Chapter 29: Don’t be dumb

I remember ugly crying at my final high school assembly.

Which was a super chill, cool move for 17-year-old me.

But the worst part wasn’t the puffy-faced photos or “Ermahgerd, I didn’t bring a tissue!” snot disaster, it was that people assumed I was crying because school was finishing.

Mortifying.

Although, perhaps not as embarrassing as the real reason … which is that I was spiralling into a nerdy abyss of despair upset I didn’t get Dux.

Two of my very clever dude pals, Chris and Prashant, tied to receive it and I came in a very bitter third.

Like a real Prince George (He’s third in line for the throne. You should know this stuff, guys).

I did actually get the English Cup and Creative Writing Award (#humblebrag), so really shouldn’t have complained with my leaking eyeballs quite so much, but c’est la vie, that is the life of a maniacal hormonal nerd.

Fun fact: Prashant bet me in academic awards so regularly that one of my mum’s good friends only knew him as “Effing Prashant”. She knows how to flick that pageant mum switch.

“What has this got to do with anything?”

Solid question.

It’s mainly just funny. But also, I feel like it illustrates the sincerity of my Leslie Knope Energy.

Which is an important part of this post’s story, because it’s all about lifelong learning and bettering yourself.

Which I think we can all agree is a lame title, and that’s why I went with: Don’t be dumb.

As a side note, I was actually very tempted by Nobody likes a dumb-ass. It’s my second-to-last blog post in this series you guys, and I’m getting loose.

What I’ve been learning lately

So you know how I’ve been writing a screenplay (see: Chapter 28: Writing a screenplay), well, fun fact, I don’t know how to write a screenplay.

Cue: Montage

So I’ve been reading these books from the local library …

My fave.

Listening to this podcast …

Reading through screenplays of movies I love and know like the back of my hand (like Mean Girls) to learn their form.

And researching what further education options there are for screenwriting in Wellington (where I live in New Zealand), or online.

I think it’s safe to say, I’m a real Harry Hard-out.

“But what’s this got to do with me?”

Solid question.

And if I may ask you a question in response, dear reader, what are you learning about right now?

What are investing time and mental energy into?

And if your answer is:

Don’t feel bad! Feel like a badass, because you’ve just had a wild opportunity come knocking.

This is your chance to do something different, to chase your dreams, and to invest in yourself.

As some smug, smart person once said:

“Dreams don’t work unless you do” – John C. Maxwell

“Where to from here?”

The first step is to work out what you actually care about.

Some questions to ask yourself that might help:

    What job would I do for fun? Even if no one ever paid me to do it.
    What’s a problem in the world that interests or enrages me, and that I’d like to help fix?
    What was a subject I always loved at school, but haven’t done since I sobbed at that last assembly …?
    Who do I look up to? What is it about them that I would like to be able to do too?

And then what I would do, is exactly what I did with screenwriting:

  • Go to the library
  • Research different resources online (YouTube tutorials, blogs, online courses, higher education options)
  • Listen to podcasts
  • And talk to someone who’s doing the thing you want to be able to do. That’s always my favourite. I love learning from people.

“Then what”

Start! And know that you’ll probably feel confused, overwhelmed, and generally like an idiot when you first try something new.

We all do.

But then you learn, and you grow, and the new thing isn’t so new and scary anymore, and actually, you’re a little bit badass at it.

“Why bother?”

Apart from the obvious benefits of increasing in personal fulfilment, achievement, purpose, self-belief and self-esteem ... sounds terrible, right …?

Learning is incredibly good for your brain.

It’s basically anti-aging cream for your mind, and helps to grow and improve your memory and mental sharpness as you age.

Avoiding the end of The Notebook

On a slightly more serious note, as someone with Alzheimer’s Disease in my family, I’m pretty personally invested in doing all I can to keep my brain and mind healthy and well.

If this is something you’re interested in, I recommend having a read of this article about Alzheimer’s prevention.

The pillars of brain health are actually quite surprising. Let’s gooo, Mediterranean Diet! *Swells with Italian pride, olive oil in hand*

What would you love to learn more about? You should totally do it. I believe in you.

Kate x

Chapter 25: Banter

I don’t like conflict.

People start arguing, and I’m like:

Which is unfortunate, because I’ve just joined an all-dude fantasy football league, and they have precisely three core values:

  1. Banter
  2. Commitment
  3. Contribution

In that BCC-email-acronym order.

Men are from Mars, and women are confused by them

The thing is … I don’t do banter.

Me and my gal pals never just hang out and roast each other.

We’re into:

  1. Deep and meaningfuls
  2. Quality time
  3. Bridesmaids GIFs.

*Struggles to find anything funny about the acronym DQB … Googles … apparently it’s a nerdy game to do with dragons. What a triumph.*

To help upskill myself on what the sweet hell banter is, I did a very simple, obvious thing.

I asked.

“What is banter?”

Any my homeboys actually had some really good responses.

Well, minus the couple who thought the question was a weird power play of feminine wiles, so I clearly already have them beat and abstained from answering.

Their answers ranged from …

The Tweetable:

“I would say banter is a discussion with the intent to entertain at the expense of others.” – Hiro, League Commissioner

“When you’re bantering you can sort of take on a character and push that character to the extreme … The more absurd the thing is that you say, the more obvious it’s banter.” – Liam, Press Sec

“Banter is a way to make your match up for the week mean more.” – Taka, FLOTUS

To the quietly savage:

“I like banter cause I can be mean to people and they think I’m joking.” – Roy, Chief of Staff Salt

“I find it it fun cause I like to have a laugh. Also have to admit I love to see people shot down due to quality banter.” – Ropata, Chief Executive

And even some official “#bantz rules of engagement” from Karan, Head of Legal:

  1. Build rapport with your league mates (the better you know them, the greater the understanding of their limit and acceptance of said banter)
  2. Research the target of the banter thoroughly (have they claimed something in the past that lends credence to the banter)
  3. Make it funny and/or insightful
  4. Minimal self-depreciation/maximum ego
  5. Adopt a persona and build on it
  6. Play mind-games to break them down, but keep it above board
  7. Foster a rivalry
  8. Have fun.”

With all of this in mind, dear reader, I have a question for you …

Have you ever watched WWE?

Rivalries. Personas. Fake feuds. Entertainment.

Banter is basically that big wrestling energy.

Becoming ‘The Man’

I’m going to be honest with you.

For one emotionally-charged moment, as those first banter bombs fired at me from across the group chat, I did think of throwing the “Ross Finger” and bouncing.

But I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t be that weak chick who left as soon as she was let into the big boys’ room just because it was difficult.

So I picked myself up, put on some It’s Britney, b*tch, and I thought:

What would Ruth Bader Ginsberg do?

Spurred on by my new spirit animal, the Notorious RBG, I started taking baby steps towards banter bad assery and defeating my fear of confrontation.

1. Remember who you are, Simba

Generally speaking, I dislike conflict for two reasons:

  1. I have people-pleaser tendencies, and I like to be liked
  2. I like people, and I don’t want to compromise relationships for the sake of getting to be “right”.

Which sounds very nicey-nice, but is actually pretty problematic, as in healthy relationships you should definitely be able to have disagreements without fundamentally rocking the relationship boat with how you view and value each other.

But that’s a therapy session for another time.

To help bust me out of this Swiss shell of neutrality, I had to have a “Come to, Jesus Mufasa” moment and remembered:

I’m a third speaker, damnit. 

Uh what, Kate? 

Oh yeah, I forgot – not everyone’s as much of a nerd as me. Let me explain.

I was in my high school debate team. 

Debate works by having two teams of three argue ‘for’ or ‘against’ a topic.

The earlier you speak, the more pre-prepared your speech is, and the less rebuttal (read: logically and articulately explaining why the other team’s argument is trash) you do.

I was third speaker, so 75% of my speech was rebuttal.

For someone who doesn’t like arguments, I’m actually very good at arguing.

And I do improv … so on the fly funny is kind of my jam.

And banter kind of is arguing + improv …

Oh my gosh … I’m about to kick some candy ass.

I also come alive for any kind of boxing or fighting sport. Which is neither here nor there, but I think probably embodies why this is my all time favourite quote:

2. Starting small

It sounds silly, but those first little banter battles on the Facebook Group chat would have me STRESS SWEATING.

Confrontation (even when it’s make-believe) makes me uncomfortable.

But the more I did it, and the more I overcame the temptation to have a little freak out, the easier – and funner – it became.

3. The Shark

Today’s #bantz was about comparing league members to different animals, and I was given the Tiger Shark along with this explanation and link:

Tim and I had some jibes at each other last week.

I think I might of done quite well.

I’m now so into banter, I accidentally burned someone at work yesterday. I need to reign it in.

What a fun, new problem to have.

That RBG spirit

Confrontation is my thing.

What’s yours? 

What makes you nervous, and shrink away.

Because I think you’re probably stronger than you think you are.

You tell that thing, ‘Not today, Satan’, and you walk towards it – not away.

You got this, girlfriend. Go get that RBG spirit, and go get your victory.

Kate x

Chapter 21: Putting Yourself Out There

The past two years have been bananas.

The first year I grew a person.

And the second year I grew as a person.

But not in the way you’d expect.

Becoming a parent is fairly synonymous with becoming immeasurably more selfless, patient and tired than you ever though possible.

That’s pretty much a given (unless you suck a little bit as a human).

For me, the unexpected growth came because I wanted needed something that was just for myself.

ENTER STAGE LEFT: Kate Takes Thirty

From watching Parks and Rec, to writing about it

When I was in my early 20s, binge watching seven seasons of Parks and Recreation over a Christmas holiday wasn’t indulgent, it was frankly impressive.

But when you become a parent, the game doth change, and time becomes the ultimate luxury – both for treasuring moments with your little people (“They grow up so fast!” – everyone, ever), and for treasuring moments with yourself.

What did this look like for me?

Starting a blog.

And one that by it’s very definition, enabled and encouraged me to try lots of different things – like starting improv classes, a public Instagram (@katetakesthirty, get about it) and a podcast – oh, and I ran a half-marathon.

Ridiculous!

And nerve-wracking!

Particularly the bit about putting my face, voice, and writing on the interwebs for people to see and hear and judge, and aggghhhhhhh

But then I remember, WWRHD?

What would Rachel Hollis Do?

She would say:

“YES, SISTER!”

“You dreams don’t work unless you do.”

“Are you humble enough to suck for as long as it takes to get better?”

“What other people think about you is none of your business.”

And other such inspiring, bad ass things.

So I sucked it up, and went for it.

I’ve even started approaching lifestyle news sites to see if they want a piece of this action to take me on as a contributing writer.

I’ve tried three so far, two have knocked me back, and one is still pending.

But again, WWRHD?

She would keep trying until someone says yes, and remind me of the classic J.K Rowling “never give up” anecdote for authors about how Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was turned down 12 times by publishers before Bloomsbury said yes to the dress.

Or she’d start her own news site, cause she’s a gangster like that.

And dang it, so am I.

Just cause you’re a gangster

It goes without saying – but Rachel Hollis, J.K Rowling and I don’t have the monopoly on bad assery.

You too can be a gangster and go after your dreams whole-heartedly.

It’s hard. Heck, every time I produce something there’s a gnawing thought at the back of my mind telling me it’s probably terrible and no one will want to read/listen to it.

But then I think: Nah, boo. You do you.

People will enjoy it or they won’t. The most important thing is that you enjoy making it.

A. Because life’s miserable if you spend it trying to be someone you’re not, to impress people you don’t even like or know.

And B. Because people are smart, and they can tell when you’re being disingenuous.

My advice?

Be a gangster.

Believe in yourself. Find what you want to do, and keep doing it.

Like our girl Rach says, you will probably suck at the start. Lord knows my first podcast episode is solidly “ok, and pretty averagely alright”.

But you keep going. You keep grinding. And you keep smiling.

Because sooner or later that commitment and enthusiasm is going to breed growth and opportunity.

Don’t give up now!

The best is yet to come.

If money was no object, what work would you do for free? If you’re not sure what your dream job is, that’s a good question to start with.

Or if you know what your dream is, tell meeee! Feel free to comment below or hit up my DMs on the gram. I love hearing from you guys.

Kate x

Chapter 15: Ginger Spice

Like most girls in the 90s, I grew up obsessed with butterfly clips and the Spice Girls.

And I mean crazy town OBSESSED.

When (Her Maj) Adele posted this to Instagram earlier in the year, I identified so strongly with her it was almost a spiritual experience.

Basically me.

And again, when Blake Lively said:

When I was a child I probably should have been medicated about my obsession with the Spice Girls. I had the Buffalo shoes, a Baby Spice necklace – when I say custom-made, it was made out of plastic from the local mall – and a Union Jack dress.

Preteen fangirl is a special breed of crazy.

Just ask Justin Bieber.

And to be honest, at 29, I probably still know every word to Wannabe, every dance move to Stop Right Now, and Geri Halliwell is still my spirit animal.

Girl Power

Like Adele (did we just become best friends?), my favourite Spice Girl was is Ginger Spice.

She was loud. Fun. Empowering. And I was all about that hair.

So much so, that I still vividly remember going to the hairdressers with a hand-drawn picture (it was a different time) of the shoulder-length Geri haircut I wanted.

Nevermind that I have naturally wavy hair, and it was the 90s, and I was seven, and the most sophisticated hairstyling tool at my disposal was a brush.

It wasn’t this bad. But it was this bad in my heart.

Poor tiny Kate and her poofy halo of brushed out curls, bouncing up around her ears.

I’m nearly 100% sure I cried in the hairdresser’s chair.

Fast-forward 22 years, and I’m basically still trying to look like Geri Halliwell in the 90s.

Cause this week I dyed my hair red – again.

Red hair, don’t care

Pre-baby, I dyed my hair more than that chick in the Bourne Identity.

I was brunette, then I was ginger, then I was really ginger, and then I was strawberry blonde, then I was a copper to blonde ombré … Then there was a lob. Then a blunt bob. Then a fringe.

Honestly, I changed my appearance so regularly you’d have thought I was in witness protection.

Montage, montage, montage!

“Just a trim and my roots” are six words my long suffering hairdresser has never heard come out of my mouth.

But with the (boring) budget cuts that inevitably come with becoming a parent, I decided to rock my brunette roots for the better part of a year and a half.

But then I was in the supermarket.

And I know home hair dye is cheap, and bad, and basically the devil.

But then I was like …

Montage, montage, montage!

So hopefully my locks don’t explode, or turn into straw, or whatever it is that’s so much worse than salon dye.

(Footnote: I just did some low-level Google research on why, and this is a handy article on it. Making major changes that need some chemistry know-how is the key perpetrator of a botched box dye.)

At home with Kate

The Dye:

I used Firey Topaz by Schwarzkopf (twice).

I wasn’t a hundred percent on the first go of it. It seemed a little lighter at my roots, and a bit more brunette than entirely necessary.

So I did what any woman who’s just watched Aquaman and liked Mira’s hair would do, and I went and bought another box. And I dyed it again.

And this it what we ended up with …

The Result:

Just after doing the second box (it’s lightened since then – yass!).

It’s definitely not as good as when I go to the salon. But it was $20, so like …

And it’s made me feel a bit more like myself.

The Motherhood Sisterhood

It’s easy to find yourself consumed with motherhood – and that’s not entirely a bad thing. That kiddo really needs you.

But you’re important too. Your interests and priorities matter.

You matter.

So to all my mums out there: make sure you’re regularly doing things that give you some energy, and fun.

Things that make you feel good about yourself.

Your tired, compassionate, loving, stretched self more than deserves it.

Kate x

Chapter 14: Lime Scooters

Today was excellent.

The sun was shining. I got to SLEEP IN. Not because my one year old was zzz-chillin’ til 9am. AHAHAHAHAHAHA! No. Definitely not because of that.

But because I’m on summer holiday break with my main man Taka, and he got up with little Z when he decided to take on the day at 6am.

… After being up every two hours last night …

Teething is low-key hell, guys.

And molars are in their own special circle of it.

But anyway, I GOT TO SLEEP IN! And it was majestic. And glorious. And REAL GOOD.

And when I got up, Taka went and got us coffees.

MOOD:

It was best case scenarios all round.

And then, it got BETTER.

Because it was date day.

Date Day

I’d organised for Taka’s parents to take Lil Z for the afternoon, so we could go and see Aquaman.

Side note: Taka has an uncanny resemblance to Jason Momoa, and I am not mad about it.

Exhibit A

Side note deuce: our kid is insanely cute. Fact. Also. Lucky. Because the zero sleep he gives me is no joke.

Side note thrice: did anyone else get strong Hamlet vibes in the Avengers‘ trailer when Tony Stark was talking to his helmet/skull?

… You can take the girl out of the English lecture, but you can’t take the English degree outta the girl …

Anyway, on this beautiful day, we went and sat in the dark to watch a true spectacle of a movie.

It honestly had it all going on.

There was Tron music, Indian Jones style adventures, a Pirates of the Caribbean cracken, Star Wars vibes, beautiful glow in the dark Avatar post-production scenery, a Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and a very Lord of the Rings Mines of Moria monster swarm …

All in all, a kinda silly full-on adventure flick, and I really liked Amber Heard’s red hair and all the New Zealand references (“I was going to cook you some eggs,” from Temuera Morrison was everything).

Just a good, fun time.

And then it got even better.

Cause I got to go on a Lime Scooter.

They see me rollin, hatin

The city I live in recently got Lime Scooters, a pay to play motorised funmobile that you can book out using an app and your credit card.

Basically, you just find them on a street corner, zoom off somewhere, and leave them – wherever – when you’re done.

And they’re

(They’ve had a bit of health and safety backlash with *cough* Baby Boomers injuring themselves on them, but guys … SO MUCH FUN!)

I’ve been wanting to try one for AGES, and today was finally my day.

After the movie we walked to the waterfront in Petone, and found one almost immediately. I downloaded the app, set my socks to rock, and hopped on.

I think my face was like this basically the entire time:

My internal monologue was a sick mashup of Time of my life and Rollin’ by Chamillionaire.

For $4.60 for 11mins of zoomin around, they are the absolute definition of cheap thrills.

The next time I’m feeling down or having a bit of an off day, these scooters are going to the top of my “turn the beat around” self-help strategy list.

(Next to: exercise, lol at Parks and Rec memes on Pinterest, put on some worship music, chat it out with a pal, have a dance party for one to my fave jam, do something nice for someone else, drink coffee, stop thinking and do a task, and have a shower. Whoa, free self-care advice, where did that come from?!)

Lime scooters: 10/10 would recommend.

Have you been on one yet? What did you think of Aquaman?! What do you do to break yourself out of a downward spiral?

Kate x

Chapter 11: Improv

Most of my Thirty Before Thirty goals are ridiculous.

However, today’s is my first seriously ridiculous one.

And it is …

I M P R O V.

What the Improv?

Improv is sort for Improvisation, or Improvisational Theatre, a comedy format where performers make up scenes entirely on the spot.

Think, Key and Peele (“A-a-ron”), Amy Poehler and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, and the entirety of What We Do In The Shadows.

It’s quick thinking comedy, and it’s what I’ve been learning to do for the past eight weeks at BaseJump Improv in Wellington, and on Friday I did my very first proper show.

As an attention-seeker who loves to make people laugh, improv is kind of my dream scenario.

But improv fun and games isn’t just limited to drama queens like me. There’s something for the whole Breakfast Club.

The athlete, the brain, the princess (hi), the basket case and the bad ass all have attributes that lend themselves to improv, and attributes improv can help improve in them.

For instance, the shy smart introvert might have killer wit, but hate being the centre of attention.

Enter: improv, where there is no such thing as failure, and your friends have your back.

Our shy guy gets more confident in himself and comfortable being in front of people, and the performance gets to revel and rofl in his brilliance.

Win win, cough cough, you should sign up.

But back to Friday and

Show Time!

Photo credit: Joel Luscombe

Our improv format is simple, if you know what you’re doing, otherwise it’s wonderfully confusing.

This is the breakdown:

  1. Ask the audience for a word
  2. A performer does a monologue (“That word reminds me of this short, funny/interesting story full of rich details …”) based on that word
  3. Performers do three distinct and seperate scenes taking elements from the original monologue
  4. Performer does a monologue based on one of these scenes
  5. Rinse and repeat.

It’s a damn thrill.

Although, full disclosure, I definitely had a low-grade sore stomach all day in anticipation for taking to the stage.

But as soon as I did my first scene, all of those nerves dissipated and were replaced by stage sweat and joy.

My favourite scene of mine was where I was pretending to be “Sex God Marlon Williams”, who is actually a real person, although heaven knows who. I hope he’s nothing like I played him.

My opening line was to tell my scene partner Will to keep his knickers on.

Real highbrow stuff.

I also loved getting to do a scene with my friend Mamae, who I peer-pressured asked to do the class with me. We were tourists in the South Island discussing why the people there were so very short.

Classic North Island jerks.

Why the Improv?

Improv is something I’ve wanted to try ever since I read Yes, Please by Amy Poehler, but just never got around to doing.

That is, until I started this blog and seized the bloody day and signed up.

And I’m so incredibly, insanely, obnoxiously happy that I did, because improv is bomb.

img_4341

Kate Time

The lovely Amelia.

Not only have I made some great new friends (waves at Erin and Amelia), but I pushed myself to do something new, and different, and scary – and entirely for me.

As a relatively new mum, “me time” isn’t something I have in wild abundance.

Delicious, selfish snatches of the day are generally small and lovely – listening to music as I put my makeup on in the morning, laughing to a podcast on the train, going for a run jog (that one time)…

So having THREE HOURS to myself was so dreamy and self-indulgent.

Especially when it’s an activity where literally the entire point is to have fun and laugh.

How to be Funny

Taught be the endlessly encouraging James and Cailin, BaseJump’s Level 1 class lays out the basics of “how to do the thing” that is improv.

We learnt the flow and format of improvised comedy, how to initiate scenes, the importance of having your partner’s back (“yes – and!”), and importantly, just to let loose and be silly.

It was great. And so fun. And I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself this week now it’s finished …

Netflix Christmas movie?

Probably.

But … Level 2 will be kicking off next year, and you know your girl is an over-achiever, and will most definitely be signing up.

Thank you, Thirty Before Thirty, you have introduced me to a true new love.

What have you always wanted to try. Ps. You should probably do it. You’re probably amazing at it, and would have a disgusting amount of fun.

*Quietly chants, do it, do it …*

Kate x

Disclaimer: it probably goes without saying, but this isn’t some snazzy sponsored post. I just did the course, bloody loved it, and decided to overshare on the internet. Classic Kate.

Although if anyone would like to give me obscene amounts of money and chic freebies to do fun stuff, I’d be totally into that … I do desperately need a cut and colour, and some new Nike Roshes, and I’d love to stay in a yurt … wait, what was the question …?

(All photos from the show are courtesy of Joel Luscombe).