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in the light of the sun

moments of me and my life by the sea

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writing

self portrait in words

I like to read books. A lot. I especially like the books with good characters. You know, like Harry Potter, Holden Caulfield, Franny and Zooey, Kafka Tamura or Kilgore Trout. After reading this splendid post by the delightful Kate, I decided to write about me as a character. A sort of self portrait in words, if you will.

The Woman:
Often imagines her life as scenes from a film, mostly directed by Jean Pierre Jeunet and Wes Anderson.

Must be kept artificially warm at all times – takes excessively hot showers that scorch her chest tomato red. Will not leave the house without a cardigan, even in summer.

Useless at time management – always either far too early for appointments or late. Often calls ahead warning she is running late then manages to somehow turn up just on time. Then feels embarrassed about earlier unnecessary warning. Likes to read whilst walking, even though it’s slow going both ways.

Tells herself these new grey hairs look more silver or even blonde than grey, really. Often thinking about her next meal. Desperately wishes she had a prize winning novel in her but is resigned to the fact that her slightly above average intelligence is unlikely ever to produce one.

Fiercely loyal and completely biased towards those she loves or ideas she believes in. Paralysed by passion – will cry if confronted with arguments against said people or beliefs.

Public transport brings out the worst in her – feels utter disgust and contempt for fellow travellers. Realises the hypocrisy in such arrogant and inhumane thoughts. Detests them all the same. Tries to connect with every cat she encounters. Mostly succeeds.

Cannot last the entire night without going to the toilet. Blames cat for waking her up at 4.30am for breakfast. Quietly fears her bladder contains more will than her mind.

Never believes compliments from sales people, even when she knows them to be true. She does have beautiful green eyes and her bag is gorgeous. But sales people are not to be trusted.

Loves the idea of wearing red lipstick but is wracked by anxiety every time she does. Likes to cheat at card games. Does not follow recipes, uses them only as a guide. Loves puns.

27 and three quarters. Whiskey drinker. Always gives money to accordion buskers.

So, how much to I have to bribe you into including me in your next award winning novel? Anyone got J.K Rowling’s email by any chance? J.D Salinger’s and a time machine? Haruki Murakami’s perhaps?! 
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Ruminating about reading…

Have you read The Reader by Bernhard Schlink? I saw a copy in Gertrude and Alice’s the other day and bought it on a whim. I haven’t seen the film adaptation, but I do remember hearing how controversial it was, that it humanised the perpertrators of the Holocaust and that Kate Winslet had won an Oscar for her role as Hanna, former SS guard at Auschwitz and the main antagonist of the book. I thought I’d give it a go.

I finished reading it last night just after I hopped off the train. Even though I only ever read it in blocks of 10 or 20 minutes whilst on the bus, train, or walking home, it easily captured my attention and despite the lack of thrilling plotline, (It’s no Millenium Trilogy) the emotional ‘thrill’ (for want of a better word) had me turning the pages at great speed. Then, unexpectedly, tears were pouring down my face, mixing with the snot dribbling from my nose (I have a cold!) and I had to turn on my windscreen wipers (also known as hands and sleeves) super fast in order to finish the last few pages. I must have looked pretty strange.
“A flash flood of emotion was reported to have hit Oxford Street mall in Bondi Junction yesterday evening at approximately 5.47pm. Witnesses claim to have seen a small, pre-loved copy of Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader floating at the top of the foam and flotsam. The Weather Bureau states it had no way of predicting this downpour of salty discharge but warn that the phenomenon is not uncommon and many sightings have been reported in the Eastern Suburbs area.”
Schlink describes feelings of shame, confusion and unrequited love in a way that reached deep into my subconscious and wrenched out buried memories from my teenage years. Sure, I have nothing in common with Michael Berg, the story’s protagonist who at 15 begins a love affair with 36 year old Hanna Schmidt, the tram operator with a secret past. Sure, I haven’t experienced the Holocaust and it’s devastating consequences in the way that entire countries and races and subsequent generations have. In fact, that whole part of the story remained strangely detached in my mind. Too lazy to enter the moral discussion? Perhaps I am. But whatever your moral veiwpoint, there’s no denying that the way Schlink writes about shame, guilt, confusion and love is powerful and impressive.  
Click here to read a review of The Reader published by The New York Times. I don’t exactly agree with everything written, but it’s an interesting review.
Click here to read an interesting article about the author Bernhard Schlink on The Guardian.
What gripped me as a reader, or ‘the reader’ even, was Hanna’s illiteracy and it’s devastating impact. Now, that’s not giving anything away, I haven’t spoilt the ending for you and perhaps you’ve seen the film anyway or read about the book anyway. If not, go ahead and give it a go. I’d love to know what you think.
Can you imagine not being able to read? I don’t think I can. I don’t think I want to. I can’t imagine what life would be like without books. Hanna’s life, and therefore everyone she comes in contact with during the course of her life, are deeply affected by her illiteracy and her consequent shame. What would her life have been like had she learnt to read as a child? I can’t imagine who I would be without the books I have read. I know I had an imagination before I could read, and was curious about the world, but being able to travel all around the universe in the safety and privacy of your own bedroom is something every child should experience.
Would I have a love of adventure, a never ending urge to travel, be as curious and inquisitive had I never read these books as a child?
The Growing Summer by Noel Streatfield
The Adventure Series by Enid Blyton
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis
Would I be as mischievous, bossy, confident, impetuous, bold and opinionated had I never read these books as a child? (Some might argue these traits are not complimentary to a lady, I argue otherwise!)
The Ramona series by Beverly Cleary.
The Eloise Books by Kay Thompson
The Naughtiest Girl in School series by Enid Blyton
The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl
The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Would I strive to be as brave and compassionate if I’d never read these books?
The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren
The BFG by Roald Dahl
Would I have survived puberty without every book written by Judy Bloom?!
And that’s just a handful of books I read as a child. I think I’d need a whole new post for books that influenced me as a teenager and as an adult!
I’m not saying that just because Hanna is illiterate that she’s somehow not responsible for her actions in The Reader, not at all. Just that it’s awfully sad.

What books changed you as a child? Tell me about them and I’ll try to read them. I’ve still got loads of growing up to do!

words and pictures

Melbourne gal Meet Me at Mikes has sewn the seed of creativity in her blog, and it grows and grows all across the interwebs. One particular seed sprouted a creative writing tree. Each branch on this tree is a different theme to be written about, in any old way you feel like writing. It’s all about the writing, see. I’m climbing the tree. This week’s branch/theme is School Lunches. Read the original School Lunch post here or sign up for this creative writing extravaganza here.

But first – munch on this:
They say you are what you eat.
From the age of 5 to 18, I was mostly white bread. Overly processed, mass produced and tasteless, I ‘rebelled’ against my parents, wore ‘alternative’ clothing and ironically thought myself highly individual. A product of middle class Australia and generation y, everyone else’s lunches always seemed better than mine.
But they also say don’t judge a book by its cover.
That means it’s what’s inside the white bread that counts, right? Starting with peanut butter, moving on to salami and graduating to baked ricotta and salad. A little bit mainstream, a little bit ethnic, a little bit hippy. Always a struggle to fit it all in one bite. Might leave a nasty aftertaste when all combined.

Mostly, it’s the thought that counts though, right?
That makes me guilty. Guilty for throwing away my lunch every day for approximately 3 years in primary school. Not because of a blossoming eating disorder, but because Mum (lovingly and kindly) made my lunch with frozen bread. So gross to eat cold soggy sandwiches. So gross to see a pile of mouldy green square blocks piled waist high in the storeroom I dumped them all in, in order not to get caught throwing my lunch in the bin…
The moral of the story?
My school lunches made me who I am today. From lunch orders in brown paper bags, to soggy sandwiches, to leftover pumpkin risotto, ultimately my school lunches expanded my mind and my waistline. Sometime you just gotta learn the hard way I guess. If it wasn’t for the power of homemade baked ricotta I would never have attended enough school days to finish my HSC. If it wasn’t for mould, and the foods I abandoned in order for it to grow on, I would never have been confronted with the ramifications of my laziness. We eat, live and learn.

Thankfully, no sandwiches were harmed in the making of this post. Today’s lunch was salad – balsamic beetroot and feta, lentil and tabouli with walnuts and chicken with spinach and pesto. And delicious. Today the only mould I grow is in my bathroom. I suspect there is hope for me yet.

Incidentally, I really love the colour mould.

strongly worded emails

I totally rock at sending strongly worded emails. They are, quite possibly, my new favourite thing to do at work. They might not be as amazing as those sent to Richard Branson, but I like to imagine that they still have an impact.

Here is a sample of my latest work. I feel very strongly about this matter and felt I had to take a stand. Borders has been denying me, and the good people of Australia, a discount coupon for too many months now.

Hi Borders,
I’ll be honest with you. I subscribe to your email newsletters simply for the coupons. 20 – 30% off a full priced book has me running into your store to purchase books I’ve already read before, just for the bargain of it all. But where’s the love gone? I have noticed that you haven’t had such an offer since before Christmas. In the current economic climate, I simply can’t afford to shop for the sake of it, let alone without incentive. I’m begging you – BRING BACK THE COUPONS! And not the 20% off lonely planet type coupons – who are you kidding – no one can afford a holiday these days, even if the guide book is on sale.
Last year I was a weekly shopper at your Pitt Street Mall store in Sydney but this year I haven’t been in once. I’ll return as soon as I can afford it, which without a coupon, may be never.
Thanks for the memories,
Sara Carkagis

Dagnammit Borders, I asked for a gift voucher for your store for Christmas KNOWING that I could get more bang for my gifted buck with your weekly coupons and now I fear my gift card will diminish far quicker than hoped AND I could get the book I want at some other store for cheaper but will feel obliged to use my gift card instead. oh the humanity.

I wish books grew in my garden so I could pick them for free. Or at least in my neighbours garden anyway. I’m not so good at growing stuff really.

classified LRB

Perusing through these beauties makes me feel like I live in a movie. Albeit, a romcom, but a witty one, where you laugh and smile along even though you are desperately trying not to be influenced by the schlock you are viewing. Here are a few choice ads, if I ever find myself single again, I know where I will turn.

* If forced to commit, I’d say I feared geese more than ducks. Man, 47. Fears geese more than ducks.

* Yesterday I was a disgusting spectacle in end-stage alcoholism with a gambling problem and not a hope in the world. Today I am the author of this magnificent life-altering statement of yearning and desire. You are a woman to 55 with plenty of cash and very little self-respect. When you reply to this advert your life will never be the same again. My name is Bernard. Never call me Bernie.

* Not only will this advert win me the woman of my dreams (25, tall, brunette, fun, likes late nights, computer games and Pop Tarts), it also wins me a place at the grown-ups’ table. Errant son, 18, swapping Dad’s Hustler subscription for this crap for the last two years.

* I hate you all. I hate London. I hate books. I hate critics. I hate this magazine, I hate this column and I hate all the goons who appear in it. But if you have large breasts, are younger than 30 and don’t want to talk about the novel you’re ‘writing’ I’ll put all that aside for approximately two hours one Saturday afternoon in January. Man, 33.

*Everyone. My life is a mind-numbing cesspit of despair and self-loathing. Just fuck off. Or else write back and we’ll make love. Gentleman, 37.

*If you’re reading this hoping for a mini-biopic about battles with drugs, cancer and divorce, talk to the guy above. But if you want to know about historical battle sites in Scotland, talk to me. Alan, 45. Scottish historical battle expert and BDSM fetishist.

and last but certainly not least –

*I make my own sexual lubricant. The secret ingredient is Bovril. Man, 56. Congleton.

yeah i probably posted the funniest ones. but if you’re keen for more, or perhaps want to reply to one of these classifieds, do so at the London Review of Books Classifieds online here

i’m too old for this shit

I went to the Big Day Out yesterday. I had a free media pass with access to my own bar and real toilets, so I thought it wouldnt be too painful.

How very wrong I was.

I must be extremely allergic to severe sun, severe nationalism, heterosexual ‘Aussie’ blokes, overpriced cans of beer, crowds, wankers, excessive police presence, popular fashion etc.

I think I had a wee panic attack of sorts. Maybe it was just heat stroke. I wasn’t even drinking. I thought I was going to throw up. Could of had something to do with the guy haemmoraging blood from his arsehole. An image I can’t get out of my head now. Or The Living End. I don’t know.

Anyway, I think that’s it for me and the BDO. Unless The Beatles reform and headline.

The highlight of the day was seeing Black Kids perform. Uber fun. Also, standing near this guy in the bar queue. Awesome.

Maybe I am just a massive hermit party pooper. Everyone else seemed to be having the time of their life. Why couldn’t I enjoy myself like they were? What’s wrong with me?

Why am I so ‘unaustralian’? I really hate nationalism. I hate seeing white people wearing flags, hats, shoes, t-shirts and tats with australia flags and southern crosses on them. urgh. It’s so aggressive and threatening. What are they so proud of? How are they better than others just because of the country they were born in?

Why are music festivals a platform for nationalism? Australia Day is in two days time. I am not looking forward to it.

words are hardly relevant…

The Art of the Haiku

Haiku Spanaiku
Words are hardly relevant
Tishly poo shamu


– Claudia Fitzgerald

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