Friday, June 28, 2013

Healesville to The Mornington Peninsula: Also Cold

Healesville is so pretty. It's the kind of Australia you see on the postcards. Or painted by the Heidelberg School. All smoky blues and iron barks. I was expecting the Man from Snowy River to appear at any moment, but, as you know, geography isn't my strong point. 

There were horses, parrots, magpies, cows...and those most exotic animals of all (for a couple of town kids): 

From Healesville we moved on to the Mornington Peninsula. Geography, again, is not my strong point, but Google Maps confirmed for me that this bit of water here is Bass Strait. Hello over there, Tasmania! HELLO??!!? 

And let me apologise now for the weird framing effect at the top of my photos. No, I'm not trying to be artistic. I just have a crappy phone case. 

Where are you finding your inspiration this week? 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ballarat. Cold.

Ballarat is a beautiful city, but it's cold. So, so cold...

But my (not so) inner history nerd loves it. Ballarat is most famous for the Eureka Stockade, a defining moment in Australia's history. My inner history nerd was quite excited to stand on Bakery Hill, and only a little bit saddened to discover that the plaque commemorating the site where all the miners burned their licences is on the side of a McDonalds. But still. 

And Sovereign Hill is wonderful. I want to live there and eat boiled lollies and pies and make my own candles. 

I'm not so keen on the actual gold mining aspect, of course. That seems highly unsanitary and possibly even dangerous. Here is Meg not becoming rich: 

And I don't know much about those miners of old, but I'll give them this much. They sure knew how to treat possums: 

That's a possum skin hanging in front of a kangaroo skin in the Gold Museum. Look out, Johnny Rotten. When I get home, it's on... 

What is everyone else up to this week? 

Friday, June 21, 2013

We're All Going On A (Winter) Holiday

So, it's holiday time again...yay! For the next three weeks I will be in Melbourne. For the first two with family, then I think I have two sad and lonely days on my own (YES! Writing time!) and then the gang from work* arrive for the last week for shopping, a concert, and possibly an AFL game. Because we don't know the rules and we don't follow the game, but when in Melbourne... 

There's just one thing I'm not at all looking forward to. And for once I don't mean Jetstar... 

It's gonna be cold, you guys. Like, proper winter cold. Which I haven't done in years. I am so used to tropical cold that when I inspected my thermal underwear this morning (I have no pride), it appears to have turned into some sort of moth hatchery. I'm taking it anyway (I have no pride). 

This is tropical cold: Hmm. It's winter. Better turn the fan off. 

Or: Holy crap. I'm freezing. Maybe I should put some shoes on. 

Or: How cold was it last night? I had to get a blanket out and everything. 

Proper cold may kill me. 

But, if I don't die, I'll be posting more sporadically than usual, and hopefully finding some fun stuff to blog about. Because, you know me. I have nothing planned. 

See you all soon! 

* In exciting news for local criminals, I have no idea who is staffing the station for this period, because not only does it seem like everyone has got leave at the same time, we're all going to Melbourne as well. I can't count the number of conversations I've had over the past month that have ended up with, "Wait, you'll be in Melbourne then too? What pub are we meeting in?" The answer is, of course, all of them. All the pubs. See you there. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Who's on Goodreads?

Okay, so I'm finally taking the plunge and joining Goodreads. 

I mean, I joined like eons ago, but I'm actually going to start using it. 

It was totally on my list, I promise. 

My pseudonym is very active over there though. And yeah, I'm sure I'll screw up eventually and out myself by getting confused as to who I'm logged in as... oh well. If I do, just don't tell my Mum, okay? 

So if anyone's already over there, and has some good recs, you'll find me as Jensbookshelf. 

And now I'm off to read a few books so my shelves aren't so pitifully bare. Like this lady's: 

Did anyone else wonder why she didn't eat the dog, or was that just me? 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lucid Dreaming

Today I went to a course on Fatigue Management, which was a lot more interesting than it sounds, I promise. And I learned a few helpful tips, and also one very interesting thing. I am apparently in the 30% of people who are lucid dreamers. What's that? 

Well, as the guy explained it. "You know that dream when you're a kid and a tiger is chasing you? Well, thirty percent of kids realise that they can turn around and chase the tiger back." 

Basically, I am the director of the weird art house experimental dreams that my brain churns out. 

Not always, of course. But sometimes. 

After my dad died, I had heaps of dreams about him. For a long time. Boring, everyday dreams, with an undercurrent of "What-the-fuck-is-going-on-something-is-terribly-wrong-here". And so I stepped in. This is okay, I told myself like a kid watching a horror movie, but it isn't real. You're allowed to enjoy this. Just remember that when you wake up, you don't have to feel the loss all over again. 

When I was a kid I dreamed constantly of flying. Not all dramatically or anything...just taking one foot of the ground, then the other one, and hovering along. And I could go exactly where I wanted. 

There have also been occasions when I've said to myself, "Okay, tonight when I fall asleep I'd like to go to Africa", and so I did. To a weird made-up kind of Africa that probably looks nothing like the real place, but it worked all the same. 

I've been on the Titanic before and, because I knew I was dreaming and I knew exactly what was going to happen, I was up on the deck waiting for the lifeboat before we even hit that damn iceberg. So was the kid I was with -- I think I was a governess or something -- but we didn't bother alert his father. Maybe we didn't like him. 

And then there was that time I was stabbed by Jack the Ripper. And, even as I woke up in sheer terror, I was still hugely impressed at my attention to detail. Because he really had to push to get the blade through my corset. Not exactly a lucid dream, since I didn't do anything to stop it, but sure as hell vivid. Sound effects and everything. 

I love dreaming. I love the strange places your brain can take you when it's filtering through all the detritus you've left lying around up there. I even love the nightmares, because if you can harness some of that darkness in your 

Everything is fodder for a writer, even the stuff from our own dreams and nightmares. Maybe especially that stuff. It's what we do. We might not always be able to control what happens when we're sleeping, but, whatever it is, we can find a way to explore it on the page. And that's kind of amazing. 

What's the strangest dream you've ever had? 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

You may kiss your bride

So, yesterday marked my debut as a marriage celebrant. And it was...scary

(MC has pointed out that the word "celebrant" might not be as universal as I had first thought. It's the person up the front who does the talky bits!) 

And it also made me a little bit angry-sad. Which is a word now. Because, here's the thing. I'm not a real celebrant -- those people need certificates and accreditations and stuff -- but I was able to do the job because it was not a legal marriage. 

Because there were two brides, and not a groom in sight. 

It was a lovely day, a beachside ceremony, and a very relaxed, very fun reception at the block of holiday units that had been entirely rented out by the wedding party and guests. I was absolutely honoured to be asked to be a part of the girls' special day, and I didn't even flub my lines. 

The vows were beautiful and the speeches were just lovely. And I must do a special shout out to Charlee, whose speech about meeting her mum's "friend" for the first time -- the air quotes were hers -- was just hilarious. 

So here's what I was thinking.

Why should love be so controversial? 

Yesterday was beautiful. Who does it hurt? 

Why are some people so vehemently opposed to marriage equality? These are the ones I want to take aside and whisper, "It's okay. They won't make it compulsory." 

I'm not a particularly politically savvy person, but remember that whole Separation of Church and State thing? That was good. Let's hold onto that. 

If a same sex couple wants to get married in the local Catholic Church, well, that's the Church's decision. Their house, their rules. But if they want to get married on the beach, or in the park, or at the courthouse, in a legally-binding manner that's recognised by the government, then why shouldn't they? 

Why should love be so controversial? 

And, all politics aside now, congratulations to Nikki and Karen, and thanks so much for inviting me to be a part of your special day. You girls rock! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Final Frontier: No Women Allowed Beyond This Point

SF writer Ann Aguirre wrote an interesting blog post this week, about her experiences with sexism in the SF community. To sum up, apparently it's not just some fans who don't think women can write SF, it's some of the male authors as well. 

For some reason it just seems all the more disheartening to discover that SF is less of a final frontier and more of a glass ceiling.  In a genre that sets out to explore the possibilities of humanity endeavour, there's no room for women's voices? 

Now, I'm not a huge SF reader, and I haven't ready anything by Ann Aguirre before, but I know that even if I thought her books were a pile of rubbish, I wouldn't put that down to her gender, her ethnicity, her cultural background or any other fucking thing. I know, wouldn't buy her next book. 

Also, I know that two of my all-time favourite SF books are written by women. 

Exhibit A: 

Exhibit B: 

Ugh. Sometimes it's very depressing. Here we are trying to break into this mysterious, wonderful circle of writers, only to find that, a lot of the time, people suck. Even if they write books. And it's not just SF, is it?  It seems not a week goes by without some meltdown in YA that sends everyone scrambling for the trenches. 

What the hell is going on here? Aren't we all on the same side? Didn't we all just want to tell stories? 

Well, I do. And I'll be damned if I let someone tell me I can't. For any reason. 

Rant over. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

By Vectron!

This will be a good writing weekend ... BY VECTRON! 

Ah, I love some absurdity ...

And while we're in the mood for some Mitchell and Webb, here they are tackling an ancient pronoun problem: 

Have a great weekend, everyone! 


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