The week of my 29th birthday

October 27, 2006

I had a really nice birthday on Wednesday. On the weekend, Paul bought me the book Art and Feminism by Helena Reckitt and Peggy Phelan that I have wanted for quite some time. It is a large, beautiful book with lots and lots of glossy pictures of great art and a heap of articles and extracts from seminal feminist texts and art publications. It rocks. Paul has been working 12-9pm all this week so he sleeps on when I get up to go to work. When I came back from the shower on Wednesday morning, there was a card waiting for me on my pillow. It has the cutest picture of two cats snuggling and it says 'for someone very special on her birthday'. Inside Paul wrote such a lovely, lovely message.

I had a cruisey day at work and they gave me a cake with candles and the book, Stitch n Bitch: the Knitters' Handbook and the CD, Show Your Bones by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It did rain all day and I got quite wet in the afternoon as I trogged up the road to register with a doctor. That night I bought a pizza on the way home and ate it on my bed and listened to my new CD and crocheted. I quite enjoyed myself.

Last weekend Paul and I went to the Tate Modern and looked at the slides they have there at the moment. We'd just missed out on the afternoon sessions (free) tickets. The slides are there till April so I am planning to go on them. On Sunday we spent most of the day watching films at home (Monsters Inc and other things). Sunday night we went into Soho and ate dinner at a restaurant serving organic, vegan food. It was good and cheap.

I went to my drawing class on Tuesday night. We had to draw a landscape (or cityscape or seascape) either from memory or made up. I drew the view from my parents' verandah that I remember from growing up.

I crocheted my first garment this week! It was a black scarf. I'm quite proud of it. I've started to crochet a handbag now. I had picked out some patterns in the Stitch n Bitch book that I wanted to make but have since changed my mind in favour of easier patterns. I'm also keen to get into the knitting patterns too. Both the knitting book and the crocheting book have patterns for a bikini! Haven't decided yet if I'll make it.

I have attempted (again) to give up caffeine. I give it up, I take it up again, I have decaf coffee at work (and sometimes lots of it) and then I end up having a caffeinated coffee some time anyway, then I don't have any and get a terrible headache and I remember why I give it up. Monday morning I woke up at 4 with a terrible headache (that felt very much like a caffeine-withdrawal headache). I couldn't get back to sleep so I got up at 5 and went to the loungeroom to watch telly and my flatmate Bernie also couldn't sleep and so I watched a couple of episodes of Six Feet Under with her (I'd never seen it before). I started crocheting a scarf which I finished Tuesday night. I wonder how long it will take to make the handbag. I will need to line it too – sounds complicated. Anyway, I decided to quit caffeine again. Have been mostly pretty good this week.

Yesterday I went on an adventure on the way home and went to an Asda supermarket (this involved getting off the train at a station I'd never been to, getting a bus I hadn't got before and hoping it would be obvious where to get off. Then I had to find a different bus to get home. It wasn't too hard all up). It was really huge and sold cheap clothes. I bought some clothes which are probably made in sweatshops considering how cheap they are. The supermarket was actually quite overwhelming, it was so incredibly large.

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An anniversary, a birthday, weekend planning and materialism

October 20, 2006

This weekend I am hoping to go to the Game On exhibition at the Science Museum (http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/exhibitions/gameon/). The exhibition will have a heap of computer games from the last four decades, the ten most influential game consoles, a feature on the music of computer games and more. It’s not free but it sounds like fun.

Tomorrow marks two years since Paul and I first got together (after going to see Alien Vs Predator at the cinema with his friend Dani – who has since been going through treatment for breast cancer!). We had spent the previous week flirting outrageously with each other and the previous months getting to know each other through a friend. Paul seems very excited about the anniversary. I’m not sure what to plan. I think I’m worried about building it up too much and then it being a let down.

Apart from the games exhibition at the science museum there is also a drawing exhibition I want to go to and some slides I want to try out at the Tate Modern.

Next Wednesday is my birthday; I will turn 29. It has been an interesting year the last year and now I only have a year until I’m 30. My attention will be turning a lot towards having a baby I think in the next year – lots of thoughts on my financial situation, and physical and mental fitness.

I have told Paul to look on my Amazon wish list to get ideas for what to get me for my birthday. It now has so many items on it – 77 – and I’m worrying if maybe it’s just a bit too long and maybe I’m just a bit too greedy and concerned with material things. I know I buy things to make me feel good and the thrill of new things doesn’t last very long, meaning I have to go buy more things to make me feel better. I’m sure if I got all 77 items on the list, apart from not having time to read/enjoy them all, they couldn’t make me as happy as I think they will. I have been struggling with this issue for years. How do I get out of the habit of buying things for comfort?


Sad news

October 20, 2006

Just had a call from my sister in Australia. She has just got back from Tonga from a funeral for her 12-year-old niece. It's so sad. The niece died from appendicitis that wasn't picked up. My sister wants to have kids and go live there with her Tongan husband but this kind of thing really makes me worry. In Australia, I'm sure the appendicitis would be picked up. The chance of dying from it is so slim if it's picked up and the appendix is removed. So sad that this twelve-year-old lost her life. And she was an only child too. I'm sure it will be very hard on her parents.

My sister sent an email and photos from the funeral. This morning I sat here at work, with tears steaming down my face as I looked at the photos. My sister found it quite hard having the dead body lying in a bed in the lounge room. Everyone went up and kissed the dead child but my sister said she just couldn't do it. She had never seen a dead body before – I have never seen a dead body before. I've only been to two funerals and the coffins were closed. She said that her husband's family were very sensitive to the fact that it was all very new for her and different to how we deal with death in Australia.

That family have had a tough few months. Not long ago, another child died in the US (a niece of my sister's) and then not long after that, the child's father died (my sister's husband's brother) leaving four other children and a wife. So sad.

I hope they all cope with it. It's been a very sad time for my sister and her husband. And I feel so far away from them.


Exciting parcels, new nephew, the Stranglers and more…

October 17, 2006

Yesterday I got a parcel from a friend in Edinburgh (thanks Lucy!!!). It contained a zine, a postcard, a badge and a couple of CDs she made for me. I listened to Limp Wrist and Lily Allen on the tube this morning! Quite a contrast! Last Friday I bought the best of the Stranglers because I really like their song Golden Brown. It is really beautiful but I think it might be about heroin! See these Lyrics:

Golden brown texture like sun
Lays me down with my mind she runs
Throughout the night
No need to fight
Never a frown with golden brown

Every time just like the last
On her ship tied to the mast
To distant lands
Takes both my hands
Never a frown with golden brown

Golden brown finer temptress
Through the ages she's heading west

From far away, Stays for a day
Never a frown with golden brown

I thought Golden Brown was the only song of theirs I knew but I also knew their song Skin Deep and Paul recognised Peaches.

I didn't get up to too much on the weekend – saw my brother and his girlfriend. Went to the Spitalfields markets and looked at some nice (but expensive) clothes and bags. Paul and I ate out a few too many times. I did find the American feminist magazine Bust (www.bust.com)in Borders which was cool. I used to buy it in Brisbane and it's been nice to find it again. Paul has been buying lots of magazines on website building and using photoshop so we really need to get the internet on at home so we can get our websites online!

On Sunday evening, as I sat watching the final episode of the BBC's latest version of Jane Eyre, I finally learnt to crochet a circle! Next stop, the granny square! After Jane Eyre finished, they showed Wide Sargasso Sea (the story about Mr Rochester and his first wife) so I had to stay up and watch that. Paul couldn't believe how sad the story was but it's a bit like episode three of Star Wars – you couldn't expect a happy story when you know the next instalment.

There are quite a few patterns I want to make in my Stitch n Bitch Crochet book so I need to get reading on the section, How to Read Crochet Patterns. There are some really cool little jackets and some fingerless gloves!

Eleven days ago (October 6) I had a new nephew enter the world back in Australia. His name is Jolon. Yesterday I posted a teddy bear to him (and a card to his family), plus a DVD (Howl's Moving Castle) for his brother who turns 5 soon (two days after my birthday) and I also sent a little kangaroo finger puppet to their sister because I didn't want her to feel left out.

I watched Howl's Moving Castle before sending it – well I had to check it was suitable! Paul and I did worry it might be too slow-moving for its intended recipient. Paul wasn't sure he'd like it but I hope so. It's quite cool. I had read the book (only last year) by Diana Wynne Jones and enjoyed it and had looked forward to seeing the Miyazaki version of it (he did Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke). Pixar studios did the English dub.

I didn't go to Stitch and Bitch on Sunday because I forgot it was on! I will try to go to the next one. It is quite close to home which is convenient but I thought of trying to find a group with more like-minded members. But then, I've only been once so maybe I should give them another go.

My drawing class is tonight which I'm looking forward to. It is slowly getting colder at night and in the mornings – we have the heater on at night now – but it's not too bad yet.


mental health days

October 12, 2006

I went home early from work on Tuesday because I was feeling sick in the tummy – really nauseous. I missed my drawing class too which I was REALLY disappointed about. I stayed home yesterday (Wednesday) because I was still feeling sick in the stomach and I came back to work today (Thurs). I'm actually inclined to think that it was just stress that made me feel sick because I've been worrying about a lot of things lately. One of which is being depressed. I had been feeling quite lethargic and down lately and had started to worry about getting depressed again. I've been through this cycle before – I feel depressed, I start to stress about it, I get physically sick. Luckily I'm much more aware of it these days and can recognise it a whole lot quicker. I still feel a bit sick but not too much – I think I'd been worrying needlessly about work too. Anyway, I enjoyed my day off – I lay around and watched Transamerica (which is a good film) – and generally relaxed. And I haven't worried too much about the lack of sick pay (temping isn't so great).

Also, yesterday I started writing book reviews for my next zine. I've been putting this off for ages – and it's really best to write your reviews just after you've finished the book.

Last night I was trying to pick a book to read before going to sleep and I couldn't. I think I have too many on the go. I realised I need to try to read less books at the same time. Slllooooooooooooowwwww down. I can't possibly read every single book I want to.

Paul has been setting up a blog for both him and me on the server he has through work. I'm excited about getting my website happening again. If only we had internet access at home.


Haircuts, reading, drawing, university.

October 10, 2006

The weekend before last I got a hair cut at Toni and Guy near where I live. I'm not entirely happy with it. It looks good but I feel like it's too much like a bob and I think I would have liked it to be a bit more layered. The stylist (as they seem to be called these days) said it was chic! Which you'd think I'd be happy with but I'm still making up my mind. I wish I had a camera so I could post a photo of it to get opinions of friends and family on it – most people here seem to like it. One woman I work with said it is very cute. As I'm kinda new to London I didn't really know what would be a good place to get my hair cut but I've had good haircuts at Toni and Guy in Australia so I thought I'd go there. It cost £36 which doesn't seem too bad if you don't convert to Australian Dollars (gotta stop timesing everything by two and a half!).

After writing yesterday of wanting to read Wide Sargasso Sea, I read that it was on TV last night. I didn't watch it though – I was too tired – so I will have to get hold of it and try to read it. Although, I am in the middle of a LOT of books at the moment. Here are some of the books I am reading at the moment: The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, The Sexual Life of Catherine M by Catherine Millet, How Full Is Your Bucket: Positive Strategies for Life and Work by Tom Rath, The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett. And these are just the ones I can remember. I keep telling myself, there isn't enough time to read every book I would like. I need to be more selective.

I have my drawing class again tonight. I'm looking forward to it but I still get nervous – all those new people, seeing my drawing that I don't think is very good. Last week we were taken down to the canteen in our break but it wasn't open so we all went into the bar. People sat down in there but I left as soon as I'd bought a drink because of all the smoke – I hate smoking. So I was waiting out in the empty canteen all alone feeling like a bit of a loser when two other women came out of the bar and joined me, so we had a bit of a chat and it was nice (they didn't like the smoke either).

A letter has arrived for me in Australia about re-enrolling in my Visual Arts course at QUT. They let you defer for one year but I don't know how hard it is to get further deferment. I'm going to see if I can defer another year but I just found out how big my HECS debt is (Higher Education Contribution Scheme – i.e. how much I owe the Australian government for all my years of university study) and it is huge so I'm not so sure I want to go back and finish the Vis Arts course – although, I really really enjoyed it last year. But, I do strongly believe that you do not need to go to university to be an artist.

Oh well, I will try to defer again and see what happens. Who knows, I may not want to go back to Australia by the beginning of next year. I have felt a bit homesick recently but I don't know a lot of people here and I'm still finding my feet so I can't really decide to leave just yet!

Better get to work

Carmen


Crocheting, Brontes, colds.

October 9, 2006

Gee, it's been a while since I've updated. Not a real lot has been happening.

I had a bit of a head cold for a while there, but nothing too serious. I spent most of the weekend before last resting and trying to get over it. I didn't go to my Stitch and Bitch meeting because I couldn't be bothered going out into the cold.

I have been practising my crocheting though. I'm going at it rather slowly but at least I'm slowly getting through the different stitches in my Stitch n Bitch crochet book. Who knows, I may even start a pattern soon.

I'm still deciding whether or not to knit myself a houndstooth vest. I was very excited about it but after doing a test piece, I realised it would take a lot of work and take a long time. Hmmmmmm.

On Saturday Paul worked and I spent a lot of the day pottering around the house, tidying up. It's so nice to be able to see the floor beside my bed again. I even did some drawing on Saturday. Which reminds me, I haven't reported on my first drawing class. Last Tuesday evening I went along to my first lesson of Foundation in Drawing at Central St Martins college. It was pretty cool. We did life drawing which I always find REALLY hard. I picked the class because it covers a variety of media and we draw different things each week – so it's not just life drawing (i.e. drawing people). I met some nice people and I think I will enjoy it.

Yesterday I borrowed a silly horror/sci-fi/alien film from my local library (Dreamcatcher – based on a Stephen King book) and Paul and I watched it in the evening – Paul has been a bit sick recently too. I also borrowed some CDs (hence the Morrissey lyrics in the previous post).

Last night I watched episode 3 of a 4-part series of Jane Eyre. It's such a great story and I love the bit where she asks Mr Rochester does he think that just because she is poor and plain that she has no feelings. Aaaaah, love those Brontes and their strong, independent female characters. I really want to read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. It is a prequel to Jane Eyre and is about Mr Rochester's first wife. I saw a mini-series on TV years ago and remember enjoying it.

The following is from 'From Antoinette to Bertha: the process of 'colonising' within the marriage in Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea' http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofEnglish/imperial/carib/colonising-marriage.htm

“Jean Rhys' complex text, Wide Sargasso Sea, came about as an attempt to re-invent an identity for Rochester's mad wife, Bertha Mason, in Jane Eyre, as Rhys felt that Bronte had totally misrepresented Creole women and the West Indies: 'why should she think Creole women are lunatics and all that? What a shame to make Rochester's wife, Bertha, the awful madwoman, and I immediately thought I'd write a story as it might really have been.' (Jean Rhys: the West Indian Novels, p144). It is clear that Rhys wanted to reclaim a voice and a subjectivity for Bertha, the silenced Creole, and to subvert the assumptions made by the Victorian text. She does so with startling results. In her quest to re-instate Bertha's identity, Rhys raises issues such as the problems of colonisation, gender relations and racial issues. She explores the themes of displacement, Creolisation and miscegenation.”

I will have to check out this novel I think.