Monday, May 31, 2004

The ex-wife

We decided that we want to go to New York for my holidays, because the boy wants to see his daughter and I want to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (amongst other things). It'll be expensive due to the exchange rate, and slightly risky due to the possibility of being hijacked and crashed into a tall building (or similar), but it'd be damn exciting. And it's summer over there too.

There is one small obstacle. The boy's ex, and the mother of his daughter, objects hideously to my presence in her city. This is because he and I got together really soon after the two of them split up, and she therefore has lots of bitter and twisty feelings about me. Other than that, it seems to me that she's being utterly unreasonable. He is the litle girl's father, after all, and it isn't even as though I was planning on visiting her with him. I was expecting to be wandering around a museum, art gallery or department store while he and his daughter get re-aquainted. And that pisses me off a little, that she can make such a fuss and he'll actually take notice of what she wants even when it makes no sense.

the year ahead

I had my performance review this morning. I'd already had a look at what my boss had written down about my work, and I'd interpreted them as criticisms i.e. things I wasn't doing enough of. During the actual meeting, it turned out that some of those things weren't criticisms at all but were in fact praise for what I was already doing right.

So for the next 12 months I can look forward to an increase in systems-type work, which means looking after the website, the iPac computers etc. This is fine by me, I'm reasonably au fait with that kind of thing and it's useful experience if I want to be a systems librarian or web content manager.

I realised last night that I have only two more weeks to complete my assignement, a report on whether it would be a good idea to have a professional association for information managers of all disciplines e.g. archivists, librarians etc. It's not a subject particulary close to my heart, but if I can produce something which is readable and useful then maybe I can be proud of my writing ability :-)

Saturday, May 29, 2004

That documentary on David Lynch

I was watching Pretty as a picture last night, the doco on Lynch. I was a bit disappointed at how boring it was. The highlights were the excerpts from his very early short films, Eraserhead (still my favourite), Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks and Lost Highway (the most recent of his films which was mentioned in the documentary). Other than that, the only interesting bit was the sight of Lynch looking like a cross between a rockabilly musician and a member of The Cure.

Maybe if Lynch had directed a documentary about himself it would have been much more fun to watch.

It has, however, reminded me that I would really like to rent the videos/DVDs of the Twin Peaks series. Back in the 90's, I only managed to see the very weird and wonderful pilot movie (on video); I hadn't been able to receive the channel which screened the series and never got around to getting someone to tape it for me. Or maybe I can get the boy to buy the DVDs for an early birthday prezzie...

How to spot a clucky woman

We went over to my brother's place today - my mother, my boy and I - to see my brand new niece. She's only two days old, and really quite tiny. She was sleeping at the time, and her face went through all sorts of grimaces and smiles (she smiled when my mother placed a red envelope, containing lucky money, on her chest - the boy said it was the Cantonese half that smiled).

My niece still hasn't got an English name, although my mother has already received a list of possible Chinese names. The problem is this - the actual names are written in Chinese, and these are translated into English meanings, but none of us can read Chinese well enough to know how to pronounce them. So we have to find someone who can read the names while I try to get the sounds down in English.

I quite like the name Isabel, myself.

Afterwards, the boy and I went into town for a spot of 'bimbling' (this is apparently an English word which means rambling about town with no particular purpose). I tried to look for a copy of The Golden Bough, which was recommended to me by a library customer interested in folklore and mythology. It wasn't to be found though, so I satisfied myself with a copy of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights. I couldn't help noticing the various babies and toddlers with their bimbling parents; I am definitely getting clucky.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Work whines

In three weeks time, I will be on the verge of my holiday. And in less than two weeks time, A will be back from her world trip which means that I will no longer be on the library bus four days out of five. This is significant for two reasons:

1. I will be able to dress in clothes and footwear which are quite impractical for doing the bus run. I'll be able to wear my flashy boots, and skirts even. It must be the Trinny and Susannah influence.

2. After A gets back, I will not have to do the Thursday morning bus run any more (unless the roster changes, which it might). This means that lust-lorn Mr M will not be able to gaze at me (his object of lust) any more. Whew!

I'm getting my first performance review on Monday. I really really hate performance reviews. No matter how many positive comments are in there about my work, there's always something in there which I can improve on. This is no doubt par for the course for most employees. I, however, am a bit sensitive with criticism, even when it is wholly constructive. That's just one of those personal foibles of mine (I just love that word, foible).

I can see already that I'll get one of those remarks about how I should be more proactive. I know I can be proactive; just that many tasks are too uninteresting to me, for me to be proactive about. I was the one who thought of creating a bookmark for newcomers to chicklit, after all. Too bad no-one liked my idea of celebrating Library Week by coming to work a la librarian (hair in a bun, granny glasses, tweed skirts - even the guys).

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Dressing like a librarian

I was watching Extreme Makeover last night (as you do), and one of the candidates was a young librarian in Colorado. She had lots of fat sucked from her cheeks, one eye de-drooped, lasik eye surgury to correct her vision, liposuction on her tummy and something done to her face to fix her acne.

She also dressed kind of frumpily, in the most boring trousers-and-shirt combos imaginable. Apologetically, she said she dressed like a librarian. I choked a little, thinking that Well-dressed Librarian wouldn't be very kind to her for saying that. So the rest of her makeover consisted of makeup (which she never wore), a haircut (to chop off the hair which was hiding the acne) and a bit of What Not To Wear-style dressing i.e. femininity-plus by way of dresses and heels.
In the end, I think she was just dressing like a normal person.

Boy, was there a lot of fat in her cheeks.

Libraries - the good, the funny and the dodgy

I'm in a pleasant mood today. I've decided that I have made the right choice in doing what I'm doing. I just have to be patient and remember what it's all about, and stop eating cake and sweets all the time (it's probably what's making me tired all the time).

Library humour - here's an article about the new alphabet, which is a chortle-inducing exercise in political correctness. Brought to you by the Warrior Librarian.

I have an admirer. Mr M is a regular patron of the library bus; he was ever so concerned one Thursday morning when my shift was taken over due to my being sick (actually I had to take my mum to the doctor). Next time I saw him, he was all smiles and put his hand on my wrist as he told me he hoped I was feeling better. This morning, Mr M asked me whether I live in the area - his disapointment was visible when the answer was 'no'. He admitted he was hoping to come and visit me. I told him that my boyfriend would not appreciate the competition.

Oh, did I forget to mention that Mr M is seventy years old, has never been married and currently works part-time as a caretaker at a local primary school? Anyway...

'What about A**? She's married but she's more your age', I suggested. Apparently A** is too old for him (she's in her forties I think).

It was all very sweet until, just before he left, he boldly said that I 'excite' him...

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

a creative burst

With so much time being spent driving the library bus, I haven't had much chance to do anything creative or interesting. This morning I did get to spend a couple of hours doing something fun. I was getting stuff for a display on the Maori New Year, which is called Matariki. It's at the first new moon after the first sighting of The Pleiades, which is 18th of June this year. I went to the observatory on the way to work, and chatted to a really nice young guy about his posters, then went to work and looked Matariki up on the Internet for more ideas and information. Display work and reference work are definitely the highlights of my job. If they were all I had to do I think I'd be almost totally happy with my job (except for the long commute and the low pay).

Last night my boy and I had a long discussion about my ever-changing attitude to my career choice. He played devils advocate to my defense over why I don't have to be a library assistant in a public library to in order to become an information professional. I said there are lots of careers which are information-related. He said well, everything is information-related, so it's a meaningless description of a career. He was probably right.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

It's time for one of those positive-thinking lists

Because I've been a bit down lately, I'm compiling a list of things I should be thankful for or happy about:

1. I'm about to get a niece
2. I have two weeks holiday coming up
3. My gym workouts are working, and I can now where sleeveless tops without shame (except it's now verging on Winter)
4. I can wear full-length boots and they look damn good
5. I'm an A-student (though there's been only one assignment thus far)
6. My boyfriend is still yummy and still claims he'd drink my bathwater
7. My ears are clean and wax-free
8. I'm confident that I can get a better, and better-paid, job if I want to.
9. My mother hasn't asked to live with me yet, and it's my brother's duty anyway
10. I've got new friends (as well as the old ones)

Better stop there, before the gods come and take me away. (Umm..that's supposed to be the reason why Chinese parents don't ever praise their children in front of them; in case the gods punish the parents for their pride by kidnapping the offspring. Either that or I really can't make 'em happy.)

Monday, May 24, 2004

When the aftermath is worse than the math

I had a bit of a cry last night – I won’t go into details – and I’m still suffering from it now. This morning, the eyes were still a bit puffy (having bee-stung lips may look sexy, but bee-stung eyes are not). Now it’s the following evening, and I still have the headache and the burning in the eyes. It’s as though my eyes are allergic to tears, or something.

Boring movies

We watched the second Charlie's Angels vid last night. I thought the first one was dumb. But for the sequal I decided to approach it as a silly movie. I'd been talking to one of my classmates about film reviewing according to genre, and Charlie's Angels should be viewed as a silly movie rather than an intelligent one.

Unfortunately, this didn't help me to enjoy the movie any more than before. It was obviously supposed to be over-the-top and tongue-in-cheek, but I thought it went too far. The Angels were like a trio of Lara Crofts - they were two dimensional and you didn't have to care who won the fights because you knew that they weren't going to die (or even get their hair mussed).

The second movie we got from the video shop is more promising; it's a documentary on David Lynch.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

A veritable maze

I went to visit my sister-in-law this afternoon, who's pregnant and due to be induced in a couple of days.  The hospital is quite close to my house, so it was a matter of minutes to get to the closest entrance.  Getting the rest of the way to her ward however, was another matter.
There are several tower blocks, all connected by corridors (or tunnels); each has multiple entrances, and the interior of each is, well, clinical.  Identically pale plaster walls, pale lino floors; floors which are lettered rather than numbered; arrows which point to a promising location, only to mysteriously lead one to a large sign which says 'Unauthorised persons prohibited'.
The hospital interior would be an excellent site for an orienteering competition.  For people like me, who cannot read maps and have no sense of direction, it's an anxiety-inducing exercise.  I started to wonder whether it was possible for someone to live at the hospital without anyone ever finding them.
Luckily, I'm not averse to asking for directions.  After the third ask, I was able to find my way to the tunnel which connects to the right tower block, get to the right floor, the right ward, and the right cubicle.  She wasn't there.  She caught my eye from the tv lounge, and my journey was over.  My sister-in-law was pleased to see me and my pile of glossy magazines, though they weren't going to give her quite as much pleasure as the one in her hand - a Woman's Idea (or something), the cover of which featured a picture of a starlet in full pregancy-mode puffiness.  It's true - we females do enjoy seeing celebrity beauties at their physical worst.

Bloody bank fees

I didn't really appreciate the perks of working in a bank until after I left my bank job. Since then, I'm become ultra-aware of the humungous amounts of money bank customers are being charged, for the privilege of leaving their money with someone who gets to use it to make even more money. I was only two measly days late with paying my credit card bill (in full). Two measly days, and I got charged about twenty bucks interest.

And another thing - banks use lousy grammer. I saw a poster advertising some bank, and it read 'Pay less fees'. Surely it should be 'Pay smaller fees' or 'Pay fewer fees'? Besides, I think it's aimed at the under-30s, so perhaps it should be in 'txt' anyway.

a common personality

I was flicking through a book based on Myers-Briggs personality types, and it seems that I am an ESFJ. This means I'm a nice, caring person who likes to organise things in advance and get things done. No surprises that there are heaps more female ESFJs than male.

How boring. I don't mind being extroverted, but I'd rather be flighty and exciting than reliable and organised. People I know who are the former get to lead interesting lives and be able to manipulate people into doing their dirty work for them. I do dirty work because it has to be done.

It must be time for an extreme personality make-over.

Friday, May 21, 2004

photoblogging and sleep-talking

Hmm..I just had a go at the new free photoblogging facility. I had to download Hello first, and then I wasn't too sure how to use it. But second time lucky, eh?

I never realised I talked in my sleep. I know my brother does; I remember when we were kids sharing a bedroom he used to talk in his sleep. Last night I apparently had a whole conversation with my boy while we were both in bed and I was fast asleep. Actually, I do remember trying to say 'the books are at Central' a couple of times before vaguely realising I was asleep, and then letting myself doze off again.

So it seems I'm still dreaming of work.

OOh - my mum phoned up tonight to tell me that my heavily pregnant sister-in-law is in hospital and they're going to induce the birth on Monday. I'm going to have a niece! I hope that doesn't stuff up my plans to go on holiday in four week's time.

Let's try that again. Posted by Hello
Here's a life drawing I did way back. Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 20, 2004


I managed to get two weeks holiday for mid-June until early July, which falls right in the middle of the study break between trimesters one and two. It's also one week after one of my work mates gets back from her enviably long world trip (six weeks, but it feels longer - to me anyway). That way there'll still be 3 bus-driving library people, and my boss won't have any worries about who'll do my bus run while I'm away.

So now we just have to work out how to spend this precious non-work time. I thought it would be a good opportunity to show my boy the South Island. He thinks it would be a great time to go to New York to see his daughter from his previous relationship. I have no problems with him seeing his daughter, especially in New York; I've always wanted to visit there and see all the museums and art galleries. However, since there's still more or less a war on between the US and Iraq (and possibly other anti-US groups), I'm not sure it's a good idea to be in the States - especially on a plane. Perhaps the air fares will be a little lower, if everyone has the same worry. Perhaps any discounting will be offset by increases in travel insurance and security-related surcharges.

Do you think we should take the chance and go to New York? Or stay in New Zealand?

Having a 'senior' moment

My friends and I used to joke about having 'blonde' moments, but perhaps it's a little more appropriate now to be joking about having 'senior' moments. At my age, even natural blondes would have darkened to dirty blonde.

This morning I arrived, with the library bus, at the first stop. It's a long stop, from 9.30am till 10.40am. As soon as the door opened, I was inundated with a class full of young kids (plus a few brave adults). Once they'd left, I had a quick look at the time (it was 9.45), then a look at the timetable, to check how long I had there. I saw 10.40am, yet for some reason my brain told me the bus had to leave at 9.40am. Silly me rushed all the loose returned books onto empty shelves and the bus roared into action. I'd gone several blocks before my brain actually started working and told me that that had been a suspiciously short stop.

So it's true what I read somewhere about how we process the information we read. Apparently, when we read something we believe it and then analyse it. And the faster we take in information, the worse it is. I must slow down my reading.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Asian woman driver fulfills stereotype

That's me, though it only happened once - today (normally I drive as well as everyone thinks they drive). Every Wednesday afternoon around 3pm, I take the library bus to the parking lot of the New World supermarket. There are four car parks there which are designated for the library bus, and this is marked by a small, high sign posted on an adjacent pole.

Usually the designated space is occupied, and usually by only one car; this is obviously enough to make it impossible for me to park the bus there, and I end up stopping alongside a fence at the far end of the parking lot. (This is when I get out the pink slip advising the driver that he should just leave the damn space for the community service which his rates have paid for, and put it on his windscreen).

A couple of weeks ago, I thought I would get my second-ever opportunity to park in the proper place. But just as I swerved around to get there, a shopper swooped in and took one of those four parks. I decided it was too much trouble to stop the bus right where I was (and maybe hold up traffic) to tell the driver to leave; so I simply parked at the usual back-up place.

Well, this afternoon I was really excited to discover another one of those opportunities. The whole four spaces where completely vacant. And in the excitement, I didn't quite swerve around enough to allow me to position the bus in the right place. I ended up backing up, driving forward onto the kerb, backing out again, driving forward onto the kerb, etc. I must've beeen shifting backwards and forwards for five or six minutes. I found it funny, but only because I could laugh about it with the workmate doing the shift with me. If I'd been on my own I would've been really embarrassed, especially because a bunch of supermarket boys were having their coffee break and watching, just a few feet away.

Just so you know, I got the bus there in the end.

Shakespearean insults galore

Yes, that's right, thou currish pox-marked mumble-news! I had this program on my work computer once upon a time; now you can get it on-line.

Relief all 'round and rewarding reads

I got home last night and fetched my marked assignment from the mail box, opened it and....I got an 'A'! It was really hard trying to guess how well it'd gone, since this is the first post-grad thing I've ever done. Phew! Nice to know I'm up there with the smart dudes.

I've just started reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods, on my boy's recommendation. I haven't had much luck with his recommendations - I was bored with Clive Barker's Neverwhere, and thought H.P. Lovecraft was a little hard going style-wise. But because I so thoroughly enjoyed the Garth Nix books, then Gaiman gets a go. Even though I didn't get into Gaiman's Stardust. So far, its quite intriguing; freshly-released ex-con Shadow finds on his first day out that his wife has died and that the friend who's promised him a job has also died. Then he's told that they died together. All this information is being conveyed to him by a mysterious Mr Wednesday (how bizarre - I just finished reading a book called Mr Monday) who seems to know where Shadow's going to be before Shadow would possibly know himself. I think this might be a goodie.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Kids are crafty

Kids at the library are starting to take advantage of the fact that they can get up to five free photocopies from reference material, as well as free info printed off the Internet (printed by whoever's on the Desk, that is).

They used to just ask for books about Einstein, the history of muffins, rabbits, or whatever, then pay 20c per photocopy. Now they ask for Internet pictures, or pictures in reference books only. Show 'em a lending copy of a book with fabulous pictures, and they just don't want to know. Kids of today, eh?


Our first assignments for my course have been marked, and were available to be picked up today. By the time I'd got there to pick mine up, I'd already heard that one classmate had gotten a C, and another an A-. Apparently mine has been posted to me, because the school had enrolled me as a distance student. Which means two things:
1. I won't find out my grade until 9pm tonight (because I'm working late), and
2. I've probably paid the higher fees, if I'm down as a distance student. It also means that I could've gotten library materials posted to me for no extra charge.

Monday, May 17, 2004


I just found out my blog is listed on Tiny Little Librarian's blogroll. That's like getting myself mentioned on tv or something. Wow.

van Helsing not tongue-in-cheeky enough

My boy and I went to see a matinee screening of van Helsing yesterday - I thought it would be a bit of a laugh, in the vein of The Mummy and he generally just likes to go and see crap movies(!).

Well, it wasn't that much in the vein of The Mummy, because it didn't have enough tongue-in-cheekiness about it. Okay, there's a bit very near the end, when the hero holds the limp heroine (played by Kate Beckinsale in yet another vampire movie role) and it all looks so Mills and Boon. And van Helsing the man does look a bit Fabio at times - when he's about to change into a monster he rips his shirt off beforehand. They do that thing where the hero's travels are illustrated by a little black line running through a big map, that's camp I suppose. Dracula's brides are very B-movie - all blondeness and bustiness and inappropriately clothed for the Romanian climate. Some of the back-drops look a bit cartoon-y, but that might also be a subtle nod to 50's cinema.

Other than that, the special effects are pretty good, as you'd expect; Dracula looks like an evil Doctor Kovac (the spunky Eastern European staff member of ER); there's Mr Hyde who looks like a less-cute Shrek; a naughty Friar who's a medieval Q (of the Bond movies), and of course a feisty heroine who can leap and fight despite wearing a very tight corset over a little top which makes her look like her boobies are hanging out.

Could Troy be any worse, I wonder?

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Rave for Raybon

I didn't get around to reading Raybon Kan's new book, which I bought yesterday, because we spent most of last night on Buffy-related activities. This means that we watched about six episodes from the first series, followed by an attempt to play the Buffy board game which my boy bought yesterday. He's a game freak and I'm almost allergic to them, so no surprises that his Evil (represented by the Master) won against my Scooby gang by turning Buffy into a vamp.

But I did get to start reading 'An Asian at my table' over toast this morning, and ... its a rave. I so wish I could write like him.

Memorable quote #1:
On the Dalai Lama's visit to NZ,
"His main message seeems to be that anger and fear should be rejected. 'Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate - hate leads to the Dark Side.' No, that was Yoda. But is he just Yoda without the light sabre? Perhaps Kundun should have been called Dalai Lama Episode 14: Attack of the Chinese."

Memorable quote #2:
On the public's perception that there are too many Asian immigrants in NZ, and one writer's view that Asian immigrants don't try to assimilate,
"...nobody ever went to another person's country aiming to assimilate. I think anyone with any kind of dignity holds things dear: language, cultural rituals, photographs. Would you ask Kiwis who live abroad to stop supporting the All Blacks?"

Memorable quote #3:
On asthma,
"How can you possibly be at one with the universe when you're incompatible with air? When I see a green meadow, I don't see a place for lovers to run. I see a meadow of mass destruction."

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Lost for words. Or something

Dang! I'm supposed to do a 2500-word report for my course, on whether or not its a good a idea to have a professional association for all information professionals (librarian's, archivists, records managers etc) - the pros'n'cons and all that.

I typed in everything I could think of and everything I had notes on. My word count is - 756.

You say poe-tay-toe, I say poe-tar-toe...

We went shopping today, and it's reminded me of the wild difference in our views on money:

Me - take sandwiches to work, eat leftovers, don't pay for parking if at all possible, try to save $20 per pay
He - takes sandwiches to work but only if I made them for him, deliberately avoids collecting loyalty card points, pays for parking because its easier, doesn't have a savings account

My idea of a big buy - a book (because I should wait for it to be available at the library), clothes unless they are on sale or bought from an el cheapo shop.
His idea of a big buy - I hate to think. This guy bought the Buffy the Vampire Slayer board game, on a whim, for over 100 bucks. Just because.

They say that financial disagreements are a major cause of relationship breakup. I reckon we're simply complementary.

The book I bought today was Raybon Kan's, 'An Asian at my table'. If you haven't lived in NZ, you won't know who Raybon is. This strangely named fellow is the Chinese New Zealander's answer Woody Allen. I mean, he's a comedian. (As far as I know, Raybon has no adopted kids, let alone a wife who used to be one.) He's the only Chinese comedian I know of, and I like him best when he talks about the Chinese experience. Also, he just has great titles for his stand-up shows (for example, the book title which is a piss-take of the world-famous-in-New-Zealand autobiography by Janet Frame, An Angel at my table).

My boy happily spent over an hour unpacking the Slayer game (he hopes that my being a Buffy fan will cause me to overcome my natural aversion to games), and didn't even try to rope me in for a warm-up game.

Friday, May 14, 2004

More Buffy stuff to add to the collection

It's called Slayerblog, and you can compare her views on various Angel episodes to your own...

It's certainly a time for blockbuster, epic Hollywood movies

Our hopes of seeing 'Van Helsing' last weekend were dashed, and the consolation prize (buying a discounted copy of 'Altered States') turned out to be a booby prize (interesting concept is over-stretched and becomes both incomprehensible and boring). 'Troy' might be the next movie we try to see. No doubt it'll be sold out in it's first weekend too, after all Brad's gotten pretty muscley for his role. And Orlando gets to be the lover-boy. I want to know how the Trojan-horse thing looks, and whether Helen gets to show that she's got goddess in her genes.

I think it might be time to put my old self-image, as a film-snob, to rest...

And people ask us library staff what we read in our spare time...

Gossip mags, mostly. Four newish ones arrived on the staffroom table this morning, curtesy of one of the cataloguers. My lunchtime was originally earmarked for a period of stolid study. It was instead given over to exclamations over: how Kirsty Alley has got, how thin Sophie Dahl is now and how envious we are of Salma Hayek, who is 37, doesn't exercise, eats what she likes and looks like a goddess.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

like a petulant child

I so hate being told off, especially when it was completely called for. Like today, when I had an emergency and called work to say I wouldn’t be in for the morning at least. I was supposed to take the bus out this morning, and it was a full-on day event-wise, so my call was disruptive to say the least. Apparently there were fights, missed meetings and messed schedules – maybe even swear words. I did have a good excuse, really. But yeah, I did mess up by not telling them earlier in the day; maybe if I had they would have been able to sort something out more tidily (less arguing, postponed meetings and rearranged schedules).

So when this morning’s mobile librarian replacement confronted me to tell me what I did wrong, I felt like I was a bad person. She was right and I was wrong, but I couldn’t take the criticism on the chin. It might have something to do with fear of failure, averse-ness to risk-taking and occasional defensiveness. I blame my mother, of course.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Why I'd make a hopeless hostage negotiator

We don't get that many 'incidents' at the library, and - until yesterday - had never been involved in one personally.

That afternoon, I did the library bus thing, doing the rounds of the retirement villages and rest homes. I took with me a young assistant, a school girl doing work experience.

Our third stop was outside a rest home; the residents are mainly retired nuns and priests, and of course non-residents come on board and get all social. It gets quite busy because there are lots of customers and many of them need a hand with the steps and the books.

A young-ish, scruffy-looking guy, reeking of alcohol and loud of voice, came on board and told us he wanted a card. I got my assistant to hand him a registration form and tell him we had to see proof of ID and proof of address. He went home to get his IDs. He came back with 3 ID cars, but none of them included a proof of address. I told him so, but he just grizzled and complaints from him. The customers made disapproving noises. After more grizzling, he announced that he was a member of the library. So why was he asking for a new membership? Oh - he just wanted a replacement card. So I told him we could give him a replacement card for $2. Suprisingly, he continued to grizzle, complaining that he had 3 IDs and should be allowed to take out books. Confusion took over, and I binned his registration form and tended to the soberer customers.

Anyway, time came for us to drive to the next stop and he wouldn't leave. He stalked around the bus, looking at books. We called the police. The police came. We removed a library book from his hand. He left the bus.

The crux of the story is, even though he was a bit drunk, I probably could have handled it better so that he'd either get what he wanted or leave peacefully. I think some of my call-centre ex-workmates could have done it, they get complaining customers all the time. I let myself get offended and ended up getting the police involved.

slave driver wanted

During the winter, the branch library is staffed by two people during the evenings - that's me and Sue. It's quite a nice change to be working with just one other person, and because I'm an Information person and she's a Circulation person I get to be the shift leader. I've come to realise that she's been expecting - no, wanting - me to keep her busy. At first, when she mentioned how busy other shift leaders kept her, I thought she was complaining. I actually quite like the quiet periods because that's when I get to surf the Internet (to look for potential links for the library web site of course) and check out the book and magazine collections. But last night we were both busy; culling books for rotation back to the central library,looking for missing books, serving customers etc. She was pretty happy about it, too. So it looks as though I'm going to be a real taskmaster. This morning, Sue told me I was a slave driver - I took it as a complement.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

squeamish me

I've just been watching 'Cold Case', and there was a scene right near the end where a gang of white trash rape a young black woman in her own kitchen. I had to switch channels for a few minutes. I reacted the same way during a scene in Peter Greenaway's 'The baby of Macon' (I didn't see the whole movie, just a few scenes in an interview with Greenaway), in which a girl is raped by an endless line of soldiers as a form of punishment (long story).

Rape scenes just really upset me, though not because of any personal experience with it on my part. I just empathise with the victim and feel really bad. Murder scenes don't have the same effect, even torture scenes (unless they are sexual). I wonder why that is. Is it because, as a female, I'm highly aware of my vulnerability to an attack of this kind - one which most males would never feel threatened with?

not a great pretender

I googled my blog URL, and found myself in a list of Buffy-related sites. It made me feel slightly guilty, because even though I really am a Buffy fan I don't blog much about it. So to make up for it here's a link to a NZ site on Emma Caulfield, who plays Anya (ex-revenge demon, then second-time revenge demon).

who'd want to read about gangs?

A guy came by the Information Desk wanting to find a book called 'Staunch', about gangs. I found it for him, and almost asked him whether he was wanting to join one. He didn't look like the studious type. About twenty minutes later, a woman came to the desk asking for books on gangs. Hmmm.. I found the other three books we had on gangs, and she took them all. It turned out that she and the guy were together. They looked through those books as though they were looking for family members in a school journal. I wouldn't want to make assumptions, it's so un-librarian-like isn't it?

Monday, May 10, 2004

The Locals

'The Locals' is a NZ-made movie which I've been wanting to see ever since it's cinema release. Finally, I got the DVD from the video shop. We were pretty impressed with this thriller, since it was neither embarrassingly parochial nor try-hard Hollywood-style. It was slick, clever and had a plot twist which even my boy didn't figure out until the end. It's about two city lads who've taken off to the country for the weekend, get lost, get their car stuck, witness a murder and become fugitives chased by the murderer and his posse.

We followed this up with Charlie Kaufman's 'Human Nature', which was really weird in a silly and endearing sort of way. I didn't recognise Miranda Otto as the pseudo-French lab assistant until I saw her name in the credits! Quite a nice play on the whole noble-savage/Pygmalion/back-to-Nature theme, with some connections to Being John Malkovich's Cameron Diaz character.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Ear wax begone!

It's been a couple of months since I was told by a doctor (not my usual one) that my ears were 95% and 90% full of wax, respectively. I didn't feel deaf, though occasionally I'd mishear someone so badly they got all exasperated and impatient with me. Being a nice girl who doesn't like to annoy people, I decided I'd better make an appointment to get them syringed.

That was two weeks ago. I started using that wax-dissolving stuff for a few days, then rang the clinic to make an appointment for the Saturday. Unfortunately, I couldn't get an appointment for that day. It had to be a Saturday, since during the week I work in another city, so I’d have to wait for the following Saturday. This meant I had another week and a half of using the wax-dissolving stuff in my ears. You see, that stuff fills up my ear cavities and makes me even deafer.

The day came for the syringing, and lo and behold their syringe gun was out of order. I must have looked really disappointed, because the doctor took pity on me and spent the next hour patiently scraping my ears and syringing them with a 50 ml (normal) syringe. My God, those bits of wax were ugly. And big.

And suddenly I could hear everything, from the squawks of the kiddies in the waiting room several doors down to the slight squeak of the nurse’s shoes on the floor.

Apparently, my ears produce far more wax than normal and I should get them cleaned out 2-4 times a year. How come no doctor has ever told me this before???

How to be practical on Mother's Day

When I was growing up, I used to try really hard to get my mum nice presents.

One time, I bought her a pretty set of candlesticks and a candlestick holder. A Chinese friend told me that giving Mum candlesticks would be a really bad idea because they symbolise mortality and death (or something like that).

Another time, I spent all my pocket money on a tiny pair of earrings - all I could afford, but the best I could afford. When she opened up the package and saw them, Mum told me straight out that they weren't very nice. A few days later, when she was out shopping with me, she took them to a second hand shop and sold them for five dollars.

Once I started working, I was able to get her more expensive presents. One Christmas, I bought her a hundred-dollar bathrobe. It was soft, red (her favourite colour I thought) and luxurious. It hung in the wardrobe, unused. At least she didn't trash it.

Then I caught on to buying her food items. She loves oysters, so if the gift-giving occasion coincided with the Bluff oyster season, my brother and I would go halves on three-dozen oysters. Success.

I've gotten more practical as I've gotten older (horror of horrors, I am turning into my mother). In the last few years, I've given her either money or hair-care products (which she has specified). And she's perfectly happy.

From too little exposure to too much?

Now that I'm not only a library worker, but also a library student, I have joined the national library and information association. The other day I received the latest issue of their monthly magazine in the mail, and when I got to page 26 I saw they'd published a list of the association's newest members.

Eager to see my name in print (it doesn't happen very often), I scanned the list for my name.
I saw surname...and the name of my hometown beside it...but someone had put my first name down as 'Vanya'.

I immediately sent off an e-mail to the editor, to let her know of the mistake. I also added at the end some small remark about the poor library-assistant salaries being a bone of contention for librarian-wannabees like me.

Now it looks like I've sort of committed myself to writing a proper Letter to the Editor on the subject. How do I do this honestly, without pissing off anyone in the industry i.e. workmates and employers, both current and potential?

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Talking till I lost my voice

Lately, my boy and I have been having long, philosophical conversations; for no apparent reason. Last night, the DVD player stopped working, so we left the television on and talked continuously for at least an hour. I lost my voice, and even today I'm still a little hoarse.

I said something about something I'd read in Philosophy Now; how, if you're a relativist (who believes that if you believe it, then it is true), then you have to accept that the opposite is also true i.e. objectivsm - that things are either true or not, which is a logical fallacy (I think. It doesn't make logical sense, anyway).

So that turned into a discussion on religion. My boy said I should read 'American Gods', by Neil Gaimon - something about what divine beings do when people stop believing in them.

He said he disapproved of the fact that Asian immigrants tend to be under-represented in the military forces of their respective adopted countries. I said that if you get shat on as soon as you set foot on a new country, then you sure as hell aren't going to volunteer to die for it (this is true for Chinese, at least). Though there is also a cultural thing, at least with Chinese, where one's highest priority is to one's family - not to oneself, nor one's country).

The fact that my voice suffered so much must mean that my natural state is one of near-silence, or perhaps the need for a free-flowing supply of alcohol when discussing world stuff.

Rocking, rolling, riding...

It's a bit blustery today, and it makes the library bus rock. When it's stopped, and I'm waiting for the customers to show up, I take out 'Mr Monday' to read. But I get motion-sickness. Whenever the wind rocks the bus I have to quickly look away from the book and out the window, focussing my eyes on the bags of rubbish rolling up and down the street with the wind. Exciting stuff.

People who see Dead people

I've finished Garth Nix's 'Abhorsen' and I have to say it's such a triffic book.

Looking back over the whole trilogy, 'Sabriel' is a bit of a taster; it introduces the world and it's creatures, the magic and it's laws.

'Lirael' and 'Abhorsen' are one story broken over two books (a bit of a bummer if you can only find one of them).

'Lirael' was great because it introduced some great new characters; the heroine of the title, who should be a seer but can't; Sam, the son of the Abhorsen (the person who makes sure people stay dead, among other things), who seems unable to rise to his inherited position of Abhorsen-in-waiting; and the Disreputable Dog, a primordial magic creature who looks, acts and woofs like a dog.

In 'Abhorsen', the world is about to be destroyed, Lirael and Sam discover their true roles in life, we find out what the Disreputable Dog really is, and Mogget (an evil magic creature who has been enslaved to serve the Abhorsen, in the shape of a white cat) redeems himself.

The characters are so much more three-dimensional by the third novel. The Dead are more yucky, the good guys are more interesting and the evil ones are more scary. The trips into Death are fascinating (this Nix guy is amazinly imaginative!). Mogget does a 'Spike' - after having been a cat for thousands of years, he's come to like the world exactly as it is.

Other good things about the trilogy - his female characters are really strong (and no armoured-bikini in sight, but that might be because it's teen fiction) and their names are easy to pronounce (no strange hyphenated ones).

I'm hooked. I'm now reading 'Mister Monday', from his children's fantasy series 'The Keys to the Kingdom'.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Customer Service will be the death of me

Every Tuesday evening I 'man' our sole branch of the library, and I've been doing this since March. In the last few Tuesdays, I've noticed a particular customer who does little annoying things which bug me enough to comment about her.

Several Tuesdays ago, the woman came in with a pile of returned books. After checking them all in, there was still one book which hadn't come back and was overdue. She asked for it to be renewed for another three weeks. 'Fine', I said, 'but you'll still have to pay the overdue fee though'. However, I was prompted by the computer software, that it had already been renewed more than the limit (which is twice). I told her I could override it for her, but that she'd have to make sure she brought the book back by the new due date. Right after I renewed the book, I noticed that it had been renewed a total of four times already. 'Cheeky cow', I thought to myself. I put a note on her record that the book was definitely not to be renewed again.

Two Tuesdays ago, the same woman came back. She arrived with about fifteen books, just a couple of minutes before we were about to close the library for the evening. 'We're just closing', I said, trying not to sound pissed off. The woman stood there for another few minutes, looking at the shelves, before giving me the returns. Then she proceeded to contest an overdue fine for two Bestseller books. Bestsellers have large silver stickers on them, not only identifying them as such but also specifying the two-week lending period. You can't miss it. 'But the lady at the Issues desk told me I could have them for three weeks!' she exclaimed. I didn't waive the fine, but I just wanted to close up shop so I let it go.

Last night she came back, at a respectable time this time. She still contested the overdue fine on the Bestsellers. I waived it but warned her that I wouldn't believe her next time. I overcame the urge to get grumpy, mindful of what happens when you keep bottling up your anger.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Taking the scenic route home is turning out to be a mood-lifter

Last night, for the first time, I decided to take an indirect route home. I figured it would only add 5-10 minutes to my homeward journey and (for a change) the car wouldn't be idling for much of it.

So I was really pleased when I found that it didn't take any longer than when I take the direct route - the one with all the bottlenecks. I was so happy that I breezed through my gym session and wasn't grumpy at all. It's now mid-afternoon on the following day, and I'm still not grumpy. This is a big thing for me; grumpiness has been dogging me for months.

I was all happy and positive and chatty this morning at my class, too, and no longer felt negative about my career choice. I'll still be watching the job ads, but without that sense of desperation.

Being a Libra, I'm supposed to expect swings of mood and opinion - up until now I thought it was only my opinions which were subject to the see-saw movement; now I realise that's not all.

Monday, May 03, 2004

The two-year itch

As I wrote in one of my previous posts, I seem to get terribly interested in something for about two years, then go right off it. This has happened with my interests in yoga, karate, music, painting (well, it was getting that way before I became too busy anyway) etc. I fear that it may be happening with my career obsession too. I have only been in the business for less than a year, but I was quite interested in it for about a year before that - so that counts as a two-year thing.

I'm getting a bit sick of always being tired, doing the mindless tasks like photocopying, spending ages in traffic, having very little dosh to spend...

I'm starting to long for those (relatively) halcyon days when I was a 'suit', and was free to lunch with my friends, buy nice clothes, plan holidays, watch tv in the evenings and say bad things about technocretins.

I saw an ad in the paper in the weekend, for an information analyst. It sounded to me like a compromise between the seriousness of library work and the relatively easy hours of a government job. The pay would be better, even at the lowest grade. It's in town, so I'd be a short bus ride from home - thus saving at least half an hour of travel time per day. But it'd still be about finding information for people, helping them, perhaps even interepreting information for them. Perhaps the whole library thing isn't worth it for me, when I can get something similar without tears (not that it makes me cry).

Sunday, May 02, 2004

28 Days Later

We just saw this movie on DVD. It's got shades of Resident Evil (people get infected and turn into red-eyed, ravenous zombies-things) and Lord of the Flies (except the boys are army men, have weapons and want women).

Don't read on if you haven't watched it yet and plan to...

It gets off to a slow start, with a mild-mannered bicycle courier named Jim waking up in hospital to find place deserted. He's taken in by a man and a woman (Selena); eventually it's him and Selena and a middle-aged guy and his teen daughter Hannah. Things become a little more exciting once the heroes meet up with the army boys (the ones with the weapons and the hormones).

It turns out that the army boys have been trying to lure women to their fortress (something about the men not being able to see any future unless they can impregnate someone).

It's pretty bloodthirsty, with plenty of machete-ing and bloody vomit. Jim the nice-guy ends up saving the females from rape - ironically, the way he kills all the bad guys makes him look as depraved as the zombies. Thank goodness it doesn't make his eyes go all bloodshot, or Selina would have machete-d him in mistaken self-defense.

Not a bad movie, but not worth the overnight rental.

Death of the traditional single-income family?

A woman wrote an open letter to our Prime Minister, describing her difficulty in making ends meet; she's got four kids, a medium-sized student loan and her husband (a teacher) earns a little more than the average NZ salary. Apparently their debt is growing by the month, even though they don't buy luxuries and moved to Waihi just so they could have a small mortgage. At first, her story made me feel sympathetic, because she's saying that there are plenty of tax breaks for the poor (and lots of ways for the rich to avoid paying taxes) but not much for the middle-class income-earners.

But then I thought - why on earth did she have kids right after finishing her degree and before she had a chance to save up any money? Why did she go on to have four of them?

Life is certainly more expensive than it would've been in the Sixties. However, perhaps this is because it is so much easier to spend your money these days. Few people make their own clothes or grow their own veges; lots more people have computers, internet accounts, mobile phones and overseas holidays. It's not necessarily cheaper to make your own clothes or grow your own produce, but it must be cheaper to make your meals from scratch than it is to buy takeaways, right?

And another thing - the newspaper article ran statistics on the percentage of families where the male is the sole bread-winner (the 'traditional' model), but there's no mention of families where the woman is the sole bread-winner...