Thursday, June 23, 2005

Cinderella

I've been reading about the Cinderella complex - perhaps you've heard of it. It's when girls have read so many stupid stories and watched so much Disney that they think they need to marry a nice man to be complete. All life is suffering until they get rescued from their life of loneliness, and they have to compete for the prize because there's only one Prince Charming to go around righting the wrongs. You've got to be really pretty and really good to catch the eye of ol' Charmy boy that's for sure.

If you look around there are so many of these girls out there going to the night clubs in their little dresses and make up trying to get noticed by some rich looking guy in a suit. They prop up a huge bridal industry - if you've ever been to the mall when there was a bridal show on you have probably been amazed at the premium just for tacking the word "bridal" onto a product's name.

Feminists hate this stuff...

Liberal feminists (and some feminists even go further and call themselves pro-sex feminists) say of course it's alright if a woman wants to be with a man, and if she decides she will feel happy raising the children carefully and getting treated like a princess because he can afford for her not to work full time then hey great.

But no woman should be forced into the usual assumptions about relationships and power and labour and so on.

For a modern woman, it's hard to know which feelings are legitimate. For example, I might feel the urge to make a boy a big cake with icing roses and I might also feel the urge to write a song and I might also be interested in sewing the fabric that's been sitting in front of me for over a week now. The sewing is because I like to make pretty things and I like to be pretty by wearing pretty things. The cake is because I like to make nice things and I like to give nice things to nice people and make them feel good. The song is because I like to make music and I want it to be a career.

Now is it wrong of me to want to make friends, a romantic attachment, make people happy? Sometimes it feels so, but that's probably because I'm more extraverted than my introverted mother who raised me, and because of those confusing feminists who remind me I need a career. I'm not even sure what a career is. I know it's good to have a source of money and to get good at doing some nice or useful things or things that bring joy, but a career is not really a thing or a process - it's just a label for a bunch of related behaviour. If my activities fall into the pattern, then I have a career and I'm Good. If they don't then I'm drifting and that's BAD, especially for a girl who might get married. That might actually be Shameful.

I'm calling it the Anti-Cinderella complex, or maybe even the Margaret Thatcher complex. And I'm signing off with a reminder that Mrs Thatcher used to make breakfast for her family every morning the whole time she was prime minister.

Time distortion

Arrr! I'm working all day and living in a dream world where there is no sun. I can't write in my diary because I have to sleep, but I must do it because it's a good habit.

Keeping good habits is the best way to improve oneself. It's a good practice just to learn new habits, even if they seem mundane and unimportant. Just makes it that much easier to learn the important, good habits when they come along.

So this is my token habit-forming entry and now I'm going to lie down in my doona with my book. Mmmm... microfibre warm goodness.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Working late

Hi everyone or nobody

I thought I'd update over the weekend but I was away. And since I've been back I've been so busy...

I've done some recording!
We got together and we recorded some beautiful trance style music. It's some strings and lead with a rhythmic drum beat and real bass guitar. Not much to really listen to, but it's a good start and shows amazing potential. We might even be able to use some of the samples It was hard because it's all played on instruments, even stuff that probably should have been piano-rolled. Seems silly but we got some amazing effects out of the synthesizer by really playing the silly repetitive bits. Only problem is, I could hardly hear myself so the rhythm is off. The bass guitar was easier to fix, but the keyboard stuff was supposed to be on a very long oscillation, so each sample is slightly different. But given that it was really just an experiment and practice, I think we did quite well.

We've also looked at songs and lyrics and we've got some amazing ideas going.

My maths exam was big news last week so I suppose it's appropriate to comment. I'm a little disappointed but I did OK. Sometimes it's just like that. Sometimes things don't work as we would like, but it's still alright. I'm also very glad it's over, and I'd been ill leading up to and during the exam so I'll see if I can get a little consideration or another chance to do a little better.

Tonight I've been so hard at work. I had a coffee then sat down and glued myself to the computer until I finished the work I had. I'm so tired I don't know if I have the energy to sleep, but I've got to get up early and set to work again. I promised.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

King Henry V

King Harry couldn't sleep well before his big day either. In Shakespeare's play he went for a wander and eavesdropped on what everyone was saying about him. I've been going over my notes, making sure I have enough information, and just trying to relax, getting dinner and doing some shopping.

Perhaps I should have skipped the coffee, but I don't think that's what's keeping me up.

Tomorrow morning is my exam. I have a lunch date afterwards, then I can do whatever I want!

It's been quite a semester, trying to mix music with applied maths and loving it of course. But next semester, I'm definitely not going to study at university. There are so many exciting things to do while I'm still young - physics can wait!

Tomorrow afternoon I really need to do a bit of shopping, some serious piano practice and perhaps even jump on the sewing machine. I've got a dozen designs all playing out in my head and at least a dozen more repairs and alterations to make. But I can only afford to make a start, because the ironing pile easily wins against the sewing pile (yes, girls have to iron a lot of stuff... It's a fair price for dressing well).

So I think I might just jump on the blogs and see what there is to read while I wind down and try to get any rest.

My reader comments have been very lovely. If anyone knows any good ways to relax, I'd appreciate your advice.

Goodnight!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Hair manglers

A choice of hairdresser is very important. I've gone from bad to worse since I started going a few months ago.

So here are a few tips for anyone considering a "style cut".

  • You can walk away.
  • Before you start, demand to see a picture. No matter how highly recommended the hairdresser is or how many prizes the salon has won, a description is vague and a picture is precise.
  • Make sure the hairdresser has taken into account your own hair style. There's nothing worse than getting to the end of a wrong haircut and being asked "your hair curls, right?"
  • Ask for styling instructions before the cut. Some of the better ones give instructions after the cut, but as I discovered, the instructions may apply to different hair. I was told "Oh, your hair is very fine and curls, you'll want to put some goo in to hold it down." I've used the stuff he recommended and it isn't working.
  • If you don't like the current fads, then walk away from anyone who mentions fashion.
  • Make sure the hairdresser knows how to take direction. I've no idea how to achieve this, but I've had enough who didn't that I know it's important.
  • Don't let anyone tell you they're "shaping" your hair around your face. You'll end up with a mullet you can't style.
  • Don't put layers in if you want to do anything with your hair other than blowdry it like a middle-aged blonde public servant who likes to think she's a "powerful" businesswoman.
  • Short layers are wrong.
  • Colours are fun, but they never wash out when they're supposed to, and they always wash out when they're not supposed to. A holiday colour can end up ruining the next 3 years of your life.
  • Curls should not be cut in layers to give it "movement". You'll end up looking like a spaniel.
  • If the only cure for a mullet is to chop it all off, make sure it isn't cut too short.
  • If the only cure for a mullet is to chop it all off, make sure it doesn't grow back as a mullet.
  • Make sure they cut for your face shape.
  • Make sure they don't cut only for your face shape, and actually take into account your preferences as stated by you, not as assumed by the fact that you had a horrible haircut at some other place.
  • If your hair has personality that requires a bit of understanding, just cut it yourself. After a few months, you'll do a better job than any hairdressers.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Challenge me!

The thing about humans that prevents us from really pushing ourselves is our inherent laziness. For example, I'm studying and sure, I could push myself to work on harder questions, but that would take effort!

In some Eastern philosophy, there is the belief that people are fundamentally good but we get seduced by our physical bodies into taking the easy way out. We therefore need to take a long-term approach in order to realize that achieving our long term goals is the easy way out.

For this reason, it's worth the effort required to be vegetarian, to only eat healthy food, abstain from drugs, exercise well, and all those things people are supposed to do to take care of themselves. It's also worth the effort to study and meditate (and personally I think they're versions of the same thing).

I'm having a lot of trouble putting that into practice. But the challenge keeps me strong.

On target

So my exam is just a few days away and the study is going really well. It's just a matter of making sure I know what I'm doing so that I know what to do with my notes on the day.

I can't wait until it's finally out of the way and I can get on with the more creative plans I have made for my life. I've got some really cool stuff like liquid eyeliner and new lip glosses and I'm looking forward to spending more time exercising. I'm also planning various songs I want to write (I've about a dozen I need to do the hard work on) and I've some ideas for the music, but I'm not sure where to take most of them. I think plenty of counterpoint will be my main feature.

I need a haircut. I've had it cut short and the hairdresser assured me it would grow out well, but it's starting to get dangerously into mullet territory. So I just need to go back and get him to take a bit off the back. (The short cut was to correct a mullet accident...) At least mullets are vaguely fad at the moment, but really, I don't want to look like a hip fashion follower.

So it's back to the ol' grindstone for me. I've been having a lot of trouble paying attention for more than half a minute. Earlier I went out to a very busy cafe, and perhaps I can do something like that again later. For now, I'm sort of stuck at home, so I'll just have to do my best.

Good luck to all the other students out there too!!!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

panicking now

I'm coming into the last few days before my maths exam. I've been unable to study yesterday and today because of other family responsibilities that called for my attention. So now I've re-done my timetable and I'm really swamped!

I'm enjoying the pressure, though. There's nothing like a deadline to make one feel really alive!

It's also a good time to indulge. I've got my coffee, my chocolate, my Italian bread and hurrah! I've got to go away tomorrow (those family responsibilities again) but I know I'll relax away from home. And I won't be so cold!

I don't plan to formally study next semester. I've got so much work to do with my music and other plans that I'll just keep it casual and personal. Of course that means I'll miss the joy of these mad swot sessions, but I guess I'll just have to make do.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Integration: meh

and furthermore, bah!

Adams' calculus book is my nemesis.

The vexing thing about studying for a second year exam is discovering that all those forgotten skills from first year need to be re-learnt and re-drilled until one is positively injured.

So I've been going over and over double integration (and of functions over surfaces, volumes etc.) and I've got to the point where I can do it, if only I remember the finer points of how to actually integrate in one dimension.

Music doesn't even get a look-in until perhaps much later this evening.

After this I've still got so much more to go. But there you have it: it needs to be automatic.

At least coffee will still be my friend.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Album news

I've made some progress.

I've had some portraits done for publicity and they are going to be sooo cute! They'll probably be available in the next few weeks.
DJ T (The DJ with the arbitrary designation) has been working on our first track together. It's about home and the things that make a place special. The point is supposed to be that different things have their charm and that people are very complex in what they respond to.

There's been talk of endoresements but I'm really not interested in selling out. I know there's interest in modelling too, but I don't really do much of that either. I'll work with an artist or designer, but I'm not going to wear animal product makeups or do erotic photography.

Mostly, though, it's nose down as I get into my study.

Best! Lunch! Ever!

It started with Maltese Minestra. This is a soup like minestrone, but for me the beans and vegetables blend and flow around each other in a sort of dance. I use big, in your face broad beans, borlotti beans, brown green lentils... real textured emphatic beans. The vegetables are rich and inviting round slices of zucchini and carrot, little pieces of red, green and yellow capsicum, some chunks of brown onion. The stock is made from celery leaf and brussels sprouts broth with plenty of tomato puree. Amazingly, I did the whole thing without adding any basil leaves which are out of season (usually I am quite liberal) so the flavour was less herby and the vegetables were allowed to make a bold statement.

The next dish was Risotto Rocket. This was made by my co-host. He toasts the dried arborio rice in olive oil in the frying pan before adding a rich vegetable stock. He seduces the rice with wine and massages it to a perfect creamy finish with artichoke hearts and peas. (I love peas and I eat them out of the risotto.)

Dessert was a bit special. I heard the family enjoys a cheesecake, so I put my vegan cooking skills to work. Everything came up a bit firmer than I expected, but it was my first ever attempt so I did quite well.
The base was a solid almond cookie - I used organic almonds, demerara sugar, and a little organic unbleached flour to create the perfect biscuit base. This was topped with Lindt 70% cocoa dark chocolate. On top of this I poured a layer of hot marzipan, fresh from the saucepan (hand made, and I even peeled the almonds myself). The chocolate cheesecake layer was made from soymilk, but it was so full of chocolate you'd never know what it was. I melted almost 300g of Lindt 70% cocoa into about 750mL of organic soy milk, added 500g of demerara sugar, and poured in almost a cup of corn flour to thicken it up. The topping was left over marzipan cut into little cubes and crumbed over the top.

I made espresso to finish and the wine flowed freely all afternoon.

Cooking is a form of art, and like any art it needs to be respected and practiced with care and attention. The most important thing for me to observe is proper planning. For example, I prepared most of the meal last night so that this morning I could get up and go to the market to get a fresh loaf of Italian bread and some grissini. And because I prepared the biscuit base well in advance, it didn't matter that my first try failed.

I also believe in preparing from scratch. Making my own marzipan was quite a buzz. I've also been wanting for a long time to make my own chocolate but try finding cocoa butter in Canberra! "What's that?" ask the deli ladies and deli men. You can get non-food grade cocoa butter to use as a skin cream, but that's about it.

There's nothing like a mortar and pestle covered in nut paste and melting chocolate over a fresh batch of cookies hot from the oven. It's not just the delight on the recipient's face: there's the aroma of the kitchen, the joy of tying a ribbon around the jar: cooking, properly done, is an entire sensory experience. And given that sensory experience is what I do, it makes sense to indulge the other senses once in a while.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Lemme at 'em!

I am so angry at the person who was just in my street.

I heard a screech and a vroom and thought it was just someone having fun.

Then I realized exactly what it was: some idiot doing burnouts in a suburban street.

For the last few weeks we've been coming home to tyre tracks on the road. It's always in the same place and it happens about once a week.

What's the story? It's a suburban neighbourhood and there are kids living here. It's after midnight, but here are some things that happen in suburban streets after midnight:
  • Very tired parents take their exhausted babies for long tearful walks
  • Drunken youths stumble home on bicycles or on foot after Friday night parties
  • Kids stay up late on Friday nights and go outside for running around
Yes, it's cold out, but Canberra (where I am today) is actually quite comfortable at night. The ice drops out and the air is still and dry. It's great to be out in it and I love it. What I don't love is some idiot with access to a tyre shop tearing up the pavement and polluting the air in my street.

It makes no sense because
  • There are skid pans
  • There are race tracks
  • Even if you don't want that, there are country paddocks and much more sensible bits of road than my street.
So Mister or Ms burnout, just watch out because Rocket is angry.

Triumphant return

Well I'm back! I've had computer trouble and I'll be honest: with all my study I was lax about fixing it.

I've now got a shiny new Rocket machine. I've upgraded to desktop and I'm feeling good.