Five Quick Things

22 January 2008

First, I’m sick. It’s just a cold, I think, and I went home early from work yesterday and slept a lot so I think I’m nearly over it already.

Second, I’ve made some cryptic references here in the past about moving interstate. I don’t think it will hurt to say that within a month I’ll be living in Melbourne.

Third, I’m looking forward to regular visits to Sticky. My wallet might have a different view.

Fourth, I’m going to try to be more organised with this blog this year. My goal is to write a couple of reviews each week, and to maybe branch out and do some interviews and things like that.

Fifth, I’ve been watching a bunch of stuff lately. The Darjeeling Limited was disappointing. All of these are good: The Wire, Band of Brothers (surprisingly, since I usually don’t like military stuff), Charlie Wilson’s War, I Am Legend. I’m also looking forward to Juno, Lust, Caution and Kite Runner.

Five Quick Things

8 January 2008

First, moving house is going to be very expensive. It will basically suck our savings dry — paying for removalists and freight and insurance and bonds and a month’s rent up front. I’ll be glad when it’s over.

Second, I’ve resolved to put some exercise back into my routine this year. When I was a kid I used to play a couple of different sports, so there’d be training three days a week and then matches on the weekend. Now, I walk to and from work a few days a week, but it’s not enough.

Third, my more fun resolution is to write letters. Moving away from friends makes this a no-brainer.

Fourth, I’m thinking about abandoning social networking sites. They’re an easy way to keep people up to date, but the flipside is that they kill conversation:

“I did X on the weekend.”

“Yeah, I saw that on Facebook.”

“Did you hear that Y and Z got together?”

“Yeah, it was on Facebook.”

Blegh.

Fifth, notwithstanding the aforementioned cost, I’m really, really looking forward to moving.

Tick, tick, tick

3 January 2008

I don’t really get into the spirit of New Year’s celebrations. The calendar is, after all, just an arbitrary numbering system. Birthdays I can go along with, since it’s the number of laps around the sun since a particular event. But calendar years don’t really have a tangible reference point; the numbers were plucked out of thin air.

So I always feel like New Year’s eve parties are celebrating nothing. The clock ticking over another second, just like all the other seconds. Even the fact of the inevitable countdown turns an otherwise decent party into a tedious chore. Is it midnight yet? Because I want to go home.

This year, I didn’t celebrate the New Year, not properly. I went to a couple of different parties, but we left the first one long before midnight and the second one was actually a thirtieth birthday party. It was nice: just a regular party, with champagne and whiskey and cupcakes and friends.

But now I’m wondering whether I shouldn’t go along with the New Year’s traditions, just this once. 2008 might be just a number, but it feels more genuinely like a clean break this time. I was at work on 2 January to start cleaning out my office. Next week I’m flying off on a mission to find somewhere to live, and when I get back we’ll have to start packing. February is the journey, and March is a new job.

So given that, perhaps I will make some resolutions this year.

Zine cover - Telegram Ma’am #9

In 2006 and 2007, Maranda Farthing was hospitalised after trying to commit suicide. It was her attempt to escape:

When the darker part of my mind took over, I needed to find a safer place, a place where I could take a break and get some help. To get to that sort of place, I had to hurt myself.

Telegram Ma’am #9 takes the reader to that place with Maranda. First, briefly, to a rehabilitation centre, then to a psychiatric hospital for seven days, and then to the beginnings of her post-hospital life. It is a story of panic and pain, but also of love (a mother who made the difficult decision to take her daughter to the hospital) and care (a nurse who uses what might have been “standard nurse-to-patient textbook stuff” to calm her patient).

Maranda is very good at describing her situation in a way that encourages empathy rather than pity. I think it is because her inquisitiveness and perceptiveness come through so strongly: if she was going to be in hospital for a week, she was going to scour the library and wander the corridors:

Earlier, I ventured the hospital grounds on my own. I simply went downstairs to find the cahnge machine and get myself a drink, but I wondered what the others might think of me, an obvious patient in my casual clothes and ballet slippers, confused expression on my face as I explored the hallways. Would they sense I was from the Mental Health Ward, or could I pass for a “normal” patient?

Telegram Ma’am #9 is hard to read. Not because it’s badly written, or boring — far from it. It is hard to read because it takes the reader through a difficult period in Maranda’s life and makes us feel like we are there with her. Not sharing her experiences, exactly: more like witnessing them from close by, unable to do anything to help. Fortunately Maranda has the strength to get through without our help, which is what makes us want to keep turning the pages.

Maranda Farthing, Telegram Ma’am #9, 1/4 size, 32 pages.
Available from the author, but maybe sold out.