The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible - Vladimir Nabokov

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you - Zora Neale Hurston

13 December 2009

Sunny day, good food...bad mood

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.


  1. We play the stealing game at my family christmas party, and we are ruthless. We love stealing gifts from one another...except last year I felt like you did when my least favorite family member stole my lottery tickets. I could have punched his face in. Love reading your blog, hope your mood got better :)

  2. I'm in a much better mood now! Glad I'm not the only one who's had a bought of gift-stealing-induced anger :)

  3. This is fabulously written and I wish I had been blog-hopping yesterday when you wrote it! I love how you said it's impolite to steal, when that's sooooooooo what we do in the States. We are an impolite nation, it seems.

    Glad you're doing better!

  4. Thanks Michele! Writing compliments are always appreciated, especially from a great writer like yourself :)
    Australia has turned me far too polite I think. Have you ever watched an episode of Australian survivor? The ratings were horrible because everyone was ridiculously sweet. "No--YOU should stay." "No, you stay, I'll go." And lots of hugs and tears and pouts at having to vote anyone off the island.

  5. I once got in trouble at work because our department was asked to get together after work. I, being 18, was brutally honest, and said, "Why would I want to hang out with you guys after work? I see you all day."

    And the outing got canceled. Yay for me!

    Of course, I never lived it down, but whatever. :)

  6. I love your honesty Stephanie! Better to have the stigma than endure undesired work outings. Unfortunately, I'm twice that age now, so I don't think I can get away with it.

  7. LOL :) Does NOT sound like a fun party. It can be difficult to get people off work topics, but it's so important to do so! Otherwise it's no fun for the spouses ... or for anyone else.

  8. You're right Jemi--can't forget the spouses! My poor hubby looked twice as bored as I was.

  9. focusing on good in every situation is one of the crucial lessons you learn in your life if you are fortunate enough :)
    Life really is too short, you've all noticed how the candles on your birthday cake keep getting bigger and bigger in number, which means you can't really wait for good moments to happen, you just have to make them yourself by transmitting positive energy around you and trying to enjoy everything around you, all those little wonders ....

  10. We play this game with all my book club girls, but everyone steals we laugh out loud about it cause honestly it is too funny, the whole nicking pressies thing. We are all really good friends though and not work mates, so that probably makes a huge difference. How you liking the heat? ::

    Merry Christmas

  11. Dezmond-- you are so right about enjoying the little things. Just had a birthday with way too many candles on the cake.

    Tabitha-- It's great to steal prezzies from friends. I usually like the present game too, but I was in a 'mood' and that guy stole my candles for the second year in a row! I shall remain calm...BTW I'm loving the heat! Went to Wattamolla cove in the Royal National Park on my birthday (21st) and had a great time snorkeling in the lagoon. Hope your move went well?