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Saturday, January 29, 2005

BAH! They spelled my name wrongly.

HAVE AN AUSSIE DAY

(...) On Saturday, musician Melissa Dunthy Dunphy of Brisbane, Australia, will play the didgeridoo and teach visitors how to speak Australian.

"Some of it you can't say in mixed company," said Jonathan Elias, director of exhibits and programs at the center. "But there's a lot of colorful slang in Australia."

Dunthy Dunphy will also discuss the boomerang, a subsistence weapon, but there won't be any boomerang throwing, Elias said, partly because they do tend to come back at you. (...)


The next sixteen hours are going to SUCK. I meant to sleep before I came into work tonight, but I realized in the afternoon that installing ActiveSync on my laptop had nixed the audio output, which is just what I need when I'm trying to put down musical ideas for two plays. After fruitless hours of troubleshooting, I ended up reinstalling Windows XP from scratch. Eh, I needed a rebuild anyway; it's been over a year.

Why did I install ActiveSync on my laptop? I am now the owner of a slightly non-functional iPaq 3530, bought on eBay for $50. It works fine when the AC jack is plugged in, but the internal battery doesn't hold a charge, which is something of a problem in a mobile device which uses RAM for most of its storage. However, I picked up a new internal battery from a seller in Hong Kong for $13, and a set of Torx screwdriver bits.

(As an aside, I thoroughly despise manufacturers that try to make their products difficult for consumer to repair by using tiny torx screws. Then again, I guess I've hated Compaq for years anyway. Still, if it weren't for Compaq's consistently shoddy workmanship and service, I would never have become adept at repairing dead tech.)

In a couple of weeks, once I've repaired the iPaq and brokered a peace deal between ActiveSync and my audio outputs, I'll be ULTRA MOBILITY GIRRRRRRRLLLLLLL!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Wahah! I just finished watching the film of The Glass Menagerie with Matt. I didn't realize that not only is Sam Waterston in it, but Michael Moriarty! I watch so much Law and Order, it was almost too bizarre to see the two of them so young and acting together in something so different.

When the movie was over, I flicked through cable channels to see if I could catch Law and Order, and found myself staring at John Devoy. WAAA! Of course, it was Queen of the Damned. But for a moment, I thought I was in the Twilight Zone.
I am full of righteousness today. I found myself seething at a Dell television commercial promoting their open-all-hours customer service which seems to suggest that their helpdesk cubicles are full of operators with blond hair and American accents. I don't know how they can get away with that; every time we've called Dell, we've reached an outsourced CSR in India.

I also worked myself into a state posting this on ETS regarding SUVs:

See, the "safety" thing is what really pisses me off. It's so fucking selfish. People in SUVs are safer in crashes, however, they do a pretty good job of killing the occupants of the cars they crash into. In this way, it is SUVs which kill people, along with the idiots who drive them.

  • Light trucks crashing into cars accounts for the majority of fatalities in vehicle-to-vehicle collisions
  • 2,000 people would still be alive if their vehicles had been hit by a heavy car instead of an SUV

    Federal information shows that although light trucks account for one-third of all registered vehicles, traffic crashes between a light truck and any other vehicle now account for the majority of fatalities in vehicle-to-vehicle collisions. Of the 5,259 fatalities caused when light trucks struck cars in 1996, 81 percent of the fatally injured were occupants of the car. In multiple-vehicle crashes, the occupants of the car are four times more likely to be killed than the occupants of the SUV. In a side-impact collision with an SUV, car occupants are 27 times more likely to die.

    So the only way to be safe against the millions of SUVs on the roads would be to buy an SUV myself? Fuck off. God, they make me so angry.

    As far as I'm concerned, SUV drivers are only slightly less selfish and irresponsible than drunk drivers. I have a tiny fuel-efficient car. If some bastard fucknut SUV driver crashes into me, I'll probably die. And he/she will probably go out and buy a bigger SUV.

    Anyone who would still insist upon owning an SUV after knowing all this is probably a complete prick. And pricks drive like pricks. So not only do they drive dangerous vehicles, they drive them dangerously.

    Fuck SUV drivers.
  • Wednesday, January 26, 2005

    Sweet! My reviews from Romeo and Juliet are in LexisNexis! I don't know why I'm so happy about it. Probably because I first heard of LexisNexis in the X-Files.
    My Spanish teacher this semester is Spanish. From Spain.

    What's up with that? Last semester, I had a non-native speaker as a teacher. This semester, I have someone from Spain. Is HACC having trouble finding Spanish speakers from south of the border? I was under the impression that there are millions of immigrants in the US from Mexico and Puerto Rico and Ecuador and plenty of other Central/South American countries. Yet, apparently, none of them have found their way into the languages faculty of HACC. Mind-boggling.

    I'm not complaining about my Spanish prof, mind you; he's the coolest teacher I've had so far. He might not be the best language teacher (I suppose native speakers rarely are), but he's funny and interesting, and we have been learning much about Spanish culture from a knowledgeable primary source. However, he uses the 'vosotros' form of verbs, and he has the famous "lisp" on the letters 'c' and 'z,' which can sound mighty confusing at times.

    I learnt about the "lisp" years before I started learning Spanish, but this is the first time I've heard it at length.

    OH NOES! The story about a Castillian king who had a lisp and ordered that everyone speak with a lisp out of deference to him is apocryphal!!

    "As a graduate student of the Spanish language and a Spaniard, being confronted with people who 'know' the origin of the 'lisp' found in most of Spain is one of my pet peeves. I have heard the 'lisping king' story many times, even from cultured people who are native Spanish speakers, though you will not hear it come from a Spaniard.

    "Firstly, the ceceo is not a lisp. A lisp is the mispronunciation of the sibilant s sound. In Castilian Spanish, the sibilant s sound exists and is represented by the letter s. The ceceo comes in to represent the sounds made by the letters z and cfollowed by i or e.

    "In medieval Castilian there were two sounds that eventually evolved into the ceceo, the ç (the cedilla) as in plaça and the z as in dezir. The cedilla made a /ts/ sound and the z a /dz/ sound. This gives more insight into why those similar sounds may have evolved into the ceceo."


    Well, there goes that urban legend.

    Tuesday, January 25, 2005

    I had no idea an alligator was found in Italian Lake last year. Italian Lake is a block from my house. My singing teacher mentioned it in my lesson yesterday.

    Monday, January 24, 2005

    Ohhhhh, boy. I made a beef vindaloo, and it's too hot to eat. Matt and I are both attempting to finish a bowl, but it's just too much. Ow, I think it's actually making my stomach hurt, it's so damn spicy. We're nearly out of milk. How the hell am I supposed to eat this?

    Update: Also, too hot to poop.
    The Pennsylvania Tourism Board has a wacky new advertising campaign. I guess it's kind of cool, but it feels a little dated somehow, like it was conceived around the same time as that circle of Levi jeans websites a few years ago.

    Here is a really awesome NPR interview with Phillip Glass.

    I haven't had an opportunity to listen to the entire extended interview yet, but I heard some of it in the car over the weekend. When Glass composed Einstein on the Beach, he was a cabdriver in New York. The opera was produced and sold out every night, but operas always lose money, so despite his success, Glass still drove a cab. One day, a passenger saw his name on his cab license. "Young man," she said, "You have the same name as a great composer." He didn't have the heart to tell her that composer was driving her taxi.

    Sunday, January 23, 2005

    Matt has a very scary-looking viral rash. It's especially scary because it keeps reminding me of Jason's sero-conversion and the subsequent terror.

    Luckily, aside from the itch, Matt feels completely fine. It just looks nasty, and has me worried about him, probably unnecessarily. (I had an HIV test fairly recently, and it's not as though either of us are particularly at risk, so I'm not actually thinking along those lines.) It just freaks me out because viral rashes are so ... freaky.

    It's been a couple of days now, and I'm showing no symptoms, so I'm evidently completely impervious. How has my immune system survived the constant jetlag of the last two weeks? I blame kung fu.
    Hrmm, I wonder if I should enter the Fuse VJ Search competition? Part of me wants to on a whim, especially considering my experiences with Channel [V], yet I fear that it would be more trouble than it's worth if my audition tape got past the first round.

    Wow, this is one of the most disturbingly suspect things I have read on the internet.

    Saturday, January 22, 2005

    Next Saturday the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg is hosting a special event to commemorate Australia Day and their upcoming Imax film The Land Beyond Time. (Isn't that close to the name of a really dippy cartoon movie about dinosaurs?) Thanks to an effusive recommendation from Zach, I have been officially hired as a consultant and onsite ... um ... Australian on the day. It's fairly exciting. I would be slightly more excited if I knew for sure that I'll get through the day without collapsing from exhaustion. Observe my schedule:

  • Shakespeare class from 10:00 to 11:00am on Friday
  • Publicity interview and discussion with Whitaker from 11:00am Friday
  • Try very hard to catch as much sleep as possible Friday afternoon to early evening
  • WHP master control shift from 10:30pm Friday till 9:00am Saturday
  • Popcorn Hat theater class assistant from 10:30am till 11:30am
  • Resident singing/smiling/didgeridoo-faking/Vegemite-scoffing Australian at the Whitaker Harsco Science Center from noon till 5:00pm

    In a quirky twist, on Friday morning I'm being interviewed about the Whitaker event for the WHP morning news, since WHP is Whitaker's media partner. So, on Saturday morning, I'll be running the switcher at WHP during the newscast on which I'll be appearing, a few hours before I work at the event.

    My name is also going to get dropped in a York Daily Record promo piece. Melissa Dunphy! All over Central PA!! All over it!! YEAH!!!
  • Thursday, January 20, 2005

    The production manager of Two Front Teeth, Rob Content, is one of the most fascinating people I've met in a long time. He has a slew of masters degrees, a couple of unfinished Ph.D.'s (not that degrees count for much really, but it's fairly obvious to me that he's clever as well as learned), and is an expert (at least from where I'm sitting) on geopolitics. We spoke relatively briefly and broadly about politics last week. He believes that Nixon was in fact more liberal than Clinton. I have a terrible and terrifying wish to try to verify that claim; I'll start with my National Political System course this semester - maybe in ten years I'll see for myself exactly what he's talking about. I wish I had more time to have further conversations with him.

    I did a quick Google search on Rob today, and came up with this fascinating review of Memento. Now I badly want to watch the movie again. I didn't pick up on any of those political nuances when I watched it (American Imperialism is not usually at the forefront of my mind when I'm watching a movie). I need to find out if I think he's right and whether or not I should be ashamed that I didn't catch it by myself.

    Sometimes I think I'm only in the arts because the ultra-intellectual left is so well represented.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2005

    Shit! Pap smear came up unsatisfactory. Now I have to get another one.

    Goddamn. It's not like it hurts or anything, it's just annoying. Anytime you have to strip naked from the waist down and let strange people insert a speculum and poke you with giant cotton buds is at the very least annoying.

    Both Matt and I are wearing the wrong footwear today. As he was kissing me goodbye, a giant spark of static electricity shot between our noses. I wish a video camera had been running to catch our reactions.


    I have canker sores all over my mouth from those damned fangs.

    Monday, January 17, 2005

    Oddly, there is a link to this blog from the American Zoetrope forums. I tried registering to investigate, but for some reason, the confirmation e-mail isn't coming through.

    I have replenished my sleep bank with a hefty 14 hours of sleeping. There's one last skill I need to develop before I can be sure this weekdays vs. weekend-nights scheme will be successful: motivation to work while I am awake. Yesterday I felt too sluggish to study or practice or compose. Hopefully I'll get over that. Soon.

    It snowed this morning and stuck to the ground. I felt the cold sorely until my lunchtime kung fu class warmed me up; I feel like I could walk a mile along the river naked now. Tomorrow morning my forearms will likely be bruised from blocking exercises. But I know I'm improving - for a start, the endorphin rush I have after class doesn't shut down my brain nearly so much as it used to.

    I should get back to doing ... or trying to do.

    Sunday, January 16, 2005

    It is! It is getting easier!

    Partly as a result of last weekend and partly as a result of the shooting schedule for Two Front Teeth, I'm starting to break the bonds of set sleeping patterns and reclaim my old ability to sleep and rise whenever I need. Since Wednesday, I haven't even had a cup of coffee, and I've managed to drive home from Ellicott City in dense fog at four in the morning, take twenty minute catnaps throughout my Friday night shift at WHP, and feel fairly awake while assisting with a theater class at Popcorn Hat. I'm starting to wonder if Doctor Vu was telling the truth back in first year med school.

    Doctor Vu was an insane anatomy lecturer at the University of New South Wales. Rumor has it that he had been a bigshot surgeon in Vietnam before he immigrated to Australia during the war. Upon arrival, he was told that his foreign qualifications and experience were worthless and he would have to endure med school from scratch if he wished to continue his career. This discovery must have been what pushed him over the edge; he became a inhumanly freakish anatomy expert. He told us numerous times that he had trained himself to sleep for only four hours a night while he was in college. He claims that he doesn't dream at all, but falls immediately into a deep sleep. According to Doctor Vu, the only way to be a truly successful med student is to follow his model. Forget sleep - study! I never believed him. Doctor Vu also gave us detailed instructions for committing suicide before our final exam on the structures of the arm, just in case we hadn't studied hard enough. ("Don't cut the radial nerve, as the pain will probably cause you to pass out or chicken out.")

    But maybe it is possible! Or maybe I'm not thinking clearly from lack of sleep.

    I now have a far more evil email address than my evilemail address: melissadunphy@clearchannel.com. Just looking at it makes my skin crawl.

    Friday, January 14, 2005

    Here, finally, is a really dodgy photo I just took of my perm:



    Basically, if I wash it and brush it, it looks like I put my hair in braids overnight, without the trouble of putting it in braids! Those hairdressers are magicians (although they don't turn into octopi)!

    Furthermore, if I put hot curlers in, the curls take much more readily, and stay in for longer.

    Blowdrying is no longer necessary to have hair that doesn't cleave to my scalp!

    Huzzah.

    I look exhausted. That's good - I hope to sleep this afternoon.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2005

    Wow, Macbeth at Seventh Sister got cancelled. Tlaloc dropped out. The Scottish play's curse strikes again!?

    Well that gives me some spare time.
    Urgh, I just got home from the first day's shoot for Two Front Teeth. I am very tired. I had the option of staying at Melanie's house, but since the call time was pushed back to noon tomorrow, and I really need a shower and a change of clothes, home I drove.

    There will be pictures sometime. I am covered in fake blood. Very tired.

    Monday, January 10, 2005

    There are four registered violent sex offenders living in Dauphin County. Scary page. It's not so scary that there are four offenders - that doesn't sound like very many to me, and besides, none of them live nearby. It's frightening somehow just to see mugshots and histories of the worst kind of criminals.

    I apparently took FAR too many stimulants on Friday night's shift because I didn't even need one cup of coffee from Saturday night through to Sunday morning. I hope this weekly shifting sleep pattern thing is going to get easier.

    HACC sent me a horrible looking certificate informing me that I'm on the Dean's list. Ooh. Special.

    Saturday, January 08, 2005

    Anxious. Anxious anxious anxious. Not enough sleep. Coming down from stimulants. Didn't want to take too much ephedrine; resorted to vast quantities of caffeine. Anxious.

    But hey, I ran the switcher all by myself during the hour-long local news broadcast this morning! That was right before I came home, shivering from the cold rain and my fried brain.

    I shouldn't have attempted to adjust my sleeping patterns a day early. I should have just caught a good night's sleep on Thursday night.

    Head swimming. Muscles quivering. Heart pounding. Throat swollen. Skin flaky. Eyes wide open.

    My next ten-and-a-half-hour shift starts in five hours. I can do it.

    My scalp stinks of perming solution, and I'm developing a paranoia about the smell. I'll post a picture of my new hair in a couple of days when I can wash it and allow it to settle. Right now, thanks to frizz, staring eyes and chalky skin, I look like the Bride of Frankenstein.

    Friday, January 07, 2005

    You can always tell when my hormone levels are unbalanced because I cry during the TNT daytime lineup. Abby the nurse who once quit medical school has a heart-to-heart conversation with her bipolar mother, who looks suspiciously like the Flying Nun. Abby reveals she had an abortion because she didn't want to pass on the genetic possibility of mental disease to her children. Cue faucet. Bah! Therapy through ER. I really am pathetic.

    Well ... Sally Field is a fine actress. I'm going to blame it on her utterly convincing portrayal of a manic depressive mother.

    Do you ever get the feeling the universe is encouraging you to face an issue?
    I napped between 4:30am and 7:00am, but otherwise, I'm doing OK. Planning on sleeping this afternoon. In the meantime, I'm going to get a texture perm today, because I'm sick of my weedy flat hair that doesn't do anything. No curl, just body. I'm booked at an expensive salon, my first hair appointment since just after my wedding. I have five hours to change my mind.

    Here is a beautiful site called Beyond Second (as in Second Street, Harrisburg). It's an open community of photographers who upload shots of the city from its best angles. I'm thinking of breaking out my old film camera and contributing to it myself. While virtually paging through random pictures, I think a tiny root shot out of the sole of my foot and buried itself in the soil here.
    Tomorrow I start my first shift at WHP-TV, so tonight I'm staying up as late as I possibly can. The best plan would be to stay awake until at least 9am. I've made it to 2:30am without stimulation. I'm now drinking my first cup of coffee for the evening. I'm saving the ephedrine until tomorrow; besides, I have a canker sore from where I chewed my mouth last week. I need to buy a pacifier or a mouthguard.

    Thursday, January 06, 2005

    Oh, that's so strange. I was searching random blogs for an end of year questionnaire to post here. Eventually I gave up clicking through randoms and decided to read Jadezuki's blog, where I found exactly what I wanted (ripped from Saturnine's LJ)

    2004 | YEAR IN REVIEW

    1. What did you do in 2004 that you'd never done before?
      This was our first calendar year as a married couple.
      For the first time, I found myself (rather heavily!) involved in professional theater.
      On that note, I'd never composed incidental music for a play before.
      In 2004, I worked for the first time in television production (not counting captioning) and programming.
      For the first time, I thought seriously about suing someone.
      I took up kung fu.
      I started learning two new languages.
      I powdered Arlen Specter's nose.

    2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
      I stopped making new year's resolutions years ago. I don't need to rip off a calendar page to make a promise to myself.

    3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
      Yes, Matt's sister Erin gave birth to Antonio. Look at the little monkey!

      Antonio's a really cute baby. That fact doesn't stop me from wanting to (at least temporarily) disable my womb with an IUD, however.

    4. Did anyone close to you die?
      No. Nobody close to me ever dies. Stick with me, and you'll live forever. I'll probably regret writing these words one day.

    5. What countries did you visit?
      Since the INS wouldn't let me leave the country for most of 2004, I stayed in the USA. But that's OK. I'd like to see more of this country before I spend the money on airfares overseas.

    6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?
      I lack discipline.

    7. What date(s) from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
      November 2: the day that proved there is more inbreeding in America than most people realize.
      November 3: my Green Card interview, when I officially became a permanent resident of this incredible magical whirling colorful carnival of a nation.

    8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
      I decided firmly to get a degree in music composition. My education is for me this time, not to fulfil anyone else's desires or expectations.

    9. What was your biggest failure?
      This is going to sound really pompous, but I'm going to say it anyway. I didn't fail this year. At anything. This was a really good year. Sure, there were disappointments, and times when I didn't do as well as I probably could or should have, but there was nothing I would classify as a failure.

    10. Did you suffer any illness or injury?
      I had a horrific string of urinary tract infections early in the year. I'm still feeling the effects, physically and psychologically.

    11. What was the best thing you bought?
      I'm going to predict it's the piano.

    12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
      Matt has been unbelievable.

    13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
      Republican voters.

    14. Where did most of your money go?
      You know, I have no idea. Where does the money go? Quicken said that most of the money went on food and computer equipment for the first half of the year. I'd venture that college expenses were a main feature of the latter half.

    15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
      Opportunity.

    16. What song will always remind you of 2004?
      Ministry's WTV.

    17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
      1. happier or sadder?
        Happier! This time last year I had no idea how much there is to do.
      2. thinner or fatter?
        I hope I'm a little fatter. I've managed to avoid the flu so far.
      3. richer or poorer?
        Richer.

    18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
      Music.

    19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
      Procrastination.

    20. How will you be spending Christmas?
      I spent it with extended family.

    21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with in 2004?
      (I found question 21 on someone else's blog, Jill!)
      Matt, hands down. Thankfully, we're both on the same Sprint plan, so I never have to worry about overages.

    22. Did you fall in love in 2004?
      I was already in love ♥

    23. How many one-night stands?
      None.

    24. What was your favorite TV program?
      Law and Order, Law and Order CI, Law and Order SVU, The X Files, The Daily Show. And Judging Amy was pretty good too, shh.

    25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
      Look upon the face of Kelli Harman, the most greedy and unethical businesswoman in Harrisburg.

      Stay tuned for more tales of the Dunphys versus this evil succubus shortly. The court hearing is on February 2.
      (God, her immobile chipmunk face makes me want to vomit. Not to mention the repulsive suggestion of a short path to her shrivelled, cadaverous vagina in that third shot. *shudder*)

    26. What was the best book you read?
      Pattern Recognition by William Gibson.

    27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
      Past Life Melodies by Sara Hopkins, as performed by Chanticleer.
      Fur Alina, by Arvo Part.

    28. What did you want and get?
      I scored plenty of good roles in theatrical productions, and a third shift master control operator position at WHP-TV after a three-month delay.

    29. What did you want and not get?
      For a while, I thought I wanted to own a house, but I'm fine with renting for now. More than anything, I have wanted to move to an area with decent mass transit so I never have to drive again, but I'm happy to put off that dream for a while.

      There should be a "What did you not want and get?" question. The answer to that would be my car. I'm still hoping to get rid of it when we find an area with decent public transport.

    30. What was your favorite film of this year?
      Kill Bill, Vol. 2.

    31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
      For my 24th birthday, Matt and I escaped to a haunted bed and breakfast in Gettysburg for a couple of days. Unfortunately, we didn't see any ghosts. I'm determined to keep chasing them, though.

    32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
      36 hours in every day.

    33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004?
      Atramentous minimalism, with a dash of EGL.

    34. What kept you sane?
      The very occasional cigarette, and Tripoli.

    35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
      Jerry Orbach, may he rest in peace.

    36. What political issue stirred you the most?
      The war in Iraq and gay marriage rights. Against and for, in case it wasn't obvious.

    37. Whom did you miss?
      Lucy, Jason, Anthony, John, and Manek.

    38. Who was the best new person you met?
      Given that 2004 if nothing else was a year of throwing myself into new societies, there are far too many new people whose effect on my life has been positive. And most of them can't be compared to each other. So if I were to try and answer this question, I would have to include Felicia and Clark and Melissa and Mike G and Mike M and Zach and Amber and Gary and Mary and Tim and another Tim and Karen and John and Ray and Bill and Robert and Danielle and Rene and Chris and you see what I mean?

    39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004.
      Anthing is still possible.

    40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
      The point of view the bleeding heart
      The easily digested hurt
      The creepy crackhead friend of mine
      The homeless place he calls his heart
      The silly putty tinker toy
      The mirror ball reflects below
      The grazing herd the lemming goat
      The move toward the moving from
      The winter home upon the hill
      The summer shade a caving in
      The psychotronic talking box
      The mainstream antidepressant
      The laughing dying culture pop
      The famous moldy party pop
      A fantasy the way it could
      The shape of things a prostitute
      A naked mix a magazine
      A picture of us in a dream
    Here's yet another shallow reason to leave Central PA when I'm finished with HACC and Popcorn Hat.

    Movies.

    There are movies I want to see, and I can't see them easily because none of the theaters around here are showing them.

    Hotel Rwanda
    The Assassination of Richard Nixon
    The Merchant of Venice


    I really should go find something important to think about.

    Tuesday, January 04, 2005

    Behold! The best eBay listing I have ever created. I am shifting my keyboard, just as I said I would. And less that eight hours after the auction begun, I already have a bidder and four watchers!

    Dig my hot self-customized side panels!




    Damn it, help me, someone, anyone! What do cool twelve-year-old boys want for Christmas?
    Reading Daughter of the Queen of Sheba by Jacki Lyden is like reading a Twilight Zone version of my own future memoir. Our lives have been different, of course, but there are so many shared experiences that sometimes I read a paragraph and feel completely cold and have to lay down the book for a while. Her mother wrote a note which read "God is love." Given that for a decade, my mother's breakdowns were marked by frenzied repetition of that mantra (along with "Love is God"), you can imagine the chill that sent down my spine. Lyden's experiences with her stepfather and her real father are mirrored in a twisted way in my life, or my mother's life, depending on how you look at it. Her father fell off a roof and damaged his brain so that he was deaf and slow. My stepfather was always slow (my mother would say brain-damaged), but he also fell off a roof before I left Sydney. Even small things catch at memories, such as her aversion to fish when she was young.

    (My mother never believed she was the Queen of Sheba. But sometimes she was the Virgin Mary.)

    Lyden writes: "Mania eats up slumber, grabs at repose and shakes the body awake for dances, for plots, for a carousel of tales that spin on the mind's gimbals. Sleep was ravaged, but sometimes my mother did fall into a kind of trance, a numbness showing a half-drawn eyelid, the white showing beneath the pleated pink like blank paper lying in a drawer." My mother has fallen into these trances too. More than that, having tried MDMA, so have I. It's a conscious dreamstate, almost more real than reality. I was a cause of some concern for my friends, sitting in the corner with my back to the wall, wall-eyed. It wasn't for months that I remembered my mother in the same state on the couch in our living room in Brisbane before we committed her.

    (Also, just as an aside: "There was Tlaloc, the rain god with bulging eyes and fangs that made him look like a panther")

    Monday, January 03, 2005

    Woah! My wish has been granted. A parcel arrived from my brother and my father and his wife containing two giant packets of Tim Tams! And a coupla Billabong hats. Shit! Now I have to find something cool to buy Mihali for Christmas (belatedly)! Damn selfish sister, I am.

    Sunday, January 02, 2005

    Vegemite for sale on eBay! Well, I've always said that Vegemite pretty much has no expiry date. I just don't know if I want to test that theory on four kilograms of the stuff.

    Today I have eaten nothing but croissants and clementines. Hey, at least I won't get scurvy.

    If there are any Australians reading this with money to spare, I could really go for a Promite sandwich right about now. The stuff is impossible to get here. And a packet of Tim Tams.
    Dr. Dick has a blog now! Huzzah!
    Yesterday morning, stretching in bed, I remarked that we should drive to Pittsburgh just for the hell of it. So we did. I kind of wish I had picked a different day to have the whim, because it was a ghost town on New Year's Day. The only lively areas were fast food chains and a open-air skating rink right in the middle of town. It was neat to finally see Pennsylvania's other big city, though. Driving around aimlessly, we found the West End Lookout, which gave us an amazing view of the city.

    Having stopped my Ephedrine intake after New Years Eve, last night I slept for twelve hours. I don't feel like I'm coming down. I did chew the inside of my mouth a little while sleeping on Friday night, but otherwise, there appear to have been few ill-effects from my mini bender.