Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mixed metaphors of the lighting world

Photo Essay: "How to decorate a modern Chinese apartment using ten different lighting schemes"

(Alternately titled: "I really gotta buy some new light bulbs"):

Exhibit A: A fairly modern Chinese apartment:

Our apartment is rented fully furnished and aside from the paintings on the walls, cushions and sofa throws, it was decorated entirely by the landlord (who, by the way, is an interior designer). The decor scheme is modern-minimalist, yet completely falls apart when it comes to lighting- the Chinese LOVE fancy grandma-style lights.

Exhibit B: The living room

This beauty is above the coffee table:
This is in the entrance way:
This one is above the dining table:
In addition to these three there are 20 small spot lights built into the ceiling:
However they were literally BUILT into the ceiling and when the globes blow they cannot be removed. The landlord's best advice: "I don't know". These spot lights are supplimented by coloured flourecent tubes built into the three panels of the dropped ceiling to create a little more "mood lighting". I'm still not sure what "mood" they were aiming for.

Exhibit C: The bedroom

Above the bed:Beside the bed:

These "flowering beauties" are built into the wall either side of the bed, which means that the bed cannot be moved to another location in the room, and yet the switches to turn them on and off cannot be reached while one is lying in bed. Also note the lovely plastic covering the white upholstered bed head, which the landlord refises to let us remove in case the white fabric gets dirty.

Exhibit D: My studio

These lights are hardly condusive to producing art in a poorly lit room, so I usually supplement with two of Phil's photography soft box lights:
To save your eyes from the pain, I haven't include a photo of the broken Mickey Mouse Clock/Light combo built on to the wall... again built in so well that you can neither replace the blown bulbs or used clock batteries.

Exhibit E: The bathroom:

Note the pink and blue PLASTIC ceiling... mmmmm. There is another light in the exhaust fan over the bath- if you can even call it a fan: it barely lifts the slightest breeze.

Exhibit F: The kitchen

Souless flourecent lighting positioned to cast the shaddow of your body over any worksurface you chose- peeling potatoes in the sink is like a game of russian roulette between your fingertips and the peeler.

The kitchen window looks straight across an airshaft into our neighbours' kitchen, hence the 'curtain'.

All in all there are a total of 98 light bulbs in our 110 m square apartment. And we wonder why our electricity bill is so high.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Is it hip to be square?

Here is a painting I finished last week, one of two new ones with a "square" style. I don't normally use squares, so I find it quite interesting to analyse why I felt the need to purge these squares last week. Searching for order in a disordered world perhaps? Well, whatever the reason, I thought I'd share:

Acrylic on canvas 80x80cm (the colour is a bit off and there's too much glare, but you get the picture!)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

useless crap

Ok so the fact that I think this is cool probably means I've been spending too much time on the internet:

It's a Word Cloud, randomly generated from the most commonly used words on my blog. As an artist working primarily in acrylics I LOVE the fact that the first two words are "Acrylic Addiction". Perfect!

Get your word cloud here

Gimme Mao Money

The highest denomination of Chinese Renminbi is the 100RMB note. This note is equal to approximately US$12.50/AU$16.50.

This means that a relatively small amount of money in US/AUS dollars translates into a sizeable wad of cash in Chinese RMB- a fact which can make you feel rich on pay day, but results in troubles when it comes to fitting the money safely in your wallet. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that most shops only accept cash payments, especially for expensive items.

Normally if I have a bit of money to carry around I will shove it in my bra. It's a habbit I developed while living in rural Nepal, as all the women in my village would carry their money like that.

Yet when Phil came home from the bank yesterday with enough money to buy his new camera I realised the old 'money in my bra' thing wouldn't work. He's a professional photographer and his cameras aint of the 'point-n-shoot' variety, so it was a sizeable amount of money. But really it looks like MUCH more when it's in RMB.

But that didn't stop me from trying to fit it in my bra-

I imagine Mao never thought his head would be resting in the white bosom of an Aussie chick.

Needless to say we put the cash in a money belt.

Book Worm

Ok, I've been tagged. Twice in fact, thanks to Carbie and Dan, but i'm only going to do this once. As it is I've already got more links here than a chainmail vest.

Book Worm

1. One Book That Changed Your Life:
"Violence and Compassion- Dialogues on life today" by the Dalai Lama and Jean-Claude Carriere -- it's Buddhism for modern life, and is actually quite relevant.

2. One Book You Have Read More Than Once:
Just one? Ok "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho. Oh, and "Oh the places you'll go" by Dr Seuss. Read it, you'll understand. It's not just for kids. Go on- read it, I'll wait right here....

3. One Book You'’d Want On A Desert Island:
A dictionary that points out that a Desert Island would in fact be in the desert, and is quite the oposite of a Deserted Island- and therefore remind me to flag down a passing camel and ride back to civilisation.

4. One Book That Made You Giddy:
An anthology of poetry by Dante Gabriel Rosetti... though what exactly is meant by giddy? Dizzy? Happy? Confused? His poetry makes me feel happy, in awe and inspired, so I guess that counts. Oh and anything by Aristophanes (The Peace, The Frogs, The Birds, Lysistrata.... all good). How is it that a Greek playwright born in 448BC can still make me snort coffee out my nose- that's comedy people.

5. One Book That You Wish Had Been Written:

"How to be a professional artist in Shanghai without actually doing anything- A slackers guide"

6. One Book That Wracked You With Sobs:

Good lord, I'll cry in any book... one book... hmmm... nope can't pick just one.

7. One Book You Wish Had Never Been Written:

Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War... I had to memorise that bastard for my HSC (senior High School) exams from cover to cover. It still gives me nightmares.

8. One Book You'’re Currently Reading:

Just finished "River Town" by Peter Hessler (very good), and starting "High wind in Jamaica" by Richard Hughes, also mid-way through "A fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry, and "Band of Brothers" by Stephen E. Ambrose.... yeah I'm one of those people who reads several books at once, I can't help myself.

9. One Book You'’ve Been Meaning To Read:

Anna Karenina.

10. Now Tag Five Bloggers:
Phil, Comic Mummy, Mignon, London Misfit, Sharpie

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

cacophony continued

Writing about the noise in Asia reminded me of this email I sent from Nepal in 2003:

Saturday mornings.

Question: What is the socially acceptable number of times to ring someone's doorbell at 8am on a Saturday morning? One? Two? Three? Maybe. Thirty-six? Definitely not.

Saturday mornings are my "Louise" time. The times when I can sleep in, bum around, drink lots of coffee and read for hours in bed. They are the times when I make the most of my one day off. When I do not wear a Kurta Surwal.
When I do not have to speak Nepali, drink Chiya or eat Daal Bhaat. They are the times when, as far as I am concerned, I am not in Nepal.

Saturday mornings are not however the times when I want to be woken by someone ringing my doorbell THIRTY-SIX times. At 8am. Get the hint: I am not opening the door. I am not getting out of bed. I am not going to chat to you about
cricket. I am not going to chat to you about your brother studying in Australia. I am not going to chat to you about your plans to move to America next week/ next month/ next year. I am not going to chat to you.

As you can see I haven't had the best start to my one-day weekend. I only have one day off a week here, and that means that I have huge expectations for that one day. On Friday nights I can almost feel the coming Saturday
cringing from the sheer performance pressure. It really is a lot to ask of one little day.

We all need a little "me" time every now and then.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Urban Cacophony

Anyone who's ever been to any part of Asia will recognise this:

"They honked at other cars, and they honked at pedestrians. They honked whenever they passed somebody, or whenever they were being passed themselves. They honked when nobody was passing but somebody might be considering it, or when the road was empty and there was nobody to pass but the thought of passing or being passed had just passed through the driver's mind. Just like that, an unthinking reflex: the driver honked."

-'River Town- Two years on the Yangze', Peter Hessler.

When Chinese people ask me what I dislike about Shanghai, my answer is always the same- the constant cacophony of sounds at any one time of day or night. As I sit in my studio, typing this at 10.30am on a Saturday morning I can hear the beeps, backfires, and rumble of traffic; the ringing, clanging, grinding and hammering of the never-ending Shanghai construction (or re-construction); I can hear my neighbours shouting, playing the piano, radios blaring and telephones ringing; and in my own apartment there is the sound of the air-conditioner whirring constantly above my head, and the rascal rabbits digging and ripping the paper off their cardboard play tunnels. In spite of all this, we tell people how lucky we are to have found an apartment in a "quiet area".

I long for the relative solitude of my home in The Blue Mountains, to lie in my hammock on the balcony and listen to the birds... and the cicadas, and the crickets, and frogs, and lawnmowers, and cars being tuned, and chickens sqawking, and dogs barking, and barbeques sizzling....

Though Shanghai is undoubtedly noisier than the Blue Mountains, I guess silence is relative.



Friday, August 18, 2006


Ok, another painting, finished last weekend:

"Dreaming of Modigliani", Acrylic on canvas, 60x80cm

I consider this one to be a self-portrait- obviously not realistic, but how I felt inside at the time.

Perhaps I'm just going crazy and it's time to lop off an ear....

Again with the Google

Just quickly to the reader who found me by googling:

"U.S. House of Representatives International Relations Committee and teaching in china"

Sorry, you've REALLY come to the wrong place.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

12 steps….

Oh Indian Cuisine, how I love thee... and yet you continue to wreak havock on my digestive system. Why must I be drawn back to you, time and time again, with scant regard to the inevitable consequences? WHY??? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHHHYYYYYYYYYY??????????



"Hello everyone. My name is Louise, and it has been 60 days since my last Paneer Butter Masala.


"60 days! Wow!"


"I won’t say it hasn’t been tough. These have been some of the toughest days in my life. But thanks to my willpower, and the support of those around me, it’s now 60 days and counting.

I’ve started the 12 steps program. I have admitted that I have a problem. That was the biggie. Like all of us, I was in total denial for a long, long time. I just couldn’t see what was so obvious to everyone else. I couldn’t even see how destructive my addiction, yes addiction, was to a healthy balanced diet.

But I do have a problem. Since accepting my addiction I have been able to try and rebuild other relationships I had lost. I have apologised to all the previously loved meals I had so hurtfully abandoned on the pursuit to feed my addiction. It’s not easy, and I know…"


"…I know that some meals will never taste the same again. For a long time, the salad sandwich was dead to me. And as long as I live…"


"…I will never ever know the pain that my rejection caused to the salad sandwich!"


"Sure, there have been times when I have been desperate. They say as an addict you have a love/hate relationship with your dealer. This is true. Often at meal times, when I am at my low point, I can still clearly picture the face of the delivery boy for the Indian Kitchen Restaurant.

Yes, I’ve been desperate. Taking me away from temptation put thousands of miles between myself and my dealer. But it put no distance between myself and my addiction. I’m not proud of this, but at my lowest point I even looked up a paneer recipe on the net and then went out and bought a 2 litre bottle of full-cream milk. I was so desperate to feed my addiction that I was actually going to put this bastardised backyard version of paneer into my system!

But I came-to in a sweat, lying on the kitchen floor in a pool of spilt milk. I had hit my all-time low, and suddenly I could see myself for the monster I’d become.

I faced my demons that day. Now I that I can face myself again, I know I am strong enough to embark on a journey to regain my lost respect for non-dairy based curds. Tofu here I come!"


COMMUNITY MESSAGE: If you relate to any part of this story, and you think you might have a problem, please contact your nearest Paneer-aholics Anonymous Support Group

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Shopping Games

This has been going around on email, and while I don't belive it is authentic, it is still bloody funny.

12 March 2005
Jon Walker
Store Manager
Kmart store 4855
Summit Ridge, Reno, NV, 89503

Mrs. Fenton
35 Rasmussen Street
Moores Park, Reno, NV, 89503

Dear Mrs. Fenton,

During the preceding 6 months our security staff has been monitoring your husbands activities while in our store. The list below details his offences, all of which have been verified by our surveillance cameras and we have retained copies on tape.

We have repeatedly given your husband verbal warnings while he is in this store and he has subsequently ignored them. He replied to these warning with rudeness and the response “while the wife shops here I will come here too”. We are therefore forced to ban you, your husband and your family from this store.

The following list details your husbands activates in this store over the past six months.

June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they weren't looking.

July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in House wares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

July 7: Made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the rest rooms.

July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official tone, 'Code 3' in house wares and watched what happened.

August 4: Went to the Service Desk and asked to put a bag of M&M's on lay-buy.

September 14: Moved a 'Caution - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.

September 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told other shoppers he'd invite the in if they'll bring pillows.

September 23: If any staff offers him assistance he begins to cry and asks, “Why can't you people just leave me alone?”

October 4: Looked right into the security camera; used it a mirror, and picked his nose.

November 10: While in the gun department, asked the clerk if he knows where the antidepressants are.

December 3: Darted around the store suspiciously loudly humming the "Mission Impossible" theme.

December 6: In the auto department, practiced his "Madonna Look" using different size funnels.

December 18: Hide in a clothing rack and when people browse through, yelled "PICK ME!" "PICK ME!"

December 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumes the fetal position and screams "NO! NO! It's those voices again!"

December 23: Went in the fitting room, shut the door and waited a while; then yelled, very loudly, "There is no toilet paper in here!

John F. Walker
Store Manager

Kmart store 4855
Store Phone: (775) 746-4700
Pharmacy Phone: (775) 746-3030

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

When bunnies create international intrigue.

To the person who found my blog by google searching "when bunnies":

What happened? Did you hit the enter key too soon? where you going to write something else? When bunnies eat? When bunnies die? When bunnies hump their brothers forcing their owners to castrate them? When bunnies WHAT????

The suspence is killing me.

So, gentle readers, please finish the sentence for my random googler.... what can you come up with? I need a laugh today.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Bush, bloody Bush

Sunday bloody Sunday

Thanks to Mia for showing this link on her blog- it's George Bush "singing" U2's 'Sunday Bloody Sunday'... funny stuff.

Someone had A LOT of time on their hands....

Live and Learn

Note to self:

-Making raspberry Jelly/Jello on a hot day is a great idea.
-Letting it set in two red wine glasses for a 'touch of class' is a good idea.
-Putting said glasses in the door of the refrigerator to set is a bad idea.

When the jelly was half set, Phil yanked open the door of the fridge with the natural force of a 6'3" man, and the first glass toppled out, smashing on the floor at my feet.

As I came back with the mop and broom to clean it up, Phil repeated the process and the second glass joined its kamakazi brother.

I just closed my eyes in time as the second splatter of Jelly and glass shards sprayed up as high as my head. The shape of the wine glass meant that the jelly didn't just drop, it BOUNCED. There was red jelly ON TOP of the fridge, and it sprayed the length and breadth of the kitchen and out into the hall.

Next time I'll be making jelly in a coffee mug.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

It's a dog's life.

Warning: the following article might upset some animal-lovers... I know it upset me. If you'd prefer instead to look at some cute puppies go here

Death squads in Yunnan round up 50,000 dogs

On Saturday, a woman was walking her dog- a small white animal she'd had for a long time- in a Yunnan Province alley.

Several men approached, talked her into handing them the leash and then beat the dog to death as the owner looked on in horror.

The killing was only a small part of a campaign by Mouding County government officials to slaughter 50,000 canines between July 25 and Sunday, local media reported.

The campaign was touched off by reports that at least three people had died recently in the county from rabies and many others had been bitten.

On Saturday, officials said that 90 percent of the dogs had been killed, and they expected their work to finish on Sunday.

Witnesses indicated the slaughter was often carried with the sort of dramatic elements found in a grade-B horror film.

Around midnight, shaddows would flash along the walls of homes as men carrying clubs made noises to set the village dogs barking. Homing in on the sounds, the men would find their quarries, and the barks would be replaced by shrill yelps as the animals were dispatched.

Only military dogs guarding an ammunition storehouse and police dogs were allowed to survive.

--The Shanghai Daily, 1 August 2006

These dogs being slaughtered are not strays, they are beloved, licenced pets, just like our own dogs.

Can you even imagine an official policy that legally sentences your family dog to be painfully clubbed to death?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Carbi the Wonder Dog

There has been a new addition to the family- Say hi to Carbi the Wonder Dog, the new 'baby' of my sister Liz and her husband James'.

Actually he's not a Wonder Dog , but a Hypo-alert Dog... or at least he will be when he's old enough to see over people's knee caps.

Hypo-alert dogs are trained to detect impending hypoglycaemic episodes in diabetics. Carbi will be trained to give warnings when James' blood glucose levels drop low (this causing a hypoglycaemic episode), and help him to maintain a balance for his highly unpredictable Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes.

This is from the Paws For Diabetics website:

“These dogs are the latest tool in Diabetes management, as they give their owners warning well in advance of an impending hypoglycaemic episode, allowing for prompt treatment to avert the episode from happening. A hypoglycaemic attack left untreated can lead to coma and even death, so these dogs are real life-savers.

We believe in general Diabetic Alert dogs will increase the independence, safety and mobility of the Diabetic person, providing them with a higher confidence to go out in the general public on their own without the need to rely on family or friends to accompany them, putting an end to the isolation often faced when one is afraid to go out for fear of having a Hypoglycaemic episode.”

To find out more about Carbi, Liz and James, visit their website.


Here are a few more paintings I've recently spewed out in fits of creative purging:

Hidden Buddha, Acrylic on canvas, 75x100cm

Shanghai Skyline, Acrylic on canvas, 80x60cm

Forest of Skyscrapers, Acrylic on canvas, 102x76cm

Bubbles, Acrylic on canvas, 75x100cm

More at my art website, www.loudcreations.com

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

While the cat's away....

While the cat's away, the mouse will watch Chick-flicks.

Phil is away on a shoot in Japan for the next three days, and I should really take the opportunity to watch some chick flicks without dialogue/plot criticism from his end of the couch.

But now that it has come down to it, I can't think of any I really want to watch, though I can get almost anything on DVD here for a dollar or two.

So, tell me: what are your greatest all-time chick-flicks?

Happy Birthday Munchkin!

Another birthday, this time my neice Laura is turning two today.

Seriously, have you ever seen a child that looked more like a living, breathing Cabbage Patch Kid?

Happy Birthday Munchkin,
Love Aunty Lou

Sunday, August 06, 2006

"Teach in China- handcuffs supplied"

This report from the AP is a very interesting story about dodgy English schools in China.

I have heard these and many other horror stories about teaching in China before. Up until now I have only taught at very good schools. However when I decided to leave my full-time teaching position at one school in January, the school kept most of my last month's salary. Even though I did everything by the book according to my contract, I had to resign myself to losing RMB10,000 (US$1,250, AU$1,650), in return for my employers losing face over my departure. As much as I needed that money, the loss of money sure is better than the loss of my life.

I'm not saying that all English schools in China are bad, but they are certainly getting a (not unfounded) reputation as being as dodgy as a greasy used-car salesman.

The following report is long, but well worth reading in it's entirety

A twist on sweatshops: Foreign English teachers
complain of abuse at Chinese language schools

Associated Press, Aug. 2, 2006, 12:06AM

BEIJING — Tanya Davis fled Jizhou No. 1 Middle School
one winter morning in March before the sun rose over
the surrounding cotton fields covered with stubble
from last fall's crop.

In the nine months Davis and her boyfriend had taught
English at the school in rural north China, they had
endured extra work hours, unpaid salaries and frigid
temperatures without heating and, on many days,

Hearts pounding and worried their employer would find
a pretext to stop them leaving, the couple lugged
their backpacks, suitcase, books and guitar past a
sleeping guard and into a taxi.

As they drove away, "the sense of relief was immense,"
said Davis, a petite, soft-spoken 23-year-old from
Wales. "I felt like we had crossed our last hurdle and
everything was going to be OK."

It's a new twist on globalization: For decades,
Chinese made their way to the West, often illegally,
to end up doing dangerous, low-paying jobs in
sweatshop conditions. Now some foreigners drawn by
China's growth and hunger for English lessons are
landing in the schoolhouse version of the sweatshop.

In one case, an American ended up dead. Darren
Russell, 35, from Calabasas, Calif., died under
mysterious circumstances days after a dispute caused
him to quit his teaching job in the southern city of
Guangzhou. "I'm so scared. I need to get out of here,"
Russell said in a message left on his father's cell
phone hours before his death in what Chinese
authorities said was a traffic accident.

As China opens up to the world, public and private
English-language schools are proliferating. While most
treat their foreign teachers decently, and wages can
run to $1,000 plus board, lodging and even airfare
home, complaints about bad experiences in fly-by-night
operations are on the rise. The British Embassy in
Beijing warns on its Web site about breaches of
contracts, unpaid wages and broken promises. The U.S.
Embassy says complaints have increased eightfold since
2004 to two a week on average.

Though foreign teachers in South Korea, Japan and
other countries have run into similar problems, the
number of allegations in China is much higher because
"the rule of law is still not firmly in place," said a
U.S. Embassy official who spoke on condition of

"A number of substandard English language teaching
mills have sprung up, seeking to maximize profits
while minimizing services," the U.S. House of
Representatives International Relations Committee said
in a recent report on Russell's case. These institutes
have become virtual "'sweatshops' where young, often
naive Americans are held as virtual indentured

Davis said officials at her school in Hebei province
piled on classes without compensation, dragged their
feet on repairing leaks in her apartment and would
deduct sums from her $625 monthly salary for random
taxes and phone calls that were never made. These
ranged from $30 to $85, she said.

Wages offered range from $250 to $1,000 a month for an
average of 20 hours per week, with overtime that
varies. Housing is usually provided, and many schools
promise about $1,000 in airfare home upon completion
of a one-year contract.

Jobs offers teem on the Internet. On Dave's ESL Cafe,
one of the most popular sites, more than 340 were
posted in three months, ranging from positions in
prosperous Zhejiang province in the east to the
poverty-stricken grasslands of Inner Mongolia in the

But also on Dave's ESL Cafe is an anonymous warning
from a teacher about a school in China's south.

"They will use you, abuse you, cheat you, and
disrespect you," it says. "You will hear it all when
they want you to sign the contract. Then after it's oh
sorry that isn't in your contract or a bunch of
excuses that go on and on."

There is no standard rule on contracts — some are in
English, some in Chinese.

John Shaff, a graduate from Florida State University,
said everything went according to his English-language
contract at Joy Language School in the northeastern
city of Harbin — until a disagreement over his office
hours erupted into a shouting match on the telephone
with a school official.

A few hours later, several men led by Joy's handyman
showed up at his school-provided apartment, physically
threatening him and cursing him in Chinese, said
Shaff, 25. About 10 minutes later, they left, and
soon, so did Shaff.

Like Shaff, Darren Russell had a disagreement with the
manager of Decai language school in Guangzhou, where
he had been promised 20 hours of classes a week.
Instead, Decai had him teaching at two schools, where
he put in up to 14 hours a day and oversaw 1,200
students, Russell's mother, Maxine Russell, said in a
telephone interview from Calabasas.

The school had troubles with foreign teachers. Two had
quit by the time Russell showed up, and a former Decai
employee, a Chinese woman who spoke on condition of
anonymity, said she left because she was asked to
recruit foreign teachers by offering attractive
contracts that went unfulfilled.

In April 2005, sick from bronchitis and exhausted from
the work hours, Russell told manager Luo Deyi he
wanted her to lighten his work load. An argument
ensued, Russell resigned and threatened to tell police
Luo was operating illegally, the former employee said.

The school then moved him into a low-budget hotel. A
week later he was dead. Police told Decai and
Russell's mother that Darren had been killed in a
hit-and-run traffic accident. The body was shipped to

Maxine Russell, however, said Chinese authorities
could not provide consistent witnesses and a time of
death. According to the congressional report, which
was the outcome of a family request to look into the
Russell case, a California mortician who handled
Russell's body said he had suffered a blow to his head
and his body did not have bruises and fractures
consistent with a car accident. The mortician, Jerry
Marek, is a former coroner.

While Maxine Russell and the former Decai employee say
Russell was a beloved teacher, Luo, the manager,
insists he was often absent from class and his
"teaching methods failed to meet the requirement of
the school and fit the students." She said he had been
hired on probation, which he failed partly because of
a drinking problem.

"It was very strange and irresponsible for them to
blame us for their son's death," Luo said in a
telephone interview.

Maxine Russell denies Darren drank while teaching at

Thanks to Phil for the passing on this article

Friday, August 04, 2006

Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes

I rolled over in bed this morning, and groggily mumbled: "Happy Birthday Baby"

Shit, no that's not right. His Birthday was in June. What did I mean to say?

Oh Yeah, "Happy Anniversary Honey."

Phil and I have more anniversaries than we know what to do with, and have never quite figured out which one should take top priority.

First there is the anniversary of when we met in Kathmandu in September 2002- those couple of weeks are a bit of a blur, and we can't quite even remember the exact date- I think it was about the 15th.

But then after seven months of a long-distance relationship (me in rural Nepal, him in Shanghai, China), in April 2003 we broke up.

About six months after that, we started talking online again as friends. By that time I was living in Sydney again, Phil was still in China (with a short stint in Brazil). Over a year of chatting on MSN, with our friendship growing stronger and stronger, he finally told me in March 2005, that he couldn't be my friend anymore. Because he was in love with me.


Actually, I laughed at him and told him to get back to me in a week or so if he still felt the same way. Turns out he did, and in the mean time I got over my total denial, and realised I did too.

Then, after looking at several options of how to be together (Australia? Canada? China? Timbucktoo?) I finally moved here to Shanghai on the 4th August, 2005.

So tell me: what should we celebrate? The date we met? The date we got back together? or the date I moved here?

In any case we have been living together for 1 year today, and I must say I can't quite believe that I haven't smothered him in his sleep, or that he hasn't strangled me with my own incessantly flapping tongue... yet.

It looks like we finally got it figured out.

So, Baby: Happy One year Anniversary of living together- We done good, kid!


Top points to anyone who recognised title of this post as coming from Rent:

Seasons of Love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love? Measure in love

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different... *

To add a little culture ("kultchya") to this blog, I'd like to quote a poem from one of my favourite 'Creators'.

I first discovered Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)- painter, designer, writer, and translator- in 1996 when I stumbled on an antique book in my grandparents' house. The fraying, burgundy fabric-covered collection of poetry belonged to my grandmother, Marie-Jeanne Murnane. She told me at the time that it was one of the few books she brought with her when she emigrated from England to Australia in the 1940s to marry my grandfather Leo.

I began to read the collection, and found a beauty in the poetry that sang to me.

The book has since travelled around the world with me(carefully wrapped in paper, and several zip-locked bags in my carry-on luggage). Though I prefer his poetry to his paintings, I am full of admiration for Rossetti's diversity- his ability to transend the pressure to keep within just one medium. I consider myself to be a 'creator of all trades', and though our styles are vastly different, I consider Rossetti to be one of my role models for this reason.

Below is one of my favourite poems:

Love-Lily (1869)

Between the hands, between the brows,
Between the lips of Love-Lily,
A spirit is born whose birth endows
My blood with fire to burn through me;
Who breathes upon my gazing eyes,
Who laughs and murmurs in mine ear,
At whose least touch my colour flies,
And whom my life grows faint to hear.

Within the voice, within the heart,
Within the mind of Love-Lily,
A spirit is born who lifts apart
His tremulous wings and looks at me;
Who on my mouth his finger lays,
And shows, while whispering lutes confer,
That Eden of Love's watered ways
Whose winds and spirits worship her.

Brows, hands, and lips, heart, mind, and voice,
Kisses and words of Love-Lily,--
Oh! bid me with your joy rejoice
Till riotous longing rest in me!
Ah! let not hope be still distraught,
But find in her its gracious goal,
Whose speech Truth knows not from her thought
Nor Love her body from her soul.

See the Dante Gabriel Rossetti Archive for more information.

*Don't worry, I haven't gone completely soft... to balance all the 'kultchya' I managed to slip in a quote from Monty Python's Flying Circus into the title.

"We will now return to your regular programming..."