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Subject:cold comfort
Time:05:31 pm
Current Mood:tiredtired
Child:  how old are you?
Me:  thirty-one
Child: aaaaaw, that means my mum will die before you!
Me (consolingly):  You never know, I might get sick
Child:  Yes! Or you could get hit by a car! Are you lazy?
Me: sometimes
Child:  lots of lazy people get hit by cars. 
Child:  ...I hope my mum hasn't died

Also, I don't really enjoy holiday care at this place. There are so many difficult, bored kids, who play up and run away because there's not really anything they want to do, and on many days the confrontations drown out the good moments. Not looking forward to my ten hour days.
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Subject:ANOTHER post about children and stories
Time:07:53 pm
Current Mood:stressedstressed
One of my year 4 girls, H, hurt herself today. As she's one of the kids most obsessed with 'The Adventures of Ruby Ransome', I suggested she help me brainstorm names for upcoming episodes. Another child, A, (year 5 and also obsessed with RR) joined in.

Me:  so we need a name for Ruby's dad. Something starting with R, perhaps?
H:  I know, Randy! Randy Ransome.
A:  Yes!
Me:  NO!
A:  what?
H:  why?
Me:  um... how about Ransom, or Randolph... people can call him Randy for short... occasionally... on very special occasions...
A & H:  NO, RANDY!

In the end we compromised with Rob, because he's a robber. I could not have kept saying Randy Ransome with a straight face.

Me:  so now we can name Oscar's father
A:  Tom!
Me:  um... you named a character Tom in the last episode. Remember, Tom the robber, who sells stolen jewellery?
A:  oh yeah.
Me:  and then, in other stories, you've named Tom the prince, Tom the changeling, Tom the fisherman and Tom the father. To name a few.
A:  all boy characters should be called Tom!
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Subject:a plague on both your bedrooms
Time:11:17 pm
Current Mood:irritatedirritated
Dear fleas

There are eight rooms in this house. Our beloved feline has access to seven of them, and in fact spends less time in my room than several of the others. Please recall that I am not your preferred food source, and this persistant habit of attaching yourself to my room (and ankles) excluding all others, is unappreciated and unwelcome. While I have had tidyness conflicts with previous housemates, no one until now has forced me to vaccuum daily, and I deeply resent it. I would like to terminate our relationship as soon as possible. In other words, fuck off and die, or at least bother someone else.

Sincerely

Lauren
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Time:01:17 pm
Current Mood:amusedamused
I've mentioned these to a few people in the last week, so I may as link  them here. They are book trailers, made by romance author Tessa Dare, using items from her childrens' room. Hilarious and kind of wrong.

I actually quite enjoyed Tessa Dare's trilogy. She has interesting heroines.



Not a Maya Banks fan, but good on her for bidding.
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Subject:Of Mirrors, Gods and Dinosaurs
Time:09:20 pm
I seem to be always talking about children and stories here.

I've never much liked the story of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'. It has some awesome elements - magic mirror, vain witch queen, poisoned apple, dwarf gold miners... but it also has an especially dim witted heroine and a prince who falls in love with a comatose and possibly dead woman and tries to take her to off to his palace. Disturbing much? What were the dwarves thinking! Anyway, with the help of icansinghigherand liadlaith I changed it, and told my new, revised version to some of the kids today. When I got to the magic mirror bit, I commented that the queen was crazy to only ask who the fairest was when she had a magic object that would answer any question. I asked the kids what they would have asked the mirror.

Amy: I would ask who God's mother is.
Me: ...
Amy:  and then, when I went to Heaven, I'd ask her to make me stay the same age always!
Eve:  Me too! And then we could stay this age forever!
Amy:   But then we'd have to go to school forever! I'd want to live to be a thousand and fifty and always stay healthy. That's what I'd ask for.
Eve:  I want to stay eight forever.


Marion:  I'd want to know what was before the Big Bang
Me: That's a great question, Marion!
Eve: What's the Big Bang?
Me: It's the idea that there was a big explosion that made the universe the way it is.
Marion:  And it made the world!
Eve:  But God made the world!
Me:  Well... that's another theory.

There followed a really cool conversation among them about why God might have made dinosaurs before people, whether dinosaurs ruled the earth before people were created and whether there might have been a dinosaur god. I was disappointed when a more impatient child demanded that we get on with the story. I wanted to know what happened to the dinosaur god. Could he still be here, sad and alone, haunting museums and dig sites, or did he perish long ago in a younger world, along with his creations?

I'm cautious when religion comes up. This is a Catholic school, and while I will not lie to the kids,*  I don't want to get any parents off side by being completely frank about my atheism. However I love hearing their opinions and speculations.

*Telling them I was a Jedi doesn't count, as they didn't believe me.


In my opinion the Big Bang
Was sparked by some celestial child
Some precocious brat who was playing with matches
While the science teacher had turned her back


                                                              Penelope Swales - 'Natural World
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Time:12:44 am
Children:  Tell us a story! Tell us a story! Pleeeaaase?
Child:  Tell us The Hobbit!
Me:  In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit...
Childen:
  and...
Me:  I don't remember the rest.
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Subject:Epic Fail
Time:12:23 am
Current Mood:sicksick

I have just finished Forever, the third and final book in Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series. I read quite a lot of young adult literature, both speculative fiction and realism. I have also read several books, series or parts of series in the paranormal romance subgenre, which has become so alarmingly huge since Twilight was published. I don’t think this genre has actually been good for YA literature – there has been too much trash written, and many of the books contain disturbing and insidious ideas about gender roles and relationships. My feelings about the individual books vary. Some I dislike (Twilight) some I loathe with a fiery passion (Hush, Hush) some I quite enjoy but have problems with (Wolves of Mercy Falls, Fallen, Vampire Academy).

I have varying and various problems with these books, but the one I wanted to talk about, as it ruined The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, is Epic Love. I read romance novels, the kind that unfortunately sometimes has ponies and manboob and swooning, scantily clad damsels on the covers. So I like reading books that contain romance. It’s hardly a requirement, but if it’s there and well written and feels like it belongs and adds to the book, I will enjoy it. However, no romance author worth their salt would write epic love. Epic love is fated, forever, selfless, self sacrificing and adoring. Epic lovers are two parts of a whole, and they are surrounded by almost insurmountable obstacles - their families hate each other, one of them is a vampire/angel/werewolf/doughnut etc. By the end of the book they must convince those around them of the totally Epic nature of their relationship, overcome the crazy obstacles, defy death and achieve their happily ever after. There is generally involves hideous amounts of angst, impassioned kisses and moments when one believes the other is dead. What these relationships lack is much in the way of internal conflict, and that is what makes them both deeply dull and incredibly unbelievable. If there is anything resembling internal conflict ,we’re actually supposed to read it as over protectiveness or selflessness in disguise. I’m behaving like a bastard because I love you, your werewolf friends are bad for you, I’m only trying to protect you.

I enjoyed a lot about the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. Maggie Stiefvater does some interesting things with werewolf mythology and several of the characters are interesting and grow in believable ways over the course of the series. Perhaps best of all, it is a book about the unsettling relationship between Americans and their wild wolves – the fierce protectiveness they arouse in some people and the equally fierce bloodlust in others. In the book the wolves and the townspeople coexist uneasily, and it is clear from the first book that this will be one of the main conflicts in the series. Yes, the wolf pack is actually made up of infected people, but in the end that makes very little difference to those overall themes. Unfortunately all this is let down by the epic love between Grace (an unfortunately bland character) and Sam (who is kind of sweet, in an emo, Rilke reading, muso way). 

Fallen, by Lauren Kate was initially fun as well. It’s about a girl starting at a school for juvenile criminals. The school is awesome, full of surveillance cameras, barbed wire and gothic architecture. Detention is served in the graveyard and anyone who behaves violently gets electric shocks from their tracker bracelets. It’s all overwhelmingly gothic, in a sly, amusing way. You can tell that Lauren Kate was having enormous fun coming up with all the details. Unfortunately again, it is let down by the epic love. Reincarnation is involved this time, which must be one of the laziest ways of writing romance.

In my opinion, Epic Love only works when it’s tragic. Romeo and Juliet is the obvious example. I know it was played for a long time with a happy ending, but if it were performed as a love conquers all story today, it would be even less popular than it is already. The best modern example of epic love done well is season two of Buffy. The relationship between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, the vampire with a soul is definitely the stuff of which epics are made. Their relationship is developed from the very first episode, goes through various trials and, uh... climaxes, halfway through season two. You probably know what happens next. It is deliciously nasty and was perhaps the first sign that Joss Whedon doesn’t have a problem with screwing with his characters in particularly sadistic ways. And it works, it really works, in a way that these other works of fiction completely fail to do. 

I didn’t have a high school romance experience myself, but I can understand how teenagers would aggrandise their relationships. You do take yourself very seriously when you’re 17. What annoys me is that authors validate this attitude in books like Twilight, Fallen, Wolves of Mercy Falls and Raised by Wolves. Unfortunately, authors are going to continue writing teen epic love. The popularity of these books indicates that not everybody finds it as dull as I do. I just really hope that they don’t also find it believable.

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Time:01:06 pm
Current Mood:discontentdiscontent
Yesterday a small girl told me that the previous day's story had given her a nightmare. She wouldn't tell me about the nightmare in case it made her have it again. Maybe I shouldn't have had the evil king gored by the unicorn, or perhaps it was the king ordering the men to shoot his daughter and her band of kickarse girl hunters. My stories are good deal less grim than, say, the Grimms, though.

My ankle - sprained a week and a half ago - is almost better, but persists in hurting when I walk on it much. I'm making my own way to work today, which probably means the last hour will not be fun. I miss my river walks and I'm sick of staying in the house all the time.

Articles attacking Alan Jones
always make me happy, even though I know they'll accomplish nothing. I think I will always bear a grudge against him for helping make my three months at Rehame miserable. I suppose without that time I might never have realised just how disgusting, dangerous and powerful these hate mongers are.

Oddly enough (and I'm echoing puddlesofun here), going to work will make me feel better about everything. Yay kids.
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Subject:In which I am slow on the uptake
Time:05:41 pm
Current Mood:gigglygiggly
I went to the Sydney Writers Festival today, to see Kristin Cashore talk. Ayla and I met fin in the queue, and he introduced us to his friend, Elena/Marlena(?). I suck at names. Anyway, we talked about YA books while we waited. Reduced to essentials, part of the conversation went like this.

Elena/Marlena(?): So have you read Kristin Cashore's books?
Me: Yes, I love them. I discovered them through some reviews on a site called Ferretbrain that show very different perspectives.
Elena/Marlena(?): Ferretbrain... I think I know it. I really liked the comments to the reviews. Is there someone on there called Guy?
Me: Yes, there is! A lot of them are based in England, so I'm smug about having introduced them to Melina Marchetta.*
Elena/Marlena(?): Thanks
Me: ??

Half an hour later, when Kristin Cashore is being awesome on stage, the penny drops. fin is sitting between me and Elena Marlena Melina and I prod him and hiss...

Me: Is your friend Melina Marchetta???
Fin: Uh... yes
@&$#*&!!  *facepalm*
Me:
Thanks for the warning!!

Yes, I had been chatting to the author of my all time favourite YA book, and probably sounded like I was sucking up. In retrospect, the conversation makes perfect sense. She mentioned Guy because he reviewed one of her books. I mentioned her because I had the same association. Anyway, I did get a chance to chat with her briefly afterwards, which was nice, the ice having been, well, smashed. Hopefully she didn't think I was being disingenuous with the um... I only just realised who you are...

So, Melina Marchetta is lovely - I generally don't rave on to people I've just met. If fin had introduced her properly, I probably would have gone ohmygodIloveyourbookssomuch and then lapsed into tongue-tied silence. This encounter was also somewhat mortifying, but in a better way.

necaris , if you're reading this, please pass on to the Ferretbrain crew that Melina Marchetta likes your site, and says thanks for the reviews. :)

*Melina Marchetta is sadly not published in the UK, which is why I posted one of her books over.
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Subject:Juniper (Cinnamon Jezebel Garden)
Time:01:03 am
Current Mood:contemplativecontemplative
Our lives now seem to revolve around Juniper. We arrange our schedules so that we don't leave her alone for more than a few hours, and if that can't be done she gets taken places. She's been to work with Anna a few times, to errantmeme 's place, and last night to puppydogtail 's. She seems to take these changes in her stride, adaptable as only baby things are. If she does get stressed she calms herself by closing her eyes, nuzzling blindly into a cupped hand and audibly suckling on a fold of skin, generally part of  the web between thumb and first finger. She'll do that for up to half an hour if you keep still, which is difficult, as it's fiendishly ticklish. It calms her very fast, but leaves us - well me, anyway - feeling inadequate as foster parents. It doesn't seem to be connected to hunger any more, but a need for comfort, much like my two year old nephew, who is violently protesting the cessation of his night feeds. I hope we did the right thing in not attempting to hunt down her mother and any human who claims responsibility for her. Considering the circumstances in which we found her, I think we made the right decision.

The only question now is whether we can keep her. One housemate is against at the moment.
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