Tuesday, 26 December 2006

well that was a Christmas present I didn't need

Christmas lunch was great. mum prepared most of the vegies, but i looked after the turkey, stuffing it, preparing it and getting it in and out of the oven every 20 minutes to baste. it was an absolutely delicious meal, even if i do say so myself, the turkey and stuffing done to perfection. the day wasn't too hot, we were all happy and comfortable and content at the end of the meal.

but by the end of the day my lower back had started to hurt. a lot. by that night i could barely stand it, and by this morning i could barely walk. turns out lifting a 4kg turkey in and out of the oven probably isn't a great thing to do when you already have a dodgy back. i'm sure there are OH&S issues at play here... :)

but today i had to go out for lunch with dad, janice and nic because i hadn't seen dad for Christmas. so i went out but probably would have been better served staying in bed all day. managed to sit up okay at lunch (at the lowenbrau in the rocks) but afterwards when they all strolled down to the water to take photos, i felt like crying i was in so much pain. janice looked at my face and told dad he needed to take me home - which he hadn't picked up on, even though i'd said several times "i think i just need to go home". mum came over and made me dinner (bubble and squeak with the Christmas day leftovers) and i keep dozing, but haven't been able to settle down completely. i've been tentatively doing exercises and stretches and it seems to be loosening up a bit, but pray that it would be completely healed! and soon!

Sunday, 24 December 2006

conspicuous Christmas

okay so this may seem a little extreme, but i was at westfield bondi junction yesterday and can testify to the spending frenzy that ensued. i ended up buying the last of my presents for family, and not being especially pleased with those purchases, but it got to the point where i just had to get out of there because it was sapping the life out of me.

the thing that struck me was that so many people looked so unhappy! there were all these women marching around with scowls on their faces, men herding recalcitrant children around, teenagers absolutely weighed down with bags shoving past. lots of barging was going on. i just tried to walk as fast as i could through the crowds to get where i needed to go, but i tried to smile at people as much as possible. i don't know if it made a difference to anyone, but hey, i was one less scowling, un-Christmaslike person.


it has long been lamented by parents and friends that my brother will often refuse to pose for photographs, or if he does, is obliged to pull a silly face in them. for example, at his birthday dinner the other night:

however, it has been brought to my attention that perhaps this is not entirely his fault and the problem is in his DNA. let me present exhibit B - me, my dad and nic (who actually looks quite good in this one):

ok we look slightly less freakshow in this one:

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

emotional bronchitis at Christmastime

as someone who suffers from depression and has been a pretty severe asthmatic in the past (though apparently not anymore, thank God!), James Fong's words in the latest issue of the Sydney Anglican newspaper Southern Cross resonated with me.

Depression is like emotional bronchitis. You just find it difficult to breathe. Antidepressants function as a bit of a Ventolin to help you breathe more easily, but you still have to do the hard work.

it's a tricky time of year. we're all so tired, we're all so frazzled. it can be hard to get into the 'Christmas spirit', whatever that is. you help run multiple church services and carols services and feel cynical and jaded. you sing along to joyful songs and feel no joy whatsoever. all you can think about is how you wish it was holidays and you could just hide for a while.

but Fong has more words for those of us who are finding it hard to breathe, and this is the key.

The big turning point for me was acknowledging that God is bigger than my greatest darkness. I realised that even if things were really black, if I was incapacitated from serving in ministry, or even if I lost my mind, none of that could separate me from God's love.


Thankfulness is the last thing on the mind of a depressive, but it's the very first thing we need to do to reverse the effects...often you just need to stop for a minute and work out what you can be thankful to God for, just bit by bit.

so what am i thankful for?
  • that Jesus was born into this world to save it

  • that God loves me even when i am ungrateful and cynical and wishing i could just give up

  • that i have godly, loving and encouraging people around me like mum, jen, mark and barbara, to help me persevere

  • that God has given me the gift of music, that i can sing and play and express my faith and my feelings in that way

  • that mulan, a little girl from church who sings and plays piano, wants to be like me when she grows up (how cute is that?!)

  • that i have been given so much, that i am so wealthy compared to most of the world, that i have the freedom to come and go as i please, to eat and wear and buy what i want, to go to church, to go to work

  • that i can have Christmas celebrations in my own home, the way i want, with my mother and brother

  • that in small ways i am an encouragement and a Christian witness to others, even though i feel isolated and invisible most of the time

and that's just the tip of the iceberg, really. it's easy to get discouraged, but there is a lot to be thankful for when you stop and think about it, even for just a moment.

We build walls of pride around ourselves, and in the end I've found that my brokenness is a great gift: it's an opportunity to allow God's grace to seep through.

~James Fong, Southern Cross dec/jan, p19

Monday, 18 December 2006

quote of the day

i'm feeling fried, sad, frustrated and underappreciated. i think i need to sleep for a while. sleep always seems to help.

in the meantime, here is a quote that i really liked today (that possibly says a lot about how i'm feeling):

men often applaud an imitation and hiss the real thing.

Saturday, 16 December 2006


have just come home from a most beautiful wedding - that of Bec Richards and Laurie Carleton. it was a gorgeous pink and white affair, with lots of love and joy overflowing. i got to sing in the ceremony with camilla and also did the church flowers with mum. i love being involved in peoples' weddings, especially when they are Christian weddings like this one and both families are Christian, because you really get a sense that everyone is rejoicing, not only for the bride and groom, but for what it all symbolises in God's plan. that was clear in Laurie's speech to Bec at the reception when he said he was looking forward to spending every day together for the rest of their lives, and for eternity.

i wish them long-lasting happiness!

bec signing the register

the sisters

danielle, bethany and me at the afternoon tea


camilla and me

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

i'm home!

yay! i'm back, unpacked, freshly showered, very tired. might have some ice cream and crawl into bed.

just had to share with you the current state of the flat. my flatmate (aka the industrious elf) has bedecked the entire place with fairy lights of all sorts of colours, so we are kind of living in a Christmas grotto (or my house has turned into a bizarre disco of some sort). the photo doesn't really do it justice, but it looks very fun. i love it!

there are also copious amounts of tinsel. no further evidence of Christmas ducks, however.

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

running on empty

my fuel light has come on. it's just there, glowing persistently at me, and i know if i keep going much longer without stopping i'm going to just grind to a complete halt.

i'm getting little top-ups day by day, in singing fantastic music, in being moved to tears by the talks, in being encouraged by my Christian brothers and sisters, in sharing what i believe in the plainest terms with friend who's an avowed atheist and not being afraid, and in eating chocolate in my room by myself at night.

but i need my bed. i need my sleep. i need to have a long, hot shower and slough off the week. i need some big hugs and some big belly laughs. homeward bound - tomorrow afternoon!

in the meantime, here are some pics of the last few days.

sharon and harrison

howard and harrison

richard chin

the crowd of students in the ballroom

sally, julie and alex - the singers

the view over canberra
me and miss jackie

Monday, 4 December 2006

our nation's capital

a little bit of a change in today's schedule. after this morning's talk from Richard (which i will post later), i've had most of the day off. well, since lunch time anyway. stacie and i went to the canberra centre and walked up and down it several times looking for some decent going-out tops. nothing. all very trashy. same shops as sydney but it just seems like everything is slightly...trashier. i don't know, might be my mood. still, i managed to find a cute red dress in tree of life, so that's something.

last night j and i decided we needed a drink after the main meeetings (probably not the normal modus operandi of staff on a Christian conference, but hey). it was 10.30 on a sunday night, but we figured there must be somewhere open. surely.

nope. after driving around and around trying to find somewhere - anywhere - we could sit and have a glass of wine, we ended up at...the canberra casino. oh goodness me. if you think canberra itself is parochial, then this place just sums it up. it's like someone decided they'd have a casino night in their garage and organised a few blackjack tables. it was dowdy and sad and a little bit pathetic, but there were still plenty of punters. we got our glasses of red, found a couch in a corner and holed up there for an hour, talking about life, the universe and everything. had a great talk about relationships; i love it when you can be open and honest with a Christian brother or sister and know they are being as open and honest with you. so it was good. but i ended up have really bad dreams all night about a long lost bad ex boyfriend and i really didn't need to be reliving that trauma over and over.

but now...i am going to go back to my room, put x-men 3 on, lie on my bed and maybe even fall asleep before my darling jackie comes to pick me up for dinner.

Sunday, 3 December 2006

Living in God's Time - Phillip Jensen talk 1

Phillip's talks are about 'eschatology', or a look at the 'last things', what God's plan is and where we are headed. in his first talk he used Ephesians 1:3-14 to expand on what it means if we pray the words of Psalm 31:14-15:
But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, "You are my God."
My times are in your hands

there was just so much in this talk, i can't even begin to condense it yet. but the key things that resonated (that may not make as much sense out of context, but dovetail quite nicely with Richard's talks (below)):

  • to say "my times are in your hand" changes our way of thinking, allows us to put 'last things first' (the theme of this conference)

  • God is blessed as both the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and the God of our Lord Jesus Christ - he has supreme authority and is Christ's Father and God

  • as Christians we have been given every spiritual blessing, even if we don't feel it, even if others seem to have more or be more successful, even if others tell us we will receive more blessings by doing whatever - if we are in Christ then we already have these blessings. they only come to us in Christ. these blessings are as follows...

  • election - God chose us before the foundation of the world to be his people. He is sovereign over all time (my times are in his hands). we have already been chosen to be holy and blameless (Eph 5) therefore we will be seen as holy and blameless on the last day.

  • predestination - the reality in which we live under God. God is our king and we are his subjects; heaven is not a democracy! God has all power. My times are in his hands to do as he wills, for he is the creator. The true and living God is in control of all of my life; we are little planets circling him, not the other way around.

  • adoption - the chief blessing? a natural child could be an accident, but an adopted child is definitely chosen, is wanted. in love, God chooses that we join his family so we are subjects and slaves, but we are also beloved children. only through Jesus can we call God "Abba, father".

  • redemption - the purchase of freedom of a captive. God's generosity is very expensive - he had to redeem us to adopt us. Amazing Grace! It's astonishing.

  • revelation - we are not left in the dark, we know the secret of his will. we know that God has planned the end of the world from the beginning.

  • Rom 8:28 - God is at work in everything to make me more like Jesus. no matter what they throw at me, I am a child of God and nothing can change that.

  • therefore we have understanding (v15) of the riches of our glorious inheritance, so it's impossible not to see how impoverished we are in the things of this world

i've kind of just blurted all my notes here onto the page again. i find it really exciting. i hope some of it makes some sense to you. email me if it doesn't...

the pre-eminent Jesus - Richard Chin talk 2

from colossians 1:15-23

Jesus is very attractive - his character takes your breath away. he had no mixed motives, he spoke the truth in love, he loved his Father to the point of death. Paul describes him in this way:
  • he is the image of the invisible God - any other representation is idolatry

  • he is the firstborn over all creation

  • he is the creator of all things - everything made by and for him. this includes everything visible and invisible, good and bad, the principalities and powers

  • in him all things hold together - he is the sustainer. without him, creation would disintegrate

  • he is the head of the body - the church. is this an anti-climax after hearing he is the image of God, the creator, the sustainer? no - the church is God's people for whom Jesus' blood was shed

  • he rules over everything

  • he reconciles all things to himself - again, including the good and the bad. he makes peace between himself and creation through the cross - he restores true order, either willing or unwilling.

    ch 2:13-14 willingly - to have our sins forgiven, our debts cancelled. every sinful act, every lustful or impure thought, every lie, every slanderous word - all these sins are cancelled, nailed to the cross. total forgiveness.

    ch 2:15 unwillingly - he will still rule over those who don't want to submit to him, but their reconciliation won't be forgiveness - it will be judgement.

    be warned - every knee shall bow, reconciled either in forgiveness or open shame.

  • psalm 2:11, 12b
    Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling...Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

    there is no refuge from Jesus, only refuge in Jesus. May we delight in him!

Darkness - Richard Chin talk 1

from Colossians 1:1-4

  • darkness is out there in the world, but also in us personally

  • God can deliver us from this domain of darkness - we need to look to the radical rule of Jesus

  • Paul prays for the Colossians, a group of gentiles he had never met. he prays wonderful things for them, that they would be:
    - filled with the knowledge of God's will
    - live lives worth of the Lord, fully pleasing to him (God's delight), bearing fruit in every good work
    - strengthened with all power to endure because living a life pleasing to God will put us in a direct collision course with darkness
    - joyfully giving thanks to the father that he has dealt with our greatest need: forgiveness of sins. we give thanks to him for delivering us from a world of darkness.

i sat there on the floor in the auditorium with tears running down my face, listening to richard speak. the parts i've put in italics above just made me weep - in a good way. the power to endure is so important, and knowing that God is giving me this power is wonderful, that even though i'm tired and uninspired and burned out and whatever, that anything i'm facing is part of God's plan and he is strengthening me. and so i can joyfully give thanks to him despite the struggles because i know he's looking after me, and these struggles are because the darkness of the world knows i am trying to live a life pleasing to God.

ramble ramble. don't know if this makes sense, it's still percolating.


i'm down in canberra at our national training event. i have had an exhausting couple of days but i'm starting to feel as though i am vaguely human and able to communicate coherently with strangers. with my health being stupid and my body letting me down at eveery chance it gets, it's been harder this year to get motivated and to feel excited about NTE, but i'm trying to take every chance to have a rest that i can and making it clear to others that i need that space/recharging, which helps. being with a group of Christians is great because by and large they are concerned for your welfare, not flogging you workwise until you can't function any more.

it all makes a difference when you get into the main meetings, sitting with 1100 other people to hear amazing talks, to sing praises to God and to be challenged in the way i live my life. all the dross falls away, all the stresses and the little niggly things that have been worrying us in the office fade, and i just feel recharged and immensely privileged to be sitting under God's word with so many godly people and people who are just thirsting for a better understanding of Him.

i am tired though. i will post some notes from the talks soon.

Monday, 27 November 2006

yeah, first lobster!

Christmas has come early to our flat. i'm going to nte this week and dave's going to be in mudgee for the next two weekends so there wasn't going to be a chance to put up the tree when we both could do it until midway through december. and you do need to put up a tree with someone else, don't you? so i went and bought a tree on sale from Kmart (my first fake tree since childhood - and i actually rather like it!), collected the box of decorations from mum's, and we put it up yesterday.

this is going to be the first Christmas Day i host at my house, so that's why i get to have the tree (normally it's at mum's). at dave and mum's suggestion, the tree is set up in the curved window of the living room and looks like it was just made to go there. we put lights up around the windows too and i had to go outside and have a look and, well, i got a bit excited. i don't normally get that excited about Christmas until the week before, and even then not so much about the decorative side of it.

the other thing i noticed in going through all the decorations that we've amassed over the years is how odd some of them are. there are bright red shiny apples - why, i don't know, but we've had them ever since we lived in singapore (we came downstairs one morning to find the house mouse had eaten some of them, which was kind of amusing really as they're made of polystyrene). there are lots of little wooden toy ornaments with bits broken off that i can't quite bear to throw out. and there are, strangely enough, a number of ornaments featuring ducks. my favourite one of these is pictured below in one of the fuzzy pics i took with my phone. you probably won't be able to see it too well, but take my word for it - ducks present at the birth of Jesus. it's a beautiful thing.

Karen: So what's this big news, then?
Daisy: [excited] We've been given our parts in the nativity play. And I'm the lobster.
Karen: The lobster?
Daisy: Yeah!
Karen: In the nativity play?
Daisy: [beaming] Yeah, first lobster.
Karen: There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?
Daisy: Duh.

from Love, Actually

Friday, 24 November 2006

mincing words

it has been a crapful day at work. i tried to call in sick with a migraine and screaming back but there is too much to do before our conference next week so i had to come in. the phone has been ringing non-stop and i'm starting to think i might need stronger drugs.

but something did make me laugh. i just heard my boss say to someone on the phone, "just as well you called. if you'd left it any longer, you'd have been dead meat in the water."

the mind fairly boggles.

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

lead us...not...into...temptation

also titled:
an honest, slightly embarrassing, admission
and a strong desire to be kept accountable.

i blocked someone from msn this morning. i really hate doing that, as i like to give people the benefit of the doubt and try to get to know them, and msn is a bit of a difficult beast - it's so easy to misread and misunderstand without body language and voice inflections and all the usual indicators that tell you whether someone is serious or joking or flirting or whatever. so when you meet someone online and get to know them through msn or myspace or whatever digital representation they choose to show you (WoW?), it's hard to know what they are really like in the flesh and where the boundaries are and you can find yourself doing and saying things that you would never dream of doing or saying if the person was right there in front of you.

this person seemed like a really really nice guy and someone i'd get along really well with. he sent me a sweet message, i checked out his myspace page and he seemed to be on the level, not like some of the sleazy guys who just want to add a whole bunch of chicks to their friends list. i wrote back to thank him for his message and thought that would be it, but we ended up exchanging msn details.

we had some fun chats that turned towards quite, ahem, extreme and explicit flirtation. for a while i persevered with the contact, thinking it was all a bit of a joke, and he was flattering for sure. it boosted my ego like nothing else! but after a while it became increasingly clear that he didn't want to get to know me, he was only interested in the sexual aspect. and for me, the 'coming down' was terrible; even though i tried to take it as a frivolous interaction, i wondered why he didn't want to talk to me, why he wasn't online, why he hadn't added me to his friends list (an evil invention! it can make you feel so insecure!)...and then one day he pretty bluntly told me that it was impossible for us to have a conversation without it turning to thoughts of sex.

though it would have been pretty obvious to the casual observer, it took me a while to realise i had blundered again, and forgotten to guard my heart. i had bought into the lie that it was harmless, that i was in control, that it was all just a bit of fun. and yet it was screwing with my head and my heart, not to mention running in the complete opposite direction to the way God wants me to go!

i knew the only way i could stop giving in to this was to cut off all connection with him, but even so it took me ages to delete him out of my contacts. i really wanted to believe that we'd be friends, that he would want to know me as much as i wanted to know him. but considering i had given him absolutely no reason to respect me, there is no reason that he would.

anyway. he may read this, he may not. so, t, sorry but the fun wasn't worth the compromise.

some things from a christian webzine i've also been reading this morning that helped clear my thinking (not necessarily directly applicable to me or my situation, and some of you non-christian friends might find it all a bit freaky, but this is where i'm at and the principles are worth thinking about):
sex at the edge of night
preference or sin?
how do i resist sex?

Thursday, 16 November 2006


i am so tired. my body is just exhausted, my eyes are burning, i just want to sleep. i go to bed early and lie awake in the dark for hours. eventually i concede defeat, i drag my laptop out and waste time on the net, time i could be sleeping. then i eat the remainder of a packet of sugared cashew nuts, crunching on the delicious sugary slivers long after i have had enough. now i am still exhausted, but with a slight sugar buzz, and probably even less chance of actually going to sleep.

not my smartest move ever, no.

Sunday, 12 November 2006

the slippery slope to the end of the year

and so we reach the end of another weekend. have tried to make it work for me instead of getting swept away by it, but it still seems too short.

had drinks at home on friday night which was fun but a little tiring at the end of a busy week. went to the chiro on saturday morning, then did a very girly thing and went to bondi junction with mum for a pedicure. my toenails are all shiny and pink like christmas baubles! also got a new fancy mobile phone, so spent half the evening playing with that. today after church and a choir rehearsal, had fish and chips with the whittinghams and a lovely swim and walk at clovelly.

it was a nice oasis of relaxation in the midst of what seems to have been a really stressful and emotional time for me. been feeling very lonely this week and my mood has been all over the place - happy, sad, angry, frustrated, melancholy, placid, content, happy...then through that cycle of emotions all over again. i know it must be hard for people to be around me when i'm so inconsistent; particularly for some friends who seem relentlessly upbeat, or at least relatively stable in their moods. it's nice when i meet new people (like a couple of people on friday night) that they like me and we get along. i think over the last couple of years my depression was becoming increasingly obvious to the naked eye...i guess i had thought i was good at hiding it, but after hiding it for so long it just began to seep out of my pores. so i'm glad it would seem that i am still improving, that i can get out amongst people and appear to be relatively normal and easygoing, even if i have minor breakdowns behind the scenes and have to have afternoon naps (but how good are afternoon naps?!).

it seems as though the pressure's only going to increase from here on in.

i've just realised how jam packed the next couple of months are going to be, and i'm dreading it. i will probably actually enjoy it, as i find it's always better to be occupied and busy than sitting around getting too introspective, but at the same time i'm already feeling exhausted. our national conference in canberra is less than three weeks away and there's so much to do before we get there. my dad is going to be in town for most of december with his new (32 year old) girlfriend, so that's a...thing. there's the usual stack of christmas activities and services at church which require lots of involvement (musically at any rate). then there's christmas itself - janice reminded us in the prayers at church this morning that we shouldn't allow the stress of christmas to overwhelm us but to focus on what we're actually celebrating.

then new year's...yet again i do not yet have a plan for new year's. i'm thinking this year i need to actually decide what i want to do and make it happen, rather than getting to new year's eve and feeling disgruntled that i have no plans.

i am very much looking forward to the holidays.

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

i am half un-australian

am i on glue? the melbourne cup is really just a horse race, isn't it?

i feel like a traitor almost.

don't get me wrong, every year i end up watching it and getting excited and even emotional about it, but i really don't understand why as i know absolutely nothing about horse racing, i have never placed a bet and have never even been to the racetrack (aside from a first year exam that was held at the panorama room at randwick racecourse, but i don't think that counts). i kind of resent being manipulated this much, but hey, i enjoy a spectacle as much as the next person.

i'm sick today, and so i'm at home, sitting here, watching channel 7's coverage, and i just don't get the hyperbole. "there are two days that mark the australian psyche...anzac day, where we honour sacrifice...and...the melbourne cup..."


i've always missed out on that aspect of being australian - i'm not into any sport in any way. when the olympics were on i got kind of swept up in the fun of it all but the only thing we went to see was the synchronised swimming, which doesn't really seem to be taking the whole thing seriously, does it? i have a passing interest in the swimming and i'll usually watch the australian open, or bits of it anyway. if someone i know is really into a sport and they can be bothered explaining it to me, i will often get into it, but only really as a bonding thing with that person.

is it because i'm half-chinese? :)

oh they've got chris isaak on now doing a cover of cheap trick's "i want you to want me". so that's worth watching - although they also have these bizarre people on stilts doing some interpretive dance thing to the music and it's really not working. and there's darren beadman - he and his family go to our church (or they did, haven't seen them for a while...they're a lovely family).

hurry up and run the damn race so i can go back to bed.

Delta Blues, right, in a photo finish with Pop Rock.
Photo: Wayne Taylor

at 3.09pm
horses are beautiful. i want a pony.

Sunday, 5 November 2006

which came first, the misery or the music?

i just have to say it. i love nick hornby.

So maybe what I said before, about how listening to too many records messes your life up . . . maybe there's something in it after all. David Owen, he's married, right? He's taken care of all that, and now he's a big-shot diplomat. The guy who came into the shop with the suit and the car keys, he's married too, and now he's, I don't know, a businessman. Me, I'm unmarried - at the moment as unmarried as it's possible to be - and I'm the owner of a failing record shop. It seems to me that if you place music (and books, probably, and films, and plays, and anything that makes you feel) at the centre of your being, then you can't afford to sort out your love life, start to think of it as the finished product. You've got to pick at it, keep it alive and in turmoil, you've got to pick at it and unravel it until it all comes apart and you're compelled to strat all over again. Maybe we all live life at too high a pitch, those of us who absorb emotional things all day, and as a consequence we can never feel merely content: we have to be unhappy, or ecstatically, head-over-heels happy, and those states are difficult to achieve within a stable, solid relationship. Maybe Al Green is directly responsible for more than I ever realized.

See, records have helped me to fall in love, no question. I hear something new, with a chord change that melts my guts, and before I know it I'm looking for someone, and before I know it I've found her. I fell in love with Rosie the simultaneous-orgasm woman after I'd fallen in love with a Cowboy Junkies song: I played it and played it and played it, and it made me dreamy, and I needed someone to dream about, and I found her, and . . . well, there was trouble.

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, p141-2 (Indigo)

Tuesday, 31 October 2006

black dog days

karen wrote a bit about this book ages ago and mentioned it again in her recent blogging about a talk she gave on mental illness and depression (well worth a read), and i forgot about it until just last night as i was lying awake again with my stupid sore neck and random thoughts flitting in and out of my mind. so i had another look at it.

the illustrations are beautiful and give a very simple but strong impression of what it can feel like to live with depression. i also found the author's note really encouraging. check it out - there are a couple of illustrations in the site intro that just capture it perfectly for me, especially the kite-flying one and the lying in bed one.

i'm going to buy this next chance i get - it seems such a useful and simple way to help explain the inexplicable to people who don't know what it feels like (although a word-person, i find i am also a very visual person and appreciate the directness of something like this to cut right to the heart of the matter). and immensely encouraging to know that other people know what it's like; even though you know you're not the only one dealing with depression it can feel like you are the only one who's ever felt this way in the history of the universe, which is rather defeating.

barbara, if you've found your way here, i want you to know that i'm praying for you and love you very much.

Sunday, 29 October 2006


i have weird dreams. dave has dreams that are almost prophetic, i have dreams that are...well, look i just have to describe the one i just had. it will explain everything.

i was watching the trailer for an upcoming film. it was one of those films where the climax involved a huge dance competition, and the trailer showed an extended clip of this dance competition. all the competitors were dancing different styles, and it reached a peak when they started doing a big riverdance routine. but the clincher was, every single one of them was dressed in a paddlepop lion costume.


in the riverdance bit, i could hear the taps and i wondered whether they were wearing special tap shoes under the costume or whether there were taps attached to the pads of the lions' feet.

then i realised i was running late to meet dave. we were meeting at the star bar, but not the one on george st, the one in haymarket that is a really dodgy pub where i met miranda and rob once. so i pulled myself away from the riverdancing paddlepop lions and went into the pub. i couldn't see anyone i knew. there was one empty table but there was a very strange looking man sitting just opposite, staring at me. he was quite scruffy, but in a contrived way. he was also wearing dark glasses, so i don't really know how i know he was staring at me, but anyway. i went to the bar and got a huge frosty mug of beer, and suddenly had a major dizzy spell, so staggered over to the empty table and put the drink down.

"had a few too many, eh?" the man said.

"no, i haven't drunk anything yet. i just had a dizzy spell," i replied.

"right. well, you'd better watch it, it's the season for going blind and deaf, you know."

then i woke up.

paddlepop lions? seasons for blindness and deafness? riverdance?!! what is going on in my head?!!!

Thursday, 26 October 2006


this is already on mymyspacespace but i'm putting it here for for jen. thought you might find this amusing.

in asking "which buffy girl am i?" we learn the following:


but then i wondered "who's my inner buffy bad-girl?" and came up with this:

i guess this means i have options.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

unseen enemies

in my experience struggling with back pain is not unlike struggling with depression. both render you a lot less productive, both make even the smallest tasks seem insurmountable, both are with you constantly, and both are completely invisible to the casual onlooker.

i really don't want to become one of those people who complains about having a bad back all the time. but i am reminded again and again that even though you talk about it, you bring it up in prayer time, you are constantly going off to the chiropractor, etc, etc, people forget very quickly when there isn't a visual reminder (eg, if i had a broken leg in plaster i am sure i would get a lot more unsolicited sympathy). i'm not after sympathy, per se, but more an understanding that i am trying my best to get through it.

i keep feeling a mild anxiety that people are going to think i'm a hypochondriac and get to the point where they no longer tolerate my reduced ability to work. usually it passes and i think 'well i just have to do what i have to do to get through this, who cares what other people think'. but i do get frustrated that i have good days where the back (and the depression) seem to be no problem at all, and then suddenly i'll have one or two really bad days that put me off for ages.

of course this would have to be the busiest time of year at work, and we would have to be moving offices in the next couple of weeks.

if you're the praying type, please pray for me!

Thursday, 19 October 2006


i have come to a sort of turning point in a few issues i'm thinking through. this hasn't yet resulted in a huge change in my circumstances, but i think changing your mindset about something can often be the hardest first step to make. it's even harder when those changes involve other people who, of course, you have no control over. and harder still when those changes involve a hypothetical situation, something you're going to deal with in the future but which hasn't been tested yet.

i know this sounds all abstract when i'm not being specific, but i'm not ready to write about the details yet, so please pardon my broad brushstrokes. also it's very rambly but i can't make it any more coherent at the moment. i might have another go later.

it's got a bit to do with how i see myself, and whether i value myself highly enough or not. when people ask me questions like "do you know who you are?" or "are you comfortable with who you are?" i would say yes without thinking, but when i look at how i react or deal with certain situations i realise that there are gaps between what i think i'm like, how that shows itself in the way i live my life, and consequently how other people see me.

i sometimes think about how i interact with friends, the situations i get myself into and how i will allow myself to be treated. at the moment i'm thinking about how does what i present to other people affect how they treat me? this seems like a question with an obvious answer, but sometimes i'm not even conscious of the 'me' i'm putting out there, and get confused as to why things happen or don't happen.

my dad and i were talking the other day about why i'm on anti-depressants - he doesn't really understand i don't think, so when i was describing how i felt just prior to going on them (exhausted, unmotivated, constantly crying, afraid to go out, etc) he was kind of shocked.

"but you seem like such a confident, capable person! you would be the last person i would think would need to be on anti-depressants."

now this might say more about my relationship with my dad than how the world in general perceives me, but that's always been an issue with me. i am too proud, i don't like to look out of my depth or out of control, so even when i'm hopelessly floundering i have this veneer of togetherness that seems to fool a lot of people. a lot of the time i'll be just longing for someone to come along and ask if i need help, or better still, just help me, but usually they look at me and think "she's coping fine" and move on.

i get frustrated when male friends rush to help the girls who act all helpless and (to be blunt) bimbo-like, who snap their fingers (or send an SMS) and the boys just jump-to. i get upset when it seems so obvious to me that it's usually all an act, yet these guys can't seem to see it. i get cranky with the girls who behave that way because i think it's manipulative and unfair.

and yet am i being any more honest in the way i behave? i'm the only one who's put out by my stoicism, the only one affected by my own jealousy, the only one who looks like a bitch when she complains about it. i'm not always showing my true self to people either.

Thursday, 12 October 2006

happy birthday rachel!

a big happy birthday to my darling mother!

she is likely to have a really crappy day at work (board meeting), but hopefully tonight will make up for it (we're taking her out to restaurant balzac for dinner).

anyway, happy birthday mum! love you lots.

some days it just isn't worth leaving the house

woke up with a splitting headache, which is becoming the norm unfortunately, but managed to finally get moving. thought i would catch the bus rather than walk as i was already really late, so wandered down to anzac parade. the block of flats beside the bus stop is in its final stages of construction, and there are workmen swarming all over it, being none too subtle about staring at me, which i found kind of interesting in the light of yesterday's all men are liars column. the undisguised leering of the workmen was in marked contrast to the young uni student on a bike who rode past staring at me but gave me the most endearing smile as he passed, which totally made all the difference. the first made my skin prickle and made me feel really exposed, whereas the second just made me smile.

i stood there for about fifteen minutes, the only person at the bus stop, feeling slightly dizzy and yuck. and in that time about ten buses went past - all 891 express buses to the uni. not a single other bus. i began to wonder if there was something happening that i hadn't heard about. then a massive wave of nausea swept over me, i thought 'right, that's it', walked back up the road and called my boss to inform him i would be working at home today. he was most understanding. i have a great boss.

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

spaced out

it's one of those slow-moving mornings. wish i could wake up.

oh. i made a myspace page. i'm not entirely sure why i need yet another online crevice but it's there (besides, i blame pete, who in turn blames someone from kuring-gai). it's oddly addictive, if ever so narcissistic. so far i've got three friends (yay, i feel so popular), but also random people who ask me to add them to my friends list. i haven't decided yet whether it'll be a closed list or open to all comers, but i'm curious as to why people add or request to be added to each others' lists. some are just add-junkies and want to make it look like they have heaps and heaps of friends (and hey, i kind of sympathise with that because when you first set the page up and it says 'you have 0 friends' you do feel kind of pathetic). how do they find people they want to add? just do a random search and click on whoever looks interesting? or just click on anyone and everyone?

and what is it with the complete lack of taste most people exhibit in their page layout? so many of the pages look like someone threw up on them or like they are deliberately trying to give anyone who views it an epileptic fit. a sophisticated security feature perhaps...

i know most of my real world friends won't be on there (because you have better things to do with your time and most of you are luddites though if you're reading this post then obviously you're not entirely without hope), but i have to admit the whole concept of myspace i find a little bizarre. having said that, i think i have found two long lost overseas friends on it - if it puts me back in contact with either of them then i will stop finding it all so bizarre and become a champion of the cause.

Wednesday, 4 October 2006


Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Luke 6:38

okay, me giving doesn't apply so much here, but it's more a thing of trusting in God to provide everything i need, not stressing about having limited money, just committing it all to him and being blessed more in totally unexpected ways.

i ordered my groceries through coles online yesterday, feeling a little sick about it because i couldn't really afford it, but a) i have no food and b) i have no way of getting to and from the shops with a large amount of shopping. so i ordered my groceries, put it on credit and waited patiently for the very nice delivery man to bring them.

as i was putting them away, i saw a packet of lamb cutlets in the top of one of the bags. "that's odd," i thought. "i didn't order lamb." so i started checking items off on the receipt. it didn't take me too long to realise they had delivered all my groceries except the chicken breasts i ordered and had mixed that up with someone else's meat order. so i rang them, waited for them to call me back with when the driver would be coming back to pick up the lost groceries.

"this is your lucky day," kate, the phone operator said.


"it's logistically too hard to come back and pick up the meat so you get to keep it. and we'll credit your account for the undelivered chicken."

so this is what i got:

about a kilo of lamb cutlets
465g of veal stir fry strips
460g diced beef
500g chicken breast
2 pieces of t-bone steak
300g veal leg steak
1 lamb half leg roast

anyone who does their own shopping would know that's about $70 worth of meat. i burst out laughing, clapping my hands and shouted "thank you Lord!!!"

he is so good.

Friday, 29 September 2006

i love my chiropractor

my chiropractor rocks. he is the most unassuming, no-nonsense kind of a guy. and i've been having to visit him a lot lately, following the car accident. thankfully the other guy's CTP insurer is going to pay for $500 worth of treatment for me (i have to apply if i require more than that), so that helps in the short term anyway, and john isn't that expensive so i'll get a lot out of that money.

his practice is at maroubra beach, which i must say is quite pleasant if you have to go there frequently. at the moment it's pretty quiet, and yesterday i enjoyed an ice cream and a shambling kind of walk after my treatment.

the reason i love my chiro is that he doesn't just crack your back and kick you out the door. he does a good strong massage first and puts heat on the area. most times he also does a bit of acupunture and i have to admit this is one of my favourite bits. most acupuncture only deals with the fairly superficial, the needles are put in but not very deep - something like this:

however the kind of acupuncture john does is slightly different (i thought he called it thoracic acupuncture, but i could be wrong). rather than targeting acupoints, he sinks the entire needle into the muscle to release the tension there. you feel a bit of a twang when the needle hits the muscle, but then, as he says, it's like putting a hole in a balloon, and all the tension gradually dissipates. it sounds weird. it is weird. but it is so good.

yesterday he did my traps (shoulders) and my glutes (around the hip area). i had a look at the ones in my hip (couldn't see the shoulders, obviously) and the whole ten centimetres of the needle was in, with just the tip showing. love it. he said to me once how he admired us "Aussie sheilas", "i sink this bloody great needle into you and you go 'yeah whatever' - you should see some of these big blokes, built like tanks, tough as anything, you just show them the needle and they start crying."

then he cracked my neck and my lower back and sent me on my way. that is the other favourite bit - that satisfying crunch when he does the manipulation. when you think about it, it's a pretty precarious position to be in, someone messing around with your spine like that. but i trust him wholeheartedly; he definitely has a gift (even if he does swear like a sailor sometimes and always has 2CH on).

and although i might be a tough (half) Aussie sheila, i did still need the ice cream afterwards - i felt a little woozy. but i did sleep very well last night for the first time in ages.

Monday, 25 September 2006

swimming upstream

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

we heard a stirring testimony at church yesterday from pat day, one of america's most successful jockeys (he was visiting us on behalf of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America - our minister is also a chaplain to the racing industry with ARCC, so it kind of ties in together). pat spoke passionately and honestly about his conversion and the gifts that God has given him and how he has tried to do everything he could through his high profile career to turn the world's attention to Jesus.

the above verse is one he used time and time again. and he said "it doesn't say 'and we know that in all the good things' or 'all the bad things' - it says that we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him."

that is something i cling to sometimes. right now it is a great comfort, when i'm struggling with health and wellbeing, as well as things like work and money and relationships and all of that. it can be so hard to make sense of things; it feels like i'm swimming upstream and part of me feels like it would be so easy just to let go and be swept away in the rapids. but i know it's worth it to hold on. verses like this give me great encouragement.

Sunday, 24 September 2006

appropriate expressions of anger

i did something very very stupid yesterday in an extreme fit of pique, while on my own - i punched a wall. i'm not quite sure what i've done to my hand but it doesn't feel great.

the wall appears unscathed, but i am hoping it's just being stoic and it's actually crying on the inside.

it surprises me that i did that. i have always considered that to be a pointless and sometimes intimidating expression of anger; when it's happened near me i've always felt terrified even if i was not the object of the person's frustration. i guess now i have learned a valuable lesson - walls hard, hands soft, bones easiliy damaged.

what makes me feel even more foolish is i have no one to blame for having a sore hand other than myself (as dave so kindly pointed out), but i still feel like whingeing about it. it has, however, strengthened my desire to take up kickboxing at the uni. i don't know where this aggression is coming from... (and it's not really compatible with the girliness of the high heels from the previous post, is it?)

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

an ode to frivolity

it turns out that yes, my neck and back were more damaged than first thought. i've put in a claim with the guy's CTP insurer and - thank the Lord - i got a letter back from them yesterday saying they're willing to pay up to $500 of my treatment bills. if it goes over $500 i'll have to lodge a personal injury claim - but really, that's all i want, just to be reimbursed for the chiro.

i've been to him a few times already. the C1 and C2 vertebrae in my neck seem to pop out of alignment with alarming frequency, causing immense headaches and the feeling like i've been whacked in the back of the head with a sockful of sand. my lower back is also stuffed and the combination of the two means the middle of my back is being pulled out of alignment. joy! so it makes days of sitting up at the computer rather a challenge.

so what is the most logical thing to do when you a) have back problems and b) no longer have a car and have to catch public transport everywhere? yes that's right folks, you go out and buy a pair of 4 inch high heels.

PS. they were on sale. honest.
PPS. i'm turning into such a girly girl - what's going on?!
PPPS. you hang up first.
PPPPS. no you hang up!
PPPPPS. no you ha-

Tuesday, 12 September 2006

les enfants

one thing i enjoyed about being away at katoomba with a group of women is getting to spend time with the two babies, samuel and william. i like that aspect of 'community', where we all look after one another and get lots of cuddles in the process!

this is my new best friend, william, who gave me lots of delightful smiles and giggles while we sat in the car together.

this is me and samuel, and i just love that he is comfortable enough with me to fall asleep on me! i must be the right shape. :)

lots more photos of the weekend in my flickr photostream.

Sunday, 10 September 2006

Jesus uncut: meeting the real Jesus

'Then he isn't safe,' said Lucy.

'Safe?' said Mr Beaver. 'Don't you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the king, I tell you.'

(CS Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Geoffrey Bles, 1950)

i've been at Women's Katoomba Convention all weekend with a group of women from church - it's the first time i've been to WKC and it was absolutely wonderful. it was so what i needed - a shot of adrenalin for the soul (to quote one of the conference speakers completely out of context). i guess lately i've been getting distracted from my ultimate goal, and taking my eyes off Jesus, and feeling a bit rudderless. so to have a weekend of being completely drenched in the Word and being blown away all over again by the amazing mercy and blessings we have been given in Christ was just such a privilege.

the theme of the weekend was Jesus uncut: meeting the real Jesus. it is so easy to cut Jesus down into a manageable, tame version of himself; we often can look away from the Jesus shown to us in the Bible and tweak him into something we find easier to cope with, someone we can slot into our busy lives. the talks were all aimed at refreshing our vision of the real Jesus, to be "confronted by his call to radical discipleship and comforted by his compassion" (qtd from the conference book).

the speakers (Jenny Salt, Greta Gaut, Susan Thorpe and Maxine Cook) were all fantastic. i can't really work out what i want to say about it all, so i'll just list some of the notes i jotted down in my book from the main talks. some things are fairly obvious truths that were good to have reiterated, and some others were really timely words i needed to hear. (if any of it doesn't make sense, feel free to ask me to elaborate or explain my incoherent notes!)

from Jenny Salt's talks (Matthew 8-9)
  • Jesus has authority over all - he is more powerful than anything the world can throw at us

  • don't underestimate the cost, but don't underestimate the privilege of following him

  • the more we understand our sin and our need, the more we will marvel at our salvation

  • those who think they are worthy are as needy as those who know they are needy - "there is no one righteous, not even one" (rom 3:10)

  • we mustn't be fooled by the facade of a successful life - everyone needs Jesus

  • we need to hold in balance a realistic view of who we are without Jesus, and a realistic view of who he is - Jesus is in complete control, he is absolutely trustworthy, and he has dealt with sin completely

from Greta Gaut's talks (Hebrew 4:12-16, 12:1-13)
  • because God sees it all, he can forgive it all! we can't hide anything from him, but his mercy is great

  • don't hold on to guilt - confess, repent, move on

  • Jesus is our great High Priest - we need no other mediator to bring us to God

  • we need to constantly make a deliberate commitment to draw near to Jesus and to hold fast, white knuckled

  • focusing on Jesus will give us the endurance to finish the race - adrenalin for the soul

  • wrong thinking about suffering - it isn't about God punishing us, but disciplining us, which involves teaching, leading, training and correcting

  • clean up - get rid of everything that distracts and the sin that so easily entangles. i loved this quote - "don't jeopardise your weak spiritual ankles by crashing down the path of temptation"

i really needed to be up there this weekend with those 2000 Christian sisters. i am so grateful to God that he has given us so much, that we have that opportunity for such learning. but most of all i am so grateful and overwhelmed that he loves me - me! - so much that he sent his Son to take away all the muck, all the blackness of my heart, all the sin, and that he sees me as perfect through Jesus. it is just incredible.

and he did it for you, too!

Thursday, 7 September 2006

i love this weather*

of course it's a perfect day to not have a car and have to walk to work, isn't it? a sudden drop in temperature, big gusty winds, unpredictable squally rain. i decided to catch the bus instead and as i was crossing anzac parade my big umbrella blew inside out and broke. hurrah! even better, there is no longer a bus shelter as there are road works going on, so i had to stand in the rain and wrestle with the umbrella which suddenly seemed absurdly large. who needs an umbrella that big? and what kind of idiot thinks it's a good idea to carry such a large umbrella on a windy day? then a lady crossing the road dropped her lunch bag so i went out onto the road to retrieve her apple for her; she was very grateful and we could both be kind of embarrassed about being ungainly under pressure together.

when i finally got to work i walked into my office to discover the roof has been leaking all night. the carpet is soaking wet, and there are four different drips going at different rates just to provide me with some aural atmosphere while i attempt to work with a splitting headache.

i really should have listened to what my body was desperately trying to tell me when i woke up and stayed in bed this morning.

* to clarify, i do absolutely love this weather, i just don't like being out in it.

Tuesday, 5 September 2006

squashed cars, springtime BBQs and satisfying changes

so it turns out the car is actually very badly damaged. it didn't look like much, but when i took it to the assessor yesterday (who was rawther cute, i must say) he said it wasn't looking good and he was going to get it towed straight to the smash repairers and send me home in a cab. because the guy hit me in the back right hand 'corner' of the car, it squashed everything forward a bit. so once you open the back door you can't really shut it again, and all the exhaust fumes were going through the boot into the cabin of the car. just as well i've been driving dave's excellent car this weekend and didn't listen to him when he said it didn't look too bad and should be alright to drive!

goes to show appearances can be deceiving.

i hope my body isn't hiding similar structural damage. my back and neck have been a bit achey, and i'm not sure if that's because of the accident or because i've been doing yoga and walking to work over the last week (you would think those things would help but that's part of the reason why my exercise regimes are never regimes so much as...coups (bad choice of metaphor), because i get all enthused about doing exercise but once i start to ache i tend to give up). the chiro seemed to help the other day, though he said often after even slight accidents you can have tissue damage that isn't immediately apparent. hurrah.

but on the upside i had a reasonably good weekend. had a delicious roast dinner with mark and jen on friday at their place in parramatta, then armed with two laptops and a PC, teamed up in person to play world of warcraft for some hours while we munched on krispy kremes. it was great to play in person, with a lot more laughs, although i love playing with them even when we're in separate houses; it's like an extra special treat being able to have time with them even when we can't make it to hang out together. don't know if that makes sense or not. it does to us.

on saturday i did a major spring clean of the flat which felt very satisfying, then went to a barbecue at emush and brett's in glebe. it was a gorgeous, blazingly blue spring day, and i sat in my new spring dress sipping white shiraz in their overgrown jungly backyard, eating yummy cheese and barbecued things (barbecued haloumi - yum!), and chatting to a bunch of people, most of whom i only have a passing acquaintance with. this sort of thing - making small talk with strangers - used to terrify me and i would stay for an hour or two then make an excuse to leave. but this time i stayed well into the night. by then it had devolved into a sort of impromptu dancefloor in their lounge room and playing soccer in the street. a bunch of us girls were sitting on a futon sofa that had been just put out for the council clean up, and one of the neighbours came out to chat. she's in her late 70s, i guess, used to be in the circus, and has lived in the street since the sixties. an absolutely fascinating and hilarious woman, who then introduced us to another neighbour, a young man around our age who seemed very friendly and helps her hang pictures and do odd jobs around the house (that's one of the things i love about glebe that seems to be lacking in the eastern suburbs; although there are the yuppies and the party people, there can be a much more community-minded spirit, with a mix of generations and a mix of living circumstances (ie, they're not all young families, or all married couples, or whatever). it seems less brittle and superficially shiny than some parts of the eastern suburbs.) anyway, i had a great time. when i was leaving that night em said she was so excited to see me looking happy, relaxed, confident and gorgeous. well! what a nice thing to say! in fact she said it was such a big change she didn't quite know what to do with me... :)

on sunday after church, mum and i joined the tonks and the macbeaths at emma and stuart's for another barbecue. it was another lovely afternoon (although significantly fewer inebriated folk than the saturday one). i ended the afternoon holding baby samuel and tickling him and being well-rewarded with some delightful dimply grins. enough to make you fall in love, really.

so that's two good (predominantly social) weekends in a row! what's going on?!

i was writing last night in my journal that i can't really remember how bad i was, but when i see myself through other peoples' eyes i can see that i really was a shell of my former self six months ago (at my lowest point). it's only then that i realise how much help i had needed, and i wonder how i had struggled along all last year getting further and further mired in depression. so obviously the counselling (and the drugs) have helped immensely - it is such a relief to be coming back. that's not to say i don't still get incredibly tired and need long periods of time in quiet places and not interacting with people face to face, but me actually wanting to leave the house and be with people is so amazing that i almost laugh when i think about it.

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

a near miss...isn't that a hit?

in other news, i had a car accident yesterday. was coming back from bondi junction and stopped at a t-intersection which is left-turn only. there was a bus hurtling down the road, and as our car is not very powerful i thought i had better stop as i couldn't guarantee i'd make it round the corner in time. so i stopped. but the guy behind me didn't - i don't know how he hit me so hard considering we had been sitting in stopped traffic before then, but he hit me very hard and pushed the car out into the middle of the road in front of the bus. i am amazed and so grateful to God for looking after me, because i would have been squashed if the bus had been a couple of metres closer. the damage to the back of the car is a bent bumper and the boot's kind of crumpled on one side. my neck has been very sore ever since so i'm going to the chiro this morning.

the guy was really shaken up and apologetic, and i didn't see any reason to yell at him. i mean, he didn't do it on purpose. but he was so amazed that i was so calm and kept thanking me for not getting upset. though i was a bit shaky and in a weird mood all night, it's funny how things like that happen and you think you're alright but then realise that no, you're probably not.

but isn't God good? i'm still alive! mum said that goes to show God must still have work for me to do. :)

Sunday, 27 August 2006

luxury and farewells

Well it’s the end of an era and the beginning of a new adventure for Ms Bek. She is moving to Ireland next Sunday to be with the lovely John and to finish writing her PhD. So to farewell her appropriately, to celebrate me getting the fellowship (I feel I needed at least some excuse), and to be absolutely and completely frivolous, I treated us to a night at the Hilton (at a greatly reduced rate thanks to my ‘connected’ flatmate).

I had been really sick all week with a horrible cold, and as Friday drew nearer I was feeling increasingly gloomy about it – what’s the point of spending money on doing something lavish when you’re feeling like crap? Dave said “well if you’re going to be sick, isn’t it better to do it in a five star hotel?” I took his point. But, as it turned out, by the time I got there after work on Friday the excitement was enough to make me feel quite a lot better, thank you very much.

It was just a fantastic room – our perfect little eyrie on the 29th floor. I wouldn’t have ever thought of staying at the Hilton if Dave hadn’t worked there, but I have to say it really is a great hotel. The room was really well set out, the bath soooo wonderful, the hotel staff were all exceptionally professional and friendly, the toiletries in the room were all Crabtree & Evelyn (sigh), the windows were just wide enough to sit in and gaze at the city lights from, the beds were soft and light and divine, the breakfast to die for…it was really worth it.

My mum joined us after work and the three of us drank some champagne we had brought. Then Bek and I got all frocked up, played with makeup for a while, then swanned out and went downstairs to the exceptionally pretentious (but fun) Zeta Bar where we had some delicious cocktails and compared all the different shades of spray tan in the room. We then moved on to the Arthouse to have some yummy food, but decided that rather than sitting around in a smoky bar it would be much more fun to just go and hang out back at the room.

Jackie had come up from Canberra and was going to meet us. I told her to call when she arrived, as you can’t get up to the hotel rooms without a keycard. I eventually got this phone call on the house phone saying “Um…hi it’s Jackie…I’m on level 21.”

“How on earth did you get there?”

“I talked my way up with the concierge but then got confused and got out at the wrong floor and now I’m stuck.”

After we went down and rescued her, we went back to the room with more champagne which Jackie had brought and we kicked back, chatting, watching dodgy 80s music videos and Bridget Jones’s Diary and eating chocolate. A very agreeable end to a lovely evening!

The checkout wasn’t until midday – very civilised – so we slept in, then wandered downstairs for a most delicious breakfast in glass brasserie, then I went and luxuriated in the bath while bekka checked out the spa and swimming pool. We were reluctant to leave, but as with the best ‘holidays’, it felt like we’d been away for ages once we left and I finally got home.

I’m really glad we did it as it meant I got to have bek all to myself for a day and night and to talk and hang out without having to compete with everyone else who wanted to say goodbye – her ‘official’ farewell was last night at the Rose on Cleveland st, and was also great fun, but when you’re in a big bunch of people you don’t get to talk to the guest of honour very closely. It’s weird to think she’ll be all the way away in Ireland, but exciting that she’s embarking on this new phase of life.

(was going to post all the photos but having trouble uploading to blogger this morning - click here if you want to check them out, as well as pics of the farewell at the rose)

Friday, 18 August 2006


it's a great thing to share good news with lots of people, because then you get all sorts of lovely, affirmative emails congratulating you, and people cooking you dinner and buying you flowers and whatnot.

one of the great things about being awarded this fellowship is that it crystallises what i want to do. i was floundering a bit in recent times, not having written seriously for a long time, wondering whether i was just kidding myself about this whole writing thing. my counsellor has been saying "you're going to be a really successful writer, i can just tell" - but as she's never read anything i've written i have no idea what she bases that on. and i'd just look at her and think 'well that's all very nice, but how exactly is that going to happen when i've hardly been able to write more than a page for the last several months?'

(actually the conversation went like this:

Counsellor: I think you're going to be really successful. You know, like that woman...that woman who writes books...

Me: JK Rowling?

Counsellor: no, you know the ones...the books about the boy...

Me: Harry Potter?

Counsellor: yes, that's the one!


i even thought maybe it was time to reassess whether writing is the thing for me at this point in time. maybe i should go back to working in theatre, i should go to NIDA and study stage management and start off on a whole other career course. last week i went back into my office after lunch, feeling defeated, threw my hands up in the air and said, "Lord, what am i supposed to be doing?!!!"

within an hour, i received the email from varuna.

i think i'll stick with the writing for the moment...

Monday, 14 August 2006

for those i didn't email...

there is a place called the Varuna House in the Blue Mountains, which offers a program of fellowships for writers. These are basically 3 week retreats for uninterrupted writing - they provide a bedroom and workspace and meals and all you have to do is write. They are pretty competitive to win, and apparently publishers keep an eye on the writers who go there, so it's a pretty amazing thing to get awarded a fellowship.

Now that I've talked it up, can you guess what I'm about to say?

I WON ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I sent them part of the piece i wrote for my thesis and...I won a Varuna Fellowship.

So I may have a book out one day soon after all... :)


it might be a little crass to bring this up, but ever since it happened on the street half an hour ago it's got me wondering. i can accept that guys will check women out, i can understand them thinking "phwoar" kind of thoughts in their heads, and although totally stupid (and potentially dangerous), i know about the mentality of a bunch of guys trying to bignote themselves by passing comment on people who walk past. but what on earth possesses a lone man, as he is walking past a young woman (ie, me) to say "noice tits"? what on earth did he expect me to say? was it supposed to be a compliment, or was it supposed to embarrass me? was he just stating the obvious (pardon the pun)? did he not realise he had spoken aloud?

as it happened, and as you'd expect, i just kept walking. it is, however, making me question whether to wear this jumper to work again...

Wednesday, 9 August 2006


i like doing surveys. i like doing those meme things where you tell everyone random things about yourself. and, yes, i liked doing the census last night. dave, on the other hand, went into autorant mode and got cranky about the government being nosy. despite this i did manage to get him to fill in his bit of the census so i felt like i achieved something.

so i'm a nerd. i like statistics. even when they don't seem to mean anything, i just have a curiosity about these things and finding patterns in random data (not enough to be really passionate about it, you understand, it's more a passing fancy). in a very dubious segue, saw this (via neil) and although the stats are US, it's a pretty nifty little thing, if you've ever been remotely interested in things like how popular your name is. good for procrastination.

so, in news just to hand, we discover that 'rebecca' was the 13th most popular name in the 70s. it was 82nd last year. also the spelling 'rebekah' had a big spike in the 80s and 90s, which probably has less to do with people wanting the biblical spelling as just wanting something that looks a bit 'different' (along with everyone else...remember my fondness for this site?) however, it disturbs me greatly that the spelling 'rebeca' is becoming more common...

Tuesday, 1 August 2006


am sick in bed today. but this has given me a chance to finish reading stardust again, which is one of the most beautiful and satisfying books i have ever read, a perfect sick-day book that is not too hard to get into and transports you. it taps into the childhood joy of fairy stories, but with enough richness and darkness to satisfy an adult reader (though having said that, most fairy stories are actually quite rich and dark, you just skim over those bits as a child because you don't fully understand them).

i love neil gaiman's writing and wish my imagination could be crystallised on the page as perfectly as his. he just has such a simple yet effective turn of phrase, a light humour that is diffused throughout, and handles violence and romance equally well - not too heavy handed with either, and gives you just enough to unsettle or satisfy (depending on your bent).

i also love neverwhere for the same reasons, but it's a very different beast...maybe i should read that again this afternoon.

i also remembered i have book 4 of the original illustrated version that heath loaned me, with charles vess's luscious illustrations. i think my favourite is on p52, with tristran and yvaine at the fair. can't find it online to show you, you'll have to seek it out for yourself. i wanted to quote my favourite passage as well but that will give the game away if you haven't read it - so go read it!!!

i think i need to go back to bed.

Monday, 17 July 2006

when retail therapy does what it is supposed to

that is, make you spend money on objects that make you inordinately happy for no apparent reason. to wit, these camper boots i bought today (they were half price...that is the only justification i'll offer for this incredibly frivolous purchase):

Sunday, 16 July 2006

when retail therapy goes bad

or... the day the swedish giant stole my will to live

mum's new place doesn't have built-in wardrobes. this didn't seem, at first, to be much of a problem. we'd just go to one of the myriad furniture shops filling the suburbs around where we live and buy a free-standing wardrobe. so last weekend we traipsed around various shops that all seemed kind of the same, noticing a strange lack of wardrobes in all of them. eventually we cracked and asked a sales assistant where their wardrobes were.

"oh we don't really sell wardrobes," she said.

"so what do people put their clothes in?" I asked.

"everyone has built-ins," she replied, as though I was an idiot for even asking. I felt like shouting at her that obviously not everyone has built-ins or else we wouldn't be looking for a wardrobe! but i didn't.

ikea is one place that does have wardrobes, big and small, in dozens of different configurations, giving you the tantalising illusion of choice and the reasonbly stylish fulfilment of all your storage needs. unfortunately, in recent months the one that was two doors away in moore park just...disappeared. so we had to go to rhodes. rhodes? out near homebush, in the middle of this bizarre redeveloped semi-industrial, semi-yuppiefied area. when you finally stumble upon ikea, it is like some incredible juggernaut rising out of the marshes.

it begs the question, why the hell does the shop need to be so big?! it took about an hour to walk through it - you have to go upstairs, walk through the displays, obediently following the arrows on the ground, then you go downstairs through the 'market hall' and the warehouse before eventually reaching the checkout. the things we needed (including the wardrobe) were spread throughout the shop so we had to walk through the whole thing.

i was very diligent once we found the things we wanted and wrote down the details so that when it came time to order it would all go according to plan. mum was pretty much spacing out by this stage - her ikea endurance threshold is pretty low at the best of times - and so we tried to find a sales assistant who would help us order the wardrobe. "go down to the end, just before the checkout. you can order there."

so we follow instructions, only to be told by a very cranky and no-nonsense woman "we don't do orders here, you will have to go upstairs." so i stand with the laden trolley and wait for mum to go upstairs and order her cupboard. after about half an hour she returns, with instructions to go and pick up the cupboard shelves and handles. because although she has ordered the wardrobe, it doesn't come complete, oh no, you have to go through the warehouse and get each individual bit of it, except for the large frames and doors, which you pick up from a loading dock after you've paid. and when mum was ordering it, the girl said, "I suppose you'll be wanting hinges with that?" no...we thought it would be more cost effective to just lean the doors up against the frame. but maybe that's the standard question (if she'd asked if we wanted to upsize the wardrobe it all would have made sense).

next we have to queue up at the checkout, pay for our purchases, go to the pick up area, pick up the merchandise, take the merchandise about three metres to the left and then give it to some other guys who will deliver it because it won't fit in our car.

so we wait at the checkout. as we're paying for our goods, the girl comes to the basket i wanted to buy. it was on a big pile of exactly the same baskets with a big sign over the top saying "clearance $8.00". she can't find a tag to scan.

"do you know how much this was?"

"yes, eight dollars."

she flips through a book, thinks she's found the item, but it comes up as $12.00.

"are you sure?" she asks me.

"yes, it was on a big pile with a sign over it saying '$8.00'."

"was it with any other stuff?"

"no, just the baskets."

she leans over to consult with the checkout girl next to her. she thinks it might be the wrong size basket for the code she's found, but what should she do? the customer says it's eight dollars, but the register says twelve. the other girl suggests she measure the basket to make sure it's the right one, so she gets out a tape measure and measures the basket. she's not going to budge, she insists it's twelve dollars.

"just forget about it," i am very cranky and so over it by this stage and the basket is really not important in the scheme of things. so she puts the basket to one side. but my mother has also had enough and is now ready to step in. she says in a very terse voice:

"look, we're spending over $800. i can't believe you are quibbling over four dollars. isn't there someone you can ask?"

so the girl gets on the phone and has a two minute argument with someone on the other end about how much the basket costs. it turns out i was right. she says sorry, but i know her heart isn't in it.

so we go to pick up the wardrobe. it will be a 20 minute wait. we are being fairly tolerant, even though the situation sucks, just accepting that this is the way they do things in ikealand and if you want cheap furniture you have to be prepared to live with a little inconvenience. by this stage our three hours of free parking is almost up so i have to go and move the car. i come back and we wait some more. i take advantage of the little desk with a sign over it saying "what can we do better?" to write out a couple of complaint forms about the checkout girl and the basket and to ask why on earth they have such a stupid system whereby you have to pick up the goods yourself and then take them to someone else to deliver them. why can't you arrange delivery at the same time, presumably saving someone the effort of getting it off the shelf and then having to find somewhere else to store it until it can be delivered.

after an hour, our flat-pack wardrobe finally comes out, so we dutifully wheel it over to the long queue waiting to arrange delivery. we stand there for another half an hour or so. when we finally get to the end, the guy walks around our trolley, checking the packages and then says, "it's damaged."


"yeah, see, here." he points at one end of the package where the cardboard is ripped and the thing inside is, indeed, damaged.

"i can't believe this," i fume, also annoyed at myself for not thinking to check it myself an hour ago. "we've been waiting for over an hour and a half!"

"well i can't do anything about it, you'll have to go back to ikea."

i almost burst out laughing at this - we are still standing in bloody ikea - and then i realise that he is a contractor and doesn't actually work for ikea. so i grab the trolley and wheel it back three metres to the gormless youths at the pickup desk.

"you've given us damaged goods."

to their credit, they don't try to deny it. but they don't look particularly surprised either. one of them looks at the receipt. "oh. only, this is the last one, we're out of stock."

i stare at him. "you...are...kidding...me..."

"i can give you a discount?"

as we are heading over to arrange a discount, someone else looks at the receipt and says, "oh, no, we have more of these."

so the guy goes off to get a replacement. i take the opportunity to fill out another complaint form. i understand that working in ikea must be pretty soul-destroying. every single person we came into contact with obviously hated their job. but as a friend said when i told him this woeful tale, "i don't understand why people stay if they are that miserable. it seems simple - if you hate your job that much, get a new job."

when the replacement boxes arrive, i watch the guy hurl each box onto the trolley as if they are no more valuable than pieces of styrofoam. it pretty much explains how the things got damaged in the first place.

we only have to wait about ten minutes in the delivery queue this time, and the delivery guy is very nice to us (remember, he doesn't work for ikea), and eventually we get out of hell. once we have driven away we start to feel a whole lot calmer and less like killing many people. we do, however, need to have a milkshake and chocolate to make doubly sure we won't do anyone any lasting harm.

and the thing is, that whole saga was the most distressing incident of the whole move. amazing when so much could have gone wrong, given it poured rain both days we were moving, and it's almost impossible to park outside mum's place so we didn't know where the truck was going to go. but when the removalists arrived, someone pulled out of the spot right out the front and the rain stopped and all went well! the removalists were really lovely guys, very efficient and careful. everything was moved in and is now mostly unpacked, and the place feels very comfortable. it won't take long for mum to feel at home there. emma and stuart came to mum's today and put the wardrobe together for us (nothing like a couple of engineers to save the day), and it looks great and innocent of the trauma its purchase caused.

anyway, i have told this long-winded tale so you might learn from our folly. venture out to rhodes at your own risk...

Friday, 14 July 2006

end of an era

today we go to pick up the keys to mum's new flat in clovelly. she is moving out of the luxury eyrie in raleigh park (as the owners want to move in), and although very stressed about the whole moving experience, she seems pretty positive about living in clovelly. i'm looking forward to seeing the new place, and am going to help her move/clean/buy extra homewares stuff today (we've already tried out the deli that's three doors down from her place, and it's good).

i also gain a new flatmate out of this - mum's flatmate dave is coming to live at my place as part of what heath called the flatmate exchange program (i get a flatmate, mum gets an empty spare room).

sadly, the move means that we will no longer have the wonderful view that makes the place at raleigh park seem so peaceful. i have absorbed this view so much over the last couple of years; it's always nice to have somewhere to gaze out upon when trying to think through things. still, now i can go down to clovelly beach and sit on the rocks and watch the ocean, which definitely has its charms. :)

i took my last opportunity to take some sunset pics from the balcony the other day, hope you like them.