Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Videos

I often get keywords on my Statcounter regarding America's love for Australia.  Apparently, people are curious about why Americans love Australia so much.

I think the answer lies here in this video clip, starting at about 1:24. I think this is what we Americans imagine of Australia.  

And it's a good antidote to the kangaroo scene in Wake in Fright.  I bet the G'Day USA crew won't show THAT clip during their black tie affairs.   

As I write this post, I'm in a totally different year than Australians.  How funny is that? We're still back in the bygone days.  I'm five hours away from 2011.

We're going to do some major partying for New Years.

Just joking.

I'm already in my pajamas.  Tim's cooking calzones, and we're probably going to watch Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  Jack and I finished the book about twenty minutes ago.  I was sniffling, but managed to not break down sobbing. The bit where Dumbeldore talks to Harry about being a prefect is what gets to me the most.  

Below is a video I made about our last days of 2010.  We babysat my nieces.  It was lovely....a great way to end the year.


Can People Change?

I'm now on page 68 of The Spell Book of Listen Taylor.  It's nice, but I don't love it yet. I'm having a hard time keeping track of who is who.

I just read something in the book that has given me some deep thoughts.  AND....it fits well with New Years.

People went around warning you: Never imagine you can change someone, for people NEVER CHANGE.  Then they talked about leopards and spots. Forgetting altogether about chameleons.  

So, can people change?

I think so.

Maybe the point is we shouldn't DEPEND on people changing.  If someone's interests or habits severely bother us, we probably shouldn't marry them.

I think it also depends on what we want to change.  I think there's a difference between saying, I wish she had healthier eating habits.  I worry she'll have heart problems later,  and saying I wish she didn't like romance novels. They're so boring and pathetic.  

I'll admit it though....shamefully.  I do sometimes want people to change; not necessarily for the better, but so they're more like me.

Like I'd love for my brother-in-law to suddenly decide he's on the left and hates Fox News.

Maybe we're all like that in some way.  Or most of us. It would explain why we spend so much time debating.  Aren't we kind of hoping that someone falls over to our side? 

It happens sometimes, but it's not something I count on.  Just like I wouldn't want anyone counting on me changing.  I probably won't suddenly start eating steaks, gain an interest in designer clothing, and stick my child in a posh private school.  It could happen, but it's doubtful.  

The best thing to do is be respectful of differences....or at least try.

But what about outside of interests, opinions, and hobbies?  Can negative attributes be reduced in people?  Can they become less materialistic?  Less grumpy?  Less controlling?  Less lazy?   Less racist? Less moody?  Less vain?  Less self-centered?  More charitable?  More funny?  More interesting?  More cheerful?

Can they stop smoking?  Gambling?  Drinking? Lying?  Hitting? 

They probably can. But I think it's one of those things where THEY have to be the one to want to change, and even then it's not a sure bet.  

I guess sometime we can help point out the problem, and guide someone on the path to changing.    You never know how someone will react to that.  There might be gratitude.  A lot of times there'll be denial and anger.  Sometimes, there will be anger....at first, and the gratitude will come later.

When I was doing eating disorder type things, someone lectured me on Livejournal. I was very angry and offended by her interference, but later I grew to appreciate her intervention. 
 
Now it's New Years, and tradition has it that we're supposed to make resolutions.  

I think this is all about changing ourselves, and it's nice to have hope that we CAN change.

I don't know if I want to have any resolutions.

Let me think.....

Yeah. Okay.   

I'd like to lose weight. THAT is in my nature, and I don't know if I can change that. But I'm fairly happy with how much I weigh now.  If I lose ten pounds, I won't complain though.  

I exercise a fair amount, but it wouldn't hurt to increase that.  It's good for my body, and it prevents me from losing my mind.  

I should probably eat healthier, but I'm not planning to give up chocolate or junk food.  I don't see me becoming one of those raw food enthusiasts.      

I definitely need to eat more ethically.  I want to reduce the amount of eggs and dairy I eat.   Last year, I tried doing vegan Wednesdays. That lasted about a month. I think this year I'm going to make better choices....when choices are available.


If Tim cooks dinner, and it's pizza....I'm not going to say no to that. If I'm at a restaurant and they have angel hair pasta or cheese pizza, I'll pick the pasta.  It's hard sometimes, because the non vegan food always seems so much more appealing to me. 

What about cheese in the house?

We already have a lot.   I won't let it go to waste.  But maybe I'll stop suggesting that we buy more cheese. We just bought a huge thing of Laughing Cow cheese at Costco.  I should stop doing stuff like that.  I mean it was ME that suggested that we buy it.  That was bad of me.

If it's a choice between sorbet and ice-cream, I'll pick sorbet....sometimes.   

Enough of the vegan topic.

I'd like to worry less.  Can that be changed? I don't know. Probably not.  

I'd like to spend less time being angry with people, and less time venting my anger.  I rarely think it helps.   I think it's better to keep my anger to myself.  I think when we're angry at someone, and then talk about it with someone else.....we kind of blow it out of proportion.   

I don't think it usually relieves anything; at least not for me.  I end up feeling I wasted time rehashing it all in my mind. Then I rarely get the empathy and validation I desired. Nor do I often get helpful advice.  So what was the point?

In the end, I think it's best to just keep the anger private.  Instead of wasting thirty minutes explaining why one of my sisters pissed me off, it's better to spend that time exercising.  For me, that provides much better relief.

I don't know if I'll extend that to blogging. I think blogging about my anger sometimes DOES help.   Or maybe it doesn't.  I have no idea.  All I know for now is that it definitely does NOT help when it's within private conversations.  

I'd like to learn more song lyrics. I love singing, but it's a pain because I never know enough lyrics. I'd love to be able to sing a FULL song in the shower, and not just bits and pieces of songs.    

Anyway.....

If any of you have New Years resolutions, I wish you luck and ease in fulfilling them.  Please wish the same to me. I'll need it! 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Talking During Sex

I finally finished the Markus Zusak book.  

Now I'm reading another Jaclyn Moriarty book; The Spell Book of Listen Taylor.

It's NOT about the Ashbury High kids.  I was a little weary reading it. I don't know. It's like watching your favorite TV show, but all your favorite  characters are gone.

I miss Bindy, Lydia, and Amelia, and Em.  I miss all of them.

And this book is different.  It's not written via emails, letters, diary entries, etc. It's normal narration.

I'm struggling to adjust to the change.  But I'm managing.  

The Ashbury High books make me laugh out loud.  I love books like that.

This new book didn't make me laugh.....until I got to page 32.

This bit totally cracked me up. 

This woman is writing down things about her husband that irritate her.

She says, During sex, he talks in this low husky voice, which is nothing like his own.  More like somebody hiding in the pantry and phoning the police while a robbery takes place.

That made me laugh.

I hope there's more stuff like that in the book.   

Mr. Tasmania

My new thing now is looking a the National Library of Australia's website.   This might end up being really fun.  They have a collection of digital pictures.  I just saw one of Abel Tasman with his family.

If I was going to be doing the casting for a movie about his life, I'd pick Robert Downy Jr.   

Lord Wiki says that Tasman was from the Netherlands.  I don't know if I ever knew that. I probably assumed he was British or Irish.

Tasman didn't name Tasmania after himself. For awhile that place was called Van Diemen's Land.    Mr. Van Diemen was Dutch too.  

Why didn't I realize that? 

I think my New Years resolution should be to pay more attention to the Netherlands.  Lord Wiki says it's the first country to legalize gay marriage. Very impressive.   

AND....

In September, Tasmania become the first Australian state to recognize gay marriages performed in other countries.  

Interesting connection there.   

I Don't Want Him But You Can't Have Him

I'm still reading the Markus Zusak book.  Now I'm on page 170.  I'm reading it slower than I usually read books that I like.  I guess I've been busy with other stuff....like excessively updating my blog. 

Anyway, the book deals with the whole idea of dating someone that someone in your life has dated previously.

I'm wondering how I feel about it.

I can't say I support stealing someone away from a relationship that's intact.  I DO think that sometimes (in rare cases) it's a matter of the couple not being soulmates. Then the soulmate comes along and.....

I have to be somewhat sympathetic to people in that situation.

But some people just like the hunt. And the hunt is more satisfying when the guy or girl already is with someone else.

If you break up with someone, why is it a problem if a friend, sibling, cousin, etc. picks up what you left behind?    Is it that bad?

I think I'd be okay with it, depending on the break up.

If the person dumped me, and I was devastated.....it would be a bit cruel for my friend to come along and start dating him.  Ouch.   Now what if their relationship was written in the stars?  I'd still be really angry....especially if they got together right after my romance ended.  If they waited awhile, I'd still be hurt and jealous, but I think I could TRY to forgive.

If I dumped the guy, I think it would be really selfish of me to not want him dating anyone in my life. The exception would be if I shared major grievances with people.  If I complain that my boyfriend is a controlling freak who has beat me three times, and he never helps with the dishes.....Well, what does that say for my friend who has decided to date him?

Did she not believe me?

Does she think getting slapped by your boyfriend is not a big deal?

Does she believe I deserved to be slapped, and she's better than me, so he won't hit her?   

I'm thinking of my ex-boyfriend.  I only had one major one besides Tim. I broke up with him mostly for the fact that I fell out of love.  He had some negative traits, but not any worse than a typical human.  

They say if you truly love someone, you just want them to be happy.  

For me, it's not like that. If I love someone, I want them to love me back, and be a bit miserable without me. I don't want to see them happy with someone else.  

I grudgingly accept they're with someone else, and TRY to be happy for them.  The best I can do is pretend though. Sometimes you just have to fake it, and hope that the naughty feelings eventually go away.

When I broke up with my boyfriend, and no longer loved him, I very much wanted him to be happy.   Why?  So then I'd feel off the hook.  He was so miserable....depressed.   I hated that I could cause such misery.  I'd be happy if he found someone else.  I think I'd be totally fine if he got together with one of my friends.

I'd probably be a LITTLE jealous.  I can't deny that.  But for the most part, I'd be filled with mature and righteous feelings.   

Give Me Some Attention!!!!!

An email conversation has gotten me thinking about attention-seeking again.

I'm an attention-seeker.  I won't deny it.  I have the classic symptoms—excessive blogging, eating disordered behaviors, annoyance at being ignored, etc.

When I read autobiographies of actors and actresses, I could really relate to some of their feelings and problems.  Give me attention! alternated with Leave me alone!  I want my privacy!   Okay, crap.  Stop.  You're leaving me alone TOO much. 

I think anyone who has a blog is an attention-seeker....at least to some degree.   Otherwise, why do they have a blog?  We could say they need to vent.  We could say they want a place to record things that are happening in their lives....keep a record.  We could say they want to provide entertainment and information to others.

I'd say fine.  Why not keep a private journal?

And if you think you have something valuable to share with others?  Well, there's probably something vain in that.

Would the world collapse upon itself if I stopped writing about Australia?  No. I'm probably providing less of a service to my readers than they're providing me.

I give people information they could find elsewhere. They give me the attention I've been desperately seeking my whole damn life.   

What about those who don't blog?  Are they less self-centered?

Maybe. But I wouldn't count on it.

They might be the ones that excessively post on Facebook and Twitter.

OR....


Maybe they don't have their own blog, but they comment a lot on other people's blog. They pretty much blog via other people's blogs.

I know people who neither Facebook post excessively or have blogs.  They sometimes speak disparagingly against those of us who expose ourselves on the Internet.  These people don't do THAT.  But in their interpersonal conversations, the subject is usually themselves. It's very hard to steer the conversation in other directions.  They talk on and on and on about themselves.  It's like my blog, but they're doing it via email or real-life conversations.

How about those who don't talk about themselves?  What if they just quietly listen?

Well, they MIGHT not be attention-seekers. I wouldn't count on it though.

During my childhood and teen years, I was extremely shy.  I would have liked to talk on and on about myself.  I just didn't have the strength/courage to do it.  I'd do it in my imagination instead.

Honestly, I feel MOST people love attention, praise, and validation.  I personally don't see a problem with it.  To me, it's being human.  I see it as a negative ONLY when someone seeks the attention, gets it, and doesn't give out in return.   

I do know a few people who might not be attention-seekers.  They don't have a blog. They don't update on Facebook or Twitter very often.  When I talk to them, the conversation seems pretty balanced....some about me, some about them, and some about other stuff.  And when they talk about their lives, it's less about them, and more about them gushing over the people that they love.

I have a hard time relating to those people, because I am SO not like that. But I think there's something admirable about them. At the very least, it's good they're in the world. They probably help balance out us attention-seekers.








Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Choices in Public Transportation

Sometimes you want to go somewhere, and you have to choose between taking the bus or train.

But if you were in Sydney in the 1930's, you might have been able to do both at the exact same time!

The rail bus. It looks pretty unique.   

I'm liking these home movies much more than I expected.

I actually like them better than the film shorts.  A lot of those were CREEPY.  They used weird sound effects, and some of the editing.....  Well, some of the stuff reminded me of the deadly movie in The Ring.  

Home movies are nice. I remember when we used to watch them on the movie projector. It was such a huge deal. Big family event.

I love the sound of a movie projector.

Back to the rail bus thing.

Chris Bajkowski has an interesting blog post about it.  The rail bus things were launched in 1937.   Then by 1939, they were used as pay cars.  The buses brought payments to station employees. 

That's pretty cool.  It lasted for about 50 years. Now the buses are no longer used.  

Honoring the Dead

Now I'm on page 40 of the Zusak book.  This thing is full of good stuff.

The narrator is at the barbershop getting a haircut. He asks the barber if he was ever married.   The barber replies, I had a wife but she died a few years ago.  I go down the cemetery every weekend, but I don't put flowers down.  I don't talk.  I like to think I did enough of that when she was alive, you know?

A few paragraphs down he says, It's no good once a person's dead.  You gotta do it when you're together, still living. 

I totally agree with all of this.  Although I'd probably take it a step further and not even visit the cemetery.  I mean maybe I'd visit every so often, but definitely not every weekend.

It would be nice if we treated each moment with someone as the precious last time we'd ever see them.  But that's not realistic.  And besides, it would probably make us extremely anxious. 

I do kind of think that way. though  If I get in a fight with someone I love, I worry.  What if one of us dies?  What if things end between us on such a sour note?

I don't know.  I think it's fine if we try our best.  Things can't be perfect, but we can put some effort into letting people know we appreciate them.

What bothers me is when someone is pretty neglectful towards someone alive. Oh, no sorry. I can't talk right now.  I'll call you back.  They never call back. 

Oh no. Sorry. I can't visit you. I'm SO swamped.

Sorry I didn't come to your dinner.  I  fell asleep watching TV.

Let's say things like that keep happening.

Then the neglected person dies, and suddenly he, who was too busy before, is now making a huge spectacle of his grief.   

THAT annoys me.

I understand it might not be all selfish and malicious.  Sometimes we fail to realize we appreciate something until it is torn from us lives.  But then what if the dramatic mourner then neglects OTHER people in his life because he's too busy writing blog post tributes to the dead person and putting flowers on graves?

Fun In the 1920's

If you watch the end part of this home movie clip about a visit to the Avon dam. you can see how people entertained themselves before there was online Tetris, Cafe Life, and Farmville.

You know what makes home movie clips more enjoyable?   Replacing the silence with random songs.  I let the iTunes DJ randomly pick something for me.

For that clip, I heard George Michael's "Faith".

Anyway.....

Despite all our high tech entertainment, I think we still know how to have old-fashioned fun.

At our Thanksgiving holiday, we played charades, and hot potato.  This is where you pass around an object until the music stops.  If you're holding the object at that point, you're out.  We made up our own variation, because we couldn't decide what music to use. We had someone sing instead. Then once you were out, you had to join the singing group.  Most of the group seemed to love the singing, so I think people were actually eager to get themselves out.  

We called our version of the game baked potato instead of hot potato.   

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Siblings and Friends

I'm now on page 32 of the Zusak book.  

Yeah. I know. I haven't gotten too far.

I can really relate to the story though.

Cameron is pretty much a social failure. He doesn't really have friends. His two brothers have much better luck with that.

Yeah. That's pretty much my life.

I was never popular.

My two sisters....

Well, I don't know if they were popular.  But I think they at least had connections to the popular kids.  And they've always had a VERY full social calendar.

It's almost always been easier for them to get people to like them.  

I have a memory.  I'm on the steps of the swimming pool.  One of my friends says something like You're older sister is so cool, and your younger sister is so cute. What happened to you?

Now I can almost guarantee that this friend was just joking. I don't think she meant any harm. But I think she unknowingly told the truth, and it hit a nerve.





I remember birthday parties with me crying...maybe even crying alone in my room.  I felt my older sister was stealing my friends away. 

Why were they more popular?

I think it was three things.

1.  I was always very immature.  When other girls were ready to talk about boys, drinking, and stuff like that; I was still wanting to play Let's-send-our-Cabbage-Patch-dolls-to-summer-camp!

2. I was HORRIBLY shy. Locked inside a shell. It doesn't feel good to be that way. And sometimes it doesn't feel good to be AROUND people who are that way.  It can be awkward for them.  

3. I was weird.  Weirdness is valued among certain crowds, but you usually have to search the Internet to find these people.  Yeah, you can find weird people in your schools and neighborhoods, but their weird doesn't always fit well with your weird.  

Well, I don't want to exaggerate my situation.  I did have friends. It's just I didn't often have close friends.  And when I did have close friends, it didn't last. We'd break apart, or my family would move.

Let's put it this way.  My bridesmaids at our wedding?  My two sisters, and my sister-in-law.     And outside of that.  I had a total of three friends at my wedding.  Most of the guests were family and/or friends of my parents.  

I used to regret all this.   I used to want to have what my sisters have.

Now I'm okay. 

I don't have a full and active social life, but I have friends. I feel totally satisfied in that area.  

Plus, I have a husband and child.  When you're growing up as a shy, immature, weirdo....you kind of doubt that this will ever happen for you.   

Swinging

Now I've moved onto watching old home movies on the Australian Screen website.  I think some of the movies come from famous people, and others come from people who just happened to have something fun to add to the archives. 

The Albion family has donated birthday party movies from the 1920's. In this clip, and another Albion clip, there's a child swinging.  

For some reason....

When I see a child on a swing, I think of young Charlotte Lewis from Lost

I'm not allowed to have chocolate before dinner.

He Loves Me He Loves Me Not

I just started reading another Markus Zusak book. The American title is Getting the Girl.  The Australian title is When Dogs Cry.  

So far, the American title fits better, but I'm on only page 18.  The dog part will probably come later.

Oh wait!   I just checked back to page 17, because I wanted to talk about a quote, and I see there IS mention of a dog already. How did I miss that?

Miffy is barking.  Maybe later she'll cry.

Where's the quote?

Found it.

Cameron the narrator has a thing for one of his brother's ex-girlfriends, even though she explicitly expressed her dislike of him. Cameron's brother says, I know.  It makes no difference if she said she hated you or called you a loser.  Y'feel what y'feel.

How true is that?

I'm thinking back through my life. I can't really think of a time that I was in love (or infatuated) with someone that hated me.  But of course, I've had feelings for people who did not have the same feelings.  And I've had feelings for people who didn't notice me, OR who didn't know I existed....uh, because we never even met.

Ah...unrequited Love.  

It's infuriating, but also kind of lovely....in a torturous way.

And how do you get over it?

Is there a trick?

I've managed to do it many times.  I probably could come up with a HUGE list of those who did not love me back.  I don't love them anymore.

How did I manage that?

I'm trying to think.

Is it time?

Maybe.

Often I think it's a matter of replacement.  You obsess over one person until something more interesting comes along. 

I think that's how it worked for me in college.  I had one crush after another.

I don't think it helps when we tell someone there are other fish in the sea.

Once you get the feeling, you really just want that one specific fish.  It's not like you can look at a bunch of fish, and push yourself to pick another. But then one day another particular fish comes by, and things change.

It's like the imprinting stuff in the Twilight series.  There's that scene in Breaking Dawn. Jacob goes somewhere...maybe the mall?  He tries to find someone with whom to replace Bella. But it's impossible.

I remember that from college. I was heartbroken over a relationship that didn't work out.   Other very appealing guys came my way, and seemed interested. They were probably a step or two out of my league (above, not below). But as hard as I tried, I couldn't bring myself to feel anything.

So.....

Anyway, the book is good so far. I should go back to reading it.   

Day Trips

So, we're still planning to divide our 2012 trip between Sydney, Melbourne, and Hobart. I haven't changed that yet.

I do think we need to get away from the big cities (Sydney and Melbourne)...at least for a day. We really enjoyed going to Canterbury when we were in London.

When we're in Melbourne, I'm thinking that Ballarat would work. We'll do that, and maybe something else.  Well, we'll probably do the Great Ocean Road.  Then we'll probably spend the rest of the time in the city.

For Sydney, I'm looking at various options. I want something pretty close....less than two hour away.   I looked at Hunter Valley, and that's three hours.  If we were really into wine, I'd consider it. Tim drinks wine. If he's interested, he can do a tour.   Jack and I will stay behind.

I'm looking at the CityRail website now...considering our various options.

Blue Mountains is a possibility.  We've been there before though. Should we go back?  Does it deserve a second look?  Yes, probably.  I guess it will depend on whether we find other places we'd rather go.  I'd kind of prefer to see something new.  

I'm thinking of Wollongong.  When we were on the Disney Cruise, we met a lifeguard from Wollongong.  Last night I dreamed about the Disney Cruise. It was a pretty cool dream.  So maybe that's why I have a desire to go to Wollongong.  

Wollongong is less than two hours away.  That's good.

Woy Woy is an option. At the very least, it has a fun name.  That's about an hour and fifteen minutes away.  

I'm bookmarking tourism websites about all these places, so I can dive deeper into my research later.

One thing we have to consider is whether one needs a car to enjoy these places. We don't want to exit the train station and be stranded.  It would be nice to not have to get off the train, and then take a bus or cab.

We might do Parramatta. 

I'd like to see the Northern Beaches.

And....

Well, I'll hear of more places as I read novels, talk to people online, see websites, etc.   If places sound interesting, I can look into them.  

When we were in London, Jack got all into the different train lines. So maybe we'll try a place on each line.  

Or maybe not.  There's eight lines that leave from Central.   That would take up all our days.    Although on some days, we could go somewhere close....like ten minutes away.   

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Well, That's Not a Good Role Model For Sustained Breastfeeding

Jack was weaned when he was 4.5.

Go ahead. Gasp in surprise.

Okay.  You done?  I'll continue now.  

It was hard to keep going that long.  I try not to care what other people think, but sadly I do.  I knew (and know) a lot of people think breastfeeding beyond a year is horribly wrong.  It seems many people think breastfeeding period is disgusting, and sometimes their opinions get to me. 

I counteracted the uneducated rash opinions with....

The American Academy of Pediatric's official statement that says There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychological or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.

The American Academy of Family Physicians official statement that says Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired.

The World Health Organization that says Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.

Honestly though.  I don't put an abundance of faith in the medical world, so I gave most attention to the Texas anthropologist who studied human cultures and primates to determine that the natural age of human weaning should be about 2.5-7 years old.  

Even when you have education and rationality on your side, the ignorance of others can be biting.   Like yesterday, I was unnerved when I saw a comment from a Christian saying that those who can't accept America is a Christian country, should leave.  Or how many times does a gay person go online, and hear that they're sick, evil, wrong, going to hell, etc?

Anyway, I wish more people were educated about extended breastfeeding.  I wish it was shown as being something that normal (or FAIRLY normal) people do, instead of presenting it as some kind of extreme alternative lifestyle.   

So, for that reason (and many other reasons) Christos Tsiolkas' The Slap made me uncomfortable.  There are a lot of icky people in the book, but the one I hated the most was a mother who breastfed her four-year-old child.  She's not as bad as Umbridge, in terms of making me want to scream. But she IS pretty awful. So I don't know.....

Well, I don't want people reading the book and getting the idea that all moms who breastfeed their children are so awful.  And many people already have that opinion, so the book is just going to give validation to their beliefs.

Rosie (the breastfeeding mom) makes no visible effort to discipline her child, and the little boy is a bratty little terror. The central plot of the novel is that an asshole loses his temper and slaps the child at a barbecue.

The book asks us. Is it okay for adults to hit other people's children?

The answer I got from reading?  No. It is NOT okay to hit children. But it IS okay to WANT to hit a child.    

It's about self control.

The average child can be infuriating sometimes.  And some children are above average in that regard.

I am fairly certain (based on what I've read and experienced) that sustained breastfeeding does NOT cause bad behavior.  Although I'm not sure if there could be a correlation in regards to the manner in which a child is breastfed.

Infants are supposed to be breastfed on demand.  Baby starts looking hungry or getting cranky, you stick a boob in it's mouth. On the bus? It doesn't matter. Lift up that shirt.   At a supermarket with a trolley, walk while breastfeeding.  A baby doesn't need to be taught patience. They shouldn't be forced to wait.

The motto should be stop, drop, and breastfeed.    

I'm not so sure it should be the same for a toddler, or child who's older than that. At a certain age, a child can wait.  A child can be distracted.  A child can be given a temporary alternative treat or form of comfort.  A child that age can and should understand limits.

So MAYBE there might be a correlation between mothers who breastfeed their preschool aged children on demand, and lack of discipline.

Let's say it was books instead of breastfeeding. There's nothing wrong with reading a book to a child.  In fact, it's supposed to be healthy...a bonding experience....educational.   It's WONDERFUL to read to a child.  But what if a mom dropped everything and read to her child every time he demanded it? Wouldn't that possibly create the type of child that adults have an urge to slap?

I just went to pee, and stopped to watch Jack play Mario Bros. I think someone should do a study to see if there's a correlation between sustained breastfeeding and video game ability. I'm amazed at Jack's talent.

Now, is he a brat?

Every so often. There have been times in our lives where Jack has acted in a highly unpleasant way.   The same goes for every child and adult that I know.  No one is perfect.

I will say it doesn't come from a lack of discipline. 

That being said....We don't spank. We don't shake or beat our child. Although once I was really angry and threw socks at him. I'm still ashamed of that.

We DO discipline.  We do say no when needed. We do overtly express our disapproval....loudly sometimes.   

Most parents I know discipline their children, and like us....they have reasonably behaved children.    You can read all the parenting books and parenting magazines.  You can follow the advice, do the right thing, TRY to do the right thing, and you still don't get a perfect family.  You still create embarrassing scenes in the middle of the mall.   

I HAVE met families who do not discipline their children, and who do not believe in disciplining their children. They're not pleasant to be around.

Disciplining does not have to be about spanking, shaming, yelling, or punishing. Although sometimes one has to turn to the less evil of those options as a last resort.

But how about just a....

Stop that, honey. It's not okay to knock down other people's block buildings.  

Please don't swing that stick.  You might hit someone. 

Don't kick that woman. It's not nice.   

No.  Screaming that loud is NOT going to get you an ice-cream cone. 

When we were in line at Disney World, I encountered a woman that reminds me of Rosie.  Her son was little....too young to really know any better.  I'd say he was probably younger than two.  I can't blame him for his behavior, but I do wonder what he'll be like in a few years.

I forgot exactly what happened.   He was touching me in some way, not very friendly. He was intrusive.  I guess I'll leave it at that.   And you know, sometimes a baby or toddler stranger will reach out to touch you, and it's really sweet and cute?  It's all heart-warming? Well, this wasn't like that.    I felt the kid's attention was antagonistic.  

That was bothersome, but the mother's reaction was even more unnerving.  She was so blind about her child. She gave off those looks that say Isn't my child the most brilliant adorable creature on the planet?

She refused to consider the idea that her child was misbehaving, and instead decided he was being sweet.  She decided he was being affectionate because he LIKED me.   She wouldn't stop him from pestering me.

I didn't have an urge to slap the kid, but I did look forward to getting away from them.    

Even when babies are being cute with their bold touchiness, I appreciate when parents sheepishly apologize and eventually pull their child away.  In my opinion, that's proper behavior.

Anyway, I don't think it's breastfeeding that causes children to be awful. I suspect one of the causes is parents believing they have the most perfect adorable angelic creatures on the planet.

I think us good parents ALSO believe are children are fantastic, brilliant, adorable, angelic, etc.   But we also recognize that our kids can also be demonic monsters at times.

I think Tsiolkas did an excellent job of portraying the type of mother who drives me batty.  I just wish he hadn't emphasized the breastfeeding bit so much.

Maybe I should counteract that.  Jack is often pretty damn awesome. He's impressed strangers on several occasions.  Maybe when that happens, I should blurt out.   He breastfed until he was 4.5!


Wow!   I love that Jack's not a picky eater.   He's so brave when it comes to eating.


Yes!  Thank you.  He breastfed until he was 4.5!

I've never met a child so polite!

Yes, thank you.   He breastfed until he was 4.5!

He's so smart!


Yes, thank you.  He breastfed until he was 4.5!

When he misbehaves, I'll keep quiet about the breastfeeding thing......

Create Yourself

I had some synchronicity this morning. 

I went on Facebook, and one of my Facebook friends had that George Bernard Shaw quote.  Life isn't about finding yourself.  It's about creating yourself.  

Then a few minutes later, I was on Andrew's blog.  I liked his post about gifts.    

After reading that, I had a sudden urge to look at his blog list.  I don't often do that.

I randomly picked a blog, and it had the exact same quote.

Pretty interesting.

I don't know if I've ever tried to find myself.

I have felt lost before.  But when I was lost, I didn't go searching for me.  I knew I was right there.    I probably searched for other things.  I search for people in my dreams.  That's frustrating.    Jack often wants me to help him search for a missing toy.  I often have to search for the book I'm reading. I'm always losing books.  

The quote reminds me of something though....something I thought about a few days ago.  I had an epiphany. That word always reminds me of Hook, by the way.  

Anyway, I realize that I overly worry about my destiny.  I worry about whether or not I'm on the right path.  I worry that I'm not correctly doing what my spirit guides want me to do.  

See, here I'm proud of myself for worrying less about what my parents and my sisters think of my choices.  And instead I worry about the opinions of invisible entities that might not even exist....although I believe they do.  

It's a bit nuts.

The other day, I even resorted to looking at online tarot cards.

Then I decided I was being ridiculous.

Doesn't it make more sense to just do what FEELS right? 

Sometimes I worry that Australia was the wrong path.  What if I wasn't supposed to become obsessed with Australia?   What if I was supposed to be doing something else, and I read the messages wrong?   But then....who cares?  I'm happy with the way things are turning out.  I love my life. I love Australia.  I love my Australia blog. I love the people in my life. 

So for now on, I'm going to listen to MY mind and MY heart the most.

I'll still pay attention to the symbolism in my dreams. I'll still pay attention to synchronicity.   My eyes and ears shall remain open.  But I'm going to try to worry less about missing signs, and try to worry less about misinterpreting signs.  I figure if the powers-that-be really need to me do something or NOT do something, they can be more explicit, or they can put up major roadblocks.    If they're going to be subtle, I'll just pretend not to notice them....unless what they want is exactly what I want.      

Yucky Oil Mess

I watched some of Stephen Colbert this morning.  He named some of the big stories for 2010, including the oil spill, Julian Assange, and King Tut's penis.

Well, it got me thinking.....

Mastercard, Visa, and Bank of America protested against WikiLeaks by cutting off ties with them.   Now it's very hard to donate to WikiLeaks.  Wow.  Look at the big credit card companies standing up against a guy who MIGHT do harm against the American government.  How brave of them!  How principled!

Okay, so when the oil spill happened.....did they cut off BP's ability to get funds?  

Here we have an organization that has not caused any harm to the United States.  They have just embarrassed the United States.  And then we have a company that caused MAJOR harm to our country. I know it was an accident....but still.   

Maybe they should have been more careful.  

I just don't think we should give Assange a hard time for POTENTIALLY causing the United States death and damages, if we're not going to give a very hard time to a company that DID cause the United States death and damages.   
 
As for WikiLeaks doing harm against the United States.....my discussion with my family has made me think of some things.

A) It is NOT a crime to be against the United States.  You can dislike someone for not liking Americans.  You can be angry at someone for not liking Americans. But I don't see how you can criminalize someone for their opinions.  

B) I don't see how we can blame Assange for America being put into an embarrassing light. The world already has a lot of anger towards America.

C) I get the feeling that right-wing Americans are unaware of the fact that many people around the world look down at Americans.   I think they think that America IS the best country in the world, and that all other nations (except the Muslim ones) are loving us and wishing to be us.  They seem to think everyone adores America....except for bleeding heart liberal Americans, and Muslims.   

D) I think I probably despise credit card companies.  

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pizza and Fruitcake Party

Since my family doesn't worship Jesus, and he likely wasn't born on 25 December anyway....we didn't celebrate the birth of the Messiah today. We did have a Christmas party though.  We had homemade pizza, homemade fruitcake, a box of Vosgues chocolate, and some other goodies.

We didn't have a tree, or stockings.  There was no Nativity Scene, or visit from Santa Claus.   But we did HAVE some elements of Christmas.  The fruitcake had red and green cherries (stock full of high fructose corn syrup and artificial food dyes); and we listened to Nick Lachey sing "What Christmas Means to Me".   

Australians were brought up in the evening's conversation, and not just by me.

My brother-in-law introduced a debate about Julian Assange.

My mom waxed poetic about Simon Baker in The Mentalist.

My sister thought a guy from Street Corner Symphony, in The Sing Off  looks like Heath Ledger. I didn't really see the resemblance.  But we did both agree that Ben Folds looks a bit like Dana Carvey.  

Anyway, back to the Christmas thing.

I LOVE Christmas. It may be my favorite holiday, although we don't officially celebrate it. I think it's something that everyone can love and participate in....each in their own little way.

I don't see the point of getting upset over people wishing others a Merry Christmas....whether they are Christian or not.  But I am equally exasperated with people who get offended when someone chooses the more politically correct route of saying Happy Holidays!   I personally think it's a nice way of recognizing that there are other religions, traditions, and belief systems besides Christianity.  I personally don't think it's necessary, but it's nice.  I'm fine with Merry Christmas, happy holidays, Happy Chanukah, Feliz Navidad, whatever.   

If Christmas WAS just about Jesus and Christianity, I would see a Merry Christmas greeting as being narrow-minded and ethnocentric.  But it's NOT just about Jesus. It's also about ancient pagan celebrations, candy canes, family togetherness, bullied reindeer, rescued snowmen, Chinese food for Jews, lit up front yards, hot chocolate with marshmallows, Santa Claus, fruitcake, and guns that might shoot your eye out.  

Friday, December 24, 2010

Farting Dogs

I just watched a clip from a movie short called Black Talk.  A guy is with his new woman. His dog farts, and creates an awkward moment. They're not at that point where couples can talk openly about such things. The woman seems to think it's the man who farted.  I don't think he corrects her.   

I don't really have any deep thoughts to add to that....just wanted to mention that the woman in the movie reminds me of Famke Janssen.  I think they look somewhat alike. 

The actress in the movie short is Genevieve Hegney.  IMDb says she was on All Saints.    

Slapped With Gratitude

I'm reading The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. 

It's interesting, but definitely not heart-warming.   

There are books that help you escape into a fantastic world.  It's a nice distraction.   Although I love my own life, it's nice to be a high priestess vampire for a few days or or a woman reunited with her many-lives soulmate.

The Slap is not that type of book. Instead it's the type of book that makes me very grateful to be me AND not a character in the book.  

The book has a lot of drinking, smoking, and other types of drug-taking. That's just not something that's part of my life.   I mean I definitely know people who drink.   And I probably have people in my life who do other drugs.  They probably don't discuss it with me because I don't do drugs.   Or maybe I wrongly assume lots of people are taking drugs. It's like when I was in high school and thought everyone except me was having sex.   

I'm not really loving this book, because there's no character I can truly relate to, or respect.  And there's no character I can aspire to. You know, I love Hermione because I can relate to her. Like Hermione, I am often consulting books.  I love to read.  I love to learn.  I can be a bit idealistic. At the same time, I look up to Hermione because she has a magic wand, and knows how to make Polyjuice Potion.

I don't mind books that show human weaknesses.  In fact, if a book doesn't show human weakness, it's crap.  But The Slap is the type of book where the weaknesses strongly outweigh the good stuff.   ALTHOUGH I haven't finished with the book. Aisha sounds like a character I MIGHT like. I haven't gotten to her chapter yet.   

Thursday, December 23, 2010

No Instruments

Now my new site to browse is The Melbourne Music Festival.  They have a list of artists.   I think I'll go through the list, and learn what I can about each one.  Oh, but no....not planning to write a blog post on everyone.

Right now, I'm looking at an a cappella group called Aluka.   I like what is said about them on the Melbourne music site.   The Aluka Ladies were perpetually frustrated by the false notion that you are either a ‘singer’ or a ‘musician’, and that a solo vocalist was somehow less of a technical artist than someone with an instrument in their hands. Perhaps they started the a cappella group to prove a point.   


I'll say amen to that.

A few months ago I jokingly suggested to Tim that I might sing with this musical group he knows. I LOVE to sing.  Okay, so maybe I wasn't 100% joking. Let's say it was maybe 75% joking.

Tim said no.  He said these musical people were judgmental towards people who sing, without knowing how to play an instrument.  That kind of hurt my feelings, and made me feel frustrated.  I actually considered learning how to play a guitar or something.   

I mean....is it even fair?  Are people who play instruments required to sing?  Tim plays the cello very well, but he's not super great at singing.  

I mean in a perfect situation someone would know how to act, sing, dance, juggle, play the guitar, be a pianist, and do their own stunts.  But not everyone is that blessed. 

What has really cheered me up about singing is The Sing Off.   It's a reality TV talent show, and I usually hate those passionately.   But this one...well, it seems it was made specifically to please me.   It's all a cappella.  No instruments allowed.   So it makes me feel okay about not knowing how to play an instrument.  The judges aren't cruel and awful.   They're SUPER nice.  I love them.  They need to clone themselves, and be passed out as parents, teachers, coaches, etc.  They know how to be critical without gratuitous cruelty.  They always find something positive in a performance, even if it's something like You have great charisma!  Yet they don't shy away from giving CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.  

Now unlike certain other talent contests, they don't show initial auditions. We get to see only the finalists.  So I don't know if they're more harsh with the people who are less talented. Hopefully, not.  

I was thinking I could probably do well in an a cappella group. I have a pretty okay voice....at least I think so.  Some people might disagree with me, but that's life.  

The main problem is I'm horrible at learning lyrics.  And I may be the queen of misheard lyrics.    Okay, like the lyrics, Wise Man said....only fools rush in.  I heard that today, and for the first time it sounded clear to me.  Usually, I feel it sounds more like, White man said only fools wear shorts.  

Once my sister and I were at the lake house.  There was some singing game show, and we were laughing hysterically.  They had the song,"Cupid".   Oh, it was a lyrics game. Anyway, my sister and I both realized we have always had the lyrics of that song totally screwed up.  She always thought they were saying Hey kid instead of cupid.  And I thought they were singing Straight to Martha's heart for me instead of straight to my lover's heart for me.     

So, I think if I am ever blessed with finding people who want to sing a cappella with me, I'll be one of those who do the accompaniment singing instead of the lyric stuff. 

Anyway, I'll leave you with a video of Aluka performing.   

And here's a performance from The Sing Off.   

If any of you are reading this at Christmas time....Merry Christmas.   If you're reading it after your Christmas, I hope you had a lovely holiday.   

Politically Incorrect

Some people say we've become a bit too politically correct.  That could be true.....

I do have to sometimes wonder about people in the past.

I've been looking at the website for Luna Park in Melbourne.  They have a page about its history.  

Before Luna Park was called Luna Park, it was called Dreamland.  This was the project of a vaudeville guy named E S Salambo.  He opened his park on 2 November 1906.  One of the initial attractions was called The Destruction of San Francisco.

The San Francisco earthquake happened about six months before, on 18 April.

Isn't that a bit insensitive? 

I mean I know we create fun based on disasters....such as Titanic.  But we usually wait a few decades.  Can you imagine creating an amusement attraction based on the earthquake in Haiti? How about a ride based on the 2004 Tsunami?  Would anyone do a Katrina ride?

It might be sort of okay in like 50-75 years, but not six months after!

The other thing I'm thinking is...maybe this was a prophesy type thing.   It takes awhile to create an attraction.  Right?  What if there WAS no earthquake when they started planning the ride?   In these days, they'd probably cancel or postpone the opening of the ride.   But maybe people were less politically correct in those days.





Edited to add 2/17/15.  The Luna Park history page I linked to is no longer there. There's a new one, but it doesn't mention Dreamland.  I tried to find information about it, and it seems that it might have been a Dreamland in Coney Island that had the San Francisco ride.  I'm not sure if I misread Luna Park's website a few years ago, or if they had provided the wrong information. Or maybe BOTH Dreamlands had the San Francisco ride?

Anyway, if you're interested...I found this website and this other one that talks about the Dreamlands.  The first talks more about Dreamland in NYC, and the other is about Dreamland in Melbourne.  


Edited to add...a few minutes later. Okay. Good. I found an online book that agrees with what I reported four years ago.  

Is the Rhinoceros Originally From Australia?

I had more Australia dreams.  I seem to be having a lot of them lately.

The first came from my dad emailing us last night to say they watched Modern Family.  We hadn't watched it because we thought it was a rerun.   I kind of mildly freaked out, which is stupid because we would have had it taped.  We could have just watched it tonight.  But anyway, it WAS a rerun.   It's just my parents hadn't seen it yet.

In the dream....

Tim, Jack, and I have this game show we love.  It involves travel, trivia, and other fun stuff.   We think the new season hasn't begun yet, but then I realize it has and we've been missing it.  

I watch some of it, and there's a part in which someone asks which of a list of animals are from Australia.  It's one of these games where people try to fool others into picking the wrong answer.   One of the animals is a rhinoceros.  I'm thinking that's wrong.  But someone goes into this story about how they used to be from Australia, but someone took them, by ship, over to the other continents.    I start sort of believing it, but then I learn it was wrong.  

There were more animal dreams, and I'm wondering if it's all supposed to symbolize something.

This part's not really Australia related, but I'll share it anyway.

I'm in a auditorium type place, trying to read a book that's not so exciting.  A woman near me is reading a book, and complaining about people who say that certain books are difficult/hard.   I get annoyed by her, and speak up.  I say she's obviously very intelligent, and so no book is difficult for her. But some people are not so intelligent, and certain books can be difficult for us.   

Then I go back to trying to read my book.  There's this table where you can pick up free plastic animals.   My friend Luke from college comes by and says he once bought me a Minotaur. It's kind of like he's talking to himself...but near me.  I correct him (either aloud or silently to myself).  He didn't buy me a Minotaur.  He had bought me plastic lions.  (This is true in real life).

Then he holds up a plastic elephant.  I'm thinking it's a bit big, but that's okay.   I reach out to take it, assuming he brought it over for me.  But it ends up he didn't. It's all a bit awkward.  

I looked up lions, rhinos, and elephants on a dream symbolism website, hoping it would give me some clue.   I'm unfortunately not good at figuring that stuff out.   

I also looked up information on the whole Minotaur thing. That can be symbolic. All these things have great symbolism. I just don't know how to apply it to my own life an situation.  

OR maybe I do.

I think I kind of have an understanding. Sort of.

It's too complicated to explain though.

Ow. My brain hurts.  

I wish dreams didn't have to be so overly symbolic.    

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our First Australian Shirt

Today my dad kindly allowed me to hack into his Ofoto account.  I wanted access to the old photos he has online, so I could add new photos to my screensaver slideshow. The slideshow entertains me as I exercise.  AND...sometimes Jack looks at them with me, so it's good family history education.  

Anyway, I found this old picture of Tim and me.  I did a double take because Tim is wearing an Australia shirt. This was way before Australia entered our lives.  Then I remembered.   My parents had gone to Australia, and brought us back a shirt.  I'm not sure if it was meant for me or Tim, but it eventually made it's way into my drawer.  I wore it a LOT after becoming obsessed.  By that time, it was well worn and very soft.  Then Jack accidentally ripped it one day.   Not his fault really; the shirt was pretty worn out. 




The shirt picture got me thinking.....

I often (almost always) believe Australia was my destiny.  But ONE of my questions is whether it was decided right before it happened.   Did the powers-that-be say Hey, let's make Dina obsessed with Australia.   It will be a good path for her.    OR....was it decided before I was born?

And if it was decided before I was born, and didn't fully manifest itself until I was in my 30's....did I ever have minor twinges prior to that?   Did I feel some kind of twinge when my parents went to Australia?  How about when Tim wore that shirt?  What about when I cuddled my koala stuffed animal?  When I heard a Bee Gees song?  Was there ANY indication?   

I don't remember.   I wish I did. 

I have twinges these days, pretty much always negative though. I'll be reading something, or I see something.  I suddenly get this horrible feeling of dread.   Then fortunately it passes....pretty quickly.   I have no idea why this happens.   Is it random?   Maybe I'm getting messages from my alternate self in an alternate universe?   It could be related to repressed memories; probably nothing too serious.   Like for example, I might see the word lettuce and get a horrible feeling.   Maybe one day I ate lettuce before getting into a big fight with someone.  I feel depressed when I see lettuce, but don't consciously recognize the connection.  That's just a made up example, by the way.  I don't have an issue with lettuce. 

My other theory (and maybe my favorite) is that I have a twin soul somewhere out there. Maybe we share feelings.  It would explain a lot in my life.

So let's say her best friend yells at her....then suddenly I feel very sad, and I don't know why.

She gets a phone call saying her sister is in the hospital. Suddenly, I feel very nervous....terrified.  

I also get a lot of random physical pain.  Does everyone get that?   Probably.  But what if it's because our twin soul is out there getting hurt?  Your twin soul stubs her toe, and that explains why you suddenly have a random toe pain.   

Hey!  I know!  I'll test it out.  I'm going to pinch my left arm really hard.   If your arm hurt at around 5:00 American central time, On December 22....maybe YOU are my twin soul.  If it ends up you are my twin soul, please try to avoid emotional distress and bodily harm.  Thanks!   

Obsessions Can Bring Interesting Things Into Your Life

I had a lot of Australia-related dreams last night, but I think I'm going to keep most of them to myself.  There's lots of stuff I'd feel obligated to cut out, and if I cut all that out.....it probably wouldn't make much sense.  It would be too heavily edited. 

I'll just give a brief summary and say the dreams involved me having an Australian boyfriend; someone being a fan of Thaao Penghlis; sex; pornographic comedy scenes; and something with Bindy McKenzie.  

Then there was also this dream:

I'm at Blue Ridge Camp in Georgia.   The last time I was there I was a counselor at the Cystic Fibrosis camp.  Now it's been turned into an Australia camp.  I walk towards the cafeteria, and get all nostalgic. I start to cry.

I've had lots of obsessions in my life.  Australia may be the biggest. Another big one was Cystic Fibrosis.  So I think that's what that dream was all about.

I think the dream was brought on by things people have said to me in email lately.

One was a deep thought shared by a very nice Australian man who has also been obsessed with a country before.   He said we shouldn't over-analyze our obsessions, and just enjoy them while they last.   I liked that advice, although I think it fed into my fear of being abandoned by my passion.  What if I stop loving Australia?   How would I fill in that empty space in my heart?  What the hell would I do with all these books I collected?   Do I have to start a new blog?  

The other email was pretty rude, but I think it was sent by a child....so it's okay.  I HOPE it was sent by a child. Otherwise....I don't know.

This person is another non-Australian who is madly in love with Australia. I was initially excited because it's nice to find others like you.  One of my favorite email-pals is a Norwegian girl who loves Australia.  And actually,  she's going to be IN Australia in a few days.  I'm HOPING she might write a guest post for me.    

Anyway though....I thought I'd have yet another lover-of-Australia friend, but it turns out I was wrong.  The new one ended our correspondence by saying SHE loves Australia, and I don't. I'm not in love with Australia, and this is a mistake.   

Yeah.  It WOULD be a huge mistake if I didn't love Australia.  I have spent a lot of time, money, and energy on this Australia thing.  That would be quite a bummer if it ended up  I don't love Australia.  

I'm not sure why this person assumed I don't love Australia.  My guess is she's perhaps overly possessive about her passion. Maybe she couldn't handle the idea of someone else loving Australia the way she does.  

Who knows......

 Then a few months ago, I had a brief email thing going on with someone who believed it was mentally unhealthy to be obsessed with a country.   She had overcome her own past obsession with a country, and I got the feeling she was encouraging me to do the same.  I tried reassuring her that I'm quite happy with my love for Australia, and that it has brought wonderful things into my life.  

So I think those three things led to the Australia/Cystic Fibrosis camp dream. Oh! And also....a friend and I recently talked about being obsessed with countries and other things.         

Yeah. Some of us get obsessed. Is it a bad thing?

I don't think so.  

If you become very passionate about things, you learn new things, you meet new friends, you're introduced to new ideas.  Basically, things come into your life that may not have come otherwise.    It feels like destiny.  It might BE destiny.

The dream I had has made me want to share my Cystic Fibrosis story.  I shared the story once in comments, but I don't think I've written an actual post about it.   If I have, and I'm being repetitive....please forgive me.   

I want to share it because I think it illustrates how an obsession (even if it's regarding a horrific disease) can be a beautiful thing.

So here you go.

It started when I was in seventh grade.  I was at a doctor's office and saw a magazine advertisement about the upcoming TV movie Alex: The Life of a Child.  The story interested me because it was about the death of a child.  I had recently had personal experience with that. Our neighbor (the first child I ever babysat) had died a few months back from an immunity disorder.  

So I watched the Alex movie when it was on television. I think the obsession seed was planted, but I tried to push it away. I tried to ignore it.

There was a girl at our school who kept coughing all the time.  That's a symptom of Cystic Fibrosis.   I became somewhat obsessed with her, wondering if she could have CF.  Yeah. I know. That's weird.

At some point, my friend Ann, from St. Louis, came to visit. This is where we had just moved from, and the place where our sick neighbor had lived.  You know what....I dreamed about Ann recently.

Anyway, Ann came and I remember the obsession trying to push through...despite my resistance.    We went to the bookstore and they had the book Alex the Life of a Child.  I wanted to buy it. I didn't want to buy it.  I bought it. Despite having an out of town guest, I spent a lot of time reading the book. And I remember trying to sneak Cystic Fibrosis into our conversations. 

Let me just say....Ann was a very tolerant and sweet friend. 

My obsession grew, and for the next few years I channeled it in various ways.

I did volunteer office work for the Cystic Fibrosis foundation. My sister and I held basement sales and bake sales to raise money.  We participated in official fundraising events. We became the annoying people who knock on your door.  We're trying to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis.  Can you please sponsor us?

I worked at the Cystic Fibrosis camp.

I carried the Alex book almost everywhere with me.  I even slept with it. I was VERY attached.    

I wrote a short story and play about Cystic Fibrosis.

My first novel was about Cystic Fibrosis, and I later wrote another novel about it.

Then we moved again. I tried staying involved with Cystic Fibrosis, but I missed the Atlanta Cystic Fibrosis community.  I felt disconnected to the Nashville one, and the whole Cystic Fibrosis passion slowly faded from my life.  

Then in my last year of college, I was playing around on American Online chat rooms.   I saw a room called CF.  I thought it MIGHT be about Cystic Fibrosis, so I went inside.   It ended up that it WAS about Cystic Fibrosis.   I chatted a bit, and then started rambling on about going to the Cystic Fibrosis camp; and I blabbed on and on about Jewish stuff.   Judaism was my passion then.   I think I talked about how moving to a new place messed up my obsession because I became attached to a certain community.  I was soon leaving college, and I worried about fitting in with a new Jewish community. I worried another passion would fade from my life.  

Basically, I think I dominated the conversation in the chat room with my self-centered blabbering. 

What I didn't know is that transcripts of the chat room were sent to all these CF families.  I ended up getting an email from this woman saying she had four sons who went to the camp, they're Jewish, AND one of her sons lives in NYC.  I had also rambled on and on about maybe going to school in NYC.

She gave me her sons' email addresses.   I didn't quite remember any of them, but I wrote to them anyway.  They didn't respond....at least not immediately.

Then one finally wrote back.  His name was Tim. He didn't have Cystic Fibrosis, but his three younger adopted brothers did.   

I loved his email. The guy had a great sense of humor.

I wrote back.

He wrote back.

We kept writing back and forth.

Tim helped me remember who he was, because my camp memories were a bit vague. What helped was when he revealed he was Asian. There weren't many Asians at the camp.  

I developed a little crush on my new email-pal.  And I loved that I could show him this side of myself.  At camp, I was extremely shy.  Now I was more outgoing, and I was especially outgoing via email.

We kept writing for a few months.  Then one night he called me.  He greatly disappointed me when he ended the conversation by saying he'd call me again in a few weeks.   I didn't want to wait that long! But he ended up calling me the next day again...or a the day after.  I was so happy.

My parents said we had a wedding to go to in New York.  This gave me an excuse to see Tim in real life.  I was so excited. Then the trip was canceled.   I decided to be extremely bold, and said I'd go off to see Tim anyway.   Tim was nice and didn't think I was some awful stalker person.   He later told me that he had no idea I had a crush on him.  He thought I just wanted a mini camp reunion thing. 
 
I went to New York.  I stayed at Tim's house.  I wondered if the feelings I felt were mutual. I worried that they weren't.  But Tim slowly let on that he might like me. That was nice.

To make a long romantic story short.....   

We started dating.  We got married.  We had a child.

Sometimes I look at Jack and think, I have you because of Alex.  I might not be obsessed with Cystic Fibrosis anymore, but I was left with some wonderful gifts. I gave my time, money, and energy to Cystic Fibrosis.  But I got SO much more back in return.  

Now I have Australia.  That hasn't brought me a husband or child, but it has brought me wonderful friendships.  Some of the friends are Australian, and some are not.  Sometimes it's just a matter of my love for Australia putting me in certain places (or blogs) and I end up meeting people. If I hadn't loved Australia, I probably wouldn't have gone to certain websites, and I probably wouldn't have met one of my best friends.  

Also.....

If I didn't love Australia, I might never have read books about Bindy Mackenzie and her classmates.   That would be a HUGE loss.   

Monday, December 20, 2010

That Demon Barber

Jack is suddenly slightly obsessed with the Tim Burton version of Sweeney Todd.  This is mostly because it has four Harry Potter actors. 

Jack has been asking me lots of questions about the plot.  I have a hard time answering because I've seen only bits of the movie.  So I went to talk to Lord Wiki about the movie and story.   He says it involves Australia. In the musical, I guess Mr. Todd is angry for being sent to the penal colony in Australia.

I decided to get further information, and googled Sweeney Todd and Australia.  I got this website; Sweeney Todd Medical Waste Specialists.  Wow. Someone has a pretty dark sense of humor.

The company's physical address is in Corio, Victoria.  Their PO box is in Lara, Victoria.  That's kind of weird because I got a very bizarre email from someone named Lara today.    I'd count that as synchronicity.  It's not a name I often run into; and today I run into it twice, both times relating to something a bit strange.

Anyway, in the Sweeney Todd story,  bodies are hid in meat pies. Isn't THAT kind of like medical waste disposal? 

The weird thing about the medical waste website is....well, it's not weird. I mean it doesn't look weird.  It looks very straight-forward, professional, serious, etc.

Speaking of Weather Issues.....

The first clip I watched on the Australian Screen website today was from a 1958 documentary called A Town To Be Drowned.  

It's about this town in New South Wales called Adaminaby.

The town's story is pretty amazing.  According to Lord Wiki....in the late 1940's, the town was put underwater because of the Snowy Mountain Hydro-Electric thing.  

Can you imagine getting that notice in the mail?   Hi!  We write to inform you that your town will soon be underwater. Sorry for the inconvenience.  

The town wasn't left to perish.  It was moved; not just the people, their clothes, and their treasures.   But buildings were moved as well. Lord Wiki says the move took six days.  That's pretty impressive.

Decades later....in 2007....an ongoing drought caused the severe diminishing of the lake. Some bits of the town had been left behind, and they started to resurface. That's kind of cool, in an eerie way. 

Here's an article about that.  There're some good photos there.

That's from three years ago though. I wonder if it's gone back underwater since then. Probably not.

I'm not finding much recent information. Email me if you know anything. Please. I'm curious.  

Weird Weather

So it seems the God of Weather is confused about southeastern Australia.  I'm looking at this article now......

It's summer in Australia, but there's cold and snow.

Australians don't usually get a white Christmas (unless they go off on holiday to Europe, America, etc.)  Now they can just stay local, and go to the mountains.

Weird weather.  It's fun, thrilling, mystical, magical.....until someone gets hurt and/or property is damaged.  Then it becomes really scary.

Australia is having scary weather in various places.  A friend once told me that this is usual for Australia.  I probably agree with her. America has some weird weather too.

I guess it's part of life on earth.

You never know what crazy thing you're going to face.  Well, sometimes there's a warning. But even the warnings themselves can be shocking.  Freezing rain? But yesterday we were wearing shorts!

Oh!   Speaking of weather.   Livejournal always has these questions when you come to their website.  Today's question was asking whether you prefer a temperate climate, or one with four seasons?    I definitely pick the temperate climate. I'd love to live in a place that's always between 75-80 degrees.   I could do without winter and super hot summers. Our winter is pretty mild here though, so that's nice.

Tim was thinking it might be an okay for us to go to NYC in January. I talked him out of that.  I prefer wearing shorts, t-shirts, and casual dresses while on holiday. I can be okay with having to do jeans and a light jacket. I'm not into the idea of having to wear boots, hats, gloves, double layers of socks, etc.  

I think we might go in April instead. Hopefully, there won't be any crazy weather.

What's the weather in Fort Worth like today?   I should go check.  

Oh!!!   It's going to be in the high 70's.  That would be the 20's in Celsius measurements. I should take a long walk, or something.   

Australia is Like a Dream

I had an Australia-related dream last night.

I'm on a train, or something like that.   My Australian friend Tracey is there, but it's not like we're on an outing together.  It's more like we just happen to be on the same journey (It's kind of like when you're in school, and everyone heads to an assembly together.  Your friends are with you, but it's not like you made plans to go together. Does that make sense?)

Tracey tells me she meant to forward me a video my cousin Stephanie has made. It's of our trip to Hawaii together (In real life, Stephanie didn't go with us, but in the dream she did).  Tracey offers to let me use her phone so I can call Stephanie.  She remembers that my regular phone doesn't have out-of-country capabilities.  I think it's nice of Tracey to offer, but I'm thinking if I need to talk to Stephanie, I'll email her. And besides Stephanie never responded to my Facebook Friend request, so I probably don't need to contact her anyway.   

There's debate between Tracey and myself regarding Stephanie's nationality. I think she's American, and Tracey thinks she is British.  And this is because of a bakery bag we have with us. For some reason, this bag is connected to Stephanie.  Tracey thinks the writing on it is British.  Whatever.

Then we're in a train station, an  underground type thing.  I realize I've gotten myself separated from Tim and Jack.  The idea now is that we're in Australia.  This is our first day. I have no idea where my husband and child are, and no idea how to find them.  I don't even know what hotel we're staying at.  I'm thinking that next time we need to come up with a meeting place before we arrive at our destination.  I'm thinking a bookstore would be a good idea.

Somehow we find each other (I think the dream skipped the searching part).  We're all at a hotel.   Tim is at the desk checking in.  They tell him he can put his ID away.  This makes him annoyed, because he feels they didn't take the time to look at it and make sure his credit card belongs to him (Tim often thanks people for asking to see his ID when he uses his credit card).  They assure him they did.  I go off to see the rooms.  I have to walk outside.   I look at Australia, and am totally in love.  I think about how it's dreamlike, and what's the point of sleeping when we're here?  Being awake is like a dream.  I start thinking though that Tim is probably getting tired of Australia, and this might be our last visit.

I go into the hotel thing.  I end up on a floor that doesn't have rooms. It just has blow up beds and sleeping bags.  It looks like a mass sleepover. I'm thinking it looks kind of fun, and am wondering if we should try this someday.  (There's idea that other floors had regular rooms, and private toilets)

Tim shows up, and is in a bad mood.  He mumbles something about the fire safety of the building.   That gets me worried, and I get a feeling there might be a problem with the smoke detectors.   A part of me wants to ignore Tim because I like this place, and don't want to ruin things.   Another part of me worries if I ignore Tim, we might end up killed in a fire.

Later....

I'm on a train again, or maybe a bus....it's some form of public transportation.   My mom is with me.  She starts going off on the awfulness of Julian Assange.   I ask her what crimes he committed.   She can't answer, and I can tell she wants the subject dropped.  I then ask what's the difference between what he did, and newspapers do?   I ask, how about newspapers that take things out of context, and then make headlines out of misinformation?   My mom tries to ignore me.    

I got the last part (taking things out of context) from stuff I read last night.  In the article, I got the anti-American comment from, other people commented on how the information of the article was taken out of context.  

Mac Howard of the Gold Coast says Biden did NOT say that Assange was a terrorist at all as this sentence illustrates - "I would argue that it's closer to being a high-tech terrorist." - he was given a choice of two oprions between this and an innocent journalist merely reporting what has been leaked to him (as many a newspaper has). It was terrorist or innocent and Biden said the former was nearest. For crying out loud guys show some regard for objective journalism!

Patrick of Sydney says That really is a misleading headline. I happened to watch the interview this morning, and Biden was making the point that he is closer to the high tech terrorist category than the Pentagon Paper category, after the questioner asked which one Assange was. There was absolutely no unequivocal condemnation of Assange as a high tech terrorist - just a comment on where Assange's activities are on a scale between the two options put by the questioner. The Australian should correct the headline.

I think what I was thinking in my dream (and in real life too) is that there's not much difference between Assange and the media in general.  Could Assange be a danger to American security?   Maybe.  But I think other journalists can do so as well.   You can twist information to create mass hatred, and mass hatred can lead to violence.  It's not just the fault of the media though. It's OUR fault, for the most part. We're too quick to believe, too quick to judge, and we don't take the time to get the full story.    

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Maybe I Change My Mind

Now that I'm thinking of it.....

Maybe the Muslim community DID have it right after 9/11 (generally speaking....here).  If you're going to condemn a terrorist attack, why not also condemn bigotry directed at you?  The thing is some people are just so eager to have an excuse to hate an entire group.   Is the hatred of Muslim Terrorists that much different from the hatred of people who used 9/11 as an excuse to do violence (or speak violently) against Muslims?

I've heard this saying before. If he wasn't Jewish, he'd be an antisemite.  This is directed towards those Jews who speak passionately against the Holocaust and anti-semitism, yet they cheerfully talk trash about Muslims, black people, Mexicans, Polish folks, Germans, Asians, etc.  

It's really not about black, white, Jewish, Muslim, Australian, American, right-wing, left-wing. It's about hatred vs. understanding, and critical thinking vs. hyperbole.   

I still feel I didn't hear enough outrage from the Muslim community regarding 9/11. Maybe they didn't speak loud enough. Maybe I didn't listen hard enough. Maybe (most likely) the media presented things in a certain way.    I don't know.

Maybe they started out vocally outraged about 9/11, but then their feelings got hurt when they saw all the crap written about them on message boards. Maybe they lost sympathy when Bush started the war.

I think what I'm going to do is NOT direct my anger at certain people or entities. I'm going to even try to stop saying things about our evil American government, and our evil bank institutions. Even that's generalizing.  Not everyone in the American government is participating in the Wikileaks witch hunt.

I'm going to direct my anger at a certain personality.  These are the people who are eager to hate and make generalizations.   You know it's like SOME (hopefully a minority) of non-Americans who hate  Americans because they imagine we're all huge fans of FOX news and love George W. Bush.  But by thinking this way, they're VERY much like the Americans who watch FOX news.   They're believing what they see in the media way too easily.   Oh shit.  Now I'm generalizing about FOX news fans. I have friends and family that DO watch FOX news.  They're lovely people.  Oh crap. Now I sound like those people who say Some of my best friends are gay......  

Okay.  Yeah.  I do have my own prejudices.  I'm far from perfect. But I think where I differ from those I heavily criticize is I recognize that I'm prejudiced.   I recognize that I'm hypocritical.  The people that get on my nerves are the ones who think it's horrible to be anti-(whatever they are), but perfectly okay for them to be anti (whatever the other group is).   

Anyway, so for now on I'm not going to think of WikiLeaks/Assange as the heroes and the American government as the villains.  I'm going to think of closed-minded, gullible, manipulative, xenophobic, corrupt, and hateful people as the villains.  The heroes are the people who are open-minded, fair, courageous, and inclusive.  I think you can find these heroes in every country, every ethnic group, every political persuasion, every religion, every gender, etc.  The same goes for the villains.   

Sometimes You Suddenly Realize You're Being Hypocritical

After 9/11, I was annoyed at the general attitude of the Muslim/Arab community.  Yes, some Muslims DID speak up against the terrorist attack.  But it seemed this was greatly overshadowed by Muslims whining and complaining about facing reactive bigotry and discrimination.  

Now I find myself in the same boat. I'm outraged about WikiLeaks. Yesterday, I was close to crying because I read that now Bank of America is joining the witch hunt.  It's a scary and depressing situation.

I haven't had my head in the sand....well, at least not completely.  I have known there are dark spots in the American government.   But this Assange thing has kind of slapped my face with it. You know what I mean?

At the same time, I'm annoyed with some of the comments I read by Australians on various news sites.  Such as Chris from the Gold Coast who says, The U.S. i really hope they never make it out of recession. What they deserve isn't a prosperous economy, what they deserve is to become a 3rd world. They have murdered people in the name of 'freedom' and now they are trying to shut up a "terrorist" because they have been exposed. Great democracy. Might as well be China.

Ouch, Chris.  Thanks a lot.  That kind of hurts.

If he was just talking about our corrupt government, I might agree with him.  But no country is made up of government alone. There are LOTS of people in a country, and it's highly likely that not everyone stands behind what the government is doing. 

That's just one comment of many like that which has appeared in the last few weeks.  It hurts to read them, because I AM American.  So I start to feel all defensive.  I'm angry at a lot of people in my government, MasterCard, Visa, Bank of America, Paypal, the media, and then I also feel angry at ignorant people who paint all of us Americans with the same brush.

But then as my blood started boiling over some of these comments, I realized I'm acting in the same manner I felt the Muslim community acted after 9/11.

 I think it IS okay to be annoyed and hurt by hyperbole and bigoted statements. But I think that really needs to be a secondary concern.  I think the more important thing is to make sure people know that you do NOT support the wrong things that are happening.

It's bad to say prejudice things against Muslims, but it's not as bad as bombing a building full of innocent people.

It's bad to say prejudice things against Americans on a message board, but it's not as bad as a powerful and corrupt government forming a witch hunt, and getting financial institutions to back them up.  

In the end, you gotta put things in perspective and direct your anger at the right things.