dolorosa_12: by ginnystar on lj (robin marian)
This time two weeks ago I was drinking champagne with my mother, sister, [twitter.com profile] thelxiepia, and two family friends, worrying about the torrential rain that had suddenly tumbled out of the sky, and getting ready to head off to get married. In the end, my fears about the rain were unfounded: the storm stopped about half an hour before the wedding ceremony, and the skies cleared, meaning sunshine and warmth for photographs, and for our guests to enjoy sparkling wine in the gardens of our reception venue.

The wedding ceremony itself was wonderful. Many of my married friends told me they barely remembered anything from the day itself, and that everything passed by in a sort of blissed out blur. For my part, I can remember everything. We got married in Shire Hall (the registry office in Cambridge), in a room that unfortunately only seated fifty people (included me, Matthias, our photographer, and the celebrant), so many of our guests were only able to be invited to the reception. However, I was happy with the mix of people who were able to attend the ceremony: a nice mix of bridal party, family, and close friends from Cambridge.

Matthias and I entered the ceremony to the beautiful sounds of 'Black Water Lilies' by Aurora. We didn't write our own vows, and the celebrant mangled Matthias' middle name (pronouncing it in the English, rather than German way), but none of that mattered. We had two readings. The first, by Matthias' sister, was in German:

Da ist jemand,
der mich nimmt,
wie ich genommen
werden will;
der mich aufbaut
wenn mich etwas
niederdrückt;
der mich zu Herzen nimmt,
wenn mir etwas
über die Leber gelaufen ist;
der mir Gehör schenkt,
wenn mir das Leben
Rätsel aufgibt;
der für mich ist,
wenn sich alles gegen mich
verschworen hat.

Da ist jemand,
mit dem ich zusammen wachsen,
vielleicht sogar
zusammenwachsen darf.


Translation:

There is somebody
Who accepts me as I want to be accepted
Who lifts me up when something weighs me down
Who embraces me when something is bugging me
Who listens to me when life is posing me riddles
Who supports me when everything is conspiring against me

There is somebody with whom I may grow together
Maybe even grow entwined


(The play on words in the last stanza doesn't translate well, but basically involves two very similar sounding verbs, zusammen wachsen and zusammenwachsen, which I guess in English would translate as the two different meanings of 'grow together'.)

[twitter.com profile] thelxiepia read the second reading, an excerpt from one of my favourite poems, 'Homing Pigeons' by Mahmoud Darwish:

Where do you take me, my love, away from my parents
from my trees, from my little bed, and from my boredom,
from my mirrors, from my moon, from the closet of my life, from
where I stop for the night ... from my shyness?


Our friend Levi (for whom Matthias was best man four years ago) and my sister Miriam were our witnesses. While the marriage certificates were being signed, we played two pieces of music: 'All is Full of Love' by Björk, and 'Tonight We Burn Like Stars That Never Die' by Hammock. Here is a photo of us signing the certificates -- I think that gives a fairly accurate impression of our facial expressions for most of the day! After the ceremony, people left the room to the sounds of 'We Own the Sky' by M83. We then went off with our parents, my stepmother, our sisters, Matthias' brother-in-law and nephew, and Levi and [twitter.com profile] thelxiepia for photos in the gardens of our reception venue. Following this, the reception began, with drinks in the gardens, and then a four-course meal.

Everyone was really impressed by the food, which made me really happy, since we had put a lot of thought into the menu and food is generally the thing I most remember about events such as weddings. I was particularly glad that the vegans and vegetarians attending had made a point of thanking us for their meals, and that it hadn't simply been a meal with the meat removed but no substitutes provided. The cake was a three-tiered citrus cake: the bottom cake was orange, the middle lemon, and the top lime.

After speeches by Levi, my family friend and former editor Gia, and Matthias and me, we inflicted our absolutely glorious eurodance/'90s music playlist on everyone. It wasn't the danciest of weddings I've ever been to, but I had fun dancing, and so did those who joined in. I think there's some video footage of me, [twitter.com profile] thelxiepia and the other sraffies dancing to 'Saturday Night' by Whigfield floating around, but I'm not going to try to track it down! I'll leave that glory to your imaginations.

The entire wedding and reception were wonderful, and I wouldn't change a single thing. I was worried about so many things, and not one of them happened. I feared I wouldn't remember the day, or that I would spend the entire time fretting about other people, or that I wouldn't get a chance to eat, to dance, to talk to the people I wanted to talk to, and none of that eventuated. Instead, the whole thing was just a lovely party, with the person I've chosen to spend the rest of my life, and all the people we love around us. There were people there I've known since birth, since preschool, one secondary school friend (*waves at [livejournal.com profile] catpuccino*), friends from my postgrad years at Cambridge, sraffies (Philip Pullman fandom friends), and people I had just met that day. It really meant a lot to have my sister there (and indeed to have three 'sisters' as bridesmaids: my sister by blood, my sister by marriage, and my sister by choice), as well as those relatives who made the trek from Australia, although I was sad that not many of them were able to do so.

About marriage itself I feel complicated feelings. I'm an atheist, so I was always going to have a secular wedding, and don't view the ceremony itself as being sacramental. My own parents never married (nor is my father married to my stepmother), and I don't believe that marriage is necessary to be a good partner or a good parent. But I have always had a deep love of rituals and ceremonies marking important moments in peole's lives, and unlike my own parents, I always knew I wanted to get married if circumstances allowed, and that I wanted to have some kind of party to celebrate my wedding. Being married didn't make me feel differently about Matthias, or that our relationship had changed in any perceptible way (although, being a migrant, I am painfully aware of all the ways being married privileges a person in terms of immigration, visas, and passing on citizenship to one's children). Rather, I felt in the ceremony that we were publicly declaring something we have long felt. It feels odd to talk about 'my husband', or describe myself as someone's wife, but I imagine this will change over time.

The world is dark and frightening, and Matthias and I have gone through a lot to be able to live together as migrants in a country that is becoming increasingly xenophobic, but our life together is a light that gives me courage to keep working and trying and learning and growing. I wish that same light -- wherever you find it -- for all of you.
dolorosa_12: by ginnystar on lj (robin marian)
Wow, it's been a while since I've posted on LJ/Dreamwidth. Lots has been happening, though, so I have plenty of stuff to update you all about.

My mother essentially spent all of July (and the first week of August) in this part of the world. She's been visiting me annually since I moved to the UK. For this particular visit, she spent the first week in Cambridge. Matthias and I were both working, but Mum knows Cambridge quite well by now, and was able to entertain herself during the day, meeting me each evening at work to walk me home. I walk forty-five minutes to, and forty-five minutes from, work every day, and I normally do it alone, so it was nice to have some company. She even discovered a (much nicer) secret short-cut that I hadn't known existed, so now my daily walk takes me past canals, community gardens, and horses.

The week after that the two of us went on holiday to Norway. This is something we'd been talking about doing for years, but it was always complicated by either my PhD or visa situation. This year we were determined to go. We spent four days in Bergen, which was absolutely wonderful - another town that I fell in love with - and about a day-and-a-half in Oslo. It poured with rain in Bergen, which I gather is normal, but that didn't prevent us from spending one day doing an absolutely breathtaking hike from Mount Ulriken to Mount Fløyen. We're pretty tough hikers, but the terrain was a bit of a challenge, in that we had to scramble up and down mountains, dodging bogs and jumping between stepping stones. We met some great people along the hike, including a young Swiss couple who were going on and on about how expensive Norway was (Switzerland is so cheap, they said, which made us raise our eyebrows a bit), a pair of friendly middle-aged Norwegian sisters who walk the track every year, and a Finnish family whose little daughter gave us her last piece of chocolate at the top of a particularly steep hill.

Apart from more hiking, we spent our time in Bergen eating vast quantities of amazing fresh fish. The Fish Market was pretty much heaven to me.

We had been advised to catch the train between Bergen and Oslo, which was a long journey, but well worth it. The route takes you through lots of little mountain villages, and around stunning clear lakes and waterfalls. There was snow on the mountains, even though it was the middle of the northern summer.

Our Oslo time was a bit of a whirlwind tour, taking in the centre of town, a hipstery-student area, the upmarket redeveloped former docks (doesn't every harbour town have an upmarket redeveloped former dock area?), the Viking Ship Museum, and a park in the embassy area of town.

After Oslo, Mum headed back to the UK for a week working from a base in Cambridge (she's a radio journalist and always puts together at least one programme when she visits me, interviewing Cambridge- and London-based academics) and a bit of hiking in Suffolk. I flew into Germany for a weekend visit with Matthias' family and then a holiday with him in Hamburg.

Hamburg reminded me a bit of Oslo (although without the insane Norwegian food prices), in that every neighbourhood within it had a very different feel. (It also had the ubiquitous trendy upmarket redeveloped former dock area, although for some reason the Hamburg version of this was filled with shop after shop selling Persian carpets.) We managed to do a bit of everything in Hamburg, from a harbour tour to a museum exhibition on the curating and sharing of memories from the earliest days of photography until now. My highlight was probably the tour of the spectacularly over the top Rathaus, which was well worth the 4-euro price. Our tour was in German, but they also do tours in English and French, and I would highly recommend it if you're ever in Hamburg.

After Hamburg I joined Mum for a weekend in London, where we walked two stages of the Capital Ring Walk (we did Wimbledon to Richmond and Richmond to Osterley Lock - you can do them as two separate walks, but we combined them as together it was only something like 13 miles). Then it was back to Cambridge, and work. Mum stuck around for another week, and flew back to Australia last Saturday. It's been weird walking to work without her.

In extremely good news, I got my new visa, which I had applied for in March and then spent a stressful four months waiting for. It's for five years, and is a great relief to finally have in my hand, as not having a visa puts you in a kind of weird limbo. The category of visa for which I applied allows you to request your identity documents back (which is how I was able to travel to Norway and Germany), but I was extremely worried that I would have trouble at the UK border when I tried to reenter with only proof of application. In any event, it went fine, and the application was approved and sent some days later, but I'm glad to put this particular application behind me. What with gathering documents for evidence and then waiting, the whole process really took about seven months, which is long enough! When Matthias called me to say the visa had been delivered, I danced around my office!

I've been reading some truly wonderful books, and I really must do a bit of a roundup at some point, but for now, I'll leave it.
dolorosa_12: (what's left? me)
Birth: Stop wrapping your arm around your neck. You're hurting your mother.

0: Yes, your parents are at present a rock music journalist and a foreign correspondent flitting all over North and South America. Don't worry. They won't expect you to ever be that cool.

1: Don't worry. The vacuum cleaner can't hurt you. Neither can the blender. Neither can the food processor.

2: Don't worry. The cracks in the ceiling and in the tiles of the bath aren't ants. Neither are the black lines painted on the floor of the swimming pool. They can't hurt you. The cicadas make a really loud noise, but they're tiny little insects, not one giant animal 'as big as a bear'. It's not your fault your mother didn't explain that in a way you understood. The cicadas can't hurt you.

Your aunts are going to allow you to walk around them in circles, talking at them. They will draw pictures of the stories you tell them. They will transform the couches on your front patio into two horses that take you on adventures. Your grandfather will build you a bedhead and swim with you in the ocean, and your grandmother will tell you stories. Your other grandfather will build you a bookcase, and your other grandmother will sew clothes for your dolls. You will be surrounded by cousins. This will be more precious to you than gold.

3: Stop being jealous of your newborn sister. She is amazing, and you will love her very much.

4: Don't worry that you hate preschool. There is a boy there who hates it even more, so much that he will spend every lunchtime attempting to climb over the fence and escape. One day he will succeed. Your mothers will bond over their children's reluctance to be at preschool. Years later, his mother will be your mentor in your first 'grown-up' job.

5: Don't worry. You will learn to read. It will happen suddenly, and it will feel like a thunderbolt resounding in your head, and you will be astonished, and it will lead you into a thousand other worlds.

6: 'Just ignore them and they'll stop doing it' is the worst piece of advice you will ever be given.

7: The way they treat you is not okay.

8: The way they treat you is not okay.

9: The way they treat you is not okay.

10: This new friendship group is great, but it will not survive one of its members returning to East Timor. Sorry about that.

11: The way they treat you is not okay.

12: You've cut your hair and pierced your ears and changed your name. That's a good start. These new friends you've made in high school seem pretty great. You might want to hang onto them.

It's okay that you love Hanson. You don't need to be embarrassed.

13: The way she treats you is not okay.

14: The way they treat you is not okay.

15: He's not a mind-reader. Tell him how you feel about him.

16: He's not a mind-reader. Tell (this different) him how you feel about him.

17: You're right. You have found your tribe. Hold on to this feeling. You will feel it again, but not for a very long time.

18: You're right. Leaving Canberra does feel like cutting your heart out. You are going to take six years to get over this, but I promise you that eventually you will feel that same sense of place in Sydney.

19: Your mother is amazing, but you don't need to take all her advice.

20: How you're feeling is not your friends' fault.

21: You are making really good academic choices.

How you're feeling is not your friends' fault.

22: I wish I could say 'don't move back to Canberra', but if you didn't, you'd never meet the sraffies, and you'd never go to Cambridge, so you're going to have to grin and bear it.

23: You have made the best and bravest decision of your life.

Remember what I said about finding your tribe? Yeah, you've found them.

24: What he did to you was not okay.

25: You will never feel such extremes of emotion again.

He saved you, but don't make it mean more than it should.

One day, you will be grateful to him for walking away when you couldn't.

(Late 25 and) 26: Hold onto this one. He is what home feels like.

27: Don't move to Heidelberg.

28: Applying for JRFs is a waste of your time and limited emotional energy.

29: See! You were capable of getting a PhD.

30: I'll get back to you in December.
dolorosa_12: (teen wolf)
Note: I'm talking here about my family in very positive terms. I know some of you have difficult or distressing relationships with your families, so this might be something you want to skip if you think it will be upsetting for you to read.

I don't want to make a super long post for International Women's Day, but I did want to talk a little bit about my wonderful, loquacious, gossipy, emotionally articulate, supportive, matriarchal family. My grandmother, who would have turned 87 on Friday, was the beating heart of our family, and was the oldest of seven siblings (five of whom survived past infancy), and her two sisters were always very much part of our family gatherings, laughing uproariously and talking at a million miles an hour. My grandmother did not have any formal education beyond the age of eight, and she wrote awkwardly because her teachers had forced her to write with her right hand, although she was left-handed. In spite of these obstacles, she was one of the most intelligent people I have ever known, a Scrabble and crossword fiend, so witty with her turns of phrase. She is the reason the rest of us are such champion talkers, and why so many of her daughters and granddaughters ended up in fields where words and communication are crucial.

My mother is the oldest of my grandmother's four daughters, and she was the first person in her family to go to university, and one of the first women in Australia to have a permanent show on the radio. She was the first and greatest in a long line of older women who acted as guides, teachers and mentors to me, and is responsible for my love of stories, literature, reading, writing and learning. One of the things I admire most about my mother is her ability to sit down next to any person in the world and find common ground, getting them to open up and tell their story. Above all things, my mother nurtured and encouraged my intellectual curiosity, and her staunch support and belief played a big role in giving me the strength and determination to pursue my academic qualifications to the bitter end.

Cut for photos )

I have the great fortune and privilege to be the oldest of five sisters (one of whom I grew up alongside, the other three being significantly younger), and to have grown up surrounded by aunts, great-aunts and female cousins (as well as my mother's closest female friends, who became like surrogate aunts to me), in a truly matriarchal family, where women's voices, experiences, relationships and feelings were genuinely celebrated. I have also been lucky in that since secondary school, my most important mentors (English teachers, supportive undergrad lecturers, Honours thesis supervisor, editors, MPhil and PhD supervisor, previous and current library bosses) have all been women. Furthermore, at every stage of my life, I have been friends with amazing, intelligent, compassionate and generally awesome women. This matters to me. It has shaped me and guided me, and given me strength and courage, and I like to think that I've been able to share some of that with the various girls and women in my life. I hope that all of the women reading this are able to experience something similar, whether with families of blood or of choice. It is my norm, it is my greatest joy and my greatest strength. It is my feminism.

Cut for more photos )
dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
There is a particular dish which is, to me, the very definition of comfort food. Growing up, I think we probably ate it once a week (both my parents cooked it, but their versions differed subtly). I think it was one of the first things I learnt how to cook, and after I moved out of home it was one of a set of several meals that I cycled through every couple of weeks. I've moved house (and country) lots of times in my adult life, and, almost without realising it, I fell into the habit of cooking this dish on the first night in a new house. It became something of a ritual to mark the fact that I'd become secure in a new suburb, city, or country: locate the ingredients for comfort food, make a new kitchen my own.

It's an incredibly simple dish, and requires only five ingredients and about twenty minutes of your time. It's based on a recipe by Marcella Hazan because my mother learnt to cook from my father in New York in the '80s, and Marcella Hazan was A Thing then.

Recipe behind the cut )

Do any of you have particular dishes that define comfort food for you?
dolorosa_12: (teen wolf)
It's been a complicated twenty-four hours.

Cut for discussion of death )
dolorosa_12: (le guin)
Content note: death of a grandparent )

This is technically a eulogy, which is why some bits might read oddly for an LJ/Dreamwidth entry.

--------------------
*Note: The grandchildren call my grandfather 'Tony'.
dolorosa_12: (sokka)
I feel as if I haven't blogged in ages, and it's mainly because life has been very lifey. There are have been moments when I had ideas for posts, but then thesis or visitors would sweep me away and the moment passed. But now, I have a moment's pause before things start to get really busy again, and I thought I'd try to do a couple of catch-up posts, mainly in order to close a few tabs.

My mum is currently about 16 hours into her 24-hour flight back to Australia. She visits me in Europe for about a month every year. This year, her visit coincided with the celebrations in Germany for my partner's mother's 60th birthday, so during that weekend, Mum went hiking with friends in England. I flew in to Germany for an (almost) literal flying visit, four days there and then back to Cambridge at midnight. The celebrations were in an old hotel in Schonach (in the south of Germany), and I met lots of new people - mainly friends of the family - and tried to speak my rather limited German. One afternoon we went for a trip to the nearby medieval town of Rothenburg. It reminded me of a smaller version of Heidelberg: cobblestone streets, pretty buildings, souvenir shops, masses of tourists. For some reason, you are guaranteed to find three things in every German tourist town: a million pubs serving variations on the same food, shops selling wooden ornaments, beer glasses and faux-medieval gear, and a million ice-cream cafes. It's a thing. Rothenburg had all such places. On my last half-day in Germany, Matthias and I went up to Bremen (from where my flight would leave) and explored the town. Its old centre is very beautiful, and there are some cool areas with little winding cobblestone lanes and quirky cafes.

After I got back from Germany, my mum stayed with me in Cambridge for a week. We developed a good routine: after buying coffee from the only decent cafe in town, she would head off to the municipal library and read, while I would go home and edit my thesis. She came back home for lunch, after which we would go hiking for the afternoon. Then we would have dinner, and possibly another short walk.

After this week in Cambridge, we both went to London for several days. We have family friends there. Mum usually stays with them for part of any trip she makes to the UK. Last week, they were on holiday in France, but wanted someone to stay in their house and keep a vague eye on their two adult children. Since we wanted to be in London, that suited us fine.

One thing I should explain about Mum and me - and my sister Mim, too - is that we are unapologetic food snobs. The first question we ask when it is suggested we go anywhere is 'Will we be able to get good coffee there?' The second is 'What will we do for food?' We never go on holiday without researching places to eat. Scenery, museums, art galleries and hotels: all are secondary concerns. And our favourite thing to do in big cities is walk for miles, and then eat and hang around in cafes.

This London trip was no different. We ate breakfast every morning at Princi, but moved to another cafe on Berwick St for coffee because the stuff at Princi was sub-par. We ate dinner in Wahaca, and even managed to structure our two longer walks (from Tower Bridge to the Thames Barrier, and along the entire length of Regent's Canal) so that we would be able to eat decent food. I know that all sounds ridiculous and over the top, but it's just the way we are.

Foodwise, the best discovery this trip has been Ottolenghi. I've been a bit of a fangirl of his for a year or so now (late, as ever, to the bandwagon), but had never eaten in any of the cafes or restaurants. But we found one cafe in Notting Hill, and ate lunch there - amazing hummus with za'atar, beetroot and peach salad, savoury danish with capsicum, cheese and olives - before I went back to Cambridge and Mum flew back to Australia. I also brought a box of mixed salads back home to share with Matthias for dinner, and Mum brought another box on the plane with her.

This is not the most bizarre thing we have brought on a plane. On one, notorious return flight from New York to Sydney, my mother, sister and I bought a whole roast chicken, salad and bread from Dean and Deluca and ate it on the plane. This was in 1999, a simpler time, and we were allowed to bring Swiss Army knives in our hand luggage, which we used to cut up the chicken, as well as some apples we had bought.

My family will do anything to avoid eating plane food.

I'm missing Mum already. I always think I've come to terms with living so far from Australia, but whenever family visits, I'm reminded of the distance, and of the things I've given up in order to be here. I have lots of people with whom I can talk about everything, but there's no one with whom I can talk in quite the same way as my mother.
dolorosa_12: (sokka)
M [to me, after I'd had yet another freak-out about the fact that my student visa will run out in early 2014]: Right! Let's get married! Tomorrow!
Me: I don't think it works that way.

~

My sister Nell: Where are all the heroes? There are no heroes anymore. They're in the seaweed. Or dead.

(Sounds like she's nearly ready to start studying Old English elegies. Scroll down to 92a.)

~

[There was a conference in our department last weekend. One of the speakers, L, is a friend of mine and was staying with us. Dr Thunderous Laughter had invited her to have brunch yesterday morning.]

Me [hearing the door slam]: Was that L going just now?
M [getting up to check out the window, stops what he's doing]
Both of us [hearing a loud voice outside]: Well, no need to get up now.
M: It's kind of disturbing to hear Dr Thunderous Laughter outside our front door on a Sunday morning.

~

G [a friend of mine, and one of the speakers at the conference]: This isn't a complete translation. That ellipsis represents when my head hit the keyboard.
dolorosa_12: (una)
Day 6. Talk about a recent experience that has affected you greatly and how.

As some of you may recall, my grandmother recently discovered that she had cancer. I'm pleased to report that she's doing as well as can be under the circumstances. The cancer was in her liver, and luckily the doctors considered her healthy and strong enough to go through with an extremely serious operation to remove the cancerous part of her liver. She had her operation just under two weeks ago and came out of it fine. In fact, she's recovered so quickly that she'll probably be able to come home from hospital quite soon, when we'd expected her to stay there until at least the end of November. The doctor also thinks he removed all of the cancer.

Obviously with cancer nothing is certain, but so far what's been happening has been the best possible outcome for all concerned.

I adore my grandparents. (Only my mum's parents are still living; my other grandparents died in the early 90s.) I respect them greatly for overcoming the difficult circumstances into which they were born and doing everything they could to make a better life for their children and grandchildren (while recognising that the 1950s was a time of great social mobility in Australia). I love them for their seemingly endless capacity to love, for their obvious pride in their descendents, for their life well-lived. To say I was devestated by the news of Marnie's cancer would be an understatement.

And while ours is an affectionate family, very comfortable in displaying love towards one another, Marnie's illness made me resolved to continue in this regard. I write often to my mother and sister, but I've started making a point of telling them I love them in every email. I've made more of an effort to stay in regular contact with my aunts, and told them I love them too. While those I love have always been aware of the fact, since Marnie's cancer, I've been completely open and honest about how I feel about everyone I love. (This may explain why my LJ seems to have turned into a sort of blissed-out love-fest of late.)

Life is precious, and love is precious, and I am incredibly grateful to the people who love me, and whom I love.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (una)
Day 6. Talk about a recent experience that has affected you greatly and how.

As some of you may recall, my grandmother recently discovered that she had cancer. I'm pleased to report that she's doing as well as can be under the circumstances. The cancer was in her liver, and luckily the doctors considered her healthy and strong enough to go through with an extremely serious operation to remove the cancerous part of her liver. She had her operation just under two weeks ago and came out of it fine. In fact, she's recovered so quickly that she'll probably be able to come home from hospital quite soon, when we'd expected her to stay there until at least the end of November. The doctor also thinks he removed all of the cancer.

Obviously with cancer nothing is certain, but so far what's been happening has been the best possible outcome for all concerned.

I adore my grandparents. (Only my mum's parents are still living; my other grandparents died in the early 90s.) I respect them greatly for overcoming the difficult circumstances into which they were born and doing everything they could to make a better life for their children and grandchildren (while recognising that the 1950s was a time of great social mobility in Australia). I love them for their seemingly endless capacity to love, for their obvious pride in their descendents, for their life well-lived. To say I was devestated by the news of Marnie's cancer would be an understatement.

And while ours is an affectionate family, very comfortable in displaying love towards one another, Marnie's illness made me resolved to continue in this regard. I write often to my mother and sister, but I've started making a point of telling them I love them in every email. I've made more of an effort to stay in regular contact with my aunts, and told them I love them too. While those I love have always been aware of the fact, since Marnie's cancer, I've been completely open and honest about how I feel about everyone I love. (This may explain why my LJ seems to have turned into a sort of blissed-out love-fest of late.)

Life is precious, and love is precious, and I am incredibly grateful to the people who love me, and whom I love.

the other days )

Marnie

Oct. 6th, 2011 10:53 pm
dolorosa_12: (Default)
(Please note, 'Marnie' is what all the grandchildren call my grandmother. We call our grandfather 'Tony'.)

Oh God, the angst. Skip if you can't handle it. Copied from my paper diary. )

Marnie

Oct. 6th, 2011 10:53 pm
dolorosa_12: (Default)
(Please note, 'Marnie' is what all the grandchildren call my grandmother. We call our grandfather 'Tony'.)

Oh God, the angst. Skip if you can't handle it. Copied from my paper diary. )
dolorosa_12: (dreaming)
I miss my little sisters.

Photo inside )
dolorosa_12: (dreaming)
I miss my little sisters.

Photo inside )
dolorosa_12: (una)
I was in Melbourne last week, staying with my father, stepmother and two little sisters. Kitty is now eight, and Nell is three, so as you can imagine, there were lots of amusing conversations with that special breed of young-child logic. Here are a few of my favourites:

Our family is complicated
Ronni (getting out of the car): Hey, Dad, it's okay! I can get my own bag.
Nell: He's not your dad! He's my Dad!

Nell is fuzzy when it comes to banal stuff like dates and time
Nell: Why are you here?
Ronni: I'm here because I want to visit you and Kitty and Dad and your mum, because I love you all!
Nell (suspiciously): How long are you here?
Ronni: Four days. (Counting on her fingers) Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Then I'm going back to Sydney.
Nell (shouting, to Kitty): Hey! Ronni's here for four weeks!

Religion is tricky
(For context, we are watching Kitty and her school friends sing Christmas carols in the Catholic church over the road from their (Catholic) school.)
Nell's four-year-old friend, J, to his mother: Is Jesus dead?
C (his mother): Yes. [Careful! Your atheism is showing!]
J: If he's dead, how can he save us?
C (looking increasingly worried): Well...umm, Jesus is a special case.
J (apparently satisfied by this): So, did Jesus help Santa build the sleigh?

Are the clouds made of milk?
(This is my personal favourite.)
Dad and Alice, my stepmother, are sitting outside in the backyard. Nell wanders out.

Nell: The sky looks like a tea-set.
Dad, Alice and Ronni: *are confused*
Alice: What do you mean, Nell?
Nell (emphatically): It's a tea-set!
Ronni: Do you mean that the colours look the same as the colours of a tea-set?
Nell (thinks for a while): Yes.
Ronni: Do you have a tea-set with those colours?
Nell: *is confused*

TWO HOURS LATER
Alice: OH! She meant 'sunset', not 'tea-set'!

A lot of other awesome stuff has happened since then, including a delicious breakfast with [livejournal.com profile] lucubratae and his fabulous girlfriend, some of the best chocolate cake ever, cooked by my friend K, and many evenings spent at my grandparents' place, but that will all have to wait, as I'm off to meet my mum for coffee at the always-marvellous Bunker (which sells Campos coffee!).
dolorosa_12: (una)
I was in Melbourne last week, staying with my father, stepmother and two little sisters. Kitty is now eight, and Nell is three, so as you can imagine, there were lots of amusing conversations with that special breed of young-child logic. Here are a few of my favourites:

Our family is complicated
Ronni (getting out of the car): Hey, Dad, it's okay! I can get my own bag.
Nell: He's not your dad! He's my Dad!

Nell is fuzzy when it comes to banal stuff like dates and time
Nell: Why are you here?
Ronni: I'm here because I want to visit you and Kitty and Dad and your mum, because I love you all!
Nell (suspiciously): How long are you here?
Ronni: Four days. (Counting on her fingers) Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Then I'm going back to Sydney.
Nell (shouting, to Kitty): Hey! Ronni's here for four weeks!

Religion is tricky
(For context, we are watching Kitty and her school friends sing Christmas carols in the Catholic church over the road from their (Catholic) school.)
Nell's four-year-old friend, J, to his mother: Is Jesus dead?
C (his mother): Yes. [Careful! Your atheism is showing!]
J: If he's dead, how can he save us?
C (looking increasingly worried): Well...umm, Jesus is a special case.
J (apparently satisfied by this): So, did Jesus help Santa build the sleigh?

Are the clouds made of milk?
(This is my personal favourite.)
Dad and Alice, my stepmother, are sitting outside in the backyard. Nell wanders out.

Nell: The sky looks like a tea-set.
Dad, Alice and Ronni: *are confused*
Alice: What do you mean, Nell?
Nell (emphatically): It's a tea-set!
Ronni: Do you mean that the colours look the same as the colours of a tea-set?
Nell (thinks for a while): Yes.
Ronni: Do you have a tea-set with those colours?
Nell: *is confused*

TWO HOURS LATER
Alice: OH! She meant 'sunset', not 'tea-set'!

A lot of other awesome stuff has happened since then, including a delicious breakfast with [livejournal.com profile] lucubratae and his fabulous girlfriend, some of the best chocolate cake ever, cooked by my friend K, and many evenings spent at my grandparents' place, but that will all have to wait, as I'm off to meet my mum for coffee at the always-marvellous Bunker (which sells Campos coffee!).
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
I'm in a most sentimental mood today, and decided to write about my grandparents.

Photo and rambling within )
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
I'm in a most sentimental mood today, and decided to write about my grandparents.

Photo and rambling within )
dolorosa_12: (una)
A couple of weeks ago, my sister graduated from university. She did the same undergrad course that I did, Arts at Sydney Uni, although she did a regular BA (her major ended up being Modern History), while I did Honours in English Literature. The way Sydney does graduations is that you graduate with all the people who did your major, or Honours in your subject area, so I graduated with the English Lit people, and she graduated with the History people.

I was talking to her about her ceremony (which I missed, due to being on the other side of the world), and she mentioned that the speaker (a philosopher) had done 'a great speech where he said that Arts was just as good as Science'.

I was greatly amused. At my graduation (although I have some vague memory of Malcolm Turnbull being there in some official capacity), the speaker was also a philosopher. He was, I suspect, the same one who talked at Mim's graduation, and I'm pretty sure he gave a version of the same speech. But I interpreted his speech in a very different manner.

To me, his speech was quite insulting. Patronising, almost. 'Arts is just as good as Science! Don't believe anyone who says that it has no value! Don't worry, none of you will end up working in McDonalds!'

My problem was that I didn't see the need to reference Science at all. We were Arts graduates. (Remarkably successful ones, too. Of the people who did Honours with me, I can think of six PhD students - one in Cambridge and one in Oxford - a couple of succesfful journalists, some public servants, one who ended up working in finance, one who went into advertising and a couple who ended up teaching. Not a McDonalds worker in sight!) Saying we were 'just as good as Science students' implies already that there's some need for reassurance, that we, on our graduation day, might feel unworthy. I actually found it deeply insulting. If you can't talk about the importance of the humanities without it being at the expense of science, you obviously don't think very highly of the humanities to begin with.

My reaction - and my sister's opposite one - is obviously entirely down to perception and personality. I'm a pessimist who always suspects people are secretly mocking or despising her. She's an optimist with a 'don't worry, everyone will love you' attitude. Her glass tends to be half-full, while mine is always half-empty.

But it was amusing to see our different personalities laid bare in such a direct manner.

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dolorosa_12: (Default)
rushes into my heart and my skull

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