Sunday, February 26, 2006

wading through email archives

.... and I found: This. An email someone sent me, asking for my hand in marriage, after I put an ad up for a penpal on a Christian Pen Pals site a few years ago. I feel a little mean laughing at it but really... it's so funny :)

Hello My name is S*****, is my pleasure to write you, hope your having aGoodtime in the lord because by his grace we are saved. I just came acrossYourad and decided to writte you. Am a Nigerian, a born-again Christian.ILivein L****, Nigeria. Am 5.9 feet height,Faircomplexion.Actually I want an intimate relationship that will bring about aMeaning and purpose. am looking for a Gog-fearing girl who would lovemeas much as i will do. recently, i was under illusion that someone i foundwas loving me the way i do to her but unfortunately, she didn\'t and ihad to quit.but this time now, i want to get that special someone for me who wouldhave that same ideasand visions with me to make it in life. i need a faithful, caring, lovingkind, responsibleand respectful girl that would come in and make my life meaningful doesn\'t matter to me where you come from, as long as you are a bornagain chritian who haveexperienced Jesus and take him as your personal lord and saviour. it\'sno difference to me as tochoosing someone in your country.\'well\', it will be better off to say that love doesn\'t discriminate raciallyor one need not question or doubt my sincerity as to how come am i wantto marry someonei have not seen.\'well\', i think this a long letter, but is from the bottom of my if you think you could find me interesting, reliable and sincere asto being yourwould-be life-partner in the lord, please write and let me know. bye!God and bless you.>From a penpalS*****.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

a letter

This is a letter my three-year-old nephew Finlay wrote to my Mum last week; he dictated while his father, Greg, wrote it down. I thought it was very cute and that this must be shared with the world. :)

Dear Gran,

We're so sad that you have died. You're so lucky that you're up in heaven now. We wish you were just alive again.

Guess what? We have been to a place called the bach and I caught a shark.

Gran, is heaven up in space or not? Well I hope you're having a lovely time up in heaven.

Love from Finlay

[Yes, he does have a rather amazing vocabulary for a three-year-old, and for the non-New Zealanders who may or may not read this blog, a 'bach' is like a holiday house or crib that many New Zealand families have, generally not at all modern or luxurious, although some people who have too much money have begun calling their holiday mansions 'baches'. Finlay's other grandparents happen to own a fantastic, real bach in the Marlborough Sounds, which you can only get to by boat, and has a lovely little beach and jetty of its own. It's actually pretty sad, the prices of baches have just shot up and up; my uncle's cheap little kit home in Le Bons Bay is now worth double the amount of his real home in the city. So unless you have a bach in the family now, people can't really afford them unless they're the type of people who can afford mansions.]

Would you like your windscreen washed?

Because I am now an expert on windscreen washing. We had a church 'fun day' today, just on the street outside our church, giving away free sausages, drinks, ice creams etc. The youth group was on windscreen washing, which was fun, especially when we started having a little water fight. :) There was also a bouncy castle, which I unfortunately did not get a turn on, and a magician called El Gregoe who is a bit of a celebrity in Christchurch came and did his show, which I did not see. In the bottom photo you will see Pauline, the same girl whose photo I put up earlier, in which she lay on the floor looking somewhat stoned. A slightly better photo today methinks. I like the photo of the three elder ladies.

Friday, February 24, 2006

I have been shopping!!!

Ah, the joys of shopping. To explain: I am not good with money, but lately I have been trying really hard (iPod purchase was a minor glitch), and I promised myself that once I got to a certain point, I could buy myself some much-needed clothes. I have now reached that point! Yay! So today I went to the mall with a friend in tow to advise me, because I planned to buy some good sunglasses and I think it's wise to consult someone else when buying things like that.

I got my sunglasses, and this is me (above), trying them on for the camera so I can see what they look like! Now you know what I look like. Scary.

I also got a really cool t-shirt. How happy this makes me. There's really nothing like the successful pursuit of materialism, is there? Ugh. Now I'm going to start feeling guilty.

Patty, I'm glad you like my assignment! Let's hope everyone else does too. I will definitely let you know how it goes. I too haven't been watching or reading the news much lately. The debate over those cartoons that were offensive to Muslims really intrigued me so I did follow that a bit, I admit, but I used to watch the TV news every night, and religiously read the newspaper. But at some point you become tired of the "news". Which are never really new, anyway; it seems like it's just bad news repeating itself all the time now.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


I have just been doing my first homework assignment for my Creative Writing class at university. I have been kicking myself the last few days for volunteering to be one of the first four people to do this particular assignment and have it critiqued next week by half of the class, because it was scary and I didn't know how I was going to do it. She wanted us to record a conversation, any conversation, and transcribe it exactly how it was spoken, and then to "find the story" in the conversation, and turn it into dialogue, the way dialogue is written in a book to make it interesting, without all the "ums" and "I means" and "welllls". First I was worried about having to write down someone's conversation at breakneck speed, but then I remembered my digital camera has a video option and it will fit about three minutes of video on the memory card, so tonight I sat down with my dad and told him to think of something to discuss and pushed the "record" button on the digital camera. After we had a very odd conversation, and after I transcribed it all, exactly as spoken (it's quite depressing to see how bad one's grammar really is when one speaks), I panicked because I had no idea how to turn it into a story. But as I started making the effort, it actually took off, and I found it quite fun! Velly surprising. I feel a bit bad because I turned Dad into one of those old-timers who always talks about the good old days, but he doesn't mind. These are my efforts so far (I'll probably edit it a lot before I hand it in, but this is my first attempt):

Actual transcript

D: They just… everybody in the country is at loggerheads with each other. They got cheek, and they call the Prime Minister “Clark”—in the Press today.
A: What? What’s wrong with that?
D: Well, good grief, she’s the Prime Minister!
A: [laughs]
D: You don’t go call somebody—
A: Clark?
D: Just the surname, and it’s part of the demeaning of the human nature, you know—
A: But that’s how you refer to people in the paper, isn’t it? Like—
D: They do now.
A: Once you say their full name—
D: They do now but they didn’t once; they, they were—
A: Yeah.
D: —reasonably respectful; “the Prime Minister said” or something else—
A: Right.
D: Now they say, “Clark says.”
A: So like how in the States they say “Mr President”—
D: It’s a way of undermining the respect for anybody else. And there’s a better way. And these, these cartoons are just doing the same thing.
A: The, the Muslim cartoons?
D: Any of them. Yeah, well, these Muslim ones, these anti-religion ones—
A: Yeah.
D: They’re a bit smarty. But they say… you know, it’s just that people need to know, need to know a whole lot of rudeness.
A: Mmm.
D: I can’t see anything—
A: Yeah, exactly, it’s not really… fair to, um… say your rights, you know. I mean, like, if Christians and stuff started, started saying stuff against abortion or things like that—
D: Oh, they tear you to bits.
A: —they’d be up in arms, yep.
D: Yeah.
A: And I mean, fair enough, I mean, you don’t wanna criticise people, like that, but—
D: If you were disparaging of atheists, it’d be the same too—
A: Exactly, like… Yeah. It’s just people offending each other on purpose, it’s so…
D: Yeah.
A: Mmm.
D: It’s, it’s a, a new kind of intolerance, in what is supposed to be a tolerant society. People are just the same.
A: Mmm.
D: They can’t stand each other. And they hide it—one thing you can’t do now, so they pop up in a way they can do. [pause] Oh well. I don’t know if I can change the, the hate of human…
A: What d’you mean?
D: Oh… I don’t know what I can do about it.
A: [laughs] Yeah.
D: Protest or something.
A: Make nice cartoons that don’t offend anybody. [laughs]
D: If I—
A: It’s kind of impossible really!
D: You can write funny cartoons, they used to write funny cartoons, they were great ones!
A: Yeah.
D: Um, H. M. Bateman and those great cartoonists. Very clever. David Lowe, he was a clever political cartoonist.
A: Mmm.
D: And, um, he was, sort of, very deep, and of course, he, he made the revolting politicians look revolting, which is fair enough, like Hitler…
A: Yeah. Yeah, we, um, did a lot of historical cartoons in History at school, like, um, I mean, especially war ones. It was quite interesting, there was one where, um, oh, I think it was Neville Chamberlain, on this tightrope, above all these Japanese and German swords, or something, wobbling over this tightrope, trying to… and the tightrope, or bridge or whatever, it was about to break, it was held up by something—yeah, it was just the way they use all these little symbols, they weren’t so much, um, making fun of people, but, um, the cartoons were more kind of… more symbolistic?
D: Yeah.
A: If that’s a word? [laughs] But, yeah, it was quite cool. You know, there were pictures of um, there was one of Mussolini and um, Hitler, with these bags—

Fictional conversation

A: I had the mother of an argument today.
D: Really? Who with?
A: [sighs] Just this girl, we started talking about the whole Muslim cartoon thing—there’s something about it that just seems to divide everyone. Why is that, anyway?
D: [grunts] Yes well, everyone’s at loggerheads these days. There’s always something to argue about. This morning, in the paper, they called the Prime Minister “Clark”. Just “Clark”. Imagine that.
A: [laughs] Well, I don’t see anything especially wrong with that.
D: Good grief, she’s the Prime Minister! It’s cheeky! You don’t go and call somebody like that by their last name. It’s demeaning.
A: I don’t see why. That’s how you’re supposed to refer to people in the paper, isn’t it? Once you’ve said their full name, one time, you just go on referring to them by their surnames. I learnt it, in school.
D: Ha, school. They teach that now, but they didn’t once upon a time. Back then, they had some idea of the meaning of the word ‘respect’. Back then, it was “the Prime Minister said” and “the Prime Minister did this”. You’d have none of this “Clark” or “Savage” or “Lange”.
A: I’m still not sure I agree with you.
D: I’m telling you, it’s one of their ways. They have ways of undermining the natural authority and respect due to a prime minister. So what if our leaders are wrong or if they go to war willy-nilly or they sidle up to the big guns too much? They were still voted there by the people. I’m all for power to the people. Our leaders deserve some respect for that.
A: You’re starting to sound like a Communist, Dad.
D: Ha, well, some of them had their heads screwed on to a point. To a point, mind you.
A: Anyway, I don’t see what this has to do with my argument about the Muslim cartoons.
D: [glumly] Well, the world’s going downhill, that’s all. They say—
A: Who says?
D: They do. They say that it’s their right to speak freely, that people need to hear all this rubbish. Huh. As if insulting people is exercising their legitimate right to free speech. Just look at any political cartoon. [sighs] It’s all backward these days. We’re such a ‘tolerant’ society that we’ve become completely intolerant.
A: That’s what I told this girl.
D: What did she say?
A: She said people with stupid beliefs deserve to be insulted.
D: Ha. Obviously she’s completely rational herself. Knows everything, I daresay.
A: Yeah, I know, but once people say something like that it’s no use trying to debate with them. They’re already convinced they’re always right, even if they don’t say it in so many words.
D: [sighs] Back then, there were real cartoons. They didn’t need to comment on a politician’s body weight or physical imperfections to be successful. You know who I mean, you’ve read my cartoon books—H. M. Bateman, “The Man Who”… David Lowe, he was a good’un. Very, very clever. Without needless insults. There are still some of them around nowadays, too. Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side… but if you even touch politics these days, you seem to need to be like one of those repulsive tabloid photographers.
A: I see what you mean. We did some fantastic old cartoons in History at school. They were from back in wartime, or just before. They were more like political commentary, like an opinion column, rather than a stupid cartoon people laugh at because it’s cruel.
D: I suppose I’ll have to start my own political cartoon.
A: You couldn’t handle it. You’d be blisteringly insulting within days.
D: [laughs] It’s probable, I’ll admit. But I could try it.
A: I can’t wait. I can just see us lying on deckchairs in the Bahamas, sipping cocktails, and looking back on today as the beginning of a glittering career. I’ll be your personal assistant, okay? I’m never precisely sure what they actually do, but I’m sure I’d be a good one.
D: Don’t worry, you’re my first choice.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

back to the grindstone

I have now been back at university for two days. I thought I would be looking forward to it after my loooong holiday... but no, I can't say I do, really. It's certainly quite interesting starting a new topic and everything, but definitely not so much as in first year because this year it'll be Harder. Groan. Now I am up to 200-level courses. The good thing is, essays are now 2500 words instead of 1500--I always found it so hard cutting a thousand odd words off my essays, it felt like I was killing my baby. But I suppose we'll have more content to cover for these ones so it's not really a bonus at all. This semester I am doing: ENGL220 Creative Writing--Short Fiction; HIST274 a Russian history one from the start to the end of the Soviet Union; and LING206 Syntactic Theory. Next semester I will be doing: HIST239 War and Society 1900-1945; ENGL215 Seventeenth Century King and Country; and LING207 Phonetics and Phonology.

There was a barbecue for the first night of Navs tonight, which was nice. I no longer feel like a newbie, which is also very nice.

Dad has been away for the past week. My niece Lydia got baptised on Sunday, in Dunedin, and he drove down, having a holiday on the way in places like Tekapo and Naseby, and did some pretty amazing drives, from the sounds of it. While he was away, my aunty Rita, his sister-in-law, died (I didn't know her very well), and he came back on Sunday night and flew off on Monday morning for the funeral in Palmerston North. He's getting back tomorrow. I don't like being alone like this for too long. For one thing, all the vegetables in the garden grow and I'm stuck with fifteen courgettes (zucchinis), three ice cream cartons of tomatoes, and masses of runner beans, unable to eat them because I've had such a busy week and have been out for all mealtimes! For another, it gets kind of lonely and I miss him.

This photo is one of the ones I took that time I went up the hill to take photos a few weeks ago. It is of Lyttleton Harbour; well, about half of it.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Last night two friends and I drove down to Ashburton, which is about an hour south of Christchurch, to visit another friend who is on placement there. Didn't expect 'Ashvegas' to be really any much fun, especially as we were out ten minutes or so into the country from the town, but had a fantastic time! We had fish and chips at the Ashburton domain and then drove out to the farm Marielle is boarding at for her ten weeks of placement. The owners were away for a week, but the dog, Allie (!!!!!), a beautiful and friendly German Shepherd, was still there. It's very confusing having the same name as a dog.

I didn't realise how close Ashburton is to the sea, and it's even closer where the farm is. So Marielle and Katie ran down (about 3 or 4 kms) and Natalie and I biked. It was so lovely to bike again, on a big wide road with no traffic and hardly any wind, unlike Christchurch, with the sun setting. It was great to get to the sea as well, and sit on the beach and throw rocks for the dog and watch the sun set. We had a very late night and woke up really early because two of the others had to be back in Christchurch by 8am (grrroooaaan). The middle photo is of the other three: (l-r) Marielle, Nat and Katie. In the bottom one you might be able to see the guys who were fishing there, and their little fire, and the top one is from the top of the cliff overlooking the beach, and looking north, up the east coast. (Hopefully they're not too dark because on this old computer it's hard to see them properly, while they were fine on my laptop.)

Friday, February 17, 2006


I got a letter from my sponsored child from Uganda today!--well, actually from his brother because he's too young to write yet, but it was still very exciting. Now I know they actually got my last letter as well, because I suspect the earlier ones went missing in the post. Besides the letter, last time I sent him some stickers, of cars and boats and so on, and the letter was sent back to me with a few of them stuck on it. He sounds very cute, he's almost five.

This is the letter:
'On behalf of Ogwal Isaac and the whole family, I would like to appreciate so much for you love for him in Ogwal Isaac is fine and in good health. He received your wonderful cards and stickers. He likes them so much. Ogwal likes music so much. He is always dancing music from the radio station. He was glad to hear that you also celebrating Christmas as a family. We do celebrate too. In Uganda here and Africa at large Christmas, Easter, New Year and Independence Day are always that people celebrate most. They sit as a family together with neighbours to eat, drink, and dance for over 20 days. Thanks a lot for helping Ogwal Isaac always.
Yours Ayita John his brother.'

My sister says that sponsored children are just a way charities attract donations, and it's not like your money is going only to your child--it's going into a big pool (not that she doesn't think it's great). I think it's such a fantastic idea because you get to see how you're helping people on a really personal level. It must be also really nice for the child and his/her family, to get letters and presents and sometimes visits from people overseas.

Aww.. I want another one!

(By the way, isn't this sunflower cool? We've got these fantastic 'black' ones in our garden and they are so striking.)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

another cemetery

If I gave a list of my hobbies right now to someone who didn't know me, it could be quite a weird experience for them. Top of the list is taking photos of cemeteries and angel gravestones. I found a new, huge one today... or should I say an old one because it is one of the major old cemeteries of my city. When I say old, I mean New Zealand old, which is like: people who died at the end of the nineteenth century. It's right near the graveyard where Mum is buried, which is relatively modern and rather boring with row upon row of black oblong gravestone. But at this one, they're all the old style grave, with concrete 'beds' (for lack of a better word) and huge impressive headstones, some sculptured, all a little different from the next one, and some derelict, overgrown with wild flowers or grasses and broken. It surprised me that there was only one angel gravestone in the entire cemetery, as far as I saw.

Because it's an older cemetery, they have a few signs up showing where famous people in Christchurch's history are buried--like Robert McDougall (actually am not quite sure what he did but there's a beautiful art gallery building named after him!), Bishop Julius, Arthur Dudley Dobson (who was the first white man to discover Arthur's Pass, a way through the mountains from the east coast to west coast of the South Island, and a place where I have spent countless holidays)... So that was quite interesting. In the tiny little cemetery near my house, where the angel in the post below lives, there's the grave of John Cracroft Wilson, who was one of the very first settlers here, and settled in the area my old house was in. He was a rich merchant who had been in India, I think, and they say that he named the area (Cashmere) for Kashmir. There's something quite cool about seeing the graves of people I've heard of in history. It could be called morbid, but I think it would be amazing to visit the graves of people like Jane Austen or Lenin or Louis the somethingth (the only French king whose grave was left standing by the revolutionaries in 1775) or someone like that who you hear so much about, and to consider that they were actually real. Because it's really quite hard to believe in historical figures, and imagine they had hands and feet and flesh just like us. It's kind of like believing in God sometimes.

The photo above: this gravestone stood out for me because it looked slightly newer than any of the others there, and then I realised why. James McCormack died in 1925, aged 26--but his wife Marie died in 1994, aged 99. Never remarried, buried next to him almost seventy years later, still 'beloved wife of'. That's what I like about cemeteries; if you look closely enough, you notice the smaller details of people's lives that make them seem really personal and imaginable and poignant to you.


This is my first attempt at a photo montage. I quite like it but I think it's a bit perfect looking; it doesn't really look like it's heaps of different photos clustered together. I think I need some more variation in colour and lighting etc and a more interesting background, maybe, for it to be really effective. My aunty, who is an amateur photographer, did this fantastic montage of her kitchen that she showed me the other day; she just stood in one place, snap snap snap, printed them off and stuck them together-- it looks great!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

how abnormal am I?

You Are 8% Abnormal

You are at low risk for being a psychopath. It is unlikely that you have no soul.

You are at low risk for having a borderline personality. It is unlikely that you are a chaotic mess.

You are at low risk for having a narcissistic personality. It is unlikely that you are in love with your own reflection.

You are at low risk for having a social phobia. It is unlikely that you feel most comfortable in your mom's basement.
You are at low risk for obsessive compulsive disorder. It is unlikely that you are addicted to hand sanitizer.

Well, that's a relief. :)

the orange lives on

At first I thought this was just a quite nice photo despite Sam hiding his face with his sunhat (this is back on Quail Island a few weeks ago) and then I realised it was actually pretty relevant-- because today I went back to uni to do my own enrolment stuff, and when I was walking through the area I'd worked in yesterday, all these people who worked there started smiling and saying "hi orange girl" or "would you like an orange?"

Kind of embarrassing, wouldn't have minded having a hat like Sam's to hide my face with, but it was kind of funny as well! :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

sigh, no photos

I missed three great photos today. Not necessarily all technically or aesthetically amazing, but good (or bad?) memory photos nonetheless.

Firstly, I worked seven hours for the bus information stall at the university Orientation week - yup, handing out oranges in the most unattractive orange overalls ever known to man. Actually that was only half an hour until my boss decided they were too hot to work in. (Hot in the temperature sense, just in case you were confused.) Mostly it involved going up to people with a beaming face that radiated no-I'm-not-at-all-embarrassed-isn't-this-fun?, saying in a goofy voice, "Hiiii!!!! Do you know the name of the orange bus that comes through uni???", telling them the name of the orange bus, and handing them an orange in reward--which 2/3 of the people we spoke to didn't really want. Even after the ugly overalls came off, it was still rather embarrassing because you'd ask people as they waited in their queue, "Hi! Would you like an orange?" --as one girl said after doing a double take, not a question one is asked everyday. Most just looked at you as if you were mad; some allowed you to explain that you were publicising an orange bus. To be fair, they were nice oranges. No pips, nice and sweet. But I really regret not getting a photo of me in my disgusting orange PVC thing. I have to see the funny side now.

Secondly, my friend (who was also working there) and I happened to see a couple of guys called Mitch and Matt who were in our Navs small group last year. They happen to be very funny, very outgoing and energetic, slightly shameless, and very good friends with each other. The sort of people who are popular anywhere they go. However, the funniest event of our entire year as a small group was something they did when they were being totally serious. Mitch got a date with a nice girl, so Matt decided he wanted to find a future wife. :D They thought about how to go about this, and decided they would go to uni the next day and talk to heaps of different girls, in hopes of finding a girl who was a) hot, b) Christian, c) a possible future wife for Matt, and d) willing to go on a double date with him and Mitch. They shyly and tentatively put this forward as a prayer request at our small group that evening and we, instead of being encouraging, prayerful and uplifting, collapsed into tears and screams of laughter while they sat there feeling slightly hurt. There was something irresistably amusing about imagining Matt and Mitch trying to chat up all these hot girls and somehow subtly bringing Christianity and marriage into the conversation before they'd even got their phone number. We suggested they make a booth labelled 'We are lonely and need friends'... basically you really had to be there, and know Mitch and Matt, but it was one of the funniest things I have ever experienced.

Well, today, when Katie and I came outside after finishing work, we saw Matt and Mitch standing behind a booth, wearing the same clothes, with Matt wearing a wig like Mitch's dreadlocks. The booth was labelled : "Lonely Hearts on Valentine's Day--Kissing Booth."

I am happy to say this was a joke this time. But it was just so so so so funny and I wish I had had my camera with me and had been able to take a picture of them behind it, if only to show the rest of our small group.

Thirdly, I was driving home from babysitting about twenty minutes ago (it is now about 11pm and I am stuffed after a very long day) and there was a full moon surrounded by all these mysterious misty clouds and it was beautiful. I don't think my camera would have been able to handle the darkness but I wish I had had it there just to try.

So my lesson has been learnt and I will now take my camera with me most places, I think. Even if I don't think there will be any good opportunities.

By the way, my five-year-old nephew told me I'm pretty yesterday. :) Awww. Big Brownie points for him.

Patty, thanks for your sympathy. I don't want it to seem like I'm fishing for sympathy on my blog but I don't want to not talk about what's going on in my life either, and I do really appreciate sympathy when it comes. :) So yeah, thanks.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

and the year begins

We had our first girls' Sunday a'noon Bible study today; well, technically it wasn't really a Bible study this time but we just had lunch and talked and did that Hot Seat thing everyone does at church stuff and so on... it was cool! Above: some photos of a few of the girls... today there were only six of us but there should be a few more when they get back from athletics competitions and army boot camp and so on! (Pauline, the blonde one with white t-shirt, would kill me if she knew I was putting the bottom photo on the internet... heh heh...) Most of the other girls involved are still at school, from about 14 to 16 in age, but there's one girl who's a year older than me there too, and my friend who's at boot camp at the moment is the same age as me. I think it'll be really fun. We're also going to do just fun stuff like going to the beach or renting movies or whatever.

My dad has gone away on holiday and I am all alone at home. It's okay right now but yesterday I got all bored and restless and in need of human company, and so I went over to my friend Katie's house and we watched Finding Neverland (which I have never seen before and loved) and just chatted and it was really nice. I've been invited for meals by at least three people so far who feel all sorry for me, all alone at home, motherless and now fatherless, but the weird thing this week is I will be busy at mealtimes every night this week. Babysitting, Shakespeare music playing, going to Ashburton... etc.

I'm playing piano at another funeral tomorrow. My church has had quite a spate recently.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

iPods are FUN

This is a photo of the green M&Ms I have been faithfully collecting over the past six months. I thought it wouldn't take that long to get a jarful but no, it took ages. The problem with M&Ms is you can never buy only the green ones, and then if you're eating them in a movie theatre or something, you can't see the colours and save the green ones. :) Don't ask why I collect green M&Ms... I just saw the M&M ad once about a screwed-up M&M who had a fetish for collecting green M&Ms and thought it was funny and that I was going to do that. Pretty sad, really.

I got my iPod in the mail! It is so cool. It's tiny. Smaller than my cellphone, and about as thin as a floppy disk. It's amazing. I've had so much fun putting music on there and making playlists. I borrowed my sister's collection of Flanders and Swann CDs and even put them on there (British comedians from about the 50s or 60s who are hilarious--I have grown up listening to records of them). How very exciting.

I'm feeling a lot better at the moment. For one thing I'm going to be quite busy this week, looking after my nephews, playing background music at an outdoor performance of a Shakespeare play every evening for a week and a half from Wednesday, working at the uni Orientation week for Metroinfo (wearing orange overalls, handing out oranges, to publicise the orange bus called the Metrostar... sighhh... but we get paid to look stupid so I'm going to swallow my pride!), going out to Ashburton with some friends to visit a friend who is there on placement for her Medical Imaging training... and so on.

For another thing, a whole lot of the pressure has been taken off because I've talked to Annette, one of the leading team of my university Christian group, Navs, and have decided not to be a leader of a small group this year after all. I've agreed to do a whole lot of stuff with my church (kid's club leader, youth group, girl's Sunday a/noon Bible study) this year, and without realising it, become way too busy and committed myself to too many things. Then there's music on Tuesday nights, helping with reading at Rowley Primary School, and two nights a week I have classes at university, which drastically cuts down any time I have available. I'd also quite like to join a choir. :S So yeah. Way too much pressure. Can't cope with it right now. Also can't summon up enough energy to try and make new friends etc so would be terrible as a Navs leader.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Well. Have had a depressing few days and I don't really feel like writing about it at all. Just a couple of tiny little things that happened that got me majorly down. I don't know if it was because of the things themselves, or if I was just waiting for something to go wrong.

Happy Waitangi Day.

Just thought I'd post a few photos up. I took them when I simply suddenly had an urge to take photos of musical instruments the other day. Top: my wooden descant recorder. Middle: piano -- obviously. Bottom: a shakuhachi (which I made myself when my recorder group went to Australia for a music festival).

Counting my blessings, though: I bought an iPod today, on TradeMe (kind of a New Zealand form of eBay). Kinda excited about it but trying to ignore my bank account.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Warning: probable morbidity

Life sucks because it's so beautiful. It would be so easy to just detach oneself from the world if only one could simply stop clinging to all the good things. And why would you want to do that anyway? You'd become a nothing. That's why I don't get why people can talk about Buddhism as if it's such a great thing--how can we ignore the pain around us? Yay for them if it helps them relax and ignore their problems, but it's not exactly very helpful for anyone else, is it? When Buddha was so depressed by the state of the world and decided to run off and find enlightenment, it didn't change anything about the state of the world, it just meant he could ignore it. Which doesn't impress me at all.

One of my favourite quotes: "I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross... In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully in front of the statue of Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing around his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, wretched, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered out world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross which symbolises divine suffering. 'The cross of Christ... is God's only self-justification in such a world' as ours." (John Stott)

This has got to be the reason why I am a Christian. Sure, there's a list of things I believe and a list of things I don't believe, about God and the world and sin and heaven and so on. And I think these are important. But ultimately, it's about who Jesus is, and what he did. There are issues still, that I don't understand and I'm slightly worried about. But I've got to the point where I know Jesus, and I know what he's like, and I trust him. The things he said make sense to me. I don't think I'll ever give up on him.

Ha, this must sound so odd to non-Christians.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

two funerals and a little bit of a wedding

A man at my church has just died, and we are going to his funeral tomorrow. It's going to be a weird experience, I think, when it's not long since my Mum's funeral. He had two sons, one of whom is only a couple years younger than me, and I can't even begin to imagine what things are like for him, despite both our parents dying of cancer, about a month apart. His father has battled brain cancer for about as long as I have known cancer existed. It became obvious about a year ago (or maybe more) that it was terminal, and so he has had to cope with seeing his dad extremely unwell for a whole year. Although my mother had the disease for five or so years, it was never as obviously bad as I had imagined it could be, until about a month before her death. Whereas Murray has had to deal with a lot more things than me. I wonder if he feels it's a relief, like I did.

My dad and I will be playing the piano and organ at the service. We have been busy today sorting out all the music details; what music to play before and after, who plays what, volume, etc. It's nice to be able to choose what music to play yourself, which doesn't happen at church very often. We've been given a couple of hymns for during the service, but beforehand, as people come in, we will be playing music like Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, by Bach, Duetto, by Mendelssohn, How Beautiful are the Feet, by Handel (from Messiah), a few obscure but beautiful hymns, Bist du bei Mar, by Bach, Hear My Prayer, by Mendelssohn, and Great Is Thy Faithfulness. After, we're playing He Shall Feed His Flock, another Messiah piece. I love classical/baroque/Romance period music. I think it often helps to have a bit of music training behind you in understanding music like that in a modern culture, but I still don't understand why many people get so bored by older music. Something like Finlandia, by Sibelius... phew, you just can't describe it, it's one of the most exciting pieces ever, or a Rachmaninov piano concerto. Wow. Or the amazingly simple but awe-inspiring vocals on choral pieces like Miserere Mei, Deus, or Agnus Dei. Or just the good old classics like the Hallelujah chorus. My sister walked up the aisle to the last two or three minutes of Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, by Grieg, and by gum that was a good choice. Too bad I can't do that if I get married--it's a pain having five older siblings who choose the best stuff first!

Patty and Vicki, thanks for your comments. Patty, I have real trouble believing you could cure me of my panic attacks, they're so ingrained. :) You might be able to calm me down temporarily, but 'temporarily' is the important word there. Soon, when you'd gone, I'd start worrying again and go completely berserk. (Okay, well, I'm not quite at the insanity stage, but sometimes I could be!)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

panic attacks

Last night three of my friends came home from Australia after spending the summer there--yippee! It's so great to see them again. I went to the airport at midnight to welcome them home, along with their families and a few other friends. Was extremely tired because had gotten up very early that morning to look after my nephews for a full day, 8am to 6pm. Luckily I met up with a friend in the evening and had two large strong coffees and didn't come home till 10:30pm, so it wasn't too long and tired a wait before leaving for the airport.

Then when we left the airport, about 1am, the parking ticket machine decided it was going to decline my eftpos card three times in a row, and being tired and slightly stressed I panicked, burst into tears and assumed the Someone at the pool had stolen my eftpos card along with my shoes, taken all my money, and then returned it to my wallet. Now it seems quite a far-fetched theory but you must remember it was 1am. Thank goodness for a kindly passer-by, who gave me the 20 cents I needed to pay off my parking ticket. Stopped at an ATM on the way home and all my money was there still. Go figure. A valuable lesson in trusting God, I think.

The problem with my panic attacks is that once I start to panic, I keep on going, even when the initial catalyst is resolved. I couldn't get to sleep till 4am, and woke up worrying about my U2 tickets and if they'd been lost in the post because I still haven't got them. Now I'm feeling a bit more calm. Thank goodness.