Stuff and that.

Stuff. And yeah. That

Category: Blog in May

Aliens

Not that kind of aliens…

The Alienist, by Caleb Carr.

Now, I didn’t do very well with the Blog Every Day in May challenge – partly because some of the post topics were a little um. Personal, I guess. And the main intent of this blog is to talk about books and cooking. Plus, I was getting all outraged and shouty about the Budget, which coloured my thoughts about writing everything really. I’m still outraged and shouty, but being outraged and shouty has just been reducing my blogging mojo and not stopping my reading mojo… Which is really what this blog is all about.

Back to The Alienist.

It’s set in 1896, at the dawn of forensics and psychiatry, and Theodore Roosevelt is thinking about politics and being the Chief of Police.  A good friend of mine recommended it to me, knowing that I like crime n death and serial killers and forensics and all that. And she was right, I liked it quite a lot. It was peculiar reading a book where the fictional characters were also real people at the same time. It was pretty gruesome, but all the gore and grossness seemed to happen in the dimly lit gaslight. It was never obvious exactly where it was going, and sometimes I wasn’t sure that the author knew where it was going. But while I wouldn’t exactly call it a gripping page turner, it certainly held my interest for the duration, and I’m definitely going to read more of Caleb Carr later on.

One thing I did find interesting was the relationships between the characters. Dr Kriezler was a bit of a meglomaniac, Moore was a bit of a dilettante playing at being detective at first, then he seemed to get his act together. The role of women in the book was quite interesting, in that Sara Howard was the first female hired as a police officer in New York – however, it appears that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and she was still subject to the same bullshit that women cop every day today (another thing that makes me feel all outraged and shouty – because, yes. All women.) plus with the added expectation that she get married and be a good wife.

Actually finding the bad guy was almost secondary to the quest and the relationships between the characters and the role of forensics and psychiatry; the actual finding was a bit disappointing and a bit of a let down. I was expecting something/someone different. So I would say that if you like a bit of history with your mystery, it’s well worth your time.

 

Day 16: The best smell in the world…

Smells are very powerful things, capable of taking you back to a space and time that nothing else can… Every so often I catch a whiff of someone and turn around, expecting them to be someone else entirely and my memory and I are alternately disappointed and relieved. My grandmother always wore Giorgio perfume, and Ponds cold cream – both smells take me back to holidays down the coast.

The smell of the ocean, the smell of a thunderstorm just before it rains…

Right now though, the best smells ever are being the first person to walk into my house after the cleaner has been – that smell of clean rushing into my nostrils is amazing.  Of course, it only lasts until the people behind me shove past and into the house.

And coming home late from work to the smell of dinner cooking.

 

 

Day 14 – an image that I love

I don’t know that I have a favourite image – I love the photo I’m currently using as my desktop image at work – It’s a shot of my three favourite blokes in the world. Chaos and Sir Reg are smiling nicely for the camera and Mayhem is being Mayhem. But in six months time, I’ll probably take another picture of the lads that I love just as much (maybe take one with the hound in it as well – she’s part of the family even if she’s not a bloke.) While I grew up in a family of artists, and while I can appreciate a noice bit of art when I see it, I don’t really have a favourite painting/image. I’m more into words than pictures. I also prefer photography to say paintings or sculptures, when I was an angsty teen, I liked the work of David Hamilton (but I think he’s a total creepy perve from the perspective of adulthood)

In the interests of the de-philistination of the Wee Ferals, I took them to the art gallery on the weekend – and while there was much discussion about the prominence of boobies in art, there was at least an equivalent amount of discussion about the modern installations. Probably more – they were quite keen on discussing why something was considered to be art and why something they drew/painted/stuck on the wall randomly for no apparent reason wasn’t. Maybe they’re not total philistines, despite their obsession with the depiction of naked forms in both two and three dimensions. And boobies.

Days 7, 8 and 9 – Inspirational Icecream

I must admit falling behind a little here – partly because I couldn’t think of anyone I would really think of as a mentor, and partly because I wasn’t feeling very inspired (and maybe also a little bit Miss Thing. But you get that.) So, when Day 9’s topic of icecream came up, I was all “you little ripper, something I can get my teeth into” (Bazinga! Mum joke. Icecream and teeth, geddit.) Then, while I was visualising a deliciously creamy home made vanilla icecream, or a light and tangy lemon sorbet (or a pineapple and strawberry gelato). I remembered Bill and Jude.  Now, how could I forget Bill or Jude…

Jude was my first Good Boss. I’d experienced the joys of a not so good boss while working in the bank (which bank?) and the whole “heh heh heh little girl” shenanigans of the middle aged man in a male dominated environment. Anyway, Jude was ex-army, take no nonsense and very practical. What she thought, taking on the rag tag bunch I worked with, I don’t know. There was a mixture of 24 hour partay people (ahem) and the obligatory spinster in sensible shoes, a couple of middle aged housewives working for pin money. We were Odd. Anyway, Jude taught me so much – most of which I didn’t realise until much later, and most of which I adhere to today. Like – she had a dress code.

Now, this was the 80’s – the decade that fashion forgot – so, actually abiding by a dress code was a little strange (however, after working at the bank, where I needed to wear pantyhose EVERY SINGLE DAY EVEN IF IT WAS 40C, it was reasonable) She expected us to dress appropriately for the work that we did. No open toed shoes, no shoe string strappy dresses or halternecks.  She didn’t care about pantyhose, and she said trousers were in fact quite appropriate. We worked in a book shop, and seriously, open toes were a recipe for disaster, as were straps and flaps and frills. So yeah, she taught me that if there is a sensible reason behind a decision someone makes, then it is a sensible decision. And she may well have convinced me that hangovers are not suitable work attire. To this day, I wear closed toe shoes at work, and my personal style is definitely simple and classic and practical – I can pull down a heap of files without being in fear of the Flash. While I do wear sleeveless shirts and dresses, I certainly wouldn’t go for straps or halters. Not. Appropriate.

Fast forward several years – and Bill was my boss (different job, actually I think it was five jobs later – I was flighty in my youth). He was my boss when my dad died, and took it upon himself to give me the odd parental nudge whenever he thought I needed it. He encouraged me to apply for university at the semi-mature age of 31, he wrote my referee report for my application. He was never the “rah rah you can do it yay you” kind of cheer leader.  More the “come on, pull your socks up and get on with it” type. He made sure I was challenged, made sure that I had the support I needed to balance university and working full time, filled in the forms and ticked all the boxes so that I could do both. I bumped into him a couple of years ago, post graduation, and post changing jobs (again) and he told me he was proud of me. That was pretty cool.

Day 6. In ten years time I will be…

Almost half my life ago, I had a mid-life crisis. It was epic. It was so epic that nothing would be as epic as that epic crisis of unforeseen epic-ness. It was all about not knowing who I was and where I was headed and what I wanted out of life, and obviously at the same time, being singularly unhappy with where and who and what I was at the moment I turned 25 (it was so epic that 30 and forty were both ‘just another birthday’).So, I sat myself down and gave myself a long hard talking to. Being a Gemini, I am rather good at this kind of internal conversation, and no, I don’t always win an argument with myself (note my impressive segue to the Post Every Day in May post that I didn’t do yesterday…Gemini, take the good bits, ignore the bad bits – stars this morning indicated I should deal with a ‘niggle’ before it became a full blown irritation. Like, you know, neglecting personal challenges such as this. And after only four days, too.) Anyway, I’m digressing a bit. As Geminis are wont to do. Ahem.

Long hard talking to myself lead me to work out what I didn’t like about my life (everything), what I needed to change (ditto), what I could actually change (as distinct from the fundamental personality flaws that I would have to accept and work around) and I gave myself a time frame in which to do it. I had a Five Year Plan. At the end of the five years, there was only one thing on my list that wasn’t either completed or in progress, and I spent the next ten or so years completing the bulk of the list. Plan, man!

Fast forward another ten or so years and I’m giving the side eye to another milestone birthday in a year or so – maybe if I have a ten year plan, I might actually avert the potential for another Epic Birthday Crisis next year?

So, where do I see myself in another ten years time?

Not retired, that’s for sure. Even before Ole Tone decided we could slave for wages until we were 70, I never really saw myself being the kind of person who’d be hanging up the heels at 60 (or 65 even – I may downgrade to sensible shoes) and settle down to a nice, quiet life in my rocking chair. I come from reasonably long lived stock – the laydeez have had a tendency to live for at least five years longer than their mothers – so if I did happen to retire at sixty (yes, I’m turning fifty next year. Sigh. Denial is not just a river in Egypt), I could potentially spend 30 or more years in retirement, wandering about being a menace to society. What with my short attention span…fair opportunity for a bit of menacing, I give you the tip.

So, ten years time, the Wee Ferals will hopefully be on their way to their future selves, both through high school at least. My family will flux and change – if I’m getting on a bit, so are they, and I’m an only child with all the extra responsibility that entails. I’ll still be working, We’ll be renovating a bus or something like that, so that we can wander off and explore the Great Wide Land (and Tasmania, I’ve never been there before) and do a bit of free range menacing on holidays. And maybe I’ll cross off that one last thing from the Epic 25 Year old list? Nah… I might leave that til the 75 year old crisis.

Day 3. Changing tracks

Now, this is a song that marked a point in my life where things started to head off in a different direction. I’d just broken up with my boyfriend and I was ridiculously unhappy about it. We’d been together for three and a half years, and while we’d been having a few issues, things seemed to be getting back on track with our relationship. I was completely shocked when he ditched me. Anyway, I wallowed in my misery for a few weeks, until New Years Eve (yes, the prick ditched me two weeks before Christmas, and after I’d bought presents for his immense family.) I was spending NYE helping one of my friends paint her house and definitely not doing drive bys past the ex’s house because that would be creepy and weird. Anyway, “I will survive” came on the radio or on a CD (probably a CD, unless it was Triple J?). The Cake version. We sang along in the kitchen (might have sung into the odd paint brush or two)

I went home that night, and wrote a list – a list of pros and cons. And when it took my like ten seconds to come up with 15 things I didn’t like about him, and I struggled to come up with three positives…

I would (and did) most definitely survive.

Day 2. Favourite film

( I’m going to do this “Blog a day in May” thing – I probably won’t do every day because I have a short attention sp – oh look! SHINY! Maybe the ones that fit in my very stringent rules for writing in this blog… or I get bored. Or side tracked. As if that would ever happen)

Favourite movie – I don’t have a single favourite fillum – I have a few. I’m not really the kind of person who will sit down and rewatch a film over and over again so as to get a ‘favourite’. Plus, my attention span is too short these days. Most of the films I like are from ages ago when I didn’t have children and I used to go see a ridiculous amount of movies (pretty much every week – drive in on Saturday nights for a double feature, Tight Arse Tuesdays during the week.). When I was studying, I’d go and get five movies for $10 from the video shop and watch trashy teen flicks to my hearts content (Idle Hands anyone!) while I studied. Since the kids were born, making time to see a film that’s not aimed at kids is more difficult. The last few films I’ve seen are the Lego Movie, RoboCop, Iron Man 3… I can’t remember the last time I went to the pictures to see something without kids (might have been Inglorious Basterds –  Gold Class, followed by dinner, home by 9pm in ma jarmies. Awesome night).

So, a selection of my favourite films can be found below.

1. The Blues Brothers. Car chase. Good music. It’s our Christmas movie – I pop it on at Christmas time while I wrap presents and drink Baileys. Mmm Baileys.
2. Blade Runner. Amazing. Cyberpunk dystopian future where androids are part of every day life (and not just phone operating systems)
3. The Princess Bride – need I say more
4. Breakfast Club/Pretty in Pink/16 Candles/Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – John Hughes movies from the late 80’s were just perfect.
5. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Day 1. My day in 100 words.

(This was yesterday, so I’m late.)

I was late all day yesterday, too. Woke late, bitterly disappointed to realise it was Thursday and not Friday, the day was full of fixing this and doing that and that was before I left home. Work was all “Quick, can you…” of course I can. So I did. But the three things I needed to do? Well, I didn’t. Do them, that is. I was late to collect the children, late with starting dinner. I was late to bed as well. I don’t need 100 words to describe yesterday. I need one. LATE!