Sunday, 29 April 2007

carving out time

I am exhausted. I don't know what from, I just am. It's been a pretty low key weekend, but then I think I needed it to be.

Johanna and Claire came over for morning tea and were here waiting when I got back from church (that's the three of us in the picture, all bespectacled). They brought buns and somesuch and it was all very tasty. So good to catch up with such top quality chicks! :)

Dave had brought home some free tickets to a choral concert at the Opera House for me and mum this afternoon, and even though that is so nice and you hardly ever get anything like that for free, I decided not to go. I carved out an afternoon of time for myself. Mum went on her own; hopefully she enjoyed it. Just the thought of getting there and back was too much. Usually with the fatigue I get it's not so much doing things that's the problem, it's the getting there and dealing with crowds and all that stuff. It's much easier to put on your trackies and forget about it.

And now everyone's gone and I have the flat to myself and it's great! I've even put on the Rainforest Flute CD - Dave gave it to me for my birthday with the intention of helping me calm down and sleep - and it is rather soothing. That's the best part about carving out time - you can just curl up and go to sleep in the afternoon if you want to and it doesn't matter in the slightest.

Thursday, 26 April 2007


Despite feeling pretty gross yesterday (Anzac Day), I went out with mum and Freda to see Becoming Jane at Bondi Junction. It was great! I've posted a review on webSalt, for anyone who wants to read it.

It was a really gorgeous movie, and made me think about all sorts of things. I have to admit I was a total sook and cried for pretty much the whole last third. But hey, I cry in Dirty Dancing, so maybe I'm not the best gauge.

But it made me think lots about being a writer, about being single, about having principles and making wise choices, even though those choices might hurt. I know the movie is total speculation on what actually happened in Austen's life, but it really makes you appreciate something of her personality when you think about how she wrote, how incisive her wit was, and how all her heroines end up happily-ever-after in one form or another. It must have been a very lonely life.

But I love this quote from an evening prayer she wrote, and which her sister Cassandra preserved:
Give us a thankful sense of the blessings in which we live, of the many comforts of our lot; that we may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference.
Something worth praying every day, I think.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

a long birthday post (with pictures!)

It's been a great birthday weekend. After my little burst of melancholy on Friday night (and a little cry), I went to bed determined that I would wake and be positive and have a great day. And I did!

It began on Saturday with breakfast in Clovelly with mum. She gave me my present - another charm for my bracelet, of a little cat (left). After some delicious banana bread with cinnamon ricotta, we went to White's Cakes and bought some supplies for the party. We went to Bondi Junction for the rest of the things we needed, and I bought myself some candles and yummy smelling body cream (I always have to buy myself something...). DJs was having a special so I got two free things with my cream - so it felt like a birthday present from them too!

We set up my flat for the afternoon tea, and mum was brilliant, making sandwiches and salmon quiches and the obligatory pink iced cupcakes. Then people started arriving and we had rawther a lovely afternoon tea. They were almost all St Martin's people, with a couple of valuable extras - the Tonks, the MacBeaths, Bec R, Kieran, Meg, Jen, Em and Stu, Freda, and mum of course! People were very sweet and gave me lovely presents, like flowers, lovely stationery stuff, a voucher for a pedicure, the cuddliest Converse sweatshirt, a beautiful glass teacup and saucer, money to buy pampering things...and other stuff too. I'm so blessed with such wonderful friends. :)

All the delicious food - salmon tarts and quiche, neenish tarts, jam tarts (a lot of tarts), fairy bread, tomato sandwiches and egg and cress sandwiches, passionfruit sponge, maccaroons, merengues - the little pink cakes are not pictured because they disappeared as fast as mum could ice them.

me and my goddaughter, imi

me and my 'sister' bethany

imi and nathaniel

our elegant and refined surrounds in my flat

rebecca r showing us exactly how a lady takes tea

me and miss meg

Mum and Freda, the champions they are, did the cleaning up while I got dressed for the next portion of the celebrations. Dave came home, then we trundled off to Darlinghurst to Bill & Toni's for some cheap and cheerful Italian food, gelato and yummy wine with Heath and Simone, Jackie and Brett. I even played pinball and we had a couple of rounds of that gun game. Turns out I'm something of a crack shot (yeah right).

Heath and Simone face off

Me, Jackie and Mr Brett in my favourite 'Very Hungry Caterpillar' t shirt

Dave and me

And then, after all that, Dave and I went to meet up with Kiz, Renee, Glenn, Josh and Geoff for some drinks, dancing and pool in the city. For better or worse, I was introduced to Jaegerbombs and remembered that no matter how hard I try, I really suck at pool.

Kiz and me

It's really hard to take photos in the dark, while dancing

After a looong walk from one end of George st to the other, where Dave and Glenn seemed to stop for a conversation with every single person we passed, we finally got back to Central where Geoff's car was parked. Before we could leave, however, the boys had to go and help a taxi driver who had managed to get his taxi stuck on a traffic island (above). There were about 20 guys all pushing and bouncing the car, but it didn't go anywhere until Dave calmly headed over and suggested they push it sideways, off the thing it was stuck on. Oddly enough, it worked. Then we finally headed home and I was grateful for my lovely soft bed.

Today mum came round after church (I was still quite asleep), and we brought out the leftovers from afternoon tea and just blobbed around for a while. Then we went into town so I could spend my Dymocks gift voucher (from Heath and Sim) and I also bought a denim jacket, something I've been meaning to get for the last few years.

And now I have cooked a delicious smelling beef and red wine stew for dinner, and it's raining with thunder and lightning and everything, which seems just the perfect way to end a birthday weekend.

Friday, 20 April 2007

they say it's your birthday

Tomorrow it's my birthday. It's weird, usually I look forward to my birthday with a great sense of anticipation and excitement (a leftover from childhood perhaps) but this year...I keep forgetting I'm turning 31 on Saturday (and no old-age jokes, please).

I went into work after a conference I attended this morning and everyone had organised a nice afternoon tea with our lovely friends at Matthias Media. It was really sweet. Tomorrow I'm having another afternoon tea at home and then going out for a low key dinner at Bill & Toni's.

Maybe I just don't have the energy to have a birthday at the moment. Part of me really feels like going out, right now, but I know that before I'd even got my shoes on I'd feel too tired and want to stay home.

It's also weird to think about another year passing...and what's happened? A lot, I guess, and yet...not much.

  • Around this time last year I started counselling.
  • A couple of months later I started anti-depressants.
  • I am still at St Martin's and still floating, not feeling like I have the energy to take stuff on yet.
  • I am still at AFES, and the writing and publications stuff is starting to really inspire me, but there are still limitations and frustrations to the job.
  • I am still in debt!
  • Dave moved in - and is still here.
  • I won and went on my Varuna fellowship.
  • I feel more like a legitimate writer than I ever have in my life.
  • I started playing WoW.
  • I had a car accident and wrote off mum's faithful little green Mazda.
  • I've been sorting through various health problems.
  • I've made some great new friends (Meg, Mark and his family, amongst others)
  • I've reacquainted with Freda and am loving the time we spend together, quilting and chatting.
  • Still single and still Christian, so still struggling with contentment in relation to those two things being in tension, but feeling more at peace than I have in a long time about it.
And lots of other stuff that I can't quite remember at the moment. See, so heaps. Some things change, some stay the same. I think there's a song in that.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

the bizarre subconscious

I've been having really odd dreams lately. Most of them I can't remember the specifics of, just that they left me feeling really strange when I woke up, as though the dreams might be true but I need to think about it for a moment before I can make that call.

Things like driving the most gorgeous black BMW 4WD and feeling all excited about it and then realising that it was just a beautiful shell with the same dodgy insides of the Kitty Kar underneath (though I must say since getting new brake fluid, the Kitty Kar has been purring along quite nicely). Or like having long involved conversations with people and having to work out before I talk to the person again whether the conversation was real or a dream.

Or like going to the gym and discovering that all the equipment I needed to use had been replaced by arcade games, like that one where you have to put your feet on the right spots to dance, or fuzeball or space invaders. And I was getting most disgruntled that every time I tried to do any exercise I'd be confounded by the fact that the machine was, well, not designed for that. So I marched over to the front desk to complain and found that they had set up all these tables and chairs in the spin room and the big class area and were having a black tie function and I was told off for interrupting.

Dave just shrugged and said "well obviously there's something getting in the way of you achieving your goals. like playing computer games." and because it is true that I spend a lot of time on my computer, yet I disagree that it's preventing me from achieving my goals, I chose to ignore his analysis and just accept the fact that I have a weird brain.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

what the dickens?

I'm not a huge fan of Charles Dickens, but know that many people are. However this just strikes me as unnecessarily hilarious: Dickens World! It just sounds like something out of a Jasper Fforde book (part of his last book The Fourth Bear was set in the SommeWorld theme park, which accurately and affectionately recreated the experience of the battle of the Somme).

"We are not Disneyfying Dickens," insists manager Ross Hutchins as he dons hard hat and fluorescent jacket to tour the site, a hive of activity as the Fagin's den playground and Newgate Prison's grimy walls are given their finishing touches.
I checked out the official site and this was just the icing on the cake:
The experience will feature a Dickensian Shopping Mall, together with a multitude of attractions and rides, including a mix of themed restaurants, bars and a multiplex cinema. Dickens World will also have facilities for seasonal variations, particularly over the Christmas period in which the attraction will convert into a Dickensian winter wonderland, replete with snow and other characteristics of a bygone era, complemented by a magnificent water feature which over the festive season changes into a spectacular 'ice fantasia' dominated by 'The Spirit of Christmas', 'JackFrost', 'Scrooge' and a host of other delightful characters who magically come to life.
Oh no, not Disneyfied at all.

Friday, 13 April 2007

with great power comes great...Spiderman quotes

Since I've come back from Varuna, I've only done any concentrated writing twice. So I've gone from writing every day to writing less than once a week! It makes me appreciate the time I had at Varuna all the more, but also realise I need to work out some sort of timetable for writing, kind of like when I'd make up study timetables at uni...only this time I need to stick to it! (When I was at Varuna, my reading time just rocketed off the chart too - I was reading a book every day or two, and from all sorts of genres, which was so wonderful. Since I've been home, I've started one or two half heartedly, and only finished reading things for work. Most disheartening.)

I always hated the idea of slating in creative time, thinking it ought to just flow naturally when it was ready. But I have to accept the fact that in my life at the moment, 'spare' time all too easily slips away and I end up crawling into bed at night, realising I haven't always done the things I wanted to do every day, like reading my Bible and praying (more than just the prayers that flit through my head when I'm lying awake in the dark), and spending time writing and reading (oh...and finishing quilting my quilt!).

I do look on this post-Varuna time as a bit of a gestational period as well, so I'm not too upset about not writing (just think I need to get it back on track before ere long). The writing at Varuna brought up a lot of new stuff in the book that needs time to develop in my mind. However, I do think it would benefit from me carving time out of the week to go somewhere quiet and just concentrate on it.

The other thing I've been thinking about is how my worldview as a Christian does or doesn't come through in my work. I think there is a definite moral framework obvious in my writing, and although there may not be overtly Christian themes in it, I seem to show the consequences of living a more worldly life and the lack of fulfilment in striving for purely worldly goals. I'm certainly not a happily-ever-after kind of writer, and I think a lot of my stuff is characterised more by the bittersweet than the happy ending. Characters might get what they want, but it's not always what they need, and it usually doesn't turn out that well. I don't think that's necessarily cynical, I think that's just how life goes. Nothing ends up neat and tidy, and even amongst the highs and peaks of life, there is a lot of mess and complication that is ongoing. I don't want to perpetuate the lie of the chick lit romantic comedy (although I don't think that's exactly where my writing is pitched...but it's hard, when you write primarily about relationships, to work out how to describe it without sounding a bit chick litty).

But is that enough? Do I need to be more overt? I haven't read that much contemporary Christian fiction and any that I have read has not sat well with me. But then there are wonderful Christian writers like CS Lewis and John White who wrote fiction - admittedly it was fantasy, so there was possibly more scope for setting up polarities of good and evil and using allegory (whether intentionally or not). I must say though, that since writing the original first chunk of the book a few years ago, I am becoming more and more aware of what I'm putting out there and what it says - not just within the world of the book, but what it says about me as the book's author. I have stressed time and again that although there's a lot of me in it, the book is not autobiographical. But I can't shy away from the fact that it represents a large part of me.

The article that sparked off this post is It's Never 'Just a Movie' from the Boundless website.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

the lights come on for a reason

The more I think about it, the more shocked I am at the fact that the car had no brake fluid. When I told Angelo at the garage that I'd driven to Katoomba in the Kitty Kar his face dropped and he looked absolutely appalled.

Dad loaned me this car in December and said it had recently been serviced (I now realise he said this probably just to appease me and not because it was actually true or anything). There was a dashboard light that said 'brake' that was permanently on; when I questioned him about it he said, "Oh, that doesn't mean anything, it's just an old car." YES IT DID MEAN SOMETHING!!! IT MEANT THE BRAKES WEREN'T WORKING!!!!!

When I think about how close to death I've been this whole time I just breathe a prayer of thanks and a sigh of's obvious I'm still meant to be around!

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

the slow inexorable demise of the kitty car

So the NRMA guy came yesterday and discovered there were more serious problems than a flat battery, "which was probably cos you left something on" (I hadn't, but he obviously felt, as a male mechanic, it was in his job description to patronise me). There is a leak in the radiator cooling system and a loose alternator belt, so the car is in danger of overheating at any given moment and also the battery isn't charging properly.

So I took it to Angelo at Kingsford Garage this morning and he promptly fixed those problems. But when he rang to tell me he'd fixed them, he said "I've just discovered something even more serious - you have no brake fluid." Apparently there is also a leak in the brake-fluid-containment-thingy. Which is going to cost a few hundred dollars to fix.

I knew there was a reason I didn't own a car...they are money-suckers. But in actual fact, if I had bought a car for myself, I probably would have done a bit of research and bought something that was made in the last decade that would be unlikely to have all these kind of old-age problems.

I'm just grateful the car held out while I was up at Katoomba and I didn't get stranded on a highway somewhere!

Monday, 9 April 2007

wonderful weekend

It's been a great Easter weekend.
Church on Good Friday was fantastic. It was a sort of 'lessons and carols' kind of service (like we usually have at Christmas), reading through the account of Jesus' death from Luke's gospel, and singing songs in between each excerpt. It was a really simple, moving service that I think resonated with a lot of people, as we felt real sorrow at the great suffering Jesus went through on our behalf. One of the women reading started to cry as she read about Joseph of Arimathea going to Pilate and asking for Jesus' body so he could bury it properly, and I don't think there was a dry eye in the house after that.

Meg came over for a cup of tea after church and it was great to chat to her a bit. Meg lives in the flat below me, and by coincidence started coming to St Martin's. It's so nice to have a lovely neighbour and know there's another Christian in the building. We started discussing great plans for planting a garden in the very ugly and filthy common space. Then mum and I went to mum's place and ate a yummy fish lunch and watched Gilmore Girls all afternoon. It was a cold and rainy day, and just great to spend time together, not having to be anywhere, not having to do anything.

On Saturday I got a bizarre cleaning bug and did things like clean the windows and the kitchen and bathroom. I wanted to start buying plants for the garden but ran out of puff in the afternoon and had a sleep instead. Then mum and I went to the Opera House to see/hear the Sydney Philharmonia sing St Matthew's Passion. I realised I knew bits of it but had never heard the whole thing. It was absolutely beautiful.

Then the car broke down in the Opera House carpark, in the middle of the road. The carpark is this nifty double-helix system, one way, and you can be stuck in there for fifteen minutes if you're parked down the bottom, waiting for all the traffic above you to get out. Everyone turns off their engines to avoid being completely asphyxiated, and of course once the traffic started moving again, my car wouldn't start. A guy helped us push it to one side, mum and I prayed about it, sat there for a while talking, and then after about 10 minutes miraculously the car started again. We got home okay, but then when I went out in the morning to pick mum up for church it was dead again (I have to ring the NRMA but I haven't even gotten out of my pyjamas yet so...meh, it'll keep).

Because of the dead car, we didn't go to the Sonrise Service at dawn on Coogee Beach, which is a shame because I really love that service. Still, Easter Sunday at church was fine. I played flute with Danielle for the first time in ages and it was really enjoyable. Jeremy preached on the resurrection account in Luke.

Then the Baddeleys came over and we had a wonderful day. We set up a round table of laptops and played games all afternoon, eating lasagne and nachos and burritos and low GI chocolate biscuits and bits of Haigh's easter egg and popcorn and it was great. We watched some Buffy over dinner, played some more and then called it a night.

I was grateful I could sleep in this morning though - it's been a full weekend and I'm a little weary! But so wonderful spending lots of time thinking about Jesus and the joy I have in having a relationship with him; spending time with family and friends; eating lots of delicious food; and resting. God is good!

Thursday, 5 April 2007

what is the point, i ask you?

I finally got some cheques back from Medicare to pay for the blood tests and ultra sound I had recently. I was assured by the people at the pathology lab that Medicare would pay for most of the procedure.

Okay, so the bill was $154.15. Guess how much I got back?


What is the point?! Surely it would have cost them more than that to print the cheque, pay for the labour and stationery and post it. Why even bother?

Arg. I hate medical bills. And bureaucracy. And...and...cauliflower. (just had to add a random in case any of you are medicos or bureaucrats. Of course one of you might be a cauliflower producer, in which case I have nothing more to say to you.)

And yes, I know if I lived somewhere like the US where the healthcare system is crazy, this would seem incredibly generous, and I'm lucky to live in a country that even has Medicare, but this is my rant and I choose to be ranty!

I think I need some chocolate.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Nerd alert!

I love data. There, I've said it.

Actually, let me qualify that: I love data that you can do creative things with. I don't think I could quite cope with being a statistician (I think you need a basic level of maths for that), but I love seeing patterns in data and comparing lists and stuff like that. So I'm a nerd, I get it.

Today I've spent most of the day cataloguing our library at work. Before you groan in sympathy, let me just say that I have enjoyed it immensely, mainly due to the wonderful LibraryThing. If I had a barcode scanner it would be even more fun, but as it is, I've had to settle for typing in ISBNs. You can check out the partially completed AFES Library if you so desire, with rawther an interesting collection of theological books in it.

Next is to tackle my home library, which is no mean feat. But it will be nice to see what I own and how it compares to what other people own. As well as the standard 'suggester' (along the lines of "if you loved ... you'll also love ...") LibraryThing has this nifty 'unsuggester' feature. It takes a book you have read/own and tells you what you are least likely to have also read, based on the data in its vast database.

But I confounded it when I entered Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and was told I was least likely to have read The Passion of Jesus Christ by John Piper. I've read (and enjoyed) them both. In fact, most of the books I've entered (by Pratchett and Gaiman, as testers) have returned results that are mostly Christian books - if I haven't read them I'm at least familiar with them.

Not only am I a nerd, I'm an anomaly!!!

Sunday, 1 April 2007

catch up (not much to report)

Back onto the issue of health. I went to see the doctor when I got back from Katoomba, and she said I need to see a specialist and get that gallbladder outta there. That doesn't bother me; in fact, I have heard from many people who have had their gallbladders removed who say they have never felt better. So bring it on.

The thing that concerns me is that she also said if I have another 'attack' of feeling unwell, I should go to emergency at the hospital. This worries me, because I'm not sure how bad I have to feel before I go. I've been feeling pretty gross all day and have just started crying for no reason - is that bad enough? My back isn't spasming like it has done, maybe I have to wait for that. Am I being too stoic? Or will I front up to emergency with my xrays only to be told to go home?

I guess I'll wait and see how I feel in a couple of hours or so.

Aside from that, nothing much has been happening since I got back from Varuna. It already feels like it happened aeons ago, like that idyll only existed somewhere in my mind. I've written a little bit since I got home, but not much. I've just been wiped out from being back at work.

Work's been fine. We reinstiuted the Friday Thai Day with the good folk at Matthias Media next door, so that's a good chance to catch up with people once a month. I have been working for the latter part of the week on a redesign of the NTE graphics, which I really enjoy doing - I like tasks like that that I can get lost in, just spending hours pushing pixels around and coming up with something reasonably cool (actually I only enjoy it if it works, there's nothing more frustrating than mucking around with something for hours only to trash it because it's unfixable). I'll put the results up here when I've finished.

The blog's a bit boring when I'm at home, eh?

I didn't go to hospital, you'll be pleased to know. I just went to bed. But this morning I feel like I've been run over by a very large truck.