Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cosmic Injustice

We're in Melbourne, finally. After all the false starts with the kids having been ill. It almost got to the point where Packrat had to drag me kicking and screaming onto the plane, well, metaphorically speaking. It was horrendous trying to leave especially when I got the sense that the kids actually got wind of the fact that we were leaving and were especially clingy.

Now that we're here, it's a different story. We've managed to get some sleep, despite the fact that I've succumbed to the kids' virus. I still miss the kids horribly but the distance has given me a little bit of perspective and I now realise that it really is a break that I need and possibly what a doctor would have been prescribed if I had seen one. Packrat and I have been able to go walk around and hold hands, eat and not worry or feel guilty about spending time out and away from the children. And all this, with the safe knowledge that the children are in safe hands and though they are still sick, they're on the way to recovering.

Because Melbourne is a second home to us, we don't do much except catch up with old friends and walk round the city. Over the years, the number of people we've had to catch up with have become dwindled because more of our friends have moved on and no longer live in Melbourne. Most of the ones that are still here are the natives- I use this term loosely because I'm not talking about aborigines here. One of the natives I try to see is my old uni professor. Like most of the educators in my life, he made quite an impression on me, opening my eyes to what being an academic and a researcher was really about and impressing upon me how education didn't exist in the four walls of the university. I was saddened earlier this year to hear that he'd had a re-occurence of a brain tumour that had afflicted him about 15 years ago. I spent the last few months constantly reminding myself to find out how he was doing. The only problem was that, well, life got in the way and it was one of those things that I kept pushing back. When I got here, I had no more excuse and guiltily rang him. He didn't sound his usual self and when I announced that I was in Melbourne for a few days, he said regretfully that he couldn't meet me. Not because he was busy but because he was preparing for surgery. Surgery because he had lung cancer.

My mind struggled to wrap its head round that fact. Didn't he just have a brain tumour removed? Isn't there an unwritten rule somewhere out there that states that a person should not have to be afflicted with more than one cancer a year. I tried desperately, to keep the conversation going while my mind tried to process the severity of what he was saying. You always hear that when people announce such ominouos news, there is a silence akin to crickets chirping and I really didn't want him to feel that awkwardness. I tried hard to keep the conversation light, telling him about the latest antics of the kids and discussing developmental milestones with him. He was afterall, my psychology professor. But we kept going back to the issue of his cancer. It was inevitable that it had cast a pall over our conversation just as I'm sure it had, over his life. He talked about how distressing it was and how unfair it was to be struck by two cancers in a year.

It saddened me greatly to hear who I saw as a great man made so dimunitive by his illness. I remembered how he very proudly announced, somewhat Marx-like, that religion was a crutch and he didn't see it necessary. So when I felt moved to tell him that since we couldn't meet him, I would pray for him, I expected him to scoff at it. But his reaction was so subdued and so grateful that I would actually do that for him.

Everything that is happening to him is actually my greatest fears for myself and my loved ones. And I cannot imagine the anguish and the fears that he and his family has to go through. I always threaten Packrat, especially when he is about to sink his teeth into a particularly deep fried and unhealthy meal that I'd be very pissed off with him if he died on me. He retorted one day that it was fine if I was because he wouldn't be around to see it. That did not make me feel any better. The nightmares that always leave me in tears are always the ones where something happens to him and I'm always grateful to be able to wake up and comfort myself with the reality that nothing has happened to Packrat or to the kids.

But to realise that it really wasn't a nightmare and that reality is worse than the dream itself, what can there to be to console one?

It's cosmic injustice in the greatest way.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 16:28

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Slippery slope

My phone's on its last legs. I'm heartbroken about it because there are too many things in my life that have changed and I find myself holding on to the things that have remained constant. One of them being my phone. I know I'm being a tad bit dramatic here but I'm feeling slightly dramatic right now.

Actually, I feel irrationally stressed right now. I mean, at the end of the day, it's just another piece of tech equipment. But even then, it's an appendage that I'm not comfortable living without, although I have on occasion left home without it. It's importance then, must be less than an American Express card.

Anyway, I need to give it up at some point. And I need to replace it. That's where the problem lies. I have had Nokia phones all my life. And there aren't any Nokias out there that have caught my attention. My last Nokia, I bought for very 'girly' and superficial reasons- a) it was pretty and b) it was a clam shell phone and I adored clam shell phones.

So I bought it. I bought it when I was newly pregnant and needing to throw up every other minute. It was a good thing though because it meant that I was distracted enough by trying to figure out how to use it, I would forget for that short time what ailed me.

But now, I have to trade it in. Not because I stopped loving it but because it stopped loving me. On occasion, I would flip it open and be met with a blank screen. Packrat warned me rather ominously that it was the beginning of the end and that it would just give up on me at the most inopportune time. He counselled me into getting a new phone even though there really was no Nokia that caught my eye.

Because I was left without a choice, I had to cast a wider net and see what that would trawl up. Packrat suggested I try one of the Touch phones since I was quite fascinated with the iPhone a few months back. The problem primarily was that Nokia, of course, did not make Touch phones so that meant I would have to learn a new interface from scratch. And my mind blanks out when I try to learn a new interface. I remember wanting to fling my brother's Samsung against the wall because I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to back space on it.

Like buying a car, the only way to decide is to take it out for a spin and see which one feels right in my hands. Very quickly, I narrowed the field to only the HTC Touch Cruise eliminating the LG successor-to-the-Prada-phone and the Asus something or other. My reasons for elimination were rather whimsical and ditzy.

1. I did not like the Asus because it was big, thick and bulky. Even though it had a key pad that I could use to text rather than the touch screen.

2. It was also butt ugly. There was absolutely no aesthetic value in it whatsoever. It would be fine if it was going to be bought by a guy for work purposes but not for a girl who didn't really need Windows Mobile Office to download and read documents.

3. I did not like the LG because one of the key selling features of the phone was this tactile feedback thing where every time a key was activated to text, it would buzz in my hand. I wanted to throw away the phone just to stop the buzzing.

4. The LG's stylus made me write gibberish. Yes, made me. And the stylus is connected to where my phone strap would dangle and since Packrat gave me the phone strap, I wasn't going to leave my pretty clam shell without her coming along.

5. After looking at the HTC's interface where with a flick of the finger, one could toggle the menu, sift through photos in a file, enlarge, shrink or rotate photos by running a finger across the screen or clockwise or anti-clockwise, there was no way I could accept the LG's rather boring conventional interface. Packrat then, very smugly informs me that if I were to have bought the Prada phone that I thought would have been a good replacement, my lot in life would have been much worse.

So there, why I didn't choose the other two. The problem was even at that point, I was still hesitant to give the go ahead. And the list of reasons was as long.

1. I didn't want to part with my beloved clam shell.

2. It had a new interface that I needed to learn and I'm very very stupid when it comes to learning new tech things. I'm likely to enlarge photos when I'm supposed to shrink it or rotate it upside down when I'm trying to rotate it right side up because I have absolutely zero intuitiveness when it comes to which direction to head.

3. The emoticons do not come up as smiley faces. They appear as a colon and a close bracket or in this case, a colon and an open bracket to indicate that I am displeased by this fact.

4. It is $150 more than I can afford.

5. This is probably a good thing but because there isn't a key pad, I can't text while driving.

6. The camera is sans flash.

7. I was concerned that because it was so expensive, I had to like it and couldn't just give it up and I didn't know if I was going to like it or get used to it. In other words, I didn't know how much of a commitment I was willing to give to it.

So, we put the phone back and went off to dinner buying me some time to decide. I got increasingly stressed because I wasn't sure. When such stress afflicts me, it usually heralds the end to impetuous shopping and I walk away from the item. In this case, I couldn't quite because it would be bad if I couldn't decide and my phone died a sudden death which it was apt to do. Packrat did suggest that since I was concerned that it was going to be costly and I would have to commit to learning a whole different interface, I should just get a cheap Nokia to tide me over till something that I fancied more and cost less appeared in the market.

To which, I lamented that he had already shown me the crown jewels of mobile phones (well, sort of anyway) and I couldn't go back to looking at the regular plebian Nokias. Ondine, I discovered and announced loudly, was NOT backward compatible and I accused him of sending me down the slippery slope of techno-snobbery.

So, now I await the public holiday to be over so that my new phone may be delivered and I send along with the delivery guy, my beloved clam shell to be stripped of its beauty into tiny little parts or refurbished and re-packaged for export; hopefully falling into the hands of someone who would enjoy it as much as I did.


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:08

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Finding the mundane

I haven't been blogging. For many reasons. One, it's difficult and slightly schizophrenic trying to keep two blogs and trying to keep the 2 separate in terms of personalities and content. Two. I hardly have enough time to upkeep one blog although the other one is pretty easy since I usually revolve it around photographs of the kids. Three. I'm exhausted and find it hard to utter a coherent thought let alone write it.

Then I look at the blog links I have on the page and realise with some degree of horror that many people on my link list, have either stopped blogging or have blogs I no longer visit. It's easier to figure out the latter. Once again, it boils down to time. Or is it energy? I'm at my computer a lot, everytime I express, I'm online. That amounts to about 3 times a day (barring the time at work) for about 20-60 minutes a time. But much of the time, my brain's pretty addled by all the other things that I do, offline. So, rather than surf blogs and read like I used to, I just look at, as ditzy as it may sound, pretty shopping pages where my brain hardly ever gets taxed. If I feel that my batteries have a little bit more juice, I try to catch up some news and figure out what's going on in the world out there. Most of the time, it's not good news, but I gotta know it so that I can teach it. So, I'm hardly reading the blogs. Occasionally, I pop by and marvel at how much everyone else has done while I'm still plodding along.

Then, there are those who've stopped blogging. Mostly because they have lost the inclination to, the blog fad has given way to blogging lite in the form of Facebook. You don't really have to do much on FB except update your status and it's much easier to interact with those out there by hurling books, chickens, an Oreo, a bowl of gumbo etc at them. Less brain cells, further reach. But even that, I've pretty much given up on. The attraction didn't hold. Other people, like me, well, just found that life got in the way and exhaustion hits like a wall.

I miss blogging and try to find time to do so. But time's such a precious commodity. Rather than sit and write, there's so much else for me to do like hang out with Packrat, watch television which is a rare treat these days or even take a nap and attempt to cancel my large sleep deficit. It all seems rather mundane and inconsequential and literary pursuits, if you can call this one, shouldn't be sacrificed in the name of the mundane. But well, in my world, I need some of the mundane and gain some sort of equilibrium.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 23:41

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Constipated weather

You know the weather's constipated when you're rudely awoken from your sleep by loud claps of thunder but waking up a few hours later to horrid humid morning weather whether your face is oily, your skin is sticky and your hair's plastered to the nape of your neck by sweat.

It's a tease, the ominous dark clouds moving, rumbling thunder and the weather reports of showers expected but nothing to follow. On occasion, there's a little bit of a drizzle but nothing but sticky thick air. All that noise and hullaboo but no follow through. Typical. One would think the weather was controlled by the civil service.

So, my fondest wish, even if it'd probably mean the world's weather is more shot than it is now, is for it to snow. Snow damn it snow. Where are the Indian chiefs when you need them to do the rain or in my case, snow dance?

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 10:32

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Monday, May 05, 2008


This has got to be illegal in some way or other. It's the modern day equivalent of

Rock a bye baby on the treetop
when the wind blows,
the cradle will rock.
when the bough breaks,
the cradle will fall
and down will come baby,
cradle and all.

But worse! It isn't even a trampoline at the bottom catching the poor bouncing baby. And how sure is the thrower that he won't miss?

Goodness. Almost stopped my heart. Although it did not stop me from shrieking.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 16:31

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering

-Angsty post ahead-

I know you are much older.

I know you are entitled to your opinions.

I know you think you know much better.

I know you think your way is best.

The problem is while you are much older,

Your opinions are not mine.

I do not share your outlook.

I do not wish you to push your outlook onto me.

I want to lead my life, my way.

I don't want to lead it the way you did.

I don't care if you think your way is best.

I want to do it the way I think it's best.

I don't want to hear what you think about everything in the world.

I have opinions of my own.

I don't need to sit there and listen.

To you, because you think yourself superior.

I don't need to sit there and listen.

To you, in that condescending tone.

That whoever shall disobey you,

Is beneath you, is foolish and requires a talking to.

I hate that you have gotten under my skin.

I wish I could ignore you

I wish I could tell you exactly where to put it.

I hate that I am bound by respect.

I hate that I am bound by duty.

I hate that I am bound to honour.

I hate that I love and that I love I hate.


Some people just bring out the adolescent in me.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 09:58

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Erasing the footprint

Packrat and I are planning our little escape in June. We have to go to Melbourne to get some stuff sorted out PR wise and thought we'd take the opportunity to have a bit of a holiday. Traditionally when we go back to Melbourne, it's usually just eating and taking in the city. This time, I'm itching to do a little more. I've been wanting to see Billy Elliot, the musical and was wondering if it was showing in Melbourne. It wasn't. But it was in Sydney. Close enough.

I set about booking the flights to Sydney this morning. The problem with us being there for such a short period is that we are at the mercy of either extremely early or extremely costly internal flights. Being on holiday, I chose the extremely early flights. Like I said to Packrat, we could fly out of Sydney at 6 in the morning and make it back to Melbourne in time for breakfast at our favourite breakfast place.

Anyway, at the end of the booking form, I was asked if I wanted to pay for Carbon Offset. Apparently, I could assuage my environmental guilt by paying AUD$3.50. This wasn't the same as giving alms to monks to guarantee a better life. This was more practical. The money would be used to fund carbon reduction or avoidance projects. I liked that idea. I'm in the midst of grading papers about how to reduce waste in the environment and this is a practical example that could be used. At least, I can say that I'm not being hypocritical when I nag my students about doing more than paying lip service to save the environment.

This isn't much. But it's one step and I feel good having done it.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:11

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"