Wednesday, 28 December 2016

[ humans ]


A while back, I realised a dog in the neighbourhood was barking a little more often than usual. This must have been four months or so ago now.

While we were in the kitchen one night a few weeks back, Mum bought it to my attention again. She said the dog had been barking on and off for hours, and did this more than half the week. I was astounded. I hadn't heard it in a while. I heard our occasionally noisy neighbours, a little traffic, maybe a plane, and the feral kids in the front terrace, but that was about it.

Except it wasn't; I flipped through my exceptional mental file, cross-referencing nights I'd gone to sleep late, been home early, or otherwise spent significant time at home, and discovered she was right.

Long story short, this poor dog was barking itself hoarse. I did some detective work and found out where it was, wrote a letter (a polite one. Not my usual MO, but I'm trying my second instincts these days ok?), and found out from the owner the dog has dementia, which has been progressively worsening. We've been chatting, and hopefully he can come up with a solution. The little furball really is suffering, and this can't go on.

Anyway, getting to the point; I didn't really hear the dog until Mum, bought it to my attention again.

Except, as I said, I had heard it. I'd just filtered it out. Why? Because it wasn't a human noise. It was a predictable noise in my personal universe, so it got relegated to the back of my mind, where all the other subordinate worries live.

***

It wasn't a human noise...

I've been thinking about that a lot lately. About the things I gloss over, file into various compartments in my head, or generally only pay attention to when they are in direct proximity (planes, traffic, distressed dogs).

Recognising that I had been ignoring an animal in pain makes me feel like a shitty person. To be fair however; I honestly don't think I noted how much it was suffering until I applied myself to the observation, and when it became apparent, I did something about it. Small consolation, but at least I recognised it eventually. 

After that, I came to another revelation; humans are a primary focal point when I'm in my comfort zone. I don't mean the familiar ones, like family or close friends, people who are around me all the time.

I mean strangers; my nearest neighbours, people walking in the street, others driving cars. I treat them like threats, hazards to be assessed and addressed or avoided.

And it isn't even really about being afraid, or fear exactly. It seems to be purely about what my primary objective and focus is at any given time. And, startlingly, I think my brain thinks humans fuck that up.

Humans saturate my daily routine, the things I do to get going. I get up, stumble downstairs and make coffee, usually without even really thinking about it, functioning on auto-pilot. But I'm listening the whole time; letting all the noises of the world filter into my consciousness, letting them start to colour in my day.

It's interesting to judge the differences between how a day pans out with gentle background sounds like showers and birds and light traffic, to how it sounds with people yelling over fences or heckling each other from cars.

One eases you into regularity like slipping into a warm bath, while the other shocks you like a slap. Both set the tone for the next 12 to 16 hours, and it's hard to escape the initial impression you get on gaining consciousness to the world each day...

***

A good friend recently moved from King Street, Newtown to the Blue Mountains. A bigger difference I can't quite imagine right now. 

After years and years on a main road, with everything from traffic and lights to drunken idiots, protest marches, and festivals, the bush really is a world away from the hippie little borough-like town I still call home. 

He tells us all that it is as amazing as we think; peaceful, idyllic, quiet. 

And that's the thing that I keep thinking about, keep asking about. The quiet. The absence of consistent human noise. The drumming, heart-beating, steady thudding of the human race. 

He assures me it really isn't there. Of course there are people, and of course there is noise. But it's background, like animals and nature and weather. You hear it, but it blends in, unassuming, unobtrusive, almost natural. 

I wonder what it would take for me to know that feeling. Would moving to somewhere quieter, more remote, do the job? Or would I still hear the humans, but without the distraction of all the extraneous elements that usually come with them?

***

A long while back I talked about procrastination. We use it to escape, to think, to avoid entirely. I won't revisit it entirely, but I will say this; humans are one of the best focus for procrastination ever. 

Humans, obviously, having their own personalities, their own ideas and agendas, are unknown quantities at the best of times. You can walk into any situation and never really know what the outcome will be. You can guess, sure, but nothing is ever that simple. 

This is why the opposite also seems true when assessing surroundings; humans can pull you into another universe completely and you don't even have to leave your loungeroom, let alone your town, to make that happen.

If you want to find a way to get out of your head, pick a human, any random human, and make contact. If nothing else surprises you in this life, they certainly will. 

For me, it's much the same. I may want quiet and stillness, but the fastest way to avoid doing anything is merely 164 characters away. Sometimes not even that. 

***

We were eventually going to get to my point, I promise. 

Sitting here, drinking more coffee, listening to what sounds like a fucking army of cicadas go completely operatic, and what I think may be some semi-decent, classical piano music four or five doors over, I hear every single movement I make like a thunderclap. 

The keyboard clicks sound like I'm assaulting my laptop, and I appear to be slurping my coffee like a bad sketch comedy. Even running my fingers through my hair vibrates vaguely like waves crashing. 

In a world full of bigger things, a universe teeming with life, noises so vast our senses cannot even comprehend them, I'm trying to figure something out about the species I occasionally call myself a member of...

Do I want to hear every single clamour we make, every utterance these bodies can produce, the sounds beating against me like buffeting winds? 

Or, being that we really could all just use 5 minutes that weren't about us for once; do I just want us all to shut the fuck up? 

Something to ponder today, wherever you are, whatever the decibel level is. Enjoy, whatever option you choose...

~*LTM*~

























Thursday, 22 December 2016

[ Trigger Warning ]


Yesterday, I started reading Neil Gaiman's collection of short stories of the same name as this piece. As yet, I haven't made it past the introduction, which is unusual for me, as I generally power through the beginning and settle as the story gets going. I keep re-reading it and finding something new.

I'm so very taken with the title and with Gaiman's explanation of it. I've known what a trigger warning is - as well as actual triggers - for a long time, but the eloquence of his prose has struck a chord. 

Somehow that chord was like a Tibetan singing bowl ringing inside me, and fully formed, but all in shadows, this piece came to me. It has tentacles and sits patiently waiting for me to acknowledge it. 

Here we go...

***

New Years' Resolutions aren't really for me. I have nothing against them as such, I just personally find anything I want to make a promise to, a commitment for the future, can be started any time. 

Deciding to start it at the end of the calendar year only lets me off the hook in the present, and gives me way too much time to be lazy and think my way out of it. I may still pick a new day or even week to start something, but waiting until a set date isn't overly conducive to making me compliant.

This year is a little different. This year I've spent a lot of time on something worth making the coming year about, something I've already set my whole heart on, something worth committing 365 days to.

Something worth committing a lifetime to.

***

Back to the Trigger Warning. Usually this refers to distressing content, and is a warning - a brace option, if you will - to prepare for something likely unpleasant, but certainly content that will take you out of your comfort zone. 

Like Gaiman, I agree that though upsetting, things that trigger you teach you things. Each new one, or even revisiting old ones, forms the borders of your comfort zone. It makes you think, it makes you change, it makes you grow.

He refers more to reading fiction than anything else, but I think that this can be applied to so very many things, and serves as a great lesson in this life.

I've spent a year preparing myself, unknowingly giving myself a personal trigger warning that what was to come would be distressing, it would be hard, and it may very well be unpleasant.

It was. It is. But it's not all awful and it leads to my biggest life lesson yet, and to great joy.

Now, more than ever, I'm ready for the details. I'm ready for the actual show to begin.

I'm ready for a little life, a mini faerie, to turn my world upside down.

***
 

For this reason, here's my New Years' Resolution; I'm changing the masks I wear. We can never really take them off, that's just our nature, the fundamental essence of our being. 

But my goal, my deepest hearts' desire, is so close now that I can taste it. I can feel it in the base of my spine. I can hear it beating like a drum - or a heartbeat. 

And I can't hide it anymore. I can't wear that particular mask anymore, the one where I pretend this isn't something I need like I need to breathe. 

So I'll still be here, still be me. But more me than you've ever seen before. And this me is the warrior I sometimes try to hide. I don't know why I hid her before, but it doesn't matter any longer, because she's here to stay now. 

And she means to fight for her destiny. Whatever it takes. 

***

The trigger warning didn't give me much in preparation for what was to come. But it gave me chances. Enough moments to think and change and grow. 

This then, is my trigger warning to the universe. You revealed this path and I took it. I'm committed. More than I think we all thought I would be. 

So. Let's dance...

~*LTM*~












































Thursday, 15 December 2016

[ the tinder experiment ]


We knew this was going to happen eventually. So without further ado, I present for your amusement; The Tinder Experiment...

***

Firstly, a little background. I'm a cautious person by nature, so I make sure I'm not cavalier with my safety. I don't give out my number straight off, I don't tell people where I live, and first meetings take place in PUBLIC PLACES, where at least 3 people KNOW WHERE I AM. 

That being said, of the half a dozen times I've ever tried Tinder, it's been from boredom. Seriously. I must have the attention span of a squirrel and the patience of a matchstick when it comes to meeting new people at times.

Oh, I'm not meeting anyone new, I groan (it's been 3 weeks, calm down). 

I keep seeing the same people all the time, I whine (bullshit; there are nearly 6 million people in Sydney alone. Shut. Up.).

How do I meet attractive people already?! (are you fucking kidding me? You stalked the last one around a bookstore until he asked for your phone number. It's not rocket science). 

So, basically, boredom. 

Which is interesting really, as I have a saturation point of two weeks, tops, when it comes to actually being on Tinder. It's almost like a few weeks of not getting stupid pick up lines, making dull small talk, and generally trying to be witty with random strangers can only be entertaining for so long. Who knew?

 ***

The difference this time is I really am here for the (comedy) social experiment. My last dating foray ended with gentle abruptness due to a rookie mistake on my part, which I'm totally fine with (read = it was clearly him, not me). So what I want to do is see if I can shake things up a little all over the shop, and see what falls out.

My profile now has a jaunty xmas slant, and invites potentials to argue if Die Hard is a xmas movie or not (that's rhetorical by the way). 

I know; epic disaster, right? It's going to be awesome!

***

Let's start with the analysis of Tinder talent. I'm not dumping all the blame on the lads here, but the ladies definitely try harder. I'd like to be able to say definitively why, but it's really unclear. Are we just better at putting ourselves out there, or do guys really not know what they look like in selfies? Anyway...

My first question is this; which one is you buddy? If every photo has you and four mates - and I think your mate is hotter than you - we're in trouble already. Without fail, every second man's photos are 90% him and his crew. Sooo...can you introduce me to the hot ginger with the washboard abs and aviators? No? Really? 

Initially, I thought everyone who told me this was in one some conspiracy to mess with my head, but no, there's hundreds of them... So my question is this; where the actual fuck do you find all these tigers? Seriously, is there a theme park called Tinder Island specifically for idiots to take photos with them? Do the tigers sign a waiver saying they are ok being online with some tool trying to pick up? I'm just curious ok. If we find that they are, in fact, not endangered, just hiding, I for one won't be surprised.

On a promising note, there are nowhere near as many dick picks and boob shots as expected - thank gods really. But seriously, do those of you just putting up torso shots really think people are only interested in the equipment? You know you actually have to talk to people first, right? However briefly? This isn't an escort agency, and even they have a meet and greet protocol. 

Ok, so we can't all be Annie Leibovitz, but I am deeply concerned by the total lack of ability some of you show in this department. We've had smart phones for what, nearly 20 years?, and half of you can't seem to take one decent headshot.

They are alternately fuzzed out, you're making appalling faces (are you in pain? confused by the flash? constipated? ), the lighting obscures you entirely, or it's just a really rubbish picture (no, no, please - show me another photo of you at an awkward moment, that mouth-hanging-open-like-a-zombie is sooo sexy)...

And on that note, what's with all the party shots? Or the live-action shots? In an unbelievable turn of events, you getting hammered at a dance party with 500 of your nearest and dearest gives me absolutely no clue as to what you look like front on. Only when off chops. So. Hawt. Obvi.

And the endless photos of you at the snow? Sure, because what's sexier than trying to see someone's face through six layers, reflective surfaces, and goggles? I totally want to hook up with someone who looks like they are in HAZMAT gear or are the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

For the last time; no, I don't like rock climbing. I am deeply ambivalent about long hikes in the bush (two words; insects and serialkillers). And no, I can't surf, and have zero desire to learn (haven't you seen Jaws?!).

Dear gods no, I do not want to go to the gym with you. I'd rather shove tabasco-laced razorblades under my fingernails. If I want a training session, I have a PT brother and a galpal with washboard abs to torture me at their well-trained leisure, and your efforts will be nothing in comparison.

Besides, I do not need gym equipment to assist me in making a fool of myself; I'm quite capable of that in everyday environments.

Moving on.

***

In an effort to get a decent sized focus group, I'm chatting to pretty much every one I 'match' with.

One of the girls at work (tall, leggy, 26 - just for context) is on there as well and doing the opposite. She says no one is talking to her and I tried pointing out that the issue may be lack of communication on her part, but she's having none of it.

Here's the thing; I'm treating Tinder like a game, and I plan to win. Like any game, you figure out what the goal is and go about getting that in the most direct route possible.

For those smartasses about to tell me that everyone knows the ultimate goal of Tinder, y'all can pipe down. That's the easy goal. I'm after the real prize.

Remember how I said my profile had a jaunty xmas twist? Now we get to the fun part. In true Bridget Jones tradition, I want people to dress in dodgy festive wear. I want pictures of puppies, I want to eat ham, and I want to sing xmas carols.

And I want to convince other people they want to do the same. Brilliant, isn't it? Ingenious, right?

And yes, just a wee bit creepy. Told this was going to be an epic disaster...


Bring it on


~*LTM*~








































Sunday, 4 December 2016

[ geek girl looking for nerdy supernatural ]


Dating has changed rather a lot since I was younger. There were rules and etiquette, things you had to do and things you absolutely did not do, as well as a long list of things to tick off as you went along.

Refreshingly, it's somewhat more build-your-own-adventure these days, and I'm quite taken with the idea that you can make things up as you go along.

However, dating is still weird, and I spend a reasonable amount of time being confused or rolling my eyes. So I've decided to put it out in the universe what I'm looking for and see how that pans out.

Obviously, hilarity will ensue. Let's not kid ourselves, I'm just Bridget Jones with better clothes, better hair, and more sarcasm. What could possibly go wrong?

***

Straight up, potential suitors, you should know the benefits of dating me. Because there are so very many. Of course. 

All meals can be shared. I eat seven times a day and portion sizes are out of control. I appreciate the idea of a burger as big as my head as much as the next person, but my ability to finish it is severely compromised by my size. 

So you will get to eat pretty much twice as much as usual, and never have to decide between dishes on a menu. Win-win right? 

Just so we are clear, however, please feed me first when it comes to dessert. Much like a small child, I will want to taste everything, even if I tell you I don't want to. Especially if I tell you I don't want to.

***

For such a complicated woman, I'm generally easily pleased.We all like high culture and being tossers over wine and opera and who knows the most about method acting (Me. Trust me, it's me).  

But, you know what's really nice? Sunny days, bad movies, too much ice cream, long drives and singing along to CD's. Super chilli hot laksas, texting each other stupid pictures or videos we found on the internet, debating conspiracy theories, trying to figure out where the water actually needs to go in my car (seriously though, can anyone help me with that...?).

Basically, I do need to be entertained, but I'm not high maintenance. Spend 75% of the time dangling shiny things in front of me, and the other 25% with tricky puzzles that will keep me occupied while you get some real work done. It's not rocket science.

Yup, you've got it; treat me like overly smart kitten and you're sorted.

***

I have a bunch of special skills and a bunch of trivial skills, both of which you will find alternately useful, frustrating and amusing.

My memory is exceptional. And I don't mean the usual fair-to-decent, I mean the razor-sharp-with-fangs kind. Admittedly, I can't always recall what I had for breakfast yesterday (there was coffee ok? Everything else is ancillary), but I can remember in vivid specifics the clothes you wore last month to your work conference.

I know where you left you car keys, reading book, glasses and passport. I know your brothers' birthday, your mothers' favourite colour, and that restaurant you went to one time 5 years ago and had the best dumplings ever.

Undoubtedly, you will discover my total recall borders on creepy and more than a little OCD (which I actually have), but the pros far outweigh the cons. It's not 100% failproof (how boring would that be?!), and when it comes to trying to remember what time we were meant to be at your sisters' baby shower and what we were meant to bring (Something with ducks. Don't ask.), you'll thank me. Over and over again.

***

I'm not a big fan of surprises (note; not spoilers, as this is a different thing entirely), so you won't constantly need to think of new and extravagant ways to impress me. Don't mistake me here, I love surprise chocolates (but a pint of Haagen Dazs will do as well, just quietly), flowers or random CD's of music, but big things kind of freak me out.

A weekend away to Queensland? Why? So I can get sunburnt, drink too much, die of boredom and see munchkins get off chops? No.

A Harbour Bridge Climb for us and your mates on a Sunday afternoon? Sure, because I totally love the idea of being in a confined space, harnessed to other people, with no ability to escape or get drunk. No. Hell, no.

Dinner on the beach at sunset with bocce and a bottle of Verve? Maybe some mutually agreed upon mischief after dark?

Why yes, that's my kind of surprise.

And in a total contradictory turn of events, I adore organising surprises, so don't feel like you would miss out. Another win, right?

***

The Notebook is not my favourite movie. It was lovely and romantic and all that, but my idea of romance is a little different. I may watch stuff like that if it's on, but I promise not to make you watch it or expect you to like it.

My favourite movie is Deadpool. Followed closely by Hot Fuzz. I do still occasionally like having my heart ripped out by classics like City of Angels, but I don't really do weepy girlie flicks where I'll cry into your shoulder and get snot on your favourite shirt.

Except Winters Tale. But I can only watch that once every few years. Book a work trip when that time comes around. 

***

I'm not obsessed with shopping. I do enjoy buying fun things, but it's not a special pastime. And to be honest, I'd rather you didn't come with me. I like bargains, so when I'm out I'm pretty focused. 

I don't want to spend 40 minutes debating if the colour mustard looks good on me (it doesn't), or if those towels would look good in your bathroom (who cares?). Unless you're my mother, the bride whom I'm bridesmaid to, or we have won lotto, you can breathe a sigh of relief and cross this firmly and happily off your companion-y duties. 

***

Barring Carrie-like dousings in public places, I don't do embarrassment or squeamishness. I barely do mildly awkward. 

Your messy bedroom will not worry me, your ripped pants will not offend. As long as you have made a genuine effort, I'm happy. I like horror movies, so forgotten moldy fruit in your kitchen is not going to make me squeal in disgust. 

It's generally preferred you don't get so off your face that I have to hold your hair back as you chuck your guts up, but a) it's not the worst thing you could do, and b) I don't drink that much any more, so you'll be delighted someone was there to do the holding of said hair. 

***

Being in my thirties means I have my own money, my own things, my own life.  

I like attention, but I don't need to know where you are every hour of everyday. Because of the uber memory, I already know you're at basketball training, so I really don't need you to check in like I'm some clingy, needy girlfriend. 

And while it's super lovely of you to offer to pay for things when we go out, I have my own money, so we can to go Dutch pretty much all the time. That being said, if you earn twice what I do, feel free to splurge on whatever you like. I will enjoy you enjoying it, and therefore we both get a kick out of it.

Please spend extra funds on cake. Just putting it out there. 

***

I am funny as hell. And so are you - we won't be dating otherwise. Nothing is sexier than someone who can make me laugh, and I like to think I have that quality too. Unfortunately, some of things things I do border the line between amusing and silly, but you'll get used to it and even start to enjoy it. 

If it's funny, I'll laugh and you totally can too. I'm not one of those girls who takes everything seriously, and gets worked up over what someone said to me at a party 5 months ago about her best friend's cousins wedding dress and how we should all be offended (kill me).

Honestly. Life is hard. Let's get cheeky and have a chuckle. 

***

Last but not least, I'm dynamic, flexible, and have a fluid learning curve. And yes, you can take that both literally and figuratively. 

I spent my teens and twenties being highly strung, sussing out who I really was, and largely getting comfortable in my own skin. There are still interesting things I find out about myself, but on the whole I'm confident in who and what I am. 

Which means I'll try anything once. Twice if I'm not sure if I liked it the first time. Trapeze classes in Mudgee? You're on. Blindfolded ice skating? Sounds dangerous; let's do it! Japanese cooking classes - in Japanese? Let's give it a whirl. 

Except for bungee jumping and eating cockroaches, you'll be hard pressed to suggest something I haven't at least considered. And if you like either of those, move it right along. 

***

The above is by no means exhaustive and should be considered guidelines only (you know, like the Pirate Code).

I'm total girlfriend material and come with lots of added extras, so this will hopefully be a snap, right?

If Madam or Monsieur Charming were wondering where I was, it was here; in Sydney, drinking too much coffee and trying not to walk into things.

Come find me. And bring something shiny ;)

~*LTM*~

























































Thursday, 1 December 2016

[ xmas party etiquette ]


Tomorrow is my work xmas party. It's a lunch affair; I picked the venue, the menu, wrote the trivia, and the boss even put my name all over the 'fun police' email that he has to send out every year (sneaky bugger).

I'm really quite excited by the whole thing because I've had such a major role in organising it, and the boss is totally psyched as well. I've already got heaps of kudos for doing so, and it's nice to think everyone is looking forward to a good time somewhere lovely.

I plan on getting a little loose but mainly keeping it together to make sure everyone else has fun - then quietly slinking out half an hour before cut off. It's what has been coined my 'Houdini act' at social events for quite a few years now, and has saved my cheeky ass more times than I can count.

On that note...this is where we all need to be reminding ourselves of the golden rules around work functions. You know the ones; things we should honestly know by now, but somehow fly out the window when faced with an open bar and bright lights.

Let's review, shall we...

***

Do not get drunk
This is a given and top of the list for a reason. Please tell me we all know this? No one wants to see you stumbling around into furniture like a newborn foal. This is not Club Med and you can't hold your liquor like it is anymore. Also, showing your tits to the person who does your annual review is not appropriate. It's just not.
Have two drinks, then switch to juice and soda (sans spirits); you'll still look like you're having a good time and you'll be able to keep a leash on your bad behaviour.

Dress appropriately
The work xmas party is not the time to crack out the mini that you (read = your rack) can barely stay in, or those skinny pants the guy at the menswear store said make your ass look fabulous (they might, but they're also cutting off your circulation and your ability to breed has dropped by 50%).
Wear something bright and festive (no, not tinsel-as-clothes), like a good party dress, decent jeans, a fun shirt. Make it look like you put more effort in than normal. People like that.

Pig Out
Xmas party directly translates to free food, as well as booze. As you'll need some way to overindulge while restricting your alcohol intake, go for the buffet like a Biggest Loser contestant the day before filming starts. You've earned this and will be working it off over January anyway. And yes, hit the pudding tray. Hit it hard. Just save some of those teeny double chocolate pudding truffles for me. They are so fucking good.

Choose your plus one wisely
Unless your mother is the ultimate wing-woman like mine, do not make family or loved ones suffer through this with you. They don't know anyone, they also have to behave themselves, and they couldn't care less about your office in-jokes (which aren't funny to anyone else ever).
Fancy food and an open bar isn't high enough payment for putting up with Jeff from Accounts' hour-long spiel on how investment rates for the coming year are progressing.


Schmooze with the spouses
Here's a little secret to work functions; you don't need to brown-nose your boss, you need to get cosy with their significant other. Sucking up to the big guns is so transparent and everyone will see it straight off. The boss already knows your strengths and weaknesses, but if their other half can't shut up about how sweet, intelligent, charming and funny you are all the way home, you're going to go up in their estimation. And you only had to work it for a few hours over free food. You're welcome.

Talk shop or talk shit
Unquestionably, there is a fine line here. Spending half your time crunching budget numbers with aforementioned Jeff is going to do nothing for your ability to limit your alcohol intake, and also makes you boring as hell. After that, no else will want to talk to you either.
Conversely, now is definitively not the time to reel off that hilarious story about the time you and your best mate got off chops and broke into the neighbours' pool, naked, and vomited all over their lawn. Results will be the same.

Yours truly has a tried-and-true method; in my head are two lists. One green and one red (I know, festive right?!). The former is full of cool stuff I can discuss at social events with people I have next to nothing in common with, and am only spending time by obligation, be it enjoyably. Books, movies, holiday destinations, weird food I've tried. Fun, safe stuff.
The latter, on the other hand, is full of things that should only crop up with those of shared history, mutual bad behaviour, and no chance of having to look them in the eye over a boardroom table. Above stories, sexual exploits, what you actually think of Jeff from Accounts, what you actually think of your boss (from loathing to crushing - Don't. Fucking. Mention. It.), politics, religion.

Should one find oneself coming to the bottom of the green list - and veering dangerously close to anything on the red list - abort immediately. A headache, a heel snapped, a family commitment, anything. Unless you want to suffer through the indignity of no-one being able to meet your eye for 3 months (you told the nipple-shaped mole story, didn't you?!), run like you've been told you're getting the bar tab.

Social media
We've talked about this before and we'll talk about it again; in social situations, social media is not your friend. Double that for work functions.
This isn't like getting drunk in a bar and stalking your ex on Facebook. This is the one where you all take photos of each other and some bright spark uploads it without asking anyone's permission.
Do not be the tool in a disciplinary hearing explaining why the photo of Betty from IT dancing on a tabletop has somehow made it onto SBS Comedy's 'best and worst of xmas' page.

Leave before merry turns messy
Know when to call it. Be this because you're at risk of making a fool of yourself or someone else is, figure out when is a good time to call it quits and go.
If you can see that the new IT guy has taken your friendly banter as more like flirting, it's time to go. If the conversation between you and your boss has dwindled and you've resorted to work topics, it's time to go.
If you can't instantly locate your coat, bag, shoes, or remember the name of the venue, it's time to go. Now.

Last but not least, have fun! This is still supposed to be a time to let your hair down, so don't be as up-tight as you are at work.

Enjoy ;)

~*LTM*~