Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Word of the Week


Because it's a major theme in the Novel of Doom.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Reading A-Z: Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility

It was impossible for her to say what she did not feel, however trivial the occasion; and upon Elinor therefore the whole task of telling lies when politeness required it, always fell.
-Chapter 21
I read bits of the introduction of this novel first, and was surprised to find that it is another contender for ‘Jane Austen’s worst novel’. I don’t really get why.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reading A-Z: Jane Austen's Mansfield Park

We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.
-Fanny Price, Chapter 42
I was about a third of the way through Mansfield Park when I first came across the idea that as a novel, it was not well liked. I have to say, I was a bit surprised, and even more so when I realised that the reason was Fanny Price!

I agree that Fanny is not Elizabeth Bennet, but I think she is different and not inherently inferior. In fact, as much as I’d like to be Lizzy, the reality is I am probably much more like Fanny (and lest you begin to think that my appreciation of the novel is purely narcissistic, let me say that my friend TH 11-Geek, is probably much more like Fanny than I am – I kept recognising bits of my friend in Fanny’s behaviour, particularly in her behaviour towards Mrs Norris and her cousins Maria and Julia).

I think Mansfield Park is novel much more about the interior than some of Jane Austen’s other novel. Fanny is much less active, obviously, but this is less important, because Fanny’s role is that of the observer, and the novel is, I think, more about Fanny’s inner life in response to the people around her than anything else.

I also think that Fanny is much stronger than people generally give her credit for – far from being the doormat she is painted, she is capable of standing up for what she believes in. True, she isn’t so good at standing up for herself, but is that any wonder, moulded as she has been by Mrs Norris, and forced into agonies of gratitude by her position as the poor relation? When it counts, when it is a moral ideal that needs defending, Fanny doesn’t falter, both with regards to the play, and, in my favourite section of the novel, when Sir Thomas is pushing her to accept Henry Crawford’s proposal.

Even though Fanny is used to yielding to other’s wishes, even though she longs never to be ungrateful, even as she driven to tears she stays her ground. Fanny’s triumph is a moral triumph. I must admit though, I did find Edmund quite foolish and insipid, and though I recognise it would have been quite impossible in Austen’s day, I think true happiness for Fanny could have been found alone.

The Reading A-Z

We just recently had a rental inspection, in which our landlord and The Ditz (aka the estate agent) visited out flat and made sure we hadn't demolished, burned or otherwise redecorated the place. The Flattie was absent, being employed full time. I got to watch these two illustrious personages tramp all over my home with those scariest of things - clipboards.

This meant I cleaned and tidied for most of the three days previous, and also meant that I shelved a lot of books, which were in piles... everywhere. In doing so I have made a shocking discovery: there are over fifty unread novels on my bookshelf. Some are novels I bought before my year abroad that I was obliged to leave unread, some are gifts that I (slackly) haven't cracked, but the vast majority are books I have bought when I was feeling blue, buying books being my chief method of cheering myself up.

And so, I have put a moratorium on myself, and decided that I will buy no more books til I have read the ones I own but haven't read. In alphabetical order (mostly) because I am anal like that. And in order to prove to myself that I am doing this, I will blog each book as I finish it. First up: Austen, Jane: Mansfield Park.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wardrobe Adventures

Alas, not Narnia.

I finally got a job. First shifts were over the weekend.

I don't want to talk about the job - it's waitressing, and why the hell did I decide to work in hospitality again?

I want to talk about my clothes.

On Saturday, I wore a tshirt/ bra combination I'd never worn before, and I kept on getting distracted. I'd look down, and go: wow cleavage! I mean, wow. There were boobs in my shirt. Having read a lot about slut shaming and the policing of women's bodies recently, I was kind of hoping to notice people treating me differently, but apparently my new!improved!boobage was noticeable only to me.

Sunday was much more embarrassing. I delivered a coffee to a little old lady, who stopped me to say "dear, you have a hole in your pants. I can see your undies". Luckily, I had safety pins in my bag, and disappeared into the loo to do surgery on my pants. I'm buying black jeans today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I wish I had a pithy title

I have stuff. My furniture arrived, the big Ikea bookcase is up (incidentally, this has led me to realise the source of Ultimate Evil is, in fact, Ikea. Just watch, I bet all Ikea products are rigged to go off and trigger the doomsday scenario. You'll know I'm right when the Apocalypse hits). I did my wrist in, and the next day ached in places I didn't know I had places. But the flat looks a little more like a home (a little: there is still so much cardboard and plastic wrappings and moving detritus everywhere, it looks a lot like a disaster zone. Interestingly, The Flattie is the main culprit, even though she has had her stuff for longer).

I am getting back into the swing of things re: Uni. I am suffering, though, from not having the net (and wow, is my priviledge showing here or what?). The person shows up in mid-April, until then, I have to come to Uni to get online, and since most of my course is online, I am coming into Uni a LOT.

Also regards Uni: I had to buy eight novels (well, six, since I owned two) and one of them The Sexual Life of Catherine M. was only available at Abbey's. Since I am a half hour bus ride away from Uni, I started reading it on the bus home. When I read, I get very absorbed in the book, so the first I knew of the small boy who sat next to me was when he turned to ask his mother what a 'cock' was. Cue me snapping the book closed and shoving it into my backpack, but not before the entire bus glared at me.

Careers fair was today. Very depressing. Apparently the only people who want Arts Grads are Tax offices: and the reason I did Arts was so that I would never have to work in something as soul destrying as Tax! (No offence to tax people out there, if you enjoy it, more power to you.) The Careers Fair has, however, cemented my desire to get a PhD and work as an Academic. It's a goal, don't laugh at it.

And now, a meeting with my Tutor, justifying my choice to set Little Red Riding Hood in the abandoned tunnels at St James Station. Hurrah!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Adventures with a Phillips head screwdriver

So, the delivery of Ikea stuff came off fine. And then came the assembly. I assessmbled a desk, and the little bookcase that the desk attaches to. It was difficult, because though I am the Allen Key Champion, I suck at anything requiring a screwdriver (I'm sure there is a dirty joke in there somewhere).

It was difficult, and somehow The Flattie managed to sleep through my beating at dowel with a rubber doorstop (no hammer) but the desk is up. Yay!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ikea, an adventure

Well, as I predicted, Ikea happened. It sort of had to: I had no furniture (I am still sleeping on an air mattress, living out of a suitcase, and I have ONE pair of clean knickers, because the laundry... well, story for another time. My real estate agent is the original ditz.)

So, Ikea. Yesterday, The Flattie and I went to buy furniture. It was almost, but not quite an impulse visit. We both knew what we wanted, a bed (for her) and study furniture for me. I left the flat at 1 to meet Flattie, who was at Central. I thought the buses at the Glebe flat were bad. Nothing compared to the new place. I am startled to discover I possessed a depth of loathing for Sydney Buses I did not know was possible. But I digress.

We got the train from Central to Rhodes, and arrived at Ikea at about 2:30, only to discover that half of Sydney was also at Ikea. There was a clearance sale on. Good for Flattie, who discovered the bed she wanted (a completely awesome metal Tim Burton style cartoonish bed frame) was on special. Less awesome for me, because it forced me to dither.

I am a champion ditherer. Massively indecisive. Like my mother.

Did I want the small book case which was on special, or the bigger one, which though aesthetically more pleasing, was $200 more expensive. I appealed to The Flattie for help with the decision, and she told me that since I had cruelly forced her into making the final decision re: her bed, I was on my own.

We also got yelled when we asked if we really needed to fasten the book case to the wall. Apparently we are unrepentant baby killers for even considering going with out wall fasteners. I don't know why, as there are no babies in our flat, nor will there be any time soon.

I called Dad, and in his expert opinion, we wouldn't need wall fasteners. He also cruelly refused to make a decision for me.

Finally, I decided to bite the bullet, and buy the big book case, helped by the fact that I saw it set up with books in it... and it is pretty.

Then came the hard part. The self-serve section, with the disobedient trolleys and the big heavy trolleys. I don't think Flattie quite got the point of the big heavy trolleys, because she took one of the neat little supermarket style trolleys, and seemed to think we could share...

Needless to say, I very hastily took myself off to get a big trolley, and with the unwilling help of Flattie, loaded myself up with boxes. Many, many boxes. Many, many heavy boxes. I bought: a desk/ small book case combo; the big book case and a desk chair. I spent TOO MUCH MONEY. The Flattie had one little packet of bed slats in her trolley, and so we went through checkout (her bed was at a separate merchandise pick up place).

And then Flattie discovered that she had to load her mattress on the trolley, in the self service aisles. I don't know where she got the idea that it was different (I hadn't known she was buying a mattress). So she decided not to bother. Then she said she'd just buy one from the place that does free deliveries for UTS students. I told her that you had to spend more than $500. She said surely I needed more stuff? I looked at my boxes, and thought of the pile of stuff waiting for a removalist and said: NO.

So she decided we needed to run back in and get a mattress. By this point we were waiting in the home delivery line, and had been at Ikea for 2 and a half hours (!!). So I asked the nice man (and why it was me asking I don't know) if we could leave our trolleys and run back into the self service section just for ten minutes, we'll be quick, really. Finally, he relented and said yes, but warned us that our stuff might not be safe.

Meanwhile a young couple were improvising a taped up cover for some lounge chairs to avoid paying a $25 dollar waiver.

So The Flattie and I ran back into self service hell. (Those shelves are BIG.) I sort of maybe stole a trolley. (It was empty! And alone! I called out!) We powered to the place where the mattresses were, only to discover... the model Flattie had chosen was sold out. So then we had to test mattress (yes, right there, climbing into the gap between mattress and shelf) to find a replacement. Then we managed to womanhandle it onto the trolley (the mattress had handles on it. The plastic it was wrapped in? Not so much). I left Flattie at the checkout, and rushed back to out thankfully undamaged trolleys. The young couple were still wrapping couches.

The Flattie finally got through checkout, we left our stuff to be home delivered and left Ikea having spent, collectively, $1500. We were carrying one item: a set of $15 chair arms. Everything else arrives tomorrow, whereupon there will be a veritable orgy of assembling. But I am the Allen Key Champion, so.

We ate food court Thai (too poor to afford anything else) and rushed to the station in the rain, missing the train by 15 seconds, and thereby having to wait half an hour for the next one. We were blessed by buses (amazingly, this has not softened my feelings towards Sydney's public transport system joke.

Much wearied, with empty bank accounts, we arrived at home at 9.

I have to keep reminding myself that I am not actually that poor: I have savings, and besides there are plenty of people who would not have been able to afford that shopping spree at all. But I am a student, living on Centrelink, and about to descend back into Hospitality Hell AKA my old job, because "living" on Centrelink is impossible.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Well, I'm back in the land down under. It's good to be home, even if I do miss China. I definitely don't miss the Great Firewall.

I'm with my parents at the moment. It's great, because I am Lady Muck, but 12 hours is a bit too long a commute. Thankfully I have found a flat in Sydney. It isn't my ideal flat, but it is a roof over my head, and that's the main thing. Now it is just arranging a mover, which I can't do until I know everything I'm taking down, which I can't do til my flatmate measures the room which will be my study.

I have the sneaking suspicions that Ikea will feature in the future.

I also told my parents about this blog. I feel that this may have been a mistake. Well, Mum, Dad, if you see me bitching on this blog, tough noogies.

My laptop is broken, and the new battery and power cord are on the way. Of course, this has added to my feeling that everything is happening at once. I hope things calm down once I'm back at Uni. And I've moved into the new flat properly.

Hoprefully, I'll soon rediscover coherence. I have lots of thinky thoughts just begging to made into blog posts.

But that's later.