Camp 3, Summer of 2008

My first Edmund Rice Camps for Kids experience was an absolutely mind-blowing one. Although I’ve had little experience with children, every single leader there (all 25 of us) worked together to give the kids the greatest holiday of their lives. It was incredible. I tell you truly, none of you will understand what I’m trying to say unless you have experienced the camp yourself- it’s just impossible to describe with any kind of language. Of the past five and a half days, I will never forget:

  • Being known as ‘The Ninja’ within three hours without mentioning the word once.
  • Chasing Brandon down the road when he ran away from camp. I picked him off the ground so he couldn’t escape and gave a casual “Good day sir!” to someone who was watering their lawn, before piggybacking him all the way back.
  • The Circle of Fun.
  • Sitting on the side of the road with Esther as we tried to get Caleb to come back to the group.
  • The look on Thomas’ face when he got dunked by the first wave.
  • Playing scarecrow in the river. So, so tired.
  • “Are you having a ball?”
  • Katie painting my toenails hot pink.
  • Scrubbing my toenails with nail polish remover.
  • Donna covering me with make-up and saying “You look fabulous darling!”
  • Alier calling me a sissy-boy because of it.
  • Katie singing “I said a boom chicka boom!” in her sleep.
  • Having my energy meter flashing red on Day 4.
  • Awkward turtle.
  • A mata mata hoomba!
  • Chris’ impossibly cheeky smile.
  • “Would you like some cookie with that icing?”
  • The way Katie pouted when I told her I was too tired to piggyback her. No onewould be able to say no to that face.
  • Calling Simon “Redbeard”.
  • “What’s better than a group hug?” “A group hug jumping!”
  • Katie’s song during the performance night. The look on her face at the tumultuous applause, the way Ash lifted her on his shoulder, and the way she signed everyone’s arms.
  • Agot’s big ol’ eyes looking up at me.
  • Ah-dee-doo-dah-doo-dah-day.
  • Zayde telling me I’m actually pretty cool.
  • Megan pretending she was a dog named Splashie for around 30 hours straight.
  • Tempani bursting into tears at every opportunity, often with a huge grin on her face.
  • “I took my knife-ee-ife-ee-ife-ee-ife-ee-ife…”
  • Bicep curling Ryan.
  • Having waterbombs ditched at me.
  • Ditching them back.
  • Jumping-reverse-turning-kicking the ball to Kandyce, who thought I was the God of Soccer.
  • I’m a Little Coconut.
  • Mintoxilicious.
  • Touching the basketball ring with my foot while everyone brainstormed a way to do it. I got disqualified.
  • Great big moose named Fred. [Note: According to dictionary.com, moose is the plural of moose.]
  • The scariest clowns I have ever seen in my whole life.
  • Fun cream!
  • Nothing says civility like a good book and a glass of red.
  • That Ben guy who I waved to on the beach. He was on holiday there and ended up playing with the kids who weren’t swimming.
  • Forgetting everyone’s names and calling them all “Dude”.
  • “Why did the man cough so much?” “Because he was drinking coff-ee!”
  • Getting kicked in the nuts by Brandon. He thought it was hilarious. Every male leader suffered this week.
  • Madol’s crazy dance moves.
  • Alier and his roommate (“Dude”) staying up late talking about condoms and sex.
  • That first breath of fresh night air.
  • Dancing on the disco night.
  • Baby Shark.
  • Clancy crab-dancing with Caleb.
  • Pirate Day.
  • The song from “High School Musical 2”.
  • Shakin’ and Bakin’.
  • A week’s worth of cold showers.
  • “What’s more awkward than awkward turtle? Awkward turtles humping!”
  • Pigging out on junkfood when all the kids were asleep.
  • Everyone spontaneously bursting into song.
  • Making Hanna the most perfect iced milo.
  • Writing myself a warm-fuzzy because I thought no one else would.
  • When Brandon jumped on Richard’s back and Zayde said: “Brandon, get
    off! Can’t you see he doesn’t have legs?” (Richard wears knee braces.)
  • When Brandon asked what happened to his knees, Richard replied
    “There was an accident.” Zayde responded with, “Is that what happened
    to your face too?”
  • Having Katie on my left arm, Megan on my right arm, Ryan on my back and Thomas around my legs. I commando-rolled my way out.
  • Tempani calling Simon Red “Bobo”.
  • Having “tattoos” drawn all over my arms and legs.
  • Nicole and Callum (first year medical students) arguing about which anti-septic is better.
  • Designing the greatest umbrella of all time.
  • Having an acrobat-off with Nick.
  • Writing our own camp-song tribute to the Simons in ~1.5 hours.
  • Paige losing her voice from yelling and singing so much.
  • Scaring pedestrians with mobile phones.
  • Leaning on the rail overlooking the beach while all the leaders sat on the grass behind me. The wind in my hair and clothes, I stood there for a few minutes admiring the incredible view. Out of nowhere, a group of leaders spearheaded by Callum run up to me screaming “I’m flying Jack!” Then someone started singing “My Heart Will Go On” and every single leader ran over in a group hug and joined in. Everyone on the beach just cracked up.

If we get photos, I’ll see if I can post any of them. To everyone reading, Edmund Rice Camps are incredible, life-changing experiences, and you quickly learn how to get along with the kids. Even if you don’t really want to go, after a day with the kids, anyone would want it to last forever. Check it out of you can to enjoy one of the best weeks of your life. Peace everybody!

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The Curious Incident of the Dogfood in Aisle 1

I spent an awful long time on Wikipedia yesterday reading up about psychological/mental sort of conditions, and I was ecstatic to see that someone out there understood me. Below are two lists that make me feel comfortable with myself as a person because I’m not the only one.

Signs of Obsessive-compulsive disorder

  • Repeated hand-washing, requiring liquid soap when at all possible.
  • Specific counting systems- arranging objects in even numbered groups.
  • Perfectly aligning objects at complete, absolute right-angles, or aligning objects perfectly parallel.
  • Fear of acting out on violent or aggressive impulses, or feeling overly responsible for the safety of others.
  • Fear of contamination. (Refusal to touch something that is potentially dirty, and therefore, dangerous.)
  • A need for both sides of the body to feel even. Stepping on a crack with my left foot means that I have to step on a crack with my right foot. If I accidentally knock my left foot against an object, I must knock my right foot against something too.
  • When something is twisted one rotation in one direction, it must be twisted back exactly one rotation in the opposite direction. Eg. locks, pen lids.
  • Every pen that I use must have its lid aligned with the writing on the body.
  • All CD’s must be right way up in their cases.
  • Repetitive behaviour that I am driven to perform in response to an obsession, with rules that must be applied rigidly and without exception. Examples: Using exactly the same model of pen and type of paper to write on.
  • Unnatural fondness for symmetry and patterns rather than random disorder.
  • Always resetting things to ‘neutral’ after their use. Example: After doing things in my room, everything must be put back exactly where it came from.
  • The recognition that my urges and impulses for the above are not entirely rational, merely products of my own mind rather than based on reality.


Signs of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

  • Preoccupation with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or
    schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost.

  • Showing perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is
    unable to complete a project because his or her own overly strict
    standards are not met).

  • Excessive devotion to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships. (I would rather finish unloading my cage than take a break with everyone else.)
  • Inability to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value.
  • Reluctance to delegate (give) tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly my of doing things.
  • Hoarding money in case of future emergencies.
  • Urge for perfection to the smallest detail.
  • Rigidity and stubbornness.

I’m sure there are more that I can’t think of right now, but those are the lists so far.

Spawn of Soar

I think that title’s brilliant ^^

Forgive me in advance for this bitching work entry, but as I was running around the aisles in a hysteria, all I could think was that I should blog it. So here’s what happened! Don’t get your hopes up, it probably won’t even raise your eyebrow.

Over the past week, I have worked 38 hours with another 8 on the way. Over that time, there have been two code blue’s, a discovery of illicit mice droppings on one of the shelves (nobody buy anything from Aisle 9 in Coles Gosnells), and an empty box of condoms. When it comes to stealing condoms out of the box, you know there’s something wrong with you. Anyway, for about 25 of those 38 hours I’ve been filling pet food, and as I was working my way through the huge cage of them, I noticed there was a tiny fly trapped in one of the boxes of tinned Pedigree that had been wrapped in transparent plastic. I cut the plastic to let it out, and moments later, an overwhelming smell hit my nose. Surprised, I had a closer look and realised that four of the cans had leaked.
"Fine," I thought, reaching to pick them up. "They’ll just go in the damaged stock."
Then I saw the maggots.

Horribel little white things that writhed all over the place. I jumped up, away from the box, and lost it. My memories of what happened next are fairly vague. I recall running to deli to ask them for disposable gloves- slightly illogical, and I got a strange look from the girl, but I just needed the gloves asap. Then I ran up to the service desk to call the manager over and someone told me he was on lunch break. Panicking, I explained what happened, and he just told me to put the cans in plastic bags and leave them with the rest of the damaged stock. Even though that area is literally a metre or two away from the fresh fruit and vegetables in the storeroom. Nobody buy fruit or veg from Coles Gosnells. Not knowing what else to do, I ran back to the pet food aisle hoping that none of the scarce customers had noticed the awful stench or the writhing worms, and did as he asked. Then I ran to the bathroom and washed my hands for about five minutes, using up most of the soap. Having to go back to the pet food aisle and continue filling the cans of Beef and Gravy was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever made myself do. The undamaged cans were probably fine, but to me, they were disease ridden, infected, festering health hazards. After I got rid of all the cans, I destroyed the box they came in. If possible, I would have destroyed the cage as well. And maybe sterilised the aisle, just for safe measure.

I know it sounds like nothing to you, but to me, the OCD kid, this was the stuff of nightmares. I washed my hands after touching anything that touched the box that touched the cans that touched the maggots. As Wikipedia put it, an OCD person would not touch "a tissue that has been touched by another tissue that has been touched
by the end of a toothpick that has touched a book that came from a ‘contaminated’ location, such as a school". To have to approach the spot where I opened the box, to smell the rotting meat, to kick at the tiny flies… I refused to let my hands touch any part of my body, especially my nose and mouth, even after I’d washed them. I imagined what I’d do if maggots crawled into my hands. First I’d cut off my hands, and then I’d realise I didn’t have hands, and I’d have to kill myself. I kid you not, this was my conclusion. Just thinking about that made me look at my hands uneasily, until I got a brilliant idea and strode to aisle 3 where I picked up some exfoliating cream to scrub my hands with. As far as I can tell, it takes off the outer layer of skin, which would make my hands about as clean as they could get. So I went home, had a 20 minute shower where I scrubbed every part of my body, and exfoliated my hands. All this while slightly hysterical, trying not to hyperventilate, and with a racing heart.

Kids, if you’ve got OCD, break the habit early. It’s not cool like I thought it was. I would touch the tissue that touched the tissue that touched the toothpick that touched the book that was from school, but I wouldn’t really want to. And maybe I would wash my hands afterwards if I thought about it too much.

God I hate maggots. Time to stop thinking about it now. Might go exfoliate my hands again, just in case. Ta, then!

Life in General

Just a quick update on my life.

Work turns out not to be so bad after all. $10.50 is a reasonable wage by all means, and (forgive the term) heaps better than most of the American population. I also learned quite guiltily that $5 an hour is decent in Singapore and any more is to be excited about. However, when your friend is getting $18 an hour for working in a Japanese restaurant, and your other friend can rake in up to $1800 a fortnight, despite my vast expanse of wealth I still feel I could be doing better. Especially since I could also work for Telstra and rake in said $1800.

I’ve worked 15 paid hours this week (Monday-Saturday constitutes a week, and right now it’s a Wednesday which is pretty darn impressive), which unfortunately doesn’t quite cover today’s spending bill.

To anyone who enjoys buying manga, you can get it 33% off until the 24th of January at Border’s, Perth. It’s a Buy 2, Get 1 Free deal. Craig and I thought it was hilarious how I went in there to buy one book, found out about the deal, and came back minutes later with 15 others. I was perfectly delighted to realise how much money I was saving- normally ~$311, yours for only $216.40. That’s a shiz load of money, but I actually have a source of income now! This makes me very happy! I didn’t "waste" that money, I don’t need to regret it seeing as I was going to buy all the Rurouni Kenshin books anyway, but to think that I can pay it all off in a couple of days? Sw00t.

Work’s not too bad, either. I haven’t worked deli, and I’ve had a few half-conversations with the girl who works there. I think, deep down, she understand and doesn’t hold it against me. All I did on Monday was wheel cages around the shop, putting overstock wherever it would fit on the aisles. For ~7.5 hours on Tuesday, all I did was fill pet food. There’s something terribly satisfying about the way the cans fit together, and the soothing symmetry of the endless rows of coloured cylinders. Surprisingly, I find them more relaxing than even the rectangular prisms that make up the boxes of Whiskers and Optimum. I’m a strange lad, I know. Worse, is that people tell me Eugene loved filling pet food too. I have to wonder if it’s genetic somehow.

Anyway, I had an awesome fun day today, apart from one brief moment where I was probably rude to Chris by refusing to eat when he wanted to. Otherwise, I spent a lot of money I don’t currently have, met up/talked to some very good people, and am now going to bed to catch whatever sleep I can before my shift in 8 hours. Well, g’night!

Work

I sat the STAT test this morning and there was a cartoon in the multiple choice. It showed a picture of a miner looking exhausted in five slides, and went something like this.

I go to work – to get the money – to buy the food – to get the strength – to go to work.

Q. The point of this cartoon is:
a) Work is challenging but satisfying.
b) Work is pointless and repetitive.
c) People should work harder if they want to get more money.
d) Work can be tiring but is for the greater good.

Personally I thought the comic summed up life pretty well. And, after my first day’s work, I have to wonder if it’s true.

Straight after the test I went for my first day’s work at Coles, a large family supermarket chain. Eugene, who works there also, was allowed to show me around and teach me how everything works. To be honest, I hate having to depend on him, but it’s comforting to know it’s my brother that’s looking out for me. Because Saturdays are the busiest days (everyone shops on Saturdays. Why? Why do they put us through this?), as soon as my brief orientation finished, I was put straight to work. Not grocery, stacking the shelves and presenting the stock like I had been led to assume, but working in the deli. Deli’s that section at the back of the store where they sell roast chicken, raw fish, shavings of pig and the likes. I reminded Maria (the manager) that I was a vegetarian- she knew this, I told her in my interview that deli is the one place I wouldn’t be able to work. She just said, "Oh, that could be a problem," and as I remember it, she just walked off. So I ran off to get my apron and a really stupid hat and forced myself past the horrible smell of cooked animals to nestle snuggly into the raw ones. I served like, six people, and did a terrible job of it. The packages of meat literally fell apart in their hands. Unfortunately, two of the people I served were the parents of one of my childhood friends so we had the most horrible, ‘Oh, when did you start working here?’ ‘Hey, how is your daughter doing?’ conversations. While I grabbed handfuls of pig to give to them.

Eugene says I only worked deli for half an hour. In my mind, it was very nearly two hours. I didn’t know what to do, I freaked out, and just felt like breaking down. I could go on about how traumatising and stressful it was, but everyone can complain about their job so I’ll save you the trouble. Basically, deli sucked, but the next four hours of stacking and presenting were more or less enjoyable. I work four times slower than I’m supposed to (and the other guy who was presenting worked four times slower than me- apparently you can get away with slacking), but my aisle truly was a work of art. Unappreciated, and to be ruined tomorrow when blood-thirsty customers rip it to pieces.

The job itself isn’t that bad. I’ve never liked having to attempt things I didn’t know how to do- procedure, regulation, rules make me comfortable. That might be my OCD leaking through, but I feel very safe knowing exactly what to do. Working in Coles just threw me into the deep end, and I came through five hours later spluttering and choking. I’m terrified of my colleagues who might look down on me, or because I might offend one of them somehow. I’m overly cautious about what everything I say and make sure that I don’t have an opinion on anything, so no one can have a problem with it. And of course, the whole business revolves around making the customers happy. It requires making executive decisions, knowing the store, knowing what you’re doing and stuff I just don’t want to deal with. I honestly don’t know what I was expecting. I thought of all the jobs that ever existed, and when I actually picture myself having to do them, I just couldn’t take it. I just don’t want to work, ever. When I thought of getting a job, I knew what it involved, but it never actually occurred to me that I would have to do it. For some reason, I thought it would be leisurely, even-paced hard work. Today, being Saturday, was just utter madness, even though the store closed to customers two hours into my shift. I don’t see why anyone would want to go to work in the morning. And most people probably don’t. I guess it’s worth the money- work is a necessity to get the money to get the food to get the strength to carry on, but how much happier I’d be, we’d all be I suspect, if it didn’t require working.

So yeah. Work, all work that I can imagine, sucks. I pity anyone who was a job. Anyone still mooching off their parents, milk it for all it’s worth damn you. I’m really tired, so… Good night.