Wednesday, 31 October 2007

if you say trick or treat one more time, so help me God...

I hate smart arse teenagers. I was driving home from St Luke's this evening and my car got egged. Not sure if it had anything to do with Hallowe'en (and I'm not that fond of Hallowe'en either), but these idiot teenagers decided it would be fun to egg a bus in peak hour traffic, and unfortunately my car got caught in the crossfire. The bus driver couldn't do anything either. The boys laughed their heads off and ran away up Edgecliff Road, so even if I had wanted to report them, i wouldn't have been able to describe them. By the time I got home, the egg, of course, had dried and it took ages to get off.


can't think of a title today

I'm gradually becoming more human again. Just a little bit. Not so snappish.

Dave's come to stay with me for a few days (he still hasn't got anywhere to live), and it's nice to have the company, and someone to eat dinner with. Mum's been anxious about me being on my own in the house, but it isn't being on my own so much as just having too much to do and not being able to wind down.

Work is still tiring - I have this long list of tasks to do that never seem to end, and they all seem to have equal weight so it's hard to prioritise them (I am finishing my lunch break by blogging, in case anyone wonders why I don't have my nose to the grindstone at this particular moment). Perhaps I need a better list system, because I've definitely been working, just not finishing any of the big things that are on the list. My hours are STILL way behind, which is so depressing. I'm trying not to look at them and just plod along, but I'm not making much headway. I worked long hours for a brief burst there, and managed to carve a big chunk off the deficit, but then started getting sick and taking time off to help mum, and so now am only managing to do the minimum required hours. Part of me thinks this is okay, because it's no good burning out, but another part of me just wants to scream because I shouldn't still have this hanging over me.

Mum is doing well at St Luke's. She is still feeling a bit trembly about it, but it's only been just over a week! She has a whole new titanium knee (but strangely doesn't seem to appreciate Bionic Woman references) and is able to get around pretty well. Thankfully she got moved to a much better room yesterday, and only has to share the bathroom with one other person so she's a lot more comfortable and the whole indignity of it all isn't as stressful.

I know she understands and keeps telling me to look after myself, but I feel bad for not spending lots of time with her. Problem is, by the time I get there after work I'm so tired I just want to have a nap and don't feel like talking. Also driving from Maroubra to Potts Point every day is just that much further than ducking round the corner to Prince of Wales. Though it does seem to help if I drive the car with the working stereo - music helps everything. At the moment, it's no-brainer, beatsy stuff like Sneaky Sound System because if I listen to anything that will engage me emotionally, everything might grind to a halt.

I got into the garden yesterday morning too, and that helped a bit. I don't know whether any of the things I planted will grow in the horrible soil, but we'll see. I had bought all these petunias and carrots and mondo grass a couple of weeks ago and hadn't gotten around to preparing the soil properly, so they were just languishing on the back step. Hopefully I'll at least get some cheerful flowers out of it - our backyard is so barren and depressing at the moment. Lots of sandy soil, heaps of onion weed, and random bits of rubbish (glass, pegs, rubble, a butter knife, cigarette filters) that make me wonder whether the previous tenants used it as a bit of a dumping ground.

Back to work.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

rest stop

Rest time is so important. That might sound really obvious - and it is - but sometimes we just keep running so hard that we forget we don't have an infinite energy supply and we do actually need to recharge. While we might feel that the world will collapse if we don't do every single little thing we've taken on, in actual fact, not resting makes us less effective and is totally counterproductive.

Must remember that.

This weekend hasn't been the most relaxing I've ever had, and there has still been some running around, but I have slept a bit more, chilled out a lot, and just feel a whole lot better. Less anxious, and less like the sky is going to come crashing down on my head.

Started the weekend with a group training session at the gym. To some of you, that might sound perverse, but it helped a lot. Cleared out the cobwebs, got the blood flowing, and I laughed a lot with my trainer Nazlie, and the other girl who turned up. It was kind of nice that there were only two of us, it felt a lot more relaxed and fun. I wandered around the Randwick shopping centre for a while, bought mum some more track pants/shorts and myself some cheap tops that actually look great. Amazing how when you're desperately trying to find clothes, you can never find something, and when you just grab a $6 t shirt on the off chance it'll look good, it's actually a lot better than half the stuff you own.

Visited mum, and my 'godmother' Freda was there, so it was nice to sit and chat for a while. I did tire quite quickly though, and I felt bad about leaving mum there without anyone to talk to. I know she doesn't expect me to stay there the whole time, but I also know how boring and lonely it can be, just sitting or lying around in hospital with nothing to do. I came home and had a rest, then Bec, Kieran and Amelia came round for dinner and DVDs. We watched Stranger than Fiction and Garden State, two excellent off-kilter yet strangely sweet movies that I was just in the mood for (and had already seen, but I don't mind repeat viewings, which is why I have such a large DVD collection).

Went to church this morning, found it quite hard to focus, but was encouraged, being reminded that Jesus is the son of God, and our shepherd, and no one can snatch us from his hand. I asked Jeremy to come to the hospital and give mum communion, which he kindly did and it was actually a great mini 'service', the three of us sitting there, reading through the service, praying and sharing communion - both in the bread-and-wine sense, and in the sitting together and having fellowship as Christians. Jeremy read us his favourite communion passage from Matthew 11, and it just underscored everything I'd been thinking about needing to rest, and reminding me where we can find ultimate peace:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Matthew 11:28-30

(such great verses!)

Janice from church had given mum a new CD of Christian music to listen to, but she had no CD player. So I went to Bondi Junction, and although I couldn't afford it, I bought her a purple iPod shuffle and loaded it up with the new CD and all the EMU albums I have. She was so excited when I took it in to her! I think it will help her feel less frustrated and lonely. She loves listening to music, and especially loves reflecting and praying while listening to Christian stuff, so hopefully it will help.

And Dave has come to stay for a couple of days. Of course we went and got Krispy Kremes and watched some Family Guy, so it's just like old times, really. Although I like being on my own, and I've been so busy this week I haven't often had time to feel alone, it is good to have company.

Anyway. I should go to bed soon...make sure I have the energy for the week ahead. Hopefully it's not as full on as last week and we can get back to an almost even keel!

Friday, 26 October 2007

they tried to make me go to rehab, but I said...

Actually they didn't try to make me go anywhere. But mum's in rehab! She was taken by ambulance to St Luke's in Potts Point. It was a bit of a traumatic day, I gather. The ambos came early and had her waiting in this ambulance for ages while they picked up another three people and dropped them off at other hospitals/facilities. She said she was clammy and nauseous and it was a miracle she didn't throw up all over someone.

Her room at St Luke's is more like a monk's cell, and a lot less comfortable than at the private hospital, but the staff at St Luke's are about a million times more attentive and actually seem to have a vocation for caring for their patients. At the private hospital (even though that was better than the public) there was no continuity of staff and because they were understaffed there was not much care taken. For example, when mum had her shower yesterday, the nurse said to press the buzzer when we were done so she could help get mum back into bed. We pressed the buzzer and nobody came. After about ten minutes and more buzzer pressing, I roamed down the corridor to find the physio, who helped us. About ten minutes after that, a nurse wandered in and said "did you press the buzzer?" If I hadn't been there, mum would have been sitting there in the wet bathroom for at least 20 minutes before anyone would have answered the call.

She starts her gym and pool sessions this weekend. She's all trembly and nervous today, but I think she's doing so well.

For my part, I am so glad it's the weekend! I need a long sleep.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Mum's doing really well. She's able to get out of bed and slowly shuffle out of her room and back. She had a shower today, which made her feel a million times better. I helped her in the shower; it's funny how you can't imagine doing certain things for another person, like helping them shower, but when the time comes it just seems logical and normal. I guess it helps that mum and I have always been so close there are few things we wouldn't do for one another, and we can anticipate what the other person needs.

She told me I could be a nurse. I'm not sure that's something I could countenance; it's one thing doing it for someone you love, but I don't know how I would manage with strangers. Perhaps that explains the rough and no-nonsense attitude you can get from some nurses. Having said that, though, the staff at Prince of Wales Private have been lovely.

Mum goes to St Luke's Darlinghurst for her rehab tomorrow. She's nervous again, I guess about whether she'll be sharing a room with someone, whether the staff will be gentle or boss her around, whether she can cope with the exercises and everything. I know she will be fine.

I'm still tired and emotional. Not much has changed on that score. I have a lot of work to do and am chipping away at it, but I just want to lie down in a dark room on a soft bed for a week. I find my patience is thinning and my snapping point is getting closer all the time. I get cranky very quickly, and I'm starting not to care what people think and whether I'm being kind or not.

For example, I cancelled my training session at the gym this afternoon and the trainer was a bit snippy with me. When i said my mother was in hospital, she grudgingly said, "Why's she in hospital?" but wasn't interested in the answer (it only strengthened my resolve to cancel my sessions with her and train on my own). Likewise, I took work home today instead of staying in the office and my boss seemed a little surprised, saying "Why, can't you do it here?" No, I can't. I'm finding it harder than usual to get things done at work because my concentration levels are so shot that the slightest interruption (of which there are many in any given day at the office) will just derail me entirely.

It's very ungracious, but I feel like just wailing "my grandma died and my mum's in hospital, just leave me alone!!!"

But I can't do that. I'm not the type who falls apart, the damsel in distress who has a nervous breakdown and everyone runs around and picks up the pieces. I'm the type who keeps on keeping on, who turns up and keeps bouncing from pillar to post, trying to do what needs to be done without losing it completely, feeling guilty when I take time for myself and wondering why I'm so tired all the time. And then, if the facade cracks just a bit, and I snap, or cry, or give a terse response, people are shocked and say, "What's up with her?"

Wah. It's all about me, isn't it? Wah. Maybe I need to start seeing a counsellor again.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Bone. Weary.

I haven't been this exhausted for a long time. I look in the mirror and I can see it etched into my face, under my eyes; I don't even need people to tell me how tired I look to know that my appearance matches my internal state.

Mum's being the usual trooper. The surgeon says she is doing really well, and she's been up and out of bed a couple of times. She is still really tired though, and I got a good look at her leg while the nurse was trying to remove an anesthetic line from the knee. She's very bruised and obviously has a large wound where they cut, but it isn't that much more swollen than it was before the surgery (which shows how bad it was before!).

Lots of people have visited and called and sent flowers, which is lovely. She's given me some to take to work and have at home, and they're very cheerful.

I just want to cry though, from sheer tiredness. And I feel bad being so strung out when mum's the one in hospital! But it's been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster the last few days, and I am just finding it really hard to wind down properly. I should be in bed really, but I just keep roaming around, feeling aimless and too weary to actually stop, paradoxical though that seems.

I might lie down and read some Terry Pratchett; that should be restful enough.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

farewell to Rose

Today was my grandmother's funeral. Well, my step-grandmother. But seeing as my actual grandmother died when I was two years old, Rose may as well have been it. She was a quiet Swiss-German woman, adept at knitting and sewing, as well as making delicious rösti. She had two sons, Richard and Victor, but Richard died when he was in his early twenties. She was married to my grandfather for around 20 years (I think), but Victor didn't get on with Papa especially well, so we never became close to my step-uncle and -cousins.

Anyway, after my grandfather died in 1999, we gradually saw less and less of Rose. She lived in Hornsby; it was quite difficult to get there on a regular basis, and also it was always filled with a kind of desolate sadness going to the house where Papa had lived and having nothing to talk about. As I said, she was a very quiet, reserved woman and this was heightened following a stroke she had. She started speaking a mixture of English and German, and would ramble on about people we had never met. But the one good thing was that after Papa died, her son Victor and his family became close to her again and really brought her back into their fold. She absolutely loved her little great-grandchildren, and I think the last few years of her life were happy and full of love, even though she was sick a lot.

She was a faithful Catholic, so the service at the Macquarie Park Cemetery was a Catholic one, arranged by her son and his family. And it felt very strange to me. The chapel had the coffin in the middle, a little spotlit statue of Jesus on one side, and a little spotlit statue of Mary on the other. The priest was disorganised and spoke with a very thick accent so was hard to understand, but I don't think we missed much; the parts of his homily I did pay attention to were irritating, self-absorbed and seemed to me completely pointless. He spent half the time talking about himself and his own mother who had died a couple of years ago, and there was hardly any reference to Rose. He got the family's names wrong, and stumbled over very familiar Bible passages. He talked about how although Rose belonged to God, we still had to pray for her soul because we didn't know whether she was with him or not - and that made me mad. We said the Lord's Prayer, but stopped before "The kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever, amen", (which is apparently what Catholics do but it still angered me). By the time he closed in prayer and asked us to pray for the people in the cemetery, I was ready to throw something at him.

There was no singing. No eulogy. There was a slideshow of photos with Ave Maria playing over the top of it, and the thing I thought curious was that there was hardly any reference to my grandfather or our family. If I had wondered what they thought of us before, I had no doubt now; there was one photo of Rose and Papa together - and this is a couple that was married for two decades! I think mum and I were in there too as we had been at Rose's 80th birthday, but there was no reference to anyone else from the Shearer family. Interesting.

Still, afterwards I went up to her son and gave him a hug, said I was sorry for his loss and if they needed help with the house or anything to let me know. He smiled and squeezed my arm and said "well yes, likewise, let us know if we can help you. She was family to all of us."

As we were leaving the cemetery, my brother and I found ourselves behind the priest who had taken the service. His numberplate was 'PRIE5T'. Says it all, really.

I was very fond of Rose and loved her. I remember staying at their place as a kid and pottering around in the garden with her. I remember going on walks down to the national park at the end of their street with her and Papa. I remember reading a book she had about the Swiss children living in the Alps and always wondering about the country she had come from. I remember that she loved me and my mum, and that we had a special place in her heart.

She was a special woman, and she loved God and was faithful to him. No matter what that priest said, there's no need to pray for her soul (as if that would make the slightest shred of difference!) because I think she is with God now. And that's a wonderful place to be.

Monday, 22 October 2007

what I wrote in the hospital

I'm sitting in mum's empty hospital room, waiting for her and her bed to be wheeled back in. I had gone to work when she went into theatre, but I was so distracted and stressed I left after three hours. My dad rang up to find out how mum was and gave a disbelieving laugh when I said I didn't know whether she was out of the operation or not. That made me anxious, so I came. And now I'm here.

She put on a brave face earlier. I could see she was terrified underneath, but she had a God-given calm. My heart feels stretched not knowing how or where she is. I know she's in God's hands but the waiting seems to expand and ooze and swamp my thoughts.

So I'll describe the room instead. The private hospital is worlds away from where I was in the open heart surgery ward of the public hospital, even though they're on the same block of land, just a little walk away from each other. There, the sense was of lino and rattling curtains on rails and machines going ping and dimly-lit misery. There, you heard the monotone of daytime television over the grunts and sighs and pathetic little moans of the other patients in your room.

Here, you step into a marble-floored lift to get to your ward. The walls of the rooms aare clean and painted in muted tones of lilac and olive. There is carpet on the floor and a bedspread on the bed. There is only one bed in the room and a private en suite as well.

"This is better than some motels," Mum remarked when she first walked in. I'll say. But they don't give you a morphine clicker in a motel.

A porter appears at the door, and then she is there, groggy and diminished and smiling uncertainly from her bed. They wheel her into position and get her comfortable, and I see her bruised and strapped leg, a flash of tubes and drains and special bed socks before they tuck her away again. We hold hands. It's good to have her back.

She holds up the morphine clicker.

"This is can be a legitimate druggie." She clicks it and a beep sounds. "Nothing's happening." Then, about ten seconds later she smiles. "Oh...there we go."

Monday, 15 October 2007


Went to Supanova at Homebush with Karen yesterday. Nerds aplenty! (of which we were two - that's not us in droid form, by the way) It was fun, though I always get really tired after wandering around at expos and conventions of any kind. Saw some gorgeous comic art, chatted to and bought a book from fantasy writer Jennifer Fallon, went to an interesting panel discussion on Spirituality in Comics, got sidetracked by all the merch at the Kings Comics stall, and heard Nicholas Brendon talk about being on Buffy and generally muck around with the audience. I took a bit of video, which I might edit and put up, but here he is in all his scruffy charm:

He did the Snoopy dance too - I wish I'd filmed that.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

that's better

My cold is finally ebbing away. The weather has been cool and sunny - beautiful! I've been digging in my garden. We've been celebrating mum's birthday by going out and eating lots of wonderful food. Life is good.

We went to China Doll, where Nic works, for mum's birthday dinner on Friday. The meal was wonderful, and the company (Nic's girlfriend Linda) great. It was lovely being down at Woolloomooloo and seeing the city from a different angle, though it did get a bit cold (they give all the customers blankets if necessary!). Nic did what he does best: he 'took care' of us, and just ordered what he thought would make a great meal. And it did! We had rabbit dumplings (divine), the most delectable Peking duck I've ever had, blue eyed cod and Moreton Bay bugs. I loved it all and I'm not even a seafood fan. The dessert was delicious too - a plate with tastes of all sorts of different things on it: sorbets, sago, sticky black rice, and the most divine caramelised pear with Tiger Beer ice cream (which was incredible).

So, as you can tell, the meal was good.

Then on Saturday mum and I went to The Observatory (our favourite posh hotel) for high tea. I got an idea for another book while sitting there, looking at all the women eating these sweet delicacies - lots of civilised hen's gatherings I think (not a bunch of well-mannered chickens - I mean women celebrating an impending wedding...though given the chatter, you can understand where the 'hen' label comes from), and a particularly vociferous Chinese mother-daughter couple sitting next to us who gave me a very pointed up-and-down look (finishing at my chest) when we got up to leave.

"It's so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up." Never truer a word said, Ferris.

Friday, 12 October 2007


I get sent emails at work from the company where we have registered our website's domain name. Presumably all the other people on the mailing list are, likewise, people who have registered a domain name with the company.

Blogging ups your web ranking - Success Box
This is a fairly standard article about blogs. In fact, it's pretty basic. So I couldn't quite believe the comments that people left at the bottom of the article, berating the writer for using too much techno jargon. Yes there are one or two references (at the end of the article) to coding, which might be taken as obscure, but the bulk of the article is really very straightforward.

Here are a couple of the comments:
I don’t know what blogging is? I am 43. I think that there is a perception that every one understands what a lot of the internet jargon is, and this can isolate the older customer.

I agree with Karen? It’s ok to send me an email and say how great blogging is? Start one up etc etc
But what is it? How can you sell it to me?

I am reasonably up with nerdtalk but you write these this in a way that very few of us come close to knowing what you are talking about, we have to read them 3 or 4 times to try to understand what is going on, net result ‘delete’

I have read the previous comments, and agree that you may need to rephrase your hip internet-style prose into plain english that business people can understand.

I'm sorry, but 'blog' = 'hip internet-style prose'? Have you people been living on Mars? How can you have registered a domain name and yet not know what a blog is?!

And how is age a valid excuse? I know many people who are much older than 43 who know what a blog is. This is like when I went to a database training day about seven years ago, and there was a woman who would have been in her early 40s who didn't even know what a mouse was and was kind of defensive about it.

I know everyone has to start somewhere, but honestly, get with the program! If you're going to be working with and using the computers and the internet as a resource, do a little bit of research, look up words/terms you don't understand... at least have a go at finding out what people are talking about before you jump in and blame everyone else for your lack of understanding.

(I still have a cold, which might account for my bad mood)

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

not drowning, waving...just

I can't shake this tired melancholy.

Work's been busy. Not insanely, frenetically busy, but relentlessly pressurised. I feel like I really need a holiday but that's not going to happen until Christmas time. I will be certainly enjoying those couple of weeks when they finally arrive! So I'm just trying to be balanced in my work, trying to complete a significant number of tasks each day, and trying not to freak out every time something else is added to my plate...which seems to happen with increasing frequency at this time of year.

What makes it worse is that everyone else in the office is having or has had holidays over the last little while, and they all talk about how much they neeeeed the holiday and good it is to not be at work. I bite my tongue and try to be other-person centered and be happy that they are able to have some time off. What I need is to find a way to recharge and replenish my physical and emotional energy, without needing to take a slab of time off. This is just trying to keep my head above water, mind you; it doesn't allow at all for creative space or writing time.

I went over to Matthias Media this afternoon to say hi to Emma and Karen, and Tony Payne asked me whether I'd finished my novel yet. We talked about a scene in Family Guy when Stewie hassles Brian about writing his novel - we agreed it's very funny, but harsh , and yet strangely true. Then Tony said he would ask me every time he saw me whether I had finished the novel yet. This is good, I need people to look out for me and egg me on, but sadly it doesn't help me find the time or space to actually do the writing.

I just want to cry, but I'm too tired to. Maybe I'll go eat the chicken pie I made for dinner and have a long bath.

(sorry that the blog's been so maudlin lately...I'm sure I'll come out of this fug soon)

Oh, if you like Family Guy, here's the clip (and it ends just the way I want to end some conversations...):

Monday, 8 October 2007

facebook and myspace: evil, genius or evil genius?

(Okay so I'm joining the legions of bloggers and 'journalists' writing about social networking. Sorry.)

I wouldn’t say Facebook and Myspace are evil for the usually cited reason – I mean, yes, I do waste a lot of time mucking around online, but procrastination has never really bothered me. And to most people (with thicker skins and perhaps fewer neuroses?) this potential evilness wouldn't even be an issue. But the problem I'm struggling with at the moment is this: these sites are theoretically supposed to bring me closer to my friends, but sometimes they actually makes me feel more left out.

Yet I love some aspects of them. What to do? A for and against list of course!

For 1: online community and staying connected
I am a big fan of online communities. I spend so much of my life online, it is great to be within the context of a group of friends, or like-minded people, rather than just randomly wandering through the interwebs alone. Seeing what my friends and acquaintances are into, what groups they join, what they think is funny, what minutiae makes up their lives, gives me insight into other aspects of their personalities, and allows me to keep in touch (however tenuously) with people I may never actually get around to ringing up or emailing (for all my writing, I’m a terrible correspondent, and really not good ‘catching up’ on the phone). I disagree with people who say there’s something wrong if you have more online friends than ‘offline’ friends – some friendships can start online and evolve offline, or just stay purely in the cyber realm and they are just as real as people you might meet at uni or church or a bar (in the case of the latter, I’d say possible even more real).

Against 1: Top Friends
This is a big against, and the main problem I have with Myspace. I’ve never been good with the concept of popularity. I have trouble working out what makes one popular, and once I have worked it out, I hate the game-playing and paranoia that goes along with staying at ‘the top’. So I really resent Myspace’s ‘Top Friends’ concept, where you rank your pool of friends. There is this pressure (from who, I don’t know) to work out who your top 8, 12 or 24 friends are, but worse – you then start to wonder whose Top Friends lists you make it into. You check out your close friends’ pages and wonder why you’re at number 9 instead of number 2, why you’ve been bumped down several places, or why you don’t even appear at all. Did you do something wrong? Are you not as close to that ‘friend’ as you thought you were?

It really doesn’t matter a jot in the grand scheme of things, but suddenly in the goldfish bowl of the online world, it takes on major significance.

For 2: Scrabulous
On Facebook I can play Scrabble online with friends scattered all over the globe. It’s still communicating and interacting with your friends in a way that isn’t as time-intensive as writing an email, but might be what you were doing if you were hanging out together, say, at a beach house…on holidays… I think this is great, especially now that I’m getting better at grabbing all the triple-word scores.

Against 2: the non-response
For the uninitiated, Facebook has a thing called the Wall. You can leave messages for other people that everyone else can read too. Depending on their security settings, you can sometimes read the entire conversation between two people.

But what it also means is that if you send someone a message on their wall, and they don’t reply to you, you can see that they are still replying to other people. Obviously they are still logging in to the site. Obviously they are reading their messages. But for some reason, they are not replying to yours. Why? Who knows?

For 3: discovery and rediscovery
I’ve managed to have conversations with people I am acquainted with through our various circles, but have never actually met or spoken to in the flesh. I think this is great! Then it means when I do actually meet them at, say, a conference, we already kind of know one another.

And as well as my close friends, I have also reconnected with loads of old friends. In some cases it’s great to find them again. In others, it’s more of a ‘hey!’ kind of response, not implying that we’re ever going to be close mates again but just acknowledging that we have shared history and we remember each other fondly.

Against 3: discovery and rediscovery
Then sometimes people track you down who you’d prefer never to know again. Hello, ‘ignore’ button! Still…it seems a bit harsh. Maybe only to me. Arg! This shouldn’t be a dilemma!

At least with Facebook you don’t get the sleazy Myspace pick-up messages from random guys who think you look ‘HOT’.

For/Against undecided: design
Myspace is a nightmare wrapped in a migraine. Some people manage to have classy-looking Myspace pages. Most don’t. Facebook, on the other hand, has a clean, simple design. People still manage to clutter it up with all sorts of crap, but at least it won’t cause you to fall to the floor in an epileptic fit every time the page loads.

For 4: status updates
I love Facebook status updates. I love seeing the silly things people write. It gives me a tiny glimpse into peoples’ days and mindsets and often makes me laugh.

Against 4: the Pandora’s Box effect
Sometimes, by reading Facebook’s news feed (the page that shows all your friends’ updates, so you can see what everyone’s been up to), you find yourself inadvertently learning things about people that you didn’t want to know, or seeing your ex’s name crop up and being unable to resist the urge to click on it.

For 5: Facebook apps
Timewasters galore, but some can be quite fun. I like it when people send me eggs that hatch into things. I like throwing sheep at people. Also, I have learned heaps about geography since playing with the Traveller IQ app.

Against 5: egocentricity and the resultant paranoia
This kind of ties in to Against 1. There’s been a lot of talk in the Christian blogosphere about Joshua Harris’ (a popular American pastor/writer) experience with Facebook. He is keen to stress that he isn’t against Facebook, but this was just his particular experience of it – he didn’t find it helpful because:
Without any help from the internet I'm inclined to give way too much time to evaluating myself, thinking about myself and wondering what other people think of me. If that egocentrism is a little flame, than Facebook for me is a gasoline IV feeding the fire. I need to grow in self-forgetfulness. I need to worry more about what God is thinking of me. I need to be preoccupied with what he's written in his word, not what somebody just wrote on my "wall."
(read the whole post here if you want)

I think I’d be inclined to agree with that, to a point. I still find Facebook a really valuable tool for keeping in touch with people, having a bit of fun, and exploring the potentials of online communities (whether serious or frivolous). I think what it comes down to is moderation, recognising what is unhelpful for me and capitalising on the good things.

So I've decided. I am going to close my Myspace account now. I’ll hang on to Facebook but I’ll keep reminding myself that it’s just a medium and relationships are about more than whether or not someone replies to your wall post.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

things fall away

I'm going through one of those sad, disconnected phases. It's weird, and I am trying to counter it by seeing people and having people over for meals and things like that. But there are a number of friends who I seem to have lost contact with - and not a slow drift over time, but a sudden, did-I-do-something-wrong kind of loss.

I'm trying very hard not to be paranoid, and to be kind of philosophical. But at the same time it's making me feel really sad, and I don't think there's anything I can do about it.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

the housewarming

A BBQ dinner cooked by a vegetarian, lots of kids running around, some wine, lots of delicious food and a very warmed house. We had fun!

Friday, 5 October 2007

if you want to write...

I was thinking about the genre of how-to-write books recently (at the last Word-by-Word meeting, in fact, when I purchased another writing book from a fellow attendee). There are so many of them, with so many kernels of 'wisdom'...but I find that some of them don't actually inspire me or encourage me to write at all, so when I find ones that are inspirational, I think they're worth holding on to.

I'm going to be running a workshop at NTE in December on writing (broadly part of the network time, but I think it will be more useful to run it as a workshop), so I'm starting to think through what I might say. The Faithful Writer conference will no doubt provide me with a lot of inspiration (and Karen may be joining me to run the workshop), but I'm also just scanning my shelf of writing books and seeing what I can glean from them.

There's one I haven't looked at in years, and I'm so glad I picked it up again. If you want to write: a book about art, independence and spirit was written by Brenda Ueland in 1938, and it is the most incredible book. Her style borders on hilarious - she rants and scolds quite a lot - but it's almost like having a conversation with a mentor, someone who is guiding, encouraging and reassuring you that your writing is not in vain.

The book was given to me by Aoise, who now lives in the States and who I haven't spoken to in ages. I miss her a lot, and I'm not sure that she knows it, but she certainly was a bit of a creative mentor to me when we were at uni together, doing plays, drinking wine and enjoying our cats.

Here's a long excerpt about the concept of 'moodling', allowing your imagination time and space to discover what it will:

It is these fool, will-worshiping people who live by maxims and lists of chores and the Ten commandments – not creatively as when a fine, great maxim occurs to you and bursts a little, silent bomb of revelation in you – but mechanically.

“…Honor thy father and thy mother” …the active, willing, do-it-now man thinks and makes note of this daily, sets his jaw, and thinks he does honor them, which he does not at all, and which of course his father and mother know and can feel, since nothing is hidden by outer behaviour.

The idle creative man says:

“’Honor thy father and mother.’…That is interesting…I don’t seem to honor them very much…I wonder why that is?” and his imagination creatively wanders on until perhaps it leads him to some truth such as the fact that his father is a peevish and limited man, his mother unfortunately rattle-brained. This distresses him and he puzzles and thinks and hopes again and again for more light on the subject and tries everything his imagination shows to him, such as being kinder or controlling his temper; and perhaps he comes to think: “Is it they who are peevish and boring, or is it just that I, being a small man, think so?” And he goes on and seeks and asks for the answer with his imagination. And who knows, in time he even may come to understand what Christ did (who as I said was one of the most imaginative men who ever lived and whose life was fiercely and passionately directed against following mechanically any rules whatever): how if one is great and imaginative enough one can honor and love people with all their limitations.

So you see the imagination needs moodling, - long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering. These people who are always briskly doing something and as busy as waltzing mice, they have little, sharp, staccato ideas, such as: “I see where I can make an annual cut of $3.47 in my meat budget.” But they have no slow, big ideas. And the fewer consoling, noble, shining, free, jovial, magnanimous ideas that come, the more nervously and desperately they rush and run from office to office and up and downstairs, thinking by action at last to make life have some warmth and meaning.

. . . If you write, good ideas must come welling up into you so that you have something to write. If good ideas do not come at once, or for a long time, do not be troubled at all. Wait for them. Put down the little ideas however insignificant they are. But do not feel, any more, guilty about idleness and solitude.

Brenda Ueland, If you want to write, Graywolf Press, 1987, p31-33

Interesting fact for the day

Do try this at home - Times Online: "The hotspots – and consequent cold spots – that occur in ovens thanks to the wavelength of microwaves are the reason why ants can survive unscathed and uncooked inside a switched-on oven. They immediately scurry to the cooler areas and ride out the microwave storm."

So now you know!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

maybe i do belong in a teen movie

still not managing full posts...been trying to think about what to blog for the last three days and every time I log in I just sit staring at the screen.

But I thought this was funny. Mum said she was paying for her lunch today and the girl saw the photo of me in mum's wallet and said "she looks like the girl in The Breakfast Club".

That's either Molly Ringwald or Ally Sheedy. Either way...I'm not convinced. Although...maybe a cross between the two. I certainly was adept at the sulky adolescent thing around the time the photo in mum's wallet was taken...