Monday 31 March 2014

Memory - So Good

Elliot Perlman's The Street Sweeper opens with a beautiful idea "Memory is a wilful dog. It won't be summoned or dismissed but it cannot survive without you. It can sustain you or feed on you. It visits when it is hungry, not when you are. It has a schedule all of its own that you can never know. It can capture, corner you or liberate you. It can leave you howling and it can make you smile."

I had this highlighted to me the other day, when a song came on. It was a B.o.B song, which I hated when it was on the radio, and used to automatically change station at the sound of the first bar of music. Yet this time, I was instantly elated, and suddenly dancing round the kitchen (don't judge, you do it too).

It took me awhile to work out what was going on. I've discovered I have an emotional memory now attached to this song, that I was initially unaware of.

When my partner was away for two weeks (on the trip I declined in order to be a good mum to eldest child with exams), I got it into my head that we should take up bowling as a family, and join a league. This was a short lived idea, once I discovered that bowling is not for the likes of the people in the Big Lebowski or Kenny Powers, as TV would lead you to believe. It's for people that can afford to drop $60+ for 40 mins entertainment. And for ladies whose hips don't seize up for days after using a previously unknown muscle for the first time.

We did have a great time, rare to get an activity that works for all ages of our clan, and during our game, I managed to get TWO strikes in a row. Both involved me dancing around shouting "IN YOUR FACE, SUCKERS!" to the kids, with my arms flailing wildly above my head in time to the music. Both strikes occurred during this song. (New parents, you won't understand this, but once at least one of your kids is a teen, nothing brings more enjoyment than publicly embarrassing your kids at your own expense...I need to point out, the embarrassment was caused by my old lady dancing, not my sporting prowess).

So now, if I hear this once hated song, and I am instantly elated. For no apparent reason. The human brain is fascinating.

Do you have odd memory hooks?

Linking up with Maxabella Loves for Weekend Rewind.

PS the film clip opens in Paris, which also makes me smile *sigh*

PS Vote for me please!  I need the writing courses (click link - button seems to take you to the wrong page?? )

Saturday 29 March 2014

A lovely little thought for the day

I know this is not my usual style, but I was so taken with this story, I thought I'd share it with you.

There is a travel blogger called 'Crazy Sexy Fun Traveller'. It's not quite what it sounds like, she's a travel blogger who writes in both English and Slovakian (I think). This little story came up on her facebook page. She's currently in Central America, and she asked the staff of the resort she's featuring ''What makes you happy every day?'' She repeatedly received an answer along the lines of ''When I can wake up, I am grateful for another day of life.''

This should probably be the first thought that comes into our minds everyday.

Hope you all enjoy this very precious day.

Linking up this old post with #HappyTuesday

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Conversations with Expectations

A must read for everyone (at some time in their life) is the very wonderful book by Norton Juster, The Phantom Toll Booth. In one chapter, they go to the land of Expectations. The guide explains "Expectations is the place you must always go to before you get to where you're going. Of course, some people never go beyond Expectations, but my job is to hurry them along whether they like it or not."

Expectations can taint everything we do, and every interaction we have. The trick is to have the expectations but not let them ruin our experience. I guess the people that never go beyond expectations are the ones that always feel let down or disappointed in others, and that always find happiness to be elusive.

It is easier to go in with low expectations and be pleasantly surprised, than high expectations and be disappointed. I'm guessing the second is the flaw in us humans, that causes us to stumble regularly, for the actual experience is the same, just how we feel about it changes. In the Phantom Toll Booth, a character says “Things which are equally bad are also equally good. Try to look at the bright side of things." I see a number of bloggers promoting this idea - and I do wish it came a little more naturally to me. Mindfully, I would like to be this type of person, naturally, I am not. One thing I've learnt with the Torschlusspanik List*, is that my expectation of difficulty/injury/embarrassment could stop me doing a lot of things (fortunately, once I've put it on the list, I'm publicly committed, and it makes it psychologically trickier for me to back out of it).

While we will always have expectations, we must be careful to not let them spoil our interactions and experiences, and learn to quickly move on because the most important wisdom in this brilliant book is at the core of our existence: “Time is a gift, given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life. ”

If you haven't read this book, go and purchase a copy today (you get the bonus value of money well spent as the kids can read it too).

Norton Juster passed away this week at 91, thus resharing this post as I loved this book so much, and hope others that haven't read it yet discover it.

Linking with #KCACOLS

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Monday 24 March 2014

First of the Month Fiction - April

Going a little early this month (as I do every month, let's face it), and prompted by the Sunshine Sunday prompt of Night (so let's blame Zanni for my jumping the gun this time).

For newcomers, examples here but short version: you write a story in less than 30 words or exactly 100 words, and post it in the comments. Then you link up your blog so we can see your work unfettered.

So my story, Night.

It was always at night when the painful loneliness resurfaced.
The large, empty bed reminding her that he was gone.
The cry of a child that she had to answer as there was no longer anyone else to offer respite.
The hardest of all, the intruding thoughts that stole her sleep, demanding she wonder where he was and who with.
The hours loomed, offering pain and anxiety. Minutes crawled.
In the morning she'd be tired and busy with the obligations of the day. The company of others soothingly distracting. The rigid timetables passing time.
It was always hardest at night.

Linking up with Maxabella Loves & Life Love & Hiccups for Weekend Rewind.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Undecided - Rules and bad parenting (warning: swearing)

So at the risk of revealing some of my appalling parenting, I want to put this out to the ether, as I'm unsure what I think about this, and I need to hear all sides of the argument to make up my opinion.

New parents, this is not what to say to your kids.

The story begins: My son complained of this kid annoying him all lunch - poking him repeatedly, saying his name, and when my son answered, the kid would say "Nothing".
The kid is in the grade below, so he's not bullying him; it's just annoying (ie no menace). I said "Just walk away". My son said, 'He follows us, and keeps doing it'.
Again, my son is with some friends, and this kid just wants to join in, but in a highly irritating way (ie the kid is not waiting until my son is alone or anything nefarious).

So (you can all roll your eyes now at my parenting, my teen does all the time), I said 'Next time, just say Billy*, you're being a dick, and you can't play with us if you annoy us. So stop being a dick or go away'.

At which point, the sensible teen steps in (I thought to tisk me off at my language but NO!). 'Mum, he can't say that, he'll get in trouble. You aren't allowed to exclude people'.

I was a little stunned at this, and went on to clarify 'So your telling me, that even if he's not in his year, and he's being a jerk, you still have to play with him?' (Apparently yes.)

Now I don't like exclusion, and I don't like kids going out of their way to be mean to other kids. However, do you really have to be friends with everyone? All the time? Do you really have to play with people if you don't like them, and they could go and play with kids in their own year?

So, let me know where you stand on this. I really am undecided. This kid is not being mean, but he's not going to make friends if he keeps annoying people with stupid behaviour - and he probably doesn't know it's annoying (though he is old enough to know better, but maybe no one has ever told him, because it's not allowed).
Do you think it's fair that the school has a rule that you can't not play with someone?
Sort of seems a little over the top....

Linking up with some Grace for FYBF

*Billy not his name, obviously.

Monday 17 March 2014

Electrifying (Electric part 2)

A few weeks ago, I had to review an electric bike tour, and then started to freak out about it. (Unnecessary but original post here). I was scared on arrival, especially signing the waiver, but as soon as I got on the bike, I was fine. In fact I LOVED it.
(Review for those interested here, as this post is on fun and fear).

All the way in, I kept hoping the potential pending rain would call it off, but there was no getting out of it. Had I not been forced to write the review, and had a friend meeting me, I would have feigned illness and cancelled. Sometimes I have to stack the deck so I force myself into things....I'm quite a chicken.

One of my fears was that I'd get burnt by the engine, as I'm clumsy and uncoordinated. However, the engine is tiny, and in the wheel so there's no chance of burns, as I imagined.

I was scared of crashing or being hit by a car, yet we were rarely on the roads and the guides watched for safety. Other than a near miss of running up the back of my friend, when she suddenly stopped, it was all smooth sailing.

By the time we hit Barangaroo*, I was keen to test out the bike at speed (the engine kicks in on it's own accord as soon as you start pedalling too much). It was so much fun, tearing around that strip without pedestrians to worry about. Getting the speed up was exhilarating.

The engine also made riding up Observatory Hill a breeze, even for an old, unfit lady like me.

All in all, I felt very energetic, like I'd exercised for two hours (when really I'd just enjoyed fresh air, as the engine takes all the exercise out of the cycling).

The highlight? Riding around the back of the Opera House. We had it more or less to ourselves, and it really felt special, looping around that great monument with the beautiful views of our wonderful harbour. They have special permits, so don't just lob up on your own bike!!

I'm proud that I pushed myself into something I was scared of, and as a result, I really enjoyed it. I have to work hard on not letting my fears restrict me. With age, most limitations are self imposed. At least for me. As Dave Allen used to say 'There is nothing to fear but fear itself'**. It will be a sad day when I let my fears get the better of me. I know that day will come but I'll keep working on it while I can.

Linking up with #BlueMonday for the helmets

*We didn't start the fire...(do you have an earworm now?)
**Apparently FDR made this famous, paraphrasing Sir Francis Bacon, but for me, it will always be the Irish Comedian, sitting on the stool, smoking, before launching into a story of how he lost his finger...

Saturday 15 March 2014



The theme of Sunshine Sundays is Night. All I could think of was a sad little story, which I'll use for this coming First of the Month Fiction.

What I found interesting, was that all I could think of was scary things that happen at night, sad loneliness amplified by the night and all the bad things and worries that seem worse at night.

And yet for me, night is usually a happy time - it's when I clock off, when I go out to watch sport or bands, when I go to restaurants or movies (my happiest of happy places). It's a time when I get to indulge in things I enjoy.

So isn't it interesting I jumped on the bad associations instead of the sunsets and pleasant after dark activities? I wonder why we do that? Be scared of the things that go bump in the night?

I will leave you with a photo from Vivid, a celebration of light (and Night - for you need the darkness to fully appreciate the light). What does the night conjure up for you? And why does it do often represent evils, when from our own experiences, it's usually the reverse?

Linking up with #ArchiveLove

Thursday 13 March 2014

Even More Riddle Me This?

I'm tired, so tired that that tonight for dinner I'm having a gin and tonic. Don't worry, not an alcoholic. Just lazy - I only have the energy to make one thing, and dinner would be messier, and require more work. It will only be one, as I'd have to get up off the couch to make another, and then I'd have to fill the ice tray. Obviously, I just should have eaten what I fed the kids, but I digress...

Anyway, all I can do this evening is list the weird questions that have puzzled me over the last few weeks...

1. What is brown sugar? (I mean how is it made that makes it different to white sugar)

2.  Kevin Spacey is in Chinese movie - what's that about?

3. Black undies under white shorts? I can already see your bra, isn't that enough? (or am I old and out of fashion?)

4. Why did they nail Jesus to the cross? (I am serious, I don't know, my youngest keeps asking and I keep mumbling about how 'they' didn't like him because he was King of the...mumble mumble - I accept I'm obviously quite stupid to have gotten to my age and not actually know. I did almost say that he swapped with someone and then realised that was in Life of Brian. And I'm not joking about that either.)

5. Sesame Street did an alphabet dance thing and there was a little kid dancing in a wheelchair & it brought tears to my eyes. Is that normal? Best to not to answer that. Just move along.

6. Why do they make all the bonus features on DVDs? Why don't they just make more episodes?

7. Why do we say 'Boo' when we want to scare someone?

8. Why are people making things up on twitter about the missing plane? And why are these rumours then getting published in newspapers? Does nobody fact check anymore?

9. Why do they keep advertising sad movies as comedies? (Philomena is not quite the lark it looks like in the ad, and I've heard Le Weekend is the same).

10. Is this really necessary? Or am I naïve?

Do you have the answers or other questions?

Monday 10 March 2014

Media and Tragedy

I am so saddened by the news of the MH370 flight over the weekend. I don't want to speculate or discuss rumours, what I want to say is how disappointed I was with all the intrusive photographs of family members grieving. Surely, in what must be the worst experience in their lives, they should be left in peace? Isn't there some sort rule of respect that means they don't have to see themselves, and their pain, plastered over the internet and newspapers?

I read of the 65 year old father having to flee the media scrum under police escort, as he made his way to the room set up for family members.

This tragedy is something that anyone who flies can relate to. It is something that has made a large proportion of the world heartbroken. I don't think the pictures add to the story. I think they sensationalise tragedy for entertainment.

Shame on us for wanting that. Our want is what makes them do it.

And that is very sad. We can do better. We must do better.

If you agree with me, let your voice be heard by not clicking on links that promote those images.

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Sunday 9 March 2014

The actor I'd like to play me in the movie of my life

If they made a movie of my life, I'd want this guy to play me.

                            (image source: Gage Skidmore, Wikipedia Commons)

What I hear you say? You're a little old lady and he's a gun toting action hero. Well, they're the genre I like to see, so I'd have to add a few action scenes where I blow sh#t up and save the world to the story of my life.

If they made a movie of my life, I'd need a bit of embellishment. There's nothing wrong with my life, in fact, I have a great life. But there is a certain level of mundane day to day living that just wouldn't make for the big screen - in fact, it's certainly not the kind of movie I'd go and watch. It would be like a French Art House movie, filled with meaning (and meaningful stares) but nothing happens. And it makes you want to go and have a cigarette - even though you've never smoked, ever.

In fact, I think what I'd prefer to do, is make my life into a movie - where I storm the embassy, shoot the baddies and say funny one-liners under pressure. With a happy ending. I think my love for action movies is that they always have a happy ending. These days anyway. A movie of my life would involve sitting at swimming lessons, peeling potatoes and going to movies. A lot. Nothing wrong with that, but not entertaining viewing.

So thank yourselves that should Paramount Pictures approach me tomorrow, I have no problem gilding the lily to make a better story. I've been watching Hollywood do it for years, so I'm an expert.

Now if I was technologically savvy, at this point I'd insert a hilarious poster of said movie of my life - but I can't, so just dream up a Die Hard style poster with Bruce as me, saying yippee kai yay, mother f#ckers!

Linking up with I must confess.

Friday 7 March 2014

Music to my ears

Many years ago, I went to see Asa. I went with friends, but due to injuries and ailments, they left after her set. I figured I'd stay and listen to the first 2 songs of the next guy, as I'd never heard of him, then bail off myself.

I stayed the whole night, had a blast and got the CD.

He was the incredibly charming Fefe.

When I say charming, I mean he charms the audience - the whole audience. In the tiny packed tent, he had us all running from left to right, jumping on command, dancing about and he even convinced someone to carry him on his shoulders so he could sing through the crowd for the last song. It was crazy and joyful and one of my favourite concerts ever. I was grinning and laughing, and didn't care I was by myself.

He came back for So Frenchy So Chic this year and delighted again, the new album is great. As he says 'it doesn't matter if you don't speak French, just make it up'.

This clip is not for an actual song, it's a quirky little thing he made breaking down the music. Which sort of epitomizes his style - quirky yet charming.

One of my favourite songs of his, is Dans Ma Rue, a song about the downtrodden, the vicious cycle of poverty and how hard it is to change that. Yet have a listen - it's the happiest sounding song of misery that you'll ever hear.

And Singapore Night Race organisers, I repeat my request - please add him to the musical line up this year - he's a crowd pleaser!

Linking up with The Lounge

Full acoustic version of Parodie


Wednesday 5 March 2014

Guilty pleasures

Linking up this old post with #ArchiveLove because it's about guilty pleasures and it discusses a TV show (and yes I did go and see Offerman on Friday night! Interesting Offerman also discussed this and sang 2 songs about it, but more of that in a yet to be written post.) We all have guilty pleasures, and a lot of what we busy ourselves with, we self-create. We waste a lot of time, or rather use up our time on the internet, rather than being present in the physical world. I think we are busy to the point of exhaustion, because we commit too much. We don't want to skip a swimming lesson, or guitar or work function, and in the end, something has to give. Sometimes we busy ourselves so we're not left alone with our thoughts.

Last night I watched an episode of Parks & Recreation called Sex Education that opened with a hilarious bit around "tonnes of old people have chlamydia". It also covered Internet addiction. It came down to this, Ron asked Tom why he needed to be distracted all the time? His answer 'the truth is, things aren't going that great in my life at the moment, so I'd rather play Doodle Jump than think about that."

Is that why we do it?

It definitely adds interest to a lacklustre day. It is easy contact, usually without hassles or demands.

It is a way for the lonely to reach out (or is it for the sociable but house/office bound?).

It is often an addiction, as our devices become more and more portable.

It becomes an intrusion. An intrusion in relationships, in our cars*, in our lives.

Some one mentioned it was the National Day of Unplugging today, a movement aimed at getting hyperconnected people to slow down their lives a little with a day of rest, and ultimately build time of rest into their normal week**. Give it a go.

Or more importantly, unplug a little of your day, every day.

I'm no saint. I've taken to leaving my phone in the other room at night, because otherwise I will check email & facebook. I am trying to be better at other entertainments when waiting or out in the park. I'd like it if my phone was the last resort, rather than my first choice.

I'm not going to give it up, but I would like to be a little more present in my life.

Seems like a challenge for my Torschlusspanik List, but I'm not sure if I'm ready for that commitment. Would you? Could you?

*Not my car, in the show Tom crashes his car, tweeting.

**It's hilarious to me that the National Day of Unplugging people can be followed on FB and Twitter, and have a competition where you upload photos of what you do instead of being online/phone etc...sort of defeats the point.

Monday 3 March 2014

What I learnt from Her

This is an interesting film, with lots of ideas in it, wrapped up as a love story of sorts.
There are no spoilers below, it's purely looking at the nuggets of truth to human existence.

1. There is a line "What makes me 'me', is my ability to learn & grow through my experiences. So I'm constantly evolving." I find this line worth remembering, that we aren't static, and we need to remember that when we judge ourselves and others. I did that 'which philosopher are you?' quiz (I know, I'm so deep) and got Foucault with the description "You find it hard to self-define, as you believe that you’re always changing. You don’t believe that power is possessed by individuals, but instead think power is an action that individuals can engage in." Uncanny in its similarity, I do actually believe this, but sometimes it's hard to remember this in dealings with others. It is worth working towards, as there is no surer way to eliminate regret. "None of us are the same as we were a moment ago & we shouldn't try to be" (Don't tell me you can't learn anything from dime store philosophy...)

2. I've touched on this in other posts, but this is said in this film with clarity, when describing why a relationship failed. He admits  he "Hid myself from her, and left her alone in the relationship". We have a tendency, especially when under stress, to get caught up in our own stuff, and shut the other person out. However, as understanding as the other person may be, eventually they will leave, if left alone in the relationship for too long. So make sure you throw a life line to your partner from time to time, when going through difficult times.

3. "How do you share your life with someone?" This is something we take for granted, but it's something we need to put a lot of thought into. We assume we are doing it just by being physically there; we get married (or live together) and it's assumed that we are sharing our life. However, a lot of thought needs to be put into how to make that work so that both partners are happy and fulfilled. "How do you grow without growing apart? How do we change without scaring the other person?" I don't have all the answers but I've been pondering this for awhile, since seeing the film.

4. In a nutshell, some sage advice "Your always going to disappoint someone, so fuck it" Just do it anyway.

5. Closely linked with the above statement is "We're only here briefly, so while I'm here I want to allow myself joy". Not advocating affairs or reckless disregard for the feelings of others, but if there's something you long to try or do, make it happen. Stop worrying about what others think, and at least give it a go. Be it what you wear, trying a career change or a crazy hobby.

The movie shows a number of different viewpoints on love - one being the looking for a selfish fix "Looking for something to fill this tiny hole in my heart, but it probably won't" and the other more expansive view "The heart's not like a box that gets filled up, it expands in size the more you love & are loved"

       (image credit: Wikipedia Commons: aphrodite-in-nyc from new york city)

As many of you will know, I am a huge fan of M. T Anderson's book Feed - he looks at the way our constant connectedness with social media isn't actually a panacea for loneliness. It is a refrain that is coming up more and more, as we are becoming engaged in the internet for longer periods of the day. It's a false connection. This movie spends a lot of time in visual form, showing the isolation of the people connected to the internet (and variation). There is a lack of real human connection. He lives in a big city, with lots of glass, but rarely really engages with actual people. Partly, because it is easier. "You always wanted a wife without having to deal with any real emotions" and "The past is just a story we tell ourselves." Without real interaction, we can make the cyber world and relationships how we want them to be, not reflective of how we really are. I'm not saying we lie, but there is a confidence that the safety buffer encourages, which I think is ultimately to our own detriment.

So I will not be buying google glass anytime soon, and I will continue to try and put away my phone for certain periods of the day.
Her is a very interesting film, and  well made with great performances, but it did also weird me out a little, where I just didn't know what I thought of things. However it left me thinking, and that has to be a good thing.