Category: mathoms


New and old

In new news, I now have my very first smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S3 4G, which is super lovely.  Hopedully I will be blogging more on the run. I’m sorry for my neglect. Oh, and I also have pink and blue bangs. They’re awesome.  The DIY queen strikes again.

On the old side, this blog is now two years old. Time flies when you’re not writing anything. I haven’t forgotten you, I promise. I’ll speak to you soon.

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Back to School?

So, in the latest of a long line of impulsive ideas and decisions, here’s a big one. Remember this post in which I lamented my lack of tertiary education?

I’ve decided, next year, I’m going to fix it.

I’ve decided to enrol at Macquarie University as a distance learning student in Semester 2, 2013. I will be studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in Museum Studies. This study will fit in around me doing full-time work.

It sounds a lot. It definitely will be. Hopefully I will return to permanent full-time work soon (at the moment I have temporary assignments). The commute can take me away from home 11-12 hours a day. I haven’t studied intensely or written essays for nearly ten years, when I finished high school. I do worry about how I’m going to cope. I found a free online preparatory course available from Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory, so I’m trying it out before I commit.

Committing will take up six years of my life, and put me in debt to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. I don’t have full-time work yet, and neither does my husband. I had planned overseas holidays and the like. So, why?

The unfortunate answer is that I’m desperately bored with my life. I love my family, and my job(s) pay the bills, but there’s nothing more. I get up, kiss my husband goodbye, get on a train, answer phones all day, get back on a train, go home and watch TV for a couple of hours before I crash into bed. I’m writing less and less – I don’t have the motivation. I don’t have the brainpower. Work and sleep is not enough. So why not have a massive boot up the arse in the form of an intense, expensive university degree!

It will be hard, but I will love it. I loved doing Museum Practice at TAFE, but I felt like I squandered a lot of learning opportunities there, and didn’t work as hard as I could, or should, have. University has always been a dream of mine – my family are very working class, and no one in my family has gone. Neither of my parents, who are both very intelligent, got to finish high school. And after the disaster of my HSC year, I felt slightly cheated. Robbed of my potential. This is my way of making up for it, as an older and hopefully more mature, worldly person.

Of course I’m frightened. I’m scared of failure. I’m scared of messing up. I’m scared of not being able to hack it. At worst I will be left with the aforementioned huge debt and an uncompleted mess. But to be honest, I’ve spent my life scared of lots of things. Scared to be myself. Scared to do what I  wanted. What will people think? The most beautiful thing about getting older and standing on my own two feet is that I’ve started to care less, and less, and less. So, this is it. This is my time. This is me doing something purely for myself. I don’t expect it will increase my vocational opportunities. This is learning for learning’s sake, and I recognise that. But it’s something I always wanted.

So, here goes nothing.

Period of adjustment

So, it’s been just over three weeks since we got married. I’ve been going through the process of legally changing my name – new bank cards, new health card, new photo ID (in which I look seriously derpy). I’m finally starting to see my new name in print, and I’m slowly adjusting to it. I guess I wanted to share some thoughts that I wrote in my journal last night:

I have to sign my new name carefully and deliberately, whereas I can scribble my old one in a second. I still find the whole process incredibly surreal. I feel like I’m walking around with someone else’s cards in my wallet. I recognise the picture but the person is a stranger. I feel like I should be seizing this chance – this is my tabula rasa, my chance to free myself from the baggage of my birth name: the family disputes, the schoolyard bullying. I never felt right, my name never clicked together properly. But I find myself mourning it, just a little.

My name carries a direct lineage spanning ten generations to humble beginnings in Mid Wales, so long ago that the concept of surnames didn’t exist. My seven times great grandfather was named Robert ap* Thomas, and it was his grandson David who became my first anticedent to bear our name. I’m proud of my heritage, and to lose the very obvious reminder of it saddens me much more than I anticipated (although I still have my very Welshy Welsh middle name).

I feel like I should be casting off the bits of my past that haunt me and weigh me down, and embrace the chance to start again. But, unexpectedly, I grieve. Just a little.

I still have a couple of things to do to complete the process, and I’m unsure what to do with my British passport (which is an expensive pain). It’s all very real, all of a sudden. And sometimes I’m not quite sure how to feel about it.

Anyway, I’d better get started on those damned thank you cards.

 

* ap is Welsh for ‘son of’, like the Irish ab and Scottish mac.

For Rhiannon

My dear friend Rhiannon is about to move to the UK in a couple of weeks (4 days after my wedding!) to pursue her dream of becoming an opera singer. She is an immensely talented mezzo soprano, and Australia is not a very conducive place to an opera career. So, in light of her move, I decided to share some wisdom from the time that I lived in the UK. This will be a very fluid post as additions and edits will inevitably be needed, especially as I left the UK nearly four years ago.

Rhia, here are some things I wish people told me when I moved to the UK:

  1. You will not be charged for using another bank’s ATM, or cashpoint. You will only be charged if you use a non-bank cashpoint.
  2. Council tax – council tax is an annual fee paid to your local council for emergency services, rubbish collection and other municipal services. This is in addition to rent and utilities, and not paying council tax is a jailable offence. It depends on the type of house you have, and the council, but mine was GBP1200 a year, which is a sizeable chunk.
  3. Monetary figures like 6.56 and 3.41 are no longer theoretical. You will build up a massive collection of useless 1p and 2p coins.
  4. Alcohol is sold in supermarkets, and is exceedingly cheap.
  5. The dominant type of meat is pork, versus our beef, hence most sausages and rissoles and the like will be pork.
  6. Fish and chip shops have never heard of chicken salt.
  7. Likewise, KFC put plain salt on their chips.
  8. A P45 is the form that you are given when you leave a job, with your tax information. You will need this applying for another job. For your first job, you will need a P46. If you do not have a National Insurance number, you will pay 50% emergency tax until you give it to your employer. National Insurance is like superannuation, and when you leave the UK you should be able to claim it from the tax office. You will have to pay tax in Australia for wages earned in the UK in the financial year when you come home. There is no such thing as a tax return – the tax office just take however much they’re supposed to and that’s it.
  9. If you live in London, you will need an Oyster card, no two ways about it. Some banks have them built into their debit cards. If you live at a station outside London, you can get a Day Travelcard, which is return travel to London and unlimited travel within London.
  10. Sometimes when you buy a return train ticket, you will be handed two separate tickets – one for going to and one for going from.
  11. Thornton’s chocolate is horrible.
  12. British postcodes are very precise – one postcode can denote an area of 8 houses!
  13. If you don’t have a lot of money – learn to love Iceland and Poundland. Cheap food, cheap everything else but they work.
  14. Don’t take any of the Airport Express trains (especially the Gatwick one). They’re prohibitively expensive and not really all that much faster than the normal services.
  15. London Gatwick, London Luton, and London Stansted airports are really nowhere near London.
  16. There are many, many newspapers in the UK, and some of them print pictures that would be wrapped in plastic here, or are right-wing scaremongers. The newspaper you will like the best is the Guardian.
  17. Remember that pants are trousers, and that undies are pants, otherwise you will get very funny looks at work when you talk about work pants.
  18. You will go up a clothing size, and go down two shoe sizes. Clothes are stupidly cheap in the UK. I recommend Primark, New Look, Dorothy Perkins, and Next for really good quality stuff. (My red coat is from there.) Most stores have a plus size range, and New Look has a wide width shoe range which I still wear today. For the ultimate clothes shopping experience, I recommend this: go on the Tube, and get off at Marble Arch. Walk along Oxford Street all the way back to Oxford Circus. You will not be disappointed.
  19. The museums are all free, and all beautiful and amazing.
  20. There really is a Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross station.
  21. No matter how soft your Australian accent is, when you speak to people, you will sound like Crocodile Dundee to your own ears. This will fade.

That’s all I can think of for now. Have I missed anything important? Is there anything you’d like to contribute?

Why tapirs are awesome

The 27th of April is World Tapir Day, which aims to promote the awareness and conservation of tapirs. Tapirs are my absolute most favourite animal in the world. I adore them.

They are incredibly unique animals. According to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, they are 34 million years old as a species, and even though they look like a strange cross between an elephant and a pig, their closest relatives are modern horses and rhinoceroses. They are sub-aquatic, even though they look like the least likely swimmers in the world, and incredibly strong and fast when they need to be.

They’re always intrigued me, but I fell in love with them a few years ago at London Zoo. It was late in the day and very cold, and I popped my head into the tapir house just to see if I could see one (I’m one of those people who gets upset if I can’t find every single animal in their exhibit, even though I may not like them terribly much). I stood there and heard a soft shuffling, and this beautiful animal padded towards me, his little prehensile nose sniffing the air, regarding me with as much curiosity and wonder as I did him. And I’ve loved tapirs to this day. I have an amazing shot of a Brazilian tapir above my desk, taken as part of an endangered wildlife series.

Here’s some super cute photos:

 

This is a baby Brazilian tapir, but all tapir babies have these cool markings.

 

This is an adult Malayan tapir. Malayan tapirs are my favourite. I went to Taronga Zoo last year and I was devastated when their Malayan tapir was off display that day!

 

I couldn’t resist.

 

Anyway, I hope you look out for these awesome creatures next time you’re at your local zoo or animal park. They’re beautiful to watch. And hopefully one day, we can travel to South America or south-east Asia and see them in the wild for ourselves.

Hello? Is this thing on?

So, first post.

As luck would have it, I’m currently at home, sick, in bed. ‘Tis flu season, after all, and this has been an extremely cold winter.

I’m taking some time to organise some photos, which I shall upload later, and just trying to chill to some tunes (Zeppelin, at the  moment).

But, things are good otherwise. I’m playing Portal 2, which I’m enjoying very much. On the weekend is the Sydney Manga and Anime Show, or SMASH!, which my friends and I have a table at. Very much looking forward to it, this is our third year. This isn’t generally our audience but we do really well and we have some regulars that pop up. Seeing as we have a few new things this year, I’m sure we’ll do well!

I’m also in the process of uploading some more stories  – I’m trying hard to get back into writing after a long break, and it’s slow going.

Anyway, must focus on the getting better thing, so I might sign off and get some more tissues and a nightcap.

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