We had our work Christmas party this weekend, and, well, I was bored to tears. Normally, I love the holidays and the opportunity to relax and chat over a plastic cup of soda, but I was in a 'mood' this time. You know, one of those irrational, every-little-thing-annoys-you moods. This being Australia, we had the party at Centennial Park surrounded by palm trees, ibis birds, and black swans on the lake. I loved the view and strolling with my husband, but this was supposed to be a party, so I went back to the clump of people standing around talking about work--on my SATURDAY.
I wasn't enjoying any of the conversations, and whenever I tried to shift the topic to something a little more interesting, like NOT work, my efforts were resisted. I gave up and lay back on the picnic blanket with my husband, watching the sun move across a cloudless blue sky, wishing I was at the beach--without my workmates.
I tried to enjoy the food, but kept watching to make sure people were eating the coconut and cream cake I baked. Then it was time for the Kris Kringle. My boss has a long tradition of hosting 'The Present Game' where everyone takes a number out of a hat, with the lowest number picking a present out of the pile first. Everyone afterwards then has a choice of picking a wrapped gift or stealing (which is seldom done, since it's so impolite) the present of their choice from someone else. It's best to have the highest number, so you have more gifts to choose from. I had '3'. The one responsible for the hat draw had the highest number. Hmm... Of course this person, who is my least favorite, even on a good-mood day, stole my cinnamon scented candles. I love cinnamon. He stole the candles I got last Christmas too. My husband noticed my clenched fists and teeth-grinding, but I managed not to say or do anything I'd regret on Monday.
The agony eventually ended, and, as I was packing up the car to go snorkeling and wring some fun out of the day, one sweet person (a boyfriend of a friend) sincerely complimented me on the cake. I wished I'd chatted with him more, wished I hadn't been so uptight and had complimented other people's food more, and wished I hadn't felt so angry over candles.
It's amazing how your mood can color every perception and turn even a beautiful picnic into a chore. To relate this to writing, mood and perception is a powerful tool, especially when writing in first person. The point of view character is not necessarily seeing things clearly, and this can be used to hide information (like the cake-lover at a party) from the reader until you want them to stumble across it.
As for real life, my New Year's resolution is to focus on the good in every situation, whether I want to be there or not.