Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I woke with a gentle buzzing in my ear, not the annoying get-out-of-bed radio alarm type of buzzing, but a euphoric soothing buzz that reminded me of last night. It was the sound of my husband cutting firewood with his new chainsaw, that I got him for his birthday yesterday. And boy, was he grateful.
Finally, after 7 years of being together, I had managed to get him a present he actually liked. Oh, I had tried really hard to please him, especially in the early years.
For his 30th birthday, I presented my love with a hand-knitted merino wool sweater. It was navy blue chunky-rib with a crew neck and a skull and crossbones protecting the chest. But I never saw him wear it, instead he seemed to prefer the reindeer sweater that his mother got him.
On his 31st birthday, my other half got a computer game. I'd taken quite a while at the shop, trying to decide between the shooting games, the car-crashing games and the sword-and-sorcerer games. I even asked one of those geeky, sun-starved shop assistants for help. After an hour of staring at images of brass-brassiered women, and loin-clothed barbarians, I closed my eyes and plucked one from the shelves. But...I never saw him play it. He did, however, seem to enjoy the PSP his mother got him.
The love of my life's 32nd birthday gift was a voucher for a full-body massage. Surely no-one could resist the appeal of having one's aches and pains rubbed away by firm, experienced hands? It turned out that his masseur reminded him too much of a boy who'd bullied him horribly during his boarding school years. He'd returned even more tense than before he went in. But his mother gave him a voucher to have his hair done by a world-famous-in-New-Zealand stylist, and that man fair strutted home with his new look.
When my dear husband turned 33, I had his name tattooed on my bum. Nope.
One year later, I celebrated my man's birthday with a surprise party. Every single person in his address book was invited. Unfortunately, several of them were people he'd long since lost contact with - because he'd owed them lots of money. The next day, his mother showed up with several of his favourite home-cooked dishes. Guess who got the bigger smile.
For his 35th birthday, I asked my darling man what he wanted for his birthday. "Just get me something small", he'd replied. But when he undid the big golden bow and unwrapped the crinkly red paper to reveal a hacky sack with a smiley face on it, the long-hoped-for smile of delight did not eventuate. But he still wears the cufflinks that my mother-in-law gave him.
I bet you're wondering now how I finally did it. Well, let's just say I went to someone who always seemed to know what he'd really like, and...stole her shopping bags.
The wings were something she brought home from her cousin's birthday party last weekend. I, of course, was "poorly" and stayed at home. But when she and the boy returned from their afternoon announcing "I'n a fairy", I could easily picture TLM fluttering about in the park with similarly winged little girls, cupcake in one hand and a fistful of popcorn in the other.
Of course, getting TLM to take her wings off is something that has to be planned like a military operation - y'know, with manoeuvers and everything. Because if you spring it on her without any strategically timed distractions handy, you're asking for a hell of a tantrum.
Plus, it's so important to hide them properly. Yesterday, TLM spotted them hanging in the hall just as we'd got home in time for her nap. Naptime was delayed by half an hour while I waited for her to finish her tantrum and cool off in the hammock, before I could start her wind-down routine.
I thnk I can understand why little girls find fairies so appealing. They're represented as pretty, dainty, and magical creatures. I don't understand why boys aren't into fairies too.
Monday, May 28, 2007
As the blind vampire circled her Mung Bean regretted that she had not thought to pack a semi automatic weapon and also that she had worn her Jimmy Choos. Most of her shoes were cleverly designed to hide anti-vamp weaponry - holy water, pencil-thin wooden stakes or garlic concentrate - but the Choos had been pure frivolity. Still, being a stylish dresser had never held her back from Slaying before. It wasn't going to stop her now.
The vampire sniffed and circled closer until Mung Bean could almost see the brand name stamped on the frame of his dark glasses. What was the point of all that blind-person paraphernalia? It's not like anyone's going to offer to help the guy across the road or anything. Just look at him - oversized canines, demony eyes and dead-white complexion - it'd be obvious to anyone he's not your ordinary, average blind guy.
She had her hand on the stake inside her coat pocket, waiting for him to make the first move. He seemed to know she wasn't just another scared girl, soon to be a hot drink. He was taking his time.
Then, just as Mung Bean was about to beat him about his ugly face with a roundhouse kick, the vamp seemed to see something behind her, and fled back the way he came. She whipped around to see who the newcomer was and found herself face to face with a full-grown slime demon, dripping and foul-smelling.
"Chuck! Good to see you!".
"Hey, Mung Bean, long time no see. Wassup?"
Mung Bean sighed. "Look, you didn't have to scare off that vamp, I woulda made short work of him. I know how to do my job".
"Not from where I was standing", replied Chuck, "Not in those heels." And he pointed to the heel of her left shoe, which looked like it was on the verge of breaking away from the rest of the shoe.
"Oh man...I only bought these last week!"
She was going to have to shop a lot more carefully from now on.
Ubfortunately, every time I get off the couch to fetch myself a cup of tea, or go to the bathroom to dispose of one, it all comes back to me. My infected knee not only looks as big as the boy's head, it looks like the boy's head after many hours of drinking.
But at least I'm no longer getting the shakes and shivers, and my body temperature is back to normal.
I feel quite fortunate that the boy was willing and able to take a day off work to look after TLM and me - he'd already spent his entire weekend doing that and probably now has a seriously large relaxation deficit. But I wish I didn't have to rely on the boy to help out when I'm sick.
Ideally, I'd have a wide network of unemployed or stay-at-home parent friends who would come by and entertain TLM so I can get on with getting better. I, of course, would repay their kindness with homemade lasagne (well, perhaps something from the supermarket then) when they get sick themselves. We'd pop into each other's homes just to check on each other's well-being and maybe borrow a cup of sugar...
It's probably the antibiotices talking.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I'm all of the above because I have a right knee about the size of the boy's head. Yep, the painful condition which has already afflicted me twice in the last month is paying a return visit. I never really appreciated my knees before, because they really make it not worth wearing a mini skirt, but now that one of them looks like it's suffering from a bad case of elephantiasis, well all I can say is, come back all is forgiven.
If I take painkillers I'll be too out-of-it to go to painting class. If I don't take painkillers, I'll be in too much agony to go to painting class. Either way, I'm going to miss my niece's 3rd birthday party.
Well, at least it's a lovely day outside...
Friday, May 25, 2007
The determinist offers the first line of this story...
Give a person a fish, they'll eat for a day. Give a person a wallet full of money, they'll have an AMAZING party. And that's exactly what I did when Bad Harry handed me a worn leather wallet containing five crinkled 100-dollar bills. I didn't ask questions - I don't have a job and my allowance is stuff all.
I can't remember the last time I had that much money in my hands. There was that time I stole Mrs Chang's jade earrings from the jewellery box she hides under her bed, and sold them to an English tourist for 250 bucks. She never did come after me about those earrings, although sometimes when she came to visit my mother for tea and black bean cakes, I'd catch her giving me a questioning look and pursing her lips.
"Aiya", she would exclaim in high-volume Cantonese, "What are you doing about getting your daughter a husband?"
And then I would roll my eyes and find an excuse to leave the room. If I was lucky, they wouldn't notice me leaving the house.
You can have a lot of fun with 500 bucks. A whole gang of us kids went down to McDonalds and bought tons of Happy Meals to eat and totally took over the playground there. We muscled the little kids out of the way and scared of their mums and dads. It was great. Then Elias said we should gatecrash this party he knew about in Wainui, so we went to the liquor shop and that's the last I saw of the money.
I wasn't expecting to see Bad Harry outside our front door. I usually see him down at Vic's, where he goes for pie and chips when his taxi shift finishes. I had to run to get the door before my mother, who was outside hanging out the washing, heard his knocking. He was here about the money. Apparently I was only supposed to be looking after it for him.
Shit, I didn't know. Someone gives you money, what the hell are you supposed to think but that it's yours?
So anyway, that's why I'm working at his mum's takeaway for the next few weeks.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
It's a bit like a guy buying his wife a car with automatic transmission because he thinks she's not a good enough driver to handle a manual gearbox.
But I can't really blame him. Without going so far as to accept any responsibility for the various ailments my desktop computer and newish laptop have respectively suffered, I can freely admit that my frequent sighs of exasperation were something he could do without.
It arrived today, as a late Mothers Day present. It's slim, it's lightweight and it's elegant. It's got a touchpad instead of a tiny, furry, red knob, and it promises a foolproof (in every sense of the word) computer experience. So far, so good - I've managed to install Office, set up my email account, take some highly unflattering photos of myself (I have crow's feet!) and adjust the clock to local time, all without calling for help. The next steps will be to migrate my entire cyber-life from the two older computers, to this one. Don't hold your breath.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Thanks Cathi, for supplying the first line to this story. It's kind of a first draft and might never be finished, but I had so much fun writing it that I may as well post it up and invite constructive comments. Be gentle. Here goes...
She looked up to see the man staring at her. That familiar warm flush crept up Amber’s neck and over her face. Arms curled around in front of her abdomen to hide the object of his unwelcome gaze. Would last month’s night of drunken debauchery never be allowed to die a natural death?
“Hey – never seen a tattooed woman before?” she snarled, hoping he was the kind of man who was intimidated by displays of aggressive body art.
The man backed away, both hands raised in the traditional gesture of surrender.
Pity, he looked almost handsome and might even be single. Well, perhaps she should have thought of that before she went and got an image of a large, snarling rat engraved onto her belly.
It had been a very long, dry year for Amber. Ever since that morning Kevin left the house for a Red Bull and a steak'n'cheese pie and never came back, she’d spent most evenings moping about the flat trying to figure out what she'd done to cause his permanent departure. Her flashiest heels and slinkiest slipdresses languished in the wardrobe. Her friends despaired.Until, of course, that night last month. It had taken weeks of cajoling, but Amber had finally let herself be dragged out of the house, to attend Melissa’s biker-themed hens night. Whose idea it was, to spend a whole evening in leather and vinyl, lurching from one dive-y bar to the next, she didn't know. None of the other girls seemed to object though - in fact, they seemed positively titillated by the idea.
Clad in skintight black vinyl jeans, vest, biker cap and knee high, Amber looked more like a dominatrix than a woman in charge of a motorcycle. Still, if a get-up like this failed to extract Amber from her shell, then nothing would. Well, except perhaps a few well-mixed cocktails.
Might as well cover her bases.
Apparently they were kicked out of about twenty bars from one end of town to the next, soaring on a wind of sexy invincibility. Men in suits punched each other over them, excited Bogans tried to induce catfights amongst them and bikers - real bikers - thought they'd died and gone to heaven. Apparently the last venue on the itinerary had Costa's Tattoo Parlour. Amber had a very vague recollection of flicking through pages of ink drawings, but thought she'd settled on a monarch butterfly. In the morning she'd found torn bits of paper napkin in her pockets, covered in scrawled telephone numbers and names like "Bazzer", "Scrub" and "Chug". She'd sincerely hoped those scraps of hopeful communication hadn't been reciprocated.
This is fun! I've got months' worth of potential blog posts here!
Now, I'd be the first to admit that I'm not brimming full of story ideas. Otherwise my blog posts wouldn't be mostly about me and TLM. But I don't want to write some confessional piece as a first attempt, because:
1. I won't know any of those people well enough to share personal details with and
2. they might not like me any more, if I do.
So I'm asking you, dear reader, to send me a first line. Any line, as long as it isn't "It was a dark and stormy night", because I think that one's been used before.
Now, the class isn't until July, so don't expect to see a short story from me straight away. But I might decide to post the more interesting-sounding ones...
Monday, May 21, 2007
When I was in my final year at secondary school - the year in which you have to decide whether to go to university or technical college or get a nice job in a bank - I almost enrolled in Horticulture.
May I remind you that I have the horriblest hayfever in the world? It's not even a step up from my previous intention, which was to enrol in Veterinary Science, despite my severe allergy to cats and horses. The latter was understandable - I was mad keen on animals - but the former was a desperate attempt to leave home. I came to my senses just before I sent the accomodation cheque to my allocated hostel, and instead went on to obtain a useless degree in Zoology.
Damn! I must've accidentally published this far-from-finished post when I meant to save a draft. By the time I had completely re-written it, two people had already left comments on my accidental post, so it's kinda too late now to replace it with the intended one. Anyway, if you thought this seemed a little unfinished and go-nowhere, then that's why.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
The people in my painting class ranged from absolute beginners to people who sounded like they knew what they were doing. The latter had an impressive array of obviously well-used tools and even started painting on their canvasses before the tutor had started tutoring. The former left after the first ten minutes, presumably because she felt a little intimidated by the latter.
And where did I fit in?
I was the one who came in lugging my gear in one of those large, pink plastic bags you find in your letterbox, which you're supposed to fill with unwanted used goods so that the collector can sell them for charity.
I was the one who knew what Expressionism was, but didn't have any paper to write on (because I'd absentmindedly left the sketchbook at home).
I was the one who had to bite my tongue when the tutor pronounced Joan Miro's name as "Jean My-ro" (it's Spanish, and should sound more like Juan Mee-roh", but forgot to bring a palate board and had to do all my colour-mixing on the lid of the 6"x4" crayon box.
Still, after the initial feelings of uncertainty and rustiness, I was able to cover my canvas with a few coats of colour and produce a thumbnail of what the finished product might be.
I didn't feel right at home, but perhaps it's just going to take time.
Friday, May 18, 2007
My toddler has recently start throwing food again and it's driving me crazy. I try to make her tasty, nutritious meals, and really hate seeing it all end up on the floor, especially when it's obvious that she's doing it on purpose.
I've tried telling her "No" in a stern voice, but she just laughs at me.
I've tried turning her high chair around to face the wall and ignoring her, but even though the lack of attention upsets her, it doesn't stop her from throwing food at the very next meal.
I've also tried taking her food away as soon as it starts hitting the floor, but this has no effect either (she's probably no longer hungry by then).
What can I do? I'm sick of picking up bits of rice and peas off the floor.
Frustrated of Nappy Valley
In my experience, only one thing has worked so far in stopping one's child from throwing food.
And that is, to take it away from them while they are still eating.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Then I remembered that most of my student acrylic paints have ended up as TLM's finger paintings. And on her clothes, hair and skin.
I also recalled that my last two blank canvasses have since been transformed into portraits of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, respectively, hanging up on TLM's bedroom walls.
And then the list arrived in my inbox and I realised that I'd have to do some concentrated shopping for art supplies.
Like, I'd have to find myself a colour wheel, a colour chart (whatever the heck that is), a new sketchbook (because mine are all full of naked people), new tubes of paint and 3-4 canvasses. It's just as well I still have my colour pencils, erasers, TLM's crayons and the artist's smock which the boy gave me.
Apparently the cost of obtaining all these items is only supposed to cost around thirty bucks. Like hell they are. The canvasses alone would cost more than that, and that's if I were to buy the the cheap-as-dirt made-in-China ones from The Warehouse.
But I've managed to put together most of the stuff I'll need (except for the colour wheel and colour chart) for this weekend. The sack is so big and heavy that there's no way I'll be able to get there without the car.
Oh yes...I'm supposed to arrive with some ideas for paintings as well. Shit.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The latter was my first choice, but I only managed to get on it today because someone else on cancelled out. I've always had a problem with painting that wasn't representational, so I'm hoping this class will help me get in touch with my non-figurative side.
And as for the short story class, I've never actually had a yen to write stories. But I do like writing so it ought to help, right?
A big plus is that it'll get me out of the house and get me baby-free time on Saturday afternoons.
Monday, May 14, 2007
The paracetomol was doing very little to relieve it, and really the only affect it seemed to be having was that I was really drowsy all the time. The Ibuprofen worked much better, but I refused to take if for ages because I'm asthmatic and there's a warning about it on the back of the box.
So anyway, half of my back was feeling really tender; every time I accidentally brushed it against, oh, a puff of air, it hurt like crazy. I've worn a grimace that's lasted for days.
Then the boy decided this "pimple" needed squeezing. I hope you guys aren't eating right now.
But I'm not going into the gory details of what came out of there, mainly because I didn't see anything. But I can tell you that those squeezes hurt like hell. In fact, by the time he'd finished with it, I was blubbering like a baby. I don't remember crying that hard when I gave birth.
And he's going to have to repeat his extractions every evening until it's all gone. So there'll be no cream buns on the snack menu for at least a week.
Like I said in a comment in the previous post, now I understand why Dr House is such a grumpy bastard.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Fortunately, a course of antibiotics cleared it up nicely and those toddlers at the pool only had to contend with the sight of me in a swimsuit that was decomposing from the effects of pool-cleaning chemicals.
Just three weeks later, the same thing has happened to a spot on my back. The whole right side of my back is now so tender it's keeping me up at nights, so I that can't just blame my sleeplessness on the feverish child down the hall. Who knew a pimple on my back could turn me into a little old lady, hobbling around and wincing every time a breeze brushes over me?
Apparently I'm a little bit run down.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
It's an Australian mockumentary about a guy whose job is to look after those portable toilets which are so ubiquitous at just about every big outdoor event you've ever been to (you know, the kind that people lose their wedding rings in, the kind that petrolheads set fire to at the car races, the kind that well-dressed snobs throw up into....).
People he meets at parties suddenly spot a distant guest they just have to greet, once they find out what Kenny does for a living. His dad keeps trying to set him up for interviews at other jobs - any job other than the one he's got as an un-glorified toilet-cleaner. His ex-wife rings him at the most inconvenient times with their son's discipline problems.
But Kenny likes his life. And he's not a thicky either - his line "there's a smell in here that'll outlast religion" (while he's cleaning a loo from the inside) is good enough to...um, dine on...for years to come. And he's such a lovely guy too.
The movie is so well made, and the acting so convincing, that I didn't even realise that it's all fiction until the end when I saw the acting credits. Which makes the movie even better than when I thought it was for real.
If I had a rating system for films, I'd give this one a 10/10.
What wasn't so normal was that she hardly left the hammock all afternoon. She was having one of those moods where nothing will make her happy - not cookies, not watered-down juice, not drawing on her clothes with felt pens, nothing. So I asked whether she wanted to get back into her hammock.
After a while, the grizzling came back. Did she want some dried apricots? "Okay". Some juice? "Okay". Some nashi pear? "Okay". Some BoohBah? "Okay". (Yep, she can watch DVDs from her hammock - that's the beauty of having a plasma TV screen up on the wall.)
TLM was "Okay" with having dinner too, but it turned out to she was only "Okay" with playing with dinner i.e. spooning macaroni cheese into the fruit salad and vice versa.
When I realised how hot she was to the touch, I thought she might want to go to bed early (like, an hour early, 5.30pm early). "Okay".
It was certainly a refreshing change to "No", but I'd rather she didn't have to be sick to be compliant.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
So, I've decided to do an evening class.
I'd actually thought about it in the past but the couch had always waylaid me. But last night, I talked about it with the boy and he thought it was a great idea. It would be less scary than committing to a full-on course of formal study, but better for my mind than watching The Biggest Loser week after week.
There's a slight problem in that it's too late to enrol in most evening classes, and many of them start too early in the evening for the parent-tag to take place. Still, I could always go to life drawing in the meantime.
I'd just have to hide my stick-figure drawings until my ability gets back to a reasonable standard...
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Ode to Cheeky Monkey (TLM's chimp soft toy, sung to the tune of the Bellybutton Song on our MagIQ DVD)
Cheeky Monkey, Cheeky Monkey,
When you wash him, he's not funky.
He's your favourite so-oft toy...
Swing Low, Sweet TLM-mobile
Swing low, sweet TLM-mobile
Comin' for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet TLM-mobile
Comin' for to carry me home.
I looked over ***town, and what did I see
Comin' for to carry me home.
Lions and tigers and chimpanzees*
Comin' for to carry me home.
(*we live near the zoo. There are 3 more verses but they don't get any better)
It's a long way without a buggy (Sung to It's a long way to Tipperary)
It's a long way without a buggy.
It's a long way to home.
It's a long way without a buggy.
And we don't even live in Rome.
That's why we've got a buggy.
So we can get there.
It's a long long way without a buggy,
Especially from here.
Hey, I never said the songs were any good!
What made it so much worse, was receiving a $170 speeding ticket a month later, because driving home on the 100km/hr motorway I was a bit late slowing down for that 80km/hr stretch of road in the middle of it.
* If you don't know, it's a mall where every shop (except the cafe, which is hideously over-priced) sells for up to 70% discount. It's mostly factory seconds and left-overs from previous seasons.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Sometimes I'll take the test, and do astonishingly well in the Calculate section but not so well in the Memory section. Other times, my Calculate score is shameful, but my Memory seems to have made a comeback.
In part, this is to do with which sets of tests I get. But I think it's even more influenced by how tired I am, how loud the television is and whether I can hear TLM having a nightmare in the next room.
It makes sense, really, but I'd never realised how much difference it makes. So I suppose the idea of studying in the evenings might not be a very good one eh?
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
The Lonely Planet Story
But the library book I've been reading lately is Once While Travelling - the Lonely Planet story, by Tony and Maureen Wheeler. Mostly told from Tony's perspective, it starts how he met and married Maureen and takes you through 20-odd years of building what's become a vast travel-publishing empire. It appealed to me because most of my travels were aided by Lonely Planet guidebooks, and I'd always wanted to become a travel writer. Despite the alleged hardships, I can't help feeling that theirs was the perfect life, because even having kids didn't stop them in their unbeaten tracks.
The story isn't all in chronological order, which can be confusing at times, but it's all interesting. Tony talks about the times when Lonely Planet was on the brink of financial collapse, as well as the time when his marriage was too. There is even a chapter on what it's like to be a guide book writer, which I found both enlightening and off-putting. Having read this chapter, I don't think I'd want to be one (I'd rather be like Bill Bryson - sort of a roving personality - than spend all my travelling time rushing around checking facts).
Still, reading about the Wheelers' adventures makes me quite wistful.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces
When a major new bookshop opens in town, I want to go and see whether they stock anything in particular that isn't already available in the exiting shops. So when I went to the new Borders shop, I was expecting to come out of there with some new American book.
What I did buy was a copy of Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which is so old I probably could have found a cheap copy at one of the many second-hand bookshops. Still, I wanted to read it because I'm quite interested in the universality of myths (plus it was mentioned many times in articles about Buffy), so I bought it. I haven't gotten that far into it yet, but at the moment I'm enjoying the the stuff relating particular Greek myths with psychiatric conditions e.g. the infamous Oedipus Complex.