crypticgirl: (Default)
( Mar. 17th, 2009 07:50 am)
In spite of the sometimes 4:30am starts and 9:30pm finishes on the days when I'm flying interstate to go to one or two meetings, I love that air travel is a part of my job. I don't love the crowds and noise in the airports (though I suspect QANTAS club membership is really going to help me feel better about that), or the often crappy food on planes. I really don't like it when the plane is delayed because they have to replace a part right before takeoff, as per yesterday morning.

What I love is the idea that I'm actually flying. Not that long ago, relatively speaking, this would have seemed like magic to a whole world of people. I think it says a lot about ingenuity and unexpected turns in the way we function that this is now a common part of life. It makes me wonder what will be happening in another fifty or a hundred and fifty years that would seem like total magic right now.

Um. It's also probably got something do with the fact that turbulence just makes me think: "Cool! A bumpy ride!"

I don't remember the first time I flew in a plane. That's because I was flying from the time I was very small; we lived eight hours' drive away from the nearest paediatric heart specialist and the government paid for Mum to fly down with me for check ups until I had the operation which fixed the problem. My first memory of flying is probably around the time of that operation when I was four. I remember we got to the airport and it was raining steadily with nothing but grey clouds in the sky. When we got in the plane we flew up above the clouds... and there was the sun! I hadn't been expecting it all, and I remember so clearly how happy and amazed I was.

Last night's journey was a delight because I got the opposite. We came back into Melbourne weaving through thick grey rainclouds and the sun above was that deep golden colour it sometimes goes before it hits the horizon. The plane tilted down so we had the grey and gold and then the city laid out below, all those little houses where everyone's lives seem so big when you're down on the ground. It was beautiful.

The other reason I like flying is because it reminds me of one of my favourite Harry Potter quotes. They're in a state of heightened security because the Death Eaters are impersonating people, and Molly Weasley is checking that it's really her husband outside the door.


Molly ...what is your dearest ambition?
Arthur To find out how aeroplanes stay up.

It always makes me grin when I remember it, even though I'd rather not know myself. I could look up the science but somehow it's much better if I feel like I'm hanging in the air by magic.
Details:
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me!"
2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will post the answers to the questions (and the questions themselves) on your blog or journal.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. And thus the endless cycle of the meme goes on and on and on and on...

I'm still waiting on another set of questions, but I thought I'd answer [livejournal.com profile] mynxii's:

...below the cut )
crypticgirl: (me!)
( Jan. 17th, 2009 12:18 am)
1. Change is slow. Don't beat yourself up about that fact. Don't stop. Change is slow. It will come.

2. You're stronger than you think. Trust what you know. Trust who you are.

3. Being weak isn't a crisis. It's a change. Move through it as you would any other change. Live it.
crypticgirl: Willow from Buffy with the words 'tell me a story' (storytime)
( Nov. 6th, 2008 09:23 pm)
Buying presents for my nieces has always been a problem. Sometimes it's a problem because I try my best to avoid cutesy pink clothes, even when my sister has requested that I give them clothing and the only thing in Target is a swathe of fairy floss shades. Then there are the problems caused by wanting to buy them books, which are entirely different. It's Baby Bird's birthday soon so that's what I spent Wednesday night doing.

The biggest problem is that I get completely absorbed in the beautiful and engaging picture books which abound these days. This might not sound like much of a problem until you get to the bit where I have to pick a finite number to leave the shop with, usually only one or two. It's incredibly difficult, especially if I have to make a choice in a finite period of time. I really should have learned by now not to go into the children's book section half an hour before the shop closes.

Fortunately, there are some kinds of books I like better than others. I like books with pictures that pull you into the world of the story rather than simply echoing what's on the page. I'm not quite sure what the distinction is, but I suspect it's a couple of things. Bringing the text into the picture instead of having them be two separate entities helps. Having the picture give meaning to an abstract set of words is good, as is making simple words seem more meaningful with more complex pictures which carry light and shade. I was perusing through the 'older' picturebooks mostly; you see much more simple, two dimensional, narrative stuff in the younger books, which makes sense. It's nice that Baby Bird is at the age where I can choose richer things.

Content is a bit trickier, even though I'm now operating with some idea of Baby Bird's current reading level. In my view, the ideal book for a kid has to have language which is mostly stuff they'll manage okay, but with some difficult words or new concepts thrown in. With my sister's kids I'm also careful about picking out books which might require high parental enforcement: this left me quietly sad that I would never be able to buy them any of Shaun Tan's picture books, which are beautifully illustrated, simply written stories about subjects children aren't readily exposed to, like depression, war and the interlopers who push the indigenous down. They'd be great for the Sundance Kid and maybe Miss Muffet, who could read at an eight to ten year old level, I think. But there's no way anyone in their house could discuss the underlying themes with them.

I ended up choosing a book purely on instinct. It's called The Tickle Tree and its about using your imagination to go to fun places. The language is very Jabberwocky, the words aren't in straight lines and after thinking about why I chose it, maybe I'm hoping that the notion that she can close her eyes and go to other places in her head will help Baby Bird to stop physically running every time the front door opens. Not that wanting to get out of her family home isn't a commendable instinct, but it's also not a safe one in a six year old.

Of course all this careful planning and scoping isn't going to make her like the damn thing.
crypticgirl: (Default)
( Nov. 4th, 2008 05:31 pm)
You can tell that summer is drawing close. I've been to three barbeques in four weeks, the Christmas tree on the corner of Collins and Swanston is up, and The Age has already had one story declaring that the State is a tinderbox. For me this means no classes, frantic shopping for birthday and Christmas presents for my sister's kids and the possibly vain hope that my corner of the office will stop feeling like the arse end of Alaska.

West coast summers are much better than eastern ones in Australia; the heat is dry without any humidity. Even though I'm possibly on the wrong side of the continent for my preferred definition of a good summer, I'm really looking forward to it this year. Not sure why - maybe just that 'anticipation of change' thing kicking in again.
Today I had two experiences with being treated differently because of my blindness, or to be more specific, the fact that people can see my white cane. The first was while walking with Miss J at lunchtime. We passed an old lady pushing flyers onto anyone who went remotely near her... and she didn't come over to us. I'm so used to this that I didn't give it a second thought.

"Doesn't it bother you that hawkers don't come near you?" asked Miss J. "They always hassle me, but when I'm out with you it's never happened."

"That depends. If they're just giving out written material it makes sense that they'd avoid someone who has a white cane because most people assume your sight is bad enough that you can't read normal print if you've got one. The tin-rattlers really bother me, though. There seems to be an underlying assumption that they can't ask me for money because I must be poverty stricken even though I'm wandering through the CBD during lunch hour with food in my hand and wearing vaguely professional looking clothes. Though granted," I said, looking down at my long black skirt and velvet top, "most people don't wear velvet to work."

Then this evening I was standing on the train platform trying to figure out which train was coming next. This can be tricky at the best of times; they have a habit of changing assigned platforms without announcing the change and/or without changing what's on the screens on the platform. So you might get an announcement of the change, but if you can't hear you're screwed. Or you'll get a visual cue, but nothing auditory. I use both to kind of piece together the information. Things don't always come on time, either, so memorising the timetable will only get you so far.

Even when everything seems to be arriving as it should it can be tricky. I'm lucky because the train line I catch has a much longer name than anything else which comes in on those two platforms, so I can guess the sound by the number of syllables and the word on-screen by how much space it takes up. Unfortunately, these strategies only work when everything else falls into place. With daylight savings there's a lot of glare on the screens making them hard to see, and the noise level at peak hour can drown out announcements.

So I was squinting at the screen trying to get my head Just So in an effort to see the damn thing when a well dressed stranger came up and tapped me on the shoulder.

"You're going to Station x, right?" he asked.

I nodded.

"This is your train. Hop on."

He followed me in the door. I can only assume he gets this train regularly, and has noticed That Blind Chick getting out at Station x all the time. Like the hawkers, this is a mixed blessing. On the one hand it's good that people can pick out who I am and that they pay enough attention to see when I need help. On the other hand it's also a little bit creepy to have strangers know which suburb you live in when you have no way of independently finding out the same information about them.
crypticgirl: (Default)
( Sep. 18th, 2008 10:01 pm)
Last night my boss and I were in Canberra for an overnight stay. "In Canberra" actually wound up meaning "in a town forty minutes past the outer limits" because Parliament is sitting and Floriade - the annual flower display across the city which attracts lots of tourists - has just begun so there were no beds at the inn.

I had forgotten just how much I love being driven down country roads at night. There are no streetlights to get in the way, and the trees come right up to the edge of the road. The eucalypts get caught momentarily in the headlights, leaping out like pale ghosts only to fall back to the shadows just a second later and be replaced by another startled pose. Off in the distance you can see the dark hills lapping at the heels of the orange glow of the city. Out there you're alone and the trees are your guard of honour as you travel.

I've been noticing that I'm really enjoying living in an area with more greenery. It's especially nice because it means more birdsong, and not just the strutting pigeons (who are so self deluded you can't not love them, really). Someone finally identified the cooing noise as doves the other day; I've been getting sighted people to look for the birds outside my window but they seem to hide in the bushes every time. You can hear them all around this suburb and it makes walking around a lovely experience.

For some reason I can't quite define I have this desire for proper 'outside' experiences right now. I've always been very much an indoors person so this is strange. Maybe it's that my Dad dying has sparked something; he was quite outdoorsy and it's possible that I either want to be closer to him through doing the things he'd have done or that his death has given me some kind of permission to do the stuff that I might have wanted to previously but would have found threatening because it was too much like him. The latter seems a lot more likely. This desire was hanging around before he died, but I don't discount the idea that some part of me might have known this was coming.

So what to do about it? Walking around the streets is a good start. I think I'm going to have to think about access issues if I want to go into a park or a walking trail. Maybe the public gardens in Carlton and Fitzroy are a good place to go - I think they have actual well-maintained walking paths. At any rate, I think I can convince my old and dear friend Mr Crocodile (so named because he's spent some time in parts of Australia where they'd become familiar) to walk with me through Sydney Botanic Gardens when I meet up with him in a couple of weeks. Prior to that I won't have time to do anything anyway - I'll be chained to a desk or interstate at meetings.
It's really easy to be on your high horse when you're not in a certain situation. I haven't spent any significant amount of time single for a long time, and I'd developed some prejudices about singledom and how single people act or think. I'm now discovering just how many. In the five weeks since I moved out of the house I shared with Matt I've managed to kick myself so, so, so many times for all the internal eye rolling I've done previously over things that 'should be simple' to deal with. To wit, I have:

- Wondered why the good ones are unavailable.
- Thought of myself as that bitter and twisted old person with no family.
- Practiced saying "You kids get off my lawn!" in the privacy of my own home.
- Been deeply paranoid over an unrequited crush.
- Wished the happy couples in public places would stop looking so fucking happy.
- Felt bad about all of the above because I was, after all, the dumper (...*sigh*. No, not in the scatalogical sense). I don't get to feel like this, do I?
- Sniffled at the fact that I will more than likely be alone for the love-fest that will surely be Valentine's Day next year. When I'm in a relationship, VD is a crass, artifically inflated attempt by commercial interests to exploit the inherent need for people to express their love, and I don't require anything of it except an (extra) excuse for more hugs.
- Compared myself to other women and thought "I'll never be as loveable/good looking/proficient at walking in stilettos as she is. CLEARLY SHE IS COMPETITION AND MUST BE ELIMINATED AT ALL COSTS." The fact that I have absolutely no desire to wear stilettos is, in these moments, irrelevant.
- Wanted a hug and been unable to find a proficient human. Resorted to hugging heart-shaped pillow.
- Wanted a stimulating conversation and been unable to find a proficient human. Resorted to talking to stuffed purple sheep.
- Wondered how dim my prospects will be while my bedhead holds a stuffed toy puppy, a stuffed purple sheep, a teddy bear, and a dancing, singing transvestite bull in a dress.
- Worried that my prospects might not be dim in spite of the above.

In spite of the lonely bits and the sad bits, I'm actually not doing too badly at this singledom thing. It helps that I really do feel like I need the space to clear my head for a while, to learn and relearn things about myself and to send my life in a direction I want it to go in.
I've been wanting to write something about the rise of Barack Obama for a while, even though I'm not an American and even though my understanding of the American presidential race is filtered through Australian media reports. What I want to write about isn't so much the intricacies of the campaign, so much as how he as a minority got there, and what that means.

I saw a documentary done by an Australian TV show called Four Corners which gauged the response of African Americans to Obama. They seemed to fall into two camps: the people who were really on board with his identity and his campaign, and the people who felt that he wasn't suitable, either because he wasn't 'black enough' because of his half-white, half-Kenyan background, or because they thought he was compromising himself too much just by running.

random thoughts behind the cut )
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