Thursday, March 31, 2005

urge overkill

This NYT story, "We all have a life. Must we all write about it?", about the proliferation of memoirs being published (first czeched out at Jozef's) made me laugh, at myself as well. After all, blogging's a form of memoir, isn't it? Though it's odd that the writer didn't mention blogs in the context. This bit was interesting:

"[The memoir writer's] efforts may be as fundamental as breathing. John Eakin, an emeritus professor of English at Indiana University, has argued that human beings continuously engage in a process of self-creation and self-discovery by constructing autobiographical narratives. In a sense, we are the stories - multiple, shifting and constantly evolving - that we weave about ourselves, and this storytelling urge may even be hard-wired."

Ah, so that's it. Can't be helped then, I guess.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

man of iron

This Sunday will be the last year our local area is to host the "Ironman" event, after many years. It's still called "Ironman" even though women compete. I guess the athletes thought "Ironperson" sounded silly. The police flyer advising about road closures says that "1500 competitors swim 3.8kms, then cycle 180.2kms and then run 42.2kms."
They're mad, aren't they?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

it is easy being green

This, on the other hand, cheers me up. No, not the fact that Australians are scared of George Bush, though that's comforting too. I mean this:

Asked about Australian foreign policy goals, most support came for "improving the global environment", with 75 per cent judging it to be "very important".

Good onya, fellow Aussies.

desperate non-wives

This is really starting to piss me off. On the one hand the Howard Government is always carping on about wanting women to have the option of being "stay-at-home mothers", but on the other hand, Howard is preparing to force single mothers back into the workforce, ready or not.
Why this discrimination against sole parents? They're doing just as important a job as married or partnered parents, aren't they? And (unlike me) many sole parents did not choose to be sole parents. I feel very sorry for people who are not only doing a difficult job on their own, but may also be suffering from the trauma of relationship breakdown at the same time.
Here's something Ross Gittins had to say about this subject the other day:

"Howard has greatly increased the family benefits paid to dependent wives to permit them to "choose" to stay at home with their children. These benefits are essentially independent of the extent of the husband's income. But in the coming budget we'll see the extent of the Government's renewed efforts to get mothers on the sole-parent pension back into the workforce where they belong.
What's the difference between the two classes of mum? The winners under the Howard changes are stay-at-home mothers with a husband to support them, who thus tend to have higher incomes; the losers are stay-at-home mothers without husbands, whose income is so low they need to be on a pension."

It seems really unfair to me. After all, people who have a partner are already much better off, not just financially or because they have help in raising the kids, but because of the emotional support and resilience provided by a loving relationship.
Sometimes you also hear related criticisms of people on the single parent pension, who are ostensibly "refusing" to enter into live-in relationships because they would be financially worse off since the new partner may earn less than the pension (hard to imagine that, but anyway). Here's an idea: maybe don't make it a disincentive to cohabit. Maybe don't take away people's pension as soon as they move in with someone else. Why not give the fledgling relationship a chance to develop first? Allow bonds to form, before a new partner is expected to support someone else's kids. "If I were PM"...hey, I'd let people live together for a year, or maybe even two, before taking away sole parent benefits and putting economic pressure on the new relationship. It's generally accepted wisdom that many relationships suffer and ultimately fail because of chronic economic stress. So why put that kind of pressure on new relationships, if the aim is to get people to partner up for the long term? Especially given that it has been noted that it's unskilled Australian men who are finding it hardest to find partners, because they just don't earn enough to support a family.

Monday, March 28, 2005

head job

The other night I went through all my old psych notes and tossed a lot of them out. I don't know why I've been keeping them really; it just that when you've spent many thousands of dollars on a university education, and many thousands of hours slaving over a hot photocopier in the university library gathering journal articles (long live internet-based course delivery!), you feel sort of guilty just throwing it all out. But I just felt like culling and there's so much paper in my house.
My old statistics notes I threw out with particular glee. I never could understand why psych students were tormented with learning sophisticated statistics formulae; I reckoned so long as we understood the concepts, surely we could pay an independent, qualified statistician to crunch our numbers for us (hmm, actually I think I did that for several subjects). In my recalcitrant opinion, wasn't it better for the psych research student to not be able to do stats, so that they couldn't possibly attempt to mould the numbers to fit their hypotheses? Another thing I never understood was why we had to learn complex UNIX statistics software and were forbidden from using the easy-peasy point-and-click Windows-based WYSIWYG stats programs. Geez, so long as we knew what we were trying to do, why did it matter which computer program we used to crunch the data? Anyway, even though I only answered three out of four questions in the final exam, I somehow squeaked through--despite the fact that even those three answers I did manage to give were so convoluted and muddled that they were almost certainly saved by my lecturers to be ridiculed in class in future.
So anyway, I threw out about ninety percent of my old notes and photocopies, though I did keep the actual stats exam papers just to impress myself that I once understood them enough to pass, and I kept a bunch of other notes that might come in handy sometime.
In particular, I kept anything relating to child development (oh, if only I had listened in lectures instead of coming in late to make an entrance and sitting in the first row and preening and hoping to be noticed by the cute lecturer). And I kept anything relating to the psychology of love, because it still confuses the hell out of me.
So now I'm sifting through a cocktail of research from the plaintively-titled The end of 103 affairs to the anxiety-inducing Impact of parental discipline methods on the child's internalisation of values.
So hopefully, maybe tomorrow everything will make a little more sense. It's worth a try, surely.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

i still don't got the blues

Another year, another Bluesfest rolls by without me. This year, me and Harley will be 'babysitting' my friend's teenage daughter at their house, while my friend and her man are driving a campervan north for the pilgrimage. Jealous! But never mind. What goes around, comes around...maybe I'll cash in the favour this time next year, haha.
It's been wintry here the past few days, really cold, and wet. It's the sort of weather where the sky is black and everything's shiny with rain, and then the sun inexplicably bursts out and there's that strange, enchanted light everywhere. And you walk along thinking how the greens look so incredibly green and you realise just how many shades of green there are, and how good it all looks against the sparkling dark grey of the road and the sky.
And then while you are in the shops all hell breaks loose again outside, and you have to wait for around half an hour until there's a break and you can scamper home again...up the street...around the corner...up the big hill, down the big hill (look, there's the ocean, Harley!), up our street....and home. Ahhhhh.
Auntie #1 is coming to stay a few days at Easter, too. That reminds me, there's a certain surfing lesson to organise....Speaking of which, an update of sorts:-
Most people who come over seem to politely ignore the naked man pinned to my living room wall, which means it's either a really bad drawing, or they just don't want to know the details. I've only done three drawings so far and I've only put the third one up. The first one was crap, while the second one was good until the model decided to add in a giant erect penis when I wasn't looking.
I joked to the model that it's kind of like Arabian nights. Maybe when I've done a thousand drawings I might sleep with him. (Joked being the operative word here....)

Monday, March 21, 2005

french polish

Back in the days when I'd pore over the book reviews and then go fork out $100 on four or five books in one go, I bought a copy of Antoni Libera's Madame, but I never read it. For some reason I couldn't get past the first page. Anyway, I picked it up again recently and was blown away. It's actually a beautiful love story, and very witty.

"Madame tells the story of a Polish teenager pursuing intellectual maturity--and the older woman of his dreams, his French teacher--in the communist-dominated Warsaw of the late Sixties."

Reminded me of some of the terrible crushes I got on various teachers in high school. Mind you, the hero of this novel certainly got luckier than I ever did!
I also found it an eye-opener because I've never really paid much attention to Poland before, although my mother's mother was Polish so I do have some vague curiosity about it.
There's some great quotes in the novel, too. I like one from Schopenhauer:
"A novelist should aim not to descibe great events but to make small ones interesting."

Anyway, highly recommended.

Friday, March 18, 2005

you had to be there

I love him so much. We have such a laugh sometimes. Like last night, when I put him to bed and he was drinking his milk, and as usual I started singing along to the tune on the mobile above his cot. It’s a tune babies never seem to tire of, that ubiquitous one that I only know the German words to—guten abend, gute nacht.... Anyway, this time I was singing it in cat, you know, miaouw-miaouw-miaowwww, miaouw-miaouw-miaowwww... After a few verses, one of our cats appeared in the doorway. He was hungry, and started miaowing impatiently, and it sounded like he was singing along. Every time the cat ‘sang’ we pissed ourselves, and the cat looked on miserably.
It reminded me of a time when the baby was about six months old, and I was singing the same tune, only in bird (ak-ak-aaark, ak-ak-aaaaark...), and outside the window a magpie had begun aarking along with me. So I stopped singing and had a little chat with the bird, and it seemed to be answering me, and Harley thought this was the funniest thing he'd ever heard. The bird was hopping from tree to tree and getting further away, and the aarks were getting fainter and the silences longer. It went on for some time, until there had been no answer from the bird for so long that we felt sure it must have packed up and gone for good. But then, sure enough, somewhere off in the distance we’d hear a very faint aaarrk, and we would crack up all over again. He was laughing so hard the milk came out his nose. I remember being so touched, for some reason; as if noticing for the first time that we shared the same sense of humour, or just because I could make him laugh so hard.
I know, we're so easily amused...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

i'll have what she's having

LOL... (rego: vanitas/vain).

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

the full halfwit nelson

They think they can just do what they want now, the Liberals, don't they? You look away for half a second and there they are, dismantling our higher education system even further. And what schadenfreude from the Education Minister:

"The good news for the Labor Party and student activists is that they will continue to be able to pay their student union fees," Dr Nelson told ABC radio. "There is no law preventing people from paying student union fees."

Yeah, and people are going to pay their taxes if you make it optional, too.
Then you have Mr Nelson saying he's justified in introducing this legislation because he's had a few complaints:
Brendan Nelson says...the Government has received complaints from students about having to pay for things they do not want. Dr Nelson quoted the views of one young man:
"He said some of the things that my money has been spent on in the past year are 'a bus to Woomera for a protest, a sausage sizzle and balloons to protest the Tampa incident, and bail for those arrested at the aforementioned Woomera protest'," [Mr Nelson] said.
"In modern society, student protest and student dissent is an important part of a vibrant democracy but no student should be forced to join and support political activism unless they choose to do so."

I'd like to know exactly how many complaints he's received. A handful, compared to the majority of students who are content paying for services and therefore don't write in to whinge about it?
And watch how Nelson skews it into ridicule of protestors, as if that's the only thing student union fees go towards, when anyone who's ever been to uni knows that's a lie; viz:
John Mullarvey from the Vice Chancellor's Committee says the changes will mean many student services simply will not exist.
"There are a myriad of services provided to students and paid for by this compulsory fee, services such as support services, health services, food outlets etc, all of those services will go unless students want to pay for it voluntarily," he said.

And what Bob Brown said:
Wealthy students could afford services and facilities off-campus, but poorer ones would struggle.
"The opt out is so that wealthier students who've got other options can not pay their dues," [Senator Brown] said.
"We're an egalitarian country and we all should pay our taxes and I think we all should pay our union dues when we go to university."

But who needs unis anyway? We don't want more (snigger) intellectuals after all.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

post removed

because I'm over it. Thanks for the comments, it is all useful to hear.

Friday, March 11, 2005

having it all

Two particularly loathsome arguments by women writers in the mass media lately (both via Tim).
Over here, we have Glenda Korporaal telling us we Aussie chicks can have it all, so long as we're prepared to walk over our Asian sisters to get it. I don't know...paying a Filipino maid peanuts to scrub your house and look after your kids sounds like a recipe for "shaken baby syndrome" to me. No thanks, sweetheart.
Meanwhile, over here we've got Miranda Devine telling us we really just want a rich man. Makes you wonder, is Miranda married? If so, is he a prince, or just some other really rich guy? And if not, heaven's, what's she doing wasting her time on a career in journalism, when she's just been arguing we should give in and focus all our efforts on our true ambitions of being a wife.
You go, girls...and stay gone.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

local heroes

He is reclining on my bed naked except for the fabric he was using as a turban, which he has taken off his head and draped over his lap so I can’t see anything.
“You have a good skull,” I say.
“I collect skulls,” he says. I’ve seen the sculptures around his house; spray-painted aliens made of cow’s horn, bandicoot and Blu-Tac.
I draw his skull. It’s a good skull to draw, perfectly shaped and hairless. He has a small tattoo of a snake’s head on one side. He says he used to have a mohawk but shaved it off when his hairdresser first told him about the bald spot developing at the back of his head. He has just turned forty-seven.
The first drawing I do after years is truly woeful, but it feels good to hold a pencil again.
“You’re good,” he says afterwards.
“It’s hopeless!” I say. “You don’t have to say it’s good when it’s not.”
The phone rings; it's my sister. I tell her I’ve been drawing G. “You know, the surf instructor?”
I tell her he said he’ll give her a surfing lesson next time she comes up, a birthday present from me.
“Well, don’t sleep with him just so he’ll give me a free lesson,” she says and she’s half-serious.
I turn away from the phone and repeat what she said to G. He smiles.
“I’ve already told him I won’t sleep with him,” I assure her.
“Is he there now?” she asks, incredulous.
“Yeah,” I say.
Actually, I suspect that the fact that I refuse to sleep with him is the main reason why he is still pursuing me, but he denies this.
It’s not that I don’t find G. attractive; he is attractive. He has very pale blue eyes, a surfer’s body, he writes songs and is never far from a guitar. He interrupts conversations by breaking into song.
Welfare mothers make better lovers…down at every laundromat in town now… Neil Young song--” he pauses to inform me.
“I don’t know about that,” I say. “I was pretty good before.”
He tells me I’m gorgeous and I say bullshit but secretly I’m pleased. I say what I like about him is how he overlooks my flaws—my chewed fingernails, the fact that I haven’t had my roots done in six months--and I am pleased when he just gives me “nobody’s perfect”.
Of course I flirt with him, tease him. He says that’s about power, sexual power. I say it’s because I just get a bit manic sometimes.
G.’s mind jumps loosely around, a lot like mine does. When I tell him I like to write he nods and says, “Besides push-ups, words are good.” He tells me stories about when he was in a band, about when he supported Chrissie Amphlett, or when he met Iggy Pop (“I got down on my knees and thanked him for the religion.”) He makes me laugh, too, which is always a good thing.
When we’re talking about why I won’t sleep with him, I say it’s because I am, at heart, a very monogamous girl, and at the moment, I am still attracted to other men. He wants to know who and I say coyly “oh, just someone”. It’s someone who doesn’t even know I’m alive though; someone who I’ve only ever met about three times, around whom I’m unreasonably gauche; around whom I blush and stammer, or over-correct so that I come across as completely disinterested. I like to think there's a mutual spark but you never know if it isn't just one big projection, do you?

still more technical difficulties

I'm surprised we even made it this far, me and my computer. I bought it second-hand from work about five years ago; it's probably over a decade old, quite an antique, and it's always been painfully slow and crotchety. So frankly, I'm amazed I even squeezed two years' worth of blogging out of it, when it's always had such insurmountable iss-ewes.
But lately, it has been entertaining some especially nasty kind of back-door worm or something, or so I'm told. It has only been letting me log-on about once in every twenty attempts, and it now reliably crashes every five minutes.
As an interim measure while I try and scrape together some cash to buy a new (second-hand) one, my father has agreed to let me borrow one of his old, though still functional, museum pieces.
He said, "I have to warn you though, it's running Linux." I said, "OK, so I'll learn Linux, can't be that hard can it?" and he said, "Well, not as such...but this happens to be the German version." Oh. So now I have to learn to drive a new operating system as well as try to make sense of it with my kauderwelch.
Never mind. Anyway, for the time being I'm still stuck with this one, so I'll grit my teeth and soldier on. And guess what? I actually have a few posts I hope to get up later today, once we get back from playgroup. So...see ya round.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

technical difficulties

No sooner had I announced my intention not to quit blogging than our phone line went down for a few days and then when it finally came back on, I got a migraine that lasted about three days, so bad I couldn't even stand to look at the computer when walking past it, let alone turn it on. Thankfully Harley has had a full-on social life lately so he didn't seem to notice that someone was bashing his mother around the head with a sledgehammer.
So anyway--phone company, baby and head willing--I should be back to some writing soon. Thanks to those of you who haven't totally given up on me yet, I really do appreciate it.