Thank you, and see you at the museum!

Kate Oktay
Kate Oktay
I have been writing this column for three Christmases now. The first Christmas I was delighted. Christmas. What a great topic, that’s an easy two columns. One of them I quite liked, writes Kate Oktay.

Next Christmas, when The Warehouse put up Christmas decorations in October, I walked down the aisle with a glimmer in my eye. Rage-writing is the most enjoyable of all the writing, and for column number two, my family, surely, would provide the rest of the fodder.

The Christmas after that, I wondered what I could possibly add to my already multitudinous seas of festive-season jokes? I scraped something together.

The other day I was thinking about what I could write for this Christmas. I only have one good story left that would allow me to retain my employment. (When I lived in Korea, I asked my friend Ryan if he was going back for Christmas. "Nope", he said in a lazy American accent. "I decided my last Christmas at home was when they made us hold hands around the table and sing Happy Birthday Dear Jesus.")

That’s only a paragraph, I thought to myself.

I have become freakishly good at reducing anecdotes to words. Every time something bad happens to a friend, my ears perk up. "That’s awful", I mutter, while inwardly thinking, "That’s 300 words".

The trouble is I have a very dull life. I work. A lot. And I am a middle-aged woman whose chief joy is staying at home quietly crafting while listening to a podcast; not exactly a hotbed of literary intrigue. So, instead: gardening, check. Cats, check. DIY, check. Making people go to the Macandrew Bay School Art Auction (on November 18, by the way), check. Love letters to Otago Peninsula, and Dunedin, and Otago, check, check, and check.

When I began, people sent me letters "pointing out" my creative grammar. Why have one comma, when three, looks, just as nice? Thankfully, after only a year of excessive hyphenation, I got a job as a content editor in the lowest paid possible sense.

I spent two days panic-learning grammar. And then I ended up reporting to someone who was actually a writer and would have been far better at my job than I could have ever been. It was the Hunger Games of the passive tense.

So, I learned to write, but it didn’t give me a more exciting life to write about. Sure, if you like a rant about the environment, I am your lady. If I could write a column that if I was saying it over dinner people would physically leave the table it would be ace. But I think that is journaling or therapy or something, and nobody wants to read that.

It has been fun. I can’t post anything on social media without minor social anxiety, but in this column I happily share my idiocy with the world. Or at least Otago. Like the low point in my diet when I cracked and shame-ate nachos in bed while my husband tried to sleep beside me, or the time I went to a black-tie event wearing a coat as a dress, like a flasher.

And I have really, really enjoyed seeing just how much PR I can sneak in for the museum (Otago Museum, the museum that has the dawn Matariki event with a free breakfast on this Sunday, that museum. The good one.)

I will miss it I am sure. And knowing that I am a part (albeit a tiny one) of the best paper in the country felt good.

Also, throwing my husband under the bus when he has made me cross has been a remarkable instrument in my marital tool box. If you can threaten a life partner with ranting about them in the newspaper every time they annoy you, the results speak for themselves. Like an electric-shock collar. While perhaps not nice, it is extremely effective.

But, my life is dull. And I literally have written about every thought I have ever had, every joke I know, and every festive fight I have ever started.

So, it’s goodbye and thanks for all the fish, Otago. See you at the museum. You know which one.

 - Kate Oktay

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