Bits and pieces

I’ve not been posting much this week as it’s been quite busy for me. I’ve been acting in my boss’s job for this week and will be for the next couple of months. Part of acting in a manager type role is attending meetings and I’ve sure been doing that this week while trying to get my head around doing a different role.

I’ve also had to do my job this week until my replacement starts next week. In addition to that I’ve had one and a half days of workshops and I only work four days a week. Fortunately there’s been no big crises so I’ve been able to manage.

I’m also going away to the riverland this weekend for a wedding. My sister was going to come over and stay with JJ but we decided it would be easier on her (and I thought on my house) if I took JJ over there. So tomorrow I’m going to a birthday party in the morning, then doubling back to do a two hour drive to my sister’s and a two hour drive back here. I plan on getting an early night tonight.

The reason I’m dropping JJ off at my sister’s is that I’m going to a wedding in the riverland on Saturday evening and it’s a kid-free zone. I can’t wait.

And if you’ve read this far you deserve some gossip. I went out on a date last night. We met on one of those internet sites. He’s a bit older than I would normally go for but he doesn’t look it. We met at a pub in town and had a couple of drinks. The conversation flowed pretty well. He texted me today and said he enjoyed our chat last night and he’d like to see me next week. After some more texting we’ve arranged to meet for dinner next week.

I feel a bit ambivalent at this stage. He’s nice enough but I didn’t feel a ‘spark’ with him. Should I feel a spark, or is it something that can develop? In analysing my past relationships and crushes, when I’ve felt that spark it’s quite often developed into nothing except heartbreak on my part. So this time I’m going to persist as long as it feels right and just see what happens.

You probably shouldn’t let your child watch ‘Matilda’ just before they begin school

On Saturday I had some sort of gastro. I wasn’t well at all. Consequently JJ had to pretty much fend for himself while I lay comatose in a horizontal position as I couldn’t sit up. I just had to get up and get him food every now and again.

He watched more videos than normal this day, including the beginning of a movie on television  – Matilda, a story by Roald Dahl.

For those not familiar with the story, Matilda is a very clever little girl who learns she has some special powers. Her family are really comically atrocious. Her dad buys old cars, does them up really cheaply and really badly and sells them for a profit. Her mum just plays bingo and her brother is his mum and dad’s clone.

Matilda starts school and, as everything else in the story, situations and characters are exaggerated. Miss Trunchbull, the headmistress is abominable and in the real world she would never get away with throwing kids across the school yard, or swinging them by their pigtails and letting them go like a discus.

About half an hour or so into the movie as Miss Trunchbull was really gathering momentum with her fierceness, I looked over at JJ hunched up in a chair. I asked him if he was okay and he said he was really scared.

I immediately turned off the tv and told him that it was make believe and that his school will be nothing like that.

In retrospect, knowing the story of Matilda I shouldn’t have let him watch it. He’s already expressed a concern about starting school. He told me the other day that he wants to stay in childcare and not go to school. He’s also recently told me that he wants to start school at the same time as his mate who’s going to the same school, but not until a term later.

When I was telling a friend about his concerns she said to really familiarise him with his new environment before he starts so that when he does start it won’t be so scary. He’s been at the same childcare for nearly three years now and he’s one of the oldest kids there and so, like most of us, he doesn’t want to change something that’s familiar and nice.

I hadn’t really thought about it before but my friend is absolutely correct. I’ll speak to the school to see what they offer with regards to transition from kindergarten/childcare to primary school and perhaps we’ll start riding the bike over there again so I can say things like, ‘This is where you’ll play at lunchtime,’ ‘This is where you’ll go to the toilet,’ etc etc.

Actually, I’ll be the one who’s a dribbling mess on that first day and I’ll be the one who needs consoling.

I’ve been cleaning out my stuff from university

Last weekend I sat in my spare room and went through all my study notes, readings and assignments from my university degree that I finished six years ago. As you can probably tell I have some trouble throwing things out. I did keep one notebook from a subject I particularly enjoyed which I’m glancing through now.

The subject was called Writing Lives which I did in 1998, and it was about writing and reading biographies and autobiographies. For my spoken presentation I presented about personal homepages on the web. Even before blogs lifted off the ground I was fascinated by people putting personal stuff up on the internet for all to see.

I found some personal homepages on Yahoo and they still exist – probably not the ones I focused on but people still do it the non blog way.

I do wonder in years to come if our blogs will still exist somewhere online. I know the National Library of Australia is archiving some blogs. They’ve archived Loobylu and I’m sure they will archive others of some note. The more ordinary ones might get lost in the ether never to be seen again.

I think all blogs are a great historical reference and for somone in 100 years time to look back and read them would be an invaluable source of information about anything blog writers are writing about in our society and culture.

Apart from letters sent via snail mail in the past and people’s written journals there’s been nothing like blogs as a source of social history ever before. Being able to search online is much easier than finding old letters and journals and trying to decipher the writing.

I’ve got a quote in my journal that I wrote while studying my Writing Lives subject from a book called ‘The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in a Electronic Age’ by Sven Birkerts. I haven’t got the actual book in front of me but this should be word for word from page 118:

‘The printed word is something we’re moving away from, by choice or societal compulsion. This isn’t the first such shift in our history. In Greece, in the time of Socrates, several centuries after Homer the dominant oral culture was overtaken by the writing technology. In Europe in the late 15th century when Gutenberg invented movable type. In both cases the long-term societal effects were overwhelming, as they will be for us.’

Personally I love the printed word and I still read a hell of a lot, both newspapers and books, but I read a lot online as well. But the question is will online writing overtake the printed word?

In The Weekend Australian Review last weekend, March 18-19 there was an article about the death of the Australian literary novel. Dawn Cohen said in the Australian Author journal, ‘A baby born during the bubonic plague … had more chance of celebrating its first birthday than a new Australian novel published today.’

The Weekend Australian Review article goes on to say that more Australian publishers are globalised where they have to answer to the shareholders and to head offices in Europe and the US. In addition publishers are only publishing what people want more of at the moment, non-fiction, which is selling at four to one books compared to fiction.

Perhaps, along these lines, good blog writers will turn to writing their own non-fiction as an extension of their blog, and hopefully make mega bucks. It seems to be the time to do it and their blog could be their marketing tool.

Brokeback Mountain – it’s growing on me

Last night I organised childcare and went to see Brokeback Mountain. At the end of the movie my friend and I were a bit ambivalent about it but the movie has stuck in my mind and it’s growing on me.

While watching I thought it was a bit slow and I wanted a bit more speed with the story – maybe that’s a hangover of more fast-paced movies and television shows I’ve seen. In retrospect, of course the film would not have worked at a fast-paced level.

What is coming through now, for me, is the hopelessness of their love for each other. I think one thing that was captured really well was the secrecy surrounding their long-term affair and how it affected Ennis’s wife in particular as she found out early on.

I wondered if some people who didn’t say they knew actually knew he was gay – like Jack’s wife and Jack’s mother – a bit like Ennis wondering if everyone was staring at him because they knew his secret.

The location – particularly in the beginning with the sheep on Brokeback Mountain – was spectacular. The loneliness comes through also, in location, and the characters, including the women.

I did think it was a bit convenient that Jack died. I was starting to wonder how the affair would pan out. Would they still be doing their fishing trips when they were old and grey or would Ennis finally consent to setting up house with Jack?

The scene when Ennis goes to Jack’s parents house and finds the two shirts with blood on them was very poignant and, for me, is when I finally got to see the extent of Ennis’s love for Jack.

Back to real life. Fast forward to 5am this morning. JJ came to my room and informed me that my sister doesn’t do it the way we do it. What??? I told him to go back to bed and when I asked him about it at a more decent hour later on he said that she’d made him go to the toilet before he went to bed. I always make him do that so I don’t know why he got so upset.

I really need reminding that sometimes the grass is not always greener

Time for a change with my blog template. It also gives me an excuse to see what’s happening out in Photoshop land and have a bit of a practise. Generally my Photoshop skills aren’t that great and I don’t have heaps of time to spend. I did find this site where you can download heaps of free brushes. It looks really good on the site and I don’t know that I do it justice. I just visited his site and it appears as though he’s moving. I’ll try to keep this link updated though.

Here’s my old banner.

Semanticallydrivenspringgi

‘the grass is greener…’ bit is a reminder to me that the grass isn’t always necessarily greener. For example, people who earn more money aren’t necessarily happier, people in relationships aren’t necessarily happier, people who don’t have to get up early because they don’t have kids aren’t necessarily happier, people who live in really nice houses aren’t necessarily happier etc etc. It’s a reminder to me that these things don’t mean that the grass is greener.

My singledom, sole parenting and the financial worries that entails, and living in a house that isn’t what I’d really like to live in is really okay. I’ve got a good social life, I’ve got a pretty great kid, my house is at least on the way to being my own and I’ve got a reasonable job so my grass is really quite green. I don’t have to look over the fence in envy.

Blogging for books – The military

I saw this blogging for books thing around when the Zero Boss did it and now it’s cropped up again over at Faster than Kudzu. So here’s my try at writing about my experience with the military.

When I was growing up we had guns stashed safely (away from us kids) around the place because dad was a farmer but mum was vigilant about telling us never ever to touch a gun, even going instilling in us that we shouldn’t point a toy gun at anyone. Consequently I grew up with a fear of guns and what they can do to people. I’ve never fired a gun of any lethal description – water pistols are about it for me.

Apart from the odd weapon I saw growing up as a kid I never really had anything to do with guns until I went to Israel in 1993. Israelis have to join the Israel Defence Force when they are 18 and there is a large presence of military over there as I witnessed.

We stayed at a youth hostel in Eilat where there were also a lot of school children. They had soldiers guarding them and it was very strange for me to sit down and eat dinner alongside a table of soldiers with their guns lying on the floor. I knew they wouldn’t use their weapons if it was unnecessary but I still couldn’t relax and would keep glancing over at them and then look down to make sure their weapons were still sitting on the floor.

After a six days trekking in the Sinai Mountains – pretty much gun free – we hired a car to drive to Jerusalem to have a look around the city. I had a turn in driving and along the way a soldier stepped out and waved us down. I thought it was some kind of checkpoint so I pulled over and stopped. It turned out not to be a checkpoint but he just wanted a lift with us. I said, in no uncertain terms, that I did not want that gun in the car, but maybe he could put it in the boot. We ended up not giving him a lift, as there were four of us in the car and would have been very sqashed for everyone in the back. I found out later that hitchhiking is a form of transport for soldiers in Israel and regarded as quite normal.

We stopped at the Dead Sea on the way to Jerusalem and there were yet more school children there who needed guarding. Here’s a picture I took. Note the casualness of the guy leaning on his rifle.

SoldiersdeadseaWhen we were driving back from Jerusalem to Eilat we got two flat tyres simultaneously, in the middle of nowhere. A utility vehicle with four workmen stopped to see if they could help out. We explained that we had a rental car with two flat tyres and only one spare. One of the workmen had a mobile phone and offered to ring up the rental company for us. The phone didn’t work where we were so he explained that we would have to drive up the hill to make the call. I got one of my friends to come with me while he made the call, and arranged for us to go back to Jerusalem and get another car.

We drove back and when we got to the top of the hill and looked down to where our car had broken down there were two other cars that had stopped along with an army jeep with three soldiers circling the area holding their guns. I thought it was a bit extreme as we were only tourists that had broken down and were no threat to anyone.

It turned out that we were in occupied territory and it was a really unsafe area to be in. The car rental person in Eilat had told us to go this way and there was a much safer way to go which we did on the way home after we swapped cars without any mishap. We were able to drive to Jerusalem in our car because the workmen had some tyre stuff that you squirt into the tube so you can drive on the tyre for a little while.

After finding out that we were in occupied territory the presence of the military felt somewhat comforting but until we got into the car to drive away I kept expecting a group of baddies to come over the hill and start shooting at us. I think I’ve watched too many westerns.

I suppose all this highlighted for me the difference between Australia’s and Israel’s political situation. I’m sure it’s a way of life for Israelis and they’re completely used to it and don’t even notice the soldiers standing around with their guns. I’m not sure what the general feeling is of sending your kids to school and having the military guarding them incase something happens. All the same, I’m glad it’s not something we have to contend with here.