Friday, March 31, 2006

stained glass

I just realised I forgot to tell you how my second creative writing class disembowelling went. Actually pretty well! Everyone was really positive about it (even the moralising-reactionary-conservative guy) but at the same time, there were heaps of really helpful suggestions/comments -- and I mean really helpful. It was fantastic. And our teacher, Claire, was so helpful in giving me the major problem and what the story is missing. It was nice, because it seemed like none of it was critical in that the story was bad; it seemed rather like she was suggesting this stuff because the story was really good and it just needed something more to make it great. Which made me happy! I think her main question was, does Allie really know this character inside-out? This really got me thinking, because in writing this story I feel like I know the character and understand them more than anything I've ever written before, so obviously I need to find a way to let the reader in on this also. (It's funny, actually, that I should feel like I know the character so well, because he's about seventy years old and a male!)

This photo I took about half an hour ago, at a cafe near my house. It's an old vicarage that's been turned into a cafe, and it's so pretty. Unfortunately I only managed to take one photo because the battery suddenly went flat, and I'm not as pleased with this as I could be. :P I really need to check that battery more often! But luckily it's the sort of photo I can always try and take another time.

Having done my Linguistics test (which went amazingly well--I hope!), I've started research for my first History essay of the year. I'm answering the question How successful were the social policies of the Bolsheviks between October 1917 and 1926? So that's basically their policies etc on women and the family, education and literacy, and health. It is possibly also nationalities issues but I'm not sure; I'm going to have to check with the lecturer. I was surprised because the questions don't seem that much harder than last year, but I guess we're expected to go more in depth, because we have to write 2500 words this year rather than 1500. (Yay! I felt like cutting all those words off my essays in first-year was like killing my baby... slowly.)

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Patty tagged me on her blog with a 'musical meme', whatever that is! I suppose I should do the smart thing, like her, and look it up on Anyway it was very fun; I got out my iPod and put it on shuffle and this is the result! (I promise I did not engineer the large number of U2 songs that came up.)

The Rules: Go to your music player of choice & put it on shuffle. The song which pops up when you press play is the answer to that question!

1. How does the world see you? Out of Reach - Gabrielle
2. Will I have a happy life? The Unforgettable Fire – U2
3. What do my friends think of me? Pride (In the Name of Love) – U2
4. Do people secretly lust after me? Atomic - Blondie
5. How can I make myself happy? Think of Me (from The Phantom of the Opera)
6. What should I do with my life? Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own – U2
7. Will I ever have children? Rescue Me – Fontella Bass
8. What is some good advice for me? My Mistake – Split Enz
9. How will I be remembered? The Reluctant Cannibal – Flanders and Swann
10. What is my signature dancing song? Numb – U2
11. What do I think my current theme song is? A Heart Full of Love (from Les Miserables)
12. What does everyone else think my current theme song is? Breakdown – Jack Johnson
13. What song will play at my funeral? Mofo – U2
14. What type of men do you like? Inner Smile - Texas
15. What is my day going to be like? Don’t Dream It’s Over – Crowded House

I can't believe how relevant some of them are! It's amazing :) although I can't see Mofo ever being the sort of song you would play at a funeral! I think the funniest one there is number nine, definitely. Number three's pretty funny too. :) Number 10 was spot on--I love Numb and although I'd never actually thought it's my signature dancing song, it's definitely the sort of thing I'd dance to! So thanks, Patty! That was very fun.

My friend Sarah has left today, off to Samoa to do her DTS for 6 months, and possibly another year or so after that. It's very odd thinking about it; I hardly worked myself up about it so when I went to see her off at the airport it just didn't feel like she was leaving for that long. ... Interesting ...

[Photo at the top: cartoon version of the photo I posted a couple of weeks back, of my nephew Finlay. I like the original much better because the colours are so much more vivid but this is quite cute too.]

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

same old same old

Here's a couple more photos--another of Piha, and another from the airplane.

Am having a yucky day. I finally get to the point where I feel I've got over the worst of my cold and then I start getting headaches and feeling nauseous and panicking that I have meningitis or a brain tumour. I'm also feeling a bit of pressure having to catch up having missed a few classes last week, and having a test on Thursday. It's quite encouraging though; I've actually been studying for Linguistics, and you'd be amazed at the difference it makes. :) I actually know how to do some stuff now!

I got myself a busking license the other day! I'm very excited. Me and a friend from music are going to start busking quite regularly, we think. We'll have to learn up a few duets and then, Christchurch, beware, because we'll be on the streets every weekend. If we get a reasonable amount of money I probably won't have to get a job, which I would love!

I feel like I don't have much to talk about at the moment. It's a little depressing because I have to wonder if anything is happening to me, although I feel much busier and so on now that I'm back at university. Very odd.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Another photo from Piha, tweaked a little, obviously.

I would really really really like to send a card to PostSecret (the blog under my links to blogs) but I can't think of any secrets I have! I'm going to have to do some serious sitting-down-and-thinking. Actually, no I shouldn't--I should be studying for a linguistics test on Thursday... sighhh... Linguistics this year has been so much harder than last year, and requires about triple the amount of concentration. :P

I am handing in another piece of writing for my creative writing class to dismember today. It's part of a story I've been writing, but I just gave them the first half to look at or it would be a bit too long. I will report on how it goes! The idea this time is to write something, any way we want it, on a character. My character is an old male piano tuner. I quite like the story, actually, so I hope they don't demolish it too badly!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

how Hamlet are you?

I've just been checking out the Jasper Fforde website (I've lately been really getting into his series on Thursday Next -- The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, and Something Rotten), and discovered that you too can find out how much like Hamlet you are, by clicking Here. :)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

party party party

Do you know, for some reason I have an irrational fear of the 21st birthday party. Not other people's, as a rule, but my own. I can't figure it out. It feels like it felt when I knew that someday, eventually, I would have to get my full driving license... which I got, with very little pain, in the end. I think it's just the idea that it's something you apparently have to do, that everyone else does, when turning 21, to me, seems so irrelevant. Obviously it's the big traditional coming-of-age thing in my culture, but it seems that by 21, you're allowed to do everything already and so there's nothing particularly liberating about becoming a 'proper adult'. It seems to me that 20 is more of a landmark because you're out of the teens. And you have to invite heaps of people, that's like one of The Unwritten Rules, so you get stuck with all these people you have to entertain that you don't necessarily know that well. It seems much cosier, to me, just to invite your really good friends and family for dinner or something--but then, because The Unwritten Rules say so, if you only do that, it seems slightly offensive for anyone whose name you know to be left out.
And then there's the whole speeches/etc thing. It just makes me feel uncomfortable to imagine that. As if I've put on a party to be all about me. The silly thing is I never feel other people put on parties to be all about them. But yeah...
Once I got my full license, I thought I would never worry about anything or have any spectres in my future until I got to my seventies and had to resit my driving license. How very wrong I was. :)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

colds are GROSS

I hate colds. They are so disgusting. I think this is the worst one I've ever had cos I'm just so blocked up I can't even hear out of one of my ears. I feel miserable and cold (it's raining) and I want to lie on the couch at my old house drinking one of Mum's hot lemon and honey drinks and listening to classical music. Isn't it weird how one always knows exactly what one wants when one can't have it!

Here are some more photos from up north. The top I just took out of the airplane window. I tried taking quite a lot of photos from the planes but unfortunately on both flights most of the land was obscured by cloud--although I did get some cool cloudy ones too! This was taken as we flew over the hills near Kaikoura. The other two are from Piha, again, with my feet, again. :)

Recently, the father of a girl I knew at school died suddenly of a massive heart attack. He was in his early forties and very fit and healthy, so it was a complete shock. My friends and I were talking about it and one of them happened to say that they thought that was the worst way for someone to die, in terms of the effect on the family. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I've come to the conclusion that it is evident she has never had to watch someone she loves die slowly. It makes me quite angry when people make these flip generalisations when they can't even fathom what it's like to be in either situation. Because there was some relief involved when my Mum actually died, they assume it's much easier to lose her than if it had been a complete shock. I'm not the sort of person who describes in graphic detail to my friends what it's like to see my mother slowly deteriorate so some of them just don't understand. I guess I don't really expect them to. But I do expect people not to assume they can understand just like that, and not to make things so simple, so black and white.

Monday, March 20, 2006

hello again

I'm back from my weekend in Auckland--had such a good time! I went up on Thursday afternoon and came back yesterday (Sunday). Went shopping, had fantastic food, went out to this amazing beach called Piha which is one of the big NZ surfing beaches (and the photos above are of that), and obviously saw my sister Felicity and her husband Mike. I managed to develop a bad cold which meant that the descent back into Christchurch on the plane was hellish--apparently a blocked nose means all this pressure builds up in your head. It was so painful and my ears blocked and wouldn't unblock at all for about two hours, and even then they weren't perfect. Yuck, I hate not being able to hear properly.

I really like Auckland. It's just that much bigger than my hometown to seem like a real city, yet it's not so huge it's inconvenient... although traffic is terrible and I don't think I could live there, it takes ages to get anywhere. But there are fantastic restaurants/food stalls/etc everywhere, and I tried Moroccan food for the first time ever, and it is so unbelievably good! I think it's a new favourite of mine. I also had some masala dosa, a southern Indian dish, from a stall in the Aotea markets. We had it in Malaysia and loved it so much, and Mum had it all the time when she was teaching at Hebron School in the Nilgiri Hills in India, but it doesn't seem to get sold much in Indian restaurants in NZ. So that was quite exciting!

I've got heaps of pictures, mainly of Piha and some out of the window of the plane, but I've just put three up for today. Piha (as demonstrated in the bottom photo) is a black sands beach; I think iron used to be mined from it. So quite striking really.

I've just been reading my friend Vicki's blog, which is on my links to blogs as 'Gapping in Kenya'. She and I have been penpals for ages. At the moment she is spending a gap year (or maybe less than a year, I'm not sure) in Mombasa in Kenya, but her home is in Guernsey, and she spent her childhood in East Africa with missionary parents, and she went to boarding school in England... :) Her blog is amazing, I can't believe some of the stuff that's happening to her. It makes all the stuff I write about seem quite irrelevant... :S

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Well, there has been an announcement--U2 will probably be resuming their tour in November. Seven or eight whole months to wait! I'm relieved, though, that it seems they'll actually be coming at all. I've got that song, I think it's by Wyclef Jean, running through my head... the one that goes, I'll be gone till November, I'll be gone till November... I see you crying but girl I can't stay cos I'll be gone till November... Give a kiss to my mother

So I'm going to go up to Auckland this weekend anyway, just for a holiday, and to see Felicity and Mike. Hopefully that'll be nice and I won't spend much money. :S At least I am no longer in overdraft and in no danger of being so. I have even opened a savings account, with 4% interest, and I actually have a substantial (for me) amount of money in there! It's a miracle.

Jane and I realised that Sunday Bloody Sunday is actually a very apt song for the tragedy of the postponed tour. Example: I can't believe the news today / I can't close my eyes and make it go away / How long, how long till they sing this song? / How long, how lo-o-o-o-o-ng? :) All right, so we changed the words very slightly, but other than that, it works rather well.

If I was in a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, my father would tell me that the postponement is going to build my character. I suppose it will, actually, because I am such an impatient person normally! There you go; every cloud has a silver lining.

I have watched both film versions of Pride and Prejudice in the last few weeks. I have to make myself ignore the book when I watch the newest one but it's growing on me in its own right. And I have to admit that Matthew Macfadyen isn't bad-looking anymore, but actually quite scrummy :) However, still he doesn't have quite the same feel of the character as Colin Firth did

Monday, March 13, 2006


[a nephew of mine. I took this when I went down to Dunedin just before Christmas.]

To tell the truth, I don't know what to write in my blog today. That being the case, I should probably just ignore blogging until I have something to say, but actually I just feel like writing in my blog.

Nothing interesting has happened since Saturday and now it's Monday morning, I came earlier to uni than I need to so I could get a car park, and I'm bored. It's completely my own fault. I don't have a class till 1 o'clock (it is now 10:15am). I'm meeting someone at 11, which makes everything a bit better, but for all I know she'll need to run away very quickly. I have creative writing from 5-7pm this evening. Not so fantastic a day to look forward to really. Oh, but Katie and I are going to go and have Indian for dinner straight after Creative Writing, and Desperate Housewives is on TV tonight! :) Hooray for that.

Argh I'm so boring. :( I need a life. It's so depressing that my whole exciting weekend in Auckland is now postponed. There is a Navs camp on, but since I'm not in Auckland I'd really like to go to my friend Sarah's farewell on Saturday night--she's going to Samoa very soon for a longish period of time with YWAM. I'm going to miss her so much!

My friend Jane, another dejected U2 concert-goer, has suggested we randomly go somewhere like Hanmer or Dunedin this weekend... but I don't think it will work out. So maybe a few of us can get together on Friday night, play U2 music loudly, jump up and down and scream, and pretend that we're at the concert... Or, it could just be super-depressing :)

Oh flamingo. Just realised we're going to miss out on the St Patrick's Day concert now. That would have been so cool.

I need to get off here and stop complaining. See youuuu....

[Quote for today: Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months. --Oscar Wilde]

Saturday, March 11, 2006

gypsy fair

I went to put some flowers on my Mum's grave this morning and on the way back stopped at this 'gypsy fair' at one of the parks. The people who run the fair all live in these fantastic vans/trucks that have been converted into a kind of house truck. They're all beautifully painted and very very cool.

I must say it was a bit different from the usual 'fair' as such, though. Despite the hot dogs and Shetland ponies doing tricks and fire poi dancers and handcrafts on sale, I couldn't help noticing that they were also selling portraits of pagan religious stuff, those glass pipes you smoke P in, tarot card readings and so on... A little different perhaps! But mostly it was pretty cool. I felt a bit rude taking photos of everything, although I tried to swallow this, so I didn't get as many photos as I would have liked. But still, here are a couple.


I went to the beach last night with my church's youth group; it was really nice but because it's getting darker earlier now I didn't manage to get many good photos. I hate how my camera won't take photos after it gets to a certain level of light. It still seemed quite light, and the moon was out and shining really brightly over the pier--but no, the spirit of my camera was uncooperative. However, I quite like some of these. The middle one is just looking back from the beach towards the setting sun, and the two others are just from walking along the pier and taking photos with the flash off.

Friday, March 10, 2006


These are some photos Patty wanted to see--when she gets back from her vacation I suppose! I posted them in cartoon format a few days ago, so here are the originals.

Just heard on the news that it's rumoured The Edge's seven-year-old daughter has leukaemia. Gosh, how horrible. I feel kinda bad because when you think about it my response to the original news of the postponement was completely juvenile and lacking in perspective.

I have been watching a lot of Season 4 of Alias today (my one uni-free weekday); my friend has the DVD box set and she lent it to me. It's so good! Fantastic soundtrack (it even has a U2 song, Bad, at one point), just the same creepiness, and the characters are really cool, as usual. It's so bad, I'll watch one episode and go "ooh I have to watch one more!" because of some big cliffhanger at the end, and suddenly I've watched four in a row without realising it. :(

Later: just realised this is the 100th post on my blog! Yay!

the joy of having siblings

This is an email my sister Felicity, who is going to the U2 concert with me, forwarded me. It is a series of emails she and her husband Mike exchanged on hearing about the postponement.

-----Original Message-----
From: Felicity
Sent: Thursday, 9 March 2006 3:08 p.m.
To: Michael

U2 postpones NZ concerts ......


From: Michael
Sent: Thursday, 9 March 2006 15:40
To: Felicity
Subject: RE:

Oh stink!


From: Felicity
Sent: Thursday, 9 March 2006 4:10 p.m.
To: Michael
Subject: RE:

Indeed. Am amazed we haven’t heard from allie yet.


From: Michael
Sent: Thursday, 9 March 2006 16:19
To: Felicity
Subject: RE:

Give it time. That it will come is one of the few certainties in this life.


Har har.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Am so so so so SO upset. U2 have gone and postponed the rest of their tour. It was in ONE week, the concert I was going to, and I have been pretty delirious with excitement up till : NOW.
It's because of an illness in the immediate family of one of the band members. I'm trying to sympathise but it's really very hard right now. Do they realise the cost this is going to involve for hundreds of thousands of people? I'm probably going to lose my plane ticket and have to pay for another! Grrr. Flamingo. (Flamingo is my substitute swear word.)

It actually makes me quite angry. I mean, in 2001 they went ahead with the tour, on schedule, even though Bono's father DIED, for goodness' sake. I really hope they'll give us some more details or it'll be really hard to take. And I also really hope they give us the new dates very soon or it'll be impossible to change flight dates/times.

Me and a couple of friends are going to meet up tonight to have a crying party.

It just seems like EVERYTHING has gone wrong in buying these tickets. First, I bought them and had to sort out major issues because I used my brother's credit card and to pick the tickets up, I needed to be the credit card holder, and he lives in Malaysia. That took ages because they didn't reply to my emails. Then, I tried to arrange postage of the tickets and although I asked them to do this three times, it wasn't until the fourth time I rang that the ticket company actually posted them. Finally I thought nothing more could go wrong, and now THIS. Argh.


Okay, I am feeling a lot better about this all. My friend Jane and I met up for a coffee and discussed this rationally and decided it's very unlikely that they'll cancel TEN concerts entirely. And I realised the reason I'm taking this so badly is that it was just so close. If they had postponed it back in January it wouldn't have been such a big deal. So I just need to be patient.

And, the nice news is, Air New Zealand have promised to transfer U2 concert-goers plane tickets for free.

But not-so-nice is the news that apparently one of their daughters is seriously ill. Which helps quite a lot to understand why they had to postpone. It's fair enough.

Monday, March 06, 2006

find your inner squirrel

(Above: yes, I am a little over-excited about the U2 concert. This is my standard practise whenever I make pikelets, although in this case they were banana pikelets.)

You too can find your inner squirrel, at Squirrel Name Generator! For Allie, I am Colonel Drunkenpaws, which I didn't think was quite dignified enough, so I tried again with my full name (Alison G___ S____) and got Princess Von Bushy.

Hmm. I suppose you could never really expect to have a really dignified squirrel name. I have a feeling Princess Von Bushy is as good as it gets.

Random information: on the radio this morning they had a competition where you text in your fantasy in order to win a prize. I expect they were meaning fantasy as in sordid details but I thought about it and realised my fantasy has always been for New Zealand to have a national day of mourning when I die. :) I think everyone fantasises a little bit about their death, and how everyone will realise what a genius they were, and canonise them, but it will be TOO LATE.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

photo shop is fun

I've been having some fun tonight playing with the digital photo software that came with the camera I use. It's not amazingly great software and doesn't really have that many features but all the same it's fun just experimenting with photos and seeing how they look in sepia or black and white or as cartoons... These are some random ones that I thought turned out okay. My nephews, at Quail Island again, as a cartoon; some flowers in town as a cartoon; my little baby nephew who is just so cute, in sepia.

Friday, March 03, 2006

liberals and conservatives

Thanks for your comments on those posts, Patty! My sister and I had a big conversation about the whole 'conservative' label actually. She is doing a PhD in sociology/education sort of stuff and said something about how there's quite a lot of study done on how people use words like 'conservative' or 'moralising' to invalidate other people's positions--ie as shock words so their position/opinion remains unthreatened. It was pretty interesting that it's actually very unacademic to say such things now, according to these studies. I mean, usually it seems that it's all the 'academics' who shoot you down for saying anything vaguely conservative.

I'm a bit of a mongrel because there's some things I'm very conservative in and others that I'm a little bit liberal. By US standards I'm probably a liberal but by NZ standards a borderline conservative. I think liberals generally annoy me more than conservatives though!! And I just don't see how some things, such as abortion, can be so widely accepted by liberals as completely okay. They don't even want to admit there's anything morally niggly about abortion at all. The main reason I would see myself as liberal is because I believe it is more important to help the poorer people of the nation than to give huge tax bonuses to the filthy rich. It also makes me a little angry to see that the reason a lot of people in the Church vote from a right-wing stance is because of issues like civil unions and prostitution reform. I just think it's wrong that so often we Christians focus on all the 'don't do this' stuff, and ignore the more leftist ideals of helping the poor (in politics, anyway; I don't want to minimise all the amazing charity work done by Christian organisations). I have a moral problem with civil unions, yes, but I have more of a moral problem with the leader of the right-wingers saying that people on welfare are lazy, and that more money should go to the already wealthy.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

U2 fever

I woke up this morning and it was the most beautiful feeling. Want to know why? :) I remembered that this time in two weeks I will be going up to Auckland. Then I remembered that in two weeks and one day I will be going to the U2 concert.

It suddenly feels very close. Like how it feels when it's two weeks before your tenth birthday and you now have a reasonable right to start counting down. I think I just find it so hard to believe I'll see them in the flesh, in 3-D. The only time I've ever seen anyone else who is actually famous in a worldwide way is when Bill Clinton drove past my school in 1999 (I'm convinced he smiled at me. Me alone. I was waving a sign saying 'ton'--the last piece of a sign my friends and I made that said Hel lo Mr Clin ton, on five bits of A4 paper). That was so thrilling and I don't even like him that much. I can actually see myself getting sick with excitement over this. :S Which I very much hope doesn't happen!

A friend diagnosed me with U2 fever before. She's got the same symptoms, apparently.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

just a note

Plug time! Halfway Down The Stairs, the writing e-zine I am senior fiction editor for (haha, how grandiose that sounds), has just released its second issue, 'Wanderlust'. Do check it out. This time round we have a variety of poetry, short fiction and non-fiction. I have a short story in it called "Soundtrack Of My Life." I think it's got some fantastic stuff in it this time round that heaps of very different people would like. And if you're an aspiring writer too, we accept submissions--our next publication is in August, and the theme is Kaleidoscope, or Colour. (Kaleidoscope was easier because we all spell 'colour/color' different ways!) And if you submit a short story, I'll be the one who writes the acceptance/rejection email, and I promise I'll be nice, so don't be scared!

I return, wounded

This is a photo of my nephews, dancing to what must surely be the most annoying song ever recorded (Crazy Frog). It wasn't supposed to turn out blurry but I quite like it like that! I also like how it looks like they're jumping out of the cabinet, rather like Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy out of the Wardrobe.

Well, I have submitted myself to the bruising critique of my Creative Writing classmates. It wasn't as bad as I thought it could be, at all! What a pleasant surprise. I already had some good vibes going from being one of the first to volunteer, and got a lot of leeway because we couldn't have a perfect view of how we were supposed to write it. So, in fact, that was a bonus. But I did get it wrong in that we were meant to enlarge it more from just straight dialogue into how you would normally write a short story.

The nice thing was that most people liked the dialogue a lot. My teacher wrote "What was at first a rather incoherent exchange becomes a lucid and intelligent conversation between a father and his daughter, a moment of bonding between them and of the father influencing the daughter with his beliefs. One has a sense of the connection between them, that they are friendly, that the daughter admires the father." And most people commented that it was very natural and unlaboured, that they liked how the characters came across so strongly despite it being only dialogue (especially the father), and that they liked the ending.

The main problem was obviously the lack of strong plot. I knew that would be what came up because I found it so hard to move from a conversation that was primarily about politics to an actual plot. Also I was unsure how far we were supposed to go in terms of changing the conversation. The most critical reading I got told me I was 'moralising'--which I suppose I was. But he also told me that the characters were a 'reactionary father and conservative daughter', which I dislike immensely, as I don't believe it's at all conservative to disagree with people insulting each other. I hate people who say that if you don't agree with something they want to do, you're old-fashioned or reactionary. I couldn't read much of his writing, he used silly terms like 'chronological inversion' (puh-lease, who knows what that means?), and he critiqued the original transcript, which I did not write, and this seems to me to go beyond the usual bounds of stupidity. Besides, he had silly hair. (I really hope he never reads this blog!) So I'm not going to take his more negative critique too seriously. :)

All in all, it was very helpful, although it's not like I'm going to use the dialogue for anything more serious that homework. It was a good exercise.

Hi Fraser Don, thanks for visiting my blog! Yes, I usually write way too much for essays etc, as you can probably tell from this blog--I just can't stop. How did you find second year Ling? What courses did you do? I'm quite disappointed I'm not having Kon for any classes this year. His anecdotes kept me sane. :)