August 2006 Archives

Change is in the wind


I'm not good with change. I admit I'm a little nervous about going back to Australia at the end of the year, because I will have not been back for three years (although I must give a shout out to Greg, who hasn't been back for 6, and I really respect how difficult that must be), and I know that things have changed. Places have changed. People have changed. I worry that I won't fit in. That people I cared about won't care so much about me any more, because things have changed so much since we were last there.

If that wasn't enough, much has been changing in my life already.

There are now 8 planets instead of 9.

My parents have changed email addresses, deleting the email address that they've used for the last 10 years. The fact that they've moved houses is far less perturbing, for some reason.

And worst of all, today I discover that Orange Tic Tacs, which were always white, no matter what the flavour, have now got a colouring added so that they look orange.

Orange Tic Tacs now look orange. The world is crashing down around me.

Write for your right to party

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I've got some massive projects underway at work at the moment. So big that they're taking every single bit of my creative energy, but they're so interesting that I come home with my head spinning with excitement every day.

As a result, I was feeling a bit of a creative low yesterday - so much so that all I could imagine doing was play some Neopets and do some mindless knitting. An email from my editor over at the Neopets mag changed that, however, and all of a sudden the creative juices are flowing again and I'm chomping at the bit to get writing, to be creative.

It falls well, really, as I now have a sweet little pile of articles to write this weekend and to be feeling under the imaginative weather wouldn't help.

I get a lot of neomail every day from people all over the world who read the magazine and feel inspired to write to me. I feels strange and a little uncomfortable to get "fan mail" like this, because I don't feel like I'm doing anything special. They come from people of all ages, from teens to grandmas, but the best ones, however, are from the littlies - they're the ones that always make me really laugh. And inspire me to keep writing.

i would just like to tell you that i enjoy reading the neopets magazines and i saw your article in the new magazine about the tombola items.Very Cute! :) Thanks,Rocky

Hello, I am a subscriber to the Official Neopets Magazine, and I just wanted to say, I love your articles, especially the "Creative Uses for Tiki Tack Gifts" article.^^ It really made me laugh; You have a great sense of humor!

I have read some of your articles they are so good wow do you like work for neopets or do you just play the game and wow your cool do you like to write articles my favorite was the one on how to save neopoints thank you that has helped me alot well just wanted to tell you thank you bye

I know you may not neomail me...
I mean a person like you...!!!!
I mean Im a HUGE fan of your stories.
Especially the one on how to get things tidy and all.
even though I usually go on neopets for a while the games part REALLY helped me out.

since u r part of the neopets team,i need help,this is what iv been puting up in boards:

Cosmic battles

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I'm flustered, destabilised by the news that Pluto has been demoted from its previous status as "planet" to "dwarf planet".

When I read the news on BBC yesterday afternoon, I paced the corridors of my place of employ, muttering and waving my hands in the air.

The fact that there are 9 planets in our solar system is something we learn as a fundamental truth. Like the principle of night and day, the fact that we are sure that the sun will rise and set every day and that 1 plus 1 equals 2. I understand that "facts" change according to the time we live in, the changes we undergo as a species, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. And it looks like I'm not the only one.

It's easier, somewhat a relief, to be worried about cosmic events than the ones happening around the corner, touching the lives of real people, and people we care about.

Of paris and podcasts

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This weekend has been interesting. Pizza and late-night recording sessions (I admit, I've always wanted to be able to say that). Muffins. An indoor picnic. A visit to the Eiffel Tower. A boat ride up the Seine at sunset. The Time Warp and Sweet Transvestites. Very late-night drinks. Good company, fond farewells, and a fervent hope that we'll see departing friends again, one day.

That's why the first episode of our brand new podcast, katiaandkyliemac, adventures of a couple of charming expats in Paris, is dedicated to them. And to pickles. Go listen! Go!

Haven't you always wanted to listen to the sultry tones of an American and an Australian rabbiting on about Paris and... stuff?



As many of the people who know me well will confirm, I can be a bit of a shit sometimes.

There is no one who knows this better than my dear, sweet, beloved husband.

Sylvain hates it when I put my feet anywhere near him, and so last night, in bed, having decided that I was feeling slightly facetious, I snuck my feet over to his side of the bed and put them on his legs.

He jumped, "stop it!"

"But what? whyyyyy?" I replied, all innocent-like.

"They're scrappy," he grumbles.

"Scrappy?" I am perplexed. "What does this mean?"

"Just..." he pauses to think, then replies. "Scrappy."

I ponder the situation in silence for a few minutes. In my world, it's one thing to make up words - goodness knows I do enough of that myself in English - but another thing altogether to refuse to give a definition.

"What does it mean?" I pipe up again.

"Just that," he sighs. "SCRAPPY."

"You can't just make up a word like that and not explain it," I grumble.

"You do it all the time," he defends himself.

"Only in English. Not in French," I insist.

"Nuh-uh," I can hear him grinning in the dark. "What about wriggler?"

I think back, to my declaration a few hours earlier that bouger was too general and that gigoter felt too violent for a wriggle, so wriggler was to become part of my French vocabulary from now on.

"Oh..." I concede. "But at least I had a definition for it. Will you explain to me what scrappy means? please?"

"SCRAPPY!" he says, definitively.

I lie quietly for a few minutes. Symphony has tired of my feet-related antics and has long left the warmth of the bed. I can hear her eating crunch in the kitchen.

"So, is it like scratchy?" I ask. "Are my feet scratchy?"

"No," he mumbles.

"How about crappy?" I wonder.

"No," he mumbles louder. "SCRAPPY."

I fall silent for another few minutes, processing the information.

"Just my feet?" I ask, in a small voice. I know my feet are small, but scrappy?

He snorts, and I think I've woken him up. "No, just feet. All feet." He murmurs in the dark. "All feet are scrappy. I love you, even with your scrappy feet."

I feel better, and fall asleep.

Scrappy feet and all.

A day in the life

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I got pooped on by a pigeon today.
Luckily I had a tissue with me and I could sortof clean myself up.
And it didn't get on my precioussssssss Sequoia handbag.
This time.

Sylvain sat on my lap this evening.
He threatened to fart on me.
So I tickled him instead and I nearly peed my pants with laughter as he tried, uselessly, to free himself from my grasp.
I held on for a good minute or so.

I wish it was my birthday again.
I don't really enjoy celebrating my birthday - I get more embarrassed by the attention than anything else.
But presents are nice.

I took a shower this evening.
I washed my hair and sang loudly.
I got out of the shower and dried myself off.
Then had to get back in again when I realised that I had forgotten to actually wash myself.

Sylvain insists on calling stuffed pasta "Raviolis"
and flatly refuses to drop the wayward "s".
He shrugs stubbornly and doesn't say a word when I ask him why.

Tonight, I'm happily eating spaghetti bolognaise for dinner.
For the fourth time this week.
Sometimes you've just gotta do what you've gotta do.

Long-distance hugs

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I got a phone call this morning from my mum. My stomach turned over and I immediately got a bad taste in my mouth. My mum doesn't call me during the week. Especially not on my mobile. Australia to France calls on mobiles are not cheap.

My uncle - my mums brother - had a heart attack. He's ok now and he should be fine. But it was a little scary for awhile. My mum wanted to tell me about it before she blogged about it. Nice.

I couldn't help but think of bigger things... my grandma, leaving us so suddenly in the same way. And how much I want to give both my parents a hug.

I am left with two thoughts. Firstly, my parents better pay attention and take care of themselves otherwise their arses are being kicked from here to eternity. We want them around for a long time.

Secondly, it's not normal that I panic when my mum calls on my mobile phone in the middle of the week. It should be a natural and normal thing for a parent to do that. Or vice versa. Sadly, circumstances are such that it isn't a natural and normal thing for my parents to do that. I would like to just call my mum or my sister up in the middle of the day and say "let's go shopping" or "let's play a game of Scrabble". But that doesn't happen. Scrabble games have to be planned months in advance and going "home" isn't just a matter of juming in the car and travelling for an hour or two.

We have made the decision to live in France, for now, but it's certainly not an easy decision.

Long time, no see


What have I been up to? It's not been a matter of lack of possible content that I have not been blogging - it's lack of time. I've been pretty busy over the last couple of weeks...
... happily watching lots of news with Harry Roselmack. But his beautiful face is not enough to make the news of the war in Lebanon less painful.
... buying over 150 candles at Ikea. They smell pretty, alright?
... frequenting dodgy areas of Paris.
... wearing comfy hand-knitted socks in this crazy rainy weather. I wonder if someone upstairs has a plumbing problem because I was under the impression it was summer.
... buying tickets to go to Australia at the end of the year. We'll be spending nearly a month in the magical land of Oz. I suspect that Sylvain is more excited than I am. If it's at all possible.
... oh, and making plans for exciting projects.

Amongst other things, mum tells me that ...
- the railing on the deck is just the perfect height for leaning on with a beer (or whatever beverage of choice). I still think that from the back it looks stupid and suggest (in my eternal wisdom from across the ocean) that she add some climbing roses or a bush to reduce the effect of stupidity. Her vague murmurs in response bring me back to my childhood and her replies of "we'll see" and I know she is not convinced. But hey, my job as daughter is to tell her what I think and sound like my idea is The One To Follow, isn't it?
- my footy team won their first game of the season. Sure, it's Round 18 out of 22, but they still won.
- Antipo drooled over the wooden floors. Although knowing her, that might have something to do with how much she talked at brunch.

... and dad tells me that ...
- he was very disappointed not to be able to see Antipo this time around (which translates to how disappointed he was not to be able to pick on her for a couple of hours).
- she's getting an operation.
- this person is getting friendly with that person.
- she's married to someone now and they're very happy.
- they've bought a house there.
- he's build a new pig shed (he claimed afterwards that he said this person had built a new house, but I know what I heard).

In mere minutes, the distance drops away, and I feel so connected.



We're in the cinema, and the movie is about to start.

I'm rummaging around in my handbag.

"I've got Smarties!" I exclaim, and pull them out of my bag in triumph.

Only what I have am holding up above my head in glee is not a roll of Smarties*.

It's a tampon.

I'm a classy gal, yes I am.

*American Smarties come in a roll and are not the glorious bits of chocolate goodness that I am used to. They are more like mini-lifesavers, but with less taste. Sortof like the lollies you'd get on a lolly necklace.

Reference point


Following a recent post by a fellow blogger, I thought it was about time that I broached a subject that I've been thinking about blogging for over a year now.

I have a number of international expat friends here, from a variety of different backgrounds. At the most basic level, we all have two things in common : we all live in France, and we all speak English. It's a good start.

But when you throw in factors such as cultural references and childhood experiences, that is where things can get a little fuzzy. We do share some things in common - Target, KFC, Sesame Street and Degrassi High, for example - but I have lost count of the times that my American friends have all gone off on a tangent, laughing hysterically at some reference to a tv show that they grew up with, and I'm left sitting there thinking, "what the...?" Then there are the times when I'll make a comment about Monkey Magic, or drop an unusual word or a phrase in the conversation, to look up and find everyone staring at me because they haven't understood a thing I've said (as a result, I've learned to "internationalise" my way of speaking. Sometimes I forget, and someone will say, "what does that mean?", but I generally try not to use phrases like "take the piss", because that's just going to cause trouble right there, yo).

It is surprising, however, to find that sometimes I do know what my American friends are all talking about when they discuss Twinkies and the Parent Trap and Sixteen Candles and other important icons of American pop culture.

My point of reference? The Babysitters Club. I started collecting them when I was 11, and if my memory serves me correctly, I think I owned nearly every book up to about #42, including a number of the Super Specials. One character in particular was obsessed with "candy" (although I always translated that, in my head, to "lollies"), and I spent quite some time convinced that they lived in (as prononcued in my head) Connect-icut, rather than Conne(c)ticut. I'm astounded to find that, 15 years later, I'm able to dredge up from the depths of my memory the tiny bits of useless information that I learned from my summers curled up reading those well-loved and dog-eared books under the willow tree.

Who knew?

My friends are quite thoughtful of the fact that I really don't have a clue what they're talking about half the time (I suspect that my eyes glazing over is a good clue). Now, whenever they make any sort of obscure cultural reference, they'll turn to me and ask, "did you learn about that in The Babysitters Club?"

Surprisingly enough, quite a bit of the time, I can say yes. Thanks, Ann M. Martin, for breaking down the cultural barriers !

Now I'm just trying to think of ways that they can enhance their understanding of my culture. I think Kath & Kim might cause more confusion than it's worth. Maybe I can organise some reruns of Skippy?


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