Observant little ...

I don't understand the answer, but I may have some ideas on the question...

Joshua Braff/writing exercises

Oh. Okay. I've read the rest of Joshua Braff's blog now and feel like a bit of an idiot. He's Zach Braff's brother. As in the guy I was talking about only a couple of posts ago when reviewing The Garden State.

And there's only writing exercises in the last couple of posts, being:-

1. Before you put any character on paper, first write about a hundred words that describe that person. It’s important to attempt to “free write” or keep your pen moving regardless of what’s being written. In other words, the hundred words is not going to be a part of your story but more an exercise in trying to learn who the person is that you’re wanting to place on the stage of your piece. (link)

2. Write a story that covers five minutes of time in four pages. The drill requires you to focus intently on detail. The narrative camera is super, super close. Five minutes of some point of view for four pages. Double space is fine. (link)

3. Attempt to free-write (write without lifting your pen off the paper), for ten full minutes (time yourself if you want to) about the lunchbox/es you took to school and what it was that you remember being inside them. Attempt to smell it all as you write, the lunchbox, the food, the cafeteria, the boy’s hair sitting next to you. There can be a great deal of texture found in the simple yet oh so common places in our memories. (link)

And I found somewhere in Australia that sells it, Angus & Robertson, but they obviously import it and it costs $43AUD, so it will have to go onto my wishlist for the present.

I might have to go and buy this CD I'm listening to samples of though. I think I've fallen in love with a song called Chocolate. They remind me a lot of speedstar*. It's a shame speedstar* don't have samples up so you could all see what I mean. Oh, but you can check out samples of The Meadows, who also remind me of Snow Patrol/speedstar*.

Listening to: Snow Patrol - Final Straw album sampler on their site


I was feeling a bit bored at work this afternoon. So I was reading through some of the comments on This Fish Needs a Bicycle and found My Urban Kvetch, who talked about a book by Josh Braff called The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green. Despite the fact that I had never heard of Josh Braff or his book before, the book sounded like something I'd like - enough so that I checked out Josh Braff's blog.

His blog is really interesting. He gives writing exercises/drills and book recommendations. I like his taste in books (quite a few of them I've read) and I like his taste in music. I didn't get far into it (I'm up to On the Road Again), but I think it may become one of my favourite blogs, if for nothing else than the writing drills. I'm not a writer and have no desire to write a book or be published, but these look like fun. The sort of thing I can do sitting at a cafe when I'm on holidays.

But the main reason for blogging about it is that one of his posts talked about Frogger and got me reminiscing.

I loved Frogger. I remember my brother and I wrote our own version of it on our old Commodore 64 when we were kids. I think I was 9, so he would have been 12. He designed the graphics and I wrote the programming to say which one should be where and when. I don't remember that much about it, except that it involved a mouse and cheese. And it was recorded on a tape like an audio tape.

Back then, I was considered a bit of a maths genius. I was in this advanced class when I was 7 and 8 years old. There was only one other kid my age and other kids were all older, mostly much older (11 or 12 years old). We were taught to use scientific calculators and programming on Apple computers. We were entered into the Maths Olympiad (I think this or this is the current version, except I was doing the same paper as the older kids) and I always scored highly enough to get a badge, but never highly enough to get a pin (which was what I really wanted). I can't remember what score you had to achieve on the test to be awarded these prizes now, but roughly 1/3 of those who competed (maybe 30 kids across the school?) got a badge, but only one or two each year got a pin.

Anyway, it was probably because of this training that I was able to program the Commodore 64 game. I remember that the commands were different, but the logic was the same, so once I knew how to do something on the school's Apple, then it didn't take me long to work out how to do it on the Commodore.

Over the years, I seemed to grow both less mathematically intelligent and less keen on computers. By grade 8 (13 years old/first year of high school), I hated maths and found my computing class boring. I was still relatively good at both, but not precocious, genius-level good. I was a bit of a statistical anomoly apparently - the only kid in my various teachers' classes who always got A's on Part C (the applied maths part) of the exam, but only C's on Part A (the memory/write this formula part).

And this continued all the way through to Grade 12 (final year). One of the main reasons I did Law at uni was because I was so crap at Maths. Turns out I'm still pretty good at computers though...

Listening to: Radiohead - Live Warrington UK tent show 9/00 and Mercury Rev - All is Dream (they're on together on random)

Bridget Jones as a lawyer

This arrived in my inbox this morning. It cracked me up, so I thought I'd share with my readers who are also lawyers. I'm not sure if it's quite so funny for those who aren't lawyers?

Bridget Jones as a lawyer

Hours spent at work: 14.2 (v. good); billable hours: 5.7 (v.bad); minutes spent staring out window: 97 (needs improvement.); minutes spent mentally reliving conversations and imagining what I should have said instead of what I did say: 46 (excellent); no. of times let ringing phone go to voice mail: 2 (v. bad, College of Law lecturer said this was sign of professional incompetence, but calls were from mother, so okay).

8:00 a.m. Leave for work feeling energised, confident. Yesterday, managed to soothe clients, appease opposing counsel, and impress partners at work. Practice will now operate as efficient, well-oiled machine. Only nagging issue is opinion letter, which is two weeks late. Two weeks is not very long. Anyway, opinion has been researched. Mostly researched. Must simply look up a few more cases, put thoughts into writing. Very easy. Will be finished by 10:30 a.m. at latest

8:45 a.m. Arrive at work. Listen to repeated voice mail messages from disgruntled client. Review two letters from angry opposing counsel. Note that senior lawyer has entirely redrafted the letter I wrote. Learn that Court of Appeal did not accept bundles because pages numbered in improper manner. Feel dismal and deflated. Stare out window. Consume engineered food bar for breakfast.

10:30 a.m. Have spent last hour returning voice mail messages by leaving voice mail messages. Will start opinion letter now. Will be finished by noon, no problem.

12:00 p.m. Opinion letter not finished. Cannot decide whether to address client by first name. Must go to Aerobox class at 1:00 p.m. to relieve stress and promote fitness. Have missed last seven classes because of work. No job is worth sacrificing my health. Must go to Aerobox class.

2:00 p.m. Missed Aerobox class because of last-minute meeting with very important new client. Am introduced as junior lawyer who will be working on the file. Client amazed, asks how such a young girl can possibly be lawyer. Grin frantically while trying to think of charming but assertive response. Saved by senior lawyer, who steps in to sing my praises as top-notch organiser of discovery documents. (After all, hard to justify junior lawyer's fee if clients believe she is merely the coffee and copy girl). Client promises to send over 57 boxes of documents straight away.

4:00 p.m. Come out from hiding spot behind the 57 boxes of documents. Inform senior lawyer that, despite my numerous emphatic promises, opinion letter is not quite finished. Explain that the warranty issue has turned out to be more complex than originally thought. Babble on about complex law of warranty generally. Pause awkwardly. Senior lawyer stares blankly, then says, "It's not a warranty, it's a
guarantee." Am incompetent, cannot be proper lawyer.

4:45 p.m. Telephone call from opposing counsel, requesting adjournment. Remind opposing counsel that this is fourth such request. Point out that I had once asked for indulgence and been denied, thus causing me to work inhumane hours. Opposing counsel appalled by my disrespectful attitude, says it is contrary to Rules of Professional Conduct. Am cruel and possibly unprofessional person, cannot be
proper lawyer.

5:00 p.m Telephone call from second opposing counsel,requesting adjournment. Thinking of Rules of Professional Conduct, I agree. Opposing counsel amazed, says I am most agreeable person he has dealt with all month. Am pushover, cannot be proper lawyer.

8:30 p.m. Last remaining non-lawyer friend calls to ask whether I got tickets to upcoming show as promised. Pause. Consider how to get out of promise. Speak with bright, bossy tone: "Yes, yes, I did assume responsibility for that matter. However, you undertook to advise me as to whether we would be joined by third parties. As that undertaking was left unfulfilled, I reasonably believed that my responsibilities had been waived." Friend, disgusted, hangs up. Feel pang of guilt. Feel pang of emptiness because once-vibrant social life has died. Stare out window. Decide pangs are related to hunger. Consume engineered food bar for dinner. Read back issues of Lawyer's Weekly.

10:00 p.m. Must complete opinion letter. Will not, under any circumstances, leave work until opinion letter is beautiful, finished product.

11:00 p.m. Opinion letter almost done. Have written succinct introductory paragraph, and set out convenient headings. Must just insert actual opinion. Could work until 2:00 a.m. to get it done. Much better, though, to arrive very early next morning, when mind will be fresh and rejuvenated. In fact, going home is in client's best interests, as surely I will work more efficiently tomorrow. Take taxi home. Realise I have forgotten office password for credit charge. Must pay driver with change. Driver annoyed, refuses to give receipt.

3:30 a.m. Unable to sleep. Too worried about how to claim taxi fare without benefit of taxi receipt. Wonder if time spent worrying about this can be recorded to any file......

I can relate to the emotions, even though I was never (thankfully) quite this incompetent. This is why I left private practice for government - I get to manage my own matters with very little interference and only work 10 hour days... well, actually it's only 8 hour days in my current job, but that will change back next year.

Listening to: Matthew Sweet - Altered Beast

Mix CD

I'm putting together a mix CD for someone I don't know. She's another Queenslander like me, and we share a love of one band, so I won't be putting any of them on there. But other than that, I know nothing about her.

When I'm putting songs together for something like this, I usually try to include as many unsigned bands that I'm into as possible. Or I'll include songs that weren't singles here from artists that aren't well known in Australia though they may be famous in their own countries. On the rare occasion I include a song from a band that's well known around here, it will be a song that isn't typical of the band and wasn't a single. Basically, I'm a born mix-taper. I love to share my favourite obscure bands with other people.

So anyway, I now that the typical conundrum of every mix-taper - too many good songs, not enough room on the CD to fit them all. You can only fit less than 80 minutes of music on a CD, and I have just over 90. So I have to cut about 3 songs from the following list:

Ben Folds - There's always someone cooler than you
speedstar* - Good morning saviour
The Frames - Lay me down
Matthew Sweet - Devil with the green eyes

Charles Foster Kane - Lucky ones
The Kerbs - I know
The Informants - I know you know
Belle & Sebastian - There's too much love
Machine Translations - Love on the wire
Supergrass - Moving
Screamfeeder - Above the dove
Ben Kweller - Different but the same
Shifter - The cigarette song
Darren Hanlon - Hiccups
David McCormack - Liquor Store
Machine Gun Fellatio - Unsent Letter
Guy Webster - Lucky man suffering
Tylea and the Imaginary Music Score - Blow me away (like smoke_
george - Quiet day

Damien Rice - Elder chests
Tamas Wells - When we do fail Abigail
Kieran Waters & the Young Casuals - Knuckles of White
Women in Docs - Fade away

And I still want to get a Wes Davidson song in there too...

So I thinking of taking out:

Ben Folds - although I love that song and he's one of my favourite musicians, he's pretty well known in Australia and it doesn't really fit with the rest of the mix.

Supergrass - I'm not hugely into them and it doesn't represent my overall taste in music as well as the rest of them.

Machine Gun Fellatio - also well known in Australia, although this song is not typical of them and I really love that about it.

george - again, one of my favourite songs of theirs and a B-side, so not a widely known one, but they're signed and well-known here (especially in Queensland since they're a Brisbane band).

Of the rest, the purple ones are all locals, so I'd like to keep them in since she's local and may come to support them if she likes them. The others are all more obscure bands (my definition of which is that a majority of my friends haven't heard of them) that I'm heavily into.

Hmmm... it's a tough one though.

Listening to: my Mix CD (as above)

The guy from Prague

Prague - musicians on the Charles Bridge

Prague was a city I'd wanted to visit since uni. One of my best friends at college was Czech and had emigrated out here with her mum and step-dad when she was 11. She fascinated me - especially when she spoke Czech with her mum on the phone. And then a mate of mine visited Prague on a whirl-wind tour of Europe and her photos fired my imagination further.

So anyway, I had high expectations of the place. And it met them. I found it to be a place of beauty and art and unspoilt history. When I'm asked about my favourite place on my trip, I always say that Paris was my favourite, but Prague was where I had the most fun.

And roughly half of this was because of a guy I met there. We knew of each other, but had never met, and arranged to meet up via text messages. So there I was, standing by the stairs leading from Prague Castle back down to the Charles Bridge, looking out for a guy who had only described himself as "the hobbit carrying a copy of The Great Gatsby". And would you believe that from this description, I actually recognised him!

The Hobbit (as he will now be known as) is an intelligent, witty and interesting guy 10 years younger than me who I would love to adopt as my little brother. As a travel companion around Prague, he was easygoing and good fun. He did however, have a fondness for absinthe, which leads me to my following story.

I had seen a flyer for this jazz club around the streets and thought it would be a fun place to go that night. The Hobbit and I got there before the club part opened and started drinking beer. Beer in Prague is cheap, cheaper than soft drink or bottled water, and the exchange rate meant it cost me roughly $1AUD for a pint. And it's good beer too. So maybe part of why I enjoyed Prague so much was because I spent most of it slightly smashed. But anyway...

We'd been at the club, and drinking steadily, for a few hours. The band had finished for the night and we were being shouted drinks by a guy we'd met in the club. The Hobbit, practically falling off his chair as he'd had many absinthes by then, asks me if I have pen and paper. Which I duly provide, but the only notepaper I had was this little book of Winnie the Pooh notepaper which my mum had given with with "A special note from (OLS)" inscribed into the background image of Winnie the Pooh patting a bunny rabbit.

The Hobbit scribles for maybe 20 minutes and then produces his manifesto, which he returned to me and I have transcribed for you:

And I'm sitting here thinking that I have never been this crazy, or really "pure". There is the sound of one man's soul in my head, and the sound of another's in my ears. It is like being at the birth of a child, really, you can't put your finger on why, but what you are hearing seems so fresh - like fruit in your ears. Every phrase seems to squeeze juice or beauty right into your head. You sit down, drinking and trying to be calm but your whole head says - "cry, man. Let it out." It is crazy. You... you aren't even there. You are just dancing like you don't even know the rhythm anymore. But somehow every way you move is beautiful. Every thought you think is new and bold, and you just want to grab the person next to you and say and scream: "I am the prophet. I am the one who will change it all. Love ME!"

I loved it. I still love it. I have the original on its Winnie the Pooh notepaper tucked away into my diary for safekeeping. One day, when he's rich and famous and loved far and wide for his wit and unique way of expressing himself, I hope I'll be able to share this moment, and the words he wrote, with a dodgy TV program or magazine for a million bucks (CPI adjusted).

Listening to: Terra Folk - Live

To be manager, or not to be manager

I have a conundrum. My manager wants me to do his job for 4 weeks, starting when my current secondment finishes. I've done his job before, and I hate it. It's a lot of work and a lot of pressure, especially since I don't do the job very often and I spend twice as long as he would getting any one task finished. I don't find it intellectually challenging, but it certainly does test my temper. I also have to rely heavily on the admin staff to complete the various reports that are due, since I don't do them regularly and have to rely on their expertise as to what goes into them usually. Which would not be so much of a problem except that they're all much older than me and usually treat me sort of like a younger sibling.

I've only ever done his job for a maximum of two weeks before, and even so, things have gone wrong to the extent that he ended up coming in for a day to help me out. He knows his job is not easy - he works 14 hour days to get it done and has the experience to do things quickly and efficiently. It's not something where he can really prepare me for the problems that come up - I just have to deal with it the best I can.

All of this compounded by the fact that I haven't been in that area for nearly a year and no longer have a good knowledge of the day to day running of it.

I don't want to do it. I think everyone knows this. The problem is that no-one else wants to do it either. Well, one person would like to do it for the management experience, but my manager's manager won't approve it because this person has no legal experience. And when I've done the job before, apparently I've done it well. Or at least better than anyone else except for my manager. So basically, it's me or no-one.

And therein lies the problem. My manager is a fantastic manager - he has encouraged me to take past opportunities even when it was going to cause problems for his area. I have a very good relationship with him and would like that to continue. Not the least because I think he's a truly lovely person and really needs the break. If I don't do his job, it will either be left empty while he's on holidays (so he'll come back to an ungodly mess), or he won't be able to take the holidays he wants.

From my point of view, the upside (more money, a fairly long period of management experience for my CV) doesn't really outweigh the downside (long days, major jump in stress levels, doing a job I really don't enjoy). So I would only do it as a favour for my manager. Maybe if I'd been back in that area for a while I'd be less concerned. Maybe if I'd been able to test my relationship with the admin staff (which has been strained since I was a witness in the bullying complaint) I would not feel this sense of impending doom about doing this job. But I have to decide whether to do it now.

I chatted to my Dad about it and he suggested that my manager and I go to the big boss (my manager's manager) and tell the big boss about my reservations in taking the position on. That way, if I'm still appointed to the position, I should be able to get his agreement to help out with some of the financial aspects of the position (like the budget) and the one's he can't help with, he'll at least be aware of my concerns and will hopefully make some allowances. Since a large part of the job is keeping the big boss happy, this should make things somewhat easier for me.

Unlike some people in my area, I'm not afraid of pointing out my own shortcomings. I know when I'm able to do a job and when I'm not. There's a lot more of the first than the second in my employment history and I'm confident of my abilities in many areas. So when I'm not, I don't mind pointing it out. I know it drives some of my superiors mad, especially when they're in the process of talking me up, but I don't want to take on a position under false pretences, only for the higher ups to discover that I can't really do what they wanted me to do.

So anyway, I'll talk to my manager and see what happens. Maybe it will all turn out wonderfully. You never know your luck.

By the way, does anyone know anything about this BlogShares thingo? Apparently it's "a fantasy stock market where weblogs are the companies". Apparently, my blog has a valuation of B$3,576.94 and some person called Blog Lastedge.net bought 1250 shares back in July. And this is without me even knowing it was listed. Curious.

Listening to: Jeff Buckley - Grace

The Ex

Want proof that it's a small world? Check out the trio of Heather (who is now a published columnist), Benjamin, and Stephanie. Apparently, Heather and Stephanie both dated Benjamin at the same time, before they knew each other. Reading Benjamin's take on it has been particularly interesting for me. I often wonder how The Ex would write about our relationship.

It was interesting how we started. We're both friends of T&S and we met at T's birthday party many years ago. There was some idle flirting and obvious interest on both sides, though it wasn't all that obvious to me at the time as I'm notoriously blind to these things. So far that I've been known to say in the past that I didn't even know a guy liked me "that way" until his tongue was down my throat. I'm accustomed to being good friends with guys and accustomed to being one of the boys. Most guys like me for me - they like my sense of humour and my plain-talking style. I don't play games, I'm genuinely interested in people and tend to find it easy to talk to anyone.

Anyway, back to the point. We became occasional friends. Whenever we saw each other, we'd chat like old pals. Then one day he emailed me - he'd seen my email address on a group email from either T or S and sent me something sweet and slightly crazy and needlessly verbose. I wrote back, and so we became close friends by email. We still saw each other occasionally at T&S's place, but were now more likely to co-ordinate those meetings. We discussed work. We gave each other advice on our love lives. He started coming to gigs and dinners with my friends with me. In those days, I was quite the social butterfly and had friends all over the place - and the Ex became the only common denominator between my various groups of friends.

So, about a year later, when I had to bring a date to a formal party, I invited him. Although we were both single at the time, it was just a friend thing. At least it was from my perspective.

We went to the formal party. We got drunk. We had a great time. He was crashing at my place, and when we got back there in the early hours of the morning, neither of us could be bothered pulling out the spare mattress, so he slept in my bed. Again, not necessarily a non-friend thing. I've shared beds with many friends (male and female) and nothing has happened. It was just convenient in my place at the time because the spare floor area was so small.

But at some stage in the night, that changed. I'm still not sure how it all started, but I woke up and he was kissing me. And it all developed from there. I'm not going to give you a blow by blow - there ARE some people who know us both that read this after all. But, to my mind, it fit the classic scenario of the "Oh my god what did we do last night" one night stand with a friend. Until the following night, when it happened all over again, but without the alcohol.

This continued for about the next month or so. No-one knew. I hadn't told anyone and I don't think he did either. Everyone thought we were continuing our previous "just friends" relationship.

But I liked him. A lot. So eventually, I had to ask. Was this just an ongoing one night stand? Or was it going somewhere, supposed to be more? There hadn't been any definite signs from him and I wanted to know where we stood. We had "the talk". I had just come out of a purely sexual relationship and didn't want another one. He was coming off an extended term of serial monogamy didn't want to get into a full-on couple-type relationship. So we called it quits. I was cool that. A little hurt of course (after all, I did really like him), but I'd had no expectations. I did, however, tell him that I thought he was mad. In my experience to that time, I'd not found many guys that I was both sexually compatible with and mentally compatible with. His ex's had been blonde bimbos from what I'd seen and I thought he was passing up something great. And I told him so.

A month later, he agreed with me. He invited himself up to my place for the weekend and we had "the talk 2: the revised edition". And so we became an official couple.

And for about a year, it was great. We were living in different cities and so were a weekend couple. I had changed jobs and my new work frowned upon personal emailing, so that dried up, but we'd call each other at 8pm every night (when you could make cheap or free phone calls mobile to mobile) and talk about our day. He was sweet and funny and romantic and he made me feel like the sexiest woman in existence.

After many dramas (more on that later maybe), we moved in together. I think it was probably a disaster from the start, not the least because of the dramas and how we each handled them. I guess I'm an instant sort of a person. When something goes wrong, I cry and rage and need support all in the moment. Once the moment's over, my emotional response is also over. And I deal with the consequences competently and without further "what ifs" or ongoing trauma. The Ex supported me through the moment of some of these dramas, but couldn't deal with the consequences and seemed to go through a period of just not coping with anything at all. Not the best way to start our de facto life together.

And so I lost some of my respect for him. He had great ideas, but didn't follow through. He had trouble completing even the simplest task I requested of him. I discovered that he has great intelligence, but very little common sense. I found myself becoming a nag, and I hated that in myself, and started to hate him for bringing that out in me. Or maybe not hate him, just love him a little less. Because I did love him. I had some doubts at the time, but I know now that I did.

But I could still see us working in the long term. I could still see that we could make a great couple and great parents. I thought that if only we could resolve the little problems, the big ones would fall into place, because even in our worst times together, we still had communication and we still laughed together.

But ultimately, it came down to two issues:

1. I wanted marriage and kids and he wasn't sure what he wanted.
2. I was financially secure and secure in my career and he wasn't.

The end point (apparently) was actually when I suggested that we live on his income and use mine (which was significantly more) to pay off his debt. This meant that his debt would have been paid out in a couple of months instead of a couple of years. This would have meant joint bank accounts and accountability to each other for what we spent. From my perspective, I also wanted more commitment from him. I thought it was fair that, if I was going to make a significant financial contribution to his future, he could do something to convince me that we had a future as a couple. I wasn't necessarily looking for an engagement ring as I knew that he wasn't keen on that, but something to show that, after over 2 years in a full-on relationship, we had progressed beyond mere dating.

The trigger for me asking this was that, only a few weeks before, he had agreed to go overseas (for some months this time) without consulting me. And he commented that the offer had been made to him, rather than the others, because he was the only single guy in his section - all the others had responsibilities. It wasn't a requirement of his position, it was an opportunity. And I understood why he would want to go, but I felt that, as his live-in and potentially long-term partner, I should have had some input into that decision. The fact that he hadn't thought that even talking to me about it was necessary, made me wonder about his level of commitment to me. And his respect for me. So I wasn't prepared to continue to be the giving partner, without something more from him.

As it turned out, he wasn't prepared to do that. He launched his decision on me a few weeks later when everything was good. We were supposed to go away for the weekend, and he told me on the Friday night that he wouldn't be coming with me because he was going to move out. Apparently (so I was told later), I was supposed to try and talk him out of it. But his timing sucked - I had commitments that weekend and he knew that. I thought he chose his moment because he knew that I wouldn't have time to argue with him. I got home at 5:30pm and we had to be on the road by 6pm at the latest to be there on time. So I basically told him to do what he had to do, but if he was gone by the time I got back on Sunday night, then it was completely over and there was no coming back. If he was still there on Sunday night, then we could talk it over and try to reach a resolution. And when I came back on Sunday, he was gone.

Despite this, we stayed on good terms for the first month after the break-up. Then things started getting a little strained. I was coping better with the break-up than he was. I wasn't bitching about him behind his back or trying to make our mutual friends choose sides. I was encouraging friends to make the effort to stay in touch with him, as I was quite worried about how he was dealing with it. We talked fairly regularly about the mechanics of severing of our lives together, amongst other things.

Then I found out that he'd started dating (and sleeping with) a mutual friend of ours shortly after our break-up. And he'd made sure that everyone else knew before he told me about it. No-one had told me because they thought it might be a betrayal of him (after all, mutual friends does mean loyalties to both of us) and of the mutual friend. He had hoped that someone would tell me so he wouldn't have to. I couldn't believe that he would do that to me. Especially since he knew how much importance I placed on open communication to maintain a friendship.

But what really hurt was that this was a girl that he'd always said he didn't like. We'd even had a discussion about who in our group of friends we considered "dateable" (as per Seinfeld) and he said that she wasn't because "she was too whiney and needy". He had joked about how she would go for anything with a penis. And I had stood up for her. I had included her in our activities. I had accepted her invitations for us to join her in her activities. He had never wanted to.

It hurt so much - not only that he'd moved on so fast, and with a friend of mine (had he not heard of not shitting in his own nest?), but that it was with someone he'd so frequently dismissed. And he hadn't even had the guts or respect for me and our fragile friendship to discuss it with me. I seriously wondered whether he'd cheated on me with her - whether she was the cause of the break up (after all, it was very quick and unexpected). I doubted myself, that he would move from me to her. Was I really less desirable than her? It wasn't pretty, and I'm not proud of my feelings at that time, but that's how I felt.

So I cut all ties. It hurt me to see him. It hurt me to even hear about her. I felt that they'd both betrayed me. Her worse than him, but a definite sense of betrayal from them both. I had trusted him not to hurt me. To make sure that this transitional period would be as stressfree for me as I was trying to make it for him. But he hadn't even considered my feelings in this. And that really hurt.

I thought about seeking revenge - telling our mutual friends stories I knew about both of them that would hurt them and their relationship - but at I least I had enough self-respect to refrain from that. I'm glad I did. It means that I now have nothing to regret from that period of time.

I spent 6 weeks overseas on a holiday. All on my own. It was a very introspective time for me and I resolved a lot of the issues from the break up and his subsequent relationship. I came back prepared to forgive, if not to forget. I tried to re-establish contact, and heard nothing. After several attempts, I gave up.

At the gatherings of mutual friends, he ignored me. It was as if we were strangers, except that strangers would have been more friendly. And it was awkward because everyone knew that we were ex's. Friends spent significant time and energy working out how to keep us both in their lives but not anywhere near each other. He was still dating that same girl (the one after me) but she didn't get along with our mutual friends and the feeling was pretty much mutual. I think that by breaking "the code", she had also broken all ties with that group. But he seemed oblivious to this. So I emailed him again - I thought this was ridiculous and that, if we could meet for coffee and clear the air, we could at least be civil to each other on the inevitable occasions when we were part of the same group at an event. I was even prepared to be civil to the new girlfriend. But I thought we probably needed a one-on-one discussion first.

So, eventually (about 9 months after I got back from overseas), we met. And talked it all through. From my perspective, it worked to clear the air, but I found out towards the end that this reconcilliation was behind his girlfriend's back. She didn't want him having any contact with me (and this was nearly a year after they started dating) and he wasn't prepared to stand up to her about it. I told him that I was happy to meet for a chat again, but only with her knowledge. I wasn't going to be meeting him behind her back and making this into something clandestine and dodgy. It was coffee or a meal in a public venue and nothing more. But if she found out that he was meeting me, knowing that she was against it and so withholding that information from her, then it would be turned into something bigger than Ben Hur and I didn't want any part of that.

So we didn't see each other again before I went to Europe. And by the time I got back, he'd broken up with her. While I was still living with T&S, he came over when they were out and we sat and chatted while watching TV. Things are settled now, and we're friendly but it's still not a friendship. Without trust, I doubt it ever will be.

Listening to: Sarah McLaughlin - Surfacing

CG models

Have a look at these pictures:

There's something a little wrong with them right? Well it's because they're CG models. See this story on Wired Magazine (also the source of the "photos") for more info.

Well, I had another quiet weekend. I spent Friday night at home with the full house that T&S's place has become (they had 4 houseguests!) and crashed early with my cold.

Saturday I spent dropping T&S off and then picking them up again at various venues, in between sleeping off my cold (still). For this, I received many brownie points. Which is good, since I'll probably be calling them in when I move next weekend.

Saturday night I went to the movies with the Vegetarian. We arranged to meet up after I'd dropped T&S off for their last function of the day (a wedding), so didn't have a specific movie in mind to go to and our choices were limited by the fact that the Vegetarian had already seen most of them. So we were down to The Grudge and The Garden State. I'm not good with horror movies and hadn't heard good reviews of The Grudge anyway, so we picked The Garden State. And I'm glad we did. It was a great movie - funny, sad, poignant, romantic, quirky. It all centres around the return home of Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff who also wrote and directed) for the funeral of his mother. He hasn't been home for 9 years and his relationship with his father (Ian Holm) is strained. While he's home, he runs into an eclectic mixture of old school mates from high school. The love interest (Sam) is played by Natalie Portman, who puts in a delightful performance as a girl with problems and quirks of her own, but who is a true individual with a loving family (ie exactly what Andrew isn't). Anyway, I loved it, I give it 4 stars (do I sound like Margaret?)

Oh and the soundtrack was great as well - Iron and Wine, The Shins, Nick Drake, Coldplay... if you go to the website I've linked for the movie above, you can hear excerpts.

Sunday, I bought a mattress. That's all. The rest of the day I slept and watched TV and read my book.

Listening to: music excerpts on The Garden State website

Metal City

I like this cartoon:

From Metal City - there's more there. He says he drew them in class at RMIT.

I have no real plans for the weekend. The Vegetarian is going to call me on Saturday morning to make arrangements to catch up. T&S have a big weekend planned and I'm going to try and help out there as much as possible. Both of them look exhausted - T has the same cold that I do and hasn't been getting much sleep because the bub is teething, and S has been trying to take the load off her so that she can get more than 4 hours sleep a night and recover. But then he's been having a hard time at work with some major dramas he's been trying to fix, so he's stressed and worn out as well (and possibly coming down with the same cold).

I'm still pretty stuffed up and have a chesty cough that sounds like I'm dying. I feel okay, but sound awful. Well, my voice sounds pretty good - I've got that deep husky thing going - but only until I start coughing and snuffling. And my nose is all red and swollen from blowing it so much, so I look a treat as well. So yeah, going out on the town is not exactly a priority for me right now. Anyway, there's nothing on this weekend that I'm really keen to see other than the Refugee Benefit gig on Sunday night at The Rev. So I may as well save my energy to move house again next weekend.

But before I go, a bit of fun:

You Are a Pundit Blogger!
Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few
What kind of blogger are you?

Aww, shucks. I never knew!

Magic Pick Up Lines

To pick up the Vegetarian (or Rufus): I've just moved you to the top of my to do list.

I like - If I were to ask you for sex... would your answer be the same as the answer to this question? But if you asked me that, I'd probably answer "Potentially...". And then bat my eyelashes and smile sweetly.

To pick up me - You are like a candy bar: half sweet and half nuts.

And yep, that would probably work. Making me laugh generally does.

Listening to: Darren Hanlon - Hello Stranger

For the very first time

Back when I broke up with The Ex, I wrote this poem. Unlike most of my stuff, it doesn't rhyme and it was never intended to be put to music. It's not my best work, but just a reminder to myself that some good things came out of that year. It's basically chronological of the year, with only some poetic licence taken.

For the very first time

When I was 28
I had my heart broken
By someone I trusted
For the very first time

When I was 28
I was in a car crash
And I suffered whiplash
For the very first time

When I was 28
I had to move a house
Rather than just a room
For the very first time

When I was 28
I moved in with a girl
Had a female flatmate
For the very first time

When I was 28
I travelled overseas
By myself with no plans
For the very first time

When I was 28
I saw a live sunset
Over a west coast sea
For the very first time

When I was 28
I saw snow on the ground
And falling from the sky
For the very first time

When I was 28
I glimpsed glowworms in caves
And touched real stalagmites
For the very first time

When I was 28
I sat by a calm lake
And wrote in my diary
For the very first time

When I was 28
I laughed through jet boating
And white water rafting
For the very first time

When I was 28
I learnt to ski on snow
And how to surf a wave
For the very first time

When I was 28
My place was burglarised
And my stuff was stolen
For the very first time

When I was 28
I learnt how to play darts
From a friend of my friends
For the very first time

When I was 28
I discovered myself
And was happy solo
For the very first time

Listening to: Augie March - Sunset Studies

schools - private vs public

My friends with kids have been talking a lot about schools lately. Which ones to send their kids to, but more specifically, whether to go private (ie non-State school aka Grammer School) or public (ie "free" education - schools funded by the State).

I think in many ways, it depends on what schools are in your area. I grew up in two areas which were known for having very bad state schools and very good private schools. So I was put down on the list for enrolment at certain private schools almost at birth. But only for high school - my parents couldn't afford private school when I was younger and they also thought it was more important to go to a "good" school for high school.

So I went to a couple of state primary schools and a couple of private high schools. I thought it worked well.

Some of my friends who went private all the way through had a very unrealistic sense of what "real life" was. They thought that everyone's parents were like their own - they had no idea how the other half lived. For example, one of my friends went to a top private school all the way through. She then attended uni at Bond University (at the time, Australia's only fee-paying uni - I'm still not sure if she knows that her parents got a 2nd mortgage on their home to afford that!). So she's only ever mixed with the upper economic classes really. She is younger than me and, to my knowledge, has already had the equivalent of two nervous breakdowns because she just can't handle the stresses of "real life" in the jobs she's been in. She's never bought a car, she's never had a loan, she's never rented. Her parents bought her a house a little while ago. And she takes it all as her due. I'm not saying that all private school kids are like that, but there honestly do seem to be a fairly high percentage in the ones I've come across that are. I may be spoilt by my parents, but at least I know that I'm spoilt.

On the other hand, I have many friends who were lost in the public high school system. I think you have to be not only bright but also extremely organised and ambitious to succeed in the public high school system. I was never organised or ambitious, and hung around the rebels in late primary, so I suspect if I'd gone to a state high school (which was what I wanted at the time), I'd now be a single mother on welfare like most of my friends from that time. Or at least, I would never have made good enough grades to even attend uni, let alone get into law.

To illustrate, I use two examples.

1. My brother - he went from being one of the brightest kids (and the school sports captain) in Grade 7 (the last year of primary school) to a "good C student" by Grade 10 (the third year of high school). None of his teachers knew who he was - he wasn't one of the know-it-all brains and he didn't make trouble, so he was simply overlooked. The fact that his average grades had droped from A's to C's- during his three years at a public high school wasn't considered a problem by his teachers. They actually asked my parents what they (the teachers) were meant to do about it. This is why I was sent to a private school for grades 8 to 12, and my brother was also sent to a private school in grades 11 and 12 (the last two years of high school).

2. My best friend from grade 7 - we were in all of the top classes together in grades 6 and 7 but she was better at maths and I was better at English (or reading/writing skills). We were both rebellious and had smart mouths, so we got along really well together. We stayed friends through grades 8 to 10 when I went to my first private school and she went to the local high school. By grade 10, she was failing every class. She dropped out of school before she had completed grade 10 to have her first baby. She was 15. I haven't seen her in years (we lost touch when I went to my 2nd private high school for grades 11 and 12), but my brother saw her a few years back and she was up to kid No.6 by then and proudly telling him that she hadn't worked for more than a month straight since she left high school. He told me that she was a little scary and more than a little pathetic.

It could so easily have been me. Even in my private schools, my grades varied pretty dramatically. For example, I was a straight A student in English through grade 8, but had dropped to a B-/C average by early grade 10. The difference was that my teachers had picked up on this and I was involved in many parent/teacher conferences to determine what the problem was. By grade 11 & 12, I was back up to a B+ average (though that meant I was third top in my year - only one kid had an A average).

My grades still weren't brilliant. I still mucked around in class and rarely did any study beyond the basic homework set. I still didn't do more than one or two night's study for exams. I only got one A on my Senior Certificate. But my school was marking hard and when my class was graded against the state average on the standardised test (pdf doc), my B grades still got me a tertiary entrance score in the top 1% of the state and I could have my pick of any course I wanted.

So the moral of the story? If I have kids, I will probably do the same thing that my parents did with me, and my brother is planning with his kids - state primary school, then private high school.

Listening to: the sound of myself snuffling (I have a cold)

Astrology - my chart wheel

I don't believe that astrology can predict your personality or future, but I do find it interesting.

All of this is from astrology.com


I have a convergence of planets in the Second Quadrant which apparently concentrates an individual's focus on an outward development, the moving out from oneself to integrate with the world through family, romantic and career relationships.

Most of these are in the 5th House, so my chart is weighted toward Fixed energy. Most of my signs in the 5th House are also Aquarius (which is a Fixed Sign). This apparently means I'm steady, reliable and confident. Conversely, those born under a Fixed Sign (like me - an Aquarius) can at times be stubborn, my-way-or-the-highway folks. They may have a tendency to get stuck in their ways and to believe that they are always right. Those influenced by a Fixed Quality are determined, reliable and persistent. They have great strength, and strength of purpose, and love to get the job done.

One's outward image is largely defined by the planetary placement at the ascendant - my ascendant is Libra. The descendant addresses how we view our relationships with others - mine is Aries. Through the medium coeli we can glean much about an individual's social status and public persona - mine doesn't seem to exist in the symbol chart? It's the one at the top that looks like 69 on it's side. The imum coeli looks inward and represents childhood, home and family - mine is Capricorn.

I have predominantly Air signs in my chart (9). And my Sun sign (Aquarius) is also an Air sign. Air Signs are communicative, intellectual, clever and fair. They can blow hot and cold, though, so beware of a chilly draft!

I also have a fair bit of Fire (5) in my chart. Fire Signs are strong, self-assured, creative and fun. When they get too hot to touch, though, it may be a good idea to stand back!

First House (the House of Self)
Key Points - personality, ego, self-image

I have Libra (balance) and Uranus (The Planet of Rebellion) in my 1st House, so neither the ruling sign nor the ruling planet.

Second House (the House of Possessions)
Key Points - possessions, values, finances

I have Neptune (Planet of Illusion) and Sagittarius (truth-seeking) in my 2nd House, so neither the ruling sign nor the ruling planet.

Third House (the House of Communication)
Key Points - communication, intelligence, sharing

I have the North Node (unfamiliarity) and Sagittarius (truth-seeking) in my 3rd House, so neither the ruling sign nor the ruling planet.

Fourth House (the House of Home)
Key Points - home, family, ancestry

I have Capricorn (hard working), Pallas (problem solving ability) and Juno (needs in a partner) in my 4th House, so neither the ruling sign nor the ruling planet.

Fifth House (the House of Pleasure)
Key Points - pleasure, creativity, romance

I have Aquarius (social conscience) and Capricorn (hard working); Sun (the Planet of Self), Mercury (the Planet of Communication), Venus (the Planet of Love and Money), Jupiter (the Planet of Luck) and Ceres (nurturing) in my 5th House, so I have the ruling planet, but not the ruling sign.

Sixth House (the House of Health)
Key Points - health, work, routine

I have nothing in my 6th house. Perhaps this means I have no need for routine?

Seventh House (the House of Partnership)
Key Points - partnership, marriage, motives for partnership

I have Chiron (the wounded healer) and Aries (leader of the pack) in my 7th House, so neither the ruling sign nor planet.

Eighth House (the House of Sex)
Key Points - sex, death, rebirth

I have Taurus (rewards/comfort/excess), the Moon (Ruler of the Emotions) and Mars (the Planet of Passion) in my 8th House, so one of the ruling planets, but not the ruling sign.

Ninth House (the House of Philosophy)
Key Points - philosophy, education, law

I have Saturn (the Planet of Karma) and Gemini (intellectual/communication) in my 9th House, so neither the ruling planet, nor sign.

Tenth House (the House of Social Status)
Key Points - social status, achievement, rewards

I have Midheaven (career) and Cancer (home/family) in my 10th House, so neither the ruling sign nor planet.

Eleventh House (the House of Friends)
Key Points - friends, destiny, stepchildren

I have nothing in the 11th House. Perhaps this means I like to work alone?

Twelfth House (the House of the Unconscious)
Key Points - subconscious, personality, defines how we move forward

I have Pluto (the Planet of Power) and Libra (partnership) in my 12th House, so neither the ruling sign nor planets.

So a summary of my personality according to my birth chart would be:

outward image - balance
relationship with others - leader of the pack
childhood/home/family - hard working

Self - balance and rebellion
Possessions - illusion and truth-seeking
Communication - truth-seeking and unfamiliarity
Home - hard-working, problem solving ability greatest at home, need for domestic partner
Pleasure - social conscience, hard working, self, communication, love and money, luck, nurtured by excitement
Health - nothing
Sex - reward/comfort, emotion, passion
Philosophy - Karma, intellectual communication
Social status - career, home/family
Friends - nothing
Unconscious - power, partnership

Yeah, sounds about right.

Listening to: Faithless - Outrospective

I'm an idiot!

Yep, I may have an IQ in the top 1% of the world or something ridiculous like that, but I'm an idiot. A complete moron. I knew I had a sore back. I knew the boxes were heavy. But I still decided that moving them on Wednesday night would be a good idea. It wasn't just that the boxes were heavy, I didn't have any access to the carpark, so I had to carry them down a couple of flights of stairs to get them to the car. All on my own. I had help at the other end to get them from the car into my current temporary abode with T&S, but I think by then the damage had been done.

So I wake up on Thursday morning and I could barely move. I couldn't walk up even the two little steps to get from the kitchen into the lounge room. In fact, I could hardly walk at all. Friday I'm better, but still very sore and dreading having to move the rest of my stuff over the weekend.

Early Saturday morning, when I realise that there is no way that I'm going to be able to move my stuff on my own, I send out a bunch of text messages to my various friends hoping that one of them will be able to help out. And Genie comes to my rescue. She arrives around and spends the next couple of hours helping me knock over all bar the last minute stuff (which will all be very light). Thankfully, I do have movement by Saturday - I can't bend down easily and can't pick up a box from the floor (for example), but I can walk and carry light stuff.

Saturday morning I moved. Saturday afternoon I rested. And Saturday night I went out. The plan was for those of us who will be camping together at Woodford to have dinner together and then go to a gig. All went well. Dinner was good and the conversation flowed. Despite being a bit grumpy with my sore back, I didn't get overly annoyed by anyone. Hopefully, I didn't overly annoy any of the others either.

I also joined the others for the gig. It was the Tonjip CD launch at the Troubadour. We arrived part way through the first support - Brendan Watson (from Propane). I wasn't really paying that much attention to it (we were busy greeting people, getting drinks and finding seats), but from what I heard, I liked.

Next up was Wesley Davidson, the reason why we had all gone. I really do like this guy and his band. They make good music, they're funny with the banter, and they're interesting visually. Well, I think so anyway. I'm just waiting for them to release a proper CD now.

The last support for the evening was Shutterspeed. For some reason, I've always had trouble differentiating these guys from the Toothfaeries. Probably because I don't particularly like either band, but enjoyed their festival gigs. They are what I affectionately refer to as "indy cock rock" - bands that I consider stuck in the grunge era and relying more on pure noise than any real talent on their instruments. I was bored.

I was also tired and starting to get a sore back again. So I promised myself that I would give the lead act, Tonjip, two songs - after that, if I really liked them I'd stay; if I didn't, I'd leave. I left.

Sunday morning, I moved the last minute stuff over to T&S's place. I started early and was all done by about 8am. Just as well, as it ended up being a hot day and this way, it was all over before the heat set in.

Ages ago, I had organised brunch with T&S, the Genie, the Tall Guy and the Teacher. We went to Toscini's at Carindale and all had a lovely time. I met the Teacher's little son for the first time, who is very cute. The service was pretty slow, but the food was good and my fruit smoothie was divine!

Sunday arvo, I babysat for T&S while they went to the movies (one of the advantages of them having a houseguest) and then headed back over to my old place to clean. And was that a hot job! My flatmate had closed off my bedroom and bathroom and put on the air-conditioning so the two rooms were like ovens when I got there. I cleaned as quickly as possible and was dripping with sweat by the time I'd finished. But at least it only took me about 1/2 hour and I then I was out of there! Yay!

My flatmate's been like a chick with really bad PMT for the last couple of weeks, so I'm just so happy that it's all over now and I don't have to try and pussyfoot around his moods. Living with T&S is always easy - T cooks, S and I clean and then we all have our "chores" on the weekend to get the housework done. And they only charge me $100/week board, which includes all bills including food. I would live there full-time if it wasn't for the fact that I'm sure I'd wear out my welcome eventually. As it is, so far I've only stayed there for fairly short periods of time and I've always left while I was still a welcome guest. Definitely the best way!

Oh, and if you don't already read sarni's blog, you should read this post. Sarni is my intellectual friend - she thinks about things like philosophy and politics in the same way that I think about things like shoes and which beer to drink.

Listening to: Butterfingers - Breakfast at Fat Boys

moving pains

Well, the good news is that I got the place I wanted. Well, assuming that my application goes through - they are just waiting for my current flatmate to call them back and (assuming he doesn't tell them lies) it will all go through. Apparently they called on Friday and he still hasn't called them back, despite two reminders from me and a couple of messages from them. I mean, I understand that it would not be his highest priority, but I think it's just rude not to return a phone call within 24 hours. *sigh* Anyway...

I can't move in for another couple of weeks yet, but my flatmate wants me out now, so I'm going to move in with T&S for a couple of weeks. On their suggestion, which was very nice of them. We haven't worked out exact timing yet, but I'll be seeing S on Thursday night when I move some of my stuff over there and I'm sure we can work it all out then.

I was supposed to be moving my stuff all of this week, but we've had thunderstorms in the evening all week (last night's was a whopper) and I can't get my stuff from the flat to the car without spending a fair time outside and not under cover.

When I called S last night to tell him I wouldn't be over (again), he had just seen T off on a plane to visit some friends of theirs. He couldn't go because he's just started a new job. Which is a shame for him, but was nice for me, because he was really chatty on the phone and we talked for about 40 minutes! I haven't had a big talk like that with S for ages, and I've got to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The bad news is that I was packing up my room last night and I think I've hurt my back. It's certainly very sore today. I think it might have been from moving my CD tower, which was pretty heavy with 200+ CDs in it (and that's only about 2/3 of my entire collection) and awkward to get from the lounge room into my bedroom.

At this stage, I've just packed up stuff and left it boxed up and in the corner of my room - so one corner of my room is impassable, and the rest of my room is starting to look rather bare. Tonight, I'm hoping to pack up the rest of the non-essentials, so that it will all be ready to move on Thursday (the weather forecast is for fine weather by then). S has offered to come over after squash and lend an extra car and extra pair of hands into the mix, which will mean that I should be able to move most of it in one trip, since S also has a station wagon. It also means that I can move some of the stuff that takes two people.

Hopefully my back will be better by then as well!

Listening to: Machine Gun Fellatio - Paging Mr Strike

Racism and religion (and some less controversial subjects)

I've had a bunch of links sitting there for a while now, just waiting for me to do something about them. So I thought, today is the day, and here they are.


I used to work on the same floor as one of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups. Chatting to the staff in the lunch room or in the lift, you find out stuff. I've had friends who were of aboriginal or TSI ancestry and dated a couple of these friends when I was younger. While the majority of my friends are certainly middle-class white caucasians, I've always had friends that don't fit into that category. But they've always been very similar to me in attitude, dress and speech. I have never been friends with someone who is dramatically different to me. So does this make me racist?

My parents love to tell the tale of Michella, a girl I knew in primary school. I told them everything about her, from her favourite colour to what she ate and where she'd lived before. The only thing I had never mentioned was the colour of her skin. So it was a bit of a shock to them when they met her and discovered that she was "as black as the ace of spades". She was born in Africa and had been adopted at an early age. The thing was, it had never occured to me to comment on it.

Now that I'm older, I'm more likely to notice the differences. Sometimes I find these interesting - I certainly remember quizzing the first Jewish person I met because I was fascinated by his religion and the dietary requirements. I don't think anyone who is a different colour or religion from me is any better or worse than me, but they are different. I'm more likely to ask someone who looks Asian or Middle Eastern or African where they come from (ie about their ancestry) than I would a caucasian like me. So does this make me racist?

Anyway, the reason why I'm going into all of this is because, when I was overseas, I found that there is this perception that Australia is racist because of it's general attitude to refugees and the Aboriginal people (the Torres Strait Islanders were usually conveniently forgotten). My attitudes to refugees are a bit complicated and can't be summed up in one blog post (however this site has a good introduction to the issues). But my attitude to the problems faced by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is not that dissimilar to that expressed by Sue Gordon, who will be heading up the new National Indigenous Council. I don't think that an apology to the stolen generation will change a thing. Family violence, under-education and poor employment prospects, alcohol abuse and poor health - these are all issues which should be addressed and may make a difference to the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

But all of the problems seem to come down to one thing, and this seems to be the same problem with indigenous people in any developed nation - a lack of self-esteem and pride in their ancestry. It's the message that came out of the Once Were Warriors movie for me. Unfortunately, you can't fix this by throwing money at it - it requires understanding and respect of the various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures - so it's not going to be resolved by standard methods, but is something that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves have to work on. I believe that Mabo did a lot for the Murray Islanders, but didn't do much for the others.

Anyway, ages ago, I found two links of opposing views, both of which seem to be written by non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, both of which are fairly moderate, and both of which I agree with to some extent. This one is anti-apology. And this one is pro-apology. I think they put some of the best arguments for each side in a non-radical manner.


Some comments by a guy called Jack on Rufus' blog got me looking for info on religion in Australia. I know from comments I've read over many years that Australia is a far more secular society than say America, but my experiences and views have always been a little tainted by the fact that (a) both of my parents are atheists who don't believe in any form of life after death; and (b) I attended schools with a religious affiliation for the latter half of my school career.

But I do remember reading the statistics that, while maybe 3/4 of Australians list themselves on the census as being Christian, less than 1/2 of those would consider themselves practising Christians (these statistics (or see this site for graphic representations) are slightly different, but in the same vein - I couldn't find the results I had read before). For example, I know many people who, if asked their religion, would say "Anglican" (or whatever), but only because they were christened anglican - they haven't attended a church outside of weddings and funerals in the last 10+ years. So I've actually attended church more often than they have - I like cathedrals and went to a couple of services when I was overseas. And I usually go to something over Christmas because I like the decorations and the choir singing Christmas carols. For me, it has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with an appreciation of beauty.

My own views on spirituality is a bit of a mish-mash. Most teenagers go through a period when they rebel against their parents by rebelling against their parents' religion. I sort of did the same thing, but I rebelled against my parents' non-religion. I investigated just about every religion I had ever heard about. Unlike many Christians, I've read the bible - cover to cover. About the only non-cult religion I didn't try was Scientology, but only because there wasn't much information on it at the time. I didn't join churches - I was always one to make up my own mind about something before I sought company in my views - but I read everything I could get my hands on about each religion I investigated.

So I started out an agnostic and ended up an atheist who believes in spirituality and life after death. My beliefs are probably closest to basic Buddhism than anything else. I like the Zen emphasis on personal experience, but not the whole master disciple part. I like the Tibetan emphasis on compassion for others, but not the whole ritual and worship part. I like the idea of balance - the recognition that people will do bad things, but you can balance the bad things you do by doing equal or greater good things.

Bed bugs

I've blogged before about the bites I got in Melbourne, which I suspect were bed bug bites because I've been bitten before (in Paris) and discovered then that I'm allergic to them. But I had thought that bed bugs weren't a problem in Australia... turns out, there's been a resurgence of them in both Australia and America.

Makes the idea of further travel less enjoyable. I really don't want to go through the health problems of Paris/Melbourne again and the only other option would be to take anti-histamines the whole time so that, if I'm bitten, at least I won't react.

Music knowledge test

Despite this test being UK based, I actually scored remarkably well. I guess this just proves that I'm a music geek.

I think like a girl

Yep, I took the test and I don't just look like a girl, I also think like one. I actually found this quite surprising, since I usually score very highly on logic and numerical tests (including the ability to see things in three dimensions). But I only got one question wrong (the find this shape one - I ran out of time), so maybe that's what gave me a "you think like a girl" sort of response.

100 Law Students You Don't Want To Be

This is an old post on Jeremy's Weblog.

Is it a worry that I think I would have fit into about 20 of the 100 descriptions at some stage during the completion of my degree? Bonus points to anyone who can guess which ones. Hint: none of the laptop ones apply since no-one had a laptop when I was at uni.

Listening to: Ben Folds Five - self titled

weekend with the oldies

Oh man! I'm so zonked today. Sharing a bedroom with a 2yo all weekend isn't exactly conducive to sleep. In addition to which, I took some Mersyndol last night because I arrived home with a stabbing headache. Which leads to a Mersyndol hangover - it's why I try not to take Mersyndol on school nights. The tabs themselves work beautifully, but I don't enjoy trying to work through the vague and fuzzy feeling the next day.

Despite the fact that the weekend both started and finished with a headache, it was actually a really good weekend. I drove up on Friday night through pelting rain and fog (it was so foggy when I hit the range that I was couldn't see to the end of my headlights) and dropped in quickly to Mum and Dad's to give my great-aunt her birthday present before heading over to B&S's to sleep. Poor B wasn't having a good time. S works on weekday nights and B looks after the kids. When I arrived, my nephew was asleep but my niece was still up. B tried to get her to go to sleep after about 1/2 hour, but she'd had a big day and just screamed for about the next hour. Then her screaming woke up my nephew and by the time B had got her off, my nephew was running around full of beans like it was the middle of the afternoon rather than the middle of the night. Since he wasn't settling down with me in front of the TV (I was watching The Sound of Music), B took him off to his bed and then my nephew screamed for about 1/2 hour. B actually fell asleep in there when settling him. So I didn't get to bed until after 11pm, despite having been tired enough to sleep since about 8pm.

And I was up bright and early the next day. My nephew woke up a little after 5am and then woke me up by yelling 'Hello (OLS)' in his brightest, cheeriest voice... right next to my ear. I played with him for a couple of hours until B&S got up and then I went back to bed for a quick snooze before I had to head off to Mum and Dad's to help Mum prepare for the big family lunch.

As per usual, Mum was completely disorganised. She hadn't even shopped when I arrived, but headed off about 11am for a lunch that was supposed to start at midday. *sigh* I really wonder about her sometimes. You see, she leaves everything until the last minute and then gets all flustered when it takes ages to get stuff ready. And complains afterwards that she didn't get to really talk to anyone. I'm an organiser. For the same sort of thing that she did on Saturday, I would have shopped on Thursday (before everyone arrived), prepared most of it on Friday and then done the last couple of things on Saturday morning before mid-morning. So from then on, all I'd have to do is get myself beautiful and relax with the early arrivers (of which there were many as they all had to drive at least 2 hours to get there). But no, Mum leaves everything to the last minute and then gets flustered. And she'd hurt her back as well from trying to do too much around the house in the lead up to it all. She just won't admit that she's not as limber and strong as she used to be. I don't get it - I'm as independant as she is (actually, probably more!), but I'm good at delegation and do it frequently, especially if I'm injured or unable to do it myself for some other reason (like time/timing).

Anyway, the lunch still went well. Grandma was given her gift when she arrived (by the way, they were both chuffed with their pashminas). There were about 20 of us all up, ranging in age from my nephew at 2yo to my grandma at 85. But it was mostly my Dad's generation - his cousins and their spouses to be precise. Many of them hadn't seen me since I was knee-high to a grasshopper and I didn't remember them at all. We started out talking about all of the wrong things - politics mainly, but the party still stayed friendly and the only disagreements were between the octagenarian sisters - who still bicker like 5 year olds, despite the fact that they see each other only rarely.

The only person who seemed to get bored was the 12yo. She was stuck in the middle between the little kids of 4yo and 2yo and me (the next up in age from her) at 30yo. She didn't know any of us well enough to talk (she's very shy) and the kids didn't know her well enough (at that stage) to drag her off to play. So she mostly just hung around and looked at everyone. Or at the table. Her mum was most put out with her - not because she was bored, but because she was making it so obvious and wasn't doing anything to change it.

I recognised a lot of her behaviour and felt a little sorry for her. It's not easy to be stuck with a bunch of people so different in age to you when you're her age. I was the same age when I first met her mum and I'm sure I was just like that. I mentioned this to her mum, and she said that I'd seemed older. Maybe it was just that she'd been younger.

Late afternoon, I finally gave in to my sleepies and headed back to B&S's for a nap. My nap didn't really eventuate though, since B&S arrived back with the kids only about 1/2 hour after I'd hit home and I'd only just settled in to the couch when I got woken up by a 'Hello (OLS)' in my ear - yep, my nephew again. It was his phrase of choice for the weekend. I couldn't even go to the loo or in for a shower without him standing outside the door yelling it at me. Getting progressively louder and louder until he got his 'Hello (nephew)' in return. Then he'd kill himself laughing and start all over again. I got into the habit of just saying 'Hello (nephew)' each time he's start and just continuing on with whatever I was doing.

That night we had the 12yo and her mum staying over with B&S as well. By the time they'd been there for about an hour, the kids had lost their shyness and had started bossing the 12yo around. They'd just grab her hand and drag her off to wherever they wanted her to be. And she'd let them. They all had a lovely time from then on in.

We all had a BBQ for dinner - sitting outside in the clean, rain-sweet, fresh air with a slight smell of citronella from the anti-bug candles. With the older generation drinking Bundy Rum and coke. It was great.

Sunday was a relaxed day, but with lots to do and lots done. I took the 12yo and her mum off to buy some flowers for Mum and S about mid-morning. I took them to the family of a friend of mine who grow roses commercially in the area and she got a great deal - 4 big bunches of short-stemmed roses for $10. Two of the bunches were already open and only had a couple of days left in them, so she'd actually only paid for two bunches. In the meantime, I chatted to the family about what was happening with them and my friend. So it all worked well.

Then we headed off to see my niece dance in her ballet recital. It was her first public performance and she was very shy, but still quite the little performer. I took heaps of photos and my brother took video of the whole thing.

Then it was back to Mum and Dad's again for another lunch created from the leftovers from Saturday. This was less people - just those who had stayed over with either Mum and Dad or B&S. Another relaxed lunch, and then back to the bright lights of BrisVegas, as I was leading the 12yo's mum back to the Logan Motorway turnoff.

Sunday night I watched Shrek 2 (and laughed a lot), packed up some of my stuff in preparation for the move (stuff I won't need in the next couple of weeks - winter clothes, ornamental stuff, pictures), and was asleep by 9pm.

I haven't heard back yet about the place I applied for on Friday. I'm hoping more and more that I get it. I had my appointment for this morning cancelled and the one for tomorrow morning has just been cancelled as well. I'm so sick of this! And I'm sure you're getting sick of reading about it!

Listening to: Ausie March - Sunset Studies

storms through the weekend

It's going to storm this afternoon. This is not a good thing from my point of view because I hate storms and they make me very edgy and nervous. Right now, I'm sitting here with my shoulders tight and my legs jumping.

And I have to drive to my folks' place tonight. Definitely not a good thing.

So why am I driving up there tonight? Well it's my great-aunt's birthday today. She turns 80 and my grandma turned 85 a couple of weeks ago, so we're all having a big family reunion sort of weekend up at my folks place this weekend. It all started last night and I'm expected to help my Mum with preparations bright and early on Sat morning.

I also bought their gifts, since apparently there is nowhere in Toowoomba that sells pashminas.

So I really have to be there tonight to give my great-aunt her present from our family. I probably also need to explain to both my great-aunt and my grandma all the ways you can wear it.

And yep, that's the plans for the whole weekend. To survive my extended family. It may sound tame compared to my usual weekends, but it will actually be quite the task. Five octegenarians, a bunch of my grandma's nieces and nephews and even some of my cousins. And these aren't the cool cousins that have the same sense of humour as me. Nope, this is the other side of the family. Thank god I'm staying with my brother!

I looked at another place this morning. Finally one I like! I've made an application for it, but I know there's at least one other application and likely more, so I'm not holding my breath. The application itself was a massive undertaking. They wanted more info that the bank does if you want a mortgage. A very complicated task for a girl who last had a lease when she was overseas.

Update: In the time since I started this, it has stormed and now it looks like it's clearing up. My tension is easing and I'm maybe even looking forward to spending some time with the kids tonight.

Listening to: Ben Folds - Sunny 16


This post by Scheherazade got me thinking about weddings.

My parents were married on my Mum's 21st birthday. Back then 21 was the age of majority and if you wanted to get married before that, you needed the parents' consent. My maternal grandparents refused to give their consent because my Dad wasn't Catholic. My Mum had renounced her Catholicism some years ago mind you, but her folks still objected to my Dad. Not the least because Mum refused to get married in the Catholic church because to do so you had to agree to raise your kids Catholic. Up until the morning of the wedding, my maternal grandma was still saying that she wouldn't go. And in fact, one of Mum's sisters did refuse to go. But as soon as Mum was married, they all accepted Dad as one of the family - after all, divorce was a much bigger scandal than a non-Catholic husband and wedding.

And my paternal grandma didn't approve of my Mum either. Mum was from one of those typical Catholic families - lots of kids and very little money. She thought my mum was common and not good enough for Dad by half. Once again, she accepted Mum after they were married and I think she's now very pleased that she ended up with Mum as a daughter-in-law. After all, if it was up to Dad, she'd never see any of our family.

So anyway, with all of this parental disapproval around, my folks had to pay for their own wedding. Unusual in those times and not easy for a 21 and 22 year old at the lower end of the job skills market (Dad was a bank teller, Mum was a shop assistant) to afford. So they had the smallest wedding they possibly could. They agreed to only invite immediate family (no cousins or aunts, of which there were many) and mutual friends. By doing so, they kept the size of the wedding down to 50 people, including the wedding party. Mum's dress was a very simple white shift which, after the wedding, she dyed a darker colour so she could wear it to dinners and the like. She had very short hair which couldn't be syled differently even if she'd wanted to and no veil or anything on her head. Dad just wore a suit that he already had. Their wedding procession cars were a bunch of mates' MGs and Austin Healy Sprites.

The ceremony was very simple and then they had a big party in a hall they'd hired after. Mum and Dad both look relaxed and happy in all of the photos and it sounds like a perfect wedding to me.

Maybe this is why my "dream" wedding has always been very simple. I don't really care about the ceremony, I'd be just as happy to just have a public vow exchange sort of deal and we hit the registry office either before or later to do the formalities. Basically, I just want some guy that I love to tell all of our friends and family that he loves me back, and then we all have a big party to celebrate. To me, that would be perfect.

Of course, being a chick, I've thought about what to wear. I think I've mentioned before that I'm a bit of a hippy at heart, so I'd prefer a dress that was a bit longer and more flowing than Mum's, but I'd be happy with something off the rack from my local alternative store - no dressmakers for me! I'd style my hair myself (out if it's cold enough, or just up in a loose bun if it's hot) and just chuck a heap of flowers in it - no veil.

Of course, if the guy I end up wanting to do all of this with really wants the big church wedding deal, well I'd go along with that too. It's not my preference, but what does it really matter? It's the life after the wedding that matters to me, not the wedding itself.

Abrupt change of topic. I didn't see any places this morning. The Real Estate agent (a different one from yesterday obviously) called late yesterday afternoon and said that both properties had now been let. Unfortunately, but the time she told me, it was too late for me to tee up other properties for this morning. Hopefully tomorrow's will still be available by the time I see it! I'm feeling more and more keen about it.

And another abrupt change of topic. I agree with Di (and the Rich she obviously got it from) - this is very cool. Dali crossed with Escher - I like. It does take a while to load though, so be patient.

Oh, and I got linked for the first time by someone I haven't read before. And under the heading "Blogs worth reading". Thanks Ex Mea Sententia!

Man! There are some very rude (and some really sick) smilies out there. I was looking for a smilie for embarrased or blushing for the above comment and went to this site. Thought maybe there might be something under "Love" - nothing I could use, but a few that made me laugh. Then I looked under "Mixed" - ho boy! Eventually found the one I used under "Speechless" - go figure.

I was pondering my group of friends after my blog yesterday and suddenly had the frightening thought that every single one of my friends has a degree. After racking my brains for about 10 minutes, I finally came up with two that don't and felt better. After all, I come from a background where I'm the only person in my immediate family with a degree. The thought that ALL of my friends have one was quite scary. But the thing is that the two that don't are not dissimilar to those that do. All of my friends are thinkers and all are opinionated (even though some voice those opinions less than others). In general, their opinions are deeply considered and firmly felt. They're all aware of the world and the issues of the day. Even when I disagree with their opinions, I always respect them.

Oh - and apparently Kerry has conceded. I'm not really that knowledgeable about US politics, so I'll save the commentary for those who are.

That's probably enough waffling for one day.

Listening to: Ben Folds - Super D