Tuesday, December 28, 2004

"What a year this has been/ lost my love, shed my skin..." (Alex Lloyd)

New Year's is my favourite holiday. Its a night that was made for one as addicted as I am to purging the past and pinning everything on the future. To symbolic severences and unrealistic expectations. Plus its *expected* that you get legless and fall down the stairs, so it was always going to be a favourite.

As 2004 wanes to a yellow sliver in time's sky I find myself reflecting on the past year. I will now, without apology, engage in the shameless cliche favoured by tabloids and entertainment mags at this time of year and compose a list of the year that was...

Since I last donned a party hat and settled back with a glass of champers to wallow in nostalgia for the very recent past, I've had three new jobs:

1. I've waited on an ageing former CEO now posing as a journalist until his increasingly ridiculous demands began to piss me off. I uncharacteristically took a stand over one such demand and was fired soon afterwards;
2. I've worn a Madonna headset whilst working for the Australian Electoral Commission during the lead-up to the Federal election. Highlights include one of my callers turning out to be a voice from a former life when I worked on Saturday morning telly and learning to play poker on a filing cabinet;
3. Finally (for now) I've ended up at Borders, which one service manager suggested is where creative people come to die (! my colleagues are actors, DJs, filmmakers and musos but -- apparently "(Borders) stamps it out of 'em") but where I have found a great bunch of people with whom I have a lot in common, and a pretty decent discount on all the books, music and movies my little heart desires.

At the beginning of this year I left my first full time gig -- an admin job that has me appreciating the brilliant British mockumentary The Office in a way that would otherwise be impossible, and which led to new knowledge and discoveries on topics as diverse as salsa, central locking actuators and alan keys. This gig was also the source of two of 2003's four crushes.

2004 has been a slow year crush-wise, with an ill-fated work crush that began in October making a late bid for the year's only new crush. For a more in-depth account on what went wrong, see the lyrics of the Rick Springfield classic Jesse's Girl.

I went back to school after a two year hiatus. For the first six months the novelty of studying Descartes in the morning, Gandhi till lunch and John Cusack films in the afternoon was thrilling, especially when contrasted with the last ten months of eight hour days, five day weeks and relentless data entry interrupted only by hellish customer service. By second semester tho, the novelty had begun to wear off and I became just another Uni slacker. But still glad I wrenched myself away from an easy dead-end job in pursuit of something else.

In September I received an unexpected phone call telling me to prepare for a freebie trip to Miami in a fortnight. There I saw more beautiful people in a five k radius than I am accustomed to seeing anywhere, chatted to a few, discovered my new fave summer bevvy: the mojito and, in one surreal, disaster-movie-esque episode, we fled Hurricane Jeanne early one Florida morn.

I got a gig reading the news on community radio and got to ring politicians and policy-makers and record soundbites like a real journo.

I wondered what I would be when I grew up.

And I've met some strange and wonderful people: at work, at school, at parties and on buses. A good year, on reflection, an ordinary year with no event you could call singularly life-changing. But sometimes I wonder if I'd been catapulted into some of this year's more memorable events before they happened, what I'd think? For example, if I'd stepped outside for some air at last year's New Year's Eve party -- out of a crooked doorway, plucking a faux cobweb off my black dress and dodging a bent spoon dangling from the porch ceiling (it was a Matrix-themed party) -- and been greeted by the ghost of New Year's Future (to paraphrase Dickens) who showed me snapshots of myself from the coming year. Future me drinking Belgian beer on a grassy oasis in the middle of the city at dusk, talking and laughing with people that Matrix Party Me didn't recognise. Or reclining on a beach in Florida, when I should be in school. Talking solemnly about current affairs and soccer results in a darkened studio somewhere in the bowels of RMIT. Or working at Borders -- arranging stuffed sheep like skittles and bowling with a colleague inbetween customers.

I would have been shocked, intrigued. I might have poured the rest of my glass of Chandon brut into a pot plant and gone inside, and told noone of the wonders I had seen. Even this ordinary life would be extraordinary if it unfolded all at once on New Year's Eve. Because it's as yet unknown... the things you will do, the people you'll meet. Exciting, innit?

(And no, I haven't started on the champers yet... I get like this this time every year ;))


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