn't for her constant obsession with: order, cleanliness, organisation, bland food and boring sewing tasks. No thirteen year old in their right mind thinks making an apron or oven-glove is fun.  Now help them make a boob-tube or mini-skirt and you will have sewing converts for life.

But our issues didn't start there. Oh no, that’s most likely where they ended.

First there was her insistence on calling me “Aiiil-vaaaaa”. This ended in a three year long stale-mate. I wouldn't answer to it and she couldn't bring herself to pronounce it the correct way.

Then there was the first time we made cake as a class, I sat eating the licks from a spoon as we waited for the cakes to bake. Only to hear a deathly silence descend as she loomed over me hissing,
“And what do you think you are doing?”
“Eating the licks,”
“You do realize there are raw eggs in that”
“eh….yeah?”
“This is disgusting, never in all my days…” and so on and so forth, until I was a shade brighter than crimson and had vowed to hate her forever. Quite a serious vow, when made by a hormonally unstable thirteen year old.

I may not have helped our relationship when she performed cleaning drills.
Treating her shrill cries of: “I can see a grain of rice on the counter”
With: “Are you serious?”

Then there were her recipes which I doctored to my hearts content. When everyone else produced a perfect Victoria Sponge cake with neat jam fillings, I presented a hap-hazard chocolate chip cake, with chocolate filling and decorated it with enough Smarties to give a three year old a migraine.

 We bickered constantly. I produced my homework in crumpled sheets from my pockets and answered questions in the exam booklet as follows.

Give one reason why you would put a kitchen sink under a window?
So you can spy on the neighbours.

What is the best way to unblock a hoover?
Send your hamster up it to gnaw its way through.

She made things worse by making me sit alone, at the back of the classroom and intercepting all my notes.

Yes, Home Ec. was the bane of my existence, a class based on all the things I’d already been shown, with a teacher whose mind was occupied with beige slacks and how to make a perfectly symmetrical melon basket.

My mother unfortunately was in the middle of it all. Listening to me harp on about ridiculous levels of cleanliness and receiving notes home from my teacher about my slovenly ways and attitude problems (all completely unfounded as you can imagine.).

In the end I was banned from taking part in Home Ec. by my mother. I could do anything else, but she was not listening to either of us for another two years. It came out later that my mother had similar issues with her own Home Ec. Teacher and wasn't able to cope with the reminder.

In fact at the final parent-teacher conference, when my teacher was harping on about my homework being crumpled and all the papers I kept in my pockets my mother interrupted her to say.
“Does she have bad grades?”
“No, but-“
“Does she talk in class?”
“Well no, but-“
“Does she do her homework?”
“Yes, but I mean the pockets”
“Well” my mother said, standing up from the desk and delving her hands into her pockets. She started piling up the contents from her pockets on the table. Scrap, upon scrap of folded crumpled papers “She certainly doesn't pick it up of the floor.” 

She then stuffed the papers back in her pockets and marched out with her head in the air. I think she was projecting. That was the confrontation she always wanted to have with her own Home Ec. Teacher. Either way, if I ever get the chance, I plan on doing the exact same thing. 

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