Wednesday, November 14, 2007

so long, farewell...

... auf Wiedersehen, goodbye. Not permanently. Actually for only two and a half weeks. I'm flying to Singapore tonight, from whence I shall fly to Penang, Malaysia (isn't that just the most pretentious way to phrase something?!), and from whence we shall drive to Krabi, Thailand at some point in the two and a half weeks. I will see you again on the 2nd of December - with, no doubt, far too many photos.

Monday, November 12, 2007

the pros and cons of fauna

I saw that huge spider this weekend. It was outside the window where I sat reading a book, relaxing at these fantastic rammed-earth cottages we stayed at, near a place called Dunsborough south of Perth. We think it was a Huntsman spider, which are BIIIIG, but apparently harmless to humans. Still... I kept my eye out for it pretty devotedly, I can tell you, just before I went to bed. Both fascinating and terrifying.

We also saw cute little geckos and, from a cliff, a whale of some kind, and later, some dolphins swimming up the river. We did not see kangaroos, which my sister and brother had promised we would see at dusk because the last time they stayed at those cottages there was a herd of about forty.

Other than Australian fauna we walked through a forest of GIGANTIC trees, a "Mammoth Cave" that felt like a cathedral, and around the cliffs near a lighthouse. By the time we got back to Perth this afternoon it was at least 35 DEGREES, or at the most 39. (That's around 100 degrees fahrenheit.) So this evening we went for a swim at the beach - the swim was bee-autiful. The flies were out, however, and this time, they bit. I personally stayed off the beach and in the water as much as possible, and I will take this opportunity to say that I cannot understand West Australians who lie there in their bikinis or speedos looking totally unconcerned at the number of flies crawling around on their backs.

(To be fair, apparently this year is much worse than normal, because of a wet but warm spring. Don't let me put you off visiting Western Australia.)

3 sleeps until I fly to Malaysia! Yippee!

Friday, November 09, 2007

the soundtrack of my life... so far

The soundtrack of my life - it's the name of a story I wrote a while ago which I can't bear to read now - but more relevantly it's the concept of my brother-in-law, who thinks that everyone has a virtual soundtrack of songs that are "fate songs". Not only are they songs you like but they are songs that meant something to you at that time. This is my attempt to write down what I think could be my album of fate songs. Obviously, the last few years are always going to seem the most eventful because I can actually remember the songs I listened to and the things that happened. But I've had a go at the early years too.

Babyhood: Phantom of the Opera. Okay, so most parents don't play their baby songs about murder, seduction and intrigue but apparently this was my favourite music - and I still love it.

Toddler: Jesus Bids Us Shine... with a clear "blue" light, according to my version of the children's hymn I would not stop singing and didn't understand a word of.

In the Hall of the Mountain King (by Grieg) - In our household this was known as the troll music. Classical music was definitely not boring then.

A Whole New World, from Aladdin - When I was a kid my sisters and I used to do a lot of singing around the piano together, which I loved. I remember lots of laughing and, at risk of sounding corny, that fantastic feeling of acceptance and understanding that comes with sisterhood. Some of our favourite songs were from a Disney songbook and this was one of the best. It makes me feel nostalgic.

Age 9-10ish: Moonlight Sonata (Beethoven). This was a major turning point and one of the most obvious fate songs on this list for me. It was the song that I thought was heavenly that I decided to learn to play on the piano by hook or by crook - and once I was able to play it, I had got past the drudgery of learning an instrument and I was in love with the piano.

Age 13ish: I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor. Grooooaaaaan. Aaaaaaggggggghhhh. Stupid "relationship" with silly "boyfriend" - in which I was totally overdramatic and is too embarrassing to think about much. Anyway, when he dumped me, I used to sing this all the time because, obviously, a 2 month relationship at age thirteen warrants this kind of emotion.

14: Oh Daisy, Zed. Don't be surprised if you haven't heard of them - they're a Christchurch band that I was completely obsessed with for a while. I, like, got Ben and Adrian's autographs! And Nathan wrote me a birthday card!!!! This was the beginning of a stream of obsessions which (obviously) I am still in the throes of. I'm beginning to think that I must be obsessed with something or I'll die.

15ish: Strong, Robbie Williams. For those who don't know the lyrics: You think that I'm strong, you're wrong, you're wrong. My mum was sick with cancer all through high school and I was very insecure about a lot of things - but somehow some of my friends were jealous of me for things like good grades, and I couldn't do anything right without feeling guilty about it or anything wrong without them being pleased. It got on my nerves just a bit.

17: Saving the World, Brooke Fraser. And while we're waiting, we could try saving the world - or are we storing that up for a rainy day? Got me interested in social justice. And is also a very cool song.

19: The Scientist, Coldplay. Nobody said it was easy, it's such a shame for us to part - nobody said it was easy, nobody said that it would be this hard. Mum's death. I am not exaggerating when I say that this song was playing almost constantly at the time in my stereo and in my head.

20: Nothing Ever Happens, Del Amitri. Just because I think they're great lyrics...
Bill hoardings advertise products that nobody needs / While Angry from Manchester writes to complain about all the repeats on TV / And computer terminals report some gains on the values of copper and tin / While American businessmen snap up Van Goghs for the price of a hospital wing / Nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all / The needle returns to the start of the song and we all sing along like before / Nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all / They'll burn down the synagogues at six o'clock and we'll all go along like before / And we'll all be lonely tonight and lonely tomorrow...
In short - my cynical and slightly angry phase. Another song from this phase - Mad World. I'm not altogether sure this phase is over and I'm aware I might not even sound like I'm passing through it - but let's just say the last year has not been filled with daisies and bunny rabbits.

At the same time, On Fire, Switchfoot - When everything inside me looks like everything I hate, you are the hope I have for change, you are the only chance I'll take... And just to make it absolutely clear, to me, "you" = God.

Age 21: Welcome Home, Dave Dobbyn. There’s a woman with her hands trembling - haere mai / And she sings with a mountain’s memory - haere mai / There’s a cloud the full length of these isles / Just playing chase with the sun / And it’s black and it’s white and it’s wild / All the colours are one / So welcome home... This is a song written by a Kiwi for Kiwis coming home. About a fifth of New Zealanders do not live in New Zealand - at the moment, that includes me. We Kiwis don't have a reputation for jingoism but this song makes me tear up and I'll be playing it on my ipod as the plane lands in Christchurch on 24 December.

Also age 21: Liquid, Jars of Clay. This is the one thing, the one thing that I know / Blood-stained brow / He wasn't broken for nothing / Arms nailed down / He didn't die for nothing. So in summary - I'm basically confused at the moment, as anyone who reads my God blog will probably have guessed - but this song expresses the only thing I know right now as well.

(Feel free to be tagged if you want.)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

life lessons from literature

Some people see reading as a waste of time - I see reading as a way to gain valuable and practical life lessons, which are as follows:

1) from Pride and Prejudice - When proposing to someone, do not insult their family.

2) from The Firm, by John Grisham - If something seems too good to be true, distrust it. It is probably run by the Mafia.

3) from The Lord of the Rings, by Tolkien - Don't get too attached to your jewellery.

4) from Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte - Never marry someone without checking up on their family mental history.

5) from Journey into the Whirlwind, by Evgeniya Ginzburg - Truth actually is stranger than fiction.

6) from All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque - War sucks.

7) from anything by Agatha Christie - If something bad happens, always suspect the most unlikely person, OR anyone with an airtight alibi.

8) from Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding - Never date cads.

9) from I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith - A surefire way to get rid of writer's block is to get someone to lock you in a tower until you've written five pages.

10) from Darkness at Noon, by Arthur Koestler - Logic is not all it's cracked up to be.

11) from the Bible - God is nice and he likes me.

So there you go. I tag anyone who likes books (or, if you prefer, movies or TV).

By the way - last night we went down to the beach for fish and chips with some friends. It was about thirty degrees (celsius) and there was no wind. Result: FLIES. It was horrible. The sort of thing that should be a Hitchcock movie. And as soon as the fish and chips were ready, it was like we were surrounded by hundreds of flies. We had to eat through tiny holes in the paper and even then I think I only managed about six chips and a quarter of a fish before I was just too sickened to go on. There's nothing like a swarm of Australian flies to kill an appetite.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

irrational fear

I'm going to come right out and say it - I am scared of girls who wear huge sunglasses. They sit on the train looking straight ahead and not moving or smiling, and they don't seem to care that in fifteen years time, their children will be rolling around in hysteric laughter at the sight of photos of them. Although I don't find them funny at all, because they make me think of shows like Dr Who - they would be perfect candidates for aliens to possess and turn into zombie-type monsters. How scary would that be, all these girls floating along with arms in front of them squeaking "Exterminate! Exterminate!" and with HUGE mirror-like glasses on. Maybe behind the glasses could be red lasers, or the holes through which their souls were sucked out. Frightening.

So, what's your weird and irrational fear?

By the way, if any of my readers wear oversized sunnies - I am absolutely sure I would not be scared of you.