Monday, January 31, 2005

gone to the dogs

After we got back from Sydney there were about three days of monsoons before we managed to get back over to the beach. And it was very depressing. We found it virtually ruined after the Australia Day parties. There was broken glass everywhere, the charcoal leftovers of wooden pallets people dragged in from god-knows-where to make bonfires, fireworks and other party debris strewn around. They'd even smashed up some of the steps going down to the beach. I assume this is the work of tourists and not locals, who surely wouldn't shit in their own nest. Would they?
I told my neighbour I was going to call the Council to come and clean it up but he said he had rung them that many times about that many things, and nobody ever came. He reckoned they could pay someone to come and just stand there handing out fines. It's true. There's signs everywhere saying no dogs after 8am ($200 fine) and no dogshit ($400 fine) but you see a million dogs every day and I've seen plenty taking a dump in the sand while their owners are out surfing. Which is gross. I mean, I can live with all the dogs because Harley loves them, but I would appreciate people pooperscooping their dog's shit. But mostly I just mind the things like broken beer bottles and fireworks and ciggie butts. The Council have placed all these huge ugly signs along the beach access road announcing "We care. Do you?" and giving their phone number. Doesn't seem like they care at all though.

happy snap

At eleven months, with his mum.

(Other pics added here.)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

lost words

I feel bad whenever I delete a post and someone's comments end up on the cutting room floor with it. I'm sure it's the height of blogging rudeness. Apologies.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


Many thanks to readers who voted for me in the Blog Awards '05. Really glad you like my writing.

left field

Well, I think it's possible to put a positive spin on the ALP's leadership debate. Tim (whose comments still seem to be off) reckons the whole thing was phony as, but I think it was good phony. The Australian public knows exactly why Beazley is in again; we know he's the ALP leader of last resort, a puppet for unity. A big puppet with a big heart for the big brown land, sure. But a puppet.
And the defacto ballot we've just seen did one important thing--it showed the public that the ALP has a credible alternative stock of contenders. Yeah, credible, because the length of time they took before announcing their intentions not to run suggested they were in with a serious chance.
Just because in the end their colleagues indicated they think Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd need more time to grow does not mean that they were wrong to flag their leadership aspirations at this time. And like Kate Lundy said on the 7:30 Report last night, there doesn't need to be a formal ballot, because there was obviously an informal one, and the message is clear: Beazley can't afford to sit on his would-be laurels, he has serious competition. Competition's a good thing, right? The party would seem like so much more of a big fat bore if not even one other Labor polly had put up their hand and said, "I'm interested, actually."
What was more interesting, and from a marketing POV more important, was how Rudd and Gillard handled it. Rudd was okay, though he did seem to stretch it out a bit too far, to the border of credibility. Gillard was better, though she has to watch that paranoia. I don't agree with Saint over at backpages that it was 'political suicide', but it definitely doesn't pay to appear paranoid. Just looks bad. Feel it, sure. She's probably justified, but unless you can prove it, zip it. Still, as Mark Bahnish said at backpages, at least she was honest. And I think she salvaged it well in the end, turning it into a call for "inclusion".
And what was also interesting was Beazley's response to Gillard's comment. He's already unsettled by her, isn't he? And he should be. Close your eyes for a minute. Gillard/Rudd 2007. You can see it, can't you? Gillard for modernity, Rudd for conservatism. Good mix. Rudd/Gillard is okay, but not as good because it's too conservative. Gillard/Tanner would be supermodernity, and I think that'd scare the Oz voters. As for the chance, imho.
And yeah, Gillard should be Deputy, because Macklin seems to wear the CreanTM Cloak of Invisibility, but that would probably scare Beazley too much. Frankly I wish Gillard would do a no-nonsense, relatively painless, surgical excision of Beazley in about a year's time. But what she's just said about unity/stability/white-anting etc kinda rules it out, huh.
Anyway, the upshot for me is this: Gillard and Rudd have told us they're contenders and now they're going to have to show it. But the past few weeks have at least given them an incredible amount of profile.
And the party should take a leaf out of John Howard's book (just this once): turn a sow's ear into a silk purse. "Trust? We'll see about that." snarled the Rodent in 2004. So Labor: reframe the whole "disunity" thing into a positive. This is where Rudd was crazy to say the ALP was a 'god-awful shambles'. Mudd sticks. Labor would be better off dwelling on the positives. Start with Icarus Mark Latham--Chris is right, Latham needs to be sent off with dignity. It's embarrassing and feels cruel that he alone is being blamed for the loss and essentially ostracised for it. At his press conference, he was clearly a man in pain--physical, psychological, both.
And reframe the "disunity" thing. Unity for the sake of unity is pointless. Sticking with Beazley for the sake of unity is pointless. Disunity can also be seen as vital, healthy, exciting. They should all go read some Edward de Bono!
If Gillard and Rudd develop well over the coming year(s), then the ALP might be smart to swing behind them instead. If the public sees that it makes sense, they won't care so much if there's another leadership spill. They'll understand.
Gillard obviously has great potential, she's so firm, calm, sensible and rational (notwithstanding the moment of apparent paranoia). Her mission should also be to turn up the warmth factor. She can seem a bit too cool at times. That kitchen photo was the wrong direction.
And in reframing Labor, the party needs to constantly recap and summarise its achievements for voters with a short attention span. Turn the negatives into positives or at least explain/reframe them. And then market it as a party of modernity.
So say what you will about the 'turmoil' of the past few weeks, I reckon it was a good and necessary thing. You could even argue that in contrast, the Liberals seem really bland and boring, the way they all fall into line behind the Glorious Leader. Where someone like Costello has to make like he has no leadership ambitions that might interfere with the Glorious Leader's probable plans to become the longest-serving PM ever....
Anyway, we're off to the beach. God, it's good to be home.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

off with the pixie

Interesting little French film about erotomania on SBS last night, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, starring the astonishingly gorgeous Audrey Tautou. Ah, god, I miss the movies! I haven't been to the movies in about a year and a half. I think we'll have to make a point of catching up on some films while in Sydney this week. If we have time...we've only got about three days to try to cram in visits with: two sisters, four of my closest friends (including one who is visiting from Paris), my old workplace, and a couple of bloggers as well.
I'm really excited. It should be a great trip (though I'm told Sydney's expecting a heatwave...bugger). We haven't been to Sydney since Harley was five months old and back then he slept most of the time. This time I'm sure he'll be craning his neck out of his stroller, eyes goggling as he takes in all the sights and sounds of the Big Smoke. Bit nervous about the five hour bus/train journey down for this reason though--he may well wriggle the entire way. At least on the second half of the trip, on the XPT, we'll be able to stretch our legs a bit. Not looking forward to getting around on Cityrail either. Just the other day on the news there was another story about a baby falling out of his stroller into the gap between the train and the platform. Scary stuff...wish us luck. Anyway, have a great week everyone, and enjoy Australia Day. Seeya.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

there's more to life

Yesterday I took the baby into town to the aquatic centre to enrol him in swimming lessons and on the long walk back past the bush reserve, the sound of cicadas lulled the baby to sleep in his stroller. At the entrance to the reserve there was a sign saying "The Sanctuary" and I smiled and made a mental note to come back sometime and take a photo of us in front of it for my blog.
When we got back to the main street I saw a man at the traffic lights who seemed vaguely familiar. He looked to be in his forties or fifties and had on jeans with a shirt tucked in, and silver glasses. As we approached I realised it was a writer I had got talking to once before. He had told me back then how a professor had encouraged him to get his life story published. Now I called out to him, "Hey, you're the guy who wrote that book, aren't you?" and he stopped and said he was. I said I'd been trying to remember the name of his book so I could look for it at the local library.
"There's More To Life," he said. We started walking towards town together and he explained he was on his way to a job interview as a nurse's aide. I wished him luck. I asked if he'd been doing any more writing lately and he said yes, he had just written some new articles. I asked if I could read them and he said, "Do you have time to come back to my house? You can read them there."
So we walked a couple of hundred metres to a small light-blue weatherboard house with a fading sign out front indicating it was a holiday unit.
"Housing Commission bought it," the writer explained as he helped me lift the stroller up the stairs into his house. We entered the living room which was dominated by a large oval wooden table covered in sheets of paper, some typed, some handwritten. The handwriting was perfect cursive, every letter formed with care. He waved at a chair and handed me a sheaf of typed paper and I started reading, rocking the stroller with my foot. The articles concerned alcoholism, child abuse, marital breakdowns. As I read, the writer elaborated on the material with heartbreaking tales of his family life.
"Where did you learn to write like this," I said finally, amazed at the language skills and vocabulary. Sure, his sentence structure wasn't always perfect, but then, whose is?
The man shrugged. "The professor said I had a gift," he said. The stroller started moving so I took the cover off and helped the baby sit up and see where we were. The writer held out a tin of butter biscuits and offered the baby one. The baby took a biscuit in both hands and chewed thoughtfully, looking at the man with interest.
"First time he's seen a blackfella," I said.
The man looked wistfully at my child and told me how much he missed his grandchildren. He said he was always praying they would visit him from Sydney, but that they never did. He had separated from his wife after many years of marriage and she had then alienated him from his children, and now his grandchildren as well.
"Take a look in the bedrooms back there," he said to me. I hesitated, feeling uncomfortable at the idea of going into a stranger's bedrooms.
"Go on, take a look."
So I dutifully ventured to the rear of the house and looked in the bedrooms. In one, there was a neatly made double bed. In the next, there were three single beds, again perfectly made up. Each bed had a teddy bear sitting on the pillow.
I came back and touched the man's shoulder. He had tears in his eyes. The baby ate another biscuit and listened as the man and I got talking (or really, I got listening) about the plight of the suburban Aborigine. He told me how it felt to have grown up with no links with his traditional culture and yet, not ever feeling part of white man's Australia either. He said he'd once had a group of Italian friends staying with him. Over dinner, they had got into a spirited conversation between themselves, but had stopped talking when they noticed him crying. They'd asked if he was upset that they were talking in Italian. He had said no, he was upset because he had lost his own language.
The writer changed the subject. He told me he had recently begun dating a woman called Linda*. He shuffled through some papers covered with the beautiful handwriting and started reading out aloud some of the love letters he had written for her.Linda, I thought. Do you know how lucky you are to get love letters like this?
It was time for the writer to go to his job interview. He wrote the title of his book and his pen-name on a slip of paper and gave it to me.
"Koorie Dhoulagarle", I tried out his pen-name. "What does it mean?"
"Aboriginal Spirit", he said. We said our goodbyes and I promised we'd come visit again next time we were in town. I walked away thinking of the stories he had told me of his family. His father who'd been into an English-speaking school and forbidden to use his own language. One day, they'd asked him to spell 'apple'. He'd simply drawn a picture of one. And now here was his son, who wrote English as if he had a university education.
Anyway, maybe next time I'll ask him if he'd like me to publish some of his articles here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

lowest common denomination

I had some conversations with a local preacher some months ago in which he mentioned that a child is considered to be innocent until it reaches the age where it understands right from wrong in a meaningful sense. The preacher reckoned this usually occurred when a child was about three.
So why do people feel the need to baptise an infant? As I understand it, baptism is a ritual that is supposed to provide "forgiveness for sinning". Well, correct me if I'm wrong but an 11-month-old infant has not sinned.
It is important to me that my child is not baptised. I'd like him to have the chance to remain free of religious labelling until he is old enough to decide for himself whether or not he wants to subscribe to a particular religion. I don't believe it's one parent's right to impose their world-view on a child. I don't intend to tell Harley he is an atheist just because I am one.
Isn't it the child's right to choose what he believes in? Isn't Christianity based around the premise that God gave man free will so that he could choose to believe in God? So why not let a kid decide to believe (or not) when they are old enough to understand the concepts involved? Why tell them they are "a Christian" as if it's something like being "an Australian"?
I know some people will think I am being petty about this, but it's really important to me that Harley has the right to be involved in figuring out his world views and belief systems for himself. I want to expose him to many ideas and philosophies as he grows, and let him enjoy the process of figuring it all out. Hey, it may take a lifetime! I still haven't figured it out entirely myself. I just stick with a basic lowest-common-denominator rule: all religions and humanistic philosophies reckon we should be nice to each other and the planet we depend on. Easy. No need for self-flagellation over various "sins" like masturbation or homosexuality or illegitimacy, and the rest. No need to waste all your life in prayer or at houses of worship.
I'm curious. What if I were Jewish? Would the child's father still have the right to force me to permit a baptism? So why should the situation be any different when one parent is an atheist?
A judge gets to decide it tomorrow, anyway. But frankly, I'll be shocked if a court of law can order a religious ceremony take place and a child be forced to adopt a religion just to please one parent.
We'll see...............

update: The judge said the issues involved require more time to be fully considered and listed it for hearing again on 20 March. And so it drags on...

leading man

Poor Mark. Well, with hindsight it's clear he just wasn't ready for the job, and wasn't the right choice for the job in the circumstances. I now regret having preferred him over Kim Beazley back when the leadership was up for grabs. We really should've let Beazley lose one more for us and then brought Latham in in time for the next election.
But with hindsight I also disagree with Adele Horin's recent claim that Latham's flaw was that he is a bully. I now think he was just out of his depth and nervous, which led to him acting strange and being withdrawn and projecting the wrong vibes, namely arrogance and coldness. That handshake wasn't aggro--it was overcompensation.
And it didn't help that Latham suffered a lot of negative publicity in relation to his personal life. I do think it was cruel and unacceptable for the media to indulge a bitter ex-wife in essentially portraying him as some kind of malignant narcissist. I think the biggest problem for Mark was this sense of coldness he emanated, of unhappiness even. Perhaps he was actually suffering chronic pain from his illness and was therefore just unable to project those qualities we had associated with him from his past behavior: vigour, energy, passion. Something was just missing.
So now Beazley's going to get another go. Fine--et's let Beazley lose another one for us. Can we please learn from the mistake we made with Latham and not ruin the Gillards and Rudds at this point? I have a lot of faith in Julia Gillard, but let's give her a chance to build a public support base. As for the criticism I keep reading that she'll never be leader because she's from the Left faction--that's just a crock. What does it mean? That Julia is never going to get a go just because she's from the Left? That no-one from the Left faction is ever going to get a go? It's a stupid argument. As for Kevin Rudd, I'm happy to have him as shadow foreign minister. He's intelligent, calm, compassionate and good-humored, as we frequently see on Channel Seven's Sunrise breakfast show. All qualities you want in a foreign minister. He might be a good leader one day, but I reckon Gillard would be better.
Anyway, poor Mark. It must have been such a humiliating and disappointing experience to have lost. And to have been ill--as he says, with a life-threatening illness--all along couldn't have been a lot of fun. Let's give him a break. He wasn't right for the job, sure, but he did an OK job. Let's not forget how even up til the end there was a sense he could win it. Let's not forget how he creamed John Howard in the debate (remember the worm?).
The biggest problem for having staked our chances on Latham was the geopolitical circumstances we live in. The War on Terror, the war in Iraq. At a time like that, the country understandably wanted security and economic certainty. That's not Latham's fault. With hindsight, Beazley would've been the better choice (though I still believe he would've lost it). Beazley had the relationship with the US. Beazley had the experience in Defence. So we ballsed it up. But let's go easy on Mark eh? You did OK, son.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

giving it up

Inspired by John Quiggin's "creative giving" series, I'm hereby going to donate the money I get for hosting advertising textlinks on my site (see righthand column under "sponsors") to tsunami relief. It's not a huge amount of money but it does roll in monthly so it's an ongoing commitment. And if any other advertisers wish to run textlinks or blog-ads here, I'll be happy to donate their fees to tsunami aid as well.

the benign sea

(photo by Jen)

on message

By the way, I always reply to emails so if you've emailed me and I haven't responded, please try again, putting the word 'blog' somewhere in the subject line so I can differentiate it from spam (unless of course I already know who you are). Thanks a lot.

Saturday, January 15, 2005


I was folding the baby's clothes yesterday when I saw a small, spiky-looking black spider struggling to get out of a fold in the fabric. I thought it was just a common house spider at first but then I saw the almost fluorescent red stripe on its back: a redback. Far out, that was close!
Anyway, I just looked redback spiders up on the, that is. As you might know, the female eats the male during sex:

The female begins to squirt digestive juices onto the male's abdomen while the first palp is inserted. If he is not too weak, he will manage to withdraw, and then insert the second palp. She will continue to 'digest' his abdomen. Most males do not survive this process, which seems to be unique to Latrodectus hasselti.

Surely a case of evolution gawn wrong...from the male's perspective anyway. And when you think about it, doesn't this mean each male can only ever mate once? Wonder how that affects their species?

yes you have and yes he is

Prince Harry's non-apology yesterday ("If I have caused offence, I'm sorry"), reminded me of John Howard's message to Mark Latham a couple of days ago: "If he is sick, I wish him a speedy recovery..."
Such a subtle way of expressing doubt. Not.

Friday, January 14, 2005

blue pole

I was lying in bed just now watching a shadow on the blinds and thinking it looked like a man coming towards me and stopping and wavering and then coming towards me again and it was a while before I clicked that it wasn't any man, it was merely the shadow of the enormous Australian flag that's stuck into the top of our house.

make love not war

No, really:

Declassified documents reveal the Pentagon toyed with the idea of an aphrodisiac chemical weapon in 1994. The gas would have made enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other. The weapon's developers said homosexual behaviour among troops would deal a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale.

Actually I reckon soldiers on both sides should get ecstasy rations. Imagine it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

real time

Damn, I would've loved to have seen this--Germaine Greer on Big Brother!--but I don't guess it'll air here. Sigh..........

when he's down

Hey, that's a bit harsh. No matter what we think of Latham's election performance, surely a sick man can go outside a couple of times a day and get some fresh air? Time to leave the guy alone, isn't it?

Monday, January 10, 2005

yours sincerely

The sad thing is that so many people will believe it.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

this is a love story

I love this blogger.

goodbye mr chips

Recently I was feeling uncomfortable when my sponsors asked me to update their text links to ones advertising online gaming. So I took down the links and, at the suggestion of Kyte, emailed the sponsors asking if they had something other than online gaming ads for me to host. To my surprise I got a very nice email back saying they "take pride in keeping [their] advertising website owners happy", and providing different links.
Unfortunately, they gave me the payday lenders again, and thanks to Helen for pricking my conscience about them as well, I had to write back and say, "Er...well...if it's all the same to you, I don't really like the loan sharks that much either". OK, not in so many words. To which they cheerfully replied that they would assign me the scooters again next cycle. I guess I can live with it just a little longer.... Anyway, nice doing business with them!

Friday, January 07, 2005

dickie greenleaf

Out in the driveway a chocolate-colored sausage dog had the corner of a woman's sarong in its mouth and ran angrily around her feet. As the woman turned, the dog unwrapped her until she stood giggling in only her bikini and sandals.
“HONEY!” A man shouted. “HONEY, COME HERE!”
A mother and a small child playing in the driveway had stopped to watch the woman and the dog. But when the dog saw them it released the sarong and sprinted towards them, yapping ferociously.
The mother hoisted her child up above her head as the small angry animal tore around them on its shrunken legs. A brown man in white shorts appeared and scooped up the dog. It sat smugly in his arms, fixing dull brown eyes on the child.
“I do apologise,” said the tanned man. “She won’t bite.”
“Oh, he’s not afraid,” the mother said. She smiled at the child. “Are you, sweetheart?”
The child coolly eyed the animal. He had seen bigger dogs.
“You live here,” the man observed, having watched the mother from his balcony during the afternoon. She had been hanging out her washing in a denim miniskirt and her bikini top. Her hair was in two bunches at her neck and was lighter on the ends.
“Yes,” the mother said. “You’re holidaying?”
“Just lobbed in for the week,” he said, nodding in the direction of the holiday units behind her house. He cocked his head at the child. “He’s very good at walking.”
“I know,” the mother rolled her eyes. “I can’t believe how much energy they have, when they’re so much smaller than us!” The man rolled his eyes in sympathy.
“You have kids yourself?”
“Yes, a son,” the man said. The mother asked how old. The man said his son was seventeen.
The mother was shocked. “You don’t look old enough!”
“Surgery,” the man chuckled. The man and his dog walked the mother and her child back up the driveway.
“Any plans for any more?” the mother asked, out of curiosity.
“Kids, or surgery?” grinned the man. “I don't know. Perhaps I haven’t met the right woman yet.”
“Tall, dark, handsome and single,” the mother joked as she steered the child inside. “Well, see you later.”
The mother was a writer, and as she cooked the baby’s dinner she idly thought about the man and how it was a shame she hadn’t been the one to come up with the character name Dickie Greenleaf because it was the only possible name for the man. He had a clean, smoothness about him that suggested hours of preening. The mother was not attracted to vain men.
After she had put the child to bed, she unfolded a chair in the bathroom near the back door so she could look out at the night, and she thought she might write in her notebook for a while.
It was a few minutes later that the barking began.
Dickie Greenleaf’s dog had obviously been locked inside while Dickie had gone to dinner at one of the local establishments that catered to men of his ilk. Meanwhile, unable to comprehend that its agonising solitude was only temporary, the dog screeched and screeched for its beloved master. The mother gritted her teeth and tried to write, but she felt each bark like a whip across her shoulders. From the balconies surrounding her house she heard angry complaints. She put the notebook down in frustration.
The mother tried to read some Flannery. His shirt was green but so faded that the cowboy charging across the front of it was only a shadow--how she loved the details! But the dog’s barks punctuated the sentences in odd places. She shut the book and stared at the photo on the jacket. Flannery is smiling and gazing off out of the frame, as if she’s been telling you a story and has paused because her attention has been captured by some small detail she has seen or thought of and she’s filing it away to use someday.
Up at Dickie Greenleaf’s holiday rental, the dog barked, and barked, and barked. A neighbor began throwing things at the animal’s fence, as if fear would silence the animal. The dog became only more terrified—-it was alone in a strange place, people where shouting at it and throwing things at it--and the barking increased in volume and pitch. The mother considered calling the pound; perhaps they could come and tranquillise the wretched animal.
“How could you leave that animal like that!” she silently yelled at an absent man. “You’ve got more dollars than sense!” The mother distracted herself by calculating that the difference between her and most of her neighbours was roughly eighteen hundred and fifty dollars a week.
The mother rehearsed what she would say to Dickie Greenleaf tomorrow. “Last night,” she would say icily, “your dog was driving us all insane!” But she felt that Dickie Greenleaf would merely shrug and grin, and explain the dog just got a little upset when it was away from home, as if that made it alright.
“Right, that’s it,” she heard a steely-voiced neighbour say, and a door banged with such force that she feared for the animal’s safety. The barking stopped. The neighborhood seemed to hold its breath. But a car started up and was driven off and the barking resumed with renewed determination.
“Shut the fuck up, you stupid fucking animal, shut the fuck up!” the mother raged silently in her head as Dickie Greenleaf’s dog barked and howled. The mother half-wanted her baby to wake, so that its indignant cries would add to the general misery of the situation and Dickie Greenleaf could later be made to feel even guiltier. But the baby did not wake. He had been well worn out at the beach this afternoon, chasing seagulls. The birds would hop a few metres away and the baby would follow, and then when the birds finally flew a long way away, he gave them a look as if to say, “Hey, that’s not playing fair!”
Hours seemed to pass and then the mother could not take it any longer. She wrenched open her back door and stumbled out into the darkness with the intention of screaming out to no-one in particular, “DICKIE GREENLEAF, YOUR DOG IS DRIVING ME INSANE!” She thought she would feel better after that, but the words were forgotten when she looked up into the night sky and saw all the stars had gathered around the moon as if in earnest conference.
It had been a long time since she had looked at the stars.
The mother remembered a friend had once told her how she liked to moonbake. The mother took a towel off the line and spread it out on the buffalo and she laid down on it. She put on her sunglasses and peeled down her bikini top straps and looked up at the moon but she could not make out its face.
After a few minutes she became aware the dog had stopped barking. There was an expectant silence as the mother and the moon and the stars and the angry neighbours all waited to see if the silence was going to hold.
The mother noticed how it wasn’t just silence they were listening to. She could also hear crickets and the roar of the ocean as it threw itself against the beach, and there was a car being driven urgently somewhere in the distance.
It was then that the mother saw the moon’s face.
The mother got up and went inside and just then Dickie Greenleaf’s car pulled up and the dog began barking again, but this time with hysterical joy, and the mother switched on her computer and began typing this post.


Thursday, January 06, 2005

happy families

One of the nicest birthday presents I got yesterday was the news that my sister Giulia and her family are coming up to live here for a year. I'm so excited, because we love cousins Benjamin and Raph. It'd be awesome to be able to spend some time with them.
To make sure they don't change their minds I'm going to get out and take some persuasive photos (might even post a few here too). Not that they're gonna need much convincing. They've been here. They know.
A year, though? Ha! They'll come here, fall into the habit of leaving your keys in the door and walking across the road to the beach twice a day, and before too long, they'll never want to leave. Hey, I speak from experience. I even caught myself daydreaming about getting into local politics the other day.
So yeah--happy days indeed.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005



Tuesday, January 04, 2005

count me in

Blogger Anders Jacobsen is donating to Red Cross every time another blogger links to him and helps publicise the relevant charities. So here goes:

International aid organizations:
UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund)
United Nations' World Food Programme
Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors without Borders (donate!)
CARE International
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Disasters Emergency Comittee (DEC) - comprises a raft of aid agencies, including the below and others
British Red Cross
Save the Children UK

North America:
American Red Cross
Canadian Red Cross
Save The Children

Anders Jacobsen: Webloggers: Give to tsunami victims and I'll give too!

when i grow up

I've been thinking about what I want to do when Harley is old enough for daycare or preschool. While I've always wanted to earn a living writing, lately I've come to the conclusion that it's probably just a hobby like my mother always said, and that's OK. I'm letting it go. I'm going to separate it from the concept of earning money altogether. Oh, and let go of the motivation of winning (prizes, accolades--hell--even love).
Still, I remember the day in kindergarten when our teacher showed us those huge wooden A-frames, like giant Scrabble racks, gave us a stack of big black words on white cardboard, and showed us how we could put the words together to create our own sentences. It was one of those defining moments you have. Not long after that, I resolved to be a writer.
Through primary school, my best friend Emily and I wrote, directed and performed in strange little plays that were probably just extended private jokes. Emily came from a family of famous pianists and, herself very accomplished, also wrote and performed the scores.
There was another defining moment, in primary school, winning a role in Rinse the Blood Off My Toga. "My name is Flavius Maximus, I'm a private Roman eye. My licence number is IXIVLLDCC..." I was amazed at the feeling you got when you made people laugh. That was it. I forgot about wanting to be a writer and resolved to be an actor.
When I got to high school though, I got very self-conscious. In the first year of high school I took a lead role in a school play which so bored the audience that the entire production was pulled after opening night. I don't think I ever got over that blow to the ego. So that was it for acting.
I had always been pretty good at design, winning poster competitions and stuff, and had always loved sewing my own clothes, so next I resolved to become a fashion designer. I was really into Morrissey Edmiston in high school and I still have a letter from Leona Edmiston, written in black ink in very elegant handwriting, in which she kindly gives advice on how to become a designer. But then, another defining moment. There was a class assignment to design some boardshorts. I'd done some wild designs--shorts in silver lam'e, black shorts with tiny golden angels all over them, shorts made entirely out of James Dean's photocopied eyes, and so on, but the teacher said you couldn't get fabric like that and she failed me. I kind of lost my confidence with it after that.
I topped the year in French in Year 9 but then, perversely, dropped the subject to take up Woodwork. To make some kind of feminist statement or something, I think it was. Oui, je regrette... For the HSC I took 3 units each of Maths, English, Textiles & Design and Art. I didn't apply myself, preferring to spend most of high school in a gloom, so I got only average results except in English.
After high school, perhaps to please my father or because I'd read The Fountainhead one too many times, I enrolled in Architecture at UNSW but deferred and spent a year working as a junior graphic designer at a big book publishers, a job that had been offered to me while doing work experience there in Year 10. But I found it too hard to concentrate on a fledgling career as I was in a difficult relationship at the time, so I ended up just drifting around waitressing.
Eventually I began studying graphic design at night school while working full-time doing subbing and typesetting at a parenting magazine using the then-standard DTP package Ventura. I loved the promise of desktop publishing. Power to the people! But my TAFE hadn't caught up and had no computers and we were still just handpainting color wheels and gray scales. I remember one of my teachers announcing grandly that red and yellow was "a profoundly ugly color combination" and he forbade us to ever use it. I decided I was learning more about the design of the future (ie. using computers) in my day job so I dropped out of the course after a year. I worked at the magazine for a few years and did a bit of freelance design work on the side.
Together with my brother, who was a doctor at the time, I wrote and published a magazine for new doctors, taking advertising from the pharmaceutical companies. We took off overseas on the proceeds. The plan was that we were going to reproduce the magazine overseas, but once we got to Europe I realised I just wanted to kiss boys and dance on tables and finally, in Lisbon, my brother and I fought for the last time and we went our separate ways. Not for long--we both got on the same train to London and after some hours sulking, deigned to sit together and play chess. When we got to London though we split for real. He went back to Thailand, taught English for many years, and ended up marrying a local girl. Meanwhile, I met a boy from Perth on my first night in London, shacked up with him a week later, and spent the next few years with him. (Hi Jimbo, and congratulations on the birth of Tom). We spent a year back in Perth where I wrote copy for advertising features at The West Australian. I also produced another one of our doctor's mags on my own, which gave me enough money to go travelling again (I have never been able to save the traditional way). After another year travelling I split with my boyfriend, returned to Sydney and enrolled in a BA in Information Science at UTS. One of the subjects was Psychology and I decided after a year to switch to a BA in Psych at Macquarie Uni. And that, my friends, is the one thing I ever stuck with and finished...just!
While at uni I got into legal secretarial temping which paid very well and you could do nightshifts which fit well with uni. The other good thing was you got free taxis home. At the time I lived at Collaroy so it was a forty minute taxi ride home and I mostly enjoyed chatting to the cabbies. I loved temping because I could be an anonymous observer of the goings-on at each office, and every week was different. Ultimately though I was seduced by the income and became trapped in the corporate world in various permanent PA jobs.
And then I got into blogging, had Harley and the rest is...Archives.
So where to now, I wonder?

Monday, January 03, 2005

the cruel sea

It's just so awful and hard to fathom, I don't know what to say about the tsunami. So I guess I'll just keep counting our blessings and hope that we in the rich world continue to do what we can to help, for as long as it takes.
On a happier note, me and the little fella are going to be in Sydney for a few days after January 20, so if any bloggers would like to meet up, please drop me an email.