a little east of reality

Thursday, June 30, 2005

What's this 'M' doing here?

Today we cease to be the ACA and become ACMA...Australian Communications and Media Authority. The farewell lunch was great. Good people, good food (plain, but fresh and nicely cooked) and good music. That's what a party needs, and we had all three.

Neo was our DJ. He looked like he was having superfun playing with all the DJ toys. I wanted to watch for a while to see how it all works, but I didn't want to hang at the DJ booth like a groupie. ^_^ I never get much time to talk with Neo since he got the new job. It's disappointing in that inevitable way. Maybe I'll grab him for a coffee sometime.

Anyway, the party was good - happy atmosphere and a fitting send-off for our now defunct workplace. Of course tomorrow it will seem like nothing's changed except for the emails. I swear the world could blow up and someone would be sending emails out about it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

training daze, feeling the force, and arty types

Monday through Thursday this week I've got a training course in policy formulation and advice. I thought it would be of the 'boring but useful' ilk, but the teacher got us straight into a policy project that we've continued throughout the course as we learned each new concept, so it is interesting after all. I think it always is more interesting when you can not just learn ideas but also have a context to put them in. That said, the projects are really full-on - very difficult. I'm learning for sure, but going home very tired each night.

The course is all the way over the other side of the city, so on the way home I dropped into Canty's. I talked economic theory with Skywalker and a girl who also works there...she's studying it even though she's not actually too keen on the topic. As always I drove away smiling over SW. I'm not smitten - I don't know him well enough for that. But he does make me smile.

Tonight I dropped into the last night of an art class that I'm planning to take next term. I was just dropping in quickly to check it out, so I didn't expect to really meet anyone. But I caught them on a break and chatted with the entire class, most of whom plan to be back next time around. It was such a comfortable atmosphere and the class had nice things to say about the teacher when I asked them secretly what he was like. Now I'm really looking forward to it.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

flickr fun

hair salon Ctat3OSneon HA, Seattle
Yes, this is what I'm doing at 2.07am.

Wanna do yours??

EDIT: Okay, can anybody a bit more html/blogger savvy than me explain why in the 'compose' window the letters read across left to right, and if I click 'preview' they read across left to right, but when I publish the post, they appear down the page??? It's done this before with other pics, too. Very frustrating.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

adventures in plumbing

Instructions on how to change a leaky tap washer at chosha's house:

1. Look up method for changing washers on the internet. Reassure yourself that everyone says this is an easy job that anyone can do.

2. Note which tools you need, but don't own. In today's example, we'll use a 'shifting spanner'.

3. Warn all residents of same block that you are about to turn their water off...then ask if they have any idea where the tap for the water mains is located. (They will have no idea.)

4. Phone the owner of the property. (She will also have no idea.)

5. Phone the water company. (They will give you the following vague but helpful advice: locate the water meter...the tap is somewhere within half a metre of the meter, usually positioned lower and towards the street, and can be located by following the lay of the pipe.)

6. Go outside and realise that the meter being at ground level means that the tap is underground.

7. Contemplate getting a shovel and digging around until your flatmate discovers a small metal trapdoor near the meter, which opens to reveal a long spooky looking pipe.

8. When said flatmate proclaims loudly that he is "so not putting his arm down that pipe to look for the tap" give him a look of mute appeal that makes it clear you are playing the girlie card.

9. Deeply appreciate the fact that he is letting you play the girlie card, even though he is actually as scared of spiders as you are.

10. Continue to play this card even after (especially after!!) a spider does in fact crawl onto his arm during the process of finding the tap at the bottom of the spooky pipe.

11. Once the water is off, drive to the hardware store to buy washers and a shifting spanner. Assuming all household kitchen taps are the same, don't think to take the tap with you. That would make things too easy for the hardware store employee assisting you, and we all need challenges in our lives.

12. Go home. Undo things, replace things, redo things, test things, adjust things. Feel as accomplished as if you'd just discovered a cure for the common cold.

13. Decide to do the other tap while you're there because you have a spare washer, and because you're j.u.s.t. .s.o. .d.a.m.n. .g.o.o.d. .a.t. .t.h.i.s.

14. Thank the heavens above that the boy is willing to put his arm back down the spooky pipe in order to turn the water back on. Plan to make lasagne soon because he likes it.

15. Explain to the other residents where the tap is located just in case there's a flooding emergency one day and you are not home.

16. Reward yourself with Indian food and a vampire movie.

Friday, June 24, 2005

the archibald prize & travelling with the boss

I was back in Sydney today, but not on holiday. This was suit & briefcase stuff. We were seeing Optus, a major telco, to get their input on a new policy we may be implementing over the next couple of years. The meeting didn't worry me. I knew that this was a learning experience for me and that I was not expected to say very much. I'd also dealt with one of the Optus guys on a seperate project, so I felt like I had a friend in the other camp. The meeting went very well, and I did contribute a couple of times, so snaps to me and all.

It was a little more daunting to be travelling interstate with my immediate boss, MsPlum and her boss, our group manager, The Scot. They are not only people who control the work I have access to, but they are also both wealthy, intellectual types. You know the kind of people who will read a book that's won the Booker prize in preference to a more populist Pulitzer winner? (Hmmm...is that an example of British snobbery...the Pulitzer being American and the Booker of the Commonwealth?) I can hold my own with people like that, but it bores me to do so. I did not today have the luxury of looking bored. Of course that sounds like I don't like them, and I do quite like them both. It's just the highbrow culture thing that gets tedious.

Luckily they redeemed themselves in a couple of ways:
One was the suggestion, when we got a call to say our flight was being delayed, to visit the art gallery where the entries for the Archibald prize were being displayed. Yes, yes, typical highbrow suggestion, but who cares? Art is art and I love good art, partially because I have little talent at creating it. But I digress.
The exhibition was wonderful. The winner, sadly was not. The Archibald is a prize given for a portrait painting. There were some fantastically true-to-life paintings, and some very interesting more representative or impressionist pieces. The winner was the piece of unarticulated, could-have-been-drawn-by-a-child-who-really-likes-brown piece of crap to the left.

I have two criteria for judging good art. I don't know all of the 'rules' but I know what works for me. One is the use of light. In fact that is probably the most important thing for me in deciding on artwork to buy for my own walls. The second thing is that it has to speak to the viewer in some way. There has to be something that makes you want to look at it and holds your interest. It's a bit hard to define what that is in general terms - it's different for each work - but it gives me the feeling that something the artist wanted to convey has been conveyed. Sometimes I even feel like something the artist didn't plan to convey has been conveyed. Good art ellicits some kind of response, just like good music does.

I had literally no reaction to this piece. It was so non-descript and unappealing that I actually walked past it without seeing it. It wasn't until I mentioned that I hadn't noticed which painting won and someone pointed it out to me that I realised I had carefully looked at the paintings to its left and right, and completely missed the crappy brown excuse for a painting in the middle. I left the gallery glad to have seen so many amazing paintings, but with one thought recurring again and again:
What were the judges thinking?
The second way my bosses made me smile today was by telling me 'upgrade' stories. The Scot once even got to fly around the world first class because of work tussle with the union (complicated story, but the point is that he travelled around the globe first class at no expense to himself...sweeeet!!). The point is that they lost all of their cultured air at this point. Getting upgraded to first class, finding yourself there unexpectedly, is enough to make anyone get that rapt look children have when they rush out on Christmas morning to find that presents have mysteriously 'appeared' under the tree.

They also invited me into the Qantas Club lounge to eat a free lunch on cushy sofas, a comfort I appreciated when our flight home was delayed by more than two hours. Sometimes highbrow has its benefits. ^_^

Thursday, June 23, 2005


I'm not too much in the habit of creating a post just by writing, 'hey, here's something really great someone else wrote', but today I've done it twice.

This post is from Waiter Rant. This blog is a good read any day of the week, but this post is beyond good. And the timing was perfect.

This morning I dropped my car off to have the heater fixed. I had planned to catch the bus to work, but it was cold and I decided to get a taxi. It took me 40min to get through to our one cab company (my mobile phone battery dying at some point, sending me in search of a public phone) and then another hour for a cab to actually show up. Halfway through that waiting time, it started to rain. Predictably, I had no umbrella. Just when I was getting ready to walk back down to the bus stop to catch the next bus, the cab arrived. I was so pissed off. I arrived at work cold and miserable and in a bad mood.

Until lunchtime when I read the linked post on Waiter Rant. Instant paradigm shift. I got to the end and realised that all my tension was gone. It was just time...just a little rain...just waiting. No big deal. No-one lived or died over it. Nothing important was lost. There are bigger things in life.

file formats & lost memories

Being a person who's into photo journalling (and with all the love of original photos, acid free mediums and archive quality paper that entails) I was interested to read this post from mjp. I've quoted quite a bit of it below:
We are increasingly relying on digital methods to produce and store many of the things we create, and that is a frightening prospect. ever try to open a 20 year old computer program on a modern computer? what's that, you don't have a 5.25 floppy drive? neither do i. neither does anyone else you know. and if they do, odds are you can't connect it to your powerbook. and even if you did manage to hook it up, it would probably be broken. in 100 years what will our contemporary history consist of? a few years of hard (or futuristic organic plasma) drive backups?

visionaries recognized very quickly that computers would change everything, but i don't think anyone expected such dramatic shifts in the way we create music, art, photography, printed materials --- everything. whether these bit-based creations are as 'good' as traditional creations isn't the point. what we are not-so-gradually losing is not only craftsmanship, but something much worse; our collective memory.
It's a bit of a tangent, I know, but it made me think of Orwell's 1984. If information is power, he who controls the information holds the power. If our memories have a limited shelf life, what does that say for our history? From 1984, a description of the work of the Records Dept in the Ministry of Truth, for which the main character, Winston, works:
...if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth.'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls
the present controls the past.'
Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which
conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.
I know that the history we have is largely an interpretation of history as someone recorded it, but documents, pictures, artefacts, and other evidence have helped us to decipher the interpretations and grasp at least some of the facts. If our factual documents are lost, what kind of history will we rewrite? More importantly, who will do the writing?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

pétale de temps - cool photoblog

If you are into nature shots, check out Camille's free photoblog, pétale de temps. (NB: The site doesn't like IE too much, but I viewed it with Mozilla and had no problems.)

Most of his shots are nature close-ups in vivid, gorgeous colours, though there are also black and white photos. I love taking pictures like this, but with my camera I can never get close enough. However Camille has captured not only close shots but lovely moments: raindrops, insects alighting, that kind of thing. There are also some landscapes and sky shots. (I'll have to recommend that he check out sky-cafe.)

Best of all, the photos are under a copyright that allows you to copy, distribute and modify them for your own personal use, as long as that use is free. Enjoy! ^_^

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


100 Years (Five For Fighting)

I'm 15 for a moment
Caught in between 10 and 20
And I'm just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are

I'm 22 for a moment
She feels better than ever
And we're on fire
Making our way back from Mars

15 there's still time for you
Time to buy and time to lose
15, there's never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live

I'm 33 for a moment
Still the man, but you see
I'm a they
A kid on the way
A family on my mind

I'm 45 for a moment
The sea is high
And I'm heading into a crisis
Chasing the years of my life

15 there's still time for you
Time to buy, and time to lose yourself
Within a morning star
15 I'm all right with you
15, there's never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live

Half time goes by
Suddenly you’re wise
Another blink of an eye
67 is gone
The sun is getting high
We're moving on...

I'm 99 for a moment
Dying for just another moment
And I'm just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are

15 there's still time for you
22 I feel her too
33 you’re on your way
Every day's a new day...

15 there's still time for you
Time to buy and time to choose
Hey 15, there's never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live

Every weekday morning I teach 11 teenagers that range in age from 14-17. Most of the class is 15. They want so often to be 18, to be working, to be out of home, to be independent...and on it goes. Everything they think they want centres around being older than they are right now. No matter what I say they will never believe that 15 is a great age.

My whole childhood I thought something great would happen when I was 15. I looked forward to it, wanted desperately to 'be 15'. Now that I think about it, it might have had something to do with that TV show, James at 15. I was probably too young to watch it when I did, but I do remember all his adventures seeming so much more interesting than the life I was living. I loved that show so much.

After I turned 16 I had this idea that 19 was the perfect age. Legally we're adults at 18, but it takes people a while to see you that way and I always thought 19 would be the moment when I'd feel I'd really arrived as an adult. After 20 I believed that 24 was going to be great. From 25 on, I just wanted to be 24 again. I still do.

My point is that I loved being 15, 19 & 24 - these were great years in my life. Did I talk myself into that? Were they great because I was convinced they would be? If so, imagine if I'd always lived in the moment. Might have been a much more amazing life.

Still, if I'm honest, fifteen was the best. In spite of it also being the age of dealing with high school crap, "hating" my parents for not understanding me, and writing terrible and angsty poetry, it was still the best. It was the age of my first real love, the age where I first woke up to the world around me and became an activist of sorts, the age where I made real decisions about what I believed and how I wanted to live. Everything was so immediate at fifteen and I never felt jaded or weary.
15, there's never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live.

Monday, June 20, 2005

the iceberg principle in people

Today I accidentally happened upon a story someone wrote. It was in a notebook amongst much more mundane and unrelated facts. It took me a moment to realise what I was reading, but then it really captured my interest. I wanted to ask them about it, but I wasn't sure the person had intended for anyone else to read it. They may not have even realised they'd left the page in there.

What caught my attention was not the writing. In truth that wasn't perfect. But the ideas stood out from that. It was a story about someone trying to be true to themselves. It was also a story about love and how hard it can be to open ourselves up and take the risk of loving another person. The two things were combined as they described that point we sometimes reach where we know we like someone and we want them to like us in return. Just at the point where we most want to be truly ourselves, and be loved for that, is the same time we find ourselves changing to become what (we think) they want, hoping that somehow we'll be seen by them, impress them enough for them to want us. Even when we're with someone, it is sometimes easier to keep an emotional distance, or even to pull away and end it, rather than letting them really know us and take the risk of being rejected by them.

This brought to mind that part of Max Ehrmann's Desiderata where it says:
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story.
...not because this story was either dull or ignorant, but because it made me realise that all of us have a story - not just the poets, the authors, the songwriters, but all of us - have things we think and feel even when we find it difficult to express them.

What we see of an iceberg is only the 10% that sits above the surface. I think this principle works with people, too, either because people choose to keep themselves mostly submerged, or because we fail to recognise other people's depths. Probably it's a combination of the two. I know it was just a story, but I felt like I'd gained an insight into this person's mind, into some part of the 90% they keep below the surface, hidden out of sight.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

goodbyes, ganja and guinea pigs

I was up and packed before Scors and Baps emerged blinking into the daylight, as I'd passed on going out after the party. Wise choice as it turned out. Someone in the group had a joint on him and there happened to be a police officer with a sniffer dog patrolling. I'm extremely okay with the fact that I was back at the flat sleeping at the time.

Anyway, Scors made us poached eggs on toast, hugs all round, semi-dash to my 1pm bus, and before I knew it I was back in the cold capital. And cold it was. But it was warm at Sky's house, where I had the best fun with their new bunny. She is only five weeks old, but has been handled a lot (the mother died) and is a fearless, curious little sweetheart. What with having the most gorgeous, affectionate cat in Australia and an outrageously cute, fat-bellied guinea pig, Sky's house is becoming Cute Central. Must be rather rough on poor Monte, the ugliest cat in existence. He's a sad case.

I can't believe I have work tomorrow. >_<

Saturday, June 18, 2005

baps' birthday party

We celebrated Baps' birthday tonight in the private function room at Pasha's restaurant, a Turkish restaurant in Newtown featuring a weekend belly dancer. Our young Turkish waiter was quite shy and unassuming, so we were surprised to see just how sexy a dancer he was when the music took hold of him.

There were twelve of us - some like me who'd known Baps for many years, some who'd known her a few months in Sydney, right down to one guy who met her last weekend. For that reason the birthday girl planned a 'getting to know you' game with questions. (Scroll down past the belly ring pics.)

The cake was a delectable chocolate mudcake. Our hostess, who by then had polished off several white Sambuca shots, insisted that each one of us take a turn at cutting the cake and making our own wish. Never one to pass up a wish, I wished for...oh wait, can't tell you that!

Baps is quite into belly rings at the moment, so I gave her a dangly one with pink cubic zirconia hearts. I couldn't get a close enough pic, but if you imagine a belly ring like picture no.1 below, with one round stone and three pink hearts, similar to no.2 except biggest to smallest, so four stones in all.

1. 2.

Met a guy who makes wedding videos for a living. He makes around $10,000 in a weekend doing this. Apparently it works like this: in countries like the US where the film industry is huge, guys with good filmmaking/editing skills don't touch wedding videos - it's beneath them. In Australia, where the film industry is relatively small, these guys are making wedding videos because there's not enough work around. Consequently, he gets flown places (India, Fiji, Kenya) to take wedding videos while earning heaps doing it. Sweeeeet gig!

All in all, a great party. Good conversation, good food, good music - all the right ingredients.

getting to know you

This was our 'getting to know you' card. Our new porn star name was put on a name tag and used throughout the night. My first pet was a cat called Black Boy (strikes me as a weird name for a cat in a country where 96% of the population are black, but anyway...) so I went for BB.

A No Consequence list is a list of people you would like to be able to have sex with without having to deal with any consequences. It comes from an episode of Friends (305: The One With Frank Jr).

Chandler: Does anyone else think David Copperfield is cute?

Monica: No, but he told me he thinks you're a fox.

Chandler: All right...Janice likes him. In fact she likes him so much she put him on her freebie list.

Joey: Her what?

Chandler: Well, we have a deal, where we each get to pick five celebrities that we can sleep with, and the other one can't get mad.

Ross: Ah, the heart of every healthy relationship. Honesty, respect, and sex with celebrities.

Monica: So, Chandler, who's on your list?

Chandler: Ah, Kim Basinger, Cindy Crawford, Halle Berry, Yasmine Bleeth, and ah, Jessica Rabbit.

Rachel: Now, you do realize that she's a cartoon, and way out of your league?

Chandler: I know, I know, I just always wondered if I could get her eyes to pop out of her head. Posted by Hello

Friday, June 17, 2005

having fun while not viewing jupiter

I sort of redeemed myself today, in my own eyes anyway. A colleague who 'subtley' made it pretty clear she was pissed off at having to do a task of mine that would have taken her ooh, 15 minutes, probably didn't see it that way. But as they say, 'you can't please all of the people all of the time,' and after yesterday I decided that it was good time to please myself. So I jumped ship around 10am, packed a bag, woke up the boy (who'd offered me a lift into town) and escaped to Sydney. *cue choirs of angels singing halleluiah*

Baps met me at Central and we made our way back to her place. Scorsese, her film director boyfriend, arrived a little later. I hadn't seen Scors for close on 12 years and we spent so much time catching up that I completely forgot that my purpose in coming to Sydney today instead of tomorrow was to visit the Sydney Observatory. Jupiter is apparently in a great position for viewing right now and I want to see it through their enormous telescope. Still, I'm back in Sydney in 3 weeks and might be able to see it then.

We talked at length about a film project Scors is involved in. It's in pre-production now and he is yet to decide whether to commit himself to the project as a whole. I enjoy film, and am interested in the process, but I've never before had the chance to talk about it to someone actually working in the industry. I appreciate that he doesn't have that snobbery that sometimes comes with knowing an 'artsy' subject better than the masses. Some people have such a stick up their butt about these things.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

misplaced guilt

So I emailed my boss yesterday to tell her I wouldn't be in because I wasn't well. Though I am not at death's door, I am run down, congested and have that achey feeling. I explain this and say I will contact her after I've been to the doctor to see what's going on.

In return I get an email that runs something like this:

Sorry to hear you're not well.
Re work:
Item 1
Item 2
Item 3
Item 4
Item 5
Item 6
Get better soon.
Ms Plum
Uh yeah. Did I just miss something or do you have a stone for a heart?

But did I sit at home in a warm bath feeding myself chocolates and scorning her callous soul? No, I didn't. I sat at home feeling guilty that I wasn't at work. And today, still not really well, I took myself into work, telling myself I was only there to do the essential things from her list - the urgent stuff - and then going home. I even announced this on my arrival. Shortly thereafter the list of 'well, as you're here, can you just...?' requests began. I eventually dragged myself home at 5.30pm.

Gutless and pathetic...I know.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


I talked to Seth tonight for the first time in months. I don't know why I don't keep in touch more, because I love talking to him. He always makes me feel like I've drunk from a pool of clean water.

I spent the whole conversation wishing he was in front of me instead of on the phone so I could give him a fierce hug and tell him how much I've missed him. That feeling washed over me several times during the conversation. He's such a beautiful person: articulate and insightful and guileless. I know from past conversations that he thinks I see him too often through rose-coloured glasses, but I don't care. Though my eyesight sucks, I think I see him clearly.

I hope we live in the same city again one day. That would be a red letter day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

breakfast on the balcony

I'm idly reading Dan Brown and cloud-watching, barefoot and sipping a coke in spite of the chill in the air. He emerges sleepily onto the balcony from the kitchen looking like a man trying to solve a mystery with no clues, until he sees the milk sitting by the empty cereal bowl on the table next to me. Silently I hand it to him and then put my book down as he huddles around his first coffee of the day. I've been eager for him to wake up, because I've made a discovery, but I wait until he's had a sip of his now milky coffee.

"Hey you know that movie we watched last week, Threesome?"


"Remember the scene where Alex asks Eddy to tell her some big words on the phone and he says, 'concupiscence', and she's orgasmic over it but she has no idea what it means?"

He nods.

"Well I found out what it means."

Either his curiosity or the coffee kicks in.

"Really? What is it?"

I smile, knowing this is the punchline.

"A strong desire or longing, usually sexual."

"You're kidding!"

He starts laughing. The entire movie is about strong sexual desire or longing. It's the scriptwriter's own little joke and now we're in on it.

"Imagine, some really smart person saw that movie..."

I'm already nodding in agreement.

"And got the joke the first time?" Exactly, exactly.

"Yeah, and they probably burst out laughing in the cinema and everyone else was looking at them like, 'what?'"

Now he laughs full-throated.

"That's great!"

"Isn't it?!"

Yeah. It is.

Monday, June 13, 2005

becoming myself

There's nothing terribly wrong with feeling lost, so long as that feeling precedes some plan on your part to actually do something about it. Too often a person grows complacent with their disillusionment, perpetually wearing their "discomfort" like a favorite shirt. (Jhonen Vasquez)
Wearing their discomfort like a favourite shirt. Perceptive. Strange the way we have pet problems/neuroses the same way we have favourite drinks. The things we won't let go of. The things we take out and stab into our own skin just to make sure that we aren't letting ourselves heal. Because if we let it go, we can no longer excuse ourselves with it, right? What we are is then the product of our own efforts and not the responsibility of those who caused us pain. Surely it's easier to keep blaming someone else for our inability to be who we are. Isn't it?

I saw the movie 'I Heart Huckabees a few months back. Love it or hate it, the movie is thought provoking, and the thought that buzzed through my head all the way home was the one posed to Brad near the end of the movie:
How am I not myself?
I love that question. I love its perspective. So often we see ourselves as being in state A and wishing we were actually in state B (if you think I'm talking about Texas and California, you're not getting it). This question says you ARE state B. Those concepts you try to live by, those things you know are logically sound, those things you think you should be - that's who you are. They make you really you. You are in state A because you aren't being true to your real self.

So how am I not myself when I refuse to change things that should have been changed a long time ago? How am I not myself when I hang onto old hurts and punish no-one but myself? How am I not myself when I refuse to let myself seek happiness, for whatever reason? And why is my discomfort a favourite shirt to wear, a favourite pain to cry over and excuse myself with? Why do I remain lost when I know the way? Am I afraid to be myself?

Sunday, June 12, 2005


This weekend we celebrate Queen Elizabeth's birthday with a national holiday. Her birthday is actually April 21st, but hey with Easter and ANZAC day we have a truckload of public holidays in April, so the government looked around for a nice empty month, and now we have the Queens birthday weekend in June. I'm sure she doesn't mind.

The Australian Capital Territory is the only place in Australia where personal fireworks are legal, and this is the only weekend in the year when we can buy and use them. There's too much danger of bushfire in the summer, so they chose a weekend in the middle of winter. All that rain we had yesterday makes it even less of a worry.

All weekend, as soon as it gets dark, I can hear the sounds of fireworks in the neighbourhood around me...at least between the hours of 5 and 10pm. It's all very civilised here in the cold capital. Nothing like those heathen Japanese running down to the park in the middle of summer with enough flammable and explosive items to burn a witch at the stake, lighting fuses with no adult supervision and cavorting about as if fireworks were merely for fun. (*sigh* good times, good times...) Here we are sensible and considerate.

Can't think why I haven't gotten around to buying any this year. One of life's little mysteries...

Saturday, June 11, 2005

raining in my heart

The skies opened up today. We've been watching for the rain like eager children listening for the sound of the icecream truck. At the moment we're in drought and living under water restrictions. It's been a few years now. They said on the radio a few days ago that the farming industry is two billion in the red over it, and that if it didn't rain this weekend, we could see the cost of our fruit and vegetables rise by as much as 20%. Timing of the winter harvest I guess.

It's not like we don't have clouds in the sky. We do. In fact most days the sky is filled with clouds. But like many decorative things, they're useless. Today's clouds paid all the overdue owing. It rained for about 14 hours straight - a good, steady, soaking rain that wasn't fierce enough to sweep away the topsoil the way the random summer storms do. I'm hoping the lawn will bounce back from its brown, emaciated state.

Meanwhile I'm haunting the house like a walking metaphor, as dismal as the sky outside. I'm not generally depressive, but like most people I have my dark days. This is more like a dark week, full of negatives: boredom, confusion, loneliness, frustration. But like the steady downpour outside, it was oddly productive. I wrote a good half chapter today when I haven't done any solid writing in weeks. I also finished the poem that follows. I was trying to contain it to a sonnet form, but ended up breaking the traditional rhyming scheme slightly. We'll call it poetic licence.

a new love

of late a happiness pervades
time together, so much to tell
yet I, afraid to break the spell
write of other escapades
that still reveal the calm she brings
her eyes, liquid dark, inspire
secret-telling, rich desire
and new ways of seeing things

stretching in my chair
as we talk on the phone
reaching back into the dark
as if to find her in the empty air
the former joy of time alone
forgotten laughing at her random remark

No I'm not waxing poetic over some girl. I wrote it from the perspective of a guy in a new romance because that's how I've heard about the relationship that prompted me to write it - from the guy. Ahh, there's nothing like living vicariously through the exciting lives of others. ^^

Anyway, a little rain is good for the land and maybe also for the soul.

Friday, June 10, 2005

how come I get the girlie gun?

Ah Brad & Angelina. I believed all along that you didn't have an affair while the Bradster was still married (I'm a believing type), but now I'm certain. That chemistry was so precise, so 'decided prior', I just know that man was thinking about the moment when he'd head home to his wife. Or maybe their natural chemistry was stilted by an over-zealous director who doesn't know when to stand back and let two professionals do their thing.

Mr & Mrs Smith is a fun movie. Snappy wisecracks, fast and furious fight scenes including some awesome hand-to-hand. The woman has a way with knifes, even if her aim is occasionally off. Occasionally. Both stars are at some point so sexy that you'll wish you were one of them, or with them, or with both of them. Hey whatever floats your boat okay?

And though I'm prepared to give it four stars for the last line alone, which still has me chuckling (especially due to the little boy way that Brad delivered it, haha), the truth is that the direction was so heavy-handed that little was left to feel natural. They both have their moments when they run with the scene and seem to forget that the director is there and they are the best moments of the film (Angelina just after they meet, Brad in smaller moments throughout). However, that oh-so-choreographed kiss at the window 'the morning after'...they made a mistake calling that the final take. It looked more like a blocking rehearsal.

Anyway, scowl at the director by all means, but go see it for Brad and Angie. They're both class acts and we all need a little fun fodder for our fantasies.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

camilleri-less in canberra

Janet on being Lonely:

Feeling so alone and deserted
With people standing all around you
Should I trust someone
Should I stay off to myself
Alone with no one to talk to
It's such a helpless feeling

So anytime you feel the need
Call me when you're lonely
Cause everybody needs a friend
To be there when they're lonely

So don't isolate yourself
Every time that I come around
A person all alone
Is an unhappy one
We need somebody near to love us
Someone who cares
Living life all by yourselves
Impossible to do and I'll be there for you

Anytime you feel the need
Call me when you're lonely
Cause everybody needs a friend
And I'll be yours if you're lonely

If you're all alone
And a friend you need
Like a river flows
You hurt, I'll bleed
If you can trust in me
We can find a way
Take away the pain

Time heals all things
Even a lonely state of mind
'cause happiness is oh so hard to find
If you're lonely I will be there

Except this song isn't about feeling lonely. It's about offering comfort to someone who is lonely. I used to have people who would have sung this song to me...literally and figuratively. Now they're all too far away. The internet isn't enough. The phone isn't enough. I'm so tired of being so far away from my closest friends.

Joe Camilleri played at Tilley's tonight and there was no-one to go with. In Adelaide or in Osaka I could have gotten a group of six together with a couple of phone calls. I feel so frustrated. Joe Camelleri is good value. No band he's been associated with ever disappoints and he is perfect live in a small venue. It should be easy to hook up with some good-music-loving friend, have a few drinks and chill to Camilleri.

Exactly two of my best friends live here and they are married to each other. You can't live in the same people's pockets all the time. It's disheartening. It makes me feeling like a houseguest who's overstayed my welcome. It's going to be at least another 2-3 years before I can move to Sydney. I've got to meet more people...more like-minded people... in this cold city or I'm going to go crazy.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

the jedi in me

What is it about Star Wars that brings out the kid in me? Hungry Jacks (Australia’s Burger King) has brought out four cups, each with at least half an action figure emerging from the lid (R2D2, C3PO, Darth Vadar and General Grievous (my favourite)). I went in for one and came home with them all.
I also just bought a box each of cereals I never eat in order to procure a light sabre spoon. Not that it was a big problem – my class was wide-eyed with delight when I turned up with sugar-loaded breakfast for them – but I was a bit surprised at how much I wanted that plastic light-up spoon. Yes, yes, it’s totally cool, especially when you are snacking on cereal while watching a movie in the dark, but still.
I’m not even sure I should mention how badly I want to buy the $50 light sabre at K-Mart that not only lights up but also hums and makes battle noises. 欲しいよ。
I never bought a Happy Meal when Shrek was released. There are no Monsters, Inc toys lurking in a dark corner of my desk, even if the Monsters, Inc advert that Gackt did was totally cute. “感動しました。” The Incredibles were incredible…it didn’t have me scoping out Toys R Us.
But Stars Wars is…well, it’s Star Wars. Enough said.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

missed it last year...missing it this year *sigh*

Here's what I'm missing to go to Baps' birthday party in Sydney. Every year they not only have events, but they also have workshops where they teach beginners to juggle. I really want to learn how.

Oh the sacrifices we make for those we love...

Monday, June 06, 2005

butterfly effect

I saw The Butterfly Effect in the cinema and loved it, so the other day when I spotted it on sale I bought it. Phi watched it the next day and found it intense and interesting. He asked what I thought of the ending and I started talking about the birthday party.

"What party?"
"Lenny's birthday party when he was little."
"That's not how it ends."
"Well yeah, there's that bit where they walk past each other in the street."
"No there isn't."

Confused looks. More confused looks.

"I think you better watch it again."

Tonight I did. The movie is about altered memories, so imagine how weirded out I was to find that there were scenes I remembered that were missing and scenes I didn't remember that were now in the movie. It was totally surreal and totally cool, because it was like watching it again for the first time, except I knew why he was holding that big-assed knife. The yellow jacket still shocked and appalled me - some things cannot be prepared for.

Anyway, as it often the case, Google solved the mystery. The DVD is the director's cut and it has a different ending. The different ending also necessitates some alternative scenes to make it all come together.

Either way, great movie. Dark, pretty violent, but vivid and compelling. 4 stars.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

life decisions

Sometimes keeping in touch is a frivalous business. You forward on the latest funny email, or you chat but mostly about the last movie you saw or what crazy thing someone at work did the other day. It takes time to settle into conversation that means something and you don't always have the time to give it.

This weekend was empty and it gave me the chance to phone or chat online to three different friends that I don't catch up with often (or often enough). The conversations were varied, but they all had a couple of common themes. One was a sense of decision-making - thinking about where life is at, what the next step might be and why. The second was the lack of superficiality. It seemed like every topic we came to was pressing, interesting, totally relevent to the things that are pivotal in most people's lives: love, work, sex, morals/ethics, attraction, money, belief. Maybe all that pondering on the whole of life and what was really important in deciding a next step forward also brought out the 'deep and meaningful' of other aspects of life, I don't know. I do know it was a very interesting weekend.

I won't go into all those topics here - some things I wouldn't blog and others wouldn't come across like they did in the original conversations - but I will say something about 'next steps'.

Occasionally making life-changing decisions is exciting. I had no doubts about taking the job in Japan. Though it was full of unknowns, I knew it was a good decision. I needed the change; I'd always liked teaching teenagers; and I certainly needed some adventure. I had no romantic ties; it was good timing. And off I went.

Coming back wasn't like that. I didn't know exactly where I wanted to live or work. The unknowns weren't exciting - they loomed grey and scary in the sky above. And missing Japan didn't help.

Then I had a bit of an epiphany. It didn't really matter what the next step was, as long as I took it. The one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to move interstate. So I picked a city where I knew I had a few good friends and then applied for a lot of jobs. I had no sense at the time of where the move would take me personally or professionally. But the unknowns were ones I could deal with.

One of the most important things I found out from moving to Canberra was that I don't want to live here forever. That doesn't mean it was the wrong decision. It's all just part of the process.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

the devil went down to georgia

Phi decided that it was easier to give me the rent money etc via electronic means. Suits me fine, so I passed on my bank details and told him to put any reference he likes as I would know what it was from the amount. Today this item shows up on my transaction list:

transfer: payment 4 soul


Friday, June 03, 2005

say my name, say my name

I was reading one of drip's poems today which included this thought:
A name is meant
to close the space
between two people
Only last night I had a long conversation with Phi on dating, talking to people you've just met, etc, and the power of names was mentioned then. He commented that he often fails to get a girl's name, because the moment they exchange names the conversation takes on a more serious feeling, and even becomes awkward, as if the way forward in the conversation suddenly needs a defined path.

Though we conjectured we didn't really come to any conclusion as to why this happens. It might be that the girl realises (or assumes) at that point that he has interest in her beyond this conversation, thinking that that's why he's taken the time to introduce himself properly and ask her name. What he was saying though, is that even if he is interested, he still wants to keep the conversation light and casual. That awkwardness creates such an uncertainty in him that now he consciously avoids that moment where you exchange names.

That keeps everything light and comfortable, but what happens when you ask for her number and still don't know her name, or worse still meet her again the following week and realise you have no idea what to call her? I suppose if the girl's into him she'll conveniently ignore that, but it does seem like exchanging one awkward moment for another.

For a real looker the boy is surprisingly lacking in dating arrogance. Maybe he grew up weird looking or thinking he needed to be taller or something. That usually makes for a nicer, more interesting person in the end.

as good as it gets

How awesome is this photo?! Elephants are so cool. Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 02, 2005

tagged: books

This is a little blog thing making its way around lately. Thanks bk for tagging me.

1. Estimate the total # of books you've owned in your life

This is such a hard question. I would have guessed in the 100s, maybe 800, but I have a suspician it's actually more than that. When I was a kid and had the time and energy to read voraciously I was mostly getting my books from the library. When I started work, I went through a phase of buying books, but I read them too quickly and it became a very expensive habit. I started making myself stick to one chapter a night, no matter how exciting the book was, just to stretch things out. It was hard to do, but it made the books more meaningful.

In Japan some friends and I formed a book club. We would get together once a month for a meal and bring books to pass around the group. English language books were expensive to get there, so this really helped us get more books to read. I also read a lot of books I would never have bought, and found some great ones amongst them. I think I read my first Amy Tan book through book club. That was also the first time I heard of the Harry Potter series. There was a book floating around for ages called I Was a Teenage Dominatrix, but I never got the chance to read it. (One day.) Apparently it was hilarious. It certainly was in high demand. When two or more people wanted the same book we settled it Japanese style, with janken. I never could seem to win that book.

Now I buy my books mostly secondhand from this great store called Canty's. I scoot over to the other side of town once a month or so to spend too much money there. They know their stock and are wall to wall books - so much so they are doubling their premises soon. A couple of photos are below this post.

2. Name the last book you bought.
The last book I bought was Jamie Boud's Envy The Rain. I'm still waiting for it to arrive, but this is the prologue. Jamie is the guy who writes The Known Universe, one of the blogs on my links list in the sidebar. His way of describing people, conversations (and his photographic eye) are the reasons I read that blog every day. A book is not a blog, but if you read a few of his posts (skip down past all the guff at the top about the book to the day-to-day stories) I think you'll agree that he writes in a concise, clean style, free of superfluous detail - unusual in blogs. I'll update once I've actually read the book, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to enjoy it.

3. Name the last book you read.
I just did that here.

4. List 5 books that mean a lot to you.
Most of these changed the way I think, or at least helped me understand the world and myself with more clarity.
I first read this at 15 and I think it really helped to articulate what became my sense of justice and of what fair treatment and compassion is really about - understanding people and not being afraid of those who are different. Apart from the social statement, the writing is wonderful and the characters better.
Grapes of Wrath, Jon Steinbeck
Similarly this book changed the way I saw the world. It was the first time I truly understood that in the world of true capitalist practice, people are merely resources to be gotten as cheaply as possible with no regard for their happiness or health. It was the first time I really understood that the people who tout unfettered market forces as the way to alleviate poverty are purely and simply liars or fools. It was a hard book to read, though brilliantly written, and I cried all the way through. The scene where they tip the excess oranges into the river upset me so much I had to stop reading it for a while. It was so hard to read that its message of hope regarding the resilience of the human spirit was almost lost on me.
Lullaby, Chuck Palahniuk
I used to mull things over a lot. Then I studied political philosophy and kind of overloaded on profundity. It didn't help that I was writing my honours thesis around that time. After that I took a break from books that challenged me - until I found Palahniuk. His stories are stark, brutally honest and unapologetic - and I had no choice but to become excited again by the ideas that form the basis of how our societies function (or don't). I had seen Fight Club and really admired how he was able to thread philosophical ideas from people like Kirkegaard into stories that were so immediate and anything but academic. Lullaby explores all kinds of themes - how we deal with noise, the way that we tend to trivialise the sacred things of ancient cultures, how people deal with power. I loved the fact that his writing is so different to my own and what that taught me about powerful writing. I love that his characters immediately did what I would never have had them do.
Korten spent 30 years working in development aid in what used to be called Third World countries before realising that the system was not helping, but rather increasing the disparity of wealth in these countries. Now he is an activist of sorts seeking substantial change to our economic system and an advocate for new, less destructive and more people-oriented ways of living. If I won the lottery tomorrow and could quit my job and do anything I wanted, I would go do an internship with Korten's Yes! magazine.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R Covey
The only self-help book I've ever bought for or recommended to other people. This is a book I read again every few years. The seven principles are so inherently sound that I've never met anyone I didn't think could benefit from reading this book.
Honourable mention to:
This is my favourite picture book, and I've read it out loud so many times to so many children that I now associate it with a myriad of good memories. The illustrations are wonderful, perfect for a story that makes me laugh out loud every time. With all the serious books above, I also really needed to include one that means a lot to me simply because it's delightful. And we all need some delight.

5. Tag 5 people.
This is a challenge because I'm a new blogger and don't have so many blogworld contacts. (I often wonder how many of my friends have a blog that I'm not aware of.) If anyone would like to be tagged and tell us something about the books they read, just leave a comment.

floor to ceiling fantasy

This is the fantasy section. Notice the shelves going all the way to the ceiling? See the stacks of books on the floor. The whole store's like that - small wonder they're moving to more spacious premises. Just behind the spot I took this photo from there's a cushy armchair where I sometimes sit and read while waiting for my bookstore adventure buddy Sky to finish choosing her books. Posted by Hello

the front counter

Here's the bookstore chap surrounded as always by stacks of books he's sorting. He's just the guy you'd expect to find in a secondhand bookstore: calm, learned, friendly. In truth I have a bit of crush on his son (if indeed he IS his son, that's just my impression by the way they interact) - one of those quiet, intelligent types - who works there sometimes. We often want to invite him out to lunch just to have the chance to talk to him without customers waiting to be served, but somehow we never quite do. Rank cowardice, I know. Posted by Hello


-7 degrees C this morning. Winter officially started yesterday and the temperature has plummeted since. I washed the ice off my windscreen this morning and it re-froze as I drove. Did I mention that my car heater is not working? All this frozen carry-on to arrive just pre-dawn to teach my unruly seminary class.

Just as well they amuse me.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

do you have that in slut red?

KING's latest website photo. I'm loving the vivid red couch against the red wall, though what Hideaki was thinking wearing red pants I do not know. Takafumi (at the back on the right...the drummer) looks like he'd had about enough of posing that day. True to usual form, Row-kun (front left) looks like he does this for a living. I wonder how many more months till I see them live again. Lack of money sucks. Posted by Hello