Tuesday, 29 May 2007

viral - but in a good way!

As many of you know, REMO is one of my favourite shops. It used to exist in physical form on the corner of Oxford and Crown streets in Darlinghurst, and would be the best place to go and hang out after school or on the weekends. They had a cute little cafe (I think it was probably there I first started drinking coffee), so many interesting and useful knick-knacks, and the best black and white photo booth - it wasn't just me and my friends who made a regular habit of seeing how many of us could cram in there, I think it was a rite for many Sydneysiders (above is an example - Kate, Sido and me, probably about 15 years ago!!! (AAAARG that's a long time!)).

Sadly the actual shop closed down many years ago, but a while back it returned in online form and is just as addictive. I have to restrain myself from buying things for myself every time I browse their site.

Their marketing is also quite interesting. Occasionally they run print ads, but generally they rely on word-of-mouth (also known as viral marketing - you think something is cool, you tell your friends, they think it's cool, they tell their friends, etc). Their latest ploy is very smart - existing customers are given a special link and each friend who signs up because of you (using that link) gets a free t-shirt. I couldn't work out how to let my friends know about this without being obnoxious and emailing people, turning myself into a low grade spammer. But someone came up with the bright idea of posting their sponsor link on their blog (or something) and I thought 'hey! I could do that too! and then people wouldn't think I was obnoxious but they'd still get a free t-shirt!'

Seriously, this is such a good offer. REMO original t-shirts are the best - funky designs, super comfortable, generally all-round fab. You may have seen me in my 'eternity' one, or my coffee cup one. Details of the offer are below - click the link, get a shirt, we'll look cool together.

Follow this link to the REMO General Store. They are trialing an exciting incentive programme for newly registering CustOMERs. The first T Shirt that you add to your shopping cart prior to 16 August 2007 will be FREE!

And no! I'm not employed by REMO - I just think they are great, and I'm a sucker for clever marketing. Oh, and a good product.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

gardening: bringing people together

It was a beautiful day today, the perfect autumn day with a bright blue sky and cool air. I planted a Chinese jasmine plant on the awful bare walkway that runs along the side of our building. It ends under my kitchen window, so I put the plant in an old strawberry pot and twined the young shoots around the rusty railings. Hopefully by springtime, it will be covered in flowers and will have advanced a bit further along the railing. It's already made such a difference to how it looks out there, and I know I won't really see it except for when I go out to take the garbage down, but it at least makes the area look less dismal and like someone cares about it. I've been hesitant to do it in all the years I've lived here in case someone stole the plants, but I thought it was worth a try anyway.

While I was doing this, one of my neighbours was coming up from the laundry and we often smile at one another in passing but haven't really spoken much aside from saying 'hello'. We had a brief chat where she discovered my name was Rebecca and I discovered her name was Nikki (or Nicky, or Nicki) and she seemed delighted at my planting idea (she also has plants on the walkway outside her flat upstairs). I had also hung a lovely big pink bougainvillea hanging basket outside the kitchen window and she said she'd been admiring it yesterday. She then went upstairs and brought down a tiny little strawberry plant seedling she had growing up on her balcony for me to put in the strawberry pot! I thought that was so lovely. Amazing how the slightest little touch of neighbourly friendliness can go such a long way.

By the same token, the slightest touch of neighbourly unfriendliness can give you a lasting negative impression of someone. The guy who lives on the top floor has been consistently...cool in his demeanour towards me. I wondered whether it had been because on my birthday last year, my brother and I were on the rooftop having a drink and a fairly quiet heart-to-heart, and he came up and asked us to leave. We did so, and I totally understand that he may have been trying to sleep or whatever, but he has never smiled or returned my greetings when we pass on the steps or in the street. He has a wife and baby too, and the wife seems to match his attitude. I thought it was just me, but Meg said that he had done the same to her when she and some friends were on the roof one evening having a chat and I realise that perhaps they just aren't very outgoing, and even border on the deliberately unfriendly.

I guess you can't win everyone over. But I'm determined to be as friendly as I can to my neighbours... we're all living so close to one another it seems ridiculous that we don't even know one anothers' names. And I've been thinking about how nice Nikki seems all afternoon - just from five minutes' contact. Goes to show how much positive connections with other people can affect your whole mood and outlook.

Friday, 25 May 2007


Some people can't have music on while they work. I think I'm the opposite; I have to have music on all the time while I work. I'm quite happy to be at home and not have music on, which I guess is weird in a way, but if I'm creating something I think I need the extra jolt to get me going - especially when doing graphic design stuff or writing.

It does influence the output though. I found Ani Difranco's revelling/reckoning double album to be the most effective soundtrack for a while, but the resultant writing was quite melancholy and reflective - a lot like that album. While I was at Varuna I compiled a songlist that seems to help me get into a certain mood for this current book; again a little mellow and perhaps a little wistful. It includes Ani, Norah Jones, Joni Mitchell, Diana Krall, Bernard Fanning, Sufjan Stevens, Coldplay, Tori Amos, Ben Folds Five and others...on one level predictable (if you know me) but possibly an eclectic combination. I'm not sure. I just like what I like.

I think I may have found another new writing album - thanks to Parkinson, of all things, which was the least obnoxious TV option while I ate my lunch today. The musical act was Corinne Bailey Rae (right), and I was just struck by how incredibly beautiful she is and how simply she presented her song, Like a Star, which I'd never heard before. So I downloaded it from iTunes, and then by this evening I had to download the whole album because I couldn't stop listening to that song. She has a really smooth yet slightly burnt caramel kind of a voice, and the songs are really kind of laidback and cruisy. And then - lo and behold - I started writing.

If music is what helps, then bring it on. I need all the help I can get!

Wednesday, 23 May 2007


My big achievement today was leaving the house! I went and got the car washed (and then a bird promptly defouled it as I was en route to my next destination), then went and wandered around Westfield Bondi Junction for an hour. I realised as I was wandering I had probably bitten off more than I could chew by going to a mall - they already have a disorienting effect and it is amplified many times at Bondi Junction and then even more when you're not quite with it. But I managed to buy some food from Coles and things from the chemist and get home in one piece so I think it was successful.

Then I curled up on the couch and watched the film Shopgirl, starring Steve Martin, Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman. I had no idea what to expect from this movie, but it knocked me sideways a bit. It's quite muted and slow in style and pace, but beautifully acted, shot and written. It just shows states of loneliness and melancholy so well. At first I was a little annoyed at the casual attitude it seemed to have towards sex, but it didn't take long to realise that the point it was making was that people desperately need to create real connections with one another, and that sex and the trappings of success are not enough to sustain anyone. There is a spot on review of the film here (apologies - you'll have to ignore the unfortunate banner ads). I would echo the reviewer when he likens it to Lost in Translation - each film is great in its own right, but common to both is an actor (Bill Murray / Steve Martin) who was previously known for his total childish buffoonery remaking himself into a thoughtful, complex and melancholy adult; it deepens the pathos somewhat. And of course there is the relationship (consummated or not) between a young woman and a much older man.

It left me crying because there were lots of echoes in my own life in this film, especially in that relationship between Danes' and Martin's characters. I had a similar relationship in my late teens/early twenties and a decade later I can see it for what it was, but I still mourn at times for the loss...the loss of time, the loss of innocence, if that isn't too cheesy. I know it was just one of many steps that led me to where I am now, but it did leave some pretty deep scars.

On reflection, and after seeing this film, it also makes me realise that how you treat people in every way matters, that communication is just so important, and that it's important to go into relationships with your eyes open and not to be deceived by superficial things, or even just what your heart longs to be the truth. It can be so easy to intentionally overlook problems and pitfalls just because you really want something to work out, even when you know it's not good for you.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

i could be allergic to medical shows

I'm still housebound. Getting a little bored, which is a good sign, but am still sore and woozy. I have to be careful not to go overboard on eating now that I can eat anything, because I'm not getting any exercise and could well undo all the good work I've been doing at the gym in recent months. But oh it was nice to eat beef and red wine stew for dinner tonight!

The thing I'm finding quite disconcerting is that I've been getting really anxious whenever a medical show comes on TV. And I'm not talking about those real-life operation type shows, but things like All Saints. I don't normally watch it anyway, but I was sewing in front of the TV tonight, and it came on with a scene set in triage/the emergency ward. The movement, the set and the dialogue ("are you allergic to anything?") was just so much like last week that I started to feel...strange and had to turn it off. And that doesn't just apply to straight-up drama - Kieran loaned me season one of Grey's Anatomy and Scrubs is one of my favourite shows and right now I can't watch either of them.

Despite the ward I was in, it's not like I actually had open heart surgery or anything. I think my experience was actually quite positive - all the staff were really lovely, the patients around me were no trouble, the operation went smoothly, the recovery is going well. But I have to keep remembering I was cut up and part of me taken out and that takes time to heal, both physically and emotionally.

It's kind of surreal, really.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Oh boy, sleep! That's where I'm a viking!

I love Ralph Wiggum.

That aside, I am once again praising the virtues of my laptop, specifically because it allows me to play a certain online game when I am otherwise incapacitated. I may not be able to sit up and concentrate on a movie, or a conversation, or read a book, or write anything, but I can run around in another world, killing nasties and generally having a good time as though I am hale and hearty. Also I can just stop whenever I need to. It makes me feel like anything's copeable-with. Including mangled sentences like that one.

Escapism at its best.

Today my big achievement was getting to church. I enjoyed it actually; it was Christian's first sermon (he's our student minister) and he preached on 1 Peter 1. My dad was also there, and it was a great sermon for us all to hear. People were very excited to see me, and they gave thanks in prayer time that I had the surgery and am recovering.

We were then supposed to go out for lunch with my brother and his girlfriend, but church was pretty much all the social interaction I could handle for one day. I've found it's not so much the Being Out that's problematic, it's having to interact with other people. It actually takes a lot of energy and concentration to be a reasonably civilised member of society!

So I came back home and lay down for a while, mum and dad have gone to lunch, and I am glad of some peace and quiet for the afternoon. It's a beautiful sunny day outside, but I know I'll be able to enjoy them soon enough.

In the meantime, I can be (almost) invincible in Azeroth...

Saturday, 19 May 2007

a fascinating update

Nothing much has been happening. I've been lying in bed, sitting in front of the TV, lying back in bed. Thank goodness for the laptop though - keeps me sane.

I seem to be healing nicely, although I'm coming up in attractive yellow bruises around the keyholes (I have the keyholes, but where are the keys?). Mum was a bit worried about me yesterday as I was feeling really rotten, and she was anxious that they had let me out of hospital too soon. So as we couldn't get onto my specialist we rang Nella, who is becoming the font of all knowledge concerning emergency gallbladder ops (she had one too) and she said that she definitely took a couple of weeks before she started to feel better. I am not worried, I expected to feel this way more or less. But the good news is that the pain and nausea I was feeling before the op seem to be non-existent! Hurrah!

Thursday, 17 May 2007


Why do you always do stupid things when you're sick? Like having a bowl of red jelly next to your bed, adjusting your pillows and watching as the pillow flips, almost in slow-motion, to crash onto your bedside table and tip the bowl of jelly (and everything else) onto the floor? It seems so much harder to clean stuff up when you're feeling gross. I guess I never learned that fundamental lesson from Bert and Ernie in Sesame Street, that you should never eat in bed (I like eating in bed...so sue me, Bert).

So I cleaned the jelly up, took some more drugs and decided that instead of focusing on my klutziness, I would post these pics of the amazing arrangement that Russell and his family sent me from my favourite florist (Janina in Randwick, in case anyone's taking notes...). They're quite a jungly sort of arrangement, with interesting shapes, lotus pods, and lots of glossy green. A big contrast to the roses that Lynne and Howard brought, which are still looking and smelling amazing.

You can't go wrong with flowers and me, honestly. I mean, there are some I prefer over others, but just generally they are so pleasing and positive and, well, flowers just make everything seem that much better.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

the amazing hospital adventures of bec

Well. What an exciting few days I've had!

It all began on Friday, when I was starting to feel sick again. I sadly had to cancel a night of DVDing with the Baddeleys, but they came over anyway and did my vacuuming which I have to say is one of the nicest gifts I've ever been given! Saturday was the Equip conference, and while I had been really looking forward to it, I was starting to wonder whether I'd be able to make it.

I skipped the yum cha lunch with the ladies from church as I wouldn't have been able to eat anything anyway, and got on the bus to town feeling decidedly ill. I just focused on the music coming from my ipod and tried not to breathe in all the smells of people around me that were making me nauseous. I stumbled through the city to Darling Harbour in a bit of a daze, but managed to meet up with everyone for Tara Thornley's excellent talk on 'Stress relief'. Carmelina Read introduced her and did the Bible reading and as she read Luke 12:22-34 I just started to cry:
Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?"
All the things I've been worrying about - health, money, work, what I was going to eat with my stupid gallbladder problem - what's the point of worrying? God loves me and is looking after me! It was immensely reassuring.

After the elective it was clear I was too sick to be there so Jen kindly drove me home. I think I was a bit delirious. By around 9.30 I was starting to wonder whether I should go to the hospital, and so I rang mum to ask what she thought and she said she knew when I started crying it was definitely time to go!

So we went to emergency at Prince of Wales - a perfect mother's day present, huh, sitting up with your kid in emergency till all hours of the morning? But of course mum said she wouldn't be anywhere else and I was grateful I didn't have to sit there on my own. There were a handful of ODs, a bunch of people who didn't seem to have anything wrong with them but were just hanging out at the back of the waiting area making noise (like popular kids at the back of the bus), and a trio of drunk teenagers, one of whom looked much worse for wear having drunk 1.5 litres of Jim Beam (ewww!). All these were silenced, however, when a Coptic priest dressed all in black, carrying a huge staff and followed by a little entourage, stalked through to visit someone. It looked like something out of Monty Python.

Eventually they saw me, and after a few hours I was admitted. The ward they put me in was the open heart surgery ward, which was a little odd and disorienting for people coming to visit, but the staff were all really lovely (with the exception of one of the night nurses who seemed to stab me when she gave me injections). My blood tests showed I had an infection, so they whacked me on a whole bunch of antibiotics. After a day of waiting I eventually saw my surgeon, who reassuringly stroked my arm and told me he was going to do his best to get the gallbladder out right then and there, because if I left the hospital I'd have to go back onto the normal waiting list and it needed to come out now.

When it finally happened it was all very quick. I was visited by a number of surgeons and nurses and anaesthetists who all seemed to ask me the same questions about allergies and such, and eventually I was wheeled down to theatre. They put a very attractive red cap on me to show that I had allergies (they were quite amused about the kiwi fruit and pineapple allergies and said it was unlikely there would be any in the surgery). I wriggled onto the narrow operating table, under these huge round lights, the anaesthetist injected something into the cannula in my hand, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up in recovery. Waking up after anaesthetic is really not very pleasant, I must say, but I was amazed at how quick it all was.

Mum was there when I was wheeled back into the ward, looking much more relieved than she had been. Dad arrived from Malaysia the next morning. And I had lots of lovely visitors, some of whom brought some beautiful flowers. I was expecting to stay in hospital for a few days, but after monitoring my eating and giving me some more antibiotics, the very next day they said I could go home, so mum and dad brought me home and we had Chinese food for dinner and it was delicious!

I have four little holes in me, held together by staples - I look a little like Frankenstein's monster when the dressings are off. Still feeling quite out of it and a bit queasy, but it's all looking up from here!

I was just amazed that the words I heard on Saturday were so prophetic - that it was like God saying to me "Just trust me. I've got it all under control, see?" He is good indeed.

Friday, 11 May 2007

if i was...someone else

This is so freaky and bizarrely cool (or maybe, in my current unwell state, i'm just delirious). Stumbled across the Face Transformer site, which allows you to see what you'd look like if you came from a different racial background...even how certain artists might have painted you. They also can show you in various stages of aging, but the baby/child/adolescent ones just look kind of alieny so I didn't include them. But herewith is the amazing gallery of transformation that is still freaking me out a bit, but which I just had to post because...well, i had to.

This is the basic photo of me I uploaded (and I took it without much light and while I was unwell which is why it's kind of pale and bluish, but bear with me):

And so we move from that to these...

From left to right starting at the top, we've got Afro Caribbean Bec, West Asian Bec, Caucasian Bec, Bec as a guy, Bec in a few years' time and Bec if she was 50% chimp. Flattering, no?

It's funny, cos although my eyes and mouth stay the same in most of them (except probably the ape one), it's amazing how face shape and a couple of other slight changes can make such a difference. And also how standard some racial traits are. For example, when I was choosing which face type my starting photo looked most like, it matched up with an East Asian face - and yes, while I know I'm half-Chinese, I've never thought I looked especially Chinese, but there is obviously some inherent quality that makes me look East Asian.

But I liked these the best...I always fancied the idea of being someone's muse (if I was painted by Botticelli, Modigliani and Mucha):

Thursday, 10 May 2007

this morning's pointless trivia

Brain's slow to start today. So I was checking out my RSS feeds to see if there's anything new to read, and got to this Lifehacker article on How well does your name Google? I have a fairly uncommon name, in fact I think there is only one other person with my name that I've found so far, and she lives in the US (we emailed each other once, but beyond the novelty of sharing a name, there wasn't much to write about). My blog doesn't come up because I don't think I've ever written my full name in it, for various reasons (though if you really wanted to find me, it wouldn't be hard). I'm there on sites like REMO, IFES, Equip, webSalt, and even have a cast credit from Aoise's website in the days when I was an 'actor' (I use the term loosely). There used to be some publication credits too but they seem to have dropped off/down the list.

Then I wondered whether there would be any hits for 'Bec' rather than 'Rebecca'. There weren't. But I did discover that there is a place in London called Tooting Bec! How funny is that? (Heath, that beats Chipping Norton hands down, you've got to admit).

Well I found it funny.
"Tooting Bec appears in the book The Meaning of Liff, defined as the situation in which a driver sounds his or her horn at a car in front, only to discover that the car in front is parked."

Monday, 7 May 2007

oh yeah

I forgot - the main reason for the schadenfreude post of yesterday. Paris. Hilton.

I must admit a frisson of pleasure when I read that she had been sentenced to 45 days' jail for violating her suspended license - which she had originally gotten for drink driving, and then was caught driving at night without a license and without her headlights on. I thought, finally, a judge has actually given a sensible sentence to a rich, famous person who wasn't able to buy her way out of it. I mean, we were terrified when my brother got his license suspended for drink driving, thinking there was a fair chance he could end up in jail. But famous people apparently don't worry about these things; in fact, apparently Paris is "too busy" to talk to her attorneys about such piddling matters as whether she's going to jail or not.

I know I should just ignore her in the hope that she'll go away, but she seems to live on due to the encouragement of fans who do the modern equivalent of clapping their hands and shrieking "I do believe in fairies!" - to wit, a message on her myspace page.

Hilton's fans began sending messages of support as news of the jail term spread. One fan, Joshua Capone, wrote to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asking him to intervene and keep Hilton out of jail.

"She provides hope for young people all over the US and the world. She provides beauty and excitement to (most of) our otherwise mundane lives," Capone wrote in a letter to Schwarzenegger posted online on Hilton's myspace page.

I must say, if Paris Hilton is what is providing beauty and excitement to your life, it must have been very mundane indeed. And if Arnold Schwarzenegger reads Paris Hilton's myspace page as a matter of course then, well... I'm glad I don't live in California.

Sunday, 6 May 2007


The Logies suck. They suck so much. But, like all awards shows, if they're on TV and the TV is on, they keep drawing me back to them. That siren song of lame jokes and sycophantic fawning aimed at drunk celebrities with no sense of humour but a totally inflated sense of self-importance... it just keeps luring me out to the living room where Dave is watching it (he's allowed to watch it, he's sick - it's perfect sick-day viewing).

But I have to say I did enjoy watching Dave Hughes make several jokes at Kyle Sandilands' expense. Kyle, needless to say, did not look impressed.

The other thing Dave was watching earlier this evening was some Lost Tribes thing where three Aussie families sign up for 'holidays', hoping for a 5-star resort or something, and end up being sent off to a Zulu tribe, Namibia and somewhere in remote Indonesia. Needless to say, these families have all been chosen for their high levels of superficiality and their love of creature comforts and even though I was in the other room, just hearing the sound of their horrified wails as they found out where they were going was quite, well, satisfying. Why on earth would you sign up for any kind of reality show and expect it to be all wine and roses?

I think I'm still in a ranty mood. Whaddya reckon?

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

two morning mini-rants

Neither of these things are new observations, but I feel inclined to rant on them anyway. I went to the Prince of Wales Hospital this morning to submit my paperwork for the operation. Two things really ticked me off:
  1. Parking - they charge you $2.70 per half hour at the hospital, which is almost as bad as the airport (well not quite - the international airport is a whopping $7.00 per half hour). I hate car park operators who blatantly make a fortune at the expense of a captive audience - there is really nowhere else to park near either the hospital or the airport. So taking advantage of sick people and travellers. Bastards!
  2. As I was driving back to work down Barker St, the person in front of me was unwrapping something and throwing each bit of packaging out their window to stream behind them down the street. Why would anyone do this? Do people really have such little regard for the world around them? Bastards!
That's enough about the bastardry of the world for the moment. I think I'm just cranky because I'm still thinking about the food I'm not allowed to eat.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

forbidden...well, everything

I had my appointment with the surgeon this afternoon to discuss my fascinating gallbladder. He has concluded that as it is absolutely chock full of stones, yep, it definitely needs to come out. He also assured me that the surgery is pretty easy these days unless you're the 1 in 10 that can't have the thing removed via keyhole surgery and they have to properly cut you open. I had a little panic yesterday over the fact that whatever happens, I'm going to have holes in me and scars and whatnot. But I'm over that now, I can see this is the only option and want it to happen.

That's all fine.

But there are two big problems now. Well, I see them as big.
  1. As I do not have private health cover, I am going in as a public patient so need to go on the waiting list. Dr Yeo has no control over the waiting list, so I could be waiting a while to have this operation. His assistant said "It's much better than it used to be...used to be two years...though we did have someone who had to wait nine months..." They have ticked the box on the form that says I need to have it within 90 days, and people have been known to get lucky and be scheduled quickly due to cancellations and the like. But even so...my dreams that he would say 'we're rushing you to hospital right now!' have come crashing down.
  2. I have to be SUPER careful with what I eat - which I kind of knew but was denying. I am to have no fat, no spices, no onion, no garlic; in short I can eat boiled vegetables and rice. I am sure to lose heaps of weight! But if I aggravate my already aggravated gallbladder, I could be up for septicaemia (blood poisoning) or pancreatitis, neither of which sound at all fun. So here we go, back to my favourite childhood dish, rice and soy sauce. Hurrah!

    Of course now that I have been explicitly informed I am not to eat anything interesting, all I can think about is food.
And today I feel like absolute crap. Might have something to do with the cheese I defiantly ate yesterday (guess I'll be chucking out the rest of that brie...I'm a bad girl). I'm just hoping and praying there is a cancellation and I get in sooner rather than later. Dr Yeo said that after I get the gallbladder out, I'll be able to eat whatever I like.

Bring it on!