Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas and so on

I've had a very nice Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Dad, Dad's girlfriend, my brother, my brother's fiancee and I gathered at Dad's, and we got Chinese takeaway and made a festive meal of it. We all sat around chatting until late, when I had to leave for midnight mass. I was rostered on at the cathedral, so no escaping it!

Midnight mass was fun - all four acolytes had the giggles and we kept teasing each other or making eye contact and grinning about things. It was a very delightful experience.

I wasn't in bed until 2:30am, so I was pretty tired when my alarm went off. I dragged myself back to the cathedral for a "big moment" - I was rostered on as Gospel Subdeacon, standing in front of the nave altar beside the celebrant, assisting with the major parts of the service. Scary, as I've only done it once before! This is how I looked:

There was a TV camera there, but the news I managed to tape only showed a few seconds of the footage. I was in it, but was facing the altar with my back to the camera, so you could only see my robes and ponytail! Pretty cool nonetheless.

After church I had lunch with Dad, his girlfriend and my Grandma. It was low-key as Grandma has COPD and poor hearing, so we can't be too boisterous around her. It was a pleasant meal, but I was glad to run away to my room for a while afterwards for some no-people time.

In the late afternoon I trekked up to Mum's for dinner. We opened presents then sat down to a fantastic traditional turkey meal, which Mum has down to a fine art. Afterwards we sat around chatting, reminiscing and joking for hours.

On Boxing Day I slept until midday, trying to catch up on some sleep. In the afternoon we (Dad, his girlfriend, me) went to Grandma's for afternoon tea, where we met my aunt, her girlfriend, and my 24-year-old female cousin whom I haven't seen for ages. We had a lovely time chatting about family and nibbling delicacies.

I'm determined to go nowhere and do nothing today, apart from sit at the computer, practise my French & German, and maybe write something. I'm tired, but it's been a good Christmas, and I'm sure I'll have lots of fond memories of it when I'm freezing my butt off in London this time next year!

I'm currently in the process of choosing my units for next semester. At this point I've decided to take Introduction to Literature and Thinking Theology (basically Theology 101). The degree keeps morphing in my head, but right now I'm majoring in Literature and minoring in Creative Writing and Theology. Part of my mind keeps pondering that it's not too late by any means to switch to a BTheol rather than a BA, but I don't think I'm ready for that yet. So I'll minor in it, see how I feel about it. I'll go ahead with my plan to do this degree and get a PhD in Lit, then see whether BTheol still appeals. It's the next logical step in this faith journey, and has been calling me softly for some time, but I'm not at that point yet. If that's where I'm going, I'll get there eventually!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I can't believe it ...

This should not still be happening.

How can any parent or caregiver, no matter how tired they are or how annoying their child is being, not realise that HOT CARS KILL BABIES AND TODDLERS?!

They even have signs up at many shopping centres warning people that children can die if they're left in a car on a hot day. Thank God passers-by decided to smash the windows and extract the child before he suffered any serious harm. I hope the mother faces some serious consequences.

Parents & caregivers, do not leave your children in the car. Ever!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Stiff Lesson

In early December I had my Implanon contraceptive implant taken out, and I decided not to have another one put in. I realised that having the first one put in coincided with the beginning of my major weight-gain problems, so I might as well try without it for a while. I'm not sure I ever want to go back to hormonal contraceptives, but that's a thought for another day.

The upshot of all this is that, after a six-year hiatus, I'm relearning what a normal menstrual cycle looks like.

I don't remember stiff swollen legs as being part of that, but I can't think of any other reason why I would have them. And of course I'm a lot heavier than I was then, which could contribute to the difference. Either way, ugh. They feel horrible and look absurd. Puffy and hard to the touch and sore and stiff to move. Blech.

Recently I became involved in a Facebook spat in which a male acquaintance made a joke trivialising rape, and he and a group of other male acquaintances began abusing a female friend of mine who called them out on it. They started claiming that feminism has gone too far and society now discriminates against men. One guy cited violence against men and its low reporting & conviction rates as an example of this. No. Violence against men is trivialised by the male-dominated and patriarchal justice system, and the reason why it is trivialised is that our society still believes that men are superior creatures and should be impervious to an attack by a mere woman. It's a sexist attitude against women that keeps violence towards men out of the spotlight.

I was reminded of this the other night when I was watching Sydney's "Carols in the Domain" on TV. The male presenter was the first on stage and introduced the female presenter. She walked out, and he said "doesn't she look gorgeous? Couldn't you just wrap her up and pop her under your tree?" UGH. NO. She is a person, not a thing. GAAAAAG. The female presenter looked askance at him; my family were staring at the TV in astonishment. From his still-gleeful expression, I'm sure he had no idea he'd said anything inappropriate.

When that kind of attitude is so prevalent even amongst those in the midst of the politically correct media spotlight, how can anyone claim that we've gone too far? Utterly ridiculous.

I got a book store gift card from the school board at the staff Christmas lunch (as did the rest of the staff), and I spent it buying reducing the cost of "French for Dummies" and "German for Dummies". I'm determined to have the basics of both languages before I go to the UK, so that I feel more comfortable in the solo continental travelling that I'm sure I'll be doing. I want to brush up my Italian too. I can still mumble a few phrases - last night I was with an Italian-Australian friend of mine and managed to say "I speak a little Italian, but not well. I studied it for two years at university." clearly and correctly, so I must still have some of the knowledge stuck away in there! But I'll leave that until I get French and German sorted.

Am I crazy? It's possible :P

Friday, December 18, 2009

Farewell, School Number 2

I cleaned out my desk and shelves at the Montessori school today, said goodbye to my co-teacher, and left.

I'm not really sad to be leaving. The ridiculous parent attitudes, the school's role as a social "too hard basket" and the effects of the financial crisis have made this a torrid year. I'm sorry that my early enthusiasm about the school was shattered. The year started out with such promise:  a good job in a gorgeous school a suburb away from where I grew up, teaching in a child-oriented and relaxed environment. It seemed so wonderful. But underneath the shiny exterior was a seething mass of bitter untrusting parents, disrespectful and disengaged children, insular teaching cliques, and politics, politics, politics! I was exhilarated when I started, and thought that I would stay for years. I'm sorry that it didn't work out that way, but at the same time I'm glad I didn't get drawn in and enmeshed with all the craziness. I'm still free to walk away, and I'm walking to something even more wonderful. Next year is going to be glorious!

I'm a little sorry for my co-teacher too. She's losing a very strong co-teaching arrangement, but has to carry on the class regardless. At least most of the really nasty families are not coming back next year, so she will have a nice class to work with.

I'm going to miss my kids, and particularly the little choir I built up out of nothing. The kids sang their hearts out at the family gathering on Wednesday night. When I get a copy of the video I'll post a bit here - the quality won't be good enough for me to worry about posting it like I would with a photo. They sang beautifully and the parents were blown away - one mother told me afterwards that her 6-year-old son had never even mentioned that he was in the choir, so they were blown away when they saw him up there singing! They were also all so pleased that the kids sang a capella, so they could actually be heard. And here was me worrying that it would be odd without backing music! It was a real triumph and I'm so proud of those kids! I will miss that kind of achievement, but new experiences await. And who knows, when I find a permanent position at a school in London, I might just make music there too.

I went shopping after my trip to school. I got all but one of my Christmas presents, along with a bright pink leather cover for the ebook reader I'm getting from Dad, and four t-shirts to supplement my summer wardrobe. A very satisfying exercise.

As you can see in the sidebar, it's now only 140 days until I leave for London. It was 186 days away when I decided that I was going. Time flies!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Last Days

School ends at lunchtime tomorrow, so I've got just over a day left at this school, plus the "family gathering" this evening. It hasn't really sunk in yet that I'm not going to be here in a few days. Right now the classroom is so full of life - Christmas decorations everywhere and glitter all over the floor - that it's hard to comprehend that on Friday morning I'll be packing all my things away and taking them home.

There's some things I'll miss and some I won't, but I'm having trouble focussing on reflections about my Montessori experience. The adventure that's waiting for me in May is so overwhelming that it's eclipsing all other considerations!

I've found evenings a bit strange this week. I've had nothing to do for school - no presents to create or cards to write or reports to finish. So I dragged out my writing again and started examining my abortive 2008 NaNo, of which I wrote 8000+ words before stalling out.

I realised two things about it. The first was that I was writing it from the wrong POV. It's a YA fantasy and it lacked immediacy, which will be solved if I write it in first person. The second was that I was trying to tell too many stories at once. The original story had got lost amongst several other stories that had crept in. At first I cut out a whole section of plot, but eventually I realised that I'm going to have to start over and take the story in a different direction (literally, in fact - the characters are heading into the wilds rather than to the city!). Irritating, but at least I'm writing again.

I'm being a lazy teacher today - I'm sitting at my computer while the kids colour in, do craft and play on the computers. I've got Christmas carols playing on iTunes giving the classroom a dreamy chilled-out feeling. It's very pleasant really!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Birthday Goodness :)

I turned 29 yesterday, and celebrated with a "Not Quite 30th Birthday Party" hehe. I won't be able to have the grand 30th shinding I was planning as I'll be celebrating my 30th in England, so I threw it a year early in a slightly less dramatic format. It was a great evening with lots of fun had by all.

Today I had lunch with various family members on Mum's side and had a nice convivial time.

These are some of the gifts I got:

A turquoise & silver pendant;
A pair of silver & amethyst earrings;
The Lonely Planet: Europe on a Shoestring;
The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel;
A box of Toblerone Tinys;
A bottle of Brown Brothers Tawny Port;
An Australia to UK power point adaptor;
A shiny black passport cover with cute things embroidered in black on it;
A necklace of blue Venetian glass beads;
A £10 note (worth $20 Australian; the start of my first-day-in-the-UK currency collection!);
An unspecified amount donated to World Vision in my name; and
A digital photo frame (major present from Mum, the idea being that I can put up any photo anywhere once I'm in the UK).

I'm also getting a BeBook e-book reader (major present from Dad - can't do without books even when moving continents!) and a silver and amethyst pendant, both of which are still in the post. I'm looking forward to those late birthday presents!

I've had a lovely birthday and I feel very privileged to have such lovely friends and family :)

Good Evening,

And welcome to Christine, Wondering.

If you've come from my old blog, I'm glad to see you again. If you're a new reader, good to have you here!

On Christine, Wondering you are likely to read about:

  • My preparations for moving to London, which happens on the 8th May 2010;
  • My adventures in the Society for Creative Anachronism;
  • Funny anecdotes about my family, friends, workmates and random others;
  • Things I've done as a part of my ongoing Bachelor of English and Creative Arts (literature / creative writing);
  • Food I've made, the more organic the better;
  • Random philosophy about life experiences;
  • My battle to eat better, exercise more, and become more environmentally friendly;
  • Anything else that it occurs to me to write about.

Essentially, it's a window into my life, no matter where you or I are in the world.

Comments and conversation are very welcome!

I hope you will leave a comment introducing yourself and linking me to your own blog if you have one :)


New Blog has arrived :)

With everything that's happening in my life, I decided that it was time for a new blog. I want to be able to share my blog with everyone and anyone, and I can't do that on the Insanity Outlet, with its 3+ years of very private ranting!

I will still use this blog occasionally as a place for not-real-life-safe outbursts, but the majority of my posts will now be on Christine, Wondering. Make sure you update your bookmarks!

The first post will be up there in about 15 minutes, all about my birthday :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Settling In

Ok, I'm here at Dad's, installed back in my old bedroom. The old house is empty and will soon be clean and done with. I'm tired and sick: spent all of Saturday afternoon throwing up everything I ate / drank, was fine Sunday but didn't sleep a wink until after 5am Monday. Today is Monday, and I didn't go to school, just wrote reports from home after sleeping in until 1pm. I still have a sick headache but at least I'm functioning.

There's only 2 and a half weeks of term left, and I'm looking forward to my two weeks off! I'm going to start retail work in the first week of January, but I decided to take a breather over Christmas. At the very least it'll give me a chance to buy some presents :/

Everything is starting to come together, I just have to keep going . . .

Thursday, November 26, 2009


It's a quarter to seven on Thursday evening. I'm moving house on Saturday morning, and I have not started packing.

Between the home opens and report writing and the church concert and everything else that has been going on, I just haven't had time. I have to get started. I finish school at lunchtime tomorrow so I'll have all afternoon and evening to get the bulk of it done, but I absolutely must start tonight. And I just can't seem to summon up the motivation. *snarlgrumble*

Friday, November 20, 2009

Too Much to Do

This week's good news is that I don't have Ross River Virus, which is rather a relief since I had all the symptoms and did get badly mosquito-bitten on the middle school camp. Whatever this virus is, it makes one badly achy and sore. I went home early from school yesterday and slept for nearly 24 hours, and I'm feeling a lot better today. Hopefully I'm past the worst of it.

The last two weeks have been a bit hellish. Between the virus, and having to finish two assignments totalling 13,000 words, getting rid of various bits of furniture, selling various appliances, trying to keep the house pristine for home opens, and still having to work . . . it's been manic.

Some of that is over now, thankfully . . . I'm on the mend, and the assignments are done with (distinctions on everything, thankyou!). In the next week I have to pack and write reports (along with various evening commitments) and then on the 28th I'm moving to Dad's, where I'm going to live until I leave for London. Everything is working out, there's just so much to be done.

Right now the fridge needs cleaning out, but it's not happening today!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Just Booked My Flight!

It's booked, it's paid for, I'm REALLY GOING!

I decided to bump my departure back to May so that I've got an extra month for my British citizenship & passport to get sorted out - just for a safety margin!

I fly out from Perth on Saturday 8th May 2010. WOW!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

London, Take Two

On Thursday I got a letter from my current school formally telling me what I already knew: there's no money for a job for me next year. I knew it would happen but it still wasn't nice to see it in writing.

By coincidence, on Friday afternoon I had an interview with a recruitment company for teaching in the UK. I'd booked it on a whim when I saw them on the job search website, thinking I'd just go along and see what was on offer. I didn't have any intention of actually going - I have a cat and car and furniture and stuff, I can't leave the country, can I?

But when I saw what they offer (a whole heap of help and financial incentives), I suddenly craved the experience and began to reassess.

Furniture can be sold. Cars can be sold. Stuff can be taken with me or stored, and God knows I have too much of it! And amongst all of my friends and family there must be some loving soul who will take Jemima and give her a home and love her as much as I do. I will miss her horribly, I'm sure, but for heaven's sake - it would be a disservice to myself to give up the adventure of a lifetime for a cat, even a cat I love. I'll find someone to take her who will keep in contact and send me pictures and let me visit her when I'm visiting Perth. I'll make it work.

So this is the plan: when school winds up this year I will get a full-time job out of the education industry - perhaps back with the optometrist chain I used to work for - and work my butt off for four months, saving and decluttering and getting rid of everything I don't need. Then I'll fly to London just after Easter, in time to get settled in for their Summer term which starts on April 19th. I'll work relief (supply over there) for a term and find out what I really want in a school, then work in whatever & travel over the summer holidays while organising a permanent full-time job for the 2010-11 school year. I do't know how many years I'm going to stay yet, but I do want to see Europe and northern Africa while I'm over there, as well as getting back to Perth for a visit at least once a year. I'll live cheaply in share houses and I won't really be buying possessions, so I hope I'll be able to make all my dreams come true.

I've got my passport interview on Tuesday and I'll book my flight tomorrow or Tuesday as well. Then I'll have six months to get things like my British passport, immunisations and federal police clearance sorted out, and to work out what I'm taking, what I'm storing and what I'm letting go.

I'm terribly excited and energised, and in obsessive research mode - I can't stop looking things up! I've already established that there's an active SCA branch in London hehe. I'm loving the adventure already.

It's a huge decision and I'm exhilarated. The sights of London and Europe that I've wanted to see for years are almost within reach - I can almost touch them - and I'm wondering how I can last six months!

I haven't announced this on Facebook yet - I'll wait until I've booked the flight and spoken to all of the people who I feel need a one-on-one announcement! I'll also pop back to BtN sometime in March and let all my English BtN friends know that I'm coming. But I had to talk about it here - I'm too full of excitement not to let it out.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A breakfast that works?!

Breakfast and I have a long history, a love-hate relationship dating back to when I was about 14 or 15.

My parents, naturally, recognised the value of breakfast, and eating it was never optional in our house. We always had Vita Brits or Weetbix in the cupboard, and various other cereals came and went over the years. We were never allowed the really sugary ones (we managed to get Coco Pops as a treat from time to time, but my parents drew a line and Froot Loops were on the other side of it!) but we had our favourites amongst the permitted cereals and always ate something before going to school.

When I was in about Year 10, my body revolted against breakfast. I suspect that the stress of an extremely unhappy school experience and fairly tense home life had a lot to do with this, but either way, breakfast became nearly impossible. Cereals in particular would have me doubled over with painful cramps halfway through my first class. Toast or bread wasn't much better. After a while, just the thought of eating them in the morning would make me feel queasy.

Over the years, with other factors such as hypoglycaemia and weight loss drives thrown into the mix, I've never really sorted out the breakfast issue. Skipping breakfast out of sheer frustration, I would eat something sugary to keep me going at morning tea, and overeat at lunchtime. Not a good way to carry on.

So imagine my astonishment when, for the last 6 days, I've eaten the same lovely breakfast without a single cramp or roiling stomach or urge to gag while swallowing. Who knew . . . the solution was smoothies!

The smoothie I've had every day this week contains:
200mL milk
1 small banana
1 free range egg
1/4 cup (62.5mL) natural organic yoghurt
1/4 cup puffed amaranth cereal
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon

It's got everything - dairy, fruit, protein, long-term carbs. It tastes nice but it's plain enough not to be overwhelming in the morning. I can make it just before leaving for work, pour it into a travel thermos, and drink it on the way to work and while I'm preparing for school in the morning. I can even keep drinking it after the kids come in if I haven't finished. Spreading it out over an hour or so in small sips might be part of the reason my stomach accepts it - and I can't do that with solid food lol.

I'm enormously pleased with this solution to the problem!

Also, if you want a really lovely way to cook chicken breast fillets: cut them into quarters, top them with an organic nut butter (I used 'ABC Spread' - almond, brazil & cashew nuts) and bake them on 230 C for about an hour and a half. I baked pumpkin and sweet potato pieces alongside them (topped with a salt, garlic & herb sprinkle) and had them with steamed silverbeet and an onion white sauce (cut onion into fine rings, sauté in a dollop of butter and some liquid chicken stock, when golden add milk in which cornflour has been dissolved, bring to the boil and stir briskly until thickened). I have the leftovers for dinner tonight . . . yum!!!

Currently I'm cooking almost double quantities each night and having the smaller second servings for lunch the next day. Works well, but it means I can only use nuts on a day when I won't be lunching at school as we're nut-free there. This seems to be working pretty well and it's helping me get in my full quotient of veggies, as I'm eating the same kind of veg/meat/carbs balance at both meals.

Now I just need to wean myself off McVities Dark Chocolate Coated Digestives, which while delightfully natural and reasonably healthy, are still not a large part of a balanced diet ;D

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Q: Why are teachers cross-eyed?

A: Because they can't control their pupils.

I love teaching eleven-year-olds ;)

My camping holiday was wonderful and I'll try to post some photos soon if I can choose a handful of the 109 that were worthy of going in the Facebook album!

I'm feeling really, really good at the moment. I'm experiencing a kind of self-confidence I've never felt before. It's very strange and highly satisfying.

While I was on my camping trip I spent hours and hours working through the exercises in the book version of Choosing Me Before We by Christine Arylo, which I'd ordered a month or so ago and hadn't got into yet. It is an excellent book, and has become the next logical step in my mental health and relationship robustness programme that began with reading and working through Susan Elliott's wonderful Getting Past Your Breakup.

One of the sections of questions in the book asked the reader to identify people they had seen demonstrating self-love, and their family and friends' attitudes towards self-love. What I discovered was that I could not think of a single truly self-loving role model from my childhood, teens, or 20s up until last year (when I discovered Susan Elliott!). I also discovered that people did not talk about self-love in my family or peer groups. My instinct was that if someone talked about self-love at school they would have been branded as a narcissist (in suitably vulgar teen lingo, "up themselves") or ridiculed with obscenely biological innuendoes (self "love" ... I hope I don't need to spell it out!). There is a huge resistance in our society to recognising that people need to put themselves first and value themselves most in order to give of themselves to others. We go on about self-esteem and self-confidence as if they are the the be-all and end-all of self-care, but never talk about the fact that truly loving yourself is where both esteem and confidence begin.

Something in all of the exercises and questions in Choosing Me Before We has flipped a switch for me. I've lived with self-loathing and a negative self-image most of my life, and it's gone. It's so weird. I don't really understand how it's happened. But I'm not arguing!

And so I can, and will, say publicly with confidence:

I love myself. I love who I am. I love myself despite and including all of my flaws and foibles. There are things about myself that I find unsatisfying and want to change, but they are only at the level of like and dislike. My LOVE for myself is unconditional.

When you have that self-love it becomes incredibly easy to do things that are self-loving, good for you and true to your nature.

For a long time I've wanted to be more eco-conscious and organic in my eating and cleaning habits, moving towards wholly organic meals and so on. But I've held back because I didn't believe in myself enough to put my foot down and say that this is how I want to eat and how I want to be. I was letting my lack of self-love dictate actions that went against my true nature. No more. And I'm doing it. My diet is healthier and free of most nasty additives. I'm looking for safe alternatives to harsh chemicals in my home. I'm not even tempted to turn to unhealthy foods for comfort because I don't need them and I know they go against my true nature.

It feels so good.

I'm actively job-searching this term, trying to get a position at a larger and more stable private school. I can say with confidence now that my talents are wasted at my current school, where the parents began the year determined not to give me a fair go because I was a replacement for a teacher they'd (for some reason) adored, appointed by a principal they didn't trust. It is a foul waste of my energy to have to work in a school where a negative parent culture is entrenched and to an extent encouraged by some of the longer-standing staff. I am supposed to spend my time creating outstanding learning experiences for my students, not burning up my creative energy trying to jump through flaming hoops set up by people who WANT me to fall and burn as I pass through them. Ugh. The school is nice and the kids are fine, and I like the Montessori system, but there are MANY schools out there that do not have this hateful parent culture of backstabbing, rumour and melodrama. I want one. I deserve one. I'll get one.

The other big news is that I'm hoping to start building a house this time next year! I've looked at my finances and if I get a job just about anywhere other than here, my pay will jump by around $10,000 PA. That's enough to get my debts pretty much cleared out and put me in a position to get a home loan. I'd have to take on a housemate at first to help with the repayments - not a necessity but to make sure I didn't end up in a mess - but that's fine. I would build with that in mind - I've seen a neat design that allows for a quite separate few rooms at the back that would be perfect for a tenant. I'd have to build in suburbia but it would be a start, a step on the road to my eco-friendly Hills house :)

That's a general update. Photos soon!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Term ended on Friday, and a couple of hours after school finished I was busy setting up my tent for a weekend of medieval fun with the SCA. I had a fantastic time, made a heap of new friends, and felt great about myself the whole time I was there. It was fun, relaxed, gentle time with a collection of sweet, healthy people. I had a ball and I rather suspect I'm hooked for life on this SCA thing. I even met another Anglican girl with the exact same attitude to religion that I have. Ha, there ARE more of us! She was as relieved as I was lol. I got lots of embroidery done (and had my techniques admired!!), sang lots of silly songs, went to bed tired out and slept soundly. Apart from the night when my air bed died, but that's all part of the fun ;)

So, it's the holidays. My main goal for these holidays is to get myself 100% physically and mentally healthy ready for term 4. I want to go back feeling strong and successful not stressed out and weak! Lots of walking, healthy food only, solitude and quiet, and good self-help books is the plan.

My skin has been really, really bad lately - pimples all over as if I was sixteen again. I think this is mainly because of stress, but it's also likely not helped by the fact that I eat badly when I'm stressed. Not necessarily all high fat, high sugar foods, but just trashy convenience foods. I've been eating a lot of over-processed rubbish full of preservatives and additives of all sorts. That's not the kind of diet I want to have, so I've decided to shift directly to an organic eating plan. As few foods with artificial additives as possible (none if I can help it) and as few packaged foods as possible. Trying to make everything from scratch from fresh ingredients, and so on. I've got a great example in the slow-cooker at the moment - chicken and vegetable stew made from fresh chicken, fresh vegetables, herbs and spices, chicken stock (the natural liquid kind!) and water. I've also decided to start shifting to natural hygiene products. I've bought entirely plant-based shampoo, conditioner and body wash. This is leaping a little ahead of my original long-term going organic plan (which started with cleaning products earlier this year) but I'm hoping it'll help my skin to settle down.

I'm going camping next week in WA's picturesque south-west and hope to have a photosplurge on the blog afterwards!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Two vivid dreams about babies two nights running.

I am SO not interested in playing that game with my subconscious right now.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What’s the Worst Best That Could Happen?

A psychological technique my last counsellor taught me is to drive fears as far as they can go, until they become ridiculously overblown and you can laugh at them. The absolute worst that can happen is often so absurd that there's no sense thinking about it. I’ve made a habit of this to the point where I very rarely get caught up fretting about what might happen any more. I’ve got that tendency under control. I know that no matter what happens I’ll probably be okay.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about standards. I compromised my standards to be with MD because I was enjoying other aspects of the relationship. That didn’t end well! I have read and believed plenty of times that one will never be happy in a relationship unless one’s standards aren’t being compromised, but I don’t think I really KNEW it until things with MD went pear-shaped.

My standards are not all that exacting. Obviously, anyone who is a bananahead does not meet my standards! Unfortunately MD was a stealth bananahead. But for people who aren’t bananaheads, there’s things that I need that people might just not have. At the core, these are the things in my life that a relationship must not alter or damage:
- My health (beyond bananahead things like no substance abuse & no idiot driving, they need to at least understand good eating & exercise)
- My faith (I need to be able to practice Christianity unashamed and unhindered)
- My location (I am building a life here in Perth and specifically in the hills, and will not move away for anything unless it’s a mutual decision!)
- My interests (they need to be ok with and even enthusiastic about the SCA and all the activities involved, the degree I’m doing, and my philanthropic goals, and so on)

Sometimes it feels like an impossible task to find someone who will enlarge and expand and enhance my life, not narrow and restrict and impede it.

So what happens if I never find someone who can do that? What if I never meet a guy who is a compatible non-bananahead?

I’m not going to sit around fretting about that, but I asked myself . . . what if that is a positive question? What CAN I do if I never find someone?

I’ll finish paying off my debts and start saving.
I’ll start travelling overseas.
I’ll buy a house and start building a real estate portfolio.
I’ll keep teaching and studying until I decide that I want a change.
I’ll start fostering and raise families of foster children.
I’ll buy that big bush block and build an eco-home and a self-sufficient veggie garden.
I’ll have pets and more foster kids and a wide range of friends and interests and I’ll lead a fun, fulfilling life.

Not so bad, actually.

Everything I’m reading about healing from bad relationships recommends taking the desperation out of dating, and recognising that a partner should complement your life, not complete it. I think I’m edging closer to really getting that. I can see from exercises like the above that I will be FINE if I never find someone. I’ll lead a happy and purposeful life on my own, and a life full of dreams that are not worth sacrificing for someone who is going to make my life a poorer, lesser thing.

Naturally, if I do find someone, those dreams will drift and alter a little because we’ll be forging new, combined dreams. But they will be dreams that are a whole made up of two parts, not a whole created by chopping parts off and casting them away.

It’s time to start living my life for me, and living the knowledge that my life is going to be wonderful whether it’s coupled or alone, because I choose to make it that way. If someone comes into my life to live their dreams alongside mine . . . great. If not, I will make my way regardless. Because I am me, and I am enough.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cognitive Fail

Another thing my counsellor and I discussed on Friday was the fact that stress, anxiety and depression can play merry hell with the neural networks in one's brain. Instead of carrying electricity fluidly, they start to short out, and these shorts are the reason why one becomes vague, forgetful and confused during times of high anxiety and depression.

I've been noticing this of myself a lot recently. Words come out of my mouth mangled more often. I trip over my words. I lose the thread of my sentence or forget long words. I've 'lost' the names of some of the boys in the classes below and above mine, names I used to know. And I do bizarre things. Like last night: I was getting ready for bed and took my shirt and bra off, then grabbed my pyjama trousers instead of my top and tried to pull them over the slacks I was still wearing. I laughed until I cried at the time, and so did my housemate when I told her, but it's still a bit scary how disconnected my brain seems to be at the moment. I know it'll get better, but . . . wow.

I've been off the temazepam for two nights now. I'm back to waking up at about 4-5am and again at about 6am, but at least I'm waking up fairly calm and being able to go back to sleep quite quickly (provided that Jem doesn't notice that I'm awake, because if she does I have a purring meowing headbutting attention-seeker to deal with!). I'm not sleeping as well as before because I'm waking up VERY tired, as if I'd taken a whole antihistamine sleeping tablet before bed. I literally feel doped. It wears off by mid-morning and after that I feel pretty good, if very tired. I'm sure I'll get there in the end, my body just has to readjust.

There's only a week and a half left of school then two weeks' holidays, which I thoroughly need. I'm going away camping for the first weekend which will be nice. Hopefully I'll come back to Term 4 feeling refreshed.

Monday, September 14, 2009

In My Skin

On Friday my counsellor and I had a very interesting conversation. It started when she asked me to describe one way in which my Aspergers affects me as an adult. I mentioned often feeling gauche / socially inept, and she wanted an example. So I told her about something that happened at my weekend at the SCA. My cousin and I went to the two events together, and on the Saturday we discovered that her Saturday dress was made from the same material as my Sunday dress. When we got to the event we spotted another girl also wearing a dress of the same material. When I found myself next to that girl at the food table, I turned to her with a smile and told her that we had been laughing because of the number of dresses with the same material, which was no surprise really because it was such good material for costumes. She smiled back and that was that. But my cousin a minute later whispered to me in a wry-amused voice, "only you would point out and make light of such a social faux pas!". And I realised that she was right and felt awkward about it.

The counsellor said, "But why did her opinion matter more than yours?".
I blinked a few times, then said, "well, obviously I thought she was a bit silly for worrying about it, but I know most people would agree with her, not me."
Counsellor: "So?"
Me: ... ... ... *codfish impression*

God damn it, she's right.

Aspergers or not, people who are Different Like Me spend their whole lives feeling like they're marching to the beat of a different drum, out of sync, getting it wrong.

In our society the natural acquisition of social norms is characterised by the application of 'good' or 'bad' labels. Conforming behaviour is good, non-conforming behaviour is bad. Children internalise these labels, strive to stick to the 'good' and avoid the 'bad'. That'd be fine if people saved the 'bad' for things that are actually, you know, bad. But because our society insists on cultural conformity as well as behavioural conformity, that moral judgement is meted out whenever a child displays any behaviour - no matter how harmless - that falls outside the cultural norms. Some adults are stricter than others in their insistence on conformity, but even the most relaxed have a line past which they will tell the child that they are misbehaving or being an embarrassment.

And so we internalise the message. Non-conformity is BAD.

And for those of us who spend the first two decades of our lives just working out that there IS a code we were missing behind all this conformity stuff . . . we've spent two decades being told that our everything is embarrassing, unacceptable, bad.

Which, frankly, is bullshit.

Some social graces are required to ease the flow of society, yes. I'm not talking about abolishing please and thankyou here. But there is so much scope for people to be interesting and creative and wonderful and happy and free in ways that hurt no one, and yet attract those dreadful moral labels of "weird" or "embarrassing".

When I am in social situations, I often feel that I am "one step back from my eyes". I'm not living on the surface of my being, free to be myself and act and respond in ways that are genuine to my personality. Instead I'm lurking one step back, judging and assessing everything, making sure I'm not getting it wrong and cringing when I do. A lifetime of waiting for the next judgemental blow to fall has made this kind of mental camouflage necessary.

Occasionally I find that I have been living all the way out to the edges of my being. Sadly, all too often it's a comment like the one my cousin made that brings my attention to it, and I find myself one step back again, peering out through this body trying to make a connection with the world around me. But just once in a while I realise that I've spent a whole passage of time living all the way out to the edges and nothing bad has happened. I felt that way tonight when I left the SCA music practise. I realised that I'd spent the whole evening being 100% authentic uncensored me, and not once did I feel like I'd got it wrong.

I think that says a lot about the people I was with - they're good people, who recognise that weird is ok (if you're part of a society that re-enacts the medieval period I guess you kind of have to realise that). But I think there's also a seed of confidence inside me beginning to grow.

I want to learn to be like that - and feel that good - all the time. If I'm living all the way to the edges of my skin I may occasionally I may blurt out something gauche or get conversational reciprocity wrong or let on that my favourite interests are not mainstream. But . . . so what? If people get hung up about such minor deviations from the norm, that's their problem, not mine. And it's their loss, too.

I've internalised that message of essential badness far too well. The counsellor pointed out that in the example with my cousin, I had simply assumed that she was right and ignored the possibility that she could be wrong. I accepted her correction without casting a single critical thought over the situation or reflecting on whether my position might have some merit. I've become so used to being judged for my differences that I've actually lost the natural perspective that says "I might be right".

For someone who prides herself on critical thought, that's a bit of a devastating revelation.

I'm going to try to be mindful of this problem for the next few weeks. If I find myself one step back from my eyes, I'm going to work through my positive affirmations about being good and sufficient, and see whether I can make myself consciously step up to the outside. I want to get myself to the point where I am constantly and deliberately me, instead of achieving it only in heady moments of abandon with an inevitable come-down thump.

When I live on the outside of my skin I feel taller, stronger, brighter, lighter. I feel like the whole universe is at my fingertips. I feel like I'm glowing. My mind tingles. I can do anything.

I guess that's what self-confidence really feels like?

I want to walk like that through every day of my life.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


As I've previously mentioned, I've joined the Society for Creative Anachronism recently, and I've thrown myself into the incredibly fun and creative activities of that group.

One of the standard things for an SCA newbie to do is to create a name and a device for themselves. My name came to me in an instant and I love it (though I won't share it here, for Googlesafety reasons) but I held off on making a device because it seemed like such an overwhelming task.

This weekend, after some heraldry research, I started playing around with images, and came across this fantastic site where one can design a device for free. That allowed me to play around with colours and ideas easily, and below is the device I came up with:

Argent, a saltire vert, in pale two cinquefoils azure, in fess two fleury crosses sable.

I chose the white & green colour scheme because those colours speak to me. The blue cinquefoils are reminiscent of the blue lechenaultia, my favourite flower. The crosses are for my religion and the fact that they're floriated is for faith, wisdom and chivalry.

It was only after I'd finished and decided that I loved the design that I looked up the actual heraldic meanings of the elements of the device. This is what I found:

Argent means: Peace & sincerity
Vert means: Hope, joy, loyalty in love
Saltire cross means: Resolution
Cinquefoil means: Hope and joy
Azure means: Truth and loyalty
Fleury cross means: One who has conquered
Sable means: Constancy or grief

I was pretty impressed - a lot of heraldry devices are about war or other militant themes, or oriented towards occupations. Somehow I'd unfailingly picked out colours and symbols that represent everything for which I am striving.

It was the meaning of the fleury crosses that particularly got me. "One who has conquered grief." Seriously. That's a coincidence that made me boggle. I couldn't have come up with a better snapshot of my emotional state if I'd deliberately set out to engineer one!

I'm liking the device more every time I look at it, and once my SCA membership card arrives I'm going to go register the name & device with the herald. It's me, through and through.

Friday, September 4, 2009


I'm reading a book called Innately Good by Jan Denise at the moment. It struck a chord as soon as I started flicking through it in the bookshop, and it's turned out to be a good choice.

Something I read in it this evening reminded me of a recurring thought I had as a child: that there was something wrong with me because I didn't collect anything. Mum collected owl figurines, my brother collected cats of any type, my cousin collected mice, my grandfather collected elephants. People kept asking me what I collected, and I didn't know what to say, because I didn't collect anything. I felt like a failure for that and tried to launch collections of a few different things, but none of them stuck.

I realised fully, just now, that this was because I was already collecting something. Dolls. With a quick search of my computer for old files I was able to find the first, middle and surnames of 112 dolls. 112. I'm still able to recall the backstory and position in the doll hierarchy that most of them had. And they weren't all my dolls.

If 112+ isn't a collection, I don't know what is!

But for some reason it didn't "count" with the people who mattered. I remember my mother being frustrated because I wanted yet another doll that had caught my fancy. She thought I had enough dolls. Enough?! I might add also that she still actively collects owls 20 years later. Enough my foot.

No wonder I feel inadequate and incomplete when it seems like my entire life has been spent at cross purposes with those around me!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Comforts are falling into place. The doctor I saw yesterday prescribed sleeping tablets so that I'm getting enough sleep to recover. I managed to get in to a local not-for-profit health care centre's Medicare-funded counselling so I'll only be paying $25 a session (rather than the $100+ one pays commercially per session!). And my principal got alarmed at my general state of not-quite-coping and has given me fully paid stress leave until the end of next week so I've got time to get my head clear. And assured me that my job is in no danger and they want me to get well and come back and not burn out!

So I'm feeling like an unwound spring right now whose life has suddenly become a lot less complicated. If I don't update for a week it'll be because I've put away the computer all the better to recover!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Calling It.

As I talked about in that guest blog, it is very hard for me to ask for help or speak out when I have needs. Tied with this fear of making a fuss is a fear of saying anything that might sound the least bit dramatic or attention-seeking. Which makes this so very hard to say.

I'm depressed.

There, I said it

I'm not coping, I'm exhausted and miserable and I can't sleep properly and I feel utterly overwhelmed. It's a fact. It is what it is. I have depression.

I'm struggling for a way to get treatment for this. I need to see a doctor but it's so hard to get an appointment. I need to see a counsellor but I can't afford anything other than a charity-based one and I seem to be having trouble finding one and the stupid people at uni where I get free counselling can't seem to figure out a way around the fact that I can't come for a short triage session of a morning. I'm getting frantic because getting help seems to be caught up in bureaucracy right when I can least cope with it.

Why is it all so hard?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Well THAT was fun

I spent most of the last 4 hours in the emergency department of my local hospital. I had been having long coughing fits (really long, like up to half an hour) that were leaving me dizzy and gasping, and I got scared and since I couldn't get a doctor's appointment at such short notice, off I went to hospital. My wonderful friend Beth came and picked me up so I didn't have to drive, and waited for me all that time. She is a champion!

Basically, I've got a chest infection that is clearing up, and the lingering post-nasal drip is inflaming my lungs and thus triggering my asthma. So they've given me a dose of
steroids at the hospital and a script for three more doses, told me to take the rest of the week off work, and keep taking antibiotics, asthma medication and cough suppressant. Oh joy. But at least it's neither swine flu nor pneumonia!

I feel shocking - burning and aching lungs, a headache from the coughing, and exhausted because I've been losing a lot of sleep to these coughing fits. I'm immensely relieved that I've got the rest of the week off. I've emailed my uni tutor asking for an extension on my assignment that is due Friday, and hopefully all will be well.

August is clearly cursed!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I'm heading off to the markets this morning to get bits and pieces for the renaissance dress I'm making for next weekend's SCA events. One of the markets has an absolutely awesome notions shop (ribbons and lace and so on) so I'm going to get all the trim. Then I have to come back and actually sew the thing o_O. I cut out all the pieces with Mum's help last night, after she measured me and did all sorts of arcane things to the pattern to make it fit. I swear I'm going to learn to do that myself some day!

I'm feeling a bit fragile this morning because I woke up at 4am coughing frantically and kept on coughing like that until my lungs felt completely raw. Eventually I seemed to get whatever it was out of my airways (though not without throwing up all the water I'd drunk!) and I was able to take some cough medicine and go back to sleep. But it was pretty scary, and I even toyed with the thought of calling an ambulance for a while. This morning I think I should have taken some asthma medication, but I didn't think of that last night. My chest is still a bit achy from having coughed it raw, and I'm going to have to be careful not to aggravate it, so I'll have to take it easy today. The markets are mostly indoors and my car has good heating, and then I can come and sit in my warm study and sew all afternoon, so I should be right.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Spring is Coming!

The last two nights there's been something different about night time, and it's taken me until now to realise what it was.

It was birdsong.

All night long, for the last two nights.

It's a bit early for hatching so perhaps it's laying? Or I could be wrong and it is hatching. Either way, the birds are warbling away all night long right now.

Spring can't be far away, thank goodness. What a winter!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Not Again . . .

The doctor's verdict is that either the first infection never quite cleared up, or I picked up a second one. Either way my virus-ravaged lungs were susceptible to infection, and I've got one. So I've got more antibiotics, stronger ones this time, and throat-deflating cough lozenges (lol) and instructions to rest, damnit. I'm going to try to do that . . . honestly . . .

These have been three truly horrible weeks, between this virus & bacteria assault and MD's perfidy and our school's financial trouble (and some of the teachers' state of denial about it, which led to me having a very angry exchange with a twit of a woman who doesn't want to face up to the facts - an outburst which left me sobbing on the school admin's shoulder afterwards while she assured me that her son loves my class and the other woman is a complete idiot). I feel battered and bruised by it all, and hope that the downturn is over for the time being! I'm doing as much as I can to get healthy and stay sane and rebuild my life even better than it was before. Here's hoping it works.

I should be in bed . . . just hopped on to check whether I can spray eucalyptus oil on my pillow to any effect before I toddle off ;)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Feeling Ghastly (again)

Yesterday's headache petered out after a good dose of ibuprofen and a relaxed evening, but this morning I woke up with a bad taste in the back of my throat, and I'm once again coughing up thick disgusting-looking yellow-green gunk. I can't get a doctor's appointment until tomorrow afternoon and even then it's not with a doctor I've seen before. So much for continuity of care! The coughing is starting to bring back my headache, and my throat hurts and I just feel cranky and awful. Plus I'm cold, even when all rugged up. Blech.

When I feel so cold and sick and miserable all I want is a hug, and it's hard not to remember that three weeks ago I had someone who would have come running to hug me, and I feel lost and lonely and abandoned. And I keep remembering that night and feeling angry and sad and all the more abandoned.

I just want to feel better.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Trying to Decide

As you know, since earlier this year I've been playing in a well-known concert band. I enjoy concert bands immensely - playing with a large ensemble is a thrill - but recently I've been feeling less and less confident in this one. I'm eighth of eight flautists and very much less competent than the seventh. Some of the repertoire is above my current abilities, and while I don't mind being stretched, it's just becoming frustrating and depressing because I haven't currently got the agility to play the quick frilly bits that are the flute's job in a concert band. I find I'm spending most of my time feeling self-conscious and embarrassed and awkward, instead of revelling in the music.

On Monday I joined in an SCA music group - my very first SCA experience, and a good one! There was one other flautist, several violins, a cello, a harp, several recorders of different sizes, a couple of guitars, a drum, a rebec (!), and a sort of early organ that rests on the player's lap and is operated with a keyboard and bellows. The music was just the right level: not baby stuff, but not so hard that I couldn't actually play it by sight, which was all sorts of fun. The challenge came in playing the descant / harmony lines and keeping to the interesting medieval rhythms and getting faster as some of the dances progressed. It reminded me that I can be a wanted and valued member of a musical group, not a second-class citizen who's only just good enough to be there.

I can do both band and SCA music, and perhaps improve in each via the other, but there's another element. The SCA has a singing group as well, that operates on Tuesdays when I'm normally at band. I haven't found a choir I'm happy with yet, because most choirs seem to be the province of my mother's and grandmother's generations, or uber-elite groups of people my age or younger that I'm sure I'm not good enough to join. So I'm missing out on singing.

If I leave band, I get to do flute AND singing with the SCA, and with at least some people my own age. And people who are really doing it for the pure joy of it, not because they're professional or elite musicians.

If I decide not to do band, I will miss out on taking part in the Christmas Pageant, something I have wanted to do since I was a little girl. But then again, I found marching for ANZAC day quite challenging and not entirely fun, and this would be a much longer march playing a wider range of more challenging pieces. And I'd be free to watch the pageant, and there will be Christmas events with the SCA and church and so on. I don't think I'll be desperately lacking Christmas events. Not to mention that medieval Christmas carols are my favourites anyway ;)

So I'm torn and trying to make a decision about whether or not I'm staying or going with band. I've missed nearly two months of rehearsals between viruses and the school camp, so I feel very behind. I have to go back at least once to drop my uniform off, but otherwise I'm not sure I want to go back. I've got to make a decision by next Tuesday really. And before the fee invoices for this financial year come out! I don't know what I want.

I've got a headache that is hovering on the edge of migraine territory, and a queasy stomach, and I'm more supervising than actually teaching today. I'm feeling the pressure because my housemate may be moving out in a month or so (moving closer to work) and my school is having financial wobbles (lots of kids withdrew because their parents just can't afford the fees in the financial crisis) and although we're working on it, I'm terrified I'm going to be retrenched. I know the principal doesn't want to lose anyone and is pulling out all stops to avoid that, but I'm still worrying.

The SCA is much, much cheaper than any of my other interests, and I can do singing, flute, dancing, arts and crafts, sewing and so on through it so it's extremely wide-ranging and valuable. I just feel a little strange about putting all my eggs in one basket. But then again, perhaps I should be keeping them all together . . .

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Busy Weekend

My stepfather turned 50 yesterday, and tonight Mum is throwing a huge party for him. Between 40 and 50 people are coming, and we're providing all of the food. Nibbles, mains, desserts, everything - all home made! So I've spent the whole day at Mum's, making cheesecake balls and potato salads and so on. Not to mention coaxing smiles out of my sister who was having a sulky 13-year-old day and had a row with Mum! I'm at home again now, waiting for my hair to dry so I can get dressed and head back over there to help Mum set stuff out before the guests start to arrive. My feet are sore but I'm looking forward to the party. It should be fun.

Tomorrow I'm going to a friend's birthday lunch and then later in the afternoon heading to a few of my favourite (and much less frequently visited than they should be) shops to buy bits and pieces for my SCA costumes. I need some sort of overdress with a belt, shoes, and perhaps some sort of headdress. Looking forward to that!

Must go get ready now . . .

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Because I was feeling so grey and low today, I decided to spend this evening picking a new interest to join. Pursuing new interests is part of my grief recovery plan. After Mr S Bananahead and I broke up I joined the choir up in Wongan Hills, and then when I moved back to Perth I continued the music theme by joining the concert band. I also gave one choir a try, but found that I was the youngest there by 10 years, and younger than the average age by at least 20. I felt fish-out-of-water-ish and didn't really enjoy it. So I've stuck with band, and that's been great. But I knew I was wanting another life-building, friendship-building activity.

Over the past week or so I'd considered volunteering as a museum guide, or taking up karate again. The first quickly lost its appeal when I realised that what they actually want are mere ticket and icecream sellers! The karate idea still stands, except that I'm not fit enough to join yet and it's quite expensive. So I was casting around for something that appealed and would help me to grow and change.

I've settled on something I've always wanted to do, since I was a teenager, and I've never had the courage, transport or money to do: I've joined a mediaeval re-enactment society.

I can't go to any of the events for two weeks, but I've signed up with the appropriate yahoo groups and started an email dialogue with one of the organisers, and I'm really excited about it. Costumes, roleplaying, opportunities for sewing and craft and dance and music making . . . this is going to be AWESOME.

I remember longing to do something like this when I visited the Grey Company with a family friend when I was 14. It's taken me a while, but I am going to thoroughly enjoy it.

Alright, who's from Estonia?!

Someone from Estonia has been hitting my blog frequently for days.

I can't think of anyone I know from Estonia, online or otherwise, but if you're from there please let me know in a comment - the curiosity is killing me :)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Strangeness & Update . . .

A very odd thing happened at church today. During the sermon, a guy walked quickly into the cathedral and straight up the centre aisle, without pausing or showing any sign that he realised he might be interrupting. He cut through the nave, past the altar, and over to the prayer candles; dropped a coin in the box, lit a candle, crossed himself and walked straight back out again.

The Dean kept right on with his sermon, and no one moved to intercept the guy, but there was a fair bit of staring from the congregation.

What made it all the stranger was that this guy, based on appearance, was the kind of guy you would cross the road to avoid. His look and clothing and expression were all the sort you see on crimestoppers videos or on notices warning the public not to approach a dangerous offender. The look on his face and the determined way he walked raised all the hairs on the back of my neck - he looked just like the kind of guy who snatches bags or threatens people with knives. Nasty-looking.

His look, and the setting, and his actions, made the whole thing rather surreal. I made sure to pray that he didn't come in and light the candle because he was about to go off and do something awful!


I'm flat out at the moment getting ready to take my class on camp on Wednesday. I've been flat out organising it and getting everything ready, and I'm still not sure I've covered all my bases! With any luck we should be alright. It's going to be very cold down south but it looks like the weather should stay fine, so we should have a great time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fear (aka Wow)

Just now I was doing one of those silly fill-in-the-blanks quizzes on Facebook, and one of the questions was "I Fear: _". I tried on a few answers for size, answers that have always been true before. Being lonely, not having kids, etc. And I found that they didn't fit. I don't want them, but they're not things I fear any more. I cast around for an answer and found only one thing that fits: my temper. This is of course excluding trite things like wasps and unlikely things like violent crime. In the course of my daily existence, the only thing that I fear now is something that is part of me, and more importantly, something I control.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Stupid advert anyway . . .

There are two adverts on TV right now which bring tears to my eyes every time I watch them. Predictably, they're to do with children and families. One is for McDonald's, one is for Kinder Surprise. I am getting SO tired of tearing up every time I watch them. MD laughs at me for it, but I can't help it.

This is the first one.

Every time I see the older brother say "coming, Sam?" (around the 50 second mark) . . . cue blurry eyes.

The other one I can't find on the internet, but the gist of it is that a father leaves the office early in order to surprise his young son by picking him up from school (he then of course treats him to a Kinder Surprise, but that's not the point lol). It's clearly originally in another language (Australian boys don't call their fathers "Papa" for a start!) but it still gets me every time. Damnit.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Been a while . . .

I've been sick a lot and busy a lot over the last few weeks, and haven't had much time or energy for blogging, but I'm fine now :)

Life is normal: school varies between great and difficult, MD and I are fine, housemate and I are fine, Jemima is fine, money is tight but manageable, and the holidays are creeping ever closer! There's babies everywhere, moreso since my cousin had her son at 3:30am today - the first great-grandchild for my grandparents. I'm coping with it. I've gone a bit baby-name nuts recently, and what-I-want-at-my-wedding nuts, but I'm coping.

Not much else to say . . . life is ok :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another revelation

The realisation I had last week about Mr S Bananahead's cheating ways was perhaps the second-last niggling question I had about the relationship. The last was the incomprehensible question that kept me tied up in knots for a long time until I learned to consign it to the "don't know, don't care" bin. The question went something like this: "He bought a ring. He was sure enough that he wanted to marry me that he bought a ring. Why would he buy a ring if he wasn't sure? You don't buy a ring if you're not sure. Why would he buy a ring then sabotage the relationship for no apparent reason and move a new girlfriend into his house in the process? Who DOES that? What went wrong when up until that point he was sure enough to buy a ring?"

Suddenly, yet another GPYP post made me realise that there does not have to be any logic to it. He was a liar and a cheater. He was illogical and wrong-headed. A sensible and emotionally stable person wouldn't buy a ring unless they were sure. But Mr S Bananahead was neither of those things. Possibly he was sure and then changed his mind; that can happen even to emotionally stable people. But with Mr S Bananahead's track record for honesty and stability there's no reason to assume that his thought processes followed any sort of earth logic. A sensible and emotionally stable person wouldn't buy an engagement ring he never intended to use. But Mr S Bananahead wasn't sensible or emotionally stable. There's simply no way of knowing what his motivations were, but the initial confusion was invalid. "You don't buy a ring if you're not sure". If you're a bananahead, maybe you do. And that's all I need to know.

Barring unexpected triggers, that's the last of my baggage from that relationship. Good feeling :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Stop the room, I want to get off ...

I've been nursing a slight cold for a few days, and it decided to get a bit worse today, during music - one second I'm singing, next second I'm coughing up a lung. By the time I got home I had a headache and a tight throat as well, so I thought I'd take a couple of cold & flu tablets (paracetamol, codeine and pseudoephedrine, basically) to knock it on the head.

Ironically, that knocked ME on the head. Half an hour after I took the tablets the room went kind of odd and the bits of the room in my peripheral vision started spinning if I moved too quickly. YUCK.

I've managed to make dinner - without burning anything - but I feel woozy in the head and generally off-colour. And the dizziness has transformed the righteous ire I felt when I got home (MORE parent-generated crap at school today) into a tired depressed funk. I'm sick of dealing with political crap and just want to get on with teaching.


Sunday, May 10, 2009


I've finished doing the grief work around Mr S Bananahead, to the point where it's strange for me to even think of him. But recently I was reminded of the strangeness of the breakup. I saw in a catalogue a picture of the ring he'd bought for me, and for a moment once again paused to wonder why, on the verge of proposing, he instead sabotaged the relationship he'd driven along so fast for all those months. It was a passing return to wondering, and I quickly consigned it to the "don't know, don't care, doesn't matter" basket and moved on.

But a few days later, I was reading through various GPYP posts to find good advice for a friend who'd just been dumped, and I read a phrase I'd seen a hundred times before but had never really absorbed . . . "what he does with you, he'll do TO you".

Oh, DUH.

When Mr S. Bananahead and I met, he was still living with an ex-girlfriend, who hadn't moved out because the housemate thing was convenient for both of them. He insisted on keeping me a complete secret from this ex-girlfriend, ostensibly because she had been paying the mortgage while they were together, and was owed a considerable amount if she moved out. I didn't even meet his parents until she was safely moved out and paid out. I met her once, because my car broke down and I was stranded at his house. I was introduced as a friend, and couldn't help noticing that she called him "sweetie" still. I later also found out that they'd still been sleeping together from time to time up until Mr S Bananahead and I started going out . . . so they were not so thoroughly-broken-up-for-the-past-6-months as he'd claimed. But despite the strangeness and inconsistencies, I let the secrecy happen until she was safely moved out, and believed Mr S Bananahead's reasons for it.

When that relationship began to go wrong, it was because Mr S Bananahead gradually scaled back affection and communication, all the while denying that he was doing any such thing, until I was nearly frantic. In desperation I turned up at his doorstep unannounced, and when I got there I discovered that he had a new female housemate he'd neglected to mention. His excuse for this was that we were too busy fighting for him to tell me anything, but since we were fighting because he refused to talk . . . ahem. Bullshit.

At the time, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. She probably was just a housemate, right? But when I re-read that phrase - "what he does with you, he'll do TO you" - the uncertainty vanished. Of course she was his new flame. As demonstrated with myself and his ex, he's got a history of lining up a new girlfriend and keeping her a secret until he's got rid of the old one. Tell the new one a convincing story about the need for secrecy, so the phasing out is as painless as possible. He did it with me. He did it to me. It's what he does.

I STILL don't know why Mr S Bananahead decided to trade me in for someone else. I don't care. He's a bastard and a cheater and I'm well shot of him. And it was me that pulled the plug in the end, with far more dignity than he could ever have mustered. What I DO know is that I needn't doubt what was going on any more. I know what was going on. It was right there all along.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Back to it . . .

School has been back in for two days now. It's going much more smoothly than it did at the start of the year - most of the kids have got used to the idea that this new arrangement is here to stay and that there's plenty of good new stuff happening. Literacy groups are going well, music is working, I'm starting a whole-school voluntary choir, and so on. Up to my usual tricks, basically :D

I went to see Tim Minchin's stand up routine at the Perth Concert Hall last night. He was absolutely brilliant (I spent most of the evening in tears of laughter) and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. We had great seats - right up the back out of the way of being picked on, but with a perfect view down to the stage. The comedy was sharp, clever, linguistically savvy, and wandered back and forth over the comfort line perfectly. And it contained one of the best comedy bait-and-switch moments I've ever seen (a song about discrimination, making reference to a word that contains "a couple of gs, an r and an e, an i and an n" ... not what you're thinking though). Plus, he is an AMAZING pianist. It was a great evening and I'd thoroughly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity goes to see him. Also, youtube him. I can recommend Storm and there's plenty more on youtube.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Errandy Things

I gave blood this morning and then went and got my hair cut, as per the routine I'm trying to develop. It was my 5th donation so I got a little commemorative pin - yay! I'm still feeling a little strange but it's wearing off now that I've had lunch. I went to the same hairdresser as last time, and she did a great job the second time running, so I'm impressed. I explained what I'm trying to do: I want to grow it down to my waist, but I want to maintain layers in it all the way up to my ears even when it's long. So I wanted a little bit off the ends just to get rid of the dry stuff, and layers cut back in up the back and sides so that it's still bouncy. She did just that, and gave me a cute bouncy wave of hair over my left ear (my part is above my right ear) which forms a neat little curl next to my left cheek. It's cute and lively and I love it.

I'm performing in an ANZAC Day parade tomorrow with my concert band, in which we are marching - my first march! I'm trying to get the music memorised so that I don't trip over my own feet. It's going interestingly.

I got new contacts yesterday with a slightly stronger prescription - a few weeks ago I realised that my distance vision had gone sproing again, and I've been struggling to switch between close and distant (which teachers have to do a LOT - looking at a child's book one minute and then giving the teacher stare to a child at the other end of the room the next minute!). So off to the optometrist I went, and the verdict was that each eye has deteriorated a quarter point. My last prescription allowed me to use the same power of lenses in each eye, but my optometrist decided that this time I need a stronger one in my left eye (which has always been the dodgier of the two). They're up to -2.50 (right) and -2.75 (left). They started off as -0.25 and -0.50 when I was 15 *sigh*. The good news is that the new contacts work beautifully: the distance is crisp again :) And the headaches are gone, yay! Hopefully it'll be another two years before I have to get them reassessed.

I think that's all the news for now!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Being who you are, and other stories . . .

I had a bit of a revelation on Saturday. I was at Mum's for an Easter lunch, and after everyone else had left Mum and I were chatting about this and that. We got to talking about the future and what I might do with it. When I started at the Montessori school, everyone I knew heaved a huge sigh of relief and said that now that I was back in Perth and teaching at such a great school, maybe I would just stay put for a while and maybe this job would do me for a good whack of my career. I agreed, I wanted to stay. But deep down I wasn't sure, and even as this term has passed I've become aware that I still have itchy feet. I still have dreams that are unfulfilled and paths I'd like to take before I run out of time. So Mum and I were talking about how I still thought I wanted to teach in England eventually. Mum - although obviously reluctant to encourage that particular plan - pointed out that the longest she's ever worked any job was for 5 years, and that was a bit of a fluke. In general, she hasn't gone more than three years without at least changing position (such as maths teacher to computing teacher) and a lot of the time she's changed career or path entirely. Itchy feet, career-wise, is in my blood. That made me feel a whole lot better. It's true. Switching careers, roles and locations is probably an inherent part of my personality and I should stop trying to fight it. Since that realisation I've felt much more relaxed about the future. I don't need to convince myself that I love my school so much that I'll stay there forever. I won't. I know I won't. I might go and come back but sooner or later I will need something fresh and new. That frees me up hugely. I don't need to commit to being somewhere for 20 years. I just need to be happy where I am until I decide it's time to move on.

My long term plans do include teaching in England. I will do it eventually. It'll happen. Mum and I came up with a budget plan that, if I manage to follow the key points of it, will get me out of debt in about 5 years' time, and well and truly in control of my finances long before that. It won't be long before I'm free to do whatever I like and will have the money to do it.

So . . . I'm not a settler, I'm a wanderer. So be it :)

Addendum: I just chatted to Mum on the phone, and she reckons that after I have kids I won't want to be a teacher anyway. But, in her opinion, that's fine because by then I'll have my next degree and I'll become a book editor. I could do that :D

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I'm sitting in front of my computer trying not to make any sudden movements - I'm feeling nauseous and already lost my breakfast. I'm sipping a stomach relief drink (very slowly) and hoping it helps.

The sad thing is that I only had a couple of tiny easter eggs yesterday, and haven't had any today at all, so this isn't even the traditional sickness of over-indulgence on chocolate. Boo to that!

Before anyone can say it - because it would be a delicious irony after yesterday's post - I'm NOT pregnant. No, I'm not. The odds of that would be minuscule. Definitely not.

Besides which, MD has been unwell with a mild stomachy thing this past few days, so no doubt I've just caught that. I'll be right as rain in a few days and just have to be patient.

But anyways . . . Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Babies :)

I have a new cousin tonight - my uncle David and his wife Frances (I don't call her my aunt because she's only three years older than me, David only being 9 years older!) welcomed a little girl named Josephine into the world today. It's similar to the kind of name I predicted for them earlier in the year (I picked Katherine, Elizabeth, Emma, Lucy and Sarah - old-fashioned classics) but I'm glad it's something a bit less overused than the ones I chose!

I'm incredibly happy for them and wish they were here instead of England (they're bringing Josephine back for a visit in September, thankfully!).

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter at last . . .

First term is over. In some ways it seemed to fly by, in others it crawled . . . I'm just glad that now I have two weeks off and can work out which was is up again!

Still got assignments to finish, but I'm getting there.

People are strange - two kids in our class were pulled out at the end of this term because the mother didn't feel that we were experienced enough Montessori teachers to teach her kids the way she wants them to be taught. So ... she's sending them to a strict private school that adheres to the mainstream education style. That is, the style in which I *am* trained. Go figure. We know she actually has a private issue with the principal that has nothing to do with us teachers (she has said it herself) but it's amusing that she a) needs to tell herself a story about why the kids are leaving that leaves out her issue with the principal; and b) that the story she's picked has such a great big plot hole in it. People!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I'm at home with a sore throat today, the sort that could possibly maybe turn into tonsillitis. Do Not Want.

I'm also trying not to waste any of my dwindling supply of contacts on a sick day, so I'm wearing my glasses. Man they feel weird. I haven't worn them once since I got my first set of these contacts in about August last year. Everything is slightly more curvy than it should be, and the edges (even with my nice half-rimless ones) are really throwing me off. Blech.

I've spent the entire morning in bed sleeping, and now I intend to laze around doing not much of anything except resting my throat, and incidentally listen to some uni lectures I've been ignoring!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

So, that blogging thing, right

I was up at Mum's this afternoon getting my budget plugged in to her budget program. I stayed for dinner, and as we were serving out, Mum said something about MD.

11yo Brother: Who is MD?
Mum: Christine's new boyfriend . . . is he a boyfriend, or someone you're just dating?
Me: Y-
13yo Sister: He's a boyfriend, they changed their statuses on Facebook.
Me: ...
Me: Totally busted by my sister. Thanks, sis!

Then everyone kind of fell about laughing :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Mum phoned me this morning in tears to say that the family cat, Mia, who has had cancer for a couple of years, finally needed to be put down. She'd become very weak and was shaking a lot, breathing strangely and not moving around much. They've waited because she wasn't in pain even though her left ear and eye had gone funny, but it was time.

I raced up the hill and gave Mia a cuddle before my stepdad took her to the vet. She was still aware and greeted me and purred when I stroked her, but she was also clearly very unwell. I stayed with Mum for an hour, chatting to her and 13yo sis and comforting each other. It wasn't until I left that I suddenly started bawling my eyes out, and on the way up to the highway I passed my stepfather returning from the vet where Mia was put down, which *really* set me off. Soon I found I was crying my heart out, not just for Mia, but for Phyllida too even though I thought I'd cried myself out over her before; and for my maternal grandfather, who is having regular mini-strokes and getting more fragile by the week, and probably won't see out the year. I had to go to a particular shop half an hour away and I cried nearly all the way there, and I'm still on the verge of tears now even though it's hours later and I've been racing around doing errands and things. I just feel hurt all through.

My housemate is away all weekend so I'm alone. I have friends who will drop everything to look after me or will include me in their plans, but I think maybe I do need to be alone. Grieving has to be done, it can't just be ignored. I obviously have some things about Phyllida and my grandfather that need to be processed and have been kick-started by losing Mia, and I need to address them. It's time to write some not-to-be-sent letters again.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ways you can tell you're autistic . . .

I'm about 90% able to cope with the neurotypical world these days, and only occasionally find myself being needing to take action to make sense of something.

Having to google a bit of slang to find out what someone means . . . is one of those times :D

Now I know *that* one!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sick :(

Everyone seems to be getting sick this week, me included. My co-teacher was off sick Tuesday and Wednesday, and when I got home Wednesday (yesterday) I felt really off and weird - earache and funny vision. When I spoke to Mum yesterday evening, she said the headache virus she's getting over started the same way; and when my housemate got home she said she'd been achey for 24 hours as well. Plus one child spent Tuesday in the corner of the room with a headache. So I realised yesterday that I was basically doomed. I wanted to phone in this morning but since my co-teacher had been away it would've been really hard for her to work out what was going in if I called in sick, so I went. I was okay until lunchtime (at which time another child went home sick!) but then it hit hard and I had to teach music sitting down and used a CD to teach them a song because I could barely stand and couldn't take a proper breath let alone sing! I told the principal & registrar this afternoon that there was a chance I'd be off tomorrow and they said "don't take the chance, take the day instead" lol. So I'm staying happily in bed tomorrow and getting over it!

My ears ache, my throat aches, my body aches, my eyes are weird and I keep saying things wrong or mis-typing and thinking feels all foggy. Not well!

PS: 13yo sis changed her Facebook relationship status to "in a relationship" last night. @*&#^%*!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Not Having a Wonderful Day

This morning a child tried to hurt me for the second time in two weeks. Last week he dug his fingers into my hand while shaking hands (the morning handshake is a normal Montessori thing), and that's my bad hand so I ended up having to ice it and not being able to lift anything heavy all day; and this was after I'd previously and clearly warned him that I had a sensitive hand and his handshakes had to be careful. Today he 'patted me on the shoulder' so hard that my shoulder was still aching two hours later. I immediately went and told the principal, nearly crying, and the principal had a LONG chat with him then a talk with both of us and the child accepted that he'd done the wrong thing and understood why it was a problem (he's a very defiant, confused and complicated child, behind academically and socially too) so that was somewhat okay, but it didn't make me feel great.

Then my co-teacher made a mistake in dealing with a child that allowed a child to make a false accusation against her - for the second time. She went home feeling sick (and partly because the principal was concerned that the child's parents would be violent towards her), so I was left all on my own with the kids all afternoon. We had an alright afternoon, it was okay, just exhausting because I was trying to be two people and deal with twice as many questions and queries all afternoon. And I'm upset with her for being so thoughtless, furious with the parents and the trouble-making kids for putting her in that position, and generally irritated at the whole Parent vs Teacher mentality that allows children to get away with monstrous disrespect and hide behind their parents' blindness.

So I get home eventually, knowing that we have a rent inspection tomorrow. We're going to hit the dusting and mopping when my housemate gets home, which is fine, but I spent my after school time doing two loads of washing, tidying various things, moving boxes, and generally getting the house ready for cleaning. In the process I managed to cut my thumb, and seconds later (while still looking at the thing I cut my thumb on), nearly shut Jemima in a door, and did hit her around the head with it by accident. At that point Jem went under the bed to sulk and I lay down on the floor and cried like I'd wanted to since the kid hit me this morning. I still feel like howling but I managed to pull myself together and go make dinner. I still need to wash the dishes, and my housemate still isn't home so there's still the wiping and dusting and sweeping and mopping to be done together when she gets here. I'm not tired exactly, just emotionally worn out and wanting to have a really good cry, preferably not while on a floor. What a day!

On the upside, I'm getting an even better laptop than originally planned - they can't do it in purple in the time frame, so I'm getting the black one but with enhancements as compensation. I'm going to buy one of those stick-on vinyl tops, probably using one of my own photos of UWA, to customise it. It'll probably be even cooler that way than with purple, and I can change it if I get bored :D This laptop is going to be all kinds of awesome.

Addendum: the house is clean, and I'm about to have a lovely shower then an even more lovely glass of Bailey's as I settle into bed with a book. I had a chat to Mum and a long extended whinge to my housemate and I'm feeling much better now. I rather suspect there's something hormonal going on, on top of everything else!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dark Heroes

I watched the movie version of "Phantom of the Opera" this evening for the first time since seeing it at the movies back in 2005. I liked it much better the second time around, and was quite riveted despite having seen the movie before, read the book and watched the stage version twice. I honestly couldn't remember how they got out of parts of it!

When I first saw Phantom, on stage when it came to Perth in 1998, I was utterly entranced. Like many teenaged girls, I had a fascination with "dark heroes" - male characters who are heroic in some way (usually, by being the love / lust / serious attraction interest of the heroine) yet also the villain, agitator or in some other way diametrically opposed to the heroine. Jareth in Labyrinth, Angel/Angelus in Buffy, and of course the Phantom, all have elements of this. I used to have a whole list of them, and frequently wrote them into my stories. Kidnappers, usurpers and enemies who became love interests abounded.

Sometime in my early 20s, when I had internet access on my own computer, I googled dark heroes to see if anyone else was as interested in them as I was. I promptly stumbled upon a wonderful article expressing the opinion that dark heroes encourage women to believe that abuse is an acceptable price to pay if you really love someone, or that true love comes with control, etc. I'd already been in several controlling relationships by that stage, and the article made me deeply uncomfortable. I knew it was true. The fact that I felt such an intense yearning towards these fictional relationships, and the fact that I fell for men who treated me like that? Not such a coincidence actually.

It's taken me a long time and several more bananaheads to REALLY learn the lesson, and start fighting back against those beliefs. Dark heroes are not fun. Dark heroes are not nice. Dark heroes are not heroes at all. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Bang head against wall if necessary.

For some reason, this evening, I felt like dipping my toe in the Dark Hero waters and seeing how I reacted. I was going to watch Labyrinth as well after Phantom, but it got too late. As I mentioned, I was riveted. I also sang along as much as possible, albeit sometimes an octave below Emmy Rossum :D And I found that the bits that triggered a strong emotional longing were the bits between Raoul and Christine, not the bits involving Phantom.

As a teenager, I was almost unbearably attracted to the words of "The Music of the Night" . . . 'floating, falling, sweet intoxication' indeed! This time I was drawn to the clean, honest affection of "All I Ask of You" instead, but with nowhere near the intensity of my teenage years. Part of that is no doubt just growing up and being less emotional about everything lol. But I suspect progress nonetheless.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Catching Up

It's been a long and foggy week somehow (for a week with only four working days!) and I'm just now catching up and figuring out where my head is.

First up, the video below is so beautiful it made me cry. It's an animated version of the picture book "Blueberry Girl" by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Charles Vess. I desperately want to own this book if I ever have a daughter, and I shall attempt to give it to any friends that have daughters. It's just lovely.

Next, this is a wonderful, wonderful thing. It's the uniform jacket for the concert band I've just joined. The band is awesome, and they do high-profile events in Perth like the ANZAC Day marches and the Christmas Pageant. I joined last week and got this to take home. Squee! We also get caps :) And lookit the shiny buttons and the City of Perth badges!

Third in my show-and-tell is the ring I bought for myself a few weeks ago:

The fourth item is a bit of news. Last weekend I stripped my laptop and old PC of everything important to me and loaded it all onto Mum's mini-laptop, which I'm now using while attached to my PC monitor and keyboard. The reason for this is that the EdDept laptop needed to go back (and is now gone) and the PC had become hideously slow and noisy, to the point of being unusable. Mum is lending me her mini-laptop until I can get my own replacement laptop, which I'm buying with the $900 "economic stimulus" money that the government is paying out to anyone under a certain income in April.

I mentioned this state of affairs to my friend M, who promptly pulled some partner-of-his-accounting-firm-fu and is getting me a Dell laptop that is much more expensive than one I'd be able to buy retail, through their company Dell account. It'll be here in two or three weeks and then I can just pay them back when the money comes in. And I'll be on their corporate repairs account so they'll get it fixed for me if it has problems. I have no words for how awesome this friend and this arrangement are. And the laptop is going to be PURPLE. *SQUEE*

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I'm listening to the online lectures for my Intro to Creative Arts unit. The lectures are recorded during the actual delivery of the lecture, so as well as the lecturer's words you hear students' responses and comments etc.

It's a first-year unit, so the vast majority of the students are school leavers, 17-18 year olds; the remainder are almost exclusively mature age students who are new to university.

The comments are, for the most part, so darn cute. Young men and women taking their first stumbling steps into the world of critical independent thought, finding phrasing for this new level of understanding a step beyond high school. I remember that stage, and how wonderful it felt. It's nice to be able to revisit that.

But I also can't wait to get to some of the more difficult units! :)