Sunday, May 29, 2005

Eye strain, you strain, we all strain for weevils.

Good grief.

I've been a temporary part-time public servant for two weeks and I haven't blogged about it. Not because I didn't want you to know.

Heck no.

It's because I've been so bloody exhausted. How about that. Not that I ever thought people in the public service didn't work hard. No, seriously. I hate snide remarks about government employees about as much as I hate snide remarks about Christians. Or school teachers. Or hunky men who will only give you the time of day if they're wearing a digital watch. (Actually, that one I don't mind too much.)

I'd like to say the government called me in to do crisis counselling with some high-ranking officials who wouldn't speak to anyone with fewer than three undergraduate degrees in unrelated fields, or to do some quick code-breaking on a communication they had just received from their double agent in Belchistan, or to lend my expertise in evaluating the program theory for their next excursion into pico-technology as it lends itself to intra-office diplomacy.

However, their need, at this time, was for someone willing to stare at a computer screen for seven hours a day, and who knew how to use the cut and paste function in Word documents.

I feel I have conducted myself thus far with aplomb. It has certainly been an aplombinable job.

It has, however, left me with a wretched case of eye-strain. Fortunately, a very good friend of mine, Bronzewing, had a knee operation on Tuesday, and so could share her prescription- strength ibuprofen with me when we had lunch together on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, the effects of this wonderful little mothers' helper had worn off by Friday evening, and this, your Honour, is how I found myself lured into the seemy netherworld of Insurance Fraud.

Oh yes.

With a brain functioning only from the medulla oblongata downwards, I calmly and unhesitatingly reversed Bill's jeep into a brand new commodore ute, which was parked half a kilometre away from me in a carpark stunningly well lit by 10,000 unflickering, naked, fluorescent light tubes.

I briefly considered telling myself there was probably only a rubber-smear from my very soft tail-gate, and driving away. Then my curiosity (or was it my conscience?) got the better of me, and I got out and had a look. I briefly considered telling myself their insurance would cover it, and driving away. Then I noticed someone sitting in a nearby car. They hadn't noticed me yet. Then, yes, it was definitely my conscience this time, got the better of me, and I went back to the jeep, pulled a piece of paper out of my diary, and blurrily wrote my phone number on it (the eyestrain) and stuck it under his wiper.

Then I drove away. I added up all the money I had been making which I was going to put towards the kitchen renovations, and mentally redirected it towards paying for a new front panel on the commodore. Then I felt good. I mean, I felt really good. I was so pleased with myself, and immediately started drafting sermons on how once, many years ago, I had been tempted to drive away after dinging someone's brand new commodore, but had decided that the cost to my conscience would have been more than it was worth. I was really relieved, thinking I had narrowly escaped feeling my heart grow hard with self-justification.

Then the guy rang up and, when I told him I wasn't insured, basically because I'm nationally recognised as an insurance risk, he offered to use his insurance and just get me to pay his excess.


And I also accepted his kind words of thanks for leaving my number.

There. Now you know. I'm a complete fraud*.

*Any comments to the contrary will be gratefully and shamefacedly received. Any comments to the similar will be tersely ignored.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Appropriate sources of firewood on a desert island (Part II)

Fred wanted to know what's wrong with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Instead of ranting in the comments section, I think I'll do it, in the words of Fritz Perls, in the HERE and NOW.

Now, here this:

Something wrong with the DSM?! Sheesh, nawwh. It's great reading and very useful if you want to be able to diagnose everyone you know with a mental illness. We all fit in there somewhere.

The DSM is basically a categorised list of symptoms. I don't even like to use the word 'symptoms' because that reeks of the whole medical model.

This is how the medical model works: If you fit one of the categories, then you must be 'sick'. Now, if you have diabetes, that is useful to know, because then you can go to a doctor, and the doctor can prescribe insulin, and you'll feel rather a lot better and you'll stop passing out.

But if you feel really sad, then you figure 'oh, I must be sick, I'd better go to a doctor'. So you go. And the doctor gives you some medicine, and if you take enough of it, you don't notice how sad you are anymore. Your father can ignore you for the rest of his life and you won't care.

Or if you get dignosed with schizophrenia, you take your medicine, you poor sick puppy, and you walk around feeling like you've got a vice clamped over your brain, and you don't have sex anymore, but at least you don't offend as many people.

What sucks about this is that:

(1) people believe the labels they're given and these labels stick (despite the fact that people who hear voices often just grow out of it as they get older, without any drugs or therapy at all)

(2) the book, and the whole medical/ pharmeceutical establishment that goes with it is making an obscene amount of money by making up these labels

(3) the labels in the book aren't even based on scientific reseaarch, they're created by political and market pressures

(4) the book reinforces society's notion that people must all conform to 'normal' as defined by the powerful

(5) the book reinforces the thought that a suffering person is a broken machine that can be tinkered with and fixed, rather than a hungry, sad, afraid, disconnected soul who needs vastly much more than a shot in the arm and a change of attitude.

Friday, May 13, 2005

A tricky thing to do

HB has suggested I list, for your general critical amusement, my favourite books. This is quite impossible because I'm the sort of person who repeatedly blows her clothing budget on books, so much so that the clothes I am currently sitting in are: a floor length cardigan knitted for me by Miffy, a long, blue print sleeveless summer dress two sizes two big that I bought for $1 at a Good Sammys clearance sale, a pair of sandals I inherited from my grandmother who died five years ago, and ... hang on... yes, the knickers, although not new, were new four years ago when my mother-in-law gave them to me.

Ah have ahlways relahed on the kahndness of strayngers.

However, this wicked habit has left me in the helpless position of owning too many books. My procrastinatory nature also means that most of these books, I could still technically say, I'm "currently reading". Nevertheless:

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be saved?

Does the Bible count as one book? If not, then I'd pick Romans. It's the most systematic presentation of the Christian faith and I think, if pushed, we could get by on just that one.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Shaddup. Jesus does NOT count here. And, being an astute readership, I don't need to own up to you about crushes on the many and varied hommes d'amoureux of Mills & Boon fame. Let's just say Mr Darcy and leave it at that.

The last book you bought was…?

A whole bundle in one hit from Koorong. (Well, there was a sale on and there were heaps of bargains I wasn't expecting.) But one that I paid full price for was Liquid Church, because I've been meaning to get hold of it for ages to see if my latest experiments with doing the faith community thing are anything like what he's talking about.

The last book you read was…?

You mean, in it's entirety? Well, that takes me back... I think it was the Wind on Fire series. These books are just three of the zillions that remind me that most of the best writing is done for kids.

What are you currently reading?

Knnff. Knnff, she snorts again through her one unblocked nostril. How about I just list four of them:
A Step Further (the continued theological reflections of a young quadriplegic woman, which has been oddly comforting to me lately)
Evaluation: A systematic approach (an eye-gougingly boring book, with a cover the colour of baby poo. I may have to take up cocaine to help me get through the first chapter.)
Lemony Snicket's A series of unfortunate events (bed time reading with MayDay, who finds morbid consolation in watching the tragic lives of the three orphans go from bad to horrendous. She was particularly fascinated by Aunt Josephine's fatal encounter with the Lachrymose Leeches.)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (in patient anticipation of the Half Blood Prince)

Five books you would take to a desert island…

Anna Karenina because I bought it on special and STILL haven't found time to read it.
The NIV Bible because I'd have time to read it propoerly, despite it's English awkwardness, and do hermeneutic analyses of the bits I don't get.
The Chronicles of Narnia (for when I find it too hard to understand the Bible, and so I can read about Aslan and be reminded what of God's like)
Pride and Prejudice (because it's the only book I've finished three times.)
The DSM (any edition) so I could use it as fire wood.

Who are you passing this stick on to and why?

Sweedums, because it's about time she started a blog, and Polly Waffle, because she does tend to.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Mothers Day

Nick thinks he's got it bad. Hah. Last week, Bill asked me what I would like for Mothers Day. Being the self-indulgent type, I shamelessly put in an extravagant request for a dust buster for my office. You know, one of those hand-held, cordless, conveniently rechargeable vacuum cleaners that you can take anywhere. On Saturday morning, Bill took Noisie and MayDay shopping, and, naturally enough, came home with a DVD player. I heard Bill explaining the necessity of secrecy concerning the DVD player in the hallway to Noisie. MayDay rushed out the back to tell Polly about the DVD player. Polly rushed inside and said "Mum! Have we got a DVD player?" I mumbled something into my coffee about it being news to me, and politely ignored MayDay's frantic attempts to silently silence Polly behind my back. Polly retreated with embarrased haste back to her computer game, and MayDay jumped in with excellent impromptu skill...

MayDay: Mum, do you know what we got you for Mothers Day? It starts with 'K'. Do you like karaoke?
Me: Umm... yeah? Yeah... I guess I like karaoke. Yes, of course, karaoke! I love karaoke.
MayDay: I'll whisper it to you: it's a karaoke machine.
Noisie: (mystified) I thought it was a DVD player.

On Sunday morning, I was woken up at 6am, so the tribe could drag me out of bed to watch them open my presents. MayDay got me three ferrero rocher chocolates. Conveniently, one for herself, one for Noisie and one for Polly. Then they opened the DVD player, which I set up for them. Then we went to my Mum's place, where they told her all about their new DVD player.

It's a good thing Mum made me a roast lunch and bought me a bottle of red, or Mothers Day would have been a complete washout.

Friday, May 06, 2005

This is probably silly...

... but I'm going to attempt to write this post while supervising five primary school aged children. They are home today because Bill accidentally took my car key to work, as I discovered when I packed Noisie, MayDay and Polly into the car for the school run, along with thier cousins, Braxton Hicks and Brightly, and found that the car key was missing from my keyring. Why Bill chose to remove it, I do not know. Neither did he, when I called him at work. He was, however, deeply apologetic, which was gratifying if somewhat UNHELPFUL.


I now have the dubious companionship of five bored children until four o'clock today. We have done the dishes, rotated computer time, made icecream, decorated Mother's Day cards (oh! the cruel irony) and survived, relatively injury-free, the inevitable war between MayDay and myself which eventuates when either of us is any more than slightly frazzled and/or excitable. Today MayDay, with all the extra company, is excitable. I am frazzled. She is currently reviewing her situation from the cosy position of her bed while I procrastinate scraping the remains of a melted plastic jug and chocolate sauce from the inside of the microwave.

The other little poppets are keeping their distance.


Now I suppose I really ought to return to responsible parenting.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

So sue me

OK this might be completely politically incorrect, but I'm going to just come right out and say it:


I mean, I could be fashionably cynical. I could be beatnik and savvy. I could be witty, dammit.

But, just for today, I think I'm going to enjoy liking people. Don't get me wrong; lots of people annoy me, or make me feel uncomfortable. Some people I would rather not spend too much time with. But really, when I'm forced, for whatever reason, to spend time with them, and if I pay attention, it's just really hard not to like them. I think people are just plain likeable.

I bet if I was forced to share a cell with the Burnies, or Osama bin Laden, or George W Bush, or even Oprah, I bet I would like them.

And don't think I'm being all special or anything, because, hey, if I was sharing a cell with ANY of them, that would just prove I'm a criminal. Obviously.