off to the Dolomites

January 19, 2007

I’m very very excited about going to Italy tomorrow – my first time on the ‘continent’. I’m going skiing at the Dolomites for a week and then going to Venice for a day. Paul and I are going with his parents and sister. Wikipedia has some really beautiful pictures from the Dolomites (a section of the Alps) which are in Northern Italy – well the place we’re going is in Italy!
I probably won’t be posting during the week I’m away – well I might if I have internet access – but I should hopefully have great stories and photos to share when I get back!

Carmen


I'm unemployed

January 18, 2007

That’s right kids, as of last week I am no longer working for Islington Borough Council. My resignation was quite sudden but my heart wasn’t in it so I had to go (and various other reasons!). I enjoyed working with most of the people there but they seem to keep people on as agency staff for a really long time (so you don’t get sick pay or holiday pay) which I think really sucks arse! And certainly didn’t endear the organisation to me. And I was there for five months and still hadn’t been sent to induction which I thought was pretty slack. I will miss a number of really cool/awesome people I met there though – will have to make sure I keep in touch with them.

Luckily I have a very supportive partner who has said I can take as long as I want to find another job – which is certainly very helpful and comforting. At first I was kind of stressing out and thinking that I must find another job straight away but then I figured I should have a holiday, and wait till we came back from our week in Italy (and Paul was saying that too).

And in good news, I have been to the gym every second day for the last ten days. I might actually form a habit! Yay. I even use weight machines now (used to be a bit scared of them) and the rowing machine! I had a nice spa afterwards tonight – it really got my muscles shaking! I’ve started to feel the workouts in my legs which is good – it should really help my flat feet and creaky knees!

Last Friday I went out for my friends Renee and Jason’s birthdays to a nice club in Holborn/Covent Garden – not really sure where the boundaries are – and it was really nice and I talked to two people I’d never met before. It would be nice to see them again!

Yesterday I had a blood test to check that my antidepressents aren’t doing bad things to my liver – but I’ve been on them for about three years I think, so hopefully I would have noticed by now. I also had a pap smear yesterday (or cervical smear, as they call them in Britain). I hadn’t had one for years but all the memories came flooding back as I lay there with a speculum up my c**t!

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Only two days till I fly to Italy, and finally see snow – at the ripe old age of 29! That’s what happens when you live the first 28 and a half years of your life in Queensland I guess! 🙂

And in news on the breakin….
The police have caught a man who they believe broke into our building – his DNA matches the blood found in two of the other flats in my building. Unfortunately, no sign of our laptop or MP3 players or reebok sneakers. Yesterday I went to the local police station to give a statement – which I’d never done before. The DC said he thought the guy would get 20 years as they believe they can charge him with 23 robberies (he was in custody for one he did on New Year’s Eve – I guess Public Holidays were his days to work – we were burgled Boxing Day). I did feel kinda sad about the whole 20 years thing – I asked if he was very old and was told early 20s. I’m sure rehabilitation of prisoners is even worse here than in Australia which is kinda sad.

I knew I’d been reading too much Harry Potter when I thought his name sounded like a wizard when they asked if I knew him (I won’t give his full name but his first name is Bartos). So I now imagine our burglar as an evil wizard who steals electronics! Well, at least he’s not being sent to Azkaban (how geeky am I with my harry potter jokes?).

Carmen


I’m unemployed

January 18, 2007

That’s right kids, as of last week I am no longer working for Islington Borough Council. My resignation was quite sudden but my heart wasn’t in it so I had to go (and various other reasons!). I enjoyed working with most of the people there but they seem to keep people on as agency staff for a really long time (so you don’t get sick pay or holiday pay) which I think really sucks arse! And certainly didn’t endear the organisation to me. And I was there for five months and still hadn’t been sent to induction which I thought was pretty slack. I will miss a number of really cool/awesome people I met there though – will have to make sure I keep in touch with them.

Luckily I have a very supportive partner who has said I can take as long as I want to find another job – which is certainly very helpful and comforting. At first I was kind of stressing out and thinking that I must find another job straight away but then I figured I should have a holiday, and wait till we came back from our week in Italy (and Paul was saying that too).

And in good news, I have been to the gym every second day for the last ten days. I might actually form a habit! Yay. I even use weight machines now (used to be a bit scared of them) and the rowing machine! I had a nice spa afterwards tonight – it really got my muscles shaking! I’ve started to feel the workouts in my legs which is good – it should really help my flat feet and creaky knees!

Last Friday I went out for my friends Renee and Jason’s birthdays to a nice club in Holborn/Covent Garden – not really sure where the boundaries are – and it was really nice and I talked to two people I’d never met before. It would be nice to see them again!

Yesterday I had a blood test to check that my antidepressents aren’t doing bad things to my liver – but I’ve been on them for about three years I think, so hopefully I would have noticed by now. I also had a pap smear yesterday (or cervical smear, as they call them in Britain). I hadn’t had one for years but all the memories came flooding back as I lay there with a speculum up my c**t!

[photopress:speculum.jpg,full,pp_image]

Only two days till I fly to Italy, and finally see snow – at the ripe old age of 29! That’s what happens when you live the first 28 and a half years of your life in Queensland I guess! 🙂

And in news on the breakin….
The police have caught a man who they believe broke into our building – his DNA matches the blood found in two of the other flats in my building. Unfortunately, no sign of our laptop or MP3 players or reebok sneakers. Yesterday I went to the local police station to give a statement – which I’d never done before. The DC said he thought the guy would get 20 years as they believe they can charge him with 23 robberies (he was in custody for one he did on New Year’s Eve – I guess Public Holidays were his days to work – we were burgled Boxing Day). I did feel kinda sad about the whole 20 years thing – I asked if he was very old and was told early 20s. I’m sure rehabilitation of prisoners is even worse here than in Australia which is kinda sad.

I knew I’d been reading too much Harry Potter when I thought his name sounded like a wizard when they asked if I knew him (I won’t give his full name but his first name is Bartos). So I now imagine our burglar as an evil wizard who steals electronics! Well, at least he’s not being sent to Azkaban (how geeky am I with my harry potter jokes?).

Carmen


books, books, books, and films

January 18, 2007

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I have just re-read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the fifth Harry Potter book). It is such a good read – and long, at over 700 pages – with lots of action and excitement. But JK Rowling portrays such annoying gender roles at times which I find really grating. The two main male characters, Harry and Ron, are hopeless at relating to girls and talking about their feelings, and the main female character, Hermione, often has to explain to them what is going on in the world of emotions/girls. It seems so outdated and unnecessary. But I look forward to when the film of this book comes out – the next Harry Potter film – sometime this year.

I also plan on reading the sixth book again soon, Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince. I came to the books kinda late and I’ve found a number of people who read each book as it came out, were disappointed with the last one (number 6). Incidentally, you can place an order for the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, on Amazon, even though it hasn’t even been finished yet! I did read though that JK Rowling has had the last chapter of the book written for some time. They’re interesting and fun books, and I enjoy reading them but their settings are by no means original! They draw on so many other books – Dianna Wynne Jones’ books about Christopher Chant, all the English books about adventures at boarding school (I’ve been told to check out the Mallory Towers books to see similarities) and I’m sure there are plenty of others too.

Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci books about Christopher Chant are great (well, to be honest, I’ve only read two of the books!). She also wrote Howl’s Moving Castle!

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**Barry just reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s Books of Magic – comics about a boy wizard.**

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In other books-to-film news, I read yesterday (on boingboing) that Neal Stephenson’s book The Diamond Age: or A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, is being made into a six-hour television mini-series, to be produced by George Clooney.

[photopress:diamondage.jpg,thumb,pp_image] I’m halfway through the book and stopped reading it because it is such heavy-going (or rather, I didn’t stop reading it, I just got distracted by other, easier-to-read books – I generally have many books on the go at once). I read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson and while I did enjoy the story, it was also slow-going. I like cyberpunk scifi but I just generally don’t find it easy to read at all (William Gibson’s books ditto!). The Diamond Age has really interesting ideas, and lots of cool stuff going on, I just don’t find it that relaxing to read! I hope I get to see the mini-series at some point. And I hope they do a good job.

Books I am reading at the moment:

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The Death of Faith by Donna Leon – a crime thriller set in Venice, lent to me by Paul’s Mum as it gives a good feel for Venice and we’re going there for a day after our week of skiing!

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A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers – an autobiographical account of his life in his early twenties taking care of his younger brother after their parents both died of cancer. He is the editor of the McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern journals, of which I’ve bought (and enjoyed) two (Issues 13 and 20).

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White Teeth by Zadie Smith – part of my ‘let’s read books set in London while i live here’ project. Zadie Smith is speaking at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) next week but I’ll miss it as I’ll be in Italy!

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Virginia Woolf by Hermione Lee. I bought this after watching the film, the Hours on telly and deciding I needed to know more about Woolf’s life.

Then there’s the two books I bought from Amazon which arrived yesterday:

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Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

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Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman


Celebrity Big Brother

January 18, 2007

Some background on what I am discussing:

Anger over Big Brother racism

Viewers jump to Shilpa’s defence

Blair and Brown dragged into TV racism row

Jade Goody Vs Shilpa Shetty

Well I just watched Celebrity Big Brother (in the UK), probably along with the other many thousands who have lately tuned in due to the racism allegations. Well, it was interesting to see the housemate Jade Goodie (a celebrity due to her involvement in an earlier Big Brother) going off (yelling, screaming, arguing) with the Indian Bollywood actress, Shilpa Shetty. They started to have an argument about the grocery shopping and food – I guess typical fare for people stuck in the same house 24-hours-a-day – but it ended in a tyrade from Jade directed at Shilpa for various reasons. It has been painted as racism and there have been thousands of complaints made – to politicians, to Channel 4 who air the program, and to the UK media watchdog. But I think that this has a lot to do with class as well as race. Jade’s posse, former beauty queen Danielle Lloyd and ex-S Club 7 member Jo O’Meara, did a lot of sitting there, laughing along at Jade’s embarassing tyrade, as well as saying stupid – and offensive – things, like ‘she can’t even speak English properly’, when in fact her English is probably better than theirs. I think there is a mixture of feminine competition and racism, but tonight, it really looked a lot like Jade’s class background and her insecurity about it and all her assumptions about Shilpa, who she sees as posh and different, were coming out in her tyrade of embarassing arguments and chants of ‘you’re a liar’, ‘you’re a fake’.

I really hope that the public debate here encapsulates the class issues as well as the racism, but I’m not sure how likely that is here in the UK with its heavily entrenched class system.

Sometimes I think that maybe I shouldn’t have come here when I have so many issues about classism (and my own background). It seems that people here in the UK seem to accept the class structure as somehow normal, not something socially-constructed that can be removed.


Sickness and good friends

January 7, 2007

It’s late on Sunday night and I should get to bed for work tomorrow. Last Wednesday I went home early from work because I felt really nauseous – but I didn’t actually think it was much. It got worse and worse and by three or four in the morning I started throwing up and then I got diarrhea too! I stayed home from work Thursday feeling pretty miserable. It kinda passed but I’ve still been feeling head-achey and nauseous off and on since then.

My friends Monica and Dave (who I know from my student union days) stayed with us from Thursday to Sunday morning which was really wonderful – just too bad I wasn’t feeling 100%. They left for Africa where they are going to Kenya for the World Social Forum and then to Uganda because Dave is starting a job there in the next month or so. On Saturday we also caught up with Carol – another friend from university who now lives in Edinburgh.

Today I slept in till midday and then Paul and I went to the gym this afternoon. I only worked out for about 15 minutes because I felt too ill but I did have fun in the spa. I have been really frustrated by all the things that seem to be getting in the way of going to the gym – there was a chest infection before Christmas, and the theft of my sneakers, then a large blister on my foot and then a vomiting and diarrhea bug. I really don’t need any kind of disincentive as it is! I want to get into an exercise habit but it just isn’t happening. I had hoped to be at least a little fit when we went to Italy but that’s in two weeks! To me, exercise is a lot like cleaning: I don’t enjoy doing it but I really like the results. I guess I just have to really put my mind on the end result.

Oh, and Paul bought me swimmers so I can enjoy the pool and spa.


Happy New Year and other cliches

January 2, 2007

Well it’s been a while since I wrote, what has happened?

Went to Yorkshire for 4 days over Christmas. Ate lots of food. Slept in a cold bedroom (no central heating).

Came back to find house had been burgled on Boxing day. Bastards stole our laptop, a watch, jewellery and my sneakers! They also broke into 3 other flats in our building.

Bought a gorgeous, long, wool, black-with-grey-trim coat in post-christmas sales.

Also bought lovely black boots from Birkenstock (on the left) which gave me blisters on New year’s eve. Stupid hard leather on lovely, gorgeous boots! I also tried on other boots (on the right) but they felt too loose.

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Paul bought me swimming togs so am planning to go to the gym and swim in the pool – or maybe just spend time in the spa. I have to wear old, everyday sneakers as new, sporty reeboks were also stolen by the nasty burglars. Also, I don’t think I’ll be working out on treadmill/bikes/etc until my blister goes away.

Had a week off work which was good but will suck to lose a week’s pay. Especially as I’m having another week off to go to Italy soon.

That’s right, I’m going to Italy on Januray 20! For a week. And will probably finally see snow. And hopefully learn to ski.

Paul’s sister Emma stayed for a week so did site-seeing with her – British Museum, shopping, Holland Park (where we saw lots of cute, tame squirrels who came right up to us and peacocks and peahens and some sculptures).

Got a nasty blister on my left foot from new boots.

Finally put the camera in to be fixed so I’ll be able to start taking photos again. Due to the theft of our laptop, nearly all my photos from this year are gone (all except the ones I put on flickr). Damn those thieves!!! And damn us for not doing a back-up.

Saw the new year in with Paul, Emma, Daniel (Thomas’ brother) and Adam (Daniel’s friend), watching fireworks (coming from around the London Eye) from Vauxhall.

Went up Hampstead Heath and saw a lovely view of London last night. We also saw a house near Hampstead Heath that was designed by the modernist architect, Erno Goldfinger. A resident of the area, Ian Fleming (he wrote the James Bond books) hated Goldfinger’s work so he named one of his villains after him! The house wasn’t that bad. It was just very rectangular!

Things are good except I woke up early this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. I think it was a combination of worry about the fight Paul and I had on New Year’s Eve and stress about having to go back to work and the painful blister on my heel.

My good friend Monica and her partner Dave will be in town this weekend. It will be so good to see her and to catch up. I have really missed my friends in the last few months. Mon and Dave have been in Spain for three months and they are on their way to the world social forum in Nairobi, Kenya.

Oh, and two days after the robbery we bought a new laptop (and no, we didn’t have insurance). There goes Paul’s end-of-year bonus.