Archives: September 2004
Thu, 30 Sep 2004
Some days you just need Patti Smith
I'm standing at the music counter in a secondhand music shop and the guy behind the counter is maybe 30 and a little overweight and looks like Jack Black, who happens to be in town at the moment filming King Kong, but it's not Jack Black, it's just a guy trying to be like Barry in High Fidelity.
I hand him my selection, and he looks at them, raises an eyebrow, and proceeds to get the CDs. He pauses at Horses. Raises an eyebrow, looks at me.
"Some days you just need Patti Smith" I say to him in explanation.
"Oh indeed." he says, "Indeed. Most days, in fact."
"A fine selection" he says to me, handing over Patti Smith, Tres Chicas, and The Martinis.
"Thank you" I say.
"Would you like our club card? You get 10% discount from your next purchase. Of course, it does mean you can never shop anywhere else again."
"Sure, I'll take it. Consumer choice is overrated."
So now I have Patti Smith's Horses on CD. We've always had it on vinyl, but that is so inconvenient to play.
At the moment, I'm in love with women with husky, deep, strong voices - Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, Marianne Faithfull, Lucinda Williams.
Marianne Faithfull is almost 60 and still putting out albums, still performing. I remember the first time I heard her singing Why d'Ya Do It? from the Broken English album. I remember thinking - my god, yes, yes, that's exactly what that feels like - that utter blinding rage and insanity that you feel when discovering a lover's infidelity and you just want to swear and kick and scream the fucking walls down and you feel like Gordon Gano singing "And the haaaate... when it's way down deep inside" in that psycho voice of his. Yes. That's what it feels like. Marianne Faithfull captures that perfectly in that song.
And the first time I ever heard Patti Smith sing Gloria. I couldn't believe that I'd just heard the best opening lines of a song ever, anywhere, by anyone.
Jesus died for somebody's sins... but not mine
meltin' in a pot of thieves
wild card up my sleeve
thick heart of stone
my sins my own
they belong to me, me
And her voice is what carries that off... that perfect split second pause in the first line, the almost-sneer. If anyone can stand up to God, it's certainly Patti Smith.
I've been listening alot lately to Gone Again, which she did in the mid-90s and dedicated to her husband, Fred Sonic Smith, who had died two years before the release of that album. She has such a powerful voice, it just cuts through me sometimes. The album reminds me of Lou Reed's Magic and Loss, which in some places has the same effect on me - poetry and power and dark brooding chords.
I was fortunate enough to see Patti Smith here a few years ago, when she opened for Bob Dylan. As much as I love Dylan, he couldn't match the power and presence of Patti Smith that night. She was incredible. I think at the moment, if I could see anyone live in concert, it would be her.
Who would you want to see?
Well, folks, it's getting late and I'm signing out. I've got some music to listen to. Have a good evening.
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Bad Day at the Beauty Salon
Okay, so I have a weakness for Maggie Estep. I just love this.
I mean, you have to love lines like this: "I'm gonna look just like those hot Spanish haircut models, become brown and bodacious, grow some 7 inch fingernails painted bitch red and rake them down the chalkboard of the job market's soul."
and this: "She starts snipping my carefully cultivated Johnny Lydon post-Pistols hairdo."
Who else could write about a punk turned stripper turned Wall Street telemarketer?
Strong women really do something for me.
And I never went to a beauty salon again. Woohoo.
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Tue, 28 Sep 2004
I keep getting emails from the American Consulate here in New Zealand reminding me that, as an American citizen, I have the right to vote in this year's general election. Despite the fact that I haven't voted since I left the U.S. almost twenty years ago, I actually felt compelled this year to do something.
The Consulate helpfully pointed me to this website - the Federal Voters Assistance Program - which would, I was assured, have all the information I would need to register to vote from overseas.
Now, I'm a reasonably intelligent woman, and I'm certainly web savvy. That's what I do for a living. But for the sweet love of God, I defy you to look at that site and tell me in three easy steps what exactly it is I'm supposed to do to enable me to vote!
Talk about the desperate need for usability and good information architecture! They so need to hire ME, ME, ME, because I give such good IA.
Okay, so eventually I happened upon the State by State instructions for Maine. Asleep yet? I nodded off somewhere around paragraph three. Bureaucracy at the height of its powers. And that's before I even got to the Online Registration Card.
Needless to say, I haven't actually registered. It was all just a bit too daunting.
Do you think I could complain that I've been disenfranchised through poor usability?
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Mon, 27 Sep 2004
Okay, so Wellington isn't really big enough to have a Little Venice, but if it was, I guess this would probably be it.
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Sat, 25 Sep 2004
I watched this man for ages. He was oblivious to the people around him, so absorbed in his paper and his own thoughts. He never even noticed I was pointing the camera at him.
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It's 5:00am, cold and dark. I slept fitfully, lungs filled, coughing, nose stuffed, throat sore. I awoke about 4, in a coughing fit, unable to stop.
I hate this, being sick. Being awake and cold and unable to get comfortable.
I take it as a personal mutiny by my body and immune system, hijacking me and wasting hours and days of my life.
I'm unable do anything when I'm this sick, not even think straight. I can't sleep, can't lie down, can't eat, can't read.
I hate this feeling of helplessness.
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Wed, 22 Sep 2004
Seven new photos in the Back Streets gallery, starting with this one:
I've always wondered how you could have a peep show that wasn't Live? Dead Peep Show? Does it do anything for you? Nah, not for me either.
Anyway, go have a look at the pictures.
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Sun, 19 Sep 2004
Nectar of the Gods
And God said, "Let there be Dr Pepper", and yea, it was good.
By sheer chance, I found a corner store that actually sells Dr Pepper! I can't believe it. I bought one today and thought I had died and gone to heaven. I go through withdrawals, you see, for certain American things. Those little orange creamsicles... man. And Dunkin' Donuts. And those little Pepperidge Farm goldfish crackers... do they still make those? And a hoagie. God, I'd give anything for a nice hot hoagie.
And Dr Pepper. Mmmmm.
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I did it!
Hey, just got home from doing the 10km walk this morning! And I finished. Okay, I wasn't that fast, and I finished somewhere in the middle, I guess. But at least I did it. This morning I'd had almost no sleep, was awake most of the night, and I have a cold. But the day was beautiful, so I decided to go ahead and do it anyway, and I'm glad I did.
I walked with my friend Kay from the walking group for the first 5km, and then because she is tall and lanky and fitter than me, she zoomed on ahead, and I walked alone for the rest of the way. Aaah, the loneliness of the long-distance walker :)
You can actually think about a lot in that distance. I thought about the fact that I turn 41 tomorrow. It was a sobering last 5km.
But the sun was shining and there were lots of people waiting for me at the finish line, Matt and Josh and Michael, and some of my workmates who had finished before me, and Kay who had zoomed on ahead.
And they all cheered when I crossed the line.
It was cool.
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Sat, 18 Sep 2004
Forget Iraq and Saddam Hussein. If you want Weapons of Mass Destruction, all you have to do is let loose one of Joshua's nappies. Maaaan. How can something so angelic-looking produce something so utterly disgusting? I asked myself that this afternoon as I changed one of those nappies. Bring on the potty training.
We did actually try a bit of potty training this afternoon, Josh and I. Joshua is now able to take off his own trousers and nappy, and loves to run around the house barenaked. Hey, who doesn't? But it just gets a little dangerous when the barenaked butt in question is not toilet trained. So I convinced him to put on some real little boy underpants - the very same Bob the Builder undies that Matthew used at the same age. Joshua was so proud of himself, strutting around (as only males will do) in his red undies with Bob on the front and the words Can We Fix It? (usually not with *that*, Josh, as you will learn when you are older. Much, much older, hopefully, like 25).
Anyway, the potty training was not a success. Joshua ran to the toilet, pulled down the undies, stood on his tippy toes, put his little penis over the edge of the toilet bowl, and did... absolutely nothing. He stood there for a few moments until he got bored, then pulled the underpants up. Two seconds later he stood in the laundry and peed. It soaked the underpants, and ran all down his legs and onto the floor. Sigh.
Joshua is at that absolutely delightful age.
"Josh, are you a baby?"
"No, I'm a Josh-ooh-ah".
And he's certainly that. He's a one-of-a-kind kid.
Joshua and Matthew are in the bath at the moment. They're playing together remarkably well. I can hear Matthew making some whooshing noises, but I can't hear Josh at all. I guess I'd better go make sure that it's not Josh's head that he's whooshing under the water.
You think I jest, don't you.
Okay, back again. All is well. Joshua is out of the bath and dried and in his pajamas now, watching television. Matthew is still playing in the bath, but I'm about to get him out. And yes I can hear him.
It's Saturday night and it's just me and the kids tonight. It's been fun actually. I cooked lamb schnitzel, with pumpkin and potatoes. And we've been watching the Land Before Time Movie Marathon that's on. What can I say? I enjoy my kids. Mostly. When they're not driving me insane.
Okay, time to dry their hair, make some popcorn and get settled in to watch baby dinosaurs.
Have a good evening, folks.
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Thu, 16 Sep 2004
Still and Deep
Beware of silent dogs and still waters
- Portugese proverb.
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Wed, 15 Sep 2004
"If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time" ~ Author Unknown
Okay, so I'm crazy. I've known this for a while, but I've just confirmed it by registering to compete in a triathlon at the end of February. Well, compete is probably not quite the right word.
This is a non-competitive, women-only, all-ages, have-fun, have-a-go, everyone's-a-winner, beginners' triathlon. It's supposedly easy.
Yeah, I know, I know. The only thing that's easy is lying inert on a couch and pushing a remote control button. As soon as you stand up and start putting one foot in front of another, it gets increasingly difficult. Fighting gravity is hard work.
Nevertheless, on the 27th February, I'm going to do a 300 metre ocean swim, 10km bike ride, and 3km run. Not much, but it's a start.
A woman in my walking group put the idea in my head. I would never have dreamed of attempting a triathlon of any sort, but then she told me about this series especially designed for female beginners: http://www.tri.co.nz/. It will be hard, but not so hard that it's completely daunting. And that's the whole point. It actually is achievable.
At first I thought I would get a team together and only do the cycling leg. But then I thought, where is the challenge in that? So I asked my manager, a keen runner, "Do you think I could do a triathlon?"
"Of course you could!" was his immediate reply.
Bouyed by this response, I then asked Michael, "Do you think I could do a triathlon?"
"Of course you could," was his reply.
So then, I asked my trainer... "Are you a miracle worker?"
He laughed and reassured me that it would not require a miracle, just some hard work. So now we've started a somewhat different training programme - everything just got harder, faster, and longer. I'm completely and utterly exhausted, but so excited, and so happy about doing this.
I'm most worried about the swimming because I'm a very weak swimmer. I thought I might try to take some lessons at the local pool, to improve my technique, but my trainer has offered to do some sessions with me in the pool. He is a strong swimmer, has been a national swim champion, and has done Ironman competitions, so I think he will be a very good swim coach. I'm actually grateful and a little humbled that he has agreed to coach me for this tri, because I am just a beginner. Of course, I'm also trying to get past the horrific thought of me in a swimsuit, but I'll just have to endure that. A great impetus to lose weight.
Now that I've got this tri bug, I actually took a peek at what is involved in an Ironman. I shouldn't have looked. The New Zealand Ironman competition consists of a 3.8km (2.4 mile) swim, a 180km (112m) bike ride, and then running for 42km (26 miles - that's a marathon, folks).
Whew. Okay, so I won't be competing in that anytime soon. Still, you never know. Last year, 64 women over the age of forty finished the Ironman competition. Of those, 16 were over fifty, and 1 incredible woman was older than sixty! That's pretty impressive.
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Matthew Aged Six
Matthew is blessed with a photogenic face. I have no idea who he looks like. A little like Michael's side of the family, but only a little. Not really like me at all, although when he was born he looked exactly like my father. Funny how kids grow into themselves, how their looks change over the years.
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Mon, 13 Sep 2004
Case of the Missing Ovary
I had my ultrasound scan last week. For those of you who have never had an ultrasound scan of your uterus before (uh, that would be all of you men), it needed to be done on a full bladder. This involved drinking one litre of water an hour and a half prior to the appointment, and holding it until the whole thing was over.
My sonographer was named Barry, a lovely gentleman in his early fifties with greying hair and a lilting Irish accent. I knew straight away I was going to like Barry. He was a no-nonsense, let's-get-to-work sort of guy. This is important when you have a full bladder. Very important. He seemed to sense my urgency.
"I'll be as quick as possible" he said.
That's my kinda guy. Let's scan, pee and get the hell out of here.
My uterus loomed on the monitor above. All black and grey and... black and grey. It seemed strange seeing it without a baby in there. He measured dark blobs here and grey blobs there. I had no idea what they were.
"There's your endometrial lining" he said cheerfully. Uhm, sure, I'll take your word on that.
"And there's your left ovary there" he said, measuring from one side of the dark blob to the other.
He zoomed down and around the other side and started probing. And probing. And prodding. I knew something was up because Barry had this concerned look on his face. And I also knew if he pressed into my side one more time I was going to pee all over the table.
"What's up?" I ask.
"I can't find your right ovary." he says.
He can't find my right ovary?! It was there last time I looked, I'm sure. How can you misplace an entire ovary?
"Sometimes they do wander." he says.
They do? Like, just take a little stroll? Like, hey sister, I'm a little bored, I'm just goin' to check out what's happenin' downtown at the cervix. Well, I knew it couldn't wander too far because it's on a Fallopian tube leash.
"Well, we'll leave it for now and do your kidneys." At least he found those. But then he came back to my right side. I could tell he wasn't happy. It must be like some sort of macho sonographer thing. Heh. You call yourself a sonographer? You're not a real sonographer unless you can find both ovaries, you wimp. And, boy, Barry was giving it a good go.
"What I'd like to do is a trans-vaginal scan" he said. "It will give us a much better view of the uterus, and I'll be able to see if that murky spot there is your ovary or a fibroid."
God, no, no more... I was going to burst any minute. I hate you, I hate you.
"And we can do it on an empty bladder" he said.
I love you. I love you, I love you. Yes, I'll do anything, just let me go to the bathroom!
Barry carefully explained to me that if I was uncomfortable with him doing it, I could rearrange another appointment with a female sonographer.
I informed Barry that I'd had two children. Any shred of modesty I might have had disappeared long ago during birth - legs spread wide open with a midwife, an obstetrician, a doctor and a few nurses peering in and commenting. No, I think I could handle a solitary male sonographer doing a scan.
As it turned out, we had a female chaperone come into the room while he did the trans-vaginal scan. That's the rule, apparently. The powers that be must have thought that either Barry or myself would degenerate into some sort of crazed sexual frenzy. The powers that be have obviously never had a trans-vaginal scan. Uncomfortable, yes. Erotic? That would be no.
Besides, Barry had other things on his mind. He was on a mission to find an ovary. He prodded around a bit, and suddenly lurched the probe unexpectedly to the right, nearly sending me through the roof.
"Ah there it is." he said, pointing at a blurry dark grey thing, "You can quite clearly see the ovary in its pod there." The only thing I could clearly see was a blurry dark grey thing.
But at least it was over. Barry handed me some tissues. "You'll need these" he said with a completely straight face.
Uhm, thanks, Barry.
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