Thursday, April 26, 2007

Risk aversion

I'm just not cut out for taking risks. Well okay, I've hitchhiked around Africa on my own, eaten food from street stalls in India and been white-water rafting before I'd learned to swim. But those could probably be attributed to the foolishness of youth. These days, I find myself progressively less inclined to take a flying leap at any venture that doesn't carry at least some certainty of success.

Just a few minutes ago, I called up my fellow fundraising committee member to tell her I had cold feet about our proposed movie night. Not just cold feet, but frozen to Absolute Zero cold. There was a low-ish response rate to our initial call for feedback, and I suspected that the rest of 'em were too polite to just say "no". It was keeping me up at night with dreams about ill-fated raffles and garage sales, and giving me a tension headache that goes all the way down my neck, across my shoulders and down my spine. It doesn't help that there's an up-front booking fee which would be enough to replace my burnt-out computer very nicely. It also doesn't help that in a couple of weeks I might be the only active member of the committee. Extra work, I wasn't looking for.

I'd like to think I'm just being sensible in calling the whole thing off (or at least postponing it until we can get more people to show support). But there's a bug in my head that tells me this is just another example of how boringly risk-averse I've become as I've gotten older.

If I were the entrepeneurial type, the kind of person who founds The Body Shop or decides to film all three Lord of the Ring movies at the same time, would I have been so easily put off? Should I have decided to push on anyway, and let fear of failure be my prime motivator?

What I want for Mothers Day

One day TLM will be old enough to celebrate Mothers Day by bringing me burnt toast in bed and giving me a hand-sewn elephant that looks like a rat, but until then I guess the boy will be responsible for trying to make May 13th a memorable one.

There's a chance that he'll get me something geeky and unnecessary like a new Wii game or another brain gym for the Nintendo DS, but you never know. If I can't have the week off, then I'm going to have to think of a list he can pick from:

  • a gym membership, because if I have somewhere to work out I won't be so inclined to use my "free" time shopping for clothes
  • The Buffy Season 8 graphic novel, although he told me himself that it's completely sold out all over the planet
  • a trip to the UK to visit his both family and a host of clothes shops recommended by Trinny and Susannah
  • have framed, some of the better paintings which are hanging around the house
  • a session at a day spa would be nice, but he'd have to organise it for me. It's also have to specialise in hypoallergenic treatments.
  • his blessing that I can do whatever study I like, whether it be creative writing or how to be a papparazzi, regardless of it's usefulness in bringing home additional bacon
But if none of the above are do-able, then I suppose I could be content with a massive sleep-in.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

How addiction altered my daughter's personality

All day today, TLM's mantra was "Boohbah".

This surreal preschooler's show fascinated me when it screened every morning at 6am, with it's blobby dancing creatures who apparently fly on the power of their own farts. The DVDs have been available at the library for ages, but until last week I'd been trying desperately (and unsuccessfully - the boy and I are both TV addicts, so it's genetic) to avoid increasing the amount of TV/DVD time TLM gets.

I think I may have made a serious mistake in renting the Boohbah DVD though, because TLM has become addicted to it. When it's on, she alternates between trying to copy their dance moves, and staring at it like a hedgehog caught in the sudden glare of headlights. And if TLM demands Boohbah and I don't provide it, she goes off her food, throws her sippy cup overboard and loses all interest in her Megablocks.

It's possible that The Wiggles are, temporarily at least, no longer the kings of TLM's Top Ten.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Long time no see

I can just imagine that the rellies in the UK are wondering when the next photos of TLM will be posted. So here's a photo of our Little Madam having oodles of fun at the playground outside the local library. It's her home away from home.

And here is a blurry shot of Madam demonstrating how one wears Mr Potatohead's spectacles.

TLM just got some new boots on the weekend. Good god, I never realised how expensive children's shoes could be. Granted, these are the most gorgeous designer lilac nubuck boots, all the way from Germany, but still.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Going for the lowest common denominator

If you were a member of your child's daycare centre's fundraising committee, and you had to choose a new or yet-to-be-released film to show at a fundraising movie night, which film would you choose?

I would have thought that Pirates of the Caribbean III would have been a good bet, because it's just about the most mainstream movie I can think of. Certainly not Becoming Jane, which sounds like something only Jane Austen addicts would bother with, nor Spiderman III, which sounds like something you'd show at a Geek's Night or something.

You wouldn't want to screen Pan's Labyrinth because it's too dark and weird (while I would go and see it because it's dark and weird), but on the other hand maybe we shouldn't assume that our potential ticketbuyers can't handle anything edgy.

What would you pick?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Grocery revelations

While I wondered around the supermarket with two packets of incontinence pads in my basket (they weren't for me, and anyone who implies otherwise will get one of my withering looks), I wondered what people would assume if they saw me with those items.

Do people still check each other out at supermarkets? 'Cos I bet they'd check out what's in other people's shopping baskets, for indications of desirability.

If I were a single woman looking for love in the aisles, would I be turned off if the handsome man in up ahead picked up a six-pack of pre-made meat pies to go with his ready-made pizzas? Would I have been more willing to smile flirtatiously at him if I'd seen him loading up with gourmet delicacies instead? Or would that mean he's probably gay?

I think I'd feel more confident reading someone's bookshelf.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Welcome to heck"

The boy has been going on and on about the PG13 trailer to the based-on-a-graphic novel movie, 300. I have no intention of seeing the movie, but I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up in a batch of DVDs from our man in Jakarta.

But anyway, the PG13 trailer. It is in fact every bit as funny as the boy promised (and just as well because he's been telling eeeeverybody about it). And since he's let his blog die a natural death, I feel it's my wifely duty to post it on mine. Have a look, it's a bit of a laugh.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

We would like to be what we read

You can tell a lot about a person by their record collection, and no doubt the same thing applies to a person's book collection or the contents of their library bag. I read somewhere that a sizeable proportion of the adult population in Britain admits to buying books they have no intention of reading, purely to enhance their coolness factor in the eyes of their visitors.

(Which is why I think library bags ought to be made of a see-through material - so I can ponce around at the bus stop with Betrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy inside. And hey, the only reason I didn't actually finish the book is because you're only allowed to check it out for 4 weeks)

I like to think of myself as reasonably eclectic, adventurous and intellectual, so I'd be quite happy about people knowing that the following books are on my shelves :

  • A large number of "pop culture and philosophy" books, including the ones about Buffy and The Simpsons
  • My collection of travel guides, including the Lonely Planet guide to South America
  • Lionel Shriver's We have to talk about Kevin
  • Jung Chang's Wild Swans

The books which I wouldn't necessarily want everyone to know about would be:

  • The self-help guides for single women in their thirties
  • All my Marion Keyes chicklit novels, because really, only the first three were any good
  • Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code would've been included here, but I gave it to a charity shop because I couldn't bear to see it on my shelf. It was a present, by the way.
And, of course, I'd be super-quick to point out to visitors that the shelf full of graphic novels (along with the Star Wars DVD boxed set) belongs to the boy.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The forgotten underwear

My sock and underwear drawer is full to the brim, yet every morning I have the hardest time finding suitable items to clothe my various bits. Some of the fault lies in the fact that, these days, it's pretty damned dark at 6.30am. But I'm afraid that most of the responsibility lies with my reluctance to part with sock widows, bras with over-stretched straps, and un-homely knickers.

When I got home this afternoon from a sock-buying mission, I decided to clear the undies drawer once and for all.

Digging into the deeper recesses of that drawer was a bit of an eye-opener. I had completely forgotten just how many pairs of pantyhose had been tucked into the far corner - it's been an awfully long time since I bothered putting those on (it's just easier not to, not least because it means I can go longer without trimming my toenails). There were many, many pairs of g-string undies too. In the old days, when I was single and on the prowl, the g-string was an essential item for wearing under firm-fitting trousers and skirts if you didn't want to be subject to the dreaded VPL. These days, I've learned that jeans with back pockets in the right place hide VPL very, very well.

Removing unwanted stuff from their usual habitat is one thing, actually binning them for good is another. I've probably thrown half of it out, but the rest is still in really good condition so it's in my blanket chest until I get in the mood for minimal underwear again.

By the time I was done with my drawer, it was looking pitifully empty. I think it's telling me to stock up on underwear.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

This windy day

20 months
TLM has turned 20 months and 1 day. For the record, I'll tell you that she has another cold - one which will probably keep her home from daycare tomorrow. But at least she had a great time on Tuesday, when the staff bundled up all 12 or so kids into buggies (the kind designed for twins and triplets) and walked them all around the zoo.

She's been enjoying playing with her cousins almost every day, but I hope she doesn't pick up their habit of throwing each other into furniture, for fun.

I dressed TLM in a fluffy orange jumper this morning because it was a freezing cold morning, but she's become so attached to it already, that even when she's not wearing it she's clutching it like some fashion-victim's version of a lovey.

In my eye
It's been so windy lately that I've taken to wearing my sunglasses outdoors even when it's overcast outside. A couple of nights ago, after a particularly gusty day, I complained of having something in my eye. The boy couldn't get it out, so I went to the bathroom and flicked out this thing with black bits and mucous-y bits.

It was an insect.

I remembered being especially annoyed that morning when stuff seemed to be blowing into my eye. Good god, I'd had an insect in my eye for 9 hours, and didn't even know it. I really hoped it wasn't an egg-laden female I'd unknowingly hosted all day.

Infinished movies
We started to watch Apocolypto, but it turned out to be every bit as violent as I'd feared it would be. And that was only in the first half hour or so. So that DVD was ejected and replaced with a Gilmore girls episode.

We also started watching Ong Bak, the Thai boxing movie I'd heard lots about. The boy walked out half way through, in favour of returning to World of Warcraft. I was quite enjoying it, and only stopped watching because it was encroaching on my dishwashing-then-sleep time. Sure, the plot is a bit cheesy and the hero has an off-puttingly high voice, but it's all good fun and reminded me of some of Buffy's better vamp fights.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Vocational guidance

Ever since I realised that I didn't want to be a computer programmer for the rest of my life, I have had problems deciding on what the heck I did want to do for a living. I have some idea of what I don't want to do:

  • anything which requires me to be nice to people I don't like e.g. customer service roles
  • anything which requires me to wear full-on protective-wear (because I have so many allergies that exposure to anything suspect might cause me to stop breathing)
  • anything that gets my hands dirty (because I get enough of that looking after TLM)
  • computer programming
  • wear a headset for hours on end
I once went to a careers counsellor for some free sessions at Kiwi Careers. After talking to me about my interests, education and past work experience, he told me that my problem was that I was interested in too many things.

In a way, this is true. I'm a bit of a Jill-of-all-trades. Well, more of a Jill-of-several-skills-and-interests, but that doesn't quite roll off the tongue so easily. The full description ought to be, a Jill of several skills and interests and mistress of none, but it's really very unfortunate that the word "mistress" has much sleazier connotations than "master".

It feels as though I've spent many years of my life trying to figure out what I'm good at, only to find that I'm so-so at lots of things and that's about it.

I recently went to Kiwi Career's website and found a little quiz there designed to help users choose a career. But I really don't see myself as an illustrator, wardrobe person, navy hydrographic survey officer (I get seasick) or air traffic controller. And I've already dropped the idea of being a librarian - too much customer service - or artist- too lacking in talent and determination.

So I'm thinking, what if I do some study in journalism? That could lead to journalism work, communications/PR, copywriting, technical writing or a fabulously popular fictionalised memoir.

If only I could do a quiz and be given a shortlist of two or three careers, to which I would say "Why yes, that's what it!".

Saturday, April 07, 2007

It's all in the accent

Years ago, when I was in Edinburgh, I remember a potential landlord being quite taken aback when I asked whether his flat had a deck. Not until about a week later did I realise that he thought I'd said something rude.

I've been trying to encourage TLM to use cutlery to eat with (rather than to play with), and this morning I taught her to say "fork". After she'd repeated it several times, I began to worry that people hearing her would think we've been teaching her swear words.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Prestige

What is it about magicians, that there are two films out about them? The Illusionist is out now, and we've just seen The Prestige on DVD. Has David Copperfield infiltrated Hollywood or something?

Anyway, The Prestige was quite good. The boy got it because Michael Caine, Christian Bale and an aged David Bowie all star in it.

It's set in what looks to me like Victorian times, about two fiercely competitive stage magicians and the extremes they go to in order to one-up each other. It's also a back-stage snoop at what how stage magicians think up their tricks, maybe.

The science-fiction-y twist at the end is a bit out of the blue, but I like wierd stuff so that was fine by me.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Long time no post. Also, a bad date.

I've been busy, see. Now that my mum is recuperating at my brother's place, we seem to be spending most of our time there, just to enable my sister-out-law to get out of the house occasionally. The good thing about it is that TLM has been spending lots more time with her cousins who, at 6 and nearly 3, are great playmates for her.

Anyway, this, and the fact that TLM's sleeps have been a bit disrupted and therefore I spend her naptimes catching up on my own sleep, mean that I've no time to blog.

I never told you what the boy and I got up to last Friday, did I? The ex-nanny arrived at 7pm. I didn't want to get ambitious with the night out, so I suggested we have a nice meal at a local eatery. We ended up at Planet Spice, an Indian restaurant which has had great reviews. I ordered the Goan fish curry, which was yumarama. But it went right through me, and our romantic stroll turned into a white-knuckle hobble-race back home to the toilet. It was just as well it wasn't our first date.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Once again, I'm at home enjoying my TLM-free leisure time.

I think one of the secrets to truly enjoying your child-free time is to somehow avoid counting down the minutes to when you'll have to go back to the daycare centre to pick her up again. And another is to stop pressuring yourself to make the most of the free time, and just exist in the blissful knowledge that you are alone for a change.

The first couple of hours were spent trying to decide whether to go for a swim or walk, then going for a walk and wishing I'd chosen the other option. The rest of the time, I've spent reading and writing emails whilst checking the clock at the bottom right corner of the desktop. Sixteen minutes until yoghurt time, thirty-one minutes until TLM-pickup time. Thirty-two minutes until big-toothy-TLM-grin time.

Monday, April 02, 2007

I've been called to perform my civic duty...

I've received a jury summons.

The last time this happened, I was quite excited really, and had half-hoped to be picked for a murder case or something. As it turned out, all I had to do was sit around for three mornings in a row and not get picked.

This time around, I just want to tell the Justice Department that I don't want to do it. I'm far too busy trying to keep up TLM's routine.

The pamphlet included with the summons, says that I'd get paid about $30 per half day, and can claim on childcare. But, tempting as the money might be, it wouldn't be easy getting temporary all-day childcare for such an uncertain period of time - anything from three days to several weeks. Not to mention the disruption to her daily routine...

Besides, I've also got to do time looking after my mum, who's finally out of hospital is now and recuperating at my brother's place.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Lady in the Water

Isn't Bryce Dallas Howard's beauty so very spooky? She really does look like she's from a different world, like Tilda Swinton (who played the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, among other roles). Perhaps it's a "ginger" thing.

Unlike M. Night Shyamalan's other films I've seen, there's no enormous twist at the end of this fairy tale. But that didn't make it any less enjoyable for me.

It's a neat little fairy tale about a water nymph who's been sent to save the world. All she has to do is be seen by the right person, who will then set in motion events which will change the world for the better. But there's a big green warg-like creature whose sole aim is to destroy her, whether she accomplishes her mission or not. Can the quirky inhabitants of the condominium, under whose swimming pool she's been living, save her?

And quirky is really the best word to describe the bunch of misfits who're her designated saviours. Like the young man who is intentionally working out only the right side of his body, the stuttering janitor with a tragic past, the Asian university student who looks like a Thai bar girl and the man whose every digestive embarrassment is fodder for his wife's chit-chat.