Thursday, September 30, 2004

Because it's all about me.

I am really looking forward to this weekend. Usually for my birthday, we all go to a lovely flash restaurant and generally behave in a marvelously decadent manner. This year, I decided (because it's all about me) that I would like to go to one of our Gold Coast Theme Parks for the day with some of my friends.

Decision made, I sourced some discount tickets, rounded up those who were keen and now it is only three sleeps away. I'm a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to some of the bigger rides but I'm keen for the middling size thrill ones. The Gorgeous Tall One and her partner (we shall call him "Mr A") are mad for the scariest rides and usually try to drag me on them. Clearly I have managed to resist their charms thus far, as I am still alive. Venerable is extremely excited at the prospect of taunting death and I am hoping that I can sacrifice him to the Scary Ride Gods without having to put myself in danger. Handsomest is pretty hopeless on the ride front - he gets sick in the car on the way and anything that spins will make him sick.

In other news, I have been honing my procrastination skills over the semester break by not lifting a finger to do uni work. Of course the seeds of laziness that I am sowing now will only reap stress later on, but, in my world, as I suspect in yours, motivation and inspiration are directly related to due dates. I've got an essay and a short quiz to do for Magic and Astrology and a short response paper and a long essay for Islam. I think I've got three weeks to research and write my final essay for Islam but thankfully the Magic and Astrology stuff is due later than this.

I started reading The Little Prince last night. Not sure what to make of it yet.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Why religion? A self-indulgent post.

Oh wow - my first comment.

Shtreimel asked what made me do the Contemporary Islam subject and I thought it deserved a post of its own. I realised that I have been extremely lax about explaining my motivations. In my defence, I didn't want this blog to turn into a pathetic self-indulgent rant - like so many other blogs that force me to admit that I'd rather eat broken glass than read. But, as you need to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince - you need to read a lot of crap to find the jewels (I know, no-one can mix a metaphor like me!). Which, in a roundabout fashion, is my way of complimenting Shreimel on his blog.

Anyway - so why am I studying religion? I first enrolled in a Intro to World Religion subject because it was offered at a suitable time. At that stage I was working on campus, so a subject in the middle of the day was no problem providing it didn't clash with meetings etc. I think I got a 5 for this even though I did very little work. The next semester I enrolled in was Cults, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities. This subject completely hooked me and I got a 6. I hadn't ever done a subject that interested me as much (I have a notoriously short attention span). There were so many levels to it all, and I must admit, it made me feel incredibly ignorant. I realise that I'm not a total moron, but, intellectually, I am incredibly lazy. Somehow, Religous Studies just made me feel interested and connected. Also, I'm good at it and I don't have to do too much work.

I decided on doing my major in Comparative Studies because it satisfied my big picture desires. I've done subjects on Religion and Sexuality, Women in Religion, Drugs and Religion, Gods and Goddesses, Psychology of Religion, The Jesus Cult and Intro to Islam. This semester I'm doing Contemporary Islam and Magic and Astrology in Ancient Jewish and Christian Literature.

I don't come from a religious or anti-religious background. Technically I'm Anglican - but I've only been to Church for the usual christenings, weddings and funerals. Handsomest Husband is
a kind-of lapsed Roman Catholic. My parents and my sister aren't interested in religion but my mother-in-law goes to Church every week.

I like that religion is something that matters to people but I'm not a big fan of organised religion per se. Interestingly, I have no idea about my own belief. Much to Handsomest's consternation, I don't think it matters whether or not I believe, or what I believe in.

As far as I can tell, most religions seem to be about being a good person and doing the "right" thing. As we know the "right" thing can vary drastically depending on your interpretation. Obviously David Koresh thought he was doing the right thing. Your suicide bombers think that they are doing the right thing. So did good old Jim Jones. Religion and belief has incredible strength in governing and controlling people's behaviour and thoughts.

I've just realised that I haven't answered the question. I chose the Islam subject last semester because it was scheduled immediately after my other subject. Otherwise I have to go to Uni for two nights during the week and I can't be bothered. This semester was pretty much the same, but I must admit that Islam does intrigue me. To some degree, this kind of links in with Shtreimel's latest post - Exotic Culture - about the attractiveness of the other.

Ok. Fingers tired now.

skills? paper shuffling.

On Friday, Ven and I had Vietnamese for lunch then went to a huge second-hand book store called Archives. We were feeling very sprightly after our delicious lunch and I think we were the noisiest people there. I picked up a book by Lisa See called On Gold Mountain. It's her family history from the mid-1800's when her great-great-great what ever grand father left China to go to America and work on the railway. I'm only up to chapter 2, but I'm really liking it. She is very easy to read and provides just enough background information on the social issues of the time. As you know, I'm not big on details, but this is really interesting.

I've also just realised that if I crane my neck and peer out of the nearest window, I can catch a glimpse of the rooftop pool at the Novotel. It's a beautiful blue, glittering jewel in the sunlight and the tall palm trees give aura of an oasis. Just looking at it makes me feel all summery - even though it is only 26 degrees outside and not yet hot enough for me to venture into the water. Thankfully I can only crane my neck for so long - otherwise I would spend the whole day gazing whistfully out of the window while my paper shuffling skills lapsed.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Another week?

Book group went really well on Sunday. I had downloaded some questions from a book group site and they turned out to be excellent discussion starters. I was glad that not everyone loved The Lady and The Unicorn. I read a book review which said don't mistake Chevaliers' deft writing as simplicity and I think that is very true. There were so many themes and ideas running under the surface, especially about secrets. I really liked the way that Nicholas des Innocents (who is of arguable innocence) seemed to think that he was manipulating these women to get his own way, but they were really manipulating him. Almost everything he did was driven by one of the women in the story. Our next book is Joe Cinque's Consolation by Helen Garner.

I've just started re-reading Vanity Fair (the book, not the magazine) and I'd forgotten how much I liked it. I can't think of a better person to portray Miss Becky Sharp than Reese Witherspoon. Those of you who have seen Election, will agree.

Yesterday I read The Alchemist. I know, Ven couldn't believe that I hadn't read it. Anyway, it was pretty cool. It was beautifully written and easy to read - I especially loved the idea about seeking your Personal Legend. Handsomest and I talked about this last night but didn't really come to any conclusions. All of my goals involve finishing my study and finding a job in the area that I want. Hansomest doesn't think he has any - maybe he's having a midlife crisis.

I also saw a film on the weekend called Alexandria. It was at the Greek Film Festival so unfortunately it was only shown once during the festival. It was a beautiful story about a woman who was born in Alexandria and returns there with her adult daughter for a week. She is a beautiful singer and the film tells the story of a relationship she had when she was 16 with a writer. She was emotionally scarred from the relationship and only tells her daughter a few misleading details. The film shows Elena at 16 cut with Elena as an adult as she progressively unveils the truth to her daughter. The daughter (Nina), lives in Paris with her fiance but she meets a guy (Yusri) at Alexandria with whom she feels a connection. As the truth about Elena comes out, Nina realises that she can't go back to the fiance and lose her love with Yusri.

I watched a bit of John Safran Vs. God last night on SBS. It was pretty good - better than I expected - I laughed when John made his confession about stealing and masturbation to Father Pino. The look on Father Pinos face was absolutely priceless.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

How weird is weird?

On Andrew Denton's "Enough Rope" on Monday night, he interviewed Dave Hughes. I didn't actually watch it (Handsomest taped it for us) until last night. My pod-mate at work said that after watching the interview, she didn't really like Dave anymore because he was too weird. Clearly she is nuts, because, if anything, I found the interview illuminating and interesting. Who could have known that Dave was such a sensitive child and terrified of girls? Anyway, my point is that everyone is weird, they just don't tell anyone about it. Most people do their best to keep their weirdness secret. It's interesting that we get to hear about famous people's weirdness though. I suppose New Weekly would go out of business if the stars totally hid their assorted weirdness though. Of course, other than being lazy, I don't really have any secret weirdness. Well, aside from my obsession with matching cutlery, things that come in pairs, buying books, eating with chopsticks etc.

In other news, I'm so excited, I got a 6 last night for my Islam essay (on birth control). Thankfully there are no lectures next week, so I can get started on my next Islam essay which is due on October 19.

I'm halfway through a book called "a day at the races" by Matt Dray. It's mainly set in Brisbane and is a lot of fun.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Writing, writing, writing and procrastinating

Can't believe that a week has whizzed by already.

I've finally finished writing my 2000 word essay on Divination in Israel (and it's only a week overdue). It's ok but I'm not really expecting brilliant marks on it. There was so little material available that I ended up making half of it up. I was interested to find out why, if divination was prohibited, was divination still being practiced. I came to the conclusion that it was because it was only illicit for ordinary people - priestly divination was still ok. By prohibiting divination, they were trying to stamp out divination that wasn't about God.

I've also finished writing my third short response paper about our pal Maududi (the complete tosser). The rant I critiqued blamed birth control and nationalism for the forecast fall of the Western Nations. Honestly, he's such a twat.

What else have I been doing? I read Slaughterhouse Five on Saturday. It was really interesting and I quite enjoyed it. Venerable has promised to meet me after Uni to argue about it. I also read an English translation of a Japanese book called Diary of a Mad Old Man which I really enjoyed. It was beautiful written and I could just about hear his voice in my head as I read it.

The boys came over for dinner on Friday night and Ven brought Violet Crumble Cheesecake - I nearly passed out with excitement at the meer sight of it. Handsomest made spicy bean stuff with cornbread which was fantastic. Many special strawberry vodka drinks were drunk.

My gorgeous niece came over to play for little while on Saturday - she loves to throw the ball for the Looby the dog. You've got to watch them though, sometimes she doesn't throw it fast enough for the Looby's liking and Looby will try to snatch the ball out of her hand.

We also watched the final series of Black Books which is my new favourite show. The final episode was fantastic - especially when they have a dancing competition.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Trys hard, gets good marks but can't eat noodles with chopsticks.

You'll be pleased to note that I still haven't written my essay for Magic and Astrology. I've decided to write about Divination in Israel and have managed to find a great book. I got my second short response paper back for my Islam subject and I got a 6 (7 being the highest). I'm really pleased that this subject is going so well (so far). Wonder how I'll go with my birth control essay? It would be nice to get a 6 for the subject, especially because I only got a five last semester for the other Islam subject. Still need to write up my next short response paper which is due on Tuesday. I've decided to critique one of the Mawdudi articles because he is the most entertaining.

Unfortunately my asthma has flared up again. I went to the doctor on Monday and he gave me a new script for some different medication. It works well but gives me the shakes. I had noodles for lunch on Tuesday and it is pretty damn hard to get them in your mouth when your hands are quivering.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Total Effort Expended Today - negligible

I had chicken katsudon for lunch today and it was delicious - jealous? I've also decided to buy my own set of chopsticks that I can carry around in my bag (like a total loser). I really hate using those disposable wooden ones - what if they splinter in my mouth? They also hurt my fingers. What a sooki-la-la.

In other news, I've done zero work today for uni - that's right, no reading, no notes, no database searches. In fact, all I've been reading is Vanity Fair and the new Empire magazine. Quality literature huh?

I also read this article a little while ago and I've since told everyone I know about it. Have a look, it's kinda interesting.

This would explain a whole bunch of those freaky I-was-just-thinking-about-you phone calls, oh-my-god-have-we-just-bought-the-same-mobile-phone and did-I-just-order-the-same-meal-as-you-again moments.

I sat next to a guy on the bus this morning who was wearing a dark grey woollen jumper over his shirt and tie. I noticed that he had three white hairs on his shoulder. I was just about to ask if that was his cat hair or mine. Then I realised that I didn't actually know him.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Well, bugger me with a fish fork

Who can believe that a whole week has zipped by since my last post. I also forgot to mention that I got a 5 for my short response paper for Islam and 14 1/2 out of 15 for my Magic and Astrology quiz!

On Friday night we went out for pizza with friends. Venerable joined us instead of spending time studying for his statistics exam at 8am on Saturday morning. We did finish up fairly early though, and I understand that he hit the chocolate coated coffee beans pretty hard. Venerable sent me an email on Friday afternoon to say that he felt sick from overdosing on sugar by eating a huge bag of lollies. I told him that too much sugar can cause recurrent vaginal thrush so he should be careful. While he assured me that he doesn't actually have a vagina - I said not to underestimate the power of a metaphorical vagina. Now, of course, vaginas have become a recurrent theme in Venerables life and he hates me for having started it.

We had a dog obedience trial on Saturday afternoon/night so I spent most of the time either washing up dishes or helping to make dinner for 30 people. I tell you, I can slice tomatoes like there is no tomorrow.

Sunday we did a little bit of shopping and Handsomest bought the first three series of Black Books. He then spent the rest of the weekend channelling Bernard. We had best friend and her partner over for dinner that night - I made my special strawberry vodka drinks and then was soundly beaten at Canasta.

I spent all day Monday working on my Contraception in Islam essay (yes, I was at work but what are you going to do about it?) . I finished my first draft which I emailed to the lecturer for some feedback. Honestly, I swear that it is as if I have been possessed by aliens. I NEVER get things finished early. It's a wretched essay too. Every man and his caged monkey has an interpretation on the issue - it's like a hydra. Everytime I think I've nailed down a consensus about something, another damn point of view springs up in its place.

Tuesday I had off. I finished my presentation for my Islam class and got the OHP's done. I was the last one to present so I was a bit nervous. One of the Muslim guys presented but I couldn't make head nor tail out of what he said. Maybe because he kept lapsing into Arabic! Anyway, my presentation kicked arse. I only had two questions which were fielded easily. Unfortunately I had the lecturer in hysterics because I called Mawlana Mawdudi a complete clown and said that I just loved Al-Ghazzali. I also referred to another jurist as "that guy". After class, one of the girls walked out with me and said that my presentation was really good.

Today I'm reading up for my Magic and Astrology essay. Not really sure what I'm going to write about yet. Something to do with magic and prophets in the Old Testament.

I also talked to Venerable (he's not my only friend, really) about finishing my english major. I looked at my academic transcript this morning and I've only got three subjects to go to finish my degree. If I do English/Religion major - I need to do three english subjects. If I do double Religion major - I need to do four more religion subjects. The more I think about it, the more it seems like a good idea to finish my damn english major. I'm planning on doing some post-grad work in Museum Studies when I finish my degree, but it is incredibly hard to get a job in that area. At least if I do english too, I can do teaching, or ESL or writing stuff. The only negative is that I can't do any more religion subjects. And english is harder so my GPA will drop - not that any prospective employer will care.

What a lot to say.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Politics and Dogs - not as different as you might think

I talked to Venerable on Tuesday night after class for ages. We talked a bit about politics as we are expecting the Federal election soon. Venerable was soo excited and I was soo uninterested. Poor darling. He sent me a few emails outlining voting issues for my perusal as he was particularly unimpressed when I asked if I was allowed to unenrol to vote. I don't think it's pure apathy, I'm just disappointed that there is not one person I feel that I could vote for. My theory is that Australians don't actually vote for a leader, they just vote for the person who is least likely to do the most damage.

Last night I found a little dog on the side of the road last night on the way home. Poor little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that had escaped from somewhere and was running up the road soaking wet, freezing and terrified of the storm. We managed to corner him in the car park so I threw my coat over him and grabbed him. We took him home to my mums house and she is looking after him until we can get the council to come and get him. He is completely traumatised and he won't even let us pat him. We had to herd him into the garage so we could keep him away from my mum's two dogs. We would have taken him to our house but our three cats would have ganged up on him.

I'm meant to be working on my Islam essay today not procrastinating by writing this. Especially as I don't really have anything to say.