/karen/

I have felt your presents

Monday, 14 May, 2007

So this week hasn't been too bad—more or less manageable with Bible Study on Tuesday night, Pilates and meeting with Naomi on Wednesday, then I got to Thursday and realised, “Aaargh! Lizz's birthday was yesterday!” and frantically sewing in the ends of the birthday presents I made her and blocking one of them so that they would be ready in time for Sunday lunch when we would be able to give them to her.

MM work has been mostly “From the Dean” stuff. My goal is to get through five a day. On Monday I did seven. On Wednesday I did a miserable two. Thursday was another seven (and all before lunch!). And Friday was six. So it wasn't too bad—four days of work and 22 done. I did a tally and, so far, I've done 46 which leaves 25 to go. No doubt they'll be 25 of the hardest ones because there are some I've just been putting off and off. The Dean isn't always easy to edit and sometimes I can't make out the connections in his thinking which are there lurking in the background from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph. Sometimes even after sitting there looking at a thing for two hours, I still don't quite understand how he managed to move from A to B. Nevertheless, doing this project has given me a greater appreciation for his brilliant insights and way of looking at the world, and I hope he'll be pleased with the finished result.

Thursday was also the day of our Product Development Meeting (PDM for short). I took one look at the schedule and my heart sank; the next two months look impossible. It might be manageable if I have lots of good editing days and if I don't have to take any more sick leave, but what are the chances of that??? I have to keep remembering the schedule isn't set in stone. I just need to keep doing my best, and take each day and each task as it comes.

Elsie came around on Friday bearing make-up. We stood in the girls' toilets in front of the mirror trying on the two different types of foundation and the four different types of lipstick she brought to see which looked best on me. Every now and then Jess would walk past and I'd tell her off for laughing at me. Ben had also showed up by that stage so I went and sought his opinion. Even after all this experimentation, he still prefers me without it. I tried this purply looking colour on my lips and it just looked weird. Then I tried a red one. “I look like a prostitute!” I said to Elsie and she just laughed. In the end, she lent me some liquid foundation and a lipstick with a colour very close to the colour of my own lips. She also lent me some lipgloss, and then we read some of Hebrews and prayed together before I had to get back to work.

At 3 I left to go to counselling. When I left, the traffic was actually heaps better than I've ever seen it on a Friday afternoon—it actually took me less than hour to get home. So I had time to do a couple of things before catching the train to Circular Quay and walking up to Chifley Plaza to meet my dad, stepmother and brother at Azuma. Why do I always feel like Japanese food whenever I eat out??? Azuma was delicious—very fresh fish which made for absolutely delicious sushi. We also got cold green tea noodles, teriyaki duck and fried flounder, plus green tea ice cream for dessert. My father brought back the rest of the books I'd ordered off Amazon, which included The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem, Surviving the Breakup by Judith Wallerstein and others (this was the one written at the five-year mark of their landmark study; I already own and have read the ones at the 10-year and 25-year marks) and Adventures in the Dream Trade by Neil Gaiman (which contains the whole of the American Gods weblog. Kathleen and I took turns reading it to each other in Melbourne in 2005—jolly good fun).

We had to go pretty soon after that because I had won a free double pass to see Infamous (courtesy of Kinokuniya) and it had to be used that weekend (for the advanced screenings) and then only at the Dendy Opera Quays. This is the third lot of free tickets I've won this year. The first was for Miss Potter and the second was for The Lives of Others. We ended up sitting just behind Sandra Hall who writes for The Sydney Morning Herald. I don't think she's written her review yet. (Ed: now she has.) I hadn't seen Capote with Philip Seymour Hoffman, but from what Larissa told me, Infamous was a very different sort of film. I liked the contrast between the light fluffiness of the New York scenes and the darker, moodier and somewhat bleaker landscape of the Kansas scenes. Capote was a more likable character in Infamous from the sound of things. You're on his side from fairly early in the piece because, for all his quirks, he's quite charming and amusing, even though he does some pretty despicable things. Daniel Craig plays Perry Smith, one of the killers, and he does a fantastic job. He makes you really empathise with Perry and the circumstances of life that have made him what he is, but then suddenly he'll turn and you'll remember he's actually really dangerous and violent. The whole story is rather sad and awful (and the cynical part of me wonders whether certain plot developments were actually just wish fulfilment) but I certainly enjoyed it and it gave me a lot to think about afterwards—the nature of art and writing (Sandra Bullock, who plays Harper Lee [author of To Kill a Mockingbird and Capote's oldest friend] had this great line about writing books—how you give and give and when it's published, it's just swallowed up by the public and they start asking you about the next one and it all becomes so daunting because now you know just what it will cost you). And I didn't realise Gwyneth Paltrow is actually a half-decent singer.

Afterwards, because I felt like I hadn't seen Ben all week, he and I went for tea and cake at City Extra. Then we caught the train home.

On Saturday I got up early and started preparing for EQUIP—ironing my clothes, cutting off loose threads, printing out the passage I had to read, etc. The trains were out so I caught a bus into the city, walked to Darling Harbour over the bridge and then had lunch at Narita—vegetarian udon noodles and green tea. They let me sit there for about an hour, and I worked on an article I'm trying to write for Magnolia. Funny, these days I feel like I can't get any writing done unless I go somewhere and conscientiously try and get it done in the time available to me.

Then I went into the convention centre and applied the make-up. As soon as I came out, I saw Alison who directed me to Bek who then directed me to someone else who was handling the soundchecks. The band was still practising so we had to wait but the string quintet and the harmonies sounded awesome. There was a lot of to-and-fro-ing and communication between the people on stage and the people at the sound desk. At one point, the lady with the headset got me and Claire Smith up on the stage to do the soundcheck, but then the musos started up again. But we finally did our soundcheck and all was good, so I dashed off to Lesley Ramsay's elective on motherhood. “You're in the front row,” said Garry. “Yes!” I said, and took my seat next to some strangers who struck up conversation with another lady who got ushered into the second row but didn't really want to be there. To be nice to them, I moved over so that she and the friend she was waiting for could sit next to their friends and I could sit on the end where there was more space to put my stuff and spread out a little. (There's so many advantages to the front row; why don't more people use them?) Anyway, Lesley Ramsay's elective was fantastic—really meaty, canvassing the far reaches of the Bible, very helpful in helping us think through God's plan for family and how motherhood fits into that. About halfway through, it struck me that I might well be one of the only childless females in the room. The thought didn't bother me too much but it did make me wonder how some of the things that Lesley talked about applied to married childless women—for example, making sure that your primary energies are focused around the home so that you are keeping your best for your husband and family as opposed to your boss.

After this was afternoon tea and, as I hadn't come with church people (because church people decided not to formally get a group together this year and I didn't know anyone from church who was coming), I went out hunting for people I knew. There weren't as many as previous years or perhaps I was looking in all the wrong places. I headed outside where I ran into some and then got tied up talking to them. They were actually Daylight people who were just leaving. Then I realised it was 4pm and hurriedly got myself back in the auditorium.

Of course, being alone, I didn't know where to sit—to be an obvious Nigel and sit alone or find some friends. I saw Juliette looking a little lost and suggested that we sit together, which she was quite happy to do as she'd lost track of her St. Michael's people.

This year the people up the front were much warmer and more personable than last year. I felt more connected to them, and the girl humour didn't irritate me as much. I liked how Alison did these spot interviews and book reviews live from outside the auditorium. Ken's design work was, as always, absolutely beautiful (he did all the slides). The music sounded great (though it still bemuses me why they need so many people on stage). I did my reading just before Di's talk and it went fine (hope the make-up did its job on the giant screen). The teaching was, as always, excellent, though Kara's talk was interrupted by some very loud music being played downstairs (later Isobel apologised on behalf of the convention centre who then offered us free drinks and chocolates) and Di Warren spoke a little too fast for me to keep up. I was also left pondering the applications we had been given. That's something I'd like to write a bit more about later but not now—I need to finish this post and go to bed. Oh, and I ran into Larissa during the break and she showed me how to apply lip gloss.

Anyway, after it was all over, I walked back to Town Hall, talking to Ben on my mobile (sometimes I get paranoid about walking places by myself in the dark and so I give him a call). He was in the city anyway—he and Luke and Luke's sister were going to see Architecture in Helsinki at the Metro. They were in the queue when I got there, and I stopped to say hi, then caught the bus back home, made myself Cream of Chicken Soup with sweet corn and noodles for dinner, and watched Sideways which I had taped from a couple of weeks ago, and last week's Gray's Anatomy. At midnight I messaged Ben to find out where he was. He had taken the bus back but then the bus had gone the wrong way and he'd ended up near the Williams's. So I got dressed again, hopped in the car and went to pick him up.

Today I was supposed to get up at 9:30 but I didn't get up until about quarter past 10. I wrapped presents and wrote in cards, and then Ben and I left to go to Judith's to pick up boxes (we lent her boxes so she could move), then drove to the Beilharzs for a very yummy barbecue lunch in the backyard. Us kids pitched in to give Cathy a massage voucher for Mother's Day. Ben and I gave Lizz some things I knitted (some fingertip-less purple gloves

Seaside gloves
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an Odessa hat and a shrug)

Odessa hat and Shimmer shrug
Odessa hat and Shimmer shrug--back view

and Step Up on DVD. Fortunately everything fit and she really liked them.

After lunch we drove to my mum's place to give her her Mother's Day present. Strangely, she had all these presents for me. She had just been Canada and she brought us back a bottle of real Canadian maple syrup because I'd asked her for some. (Real Canadian maple syrup and bagels are two things I really miss about Canada; Australia is absolutely hopeless at both. You guys are fortunate you don't know what you're missing out on.) She had also been to see family friends in Toronto and one of them—the one who got me into making things with plastic canvas when I was a child—has started getting into Chinese knots. She gave me a fish made of Chinese knots which we've now hung from the rearview mirror in the car (we're going to see if it gets annoying). And my mum also brought me back some NLM Glass Arts beads—including two strings of garnets. (Previously I've only knitted with plastic beads.) Plus Peter had just come back from Japan and he had brought me a lovely little bag. He had also brought back these little wooden figures for my mum:

Japanese wooden figures: four seasons

We got home at just after four and Ben got stuck into his congregational ministry assignment while I watched last week's Law & Order: Criminal Intent and kept working away at my latest scarf. (I think I've finally worked out who I'm going to give it to.) We went to church (I was not on band for the first time in six weeks) and Cameron preached on Deuteronomy 10-11. I was feeling rather drained from the weekend and I don't think I took it in very well. I got into a conversation with Ken about EQUIP and he asked me what I would do differently. I had to really think about that, and said I really was the wrong person to ask because, as I'm starting to realise, I'm not your typical girl.

But bother; it's nearly 11:30 and I should really have been in bed an hour ago. Goodnight!

Posted in: Story of my life
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Whew! Long post. But that equals big weekend!

I’m so glad Elsie offered to help with makeup - I wanted to, but I’m such a novice at it, and I have no idea when it comes to Asian faces!

I was going to go to the motherhood seminar - but I didn’t go to Equip at all.

I guess I’m not equipped!

Anyway, hope you’re okay and not too stuffed. What’s the From the Dean about?

Hmm. Maple syrup and bagles. And my friends give me a hard time for having bacon with maple syrup and waffles smile

K.

Ooh, bacon with maple syrup and waffles!  Sounds fantastic!  French toast with bacon and maple syrup is a brunch favourite in my family.

Woohoo!  I scored two mentions in this post! How exciting!

I thought you read very well!!! smile
and looked great on the big screen too - I was up the back so I needed the screen smile



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