Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Chillax or Chillanx? The Monster in the Closet

The Breakfast Magpie - she would sit and stare at me and ask for breakfast every day. Very bold, she stood in the tray, watching, as I put seed into it.

Mallacoota! Beautiful, magical, wonderful Mallacoota – my favourite place! Booking a whole week here was my reward for surviving my first term back as a teacher.

I discovered the joy of birds here in Mallacoota a couple of years ago, and now I can't stay away. Every trip here is a delight.

I've never been to Mallacoota in winter, and this trip feels different somehow. My friends the satin bowerbirds aren't here (where do they go in winter?), and the lovely king parrots outnumber the thuggish but beautiful rainbow lorikeets at the moment.

Also, I had, quite frankly, a shitty ride down. I dithered and dallied, putting off the inevitable, and didn't even leave Canberra until nearly 10am on Saturday. Then I left and returned home to change my riding pants, which were too slippery on the AirHawk seat. At one stage (ok, two stages) I even considered driving Miss Kate's car down here. WHY??? The ghastly thought that I might be losing my riding nerve crossed my mind... I couldn't shake the thought that I was about to die horribly on my bike, and I knew if I gave in to that thought, I mightn't ever get back on the bike again. WTF? Where did THAT come from?

Welcome to Anxiety, Betty-style.

The ride here was crappy enough – so cold that in Cooma I stopped and put on wet weather gear to keep some of the cold out. I revved the heated grips up to full-strength and tried not to tense up in the cold – and failed miserably. The SV handled like a badly-behaved dog, probably because my frozen limbs were too stiff to relax. I kept thinking of cold tyres and frosty roads. It was not a nice ride, and I arrived all out of sorts.

After my last spill, back in early May on the way to the Unaugural, and the weeks on crutches, and the weeks driving a rental car, and the final realisation that in order to survive the kangaroos on the road home from school on those numerous occasions when I would have to be there well after dark, I would need a car.... and after purchasing said car... I'm a mess.

There, I've said it. It's out in the open. It's the monster in my closet. I'm scared of being scared of riding (again!). (hello, is there a shrink in the house?) Bloody cars!

I spent my first night here at the lovely Adobe Holiday Flats huddled in front of the fire, and the next day with a blanket around my shoulders until it was late enough to relight the fire. Mine host, the lovely Peter Kurz, even dropped by at dusk to make sure I hadn't carked it in my flat, as I hadn't so much as ventured outside once all day!

The following day I was bored with myself and my sookiness. I needed a big dose of HTFU. I rode into town for supplies, then spent much of the day reading and indulging a desire to be a hermit, and almost disappeared into a self-pitying vortex of my own introverted invention. Dammit, HTFU, Betty!

So I did. I decided to do the huge walk into town and back. That would challenge me! It's probably about a 10km walk altogether, and after only about 4kms I was ready to smack myself in the head, coz my crappy foot and my crappy hamstring (both on the same leg) were screaming at me. Then, of course, there was the return journey! What kept me going was the thought that if I stopped, I mightn't start again. Boy, did I overdo it!

My misguided hermit impulses got the kick in the head they deserved when I spoke to a lovely ancient man, nut-brown and with bright blue eyes and a long grey beard – he'd been canoeing on the inlet all day, and was parking his canoe and getting ready to ride his pushbike home just as I limped past on my way home. We had a wonderful chat. He wants to visit Canberra one day because he's never been there and he'd like to see the War Memorial and Parliament House. I felt revitalised after chatting with him, and realised I actually quite like interaction with my fellow human beings! (a revelation – I always thought I was so antisocial, but it seems I'm not!)

The electric blanket was a great help for my aching muscles last night, but then, at about 3am, I was woken up again by the same sound that has woken me up at around 3am every night since I got here... a sort of scrabbling sound in the wardrobe in my room; a scritching, skittering, monster-in-the-cupboard sound. Thank goodness I'm not a kid, coz I would've been crying about that bloody Monster in the Cupboard. As it was, I shone a torch at the offending cupboard, and did a perimeter check of the flat. I even got ultra-brave, and flung open the wardrobe door – and was not devoured by a fanged, clawed monster. Yay!

So.... these monsters in my cupboards, both literal and metaphorical – what am I to make of them? It's easier said than done to dispel them with Betty Mind-Power, when so much of that Mind-Power is being eroded by Anxiety. Monsters shit me.

I took the bike to the auto-shop today, and the mechanic there gave it a quick once-over. My paranoia can take a break – the bike's fine. Closet Monster #1 – gone!

The (literal) monster in the cupboard revealed itself this evening. It's (as the rational me suspected) a brush-tailed possum. Very cute. And IT was scared of ME! Closet Monster #2 - gone!

The monster in the closet - revealed!

And a very VERY cool thing happened today. I was immensely privileged to watch a lyrebird doing its thing this arv, and it was so beautiful and so unexpected that it made me all sniffly. I was within 2 metres of it! It was something I had never ever expected to see for myself – and it was truly magical and beautiful.

Doesn't look like much, scratching about on the grass. But oh, what a voice!

Monsters? What monsters? I love Mallacoota!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The Idiot, er, Slab: a rant

I'm not much of a TV viewer. In fact, it's been years since I've bothered to sit down and watch the good old 'idiot box'.

Crikey, what happened? In the years since I stopped paying attention, the humble telly has become a monster! It doesn't even look like a telly any more. Modern TVs are as thin as a sheet of tissue paper and take up half a wall. And now there's digital TV and they're going to turn off the analog thingy and I had to get a set-top box for the microscopic 30cm box that I only ever watch the motorcycle racing on anyway.

The number of remote controls has proliferated and I had to get Boomerang Boy to tell me which buttons to press on which remote, just to turn the bloody thing on. I took copious notes that I keep by the box of remote controls. Seriously!

I used to be able to turn on the TV and change the channel via an on/off knob and a channel-changing knob on the front of the TV. Gee, what a novel concept! Now I have to press half a dozen buttons on various different remote controls, in a complex sequence that would do the space-program proud. Just the thought of it raises my blood pressure.

I liked my television uncomplicated. I liked 5 channels and a channel-changing knob. Now you need a pilot's licence to work the space-aged things that are HD, 3D, LCD, 4WD or Plasma (wtf? I thought that was something to do with blood). No-one watches videos any more, and DVDs will soon be as obsolete as clay tablets. Blue things are taking over the world - Bluetooths (Blueteeth? God, what are we doing to the English language?), Bluerays.... I'll tell you what's blue - me, that's what! Me and my language when I try to work my bloody TV!

I had a look in the TV section of a department store recently, and the latest enormous new-fangled things seem to do everything except the laundry and the dishes (proof that they were invented by men!). They cost about as much as a new Aston Martin, too... but where's the effing ON switch? I was too embarrassed to ask, and slunk out of the shop in search of coffee, sympathy and a psychiatrist.

Who needs a TV anyway? These days, despite the existence of millions of channels, there's nothing worth watching. Reality TV? Four thousand different-but-similar CSIs? No thanks, I just can't be bothered.

Quite apart from everything else (I'm on a roll now) what are we to call the latest generation of hi-tech wafer-thin wall-sized tv/game console/dvd/blue-thing/music/recording/watching/listening slivers? Your TV no longer bears any resemblance to a box. Are we to relinquish the term box for something more appropriate? Slab just doesn't sound right.

If we continue to call the TV a box, what will we be doing to the minds of the next generation, who can see very clearly that a TV is nothing like a box? They're still reeling from being told that their constant requests for new technology sound 'like a broken record', and wondering why that's a bad thing. In their world, the only records that get broken are sporting records. Most of them have never seen a vinyl record. Those who have think they're some kind of ancient frisbee prototype.

HD3DLCDTVs, Blueteeth, MP3 players, iPods, and bloody e-Banking are doing my head in. The e-juggernaut (iJuggernaut? Bluejuggernaut?) is out of control, and so am I. I am a woman on the edge, and it's all your fault, geek overlords of the world. I beg you, pleeeease, for the love of God, give up this rampant technology-tweaking obsession! It's frustrating, expensive and downright ugly.

Henry David Thoreau once said that 'men have become the tools of their tools', and he was right. Me, I'm opting out.