31 August 2006

Littered with wikilinks

In summer, the bushfires rage, and rage
And rage, on such beautiful days
And we fight them
with water that runs through the cracks
water we're desparately trying to save.
the Cat Empire - Wine Song

Stinkypaw seemed surprised that I would exchange bushfires for cyclones. I would, gladly, and I'll try to explain why.

Cyclones are, compared to bushfires, very predictable. You get at least a day's notice, you can track on the meteorology site how fast they're going, what direction they're going. They are huge, and scary, and very destructive. But you know what you're getting. The wind speed is fierce, but they move slowly. You have time to prepare.

Bushfires erupt out of nowhere, travel up to 100 k's an hour (depending on the wind), jump barriers, change direction abruptly and destroy everything. They are unpredictable and bloody fast. Many times when I was young I'd climb the mountain near my home in summer and watch as around me in the distance fire after fire would start. The CFS would be run ragged chasing different fires all over the hills all day, then the next day, then the next, all summer. They are volunteers. They do it because bushfire threatens everyone.

I've seen the aftermath of huge fires. I travelled through New South Wales after the 2001 bushfires. Hundreds of kilometers burnt. In small towns all across the state banners hung in the main street thanking the firefighters who had come from interstate to help out.

I remember the worst bushfires of all, Ash Wednesday in 1983. I was five years old. The sky was all black and red, and the fires were coming. My parents decided to take us to my uncle's house, which was far better defended than ours. They loaded up the car as fast as they could with everything they wanted to save. I was told to grab my one favourite toy. That was such a hard decision for a five year old, knowing that everything could be destroyed before we returned. I don't remember what I took in the end. I remember driving away, and then waiting, waiting for the fire to get us or burn out.

We were lucky. The fire came to the end of our street, but was stopped at a firebreak. Hundreds of people around us lost their homes. Quite a few lost their lives.

It is incredibly eerie to travel through a eucalypt forest after a fire. The trees are all black. The leaves still hang on, but they are all brown. The ground still smokes.

But if you travel through again in a year or two, those trees will be covered in baby leaves. Bright green leaves clustered around black trunks.

Bushfires were an everpresent danger where I grew up. Here, they are still a danger, but not, it seems, so much. There was a small one near us recently, which was controlled within hours by water bombers. The others are far enough away from me. But fire is such a defining part of the Australian landscape. It's difficult to escape that, even in the city. Even in the north where I am now. We just have to live with them.

Fire and Ice

Here's something I wrote last summer:

It has been so hot here lately. The other day power went out in suburbs all over the city. The sky was filled with the smoke of bushfires.

The newspaper the next day carried a front page story about how outraged people were that the power went out.

I'm not sure what they expect. Sure, it's a pain in the arse when the power goes out. But the power always goes out in a heatwave, because everyone's using air-conditioning and other electrical things more to keep cool.

Thing is, the houses here are fucked. They're not built to suit the climate. There are McHouses with paper thin walls, houses with no insulation, houses with the sun blaring in huge windows.

No one is equipped to deal with extreme temperature changes. No one demands when they buy a house that it's energy efficiant. We all rely on electricity far more than we need to.

I wish people would quit bitching and try to work on ways to reduce the need for air-conditioners.



I thought I'd left the bushfires behind in Oldtown, exchanged them for cyclones. Not so. The last few days, I've looked outside at a sky grey with smoke drifting off the hills. The bushfires come in winter here, when the hills are brown and dry.

We still see houses that exist only with the help of airconditioners. The older ones are bad, but the new ones - you simply couldn't live in them during summer without air-con. But I've hardly noticed any blackouts - not like the regular ones in Oldtown. The energy use is consistently high here, it doesn't peak and trough so much.

When we came here I was expecting the houses to be all wooden, with verandas around all four sides to keep the sun out. Well, the majority are wooden. But very few seem to know what a veranda is. And this town is growing fast - and all the new houses are McHouses, concrete boxes facing the sun with no eaves, no way of keeping cool.

The weather here at the moment is perfect. But the shops and public buildings keep the air-con blasting like a fridge. I have to remember to take a jumper with me when I go to the supermarket - the only time one would need a jumper up here. Why keep it so cold inside you get goose bumps? It doesn't make sense.

I just don't understand why no one cares. Surely, even if you don't care about the environment, it would make economic sense to be energy efficient.

29 August 2006

Gone

Someone broke into our house while I lay in bed asleep and Partner was out.

They didn't steal much, just enough to piss us off.

The strange thing was my complete lack of emotion when we figured it out. Just a brief thought of, "good thing I didn't wake up". I'm not sure why I am so numb about it.

About ten years ago, my house was broken into when I was out one afternoon. I lived alone. That night was the only night I ever felt frightened living alone. I even tied bells to all the curtains so I would hear if someone came through the window, and pulled the phone into my room and closed the door. Silly really, since the deed was done and I had nothing left worth stealing. They weren't coming back.

This time... I hope they don't come back. They sure didn't take everything worth taking - maybe they saw me or heard me move and ran for it. Hopefully they haven't kept us in mind for future reference.

16 August 2006

50 things

Here it is, via DZER, Artful Dodger andConfused Husband.


1. My roommate and I once: Ran screaming out the room because a giant moth was buzzing around. GIANT!

2. Never in my life have I: Been able to watch Parliment Question Time without wanting to punch the politicians

3. The one person who can drive me nuts, but then can always manage to make me smile is: This child I know...

4. High school was: A place of daily torture.

5. When I’m nervous: I panic

6. The last time I cried was: Last night.

7. If I were to get married right now, my bridesmaids/groomsmen would be: Random strangers off the street

8. Would you rather run naked through a crowded place or have someone e-mail your deepest secret to all your friends? Run naked, but only if I could hold my boobies. They bounce too much so I don't run.

9. My hair: Is still short

10. When I was 5: I bit into a glass so hard it shattered in my mouth.

11. Last Christmas: I spent on the road with Partner. It was the first time I didn't see any family for Christmas.

12. When I turn my head left: I get a shooting pain in my neck. Just like Art.

13. I should be: Ruling the world

14. When I look down I see: A keyboard. Duh!

15. The craziest recent event was: see 27.

16. If I were a character on “Friends” I’d be: Really pissed off. I hate that show.

17. By this time next year: I can never see that far ahead

18. My favorite aunt is: Dead

19. I have a hard time understanding: Cantonese

20. One time at a family gathering: I let slip to someone that I like girls. Big family scandal.

21. You know I like you if: I don't ignore every phone call and email you send.

22. If I won an award, the first person (people) I’d thank: would be whoever handed it to me. That's polite, isn't it?

23. Take my advice: Think for yourself.

24. My ideal breakfast is: Coffee. And coffee. Followed by coffee.

25. If you visit my home town: Say hi from me

26. Sometime soon I plan to visit: The bathroom

27. If you spend the night at my house: Don't try to get down my pants like the last idiot did.

28. I’d stop my wedding if: I got cold feet.

29. The world could do without: Humans

30. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: Have sex with George Bush

31. The most recent thing I’ve bought myself is: Does food count?

32. The most recent thing someone else bought for me is: A t shirt for Blue Stocking Week (celebrating women in education)

33. My favorite blonde is: My mate who introduced me to Partner

34. My favorite brunette is: Partner

35. My car must have a sign on it that reads: Taxi

36. The last time I was drunk: I got into an argument about politics.

37. The animals I would like to see flying besides birds: Bats. It's not exciting. I just like bats.

38. I shouldn’t have been: sitting here for the last hour, but this list was harder than I thought

39. Have you ever shaved your pubic hair? Once. Then it changed from tight curls to long kinky strands.

40. Last night I: Cried. I said that already! Oh, and then had wild slippery monkey sex and came really hard.

41. There’s this girl I know who: Thinks bondage is really kinky, but likes golden showers

42: I don’t know: Why there's so many stupid people in the world

43. A better name for me would be: O great one

44. If I ever go back to school I’ll: Burn the place down.

45. How many days until my birthday: Lots

46. One dead celebrity I wish I’d met is: Fuck celebrities. I'd rather meet someone interesting.

47. I’ve lived at my current address since: Feb

48. I’ve been told I look like: Pussy Galore

49. If I could have any car, it would be: A electric one

50. If I got a new cat tomorrow, I would name it: Greebo. Then I'd give it back. I'd rather have a pet quoll.

Nothing is too mundane*

The craving returns, nearly every day.

I picked through some lionstail with tweezers today to find the tiny bits of marijuana mixed within. Tiny bits, because I've already gone through that box so many times.

Now, having been without for two and a half months, those two puffs have made me stoned.

It's so precious, this feeling which will soon depart, that I fear I am wasting it by sitting at the computer. but I wanted to write some things down.

I was glad to move up here, so I could get away from my pot-riddled Oldtown. I had been smoking daily for half my life. And I couldn't seem to get off it, or moderate my use. So I decided to get away from it altogether.

It's a good thing. I keep telling myself that. I had a love-hate relationship with grass for so long. I love the way it makes me feel, I love the way it makes me think. I hate the way it sucks my energy and motivation.

I never liked alcohol much. Or any other drugs. Grass is the thing my brain is wired in to. Problem is, I reinforced that and hard-wired my brain for it. Now, my thoughts are different, my feelings are different. I crave it so much - mainly, lately, in the mornings if I have a space of time before I go out. And at night time - I've always had problems sleeping, and pot was great for that.

Now I need to learn how to live - how to think, feel, deal with things around me - without it. There are so many aspects of my life that were so tied to pot. And I've found: I don't like sitting and thinking so much anymore. My thoughts aren't as interesting. I don't like spending hours reading, or writing, or engaging in the life inside my head. And I'm bored with all my hobbies - without the extra zing that pot gave them, they're flat and lifeless. I need to learn how to enjoy things without pot. I need to learn how to manage my irritability without pot. I need to rediscover myself, to find who I really am without it. I need to rebuild myself.

I was so ashamed of my pot addiction. It's supposed to be the soft drug, the non-addictive drug. Bullshit. So many people could take it or leave it, I didn't want to admit how desperately I needed it. A couple of friends understood, and supported me as I supported them in trying to reduce useage or quit completely. But it never worked for me - I just kept going back for more.

Most of the time I do feel better now. I have more energy (I'm restless all the time). I can think clearly when I need to (though my thoughts often scatter when I want to concentrate). I interact with partner more (and fight with him more, too because I'm so irritable). I eat less chocolate (because I enjoy it less). Giving up is a double edged sword, just as smoking was.

I don't crave it every moment of every day, but I still crave it at some point, nearly every day.

I smoked for so many years, I'm sure it will take me a fair bit of time to adjust. It's an adjustment I wanted to make, and I'm really happy I'm getting off it, although it's so hard.

Life seems so dull now. I hope to find that spark of interest again, this time without the pot.

I wasn't going to post this. I just wanted a private space to write, and typing's quicker, so I thought the blogger account is a good place to bury the ramblings. But I think I will post it. Why not? I'm sure there's other smokers out there, or people struggling with other addictions. The blogsphere seems a place of confessions, and as confessions go, this isn't a big one. Maybe it'll start a dialogue about pot, its joys and its dangers. Or about addiction in general.



*Most of my post titles are quite obvious rip-offs of something. This one's the title of a song by Baterz about pot smokers.

14 August 2006

Moody

I miss my old life.

I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss the hills where I grew up. I miss going to the markets and being overwhelmed by the choice.

I miss my friends so much it hurts.

But I don't want to go back.

When I went back to Hometown a couple of months ago it was like stepping into my past. It was like seeing what my life would be like if I never had moved away. And I thought, "I don't belong here any more." It wasn't Hometown anymore. It was Oldtown. Home is up here, where Partner is, where we are trying to make a new life for ourselves. Home is the beautiful house we have here with the beautiful view. I just wish all my friends could come up here to visit. Or live here.

It's so hard starting from scratch in a new town. It takes a long time. And as much as I ache for my old life, more than anything I wanted to build a new one. Just to see if I could. I wanted to leave Oldtown. I don't want to go back. I just want...to feel settled, to feel grounded. To feel like I belong, like I'm part of it. To not feel like I'm floating over the top.

It takes time.

9 August 2006

stat 2

Someone in Beiruit looked at my blog last week.

Whoever you are, I hope you and your loved ones are alive and well.

8 August 2006

Winter in the tropics

We can't hug for more than a couple of minutes before we start to melt.

Last winter, Partner and I held each other tight for hours. I'd curl up to him in bed, and fall asleep listening to his heart beat next to my ear.

I really miss that.

5 August 2006

I never knew...

My grandmother's wedding ring was made from a spent bullet casing.

Like so many other Europeans, she sold her original ring during the War, to feed her starving children.

After the War, refugees in Europe did anything to survive. One man made wedding rings out of spent bullet casings. My grandfather bought one for my grandmother.

The love of my grandparents, and the horror of that war, resided inseperably on my grandmother's finger until the day she died.

3 August 2006

stat

I'm still fascinated by the stat counter. It ticks over, fairly slowly but regularly. People from all over the world, looking at my little blog.

A bunch turn up saying 'no referring link'. I assume that means people have me in their bookmarks? I know who a couple are, but gradually there's more and more. I'm starting to think I have some regular lurkers.

Like to come out of the woodwork and say hello?