Sunday, September 30, 2007

The reunion

I think that the ideal school reunion would be one in which all the nerdy students, the ones outside the circle of popularity, show up ten or twenty years later as highly successful members of society, leading exciting and glamorous lives. And the once-popular students can't make it because they're in prison for some spectacularly pathetic crime.

Last night I went to a reunion of a class of '77; the last time I saw any of these people, we were (mostly) innocent, fresh-faced 13-year-olds. In hindsight, I really should have done a bit of swatting beforehand because, of the 16 people there, I could only identify 4 or 5.

Everybody knew who I was right away. It probably helped that I was the only Chinese in our class. On the other hand, I couldn't remember M. who was the only Samoan. I still don't remember him. And two people I strained to recognise turned out to be complete strangers after all (spouses of my former classmates).

The boy I'd had a crush on went on to become an artist and movie scene-maker; the most popular girl in the class - because she had boobs - went on to become a truck-driver; the class bad-boy ended up in and out of prison; and our long-haired activist teacher became a politician. And, as usual, people said I look exactly the same as I did back then.

As everyone around me the recalled amusing anecdotes about the good old days, I started to wish I hadn't been such a goody-two-shoes. I also wished I'd had a better memory. To be honest, these people had ceased to exist for me after our last day of term. So I was amazed that anyone could still remember the class bad-boy throwing a desk at our teacher (then a bit of a hippie, now a politician), who the class clowns were and who spent lunchtimes snogging on the class couch.

I also wished that this reunion had taken place about ten years ago, when I was full of exciting travel stories and living a much more interesting life. Because 30 years ago I was living a damned quiet life. And here I am, back where I was then.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Cookie monster

The stuff I helped sell at last weekend's cake stall looked so good, so professional, that I felt like such a culinary failure in comparison. I'm the one who once made a sponge cake and forgot to put the sugar in, the one who didn't have enough beef for her casserole and made up for it in pork.

But today I decided it was time to make gingerbread men. It seems such a waste to have bought those expensive cookie cutters, and only use them on playdough. I also thought TLM might enjoy helping me mix the dough, cut the cookies and taste the results.

She was great at mixing time. But she kept trying to toss in extra ingredients while I was already onto the knead'n'cut phase. Then she wouldn't get away from the hot oven while they were baking. I was pleased that she seemed to like them, but while I was cooking her lunch she kept sneaking up to the kitchen table and taking the box of cookies away (though she hasn't yet worked out how to open it).

In the end I had to sit her in front of Dora, just to give myself a break from preventing scalds and over-full tummies.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Running the lurgy gauntlet

It's bad enough when TLM seems susceptible to every bug going around, but you also get advance warnings of whatever's doing the rounds in the schools, preschools and daycare centres - that's just extra stress I could do without.

Last week it was the gastroenteritis scare. I crossed my fingers and so far TLM's tummy has been okay.

This week it's chicken pox, with one of the daycare kids already quarantined at home.

When TLM had the worst post-nap screamout of all time today, I was a bit concerned. Usually the offer of tiny teddy biscuits is enough to cheer her up, but today I had to resort to ice cream. And that only worked until she ran out. Then I noticed the little pink spots on her temples. I was on the phone by then, and my friend (an ex-nanny) reminded me of the symptoms of chicken pox as TLM screamed and cried and went red in the face.
I worried that it might be the start of the pox.

But she quietened down once I put a Dora DVD on, and soon afterwards the little red spots disappeared. I think she's the only person I know who gets spotty when she's angry.

Monday, September 24, 2007

cuddly toys extreme

The boy has found a site selling very...interesting soft toys. If you're after a pair of conjoined twin teddies, or an alien couple with...ahem...anatomically correct girl- and boy- bits, then look no further.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Is this how it starts?

The word "no" has become one of TLM's favourite words (the other being "mine"). It can get really confusing sometimes - I'll ask her whether she wants to have noodles, she'll say "no", then get upset when I put the noodles back in the fridge.

So tonight when she's alternately banging her fork against her bowl and trying to prong a piece of pear, I ask whether she's done eating.


But I take her food away anyhow, because I know better.

"I know you said no", I tell her, "but you really mean yes".

Sound familiar, hmmm?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Grim Fairytale

We just finished watching Pan's Labyrinth - at last,a bloggable movie.

It's about a young girl whose life has taken a bad turn. Her new stepfather is every woman's nightmare - an arrogant, violent, fascist military officer - and her mother's pregnancy has become life-threatening. Then Ofelia finds out that she is supposed to be a reincarnation of the princess of the underworld, and must complete 3 tasks to prove her worthiness.

This is basically a fairy tale, but it's not a children's story. The magical creatures could have been extras in the horror, Silent Hill, and there's just enough blood and torture to keep things really dark.

I can't say I enjoyed every minute; watching a man's face being smashed in like a KFC mashie wasn't fun, and neither was the nail-pulling. But it was a bloody good story.

Actually, it's like a non-cute variation on Labyrinth.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A reason for being

Glomgold tagged me for a meme, of which the big question is - why do I blog?

The answer is really quite simple. I wanted to be like Carrie in Sex and the City, posting thought-provoking snippets about life as a single woman in her 30's. The only difference was that I don't much look like Sarah Jessica Park, or live in a big city, or have 3 fabulous girlfriends with whom I attend fashionable parties, and no-one would pay me to write anything. Oh yes, and I'm not single.

So I settled for a free form of vanity publishing.

The reason I keep blogging is also quite simple. As long as I feel like writing for other people, and as long as there seem to be half a dozen or so people willing to read my blog, then I'll keep doing it. Also, a big tick next to the word community. It really does feel like I'm in a wee cyber-village full of fellow bloggers trying to make sense of their lives through words and pictures.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A couple of non-dull moments

The first non-dull thing that happened this week was that I accidentally started a fire.

It happened just before I was due to pick The Little Madam up from daycare, and I'd just put on some pasta in case she stayed awake long enough to have lunch at home. While it simmered away, I made myself comfortable with a book of Harlan Ellison short stories, a mass of cheap 'n' cheerful cushions and the reading light turned on full-bore. When I caught a whiff of something burning, I checked the pot on the stove - nope, this was one time I hadn't forgotten to put water in the saucepan.

Only when I headed back to my comfy reading spot, did I notice that one of the rays on the smiley-face sun cushion was stuck to the reading light bulb and was rapidly turning black. Worse, it was emitting a foul chemical odour.

I whipped the cushion away from the hot bulb, took it outside and snipped off the burning ray. It continued to burn and melt in the rain, sort of like how a chicken continues to run about even after it's been beheaded.

It was time to go pick up TLM, but once we got home I had to have the door and window open the rest of the day just to make the place habitable again.

The second non-dull thing
that happened this week is something that probably would've happened sooner or later, and perhaps it's surprising that it wasn't sooner.

I went out to get the washing in, you see; it was such a beautiful day and so calm that I didn't bother to leave a shoe at the edge of the doorway in case a gust of wind slammed the door on me. The thing about the back door is that it locks automatically. TLM was playing inside, and after I went outside she decided to play shut-the-door.

If any of my neighbours had been home at the time, they would have heard a frantic voice cry "No!", followed by a door slam and then, the sweet sound of childish laughter.

Fortunately I found someone who was home who let me use her phone to call the boy (who probably didn't mind much having to leave work an hour early to rescue me).

The good thing was that I didn't really know this neighbour, but by the time the boy got home we'd had a really nice chat.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bob on the brain

The last few nights I haven't slept that well. I keep waking up in the night with the theme tune to Bob the Builder, going in my head. And when that isn't playing, I'm mentally going over the details on the cake stall I (and my fellow daycare fundraising parents) have been organising for this Saturday.

Most mornings the boy has informed me of the freight-train noised that have been emitting from my mouth every night. This makes me feel terribly guilty until he starts doing it to me too.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New obsessions

FYI, these are The Little Madam's latest favourite things:

1. animal biscuits - these beast-shaped biscuits with the neon-bright icing on one side, look just like the ones I used to love as a kid, but smaller. I bought 'em for TLM on a whim, and now she whines for them whenever I offer something relatively undesirable, like a fruit digestive or mini choc chip biscuit.

2. the high-summer sleeping bag that she sleeps in whenever she's sick with high temperatures. It's bright blue and covered in cartoon animals. She can be found clutching it every night as she winds down for sleep, although she's already in another, warmer sleeping bab. This morning she took it to daycare with her; I only hope it hasn't ended up in the water-play basin.

3. her Nana-quilt is still well-loved, though thankfully TLM has stopped trying to put it under her bum when she's in her high chair or on the ride-on Pooh-mobile.

4. strawberries - stuff the "buy local" ethic. If we have to import 'em all the way from Australia, then we'll do it by gosh because sometimes it's the only thing that'll stop the whinging.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Spring cleaning

I've been Spring cleaning - not because it's Spring, but because I'm aware that if we want to sell this house (which we will, one day, when we get around to it) then it's got to have no broken or dirty bits.

It's hard to do proper cleaning for two main reasons: one is that I don't enjoy cleaning, and anything I don't enjoy feels difficult; the other is that The Little Madam tends to get overly interested in the bucket of soapy water/filthy rag, so doing it while she's awake is really inefficient, but on the other hand there's no way I'll be doing anything un-fun while she's asleep.

One day I tried removing the grime from the wall underneath the bay window in the master bedroom. I ended up using a toothbrush. If you want a bit of advice on wallpaper, here it is - don't buy textured wallpaper that looks like billions of pixel-sized tiles, because the dirt gets trapped in the grout-y bits. Do you want to end up cleaning your walls with a toothbrush?

I don't understand why walls get so dirty in the first place. We don't draw on them or kick balls against them. Being vertical, you'd think that dirt would just skim down walls and end up on the floor. Does anyone know whether Teflon make wall coverings?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Where to next?

Well, last night was the last writing class. Most of us got to read our stories out loud in front of everyone else and ask for comments, including me.

I was a bit worried, because I've got a cold and didn't want to be spluttering my germie germs all over the classroom. But as it turned out, my main problem was that I read too fast because I was so nervous.

On the other hand, everyone seemed to like my story - at least, no-one said anything negative about it. The tutor was pleased with it too, though she seemed to be pleased with all of the finished stories.

So what now?

I was going to enter it into a short story competition run by a national paper, but the deadline's tomorrow and I don't have any money to get it couriered to their office. What a lame excuse eh?

But wait, there's more. There's another competition being run by a non-profit publication, with a much gentler deadline (the end of this month). The prizes are a lot less generous, but since it's fairly low-profile (I've never heard of it) then maybe I'll have less competition. (I might even post it on this blog, who knows?)

And then...there's a writers' group I may join, and the rest of my classmates seemed keen to set up an online writers' group for just us. And there's always the possibility of taking another evening class or correspondence course or something.

Or I could just go back to painting for a bit.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Learning by writing

I've learned a few things since I started my writing class (the last one is tomorrow, sob...).

One is that a thesaurus is a very, very good thing.

Another is that I can't easily write serious emotional stuff. This shouldn't have surprised me, since I can't talk it either.

But I can do levity.

And I've gained a new appreciation for any writer, no matter how crappy I think his or her books are, who can get published.

FYI, I have almost finished my short story - the one I've been writing for class. The tutor really liked my penultimate draft, and hopefully the changes I made for the final draft actually improve it.

zombie apocalypse


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Thanks, onscreen, for finding this quiz.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hello, Kitty

It's assuring to know that, even though she still can't resist the frilly pink dress at her daycare, she'll also get excited about dressing up as a jaguar.

Another thing she's excited about is the merry-go-round. She went on one today and looked like she was in toddler-heaven.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ever so slightly masochistic

I used to suffer terribly from impossibly tight muscles around my neck and shoulders. It was probably due to poor posture, because as soon as I stopped spending 8 hours per day hunched over a computer monitor, my neck started to look noticeably longer.

Anyway, for a few months during that time, I used to make weekly visits to a Chinese masseuse who did business nearby. Although she was an extremely petite woman (about my height, but half as wide), her fingers could've cracked walnuts. For $70 I would get an hour of pounding and poking, often so hard and deep it literally brought tears to my eyes.

You would think perhaps, that a massage this painful might well be the last one. But I kept going back every week for more of the same. I did it because, somehow, I knew that it was a good pain. But even now, I hesitate to say this to people in case they think I'm a raving masochist.

These days my muscles aren't quite as knotted, but I've been reminded of the Chinese masseuse because of last night. Last night was when I brought my story into class, to be ripped to shreds. (Other people's stories got torn here and there a bit too.)

It kinda hurt to be given a long list of what's wrong with my literary baby. But it was a good hurt.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Six of one, half a dozen of the other

I spent my child-free time this afternoon looking for a Fathers Day present for the boy. It wasn't as hard as I'd expected - within about 20 minutes of arriving at the shopping precinct I'd found a nice piece of dark greenstone carved into the shape of a whale tail.

So the rest of the time I was trying to decide whether to buy a bigger day-to-day handbag which my nice notebook* will fit into, or a smaller notebook which will fit into my existing bag. Either option could cost the same - $15 (if I stick to sale items in the cheaper shops, anyway). Or maybe next time in town I'll just get one of each.

* I'm talking about stationery here, not my MacBook. And I'll be using the notebook for recording all those wonderful story/painting ideas I'll be having while I'm at the park with TLM or whatever.