Aren tagged me for this meme, where you write down eight random facts about yourself. (But what is a random fact?)
1. I was once woken up by a Scud missile.
I lived in Bahrain from December 1989 to June 1991, during... it's hard to know what to call it. The First Gulf War? The one which started when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Anyway, that was the nearest I ever got to living in a war zone, and one night a missile fell on the island, and my whole house shook in the blast, and I woke up. That was the only night in two weeks I hadn't been woken up by air-raid sirens: full-on, second-world-war-style, oo-wee-oo-wee-oo-wee air raid sirens, as featured in Britain's constant memorializing of the Blitz. When the sirens went, we were supposed to go sit in our "safe room" (room containing lots of bottled water, with the air-conditioning vents taped up in case of gas) and listen to the radio, which alternated the soothing sounds of James Galway's flute music with dissonant fanfares and a DJ shouting 'BAHRAIN IS ON ALERT!!' at you. Strange times.
2. One of the best times I had in Melbourne this year was going to the gloriously fake-decadent Madam Brussels - a bar on the third floor on Bourke Street, in the heart of the city, decked out in Astroturf with a herringbone-paved brick path and white wrought-iron lawn furniture - with J and our friends K & D. We drank jugs of Singapore Sling (K & D) and pink fizzy wine with a little dish of Turkish Delight (J & I), and watched a very pretty barman with a multiply pierced face and a white suit preparing absinthe for Kerry in a highly ritualized and formal way (pouring the absinthe over a lump of sugar in a holey silver spoon, then setting fire to the sugar). All in the afternoon!
3. I really like Tori Hayden (whose website seems to have disappeared) - I have a slight wincing feeling as I wait to be disillusioned about her, but I find her books immensely comforting: I used to read a lot of misery memoirs and true-life magazines, because I liked reading about bad things happening, but these days I prefer reading about how it's possible to make a livable life after bad things have happened. Hence, Tori Hayden. I also really like Katherine Applegate's Making Out series, a 28-book teen romance/soap series. With cocaine! And long-lost half-siblings! And wrongful imprisonment! But everyone loved each other very much, and things usually worked out in the end. It was a world I really liked living in. I discovered it because number 4, Ben's in Love (front cover blurb: Ben's in love... with two girls... who just happen to be sisters!) was a free giveaway with some teen magazine or other, so it showed up all the time in charity shops, which is where I got all my reading material when I was an undergraduate. Then I got hooked and started buying the books as they came out, which was at the rate of one a month by the time I was in my final year at university: I used to reserve them in Blackwell's children's shop and hang around pestering the staff if they were late arriving. I remember when number 26 (Zoey's Broken Heart) came out explaining to the woman on the reserve desk that there had been a terrible fire in the previous number and I didn't know if anyone had died, and she said Don't look at the cover of the book then, it'll ruin it for you!. So I read the whole thing without looking at the front cover. I credit Katherine Applegate with a high proportion of the sanity I retained during/after that year.
Also under this heading: I think Jennifer Aniston is an extremely good actor (have you seen Friends with Money?)
4. Speaking of true-life magazines, I once got £25 from being "Letter of the Week" in a British true-life magazine called that's life!. There was a little cartoon to go with the letter, and everything. It was about how I was called Ika, and my partner was called Aneurin, and went: Although we are both very proud of our heritage, blank looks and requests for spelling make introductions a chore. Our daughter is due in two weeks' time. We're calling her Jane! Which, as several people have pointed out to me, wasn't as clever a name for my fake daughter as me and my fake boyfriend seemed to think, as there are about five hundred ways of spelling 'Jane'. Never mind.
5. I own five lipsticks, all from B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful (this sort, in the little tubs): Bellatrix, B Cause, B Daring, Borscht and, um, Beijing, maybe? It was a pink one, anyway. I haven't worn it yet. I don't wear lipstick very often - mostly just to give lectures and conference papers, like a costume.
6. I have A-Levels in Maths and Further Maths at A and B grade, and I was accepted to Oxford University to do a Maths and Philosophy degree. (I didn't do it, though.)
7. I actively hate chess - boyfriends used to keep trying to make me play (You're clever! You're good at maths! You'll like chess!) but I don't think spatially, I think in words, so I'm no good at it, and I just react like a sullen teenager and throw myself about in my chair and sulk until my opponent finally wins and puts a stop to the whole miserable, futile process. Or I used to; since I became queer no-one has tried to make me play chess. An unforeseen benefit.
8. I'm currently watching my way through Buffy, starting from Season 2, and Seasons 3 and 4 have made me realize that actually Alyson Hannigan/Willow was probably my first conscious lesbian crush (I know. Isn't that embarrassing? I was like twenty-three or something when those were on telly). She was also a bit of a role model for me. (Also noticing on this go-round of Buffy: Willow is better than Hermione, Xander is better than Ron, Buffy is better than Harry, Giles is better than Dumbledore, the Initiative is better than the Ministry of Magic.)
Thursday, 9 August 2007
I'm putting together the documentation for some of my courses next year, and I'm trying to be very clear about what will be expected from students on a week-by-week basis (and what they can expect from me). I started writing down some things like You are expected to do the reading, you are expected to show up, you are expected to speak up in class, you are expected to respect your peers and not be homophobic/racist/transphobic/etc, and it occurred to me that some of you people reading this might have done this before and have some suggestions - do you have contracts or ground rules for seminars? What are they? Are they helpful?