Saturday 28 September 2013

First of the Month Fiction - October

This month, the FOMF is a little different - if you just want to write the normal 100 words exactly, or less than 30 words, feel free to add your story in the comments as usual. (Rules& examples here). If you have a story, of any length, that you wish to contribute, post it on your blog, and link up. If you've written a story for a competition and failed to win, then here is the perfect place to showcase your effort.

Mine is from the Ubud Writers festival, with the theme of travel.


A large drop of water dripped onto his shoulder from the green banana leaf above. The early morning rain had been heavy but the ever increasing heat had already evaporated the puddles on the path. The sweet smoke filled the air as the neighbourhood burnt their rubbish. He had lived in this area all his life but it was no longer recognisable from the unkempt jungle of his youth.

Nowadays his favourite activity was to watch the new families move into the villas. If there were little ones, he knew there would be food left out overnight, that he could come back and steal later. They would squeal with delight and run in and out of the rooms, opening and closing every door in the compound. Some stayed a long time, but most only stayed a week.

The houses and farms were almost all gone, and hotels, villas and shops filled the streets. Restaurants, too. Rats had no problem eking out their survival, but all other wildlife struggled, or had gone. His own family had left a long time ago, preferring to move up the mountains, and away from the crowds of tourists. He was too old to change.

Over time the noises had evolved, the chattering of birds was now drowned out by the drunken people, spilling into the streets. The crashing of the waves were no longer heard over the bass beats of the music in bars. The puttering of motorbikes was now a sophisticated drone. Only the laughter of children remained the same – the children were a different skin colour, but children none the less.

The flabby, pink people of the villas were strange. Some would arrive and never leave the grounds, preferring to eat in private, and have troops of ladies turn up throughout the day to paint their toes or rub their backs. Women would cook for them, clean for them then leave, barely saying a word.

Others would disappear for long hours in the day and night, returning with bags, and more bags. Eventually to leave with an extra suitcase, crammed with who knows what.

Some would arrive lily white and leave a dark brown. Others, a deep red. Hair would lighten, brown marks would appear on their faces. Change would occur, no matter how brief their stay.

One thing that still remained were the old buildings of the neighbourhood. Temples that had little offerings left early in the morning were hiding in between the shops and busy bars. People would pose for photos but rarely go inside. The last bastion of the old days. The trees were mostly gone, but the old ruins were intact. They were the perfect place to escape the heat of the day, before returning to the villas to find food. Occasionally there was something to eat in the offerings, but usually some clumsy tourist had trodden on it before it could be pilfered.

The new family in the villa were talking loudly. The little ones were shrieking and splashing in the pool. It looked like they were settling in for a while. Groceries were being unloaded into the kitchen. Bowls of fruit were taken to the coffee table. The clink of glass as bottles were put into the fridge.

The long-tailed macaque’s eyes wrinkled into a smile. He licked his lips and pulled them back to reveal his teeth. He grabbed a leaf from the tree to chew, passing the time while he watched the kids play. The strange habits of humans never ceased to entertain him.

After a while, having noted where the fruit was placed, he stretched his arthritic legs and climbed a little higher in the tree. He had several hours before it was safe to return, and it was now time to find some shade to sleep in. The old temple towards the beach would be empty, unless the dogs had got there first. The fight for shade could get fierce, and he was too slow to contend anymore. There was another villa a little further up that might be empty. He would try there first. Slowly he swung onto the roof and clambered away, into the mid-morning haze, planning to return when the moon rose high.

So link away, no need for comments unless you've a story to add. Back to business as usual next week, and enjoy the last week of the holidays.
 Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Thursday 26 September 2013

I'd marry her....

I know I said I was on a break, but I just saw this and it truly astounded me - I really hate making sandwiches for the school lunch (as many of you have read), it really, really sucks the joy right out of my morning. Yet here's this woman merrily making very appetizing sandwiches for her boyfriend. No repeat of vegemite sandwich every day there, it's pulled pork or Swiss chard leftovers (I don't even know what that is but I want to eat it).

No, I'm not going to get into the whole sexist issue - Frankly I suspect she's actually a food blogger who's got a 'cute' angle for a sandwich blog (while simultaneously sending women hurtling back some thirty years or so) - but maybe it is true, and who am I to decide what's too weird for real life? Even for money, even a lot of money, I'm astounded anyone can enjoy making a sandwich.

I love my kids but I don't eagerly revel in making their lunch. I can barely be bothered to make my own sandwich most days. I would love someone to send me a Shakshuka sandwich - if she wants to move in here, I'll marry her. (She'll have to wait for after next election for it to be ratified - and probably never consummated, but you know, just putting the offer out there.)

Not linking up with anyone. Just wishing someone would make me Vietnamese Steak Banh Mi sandwich - Good thing Great Aunty 3 is up the road, and I don't even have to dangle an engagement carrot for her sensational roast pork roll...(

Thursday 19 September 2013

Far, Far Away

Today's the day, I'm on my way! Off to the Grand Prix - whoohoo - and then it's school holidays - and as you know, I take a blogging break so I can keep my head out of my phone and on the real life fun. Hello children, I'm Baaack!

So I'll be off until  7th of Oct, with a brief appearance for First of the Month Fiction, which will continue as normal (but this time, with links to full stories, for those interested).

So I've nothing much to say as I'm bursting with excitement, but will leave you with the tune that's earworming in my head, by the wonderful Tape Five (I can recommend both CDs, for those that have taken to The Gatsby lifestyle)

Letting loose around the world, and linking up With Some Grace for FYBF! and with Rhianna for Things I Know.

And as a PS, for all those that have kindly added me to their google circles, if I haven't done it back correctly, it's not intentional - I just have no idea how it works!! Ignore the idiot!

P.P.S I know I'm hanging to get on the plane, I know I'm going to have a great time, and I know I'm going to miss my chicklets and partner (stupid sook, I know that too) and I know I really need some time out - and what a perfect way for me to take it. Just incase I was too tenuous to link up for Things I know.

Monday 16 September 2013

Censorship, Friendship and Facebook

My partner is participating in an upcoming OS road race, and has joined a Facebook support group with other competitors so they can bounce ideas, stay motivated and organise meet ups before and after the race. They all have the common interest of running, but as they come from around the globe, the cultural differences are beginning to creep in.

One member has gone early and hit Vegas. He posted a photo of himself with this statute on the Strip. He was doing nothing lewd, just standing with the 'most photographed statute in Nevada'.

For those of you familiar with Il Porcellino in Sydney, you'll know why those behinds are shiny...

Anyway, one international member of the group did not like this photo, and reported him to Facebook for pornography. She had been friendly with the guy, but didn't approach him directly, nor did she give him warning of her actions. He found out when he was approached by Facebook.

This raises a number of questions for me:
1. Do you find this image offensive?
2. If you did, would you report is to Facebook?
3. If you would report it to Facebook, why would you not just ask the guy to take it down?

I understand, there is a cultural Australian aspect where we don't dob, we don't rush to authorities etc. We are also a little more laidback in our attitudes to pretty much everything, for the most part. I could even understand reporting it to the art police, but each to his own, I guess.

I also wonder, if that statue is considered pornographic on Facebook, would you also be reported for this one? (ah, yes, that old chestnut - what is art and what is pornography?)

                                                               image from Wikipedia

My other question is, how do you then socialise in person with someone you've reported online?

Would love to hear views on this, or have you ever reported anything you've seen on Facebook?

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT and Talk to Us Thursday

Sunday 15 September 2013

What I learnt from Turbo

Yesterday we headed off to the screening of Turbo - The kids laughed and laughed, but so did I, at completely different things. As an F1 fan, this was the perfect movie to gear me up for next weekend's trip to the Grand Prix. While the film is Indy-centric (boohiss!), racing is racing and there is a close enough rivalry for me to get the jokes. So here's what I learnt from Turbo:
1. Not all kids movies need to have kids soundtracks. I loved the choice of music in this film. I've had an earworm of Jump Around ever since!
2. Some great attitudes when facing fears 'What happens if you wake up tomorrow and you're powers are gone?' 'Then I'd better make the most of today'
3. Funnniest joke in the film, for a F1 snob (who looks down on the Indy cousin), is the description "left turn, left turn...what happens next? oh, left turn!"
4. Wisdom in the words 'Is this really necessary? No, but it's fun' Maybe it's important to bring fun into all that you have to do...
5. I loved the media savvy Guy Gange, but as a longtime Prost then Alesi fan, I take offense that in US films, the European villain is always French!! They really weren't like that!!
6. I learnt that apparently all racing is good to watch, even if it's inside a snails mind.
7. Sometimes, when people don't support your dreams, it's because they're scared for you, and it may just take time for them to come round to the idea.
8. No dream is too big, and no dreamer too small (this might actually become my new mantra)
9. I liked that it reinforces that being different is ok, and that you don't have to try to fit in with everyone else - that you'll find your tribe eventually.
10. The big question in life, do you want to settle for good enough or crazy awesome?

Linking up with SlapdashMama at the Lounge - and counting down to a crazy awesome weekend!

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Things I (don't) know...

A variation on Riddle me this? so I can tenuously do my first ever Things I know....

Ten Things I Don't Know:

1. How does the skeleton grow? It seems to grow from the middle of the bones? And how does the skull get bigger? Then you think of exoskeletons, the animal busts out completely to form a new bigger covering, that just seems much simpler and practical - we wouldn't need bike helmets. (Don't bother telling me to google it, I understand the theory of it, just can't fit it together in my brain).
2. When did we become people that voted for what was best for us personally, not what was best for the less fortunate, both here and around the globe?
3. Why is the music industry so destructive for women? And where are the adults to these young children, demanding control? (And frankly clothes??!! I know I'm old but seriously, the women need to put clothes on and the men just seem totally sleazy, and slightly creepy*).
4. How can three children from the same gene pool and environment be so different in looks and personality? (I'm serious, I really don't understand this - we have 2 that look like one family and one that you would think was from another).
5. Why can kids, who you love so much, drive you more nuts than anyone else on the planet? How can one so young be so adept at pushing your buttons?
6. Why does our hair go grey? What's the point? And why doesn't the fur of animals go grey? Why aren't our dogs grey?
7. Why do I still struggle with school lunches, but not holiday lunches, when off on a day trip?
8. Why are there so many great things on but you only find out about half of them once they're over?
9.Why do some people get upset they weren't invited to something, even though they were away? (yep, I have one of those friends)
10. Why can some animals fend for themselves at an early age, yet human teenagers be so useless round the house?

Do you know the answers? Or feel free to add your own questions.
*Talking to you, Robin Thicke.

Monday 9 September 2013

I'm in the jetset, baby!

Earlier this year, I wrote a post on Extravagance because I was flying up to Brisbane to see a play. I have upped the ante, and next week I'll be flying to Singapore for the weekend to watch the Grand Prix! I am thrilled as it's my first GP in about ten years, but I'm also bemused at the insanity of it, to go to another country, literally for 2 nights. I've just emailed my hotel make sure they hold my room, as I'm going straight from the airport to the track, and won't be checking in until close to midnight.

Amazingly, thanks to Scoot*, the cost is less than if I went to Melbourne, and Scoots 2am departure time, allows me 3 days but only paying for 2 nights accommodation. Having trawled the net for family accommodation that we can afford for recent trips, I'd forgotten how easy it is to travel solo, not to mention how cheap. Find a room, and click. Booked. No checking how many in a room, costs of extra beds and so on.

I have been madly ebaying away to pay for this adventure, and while I didn't cover the entire cost, I did cover the airfare.

So why did I stop going to grand prixs? Cost mainly, and kids. Couldn't take the kids, and didn't feel I could justify the cost, or the time away from the kids. My question is why? Why do women, and it is predominately women who do this, cut out their interests and passions for the sake of others?

My partner continued his annual boys weekends. I just stopped my weekends away. He didn't ask me to - I did it to myself.

Last year, I went away with a girlfriend for a week. This was a HUGE deal, three years in the making. I'll admit, I struggled a bit, wishing my partner and kids could see all the wonders I was seeing. Realistically, only one of the kids even cared I was gone. And that was only for one day. So did I project the importance onto them? Or was it my need for them?

Anyway, this trip is short enough for me to just enjoy it (I think).

As the footy finals are a painful non event for me this year, I'll be cheering for a win for the Iceman, Kimmi Raikkonen, though a win for Vettel will also suffice.

At any rate, I haven't stopped smiling since this turned up last night!

Did you sacrifice some of your interests for the family? Is it wise? Does it make a difference?

Is there an interest you gave up that you want to reignite?

And the really big question, can I actually do an overseas trip with only hand luggage?

Linking up with EssentiallyJess for IBOT.

*I'm paying, not sponsored, but thanks to their low fares.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Living out loud

I am fully aware of the irony of what I'm about to write, but there is something in the news today got me thinking (and it's something that crops up almost daily).

When something happens, how does the media get access to people's Facebook page status? How do they get their photos? Do they hack in? Does Facebook hand it over? Or do 'friends' pass it on? If we have a personal facebook page, or pinterest/twitter/instagram account, have we really handed over all rights to privacy?

If so, do we need to keep that in mind when we post our kids/thoughts/selves? (Topics of catfishing and facial recognition issues will be saved for another day - it's just too big to even get my head around yet).

Do we need to consider how to keep in touch without sacrificing privacy?

(Obviously, as a blogger, we are sacrificing a certain amount of that privacy. Even then, it can feel at times, you are only talking to one or two people, especially on twitter, but it needs to be noted it is for the whole wide web to see).

I do not know how the media gets it's hands on people's facebook material, but I for one do not want to read the status of a grieving person, or a person in a difficult situation. their message to their friends and loved ones should stay just that.

Of course, the article that prompted this, the woman herself may have released the details in order for the other party to see them, on the chance he was not able to access online.

Which then brings us to the kids. The kids who will grow up with every thought and deed they ever committed following them around for their whole adult life.

I don't have an answer, but it is something quite complex to think about. Mind bogglingly difficult, with what complications and consequences may follow.

It's alien enough to make you think - online, everyone can hear you scream*.

Linking up with some Grace for FYBF.
* (that's a joke for the old people)

Monday 2 September 2013

The extroverted introvert.

Linking this old post for #IMustConfess.  As an update, we had a 'meet the other parents' cocktail party and my friend pulled out last minute. She said she just wasn't up for it, and then added "but you're really great at that sort of thing". I found this so odd, as I'm really terrible at that sort of thing, and it fills me with self conscious fears of inadequacy, but clearly, I'm becoming so much better at hiding it. So I am at times, an extroverted introvert.

I am, as you've all heard, socially inept, painfully shy, and an undisputed introvert. My partner, on the other hand, is not. He's very confident and at ease socially, anywhere. So what follows came as a big surprise to me, and I'm still puzzling to make some sense of it.

On Saturday night, we headed to the Zombie Prom - a prom night from 1986 where you dress as zombies. With Halloween being my favourite time of year, I already had the outfit of a decaying prom queen, so it was no effort for me.

Due to my covering of wholemeal flour paste (for decaying, flaky skin), I said we would have to walk up the road to the venue, rather than get a taxi. My partner said "I can't walk up King St dressed like this". My response, "It's King St, no one will even look twice". Nope, no go - we had to wait until I was dry and get a taxi.

For those that don't know Sydney, King St is in the very relaxed suburb of Newtown, and pretty much anything goes and no one cares. I have sat in the takeaway in PJ's and no one gave me a second glance.

My question, to myself, but happy for any feedback, is why do I twist myself in anxiety at the prospect of blogger drinks or most social occasions, but can merrily stroll up the street looking like a freak without any sort of issue?

I guess it's to do with no one knowing me, where as meeting people I have to be 'me' and that's putting myself up for judgement (my own judgment, as most people don't think too much about other people they've just met).

Or is my torshlusspanik list beginning to change me? I wouldn't have thought so, but maybe it is. Which is the Whistle a happy tune scenario in the King and I*. Does that really work? Maybe it does....

There is no resolution to this post, just a pondering which I will return to at a later date.
As for the Zombie Prom? For those that missed it, mark the date for next year and sign up to the Vanguard newsletter. It's hilarious. It's like an old school dance (with equally bad music). Ironically, because of the zombie theme, no one gave us a second glace being the oldest people in the place (seriously), and we joined up with some young 20 somethings at the next table (who somehow knew all the words to songs they weren't even alive for, first time round).

*If you are a young person that has not seen the King and I, it's a great film so you should watch it, but the short version of Whistle a Happy Tune is held in the lyrics:
"Make believe you're brave
And the trick will take you far.
You may be as brave
As you make believe you are"