Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mountains and Molehills

It isn't eventful here on Planet Tessa at the moment, thus 'breaking news' isn't going to be riveting, must-read blogging.

It involves getting more excited about my payslip than my pay.

My last payslip stated my annual salary was 29somethingK. Now it's Officially More Than That. Sorry for harping on about it so much, but there's just something absurd and amusing about pay raises getting thrown at my lap for no effort on my part. It's just data entry! Admittedly, ridiculously complicated data entry that does take months of training, but data entry is data entry. $17 an hour instead of $14.

You know in my last job, I was getting $20 an hour. And 6 hours a week. Ha! No amount of money would make me go back to retail! NEVER! (Except, you know, if there's no alternative. Or it's a bookshop.)

Afternoon Delight

See, this is the part I lurv about ordering items from far away. It means coming home to a surprise package on the bed. It's a mini-birthday! Except without cake, and no one is giving me presents, I paid for them myself, which makes it a pretty sad present.

These I ordered about mid-February, from the Small Beer Press sale. I shouldn't have, but with on $7us for air mail, golly gosh, I'd have found something to buy anyway. Unfortunately, their sale was so popular that they ran out of books, and had to wait for restocks before shipping mine. Congratulations on a sale that works, I say. I schnaffled Kalpa Imperial (which has been on my wishlist for who knows how long), and Trampoline. Due the fact that I'm not going through a reading phase right now, they have been consigned to the shelf, where they shall sit for an unknown amount of time. Looking at me.


At last! Amazon has paid attention to all those "I own it" boxes I ticked, and has stopped trying to sell Lone Wolf and Cub to me. It was all, "Oh, you have vol 15? Well, how about 7? No, what about 23? You own that to? Well, how about-" and so on.

The Insecurities of a Mongrel

Around pay day I like to treat myself to some munchies. Specifically, I wander into Melbourne Central and get myself a red bean bun, and some honey dew milk tea with pearls. And as I'm wandering around with my milk tea and my bun, I can't help thinking that I'm a poser. I'm not real Chinese. I'm just faking it. All the true Orients are laughing at me, toddling along with nothing but an Australian accent in my mouth, and some Cantonese picked up from watching too many kung fu films. (Because being able to yell "NO SHADOW KICK!" is essential to international communication.)

I'm willing to bet your standard totally completely NOT Chinese person doesn't have any of these hang ups over food.


I felt great the past two weeks. Migraines aside, everything was chocolate cake. Nothing was hard, nothing was upsetting, there were no triggers, and nothing was triggered. The easiest indicator that I'm doing better than okay is I think about sunshine a lot. Strange, but true, and really nice.

I realised this might have been because I was getting enough sleep. Two weeks of afternoon shifts, two weeks of getting up in my own time. Brilliance. But then, haha, yesterday and today I had a quick change over. That means starting at 3pm, then then next day starting at 9am, and then today starting at 7am.

And I didn't do so well. Nor do I entirely understand WHY I had a quick changeover, considering I start nightshift on the weekend.

What's even more confusing is I don't understand why I didn't notice this when I got my roster, think 'wow, that's going to make you cry', and then, oh, I don't know, SWAP OUT OF IT.


("I'm sorry! I'm tired! Everything is funny right now!")

My Art Suffers For Me!

Since the migraine-asaurus paid me a visit, I haven't written. It made me a bit leery of all computers actually, and although I know it isn't entirely true, I can't help connecting writing with intense pain. Even now I keep taking little 30 second breaks to go and, I don't know, look at the wall. Just in case the migraine-asaurus is watching.

And thus ends this not-news bulletin from Planet Tessa. Rock the kazbar.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sir Tessa: Hey World.
World: You! Off! Fuck! Intervention order says you can't come near me, especially not after that hedgehog incident!
Sir Tessa: Yeeeah. That was pretty funny.
World: Yeah! Only, NOT. What do you want anyway?
Sir Tessa: Despite the fact that I've been messy in the head recently, I feel I should acknowledge that you haven't been mean to me.
World: That would be because I have an intervention order telling you to sod off.
Sir Tessa: Sorry about that.
World: Ha.
Sir Tessa: You really are a nice place to live.
World: ...
Sir Tessa: That's all. I'll be going now.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

I worked the phrase 'giant space sphincter' into my story.

There is nothing left for me to achieve today. I may as well go to bed.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

THE MYSTERIOUS FLAME OF QUEEN LOANA - Umberto Eco, translated by Geoffrey Brock

I wish I could say I liked this book, and thus have some sort of claim to literary taste. But it frustrated the bejeezes out of me, so I can't.

I started reading it at about 1am, when I was in one of my more distraught frames of mind, and it was wonderful. Yambo wakes up in hospital, and although he can remember such things as toothpaste, how to use a fork, the works of Shakespeare, he has no memory of himself. His memories of the world remain, but nothing of his life. Although it is never said, hints throughout the book lead me to assume he had a stroke. It is beautifully done, a lovely blend of familiarity, curiosity, and yet being entirely adrift in a world that knows him, but which he doesn't remember. There is no threat in this unknown world, no fear, menace or danger, and with the guiding hand of his wife, Yambo comes to one mundane little delight after another. These ordinary things that he now, as an adult, experiences for the first time. The joy he experiences from discovering how it feels to clean his tongue with a toothbrush is one of my favourite scenes in the book.

But it isn't enough for him to pick up his life, he needs to rediscover who he is, was, might be. And so his wife sends him to his childhood home in Solara, so that he might go through all the detritus of his past. And so begins the seccond section of the book.

It is this second section that had me gnashing my teeth. While the first section swept me off my feet and left me feeling calm and excited at the same time, the section left me nothing but bloody impatient. Yambo spends his time eating salads, and rummaging through the boxes in the attic of the estate. It is his 'paper memory', all the books he read as a child, his school work and badly written poems. I felt I should have enjoyed this section, as discovering what makes a person who they are is something of an obsession of mine.


There was no coherance. Yambo goes through his paper memory as we all do, picking up whatever catches our eye, again, and again without creating a structure. It was infuriating. Fog is a theme prevalent throughout the book, and this felt like reading in fog, with a whole lot of not going anywhere involved. I tried to approach it from another direction, and stead of learning about Yambo, learning about some of the recent history of Italy, but that too failed. Now I am possibly more ignorant of Italy than ever, as I have some pieces of a jigsaw, although possible not from the same puzzle. I gained no knowledge, only a deeper understanding of my ignorance.

It reminded me of year 12 specialist maths. It was like trying to understand physics all over again. I never did get the hang of physics.

Thankfully, he goes and gives himself another stroke, and so begins the third section

Here, in that fleeting second of brain spasm, Yambo remembers everything. All the questions he discovered in the first and second sections are answered, and my flagging interest picked up, but only so much. The fog finds its source. And Lila just explodes on the scene; she who was his childhood crush, one of those crushes that follows you for life, that you end up comparing every partner to, she, introduced TWO THIRDS of the way into the book just takes over. It stops being about Yambo finding himself, and is entirely about him trying to find her.

It has its moments. It is beautifully translated, so much so most of the time I forgot that it was a translation. The pictures provided add all sorts of layers and textures to the writing itself, and there are some lovely moments of revelation.

But ultimately, I felt like I was standing in fog. Frustrated and blind, and going absolutely nowhere.

Verdict: So, I think this one passed me by.

Monday, March 13, 2006

FITZPATRICK'S WAR - by THeodore Judson


For those of you who possess the stamina, courage, will and fortitude to actually read and finish my book postings, you already know what this post will say. A good amount of brain frothing on my part, which will make up for the lack of coherance. You'll nod your head, and say, "Ah yes, Sir Tessa like that book so much she had its babies," and go about your business.

Coherance factor lowered by four morning shifts in a row. And a towel on my head. I just can't think with a towel on my head.

This book is an historical analysis of the memoirs of Sir Robert Mayfair Bruce, who lived through one of the bloodiest wars of history, which despite being victorian/colonial in mindset and steam-powered, is some centuries in the future.

It has footnotes. Therefore, it must rock the kazbar.

The footnotes play an important role in the story, as instead of being an interesting aside about the history of the world, they provide an excellent juxtaposition of Sir Robert's personal experiences and views, and that of what History Says Is True. As the memoir is first person from Robert's point of view, we cannot help but emphathise with him, and the myriad of predicaments he faces, which in turn gives the reader a strong bias. We're on his side already, which always makes it just a bit harder to admit any flaw or mistake in a protagonist. Fortunately, the historian doing the analysis sits side by side with us, and with his useful little footnotes (it is most certainly a he, as such an exercise is well beyond the capability of a mere woman) points out exactly where Robert is wrong, is lying, and is downright blasphemous and heretic and should have been impaled for even thinking such a thing.

As much as Mr Footnote was downright annoying in his inability to entertain a 'what if', he nevertheless provides a very good insight to the workings of society; regimented, conservative, narrow, rigid, and bigotted to the point of hilarity.

(It was in Mr Footnote's introduction to the piece that I realised where I'd gone wrong with a short story of mine, which also endeavoured to swim around in a colonising mindset, and all the discrimination that comes with it. When dealing with characters that are racist, religionist, sexist, and everything-that-isn't-them-ist, the trick is to hold no punches. Don't be afraid of offending the reader - go all the way, and make that mindset, in all its seriousness and well meaning ignorance, a total joke. It makes fun of itself without even trying. Not that I'm quite game to try such a thing yet. Possibly why I enjoy stories styled as such; the absurdity of it all is so ridiculous it makes me giggle.)

(I'm pretty sure giggling is frowned upon.)

Robert is one of Fitzpatrick the Younger's chosen friends, which in this case means not just being part of an elite clique at school, but being bribed and bought with easy passes in said school, then being showered in promotions to ensure he does in fact build this mildly illegal airbases in good time, and then further showered with medals and awards for saving said airbases from being blown up when the war started, and by then, he was so far in there was nothing else he could do but keep holding his tongue.

It isn't a nice war. It's the sort of war that, should I ever be in a position to rule the world via hostile take over, I'd hope to wage. Brutal. Nasty. Efficient. Over in the space of a few months. Although the war was just the beginning of Fitzpatrick's downfall. In the aftermath, he took his whole empire down with him. And Robert sat by, and held his tongue.

Although the book could be swamped with moral lessons, (and thanks to Robert's brilliant wife Charlotte, is to a degree), it has draws no conclusions. Although Robert is consumed by guilt regarding everything he did and didn't do, he's not a bad man. Nor, given his actions and decisions, is he a good man. He is just a man. I like to think he was a kind one.

The relationship between Charlotte and Robert, while utterly lovely to read, irked me. Just around the edges. It's just one of those personal 'meh!' reactions to books that portray women as being strange, mysterious, enchanting and controlling creatures which men completely fail to understand. And yet, it was a beautiful relationship, and as a pair they worked perfectly, in terms of their lives and for the story.

However, my favourite character was Winifred Pularski. A complete thug of a man with a metal arm and a natural aptitude for killing, Fitzpatrick allowed him into his inner circle purely to act as a body guard. Too simple and loyal to ever betray him. He's a murderous brute. And such a lovely gentle man. It sounds a cliche, the killer who is actually a kitten, but Pularski was wonderful. He loved to fish, but wouldn't use hooks because he didn't want to hurt the fish he caught. He'd stroke them, in love with them, before releasing them. He loved Robert because Robert didn't buy him, but was a true friend. In a world almost entirely developed, he longed to see a tiger. He'd protect Robert, and Robert's wife, yet still assassinate for Fitzpatrick. He was such a nice man. My favourite gentle murderer.

Alas. The footnotes need EDITING! And CHECKING! To ensure they fall on the right page, aren't riddled with spelling errors, and if they reference another footnote, check that footnote actually EXISTS. I never did find out what the 'not men' were.

I cried in this book. I did my school girl giggle. I fell in love, fell in hate, and had too much fun with footnotes. There were dirigibles! There were steam powered battle ships! It was great. You should have been there.

VERDICT: You want this book. No, really, you do. You like Victoriana, steampunk, secret societies, world wars, and the downfall of empires. The footnotes want you baby, they want you bad.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Today contained no triggers. Nothing. But I feel sad anyway.

Sadness is not depression. Depression is uglier. Sadness is softer.

But if I don't know what causes a mood, then I don't know what to do about it. I've sat and stewed for some hours now, and managed to figure out that I feel as though I've lost something. I couldn't tell you what.

Sadness is -

A wee little blue goblin with long droopy ears, soft little paws, and dry eyes that will never smile. She says not word.

- just sitting on my shoulder, patting my hair with her soft little paw. When I asked her why she was here, she just nodded, and pat pat pat.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Yesterday, I saw a naked man.

Naked men don't feature largely in my life, so there was a certain amount of snorting and giggling involved, being that I was on a train, and he was walking down the sidewalk of a street alongside the train tracks. He seemed quite happy, in that he was striding wide and swinging his arms with much gusto.

And then, because I've been in my job too long, I thought-


-which is offence code 139somethingsomething, and proceeded to write the narrative:

BATAD RP obs u/k off walking easterly along street beside trainline b/w 4gb and 4mm. off obs to be totally naked. off n/k to rp. Nil other wit, nil susp. Nil further. Enq pending.

I probably should have actually reported it. There's a lot of elderly folk along that road. Wouldn't like to think any of them had a weak heart.

Friday, March 03, 2006


I got this book.
Only, I didn't get it at all.

And thus I put off writing it up, for fear of making myself look foolish. Then I posted that ninja pic, and the whole foolish aspect seemed rather pointless.

R'lyeh has risen, Cthulhu is dreaming loudly, and all the world has gone to shit. Jack Kerouac, a writer with a loose grip, traipse about what is left of nonsense America looking for Neal Cassady, who may or may not have the fate of the whole world in his pocket. William S. Burroughs comes along for the ride.

That's what the book is, but I'm not sure I could tell you what it was about.

It's a little piece of brilliance, I know that much. That, is a voice. A well sculpted and consistant and unique voice that will hang around narrating your life if you let it. Without that voice, the story would just dribble away. The lines on the back say its bebop, jazz and the like. I liked it. At first, it seemed it was all telling, and then so much telling that I couldn't pause to take a breath and was drowning in this weird funky world, but by then it didn't matter. It had started, and wouldn't let me stop reading.

(I have occasionally been accused of keeping information from the reader. This book does that, and does it very well. After all, what is there that you can really be certain of when the Elder Gods come knocking?)

There were moments when it reached wonderful leverls of absurdity, with Jack throwing Bill at trains, Bill poking around the edges of an orgy, the little devil bugs screaming "Nooooooo!" as the bug spray of the end of the world hit them.

But I still didn't get it. I'd guess it is because I've never quite grasped what the bohemian/beatnik movement really meant. I've never quite been able define it to my satisfaction, and I probably never will, because I missed it entirely. As a result, I can see entire layers of cake that just passed me by.

Possibly I don't get America, either.

Cthulhu, however, I get. Got all that, and adored it. Throwing the map out the window was fantastic. The portray of actually walking through such an event was great, really great. Perhaps I'll be a mugwump when R'lyeh rises.

Verdict: Good book? Yes. Mildly obfusccated? Yes. Does it matter? Hell no.