Friday, August 31, 2007

the voice of authority

elizaf's latest post reminds me of a similar experience I had (though it didn't take part in the toilets of a gay nightclub).

Last Sunday, before TLM came down with the unidentified virus that has made her feverish all week, I took her to a park near the beach. (For some reason, the weather in August is often really lovely, then spring happens and it all turns to shit again.) For an extra-special treat, I'd bought us a gourmet ice cream in a cone.

We were sitting on the edge of the gravel pit (which is actually a more fun play area than it sounds), digging into the boysenberry and strawberry scoops with our respective spoons, when a little boy a few feet away started to kick gravel towards us.

TLM wasn't bothered, but I really hate getting dust in my ice cream. So I gave the naughty boy one of my glares. My glares work on TLM and they work on the boy, but unfortunately not on this boy. In fact, they seemed to encourage him to kick harder and with more determination.

A spray of dust hit my face, and without thinking I suddenly barked "No kicking gravel into people's faces!!! Or I'll tell your mum and I don't care who she is!!!"

Immediately I remembered that we were surrounded by respectable folks who wouldn't have appreciated the sound of a mum losing her temper. But then I caught the eye of a fellow mother seated a bit further down, and saw her smile with approval.

You don't have to be meek if you're a mum.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


If I can't even remember to show up to see a lunar eclipse (all I had to do was go out my front door), then I guess I have no excuse for complaining about the lack of exciting things to blog about eh?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Im a bad, bad mum

When TLM gets a little snotty around the nostrils, or becomes unable to keep down even a tiny bit of water, or can't sleep at night because she's burning up, I worry. Of course I do, because I don't want her to suffer and don't always know what's actually wrong with her.

If I were a better mum, that would be my only worry. But when TLM gets sick, often my first worry is that she's not going to be able to attend daycare, playgroup or other social event, because she's sick and possibly infectious. If she has to miss daycare, then I mourn for my child-free time - the only time I get to paint or write. If she has to miss playgroup or a playdate, that's the morning's toddler-entertainment gone.

So if, when I'm an old lady in need of company, grown-up TLM resents having to sit around the house all day making me cups of tea, I won't really have an excuse to grumble.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

All writed out

I've been sitting here staring at the monitor for the last ten minutes, and I can't think of anything to write.

It might well be because I spent abut three solid hours today, working on the presentation first draft of my short story - the one I had to totally rewrite after the tutor told me my first first draft was really a plot summary for a novel.

Either that, or my life is just too boring right now.

p.s. the good news is that I now have a completed first draft to present to the next class :-)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Eyes as blue as a bottle of Bombay Sapphire...

Three main things I learned in tonight's short story writing class -

1. My first draft is not so much a short story, as a novel in 1700 words.

Apparently the plot holes in my story are merely a sign that I'm trying to fit too much in. The tutor suggested that I take one small portion my story and turn that into a short story. The portion she mentioned, in it's current form, only takes up a single paragraph, barely two sentences. Boy, have I got a lot of work to do before next Wednesday...

2. My metaphors and similes are about as fresh and effective as a sheet of single-ply toilet paper after a long night of beer and over-spiced curries.

3. I may be better suited to b-grade humour writing, than Katherine Mansfield-type of thing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

They called him the black Beatle

I'd been searching for my Earth, Wind and Fire CD, which I'd bought on holiday in the States after hearing their songs at a party in Seattle (hi Mike!).

I haven't been able to find it, but I did find my Stevie Wonder compilation. I remember spending hours doing housework to songs like "For once in my life" and "Ma Cherie Amour" (which isn't as pathetic as it sounds...I think).

It made a nice change from Bach (relaxing music for helping TLM to nap when she's in the hammock) and the Wiggles Movie soundtrack. In fact, TLM really got into it, once she got over the shock of seeing me bob up and down and shake my head (that is, dance).

If I'd known she'd enjoy it so much, I'd have played a lot less Wiggles.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

What the Fairy Godmother saw

I thought I'd post this bit of writing I did during last Wednesday's class. I was trying to imagine Cinderella's story from the Fairy Godmother's point of view. We only had 10 minutes to write it though...

She was a busy woman, a very busy woman. Long years passed without a single thought of her god-daughter Fidelma.

And then, one night, after she had expelled several wicked magicians for plotting to kill the king, she felt a twinge.

It was more of a light tingle really, at a spot between her eyes, which could only mean that Fidelma needed her help. She had almost forgotten the poor girl. Fidelma was just a wee babe the last time she'd seen her. She must be, what, at least 15 years old by now.

A rush of guilt came upon her, and she made haste to go to Fidelma's side.

"My darling god-daughter," she exclaimed, "I must apologise for neglecting you all these years." She had been about to ask how she was, but the answer was all around her. Fidelma was covered in smudges of ash and clothed in the most unattractive rags. The room they stood in was obviously in the servants' quarters, hardly where she'd expected to materialise.

"Oh dear" she sighed.

Friday, August 17, 2007

2 terrible

I reckon TLM's terrible twos has started. Yeah I know, she's been 2 for less than a week. But maybe she's advanced? So far, I've noticed:

- The nap-resistance started a few weeks ago.
- She tries to climb everything, whether it's the high chair or a dining chair or a climbing wall (though she doesn't get far with that). She's getting the hang of ladders too.
- The baby hammock has finally been retired. When she started to sit right up in it, I resolved to never leave her alone in it unless I was sure she'd be fast asleep while I was gone. Now that she's able to climb into it (while it's hanging on a low storage hook), it's time to put the whole thing away.
- She won't eat bananas, kiwifruit or oranges unless she can eat them the way I do i.e not already peeled and cut into little pieces. Even if she can't actually manage it.
- And she's saying "no" a heck of a lot.

All the above are probably just the start of a whole new era of hair-tearing, right?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The eye of the beholder

At last night's short story writing class, we discussed the different points of view that can be used in telling a story e.g in first-, second- and third-person, or whether the narrator is the main character, a minor character or an uninvolved onlooker.

I'm still not 100% clear on the difference between telling a story from a minor character's point of view and using first-person, and telling it from a minor character's view but using second-person. So I'll just use "I" if I can identify with the character well, and "he" or "she" if I can't.

The most fun exercise of the evening was to, in groups, attempt to retell the tale of Cinderella from the points of view of various minor characters e.g. the stepmum, Cinderella's dad, etc, and from the points of view of very minor characters e.g. one of the mice who was transformed by the fairy godmother into a footman. I can see why Gregory Maguire has made a career out of it (although I think his results could have been less boring).

And our homework this week is to come up with a first draft for a short story. I've got an idea for one right now, but I won't tell you what it is in case you steal my idea and turn it into a best-selling novel and don't even give me credit for it.

High definition

The boy recently started buying HD (high definition) DVDs. Apparently HD DVDs look so much better than the normal kind, but then he's got better than 20/20 vision and I don't. So last night he showed me a smidgeon of 300, which he'd been itching to see ever since the news that the graphic novel was being made into a film.

And really, I didn't notice any difference between what I saw and what I usually see. It might be a non-geek, girlie thing, but I'm far more interested in a film's plot, themes, characters and acting than in whether it looks as good from three feet away as it does from ten. Or it may be because my eyesight is slightly deficient, and I'm the perfect customer for a low-quality tv set.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Youth and beauty

It's so unfair. TLM has another cold, this time with a temperature and perhaps an ear infection too). She's sleep-deprived because she woke early from her nap after maybe 20 minutes.

But she still looks as fresh as a daisy (albeit a snotty one), while I'm the one with blood-shot eyes.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


TLM is two today. Although she still had a slight nasal drip, we went ahead with the birthday party anyway. She seemed to enjoy being the only girl in the group of toddlers, and when her three year old girl cousin arrived there was even more excitement. All that bopping and dressing up in Dora skirts - I think the boys kinda dug this wilder, older woman.

And there was a surprisingly small amount of mess too. What a pity we forgot to bring our camera...(though I did get some pics on the phone camera).

Thursday, August 09, 2007

making it up

I do enjoy my writing classes; the tutor is both helpful and approachable, and my classmates are friendly and supportive.

It's hard work though, and for some reason I always feels uncomfortably warm there. It's possible that they've got the central heating on too high. Or, something about effort of creating believable characters and putting them into believable (yet interesting) situations - in public - is bringing out hot flushes in me. I haven't had to deal with self-consciously red faces since I stopped drinking, and it's not something I miss.

But I digress, as they say. Last night we were shown a general structure for a short story, and our exercise was to brainstorm a story around a single main character, along those guidelines and working in pairs. My character seemed destined to end up in a mother-daughter relationship type of story, but by the end of the session she'd nearly become involved in a fight with a P-addled almost-son-in-law.

That's what collaboration's all about I suppose.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

TV brings out the cutest in her

At the risk of being judged a bad mum for allowing TLM to watch TV, I'm going to say that without television she would have fewer avenues of displaying cute behaviour.

I went all gooey when I arrived unnoticed at her daycare last Friday, and watched as she put a teddy bear to bed in a little cot, bent down to kiss it night-night, and tucked it in under a crocheted blanket.

But just as cute is when she's watching the Wiggly Safari DVD and pretending to be a ballerina butterfly when the Butterflies song comes on. And I just love it when we're watching In the Night Garden together, and during the opening scene where a young child watches his parent's index finger make little circles on his palm, TLM sticks her hand out so I can do the same.

The downside to the speed with which TLM learns from what she watches though, is that I have to be extra vigilant about keeping her away from the advertising. There's no way I want her demanding a Barbie Princess for Christmas.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Murphy's Law strikes again

As you might remember, I was quite undecided about whether to throw TLM a birthday party, as we'd spent most of the winter so far, sneezing, coughing, vomiting, or incapacitated by cellulitus.

Then we struck an illness vacation - three glorious weeks in which no one was the slightest bit unwell - which ignited a small flame of hope, enough that we planned a small toddlers' party for this Saturday and a zoo visit for Sunday.

But Murphy's Law has struck again. Just days away from what should be a memorably fun weekend, the boy is suddenly lurching about in an unhealthy manner and TLM is producing her own snot farm.

Do you think they'll be fighting fit in just 5 days?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

One of Meez

Make Tea Not War seems pretty good at finding fun time wasters on the Internet. She's got a Meez and now so have I.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Where the cool kids hang

During yesterday's child-free morning, I set off to find a suitable cafe in town in which to practice my people-watching. But at 9.30 in the morning there didn't seem an awful lot of coffee-drinking going on, and the streets were bereft of potential story characters.

In the meantime I nearly bought 2 pairs of flat-heeled, knee high boots. There are winter sales on everywhere, you see, and I've been feeling boot-desire since about May. Never mind that, under the ubiquitous mummy-wear jeans I'm always in, you can't tell whether I'm wearing knee-high boots or socks and roman sandals. I just wanted some, and now I had time to look for them.

What stopped me from actually purchasing a pair, was the well-known fact that one should always buy shoes late in the day, as this allows for a bit of swelling in one's feet. So I asked to put them on hold, and returned to my search for a well-peopled cafe.

Finally I walked into a trendy place at the end of the street which is apparently a popular student hang-out. I've no idea why anyone would name an eaterie after Fidel Castro, but the odd name certainly hadn't put off the clientele. It was packed. The more recent arrivals were trying to order lattes and espressos while pressed into the tiny corridor in front of the counter, preventing the early birds from sauntering stylishly between the rear seating area and the front bit where all the exhibition photos were hanging.

But what a place for discretely observing the in-crowds! The girl at the next table visually screamed "art student", from the squeaky clean dreads to the op-shop clothes, to the designer boots which made a lie of her image as a poor but creative free-spirit.

Actually, she wasn't wearing designer boots. My mind had simply wandered back to those shoe store sales..

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Last night's writing class was so much fun. We each had to pick a person we'd people-watched previously, and make up a whole life for him or her - educational background, relationship history, mental and physical health, even the first time they had sex! Then, in groups of three, we had to devise a story which involved our characters.

The most enlightening thing for me was that, whenever we were stuck with our story development, it only took a few well-thought questions from the tutor to get it going again. Like, what's my beanie-wearing middle-aged Indian salesman doing talking to that blond hippie chick, and how the hell did the elderly ex-professor get involved in all this?

You know, I think I really can write a whole short story.