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Wednesday, 21 May, 2008

Monday 5/5/08

Back at work, I got in at 10 (since I had worked a bit the day before). I still had the Bible Brief to go for The Briefing. It was painful but I did it in a rush at the end of the day while continuing my epistolatory soliloquy to Bec and Guan. I worked until 6:30, then came home to eat leftovers with Ben and watch TV.

Tuesday 6/5/08

Once again, this was to be a week of not-quite-getting-in-by-7:30. I arrived at the office at 8 and sent most of the June Briefing off to Joy for layout. Then I spent the rest of the day helping Tony finish the rest of it. I ended up writing the “In this issue” (hardest 300 words in The Briefing) and by the end of the day, the entire thing was done. I sent it off to Joy, then went home at 3:30. On the way home, I stalled my mum's car three times at the intersection of Canal Road and the Princes Highway, and the woman behind me rolled her eyes, and a truck overtook me in the turning lane turning right.

I got home and it was a short turnaround to catch the train to Town Hall and walk to Kinokuniya. I wore my dress coat, boots and scarf—the latter I nearly lost at the intersection near Town Hall because some guy grabbed it (I think he was aiming for my bag). So I was quite flustered when I got to the Kinokuniya café where Bec and Guan were waiting. I bought Stardust and Odd and the Frost Giants for Tina, then joined them. They offered me some brownie but I said Bec needed it more. I contemplated getting a hot chocolate or chai latte but decided what I really needed was water.

Bec and Guan at Kinokuniya

It was 4:45 and there were already people queuing. The area set up near the magazines had been organised with belt barriers in a zig zag fashion reminiscent of the entrance to rides at Disneyland. The front two rows were already filled so we settled into the third, sat on the floor and talked and I knitted. The place quickly filled up (500 people were coming, I was told). Fish SMS-ed me to say he was on his way, and then called when he got there. He slithered his way in between shelves and barriers to join us and no one seemed to mind that he was jumping in ahead. Despite having been told the day before that the signing limit was three items, there were now prominent signs saying that the signing limit was two and that Neil would only personalise one item. A woman came around with heart-shaped Post-it notes and wrote names on them to speed up the signing process. Another woman had slips of paper on which we could write questions whic were then placed in an empty fishbowl. Bec, Guan and I tried to do a writing exercise about Neil Gaiman books.

Gaiman fans queueing and sitting on the floor

Then finally the proceedings got started. Neil came out and was enthusiastically cheered. He as introduced by a lady who was so nervous, the piece of paper she was holding shook. She reiterated the rules, but when he got up to speak, he said he would break the rules and personalise everything (everyone cheered at that). And then, even though he was out to promote M is for Magic (these are Gaiman short stories suitable for kids, and most of them can be found in Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things) and The Dangerous Alphabet, he read to us from The Graveyard Book (yay!) He read two excerpts and then answered questions from the fishbowl (saying he rather liked the fishbowl idea [which was rather Gaimanesque anyway]. Unfortunately, even though I put in two questions, he didn't answer either of them).

Neil Gaiman does a cat impression
Neil Gaiman talks with his hands
Neil Gaiman looks down and scuffles his shoes
Neil Gaiman looking left

Then at the end of it, the signing began. He seemed resigned to the fact that he'd be there all night (shows you what dedication he has to his fans!) but the Kinokuniya staff were very professional and moved things along. They passed around an A5 Moleskine for us to sign (Fish and Guan declined; Bec and I wrote gibberish in it ... okay, I wrote gibberish in it). Later it would be given to Neil. Next to the signing table Neil had left page proofs of The Graveyard Book and we got to flip through them and gawk at David McKean's beautiful artwork.

Next to the signing table, the lady who had done the introduction acted as his assistant, making sure that everyone had the appropriate Post-it notes and that things were opened to the right place. He signed the copy of Stardust I bought for Tina and my DVD of Mirrormask (and I managed to get the third item in with Fish because Fish was only getting his journal signed. Unfortunately, as Neil was personalising everything, the cat on the front of my audio CDs of Coraline now says “Dan!”).

Neil Gaiman books on display

While he was signing for me, I asked him if he got to talk to Jack Zipes at the Children's Book Council of Australia 9th national conference and expo in Victoria. He said that they were going to have dinner together but the dinner got cancelled because Zipes and his wife fell sick. I said to him that I thought that his views on fairy tales were fairly similar to Zipes, and did he think so too? He said yes, they were similar, but he liked arguing with Zipes. And then I had to move on so there was no time to ask him what he liked arguing with Zipes about.

Neil Gaiman signs a book for Guan

Afterwards, we headed to Sakura for dumplings. Bec couldn't face ordering, so Fish, Guan and I took care of it. (The soft shell crab rolls are excellent there, by the way!) Then we parted ways and I caught the train back home with Fish.

Wednesday 7/5/08

Day off—hurray! We woke up fairly early and walked to Newtown to see Paris at the Dendy. (I won free tickets courtesy of the Sydney Symphony.) It was an okay film.

Afterwards we had lunch at Guzman y Gomez (yummier than I expected). Ben went home to do work but I walked around to do shopping errands. I was trying to find something small to give as a wedding present along with lai see as a wedding present for Pauline and Zhen. I looked in Holy Sheet, then Opus and finally wound up in Eastern Flair (crazy shop, that one), where I picked up some kitchen-y items (peeler, beater, nut cracker, etc.) I also went to Tree of Life and found a white cotton dress on sale for $15. Then I walked to the button shop to get a replacement button for my duffle coat, walked to Enmore and stopped at Amazing Paper on a whim and bought ribbons for my hair for Lizz's 21st party.

When I got home, Ben was rather down. He hadn't done much. I suggested he take a break so we watched some TV together. Then I did stuff on the computer and started cleaning the house because Lizz was coming over for dinner and would stay the night. She ended up arriving later than expected and it turned out she was not staying the night.

She and Ben went and practised for the evening's performance while I got dinner together. We ate and they went back to practising and getting ready while I did the dishes. At quarter to 8 we hopped in the car and went to the Petersham Bowling Club for the gig. It had been organised by a friend of Lizz's and it was to raise money for the club. Unfortunately nobody showed up for it. It was just us and my in-laws.

When we walked in, Lizz's guitar teacher was playing. He was quite good. He played for a bit longer because he had an audience, and even did one of his original compositions (which I very much enjoyed). Then Lizz and Ben were on. I played roadie and helped them set up. Hans had brought the amp but we didn't need it in the end (annoying!!! That thing is heavy). She sang some jazz standards and then some pop songs—including “1234” by Feist which she dedicated to me (!).

Then it was over, so we helped Lizz's friend pack up and load his car, Hans and Cathy dropped the amp off at our place (and helped us carry it up the stairs) and then they went home.

And then Ben and I had a fight and didn't sleep too well.

Thursday 8/5/08

Back at work (got in by 8), I was cranky and irritated with everything, and was IM-ing to Bec and Guan about it. We had a cake for David's birthday and I got into conversation with Alison about church. Bec came by for lunch, bearing gifts: a plush Chibi Totoro for me and a black dust bunny for Guan. We ate lunch together, and I broke out the white tea Buddha balls that Fish had given me from World Par-Tea. The ball unfurled like a Cthulhu and I wanted to photograph it but had no camera.

I left at 4:30 and Ben and I made up. We caught the train to St James and went to the Sheraton on the Park to meet my dad and Helena for dinner. We were early, but then so were they. (If I'm even a minute late, my dad will always call me, so this time I thought we'd get there early and they still beat us.)

We ate in the Botanica Brasserie which had a buffet spread like something out of every Asian's dream—particularly the seafood part: sushi, oysters, mussels, smoked salmon, tuna, etc. We ate three full courses, and in between getting up and helping ourselves (it was all-you-can-eat), we talked property, my dad giving us all sorts of advance on borrowing and buying.

Afterwards we said goodbye and caught the train home. And then I stayed up too late again on the computer.

Friday 9/5/08

At work (in at 8!), I tried to be focused: I wrote a To Do list and stuck to it. I prepared for The Faithful Writer committee meeting that was going to take place that afternoon, I transcribed a talk by Phillip Jensen from last year's Gospel Growth vs. Church Growth conference and almost finished it. And I ate a proper lunch instead of munching at my desk.

I needed to make a quick getaway following the meeting, so Tony and I drove up to New College in my mum's car. I rang Bec to see if she wanted a lift but it turns out she was at home and had forgotten. She went out and promptly caught a bus. The meeting went well—we were very productive (but now I have to do the minutes!)—and we wrapped up around 4:30. I dropped Tony back at the office and then drove home.

Once again, I had a very quick turnaround. I caught the train into the city. Ben was running late; traffic from North Ryde was insane. I went and got movie tickets and was shocked at the transformation of Greater Union George St. (It's so much classier though!) Fish met me there. We waited for Ben near the box office but he SMS-ed to say he'd be on the next train, so we went down to World Square to find somewhere to eat. We ended up at Renato and I SMS-ed Ben directions. Ben wasn't heaps hungry so he just had a salad, but Fish and I split pizza and herb bread. Bec joined us as we were finishing up (Guan and Liwen unfortunately couldn't make it). Renato's didn't have very interesting dessert so we ended up at Jet Caffe Bar (spelt the Italian way, says Bec) and I got a coconut gelato and a chai latte (too much! Good thing Ben finished it off for me).

We were almost late for the movie but fortunately Fish was keeping an eye on the time so we made it just as the lights were going down. There were people in our seats but we evicted them. And then we sat back in those comfy G-Max cinema chairs and watched Iron Man which I think I enjoyed a little too much.

Afterwards we parted ways: Bec went to catch a bus/cab, and Fish, Ben and I caught the train back to the inner west.

Saturday 10/5/08

EQUIP Women day, but I was not going this year. Ben and I slept in, then spent the remaining hours preparing for the wedding: looking up the location, getting directions, making sure our clothes were all nice and ironed, dressing, doing my hair, doing my make-up (using liquid eyeliner for the first time). We set off in the car 15 minutes later than I'd like and there was bad traffic on the way to the zoo, and we did a wrong turn and had to double back, but we arrived just as the bride and her entourage pulled up in their limousine. And I got to say hi to her briefly before heading inside and into the covered area where everyone else was sitting with a gorgeous view of the harbour and city skyline.

Ben and Karen at Pauline's wedding

I chatted briefly with my school friends. I thought we were going to have to stand because there were no more chairs, but then they put out some more. We waited. And then finally Pauline came down the aisle, and she and Zhen got married. It was all over very quickly (I keep forgetting that non-Christian weddings are shorter, there being no singing and no sermon). The bridal party were whisked away for photos. I caught up with some of my school friends (except Ynping who was playing in the string quartet and was therefore otherwise occupied). We took some photos. Then Ben and I had to scoot.

We headed home again and changed. I touched up my make-up and put ribbons in my hair. Then we got into the two cars. I drove my mother's car back to her house. I went to put it in the garage, but then realised Peter's car was too close to the door, and then realised he was home. So I knocked on the door and said hi and gave him the keys.

Then Ben and I drove in our car to our old old church at Gymea. The place had been transformed, and all the stuff they had talked about doing—all the building, etc.—had now been done so there were decent facilities around the back of the church.

Lizz's 21st was in full swing but people still kept arriving after we did (and we were late). The theme was “music” which was a little tricky. Some people were pretty obvious (e.g. my brother-in-law was Alice Cooper, complete with eye make-up, and Ben was Mozart:)

Ben dressed as Mozart

But with some, you really had to ask. I mean, you can't tell that I'm supposed to be Amy Lee from Evanescence now, can you?

Karen dressed as Amy Lee

(I figure that the key to any costume party is to have an elaborate and impressive costume, and since I own a fair amount of goth gear, this was easiest, even if my garb is nowhere near the gorgeousness of some of Amy Lee's clothes.)

I caught up with some of Ben's relatives and the music teacher from high school (she was never “my” music teacher because I never studied music in high school, but I was part of the senior vocal ensemble, which she led). Tim MC-ed and gave a speech, as did Ben and Ange (who had Björk's swan dress on; I was so impressed—she made it herself!) and finally Lizz. Then we had SingStar and then the party wrapped and we helped clean up.

And then Ben and I drove home and collapsed.

Sunday 11/5/08

We had a much-needed sleep in. I spent the day catching up on blog reading, New York Times-reading and Salon.com-reading. I also did the laundry, finished transcribing the talk by Phillip Jensen, started pulling together the material for the July/August issue of The Briefing and then started panicking because it didn't look like we had enough.

I didn't want to go to church but I did. Ben didn't (he was also rather sick). I was on Bible reading. I felt really depressed at church and sermon, which was on Christ alone, didn't help. I came home straight away and made Ben a stir fry with fish tofu and canned vegetables (as we were all out of fresh stuff and the IGA was shut).

And once again I stayed up too late.


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Ahah - another use for scarves. Thief-deflectors!

I like that Neil likes arguing with Zipes. It just sounds collegiate, somehow. Also, if you want to know what they argued about I *think* it was about bad children’s books. There is a link to a mention of it somewhere in the May Aus Specfic carnival on my blog.

I wonder if you could do a video of dragonballs unfurling to Lovecraft read in sepulchral tones.

Heheheh ... can’t promise anything but I’m definitely keen on photos!


Kinds of Blue: Cover art



A way of funding writing in the future: pitch and idea and get people to support it.

Place where you can hire play equipment for parties, etc.

How to recalibrate the home button on your iPhone.

Unsolicited manuscripts accepted by Pan Macmillan with certain conditions.

Thought Balloon is a group blog in which the writers tackle a new theme every week? month? with one-page scripts. This URL is for their Phonogram ones.


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