Thursday, December 31, 2009

Today

- this is 550 posts. Big Woop.

- I just organised my Favourites folder.

- I am doing research. It is my One True Love.

- I stopped the horrible Smoke Jumper book. Couldn't finish it. It was abysmal. The first and very grave thing that was wrong with it was the Love Triangle. The worst fucking plot almost ever. I can't think of anyone who's done it well. Shakespeare maybe? Then there was all this guff about photojournalism and African politics; the whole thing was ghastly. Not because of those two things I just listed, but they were used as padding for a very ordinary plotline and some truly mediocre characters. Sorry Nicholas Evans, you have failed mightily with this one.

- reading Ian Gawler's biography which is a breath of fresh air after the previous few books.

- have relocated Anna Karenin and Crime and Punishment. Oh happy Janvier. Also in the same box, the Kindly Ones. I am determined to read these three by Jan 27. I know I won't make it, but it's worth trying. I will be mother-to-only-one sporadically for the first two weeks of Jan, and can read, write, research, organise house. In that order of priorities.

- tonight we aren't doing anything spesh. I really don't care. I'll have a glass of champers. I have a dvd I want to watch. I won't be watching the fireworks or anything like that on tv. The kids can if they want to. Apparently Princess is going to Avatar and then dinner at Crown. Ali wanted to book at Nobu's. Yeah, good luck with that one.

- he also asked me to iron his shirt. I laughed and said I don't even iron my husband's shirts, so why would I iron his? He didn't like it but fuck him. Princess was there as well, and I'm glad she saw her mother not be a doormat. He is starting to emotionally manipulate her a little more (making her feel guilty etc for stuff) so she needs to be resilient and clear on what exactly her obligations are to him. I have always been very careful never to badmouth him to her, but it's hard to balance this with supporting her so she doesn't feel alone with him and his iss-ews. Tough thing to do. Thank god it's only once a year.

- she wants to go to Turkey this year. I'll have to go with, otherwise she'll be married off in some village to a relative and I'll never see her again. Over-reaction? Maybe.

- isn't it hot? And what am I making for dinner? I'm slow-roasting chicken and then will use the leftover white sauce from the moussaka I made Boxing Day (it's a luscious white sauce) to make chicken mornay. So wrong on such a hot day but I don't care. Must use the white sauce.

- am also going to make trifle. Now in fact.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Today

Today I take my little black USB stick to the Officeworks and get two copies of a Word doc printed out.

Then I will give one to my mother and one to my sister.

Then I will collapse into a state of anxiety, and await their comments.

I bet my mum can't be critical in her feedback. She is a typical mother.

In other news today I will make coleslaw (cheat's way, using packet stuff) and go to a friend's for BBQ. I will stay the minimum amount of time to be polite and then leave. Drop Princess at Ali's and collapse back into bed to read.

Now I am reading Nicholas Evans' The Smoke Jumper. What the fuck is happening to me?

Monday, December 28, 2009

So, how are you? WARNING: WhingeFest Following

This time of year is generally unsettling for me. As the clock trips over from November to December, all Hell breaks loose, if not literally then psychically.

We have birthdays (mine, daughter's, MIL's and mother's as well as one best friend. Another best friend's BD is late in Nov. None of this helps.)

We have Christmas approaching, and with it the insanity of shops, presents, children's expectations and my scrooge-like emotions underpinning it all. Not to do with money, I hasten to add. It's all about the fuss and both, I think really I'm just a lazy festivalist. I have no interest in Easter really, or Melbourne Cup. I like the Grand Final if Geelong is playing but otherwise couldn't give a flying fuck. Everyone gets high-spirited and festive and it just doesn't sit with my innate gloom and doom default. I am pretty lacklustre and grumpy at the best of times; Christmas seems to add another layer of gilt-guilt to the whole dealio.

And now here we are. I have to finish my final read-through before I give the MS to my two (volunteer) readers. The thing is, the themes are all about mothers, bad mothers ineffective mothers, possibly murderous mothers, and mother-daughter relationships. What do you do when a reader (member of family) has trouble reading what you've written for emotional reasons? When something they read rings a bell, or resonates in a way that makes them suspect you've written about them? Do you care about that?
I guess I'm just projecting, and anticipating. It hasn't happened yet.

In other news, Ali has arrived with his beautiful girlfriend Fatima. Oh god she is gorgeous. I am in love with her a little I think. Princess is over there now, and they are not far from where we are which is great. They are happy where they are staying, and I am happy they are happy. There is talk of a trip to Turkey in September next year, I can't let her go on her own so I have to go with. HAVE TO. I can see myself set up in a little room somewhere in the South, with a Turkish family perhaps, with my laptop. Writing for a few weeks. Oh how nice. My contract at work would dovetail very nicely with this little idea. Princess is determined to go and I have said yes to 2010 (no to this year. She wanted to go this year because it had been 2 years, and she wants to go every 2 years. But she was starting at a new school, so I said no. I have to say yes to 2010 and I have, so that's that. He'll pay it's not a problem, but for me to go as well, Clokes won't be happy. I'll have to tell him soon...)

Oh well. Tomorrow an obligatory BBQ at a friend's. The day after an obligatory trip to Mt Macedon to see my aunt. Then an obligatory trip to Blairgowrie on NYD for lunch.

Obligation.

But things to look forward to. A day course in January with writers. An appointment with a shoulder surgeon. A haircut. And some time, quiet time, to write.

Reading - my recent choices I think have depressed me a little. I read the Girl With a Dragon Tattoo trilogy, at my dad's behest. The first one I liked in spite of my own snobbish self. Second was not so good, third was a chore. Fuck. And it's such a best seller? They should spend some of the money on re-proofing the damn thing. Now I'm reading My Sister's Keeper (daughter #1 just read it, I like to keep in touch with what the young kids are reading these days but... but...). It's not bad actually and I know I'll cry, but I don't like the way so many characters have a point of view. Too many I reckon for a book of that length. But it's ok.

What to read next? I still need to get to The Kindly Ones (which I've got and had for ages since it was recommended by someone who I don't know well, but trust - BookMoth? I think it was you).

Feeling so lazy and apathetic and flat. I think a bit is to do with my shoulder. It's been troubling me now for over a year, and gotten worse and it's a horrible thing being in pain. Wears you down. And this is minor. I can't imagine what people in chronic pain must do to survive. Actually, I can imagine. They get addicted to painkillers. I hate even taking a Panadol.

I had strange and disturbing dreams this morning. Menstruation mixed with sexual arousal. Some man at a school, older and devastatingly attractive; me with blood gushing out of my vagina, as if from a hose. My god. So vivid, and what the fuck does it mean?

I'm sitting at the table. There's some mince meat cooking, to be merged with leftovers for another leftover meal tonight. I'm not sure what to do now. Maybe I'll eat a mince pie. Yes, maybe I will.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I have new hair

So longtime readers will know I have a thing about my hair. It's not quite the equivalent of body dysmorphia HOWEVER it is a fact, and always has been, that I have big, unruly hair that I have been in battle with since teenhood.

Since I was 26 I have also started going grey.

For twenty years or a little less, I coloured, dyed, tipped, bleached, frosted and highlighted in salons around the world and at home. In the beginning, the grey wasn't so noticeable but over the years it's become a lot more so. The roots would show so quickly after colouring and I wasn't happy either with the amount of time, money and chemicals that I was having to deal with in order to try to fight this evidence of ageing. Women hate going grey, and they don't. Because it's possible to not ever go grey, and it's fairly easy and cheap to cover it up.

I've decided on a different approach.

A couple of years ago, maybe three, I went to the hairdresser and said that I wanted to work with it instead of against it.

I had a few treatments with her - she's a really good colourist - and then while I went to see her once after our trip (2 years ago) since then I haven't been. I've let it be. And it's gone a lovely white, silver colour. Really quite fetch.

Then this last week, I went back to her with my plan for the final stage.

I am happy to look my age but I don't want to look like a haggard old lady who doesn't give a fuck, so I thought a bit of gothic hair would be the go.

Cue Daphne Guinness, heiress to lots of beer money and owner of fabulous wardrobe and even more fabulous hair:





I am in the process of unashamedly ripping off her hair.

I am very pleased with myself.

I love it.

I love my hair.

I love being different to everyone else.

I am going to be that lady, the odd one, but instead of purple hair, it will be a reverse skunk, and children will point and stare and perhaps I will cackle.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We are in

We've been without internet for a while but we're in now and back online.

House is good. Big.

Gigi is happy with back yard.

The suburb is so quiet with no drunks, traffic noises. Love it.

Christmas is upon us, so I hope everyone has a reasonable time (sometimes that's as good as you can hope for at this time of year.)

Take care.

x

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just because we're moving doesn't mean I can't blog

Just found this little gem in a bedside drawer:

Yo I'm a mother
I aint no fucker
I got 3 kids
I'm in the Biz
of keeping them in shoes
Shoe Biz
Poo Biz

The toilet gets grimy
The hubby gets slimey
And I'm feeling crimey

Wassup at the market?
Where'm I gonna park it?
Car park's full
RAV's got no pull
Up Punt Road Hill
So what
In the ghetto
You care 'bout all this?
It's all guns and drugs and hos and sheeyit

Well my reality
Don't think it's mundaneity
I'm going for totality
Don't think it's all a girls' lunch
All talk of play
and waxed vee jays
and chardonnay

It's dirty it's tough
And I've had enough
So I might just leave the hood

My hood is St Kilda
Where nobody kills ya
Not these days, anyway
It's all types of gentrification
And Fitzroy St fancy mastication
But still a little side-street masturbation
Condoms in gutters
Blow jobs, beers for nutters
What's the matter?
Anyway.


And then this, from a small boy:

To Melba,

I love you. I couldn't of survived without you. Your the reason I'm still alive. Your the best!

From Small Boy.



People who know the history of this blended family will appreciate how much this means. I need to keep this close to me, and to my heart, so I can continue to do my best for this child, and his sister. I'd forgotten he wrote me this so I'm glad I keep every skerrick of note, picture and meaningful word.

Happy Wednesday everyone, and love each other well.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"So Mr Kotter, we got the house" [read in Arnold Horshack voice.]

We haven't bought oh no, not at all. We have withdrawn from the ratrace of people scrambling over the tops of each other to buy a piece of real estate in probably what is the most over-inflated environment evah.

We applied to rent a place and we got accepted. The real estate agent was all "Oh you are very lucky, this was a very popular house" and I was all like "Really? I have never been knocked back on a house application. NEVER!"

It's true.

And we had the dog on the application too, so no more of those witchy terrors of a few years ago. So there won't be any angst posts about Gigi being discovered.

We move next Saturday. I am out every night this week, so as well as packing it is going to really be Hell Week.

Wish me luck. I need it.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Things that are depressing me or have upset me in the last week

1. Reading an article last weekend about Jane Campion and remembering a friend of mine in Sydney years ago who suggested to me, having met Jane, that I send her (my friend) my writings, and she could give them to Jane.

I had nothing ready to give. Then.

2. Knocking a glass off the bench yesterday morning as I put bottles in the recycling tub. I'd washed my hair and had a towel-turban which knocked the glass. It smashed on the kitchen floor so I had to clean up properly before tender bare feet started appearing at 7am.

3. Not knowing whether my position will be continuing at work.

4. Missing out at auction to rich fucking people who seem to have bottomless pockets. $725K won't buy a house? FUCK OFF.

5. Hearing that entry to another writing thing next year is "quite competitive." I bet I won't get in.

6. Having a fight with my bro. Hate that.

7. Offending one of my best friends with my thoughtless, rude mouth. Hate that too.

8. The sink in the bathroom getting blocked. Grrrr.

9. The amount of Gigi hair on the rugs.

10. The rain yesterday, bit better today, but the rain. Oh, the rain. Actually the rain didn't bother me, I'm just scratching around for a number 10.

11. Socialising with a couple at daughter's school's end of year partay last Sunday afternoon; hearing that they own 15 properties in Melbourne.

FUCK OFF.

That should have been number 10, not the rain.



A couple of things that have brightened my week:


1. Exchange with aboriginal folk outside IGA around the corner on Sunday. They were lavishing the G with attention, and one told me "I love animals. I wish I was an animal. They are better than people." OK, this made me teary actually, as I walked home. But it was a nice connection.

2. The St Kilda Triangle has been stopped. I am happy about this. I don't care about the $5 mill payout. I'm a rate-payer. I also joined the UnChain StKilda, anti-THAT development movement, so the victory feels nice.

3. Chat on phone with good friend last night. She made me feel better.

4. Watching Get Smart and Lost in Space episodes with the kids. Makes my heart feel better.

5. There's a chance we will be moving soon. Fucked off the house-buying idea, and jumped on the let's-rent idea. Application is in on a place, we shall see.

6. Painting my finger-nails red. Oh yay for small pleasures.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reading the Russians




The five big boys of Russian literature.

I consider myself pretty well read. But I've never read the Russians.

I tried to read Brothers Karamazov quite a few years ago, and no doubt I picked up my mother's copy of War and Peace a few times after one of her rants on how much she loved it, and oh Pierre, Pierre, sort of thing.

As you know I've just finished Lolita, and while Nabokov doesn't really count as one of the Russians when you talk about reading the classics (ok, he doesn't at all) I feel I've started on the Russians, and I am determined to read them.

I've read some of the English, and some of the Americans. I haven't read the French and don't really feel compelled to. But I am feeling compelled to read the Russians.

This is my list (after asking for advice elsewhere):

Dead Souls - Nikolai Gogol

Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Anna Karenin - Leo Tolstoy. (NOT KareninA. D'oh.)

Fathers and Sons - Ivan Turgenev

War and Peace - Tolstoy.

And Anton Chekhov's short stories.

I just went down to the second-hand book store of Fitzroy Street where I never get anything off a list, and managed to get Anna K and Crime and Punishment. I also picked up a copy of Edward Said's Orientalism. I read Said when I was doing my lit. review for my thesis.

Recently, I just finished (after Lolita) a quick Helen Garner (The Children's Bach, and with it completed my reading and purchase of all her books - I think) and have started Murray Bail's The Pages, a slender book which I fear will accompany me only so far on my Russian journey. I might need to dip into other bits and pieces, or I might be able to read them solidly. We shall see. Wish me luck.



PS Managed to farm out the kids and spent the weekend at Werribee Mansion at the hotel there. Joseph's restaurant has a new chef and the food at dinner last night was amazing. We tootled around the place for 2 nights and a day; saw the animals, played pool, had a swim in the pool, wandered the mansion, watched Bruno on the in-house movie service, drank champagne that we took in, and on the Friday night, had a picnic on the floor of our room - it should be a new trend and I'm starting it now. Picnics on the floor of classy hotel rooms. Believe me, too much fun. Cheaper than room service.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Hilarity, in two parts

Part One - A Man's Intentions Might Seem Dodgy

Woman sends husband to video store to try to get the original Lolita (1960s version with James Mason) and also not-so-great 1997 version with master-creep Jeremy Irons.

Early-teen daughter one says: "Oh, and can you please get Little Mermaid and Cinderella while you're there?" (she is on a Disney nostalgia kick.)

Early-teen daughter two asks for Step Up and Step Up Two. Teen gymnast movies.

Husband comes back embarrassed at standing at the counter and asking for these movies. To try to counter suspicions store clerk might be developing, he also borrows Ruff Tuff and Real which sounds like porn but is in fact a nod to his own retro-nostalgic desires: legends of Australian wrestling dvd featuring Ron Miller, Mario Milano, King Curtis and Larry O'Dea.

He came back, we laughed uproariously, then I said: "Where's the first Lolita? Didn't they have it? It was out??"

Stage Two - The Reclamation of a Husband's Reputation

I called the video store, told them that my husband had just been down there asking for Lolita and could I put my name down for that when it comes in, also for the Little Mermaid.

Done.

Everything is again all right in the world.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday Special

I very rarely write about music. It's mostly because I don't really have it in my life much. I have to remember to listen to music, or to turn the radio on. In the car, now I am commuting 45 mins each way to work three days a week, that's an hour and a half a day I could be listening to music. But I don't. It crowds me, my space shrinks, and I feel I have little enough space as it is. For my thoughts, you see. I like it to be just me and my thoughts. I spend this driving time thinking about stuff, mostly my writing at the moment, and at the lights, I grab bits of paper - old shopping lists, petrol receipts - to scribble an idea or a note. I've always done this. I possibly have more bits of paper in my possession than I do hairs on my head. And that's saying something.

But recently there's been a couple of musical items in my world that have spurred me to present here.

The first is the couple of articles I've read in the paper about Ry Cooder. I didn't read the articles, oh no no no. Boring. But just seeing his name, and the connection for me with the soundtrack to Paris, Texas, was evocative enough to stir me into action.

I remember the impact Paris, Texas had on my when I first saw it. It's a lovely movie. Lovely. And a big facet of that enjoyment was the haunting soundtrack by Ry Cooder.

A sample:







The link between this movie and another of my favourite movies (not for musical reasons, for story reasons) is Natassja Kinski, who was Polanski's Tess.





Another beautiful movie, and a good book too.

Finally, the second musical snippet for this weekend. Last night, I was moaning about having to go and see the Painters and Dockers at their first-gig-in-20-years gig. Just like the old days of seeing bands in pubs, I found a spot at the back where I could watch, my friend D bopped up the front. I wonder if she got knocked and sprayed when the old rockers did crowd surfing and stubby shake-ups. I left before the end, but I enjoyed. To see Colin on drums (he was someone we knew, he dated a friend/s) and to see Paul Stewart with the same energy and charisma I remember from the old days, was a treat. He was still rocking the Hitler 'tache too, which was strangely appealing and sexy. He flashed a brown eye, opened his shirt and let his ample gut come out to play. And, yes, the crowd was mostly old bags and dudes like me. A few flashback familiar faces from the '80s, and in that way, a weird intersection with the '80s diaries I'm publishing here.

The songs were good and loud but while I had earplugs in my bag, I didn't need them because I am pretty deaf already. The volume was just right for me. I'm sure there's a reason for that. The stage was in a different place - it's years since I was there last.

The big trumpets were good, Die Yuppie Die was a favourite with the crowd, Basia, All Men Are Bastards is something D and I used to sing to each other back then, and Nude School. It was fun and nostalgic and then I walked up the street and was in bed by 1am. Nicely done.



Live on a Daddo tv show. Worth watching.





Soul Child - fantastic live video. This was me out at night in the '80s. This is what it was like, all you young thangs. So nostalgic. Love it!





And while on the subject of music nostalgia, I am particularly pleased to have found this on youtube. I've looked before and never found it.

I'm in it. Look carefully, and you will see me.

You just won't know it's me. Mwahahaha.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Hello Again Friday

How quickly you roll around.

Some thoughts for today:

1. I am reading Lolita for the first time. Believe it or nutt! I am more than half-way through. The language is sumptuous, he wrote it beautifully and I do love the inner monologue of Humbert Humbert. Did you know that he's only about 38 or 39 in the novel? And we all thought he was a dirty old lech. No, he's a young, good-looking lechy bastard. For those people who think that he shows his morals and guilt and many qualms about defiling Lolita in his internal talk, and that he is torn and bedevilled with doubts and often on the cusp of stopping, oh you fools, you are wrong. You cannot in this way possibly find some excuse for his behaviour - also, this troublesome argument some have that she seduced him, etc - you people too are wrong.

Yes, he does make several nods to his worries about having besmirched her (he does make the point that she wasn't virgin when he started on her, without using that word), but these are a handful of times, and could be argued to be just an occasional spasm of conscience, which breaks through what is his usual state of continual, priapic arousal and determination to fuck her every day. And to creepily watch other young "nymphets." HH is coarse when he talks about older women (btw, an older woman can include college co-eds, who to his particular brand of aesthetic are simply former nymphets buried within ugly layers of extra flesh.) He is clearly not physically attracted to any female above the age of about 16? He is revolted by them (us, me) and also makes references several times to periods spent in sanitoria, exchanges with psychiatrists and doctors.

I also don't think anyone can make the argument that he is merely trying to complete some sort of romantic/sexual fixation that was unfinished when he was 13. That he himself is trapped in his own childhood and needs to make a psychological closure. He talks about that suggestion not really being true.

It's clear that in the first instance Lolita did seduce him, and from her innocent viewpoint, initiate him into the ways of intercourse (something she had "learnt" at summer camp - "haven't you ever done this before?" she asks him, as she holds his "life" in her sweet, young hands.) But a little while later, her mood becomes savage; she is cranky, upset, angry. She pushes his hand away, but he persists. He is relentless. He talks of having fucked her (and he never uses such language, oh, it's all prettied up) three times "vigorously" one morning. He talks of her buttocks being bitten by bugs as they do it in nature. He talks of travelling all over the country with her, pretending they are father and daughter, and in the bit where I'm up to, he talks of her passing through her nymphettage, and that one day maybe he can "make her" have their baby, a Lolita Two, who he can then abuse. And even, incredibly, he says that if there is a Lolita Three he can initiate her into the ways of a loving grandfather. This is the proof to me, of how perverse this character is; he is talking full-on incest here. If one could argue that stepfather-stepdaughter is not biological incest, he is moving towards the next stage with these fanciful thoughts; ideas that give him glee.

Now get me here. I'm not especially repulsed by the idea of HH and Lolita. It's fiction, and fiction doesn't repulse me. Not at all. And if he were her biological father, my reaction would be more visceral, but still I'd be able to read it fairly dispassionately, like I do most of my fiction. (Yes, I can cry and sob, but it's usually because something has resonated in me about my life or my inner child or my inner world, not because I am so enthralled with the characters that I am empathising with them. No it's all about me. As it usually is.) But I am disturbed by the viewpoint of Humbert; by his rationalising, his justifications. We know from early on, around the first page, that he becomes incarcerated at some stage, that he has become a murderer (whether literally or metaphorically is unclear at the outset.)

It's interesting the way Nabokov has written this character. He is so vivid and real. We know there are these creeps out there in the world, or maybe not so far away, maybe next door? in our own homes and families? grooming children, watching them, seeing them as prey, seeing their own perverse predilections as natural, normal, love. This is patently so wrong. So creepy and sick. All Humbert is about is his own lust and emotions. But I think he swings without it being made obvious, I think there is a little bit of conscience. Even so, he is unable to resist. He just can't stop. Like an alcoholic, a gambler, an overeater, a liar. All these compulsions cannot be denied. It's a sickness, a disease.

I know the ending but I am interested to see how we get there.

Is Humbert a sympathetic character? I don't know. Nabokov has certainly done well to present him how he is. There is some sympathy for him, trapped in his own self, you could say. And the way Lolita is characterised - she is not a lovely, innocent naif who you immediately feel protective of. But when he writes of her sobbing in Humbert's arms after a coupling, you feel her distress and want to march into the scene and pull her from him. Belittle him, call him a fucking creep and how dare he, and take Lolita away, clean her up, put her into school, psychologise her back to normality. Because no matter how this book has been written, some will see it as material to justify their own sicknesses. Others who aren't that sick will be titillated, still others will see the beauty - but really, what beauty is there in this? Just the words. The deeds are ugly, all of them.

I'm thinking this is going to be one of my favourite books, only because it is so different to everything I've read before, it's so well written, and the characters, ah the fiction of it. Simply marvellous.

Wow, there's nothing like a book review to clear the pipes in the morning.

I really don't know that there can be a worthwhile number 2 after that, but just briefly.

2. The Freddo case. Glad it's been dropped. How ridiculous.

3. Catherine Deveny said something I actually agreed with this week. Not the bit about Melbourne Grammar's principal using his connections to help the egg-ear boy. But the bit where she followed up about the approach by a school for mentors for their students. Good on her for exposing it, and not cowering. She is gusty and you have to like that. I do.

4. Fucking Painters and Dockers don't go on until 11.30 tonight and this old chook is not happy. I don't want to go at all, but I'm meeting friends and blah de blah. Annoying.

5. Not working today. Yay.

6. Hot again today. Boo.

7. WONDERFUL article on Wednesday about the lift drivers in the Nicholas Building in Swanston Street. WONDERFUL.

8. We haven't bought a house yet. Seems impossible. Without going to Lilydale or somewhere like that. Grrr.

9. Have a fab idea for next story. Excitingestnessness. It's a very old idea with a new dimension.

10. The next Twilight movie - New Moon - is out. One daughter saw it yesterday, the other tonight, and the first daughter will see it again tomorrow. She is all aquiver and squealing and I swear I saw the shadow of Beatlemania on her face last night.

"Can a child have a heart attack?" is what she said to me safely back home from Forks, sitting on the couch.

11. So I've got my period and I'm crampy but not so crabby which is good. I always associate the word "crabby" with Lucy out of Peanuts. Funny that.

12. I really don't want to go out tonight. Bloody hell.

13. Samson and Delilah is on ABC1 on Sunday night. I am looking forward to it. Want to tape it, watch it, and offer it to the older girls. Princess is into stuff like that, but it might be a bit heavy.

14. Limoncello is going well I guess. I am stirring every week or so. It's now only Day 15 though. Far out. Long way to go. I have it in the cool, in the shade, and with a chop stick to stir occasionally.

15. That's it. Back to bed and book. Happy Friday everyone.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How gratifying

"Research has confirmed that English is 'the worst' language to learn to read - of those that learn the Roman alphabet." (from the Age, today.)

I wish I'd finished reading that sentence before I rushed to write my opinion of it.

But of course it's difficult. It's so a-phonetic.

As someone who can read the phonetic code, and has learned other languages both phonetic (Turkish, Japanese) and not-really-that phonetic (French), it kind of chuffs me that English is the hardest one. I like it that the hardest, worst one is MY ONE.

It doesn't surprise me. Over the years I've had many a student who was learning English as a second language who has bemoaned the lack of reason, the lack of consistency, the lack of rule.

I once heard it said that there is no more poetic language than written Arabic. Note the word "written" there for it is most relevant. But apparently you haven't known the beauty of the Koran if you haven't heard it or read it in Arabic. I believe that.

I once had a French person say to me "I lurve ze Anglish ak-sont. Eet ees so egg-zotique fer us Franch peeples" for me to then go, "Oh, but we love the French accent" and for her to screw her nose up in distaste.

How can you not love that? There's a whole story there. Are you sure you want me to stop the diaries at Dec 31 1989 Mr PQ?

My first husband was a Turk whose family speaks Arabic as many-generation-before immigrants in Turkey. It was a long time before I realised the Turkish I was learning (mostly the cuss words, I fuck your God, Allahana sikerim, son of a donkey, eŞol eŞek, I fuck your pussy, amanakoyum) was being reproduced by me in an approximated Arabic accent. His thick accent, which he always was self-conscious about, I couldn't even hear. Because it was an accent in another language which was foreign to me. Do you get how many layers of difficulty there are in that? What sorts of linguistic somersaults do new Australians have to deal with?

I love language. Let me make that clear.

I LOVE LANGUAGE.

I picked Cate Blanchett's sub-par Soviet accent in the recent Indiana Jones movie - the skull one. She rounded her vowel sounds where they should have been flattened. So English, such a giveaway inflection. So wrong.

I don't want to learn another language. I have had my fill. Not interested in Spanish, or Italian or any of the Slavic langues. Russian interests me, but only academically. I don't think I can be bothered investing when there is the Internet to translate what I need. Such as freak =

In 1986 (?) (coming up in diaries) in Bali, I sat in a hut on stilts near the beach on one of the three islands off the west coast of Lombok. For about seven days, I had a guy come and teach me Bahasa-Indonesia in the afternoons. I learnt a bit, which I have since forgotten.

But that rudimentary attempt at language is so far removed from, say, Nabaokov writing Lolita in English first, and then translating it himself into Russian.

That blows my mind. Big time.

When I was at uni, at teacher's college, years ago, I remember a class to do with cross-cultural communication or similar. The teacher was passionate, and oh so knowledgeable. It was maybe a semester course, and I FUCKING LOVED IT. She talked one day about bread. The significance of bread across many cultures. The words for it in different languages, the idiom, expressions like "bread = money" and "to have a bun in the oven." Bread is so highly valued by many cultures around the world. For example in Turkey, you cannot throw out bread, no matter how old, how rock hard it is. I used to get shit from my ex for throwing bread away. So I'd keep it, let it turn to granite, let him try to eat it. It's ok to feed it to birds, mind you. They are Allah's creatures as well.

And there are expressions not just to do with bread, but food.

Apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Apple of her father's eye.
She'll be apples.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Bring home the bacon.

Sugar and spice and all things nice.

What else have we got?

Ah words. You have to love them. I do.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hello Friday

Recently, I was wondering about a blogger friend Pepsi. I wondered where she had got to, and she has since made contact (glad you're ok!)

While I was checking her profile, to see if somehow magically she had started a blog, or linked to anything at all, there was a link to another blog. I went and looked at that blog and saw a wonderful list.

I do like a list.

So I have shamelessly stolen it, but will of course credit the person it came from.

I couldn't be bothered tailoring it to my own specific world, so just went through his list and commented. Interesting, we have some similar desires, and some very different ones (mainly to do with sport, and that would probably be because he is a male.)

My version of the list:


100 THINGS

1. See the Pyramids and climb inside one
Been to, haven’t been inside. Rode horses around.


2. Climb to Macchu Pichu
Haven’t done, would like to.

3. Go to Istanbul and have tea & haggle with a carpet seller
Have done, but I married the carpet seller.


4. Walk from Coast to Coast - St Bee’s to Robin Hood Bay (190 miles)
If that’s in England, and I think it is, I would very much like to do a walking tour of England.

5. Walk part of the Camino de Santiago
Not sure where this is. Brazil?

6. Write a story & have it published
Yes, this is a serious dream.

7. Have a photo I took published in a book or magazine
Nup, don’t care about this one.

8. Learn to paint/draw
I can draw, and I am a fierce doodler. Would like to paint, don’t need to “learn.” I’m a natural.

9. Learn to play an instrument – piano/guitar/bass/violin (haven’t picked one yet)
Nup, don’t really care about this.

10. Spend a year working for a charity in a third world country
YES WOULD LOVE TO AND DO INTEND TO

11. Run a small pub that has live bands
No way, would hate it. Am already deaf, drink too much and now I don't smoke, I don't want to stink of other people's smoke. On a regular basis.

12. Cruise along the Nile
Wanted to, got there, didn’t do. Disappointed? Not much.

13. Take a trip on the Orient Express
Kind of did this, but it was in economy class where there were Africans under the seats. I mean it! Coming up in diaries in 1990. If I weren’t planning to stop on Dec 31 1989.


14. Go for a balloon ride over Cappadocia
Will never ever go on a balloon ride. Not for a million bucks. But been to Cappadocia about three times.

15. Attend a dawn service at Gallipoli (I've been to Gallipoli and stood on the pebbly beach of Anzac Cove in the pouring rain, but I'd like to go back for a dawn service)
Was there in 1990 at the 75th anniversary dawn service. Shook Bob Hawke and Hazel’s hands and cried copiously over the old soldiers.

16. Go to the South Pole
Let me think. Nup, not interested.

17. Learn to pull a pint – properly
Not interested. That’s a bit of a boy thing I think.

18. Walk the streets of London
Done that.

19. Take the Trans-Siberian railway
Ooooh, I would like to do this. There’s no writer better than Paul Theroux to whet your appetite for rail travel. Riding the Iron rooster – one of the best books I’ve read. My brother’s stories of doing the Trans-Siberian are excellent as well.

20. Brew a batch of Scotch that tastes good
No would rather buy it. But making limoncello isn’t that hard.

21. Elope
Kind of done that. It’s not fun at all.


22. Get lost in the British Museum
Been there. Didn’t get lost.


23. Go on a dig
I’d like to go on a dig but only if it’s in Egypt and Hercules Poirot is there in a white safari suit.

24. Learn Spanish
Not interested in Spanish. Don’t want to learn any other languages. I’ve done my dash.

25. Go to Stonehenge
Used to think I wanted to do this, but there are other things higher on the travel list than this one.

26. Keep a close friendship for 20 years or longer
Done this one.

27. Learn to belly dance
Done this one too.

28. Have my portrait painted
That would be nice, but I really don’t think it would ever happen, and if it did, it would have to be a commission. Somehow, it aint gonna happen. Even if I had the bucks, it would reek of huge ego and I would find that déclassé.

29. Be the most important person in someone’s life, even if it’s for a short time
Easy, hands down, that has happened.

30. Kiss the Blarney Stone
Not interested in that.

31. Walk across the Giants Causeway
Don’t know where that is.

32. See the sun rise from Mount Sinai
Done that, slept up there and saw the old sun rise.


33. Spend a winter in the Highlands of Scotland or on one of the Orkney Islands
Ooooh, I’d like that.

34. Go to Jerusalem
Done. It was everything I imagined it would be. Simply wonderful.

35. Take singing lessons
Not interested.

36. Learn to recite Yeats
I can recite a bit of Keats.

37. Visit the Andes
Not interested.

38. See the Himalayas
Not interested. Not a mountainy person.

39. Go to Easter Island and see the statues (I've seen one in Chile but havent been to Eater Island yet.)
Not really interested in this.

40. Fly over the Nasca Lines in a small plane pretending to be aliens
Don’t even know where this is.

41. Go on Safari
Oh yes please! And have Clokes wash my hair over a basin.

42. Watched a meteor shower
That would be cool but not necessary. I saw Halley’s Comet though. I think.

43. Learn to make my own earrings
Not interested.

44. Venture into the jungle to see Mayan and Aztec ruins in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize
Pffft.

45. Go to Rome
Done, and yes it was good.

46. Spend some time in a concentration camp
I would like to visit a concentration camp but not a for real one, as an inmate.

47. Milk a cow
Done.


48. Ride a camel into a desert
Ridden a camel on the edge of a desert (Jerusalem.)

49. Make someones wedding cake
Why?

50. See the Pope (JP II)
Too late now.

51. Take a gondola ride in Venice
Done. It was the best.

52. Go to China & see the Statue Army and Great Wall
Been to China but just Guangzhou. It was ok. In 1982 there wasn’t a lot you could do.

53. Say ‘I love you’ and really mean it - unconditionally, with all my being
Done. Many many times. To my daughter.


54. Get a tattoo
Not my thing, but I do like them on men.

55. Followed my favorite band on tour
Not my thing.

56. Live on a canal boat for a month
That I could do. Couldn’t do a big boat on a big water, or a small boat on a big water. I think I could do a small or big boat on a small water (a canal is about as big as I’d want to get. I could do a lake probably, and a river.)

57. Fly over an active volcano
Nope, but I’ve climbed up an active volcano. Two actually. It was good. One in Bali. The other in Java.

58. Attend an Olympics
Absolutely no interest. I don’t even want to watch them on the tv.

59. Take a trip down the Amazon
Don’t think I’d really go for this one.

60. Make a short film (been the subject of one, but haven’t made one yet)
No interest.

61. Take a pilgrimage to Lourdes
No interest.

62. Get a masters degree before I’m thirty
I’ve got one but it was well after 30.

63. Visit the big galleries of the world – Musee du Lourve in Paris, The Prado in Madrid, Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Museum of Modern Art in New York, Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Egyptian Museum in Cairo, The Rijks Museum in Amsterdam, Musee d’Orsay in Paris, Tate Modern/Britain in London, The Kunsthistoisches Museum in Vienna, The Vatican Museums in Rome
Done 4 of these. I really do want to go to Spain.

64. See an Ashes Test at Lords (been there, seen the urn, stood on the balcony, supped in the long room but not seen an Ashes test there yet)?
So not interested.

65. Pick up and move to another city knowing no one, just to start over
Done that. Japan. But it wasn't to start over, not really. As an economic refugee during the early '90s.

66. Walk through the ruins of Pompeii
Done it. Fantastic.

67. Visited all 7 continents in the world (Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia, North America, South American, Antarctica)
I don’t need to go to each continent. The only one I haven’t seen properly is Africa (Egypt doesn’t count in my mind.)

68. Swim in all 5 oceans of the world (Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Southern, Arctic)
Don’t care.

69. See the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
Don’t care.

70. Float in the Dead Sea
Done. It was ok.

71. Be invited to join a Board of Directors of a company
Couldn’t think of anything worse.

72. Spend more than a week in Paris
Done this. It was ok.


73. Visit Buckingham Palace & stand on the garden party lawn and have tea
I would like to do this. Not sure how one goes about it.

74. Make paper
Not interested in this one. Not at all.

75. Walk on a beach watching the sun rise, having not been to bed yet.
Done this I think. Can’t remember.

76. Catch a fish, cook it straight away and eat it
Done this. With help.


77. Live in a quaint little village
I would really like to do this. Like a Milly-Molly-Mandy village. Or somewhere in Italia.

78. Own a bookstore and run it the way I imagined
OH YES PLEASE

79. Own a house with an attic, a long kitchen, a library room and a magic walled garden
DOUBLE YES PLEASE

80. Learn how to build my own webpage
Done that a while ago. It was hard and not fun and not useful.


81. See a ghost
I really would like to see a ghost. Not sure why, but I would love it.

82. Make a difference in someone’s life
I have.

83. Be content within myself
I'm doing alright on this one.

84. Walked in the rain
Easy, done it heaps. One of the memorable times was strolling up to the Acropolis in Athens in the rain. I cried. On my own. And I didn't care.

85. Study at Oxford or Cambridge
Yes I would like to do this, a writing course with an esteemed teacher.

86. Visit Shakespeare’s birthplace
Done this.

87. Make someone cry of happiness
Not sure about this one. Not sure I want to. Too much emotion.

88. See a play at The Globe (been there a few times but not seen a play yet)
Nope.

89. Raise a child
Yep, tick.


90. See Petra
Yep would like to.

91. Go to Glastonbury Music Festival
Nope, not interested.

92. Drive across America
I would like to do this.

93. Have hair down to my bottom – once
I think that’s a bit too long and wouldn’t be as nice as you think.

94. Do my family tree
Too hard and time consuming.

95. Own a new car
Done that, but it wouldn't be on my Top 100 list. Who cares?


96. Read the books of Charles Dickens from start to finish
Yeah, that would be good. Easy to achieve.

97. Travel around the Lakes District
Would love to do that.

98. Watch my nephew play guitar on one of the big stages of the world
I guess so but it won’t cut me up if it doesn’t happen. Unlikely I have to say.

99. Go to a Rugby Union World Cup final with the Wallabies
Oh my god. Care factor zero.

100. Live with no regrets
Impossible or not?



Stolen from http://youngnedofthehill.blogspot.com/ via Pepsi. Blame her.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

how lovely


It's 8.30am on Sunday and I am reading yesterday's papers. I have already clipped some articles: one about two sisters born to an aboriginal father and Dutch mother; one about the tradition of literary salons; one about the fear of mental illness and one about the suicide issues the Yolngu people are facing in their community.
Then I came to an article by Peter Craven, presumably about Australian theatre according to the headline. It's not an article I will read or clip. Lots of stories I just flick over. I'm not interested in clipping anything about wars, current or past. I am interested in Holocaust stories. I am interested in mass murders and things like that, but I don't clip them. I do clip stories about children dying at the hands of their mothers. I clip interesting articles about animals and especially if there is an unusual intersection with humans; recently there was an article about a family living in Melbourne with an autistic boy who was displaying very extreme behaviour. They read about and got a dog (from America I think it was, because none are trained here) who now lives with them and is companion and "helper" to their son. Their son's behaviour has modified, or become more moderate; he doesn't have as many tantrums, doesn't wander as much (and if he does, the dog follows him and stays with him.) It appealed to all my latent Lassie fantasies and I cried as I read out bits to the family. My daughter thinks I'm weird, I'm sure. The mother who is close to tears.
This photo above appealed to me. It made me think about men and how they generally aren't physically affectionate with each other. Possible Rush and Armfield are in a lineup to take a bow? This was my first thought. But no, the caption to the picture says they were photographed as they were preparing for Exit the King. Also Armfield's other hand is in his pocket. What strikes me is the way Geoffrey Rush is looking at Neil Armfield and how completely comfortable he looks, in holding another man's hand. Armfield is displaying some body language of discomfort, but he might just be laughing at something completely unconnected to the fact that he is gripping the hand of a man.
It's a lovely photo and it makes me wish we saw more men holding hands, with arms across shoulders, kissing each other on the cheeks. When I first went to Turkey, I was surprised to see men walking arm in arm along the street. Young men, old men. It was a very real cultural difference to me. I'm not sure it still happens; in later years I don't remember seeing it, but in 1990, it was very apparent.
The only time I see men kissing each other hello, and goodbye, is when I'm with two of my gay friends. Maybe it's up to gay men to start the revolution. They need to start bringing the kiss hello to their heterosexual male friends.
If we could all touch each other a little more, maybe we'd all be happier.

Friday, October 23, 2009

So Friday yawn, what do you hold for me?

There is sunshine but I am not feeling a hunnerd percent.

Must take dog for run in park, though.

Have finished my final read through, will make changes laterrrrr.

Pompeii. Tonight. Oh yeah.

Finished the book. The second half was better than the first and seriously I would have stopped reading if I didn't have to read it. I just didn't like it. Not at all. Oh well.

Browning bananas in the fruit bowl demand attention. I'm thinking cake.

Dinner tonight? Can't be fagged. But last night's was a treat. Spaghetti with fresh tomatoes cooked with garlic and anchovies and pitted kalamata olives, and chopped parsley. Then fried freshly-made breadcrumbs, cooked in olive oil and tossed through the pasta. THEN loads of grated parmesan cheese.

OH IT WAS FUCKING DELICIOUS.

Sick kids this week. One on Tuesday, one on Wednesday and the third one home today and yesterday. I still managed to make it to work.

Taught yesterday, Year 10s.

Is there anyone else who, in the course of their daily work, has to say things like this:

"Can I get my three penises back please?"

"There was a guy who fingered a dog, he became known as The Guy Who Fingered A Dog. He couldn't get a plumbing apprenticeship. So think before you do stupid things."

"I need to collect my penises now. DON'T TAKE ANY CONDOMS HOME!"

I bid you good weekend.

Friday, October 16, 2009

pretty exciting

Clokes has just handed me a heavy wad of papers.

There are 236 pages single sided, 1 & 1/2 spaced, in 12pt font. Not sans serif.

This is my baby. It is almost finished. It is exciting.

What next?

Do I leave it a while and then go through?

Do I start letting members of my family read it? (I have three volunteer readers; sister, mother and friend.)

What do I do?


*

Thoughts are moving to the next one. Oh fecund brain, it is a joy.

I suppose I should do a diarama but really, I can't be bothered.

Maybe over the weekend.

x

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday

It's cold today and I am so sick of it. Sick of being cold and lethargic and flat.
I want to wear light tops and thongs and summer skirts.

I want to go swimming in the heat.

I want to eat out on our little balcon, and watch the summer sky-line with its streaks of pink as the sun goes down.

I'm also annoyed I missed Germaine on Q & A last night. My mother told me it was on. She rang again to remind me. I wrote a note to myself, and put it on the coffee table where it was forgotten.

Maybe it's online somewhere?

Happy weekend to all.


UPDATE: Saturday morning and isn't it lovely and sunny?

Well, I've started the new book and I fear that my good reading self and this book are not going to become lovers. Thus far, it's something about the scattered nature of his narrative that is preventing me from gelling. It is incredibly wordy, and while I like his 3rd person omni narrator with drop-ins to various character POVs, it's like he is trying to write everything about everything in this book. Also, thus far, I'm not really digging any of the characters, except perhaps the one I'm not meant to? The one who may be revealed to be a Machiavellian puppeteer. He is the most interesting of a fairly dull bunch.

The narrative style - the telling instead of showing, and oh, how he does tell - seems to numb my brain, so instead of feeling that I am being invited into a beautifully interesting world peopled with characters I want to get to know and like, or dislike, connect with, instead of this, I am sitting in the front row of a lecture theatre, and the person standing at the podium is droning on about an obscure part of DNA genetics or botany or sports medicine - all areas I have no real interest in.

My eyes are simply skimming across the tops of the words; they aren't sinking in. I like to be able to sink into a sea of words that are wonderful and compelling; even swamp-like. They can be heavy and dark and ugly. But they can't be dull and they need to have heart.

His turn of phrase is ok at times, even good. But other times it's like he hasn't worked the manuscript - it's like he's 's just gotten it all out on the page in a rush and didn't go back to check much. Maybe he  found it as hard-going to re-read as I do to read.

Happy Saturday to you.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Quick Wednesday morning recap

No work out of the house today. On my list of things to do, (some already completed):

1. Help to save a possum and its baby from being attacked by a blackbird and a honey eater next door. The possums were trying to get from tree to roof and we could hear the racket of the birds and see the distress of the possums from our dining room and bathroom windows. Princess and I were in paroxyms of anguish. We clapped our hands to try to distract the birds from their pecking assault, and finally baby possum got onto the roof to safety. Then mother possum was trapped in the eaves so I threw pieces of bread to stop the bird cornering her. They have all gone away now.

1a. Get all children out of the house. This includes cutting up apple and pear for Princess who has braces on her teeth and getting contact lenses into her eyes because she has sport today. She is the high-maintenance one. Lucky she came from my body and I love her beyond reason. Also I feel guilty because the bad eyes are from me, as well as the bad teeth. She's got all my bad stuff; DNA is a bastid.

2. Have coffee.

3. Walk the dog.

4. Read the paper .

5. Pick up book on order from Readings. I love Readings. I love books.


6. Resist reading Coetzee's Summertime and the new Niffenegger book. Isn't Niffenegger probably the most unfortunate name around?

7. Submit passport renewal application.

8. Stop looking at blogs.

8a. Desist in giving Perseus love advice. There's only so much a busy-body like me can do.

9. Cook dinner.

10. Go through my story and insert bits I have pulled out of research notes to do with fairytales and mother/stepmother stuff.

Did you know that "According to Tartar, the wicked female fiends are some of the many faces of maternal evil in fairytales representing the obverse of all the positive qualities associated with mothers"?

AND

"various cooks, stepmothers, witches and mothers-in-law with voracious appetites for human fare, even for the flesh... of their own relatives.... (are) cannibalistic fiends [known in] German [as] Menschenfresserin (devourer of humans)"?

AND

Biological mothers are replaced by these fiends, because "the fantasy of the wicked step-mother, witch, mother-in-law and other female villains not only preserve the good mother in tact (usually dead in these stories), it also prevents one having to feel guilty about one's angry wishes about her."

AND

"The monster of fairy tales and psychic fantasies is the murderous mother in disguise. She is the one who figures in our nightmares, or as Gilbert emphasises, our nightmères."

I don't know who Tartar and Gilbert are but as I'm not writing a thesis, I dont' care.

11. Cut out all the unnecessary words in my story.

12. Decide whether it needs to be more than the 82,000 words it is now. Or less. Any advice?

13. Decide whether to submit for a competition. I hate competitions because I never win them.

14. come up with a better surname for main character and family in the story. I'm thinking Lovelock is good. It's real too. I heard someone called Lovelock on the radio the other day. Her first name started with L and ended in Y. Cool name.

15. That's about it I think. It's enough.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Disappointment

Disappointment surely is a bitter swill that fills the mouth and forces you to spit or swallow.

Tonight, for me, it was Fame.

Yes, Fame.

In long, it was humourless, no actors had any charisma, actoring talent or presence. The characters were dull, uninteresting and uninspiring. None of the teachers were marvellous. In fact they were all shit, Kelsey Grammer and that nasal woman included.

I found it insufferable, tedious and grim.

They'd changed the names. In this day and age, clearly, there can be no black character called Coco. Oh no no no. And Bruno? That's too old-time-Italo-ethnic. Let's make him Carlo, because the Hispanics came after the Italians, swarmed into the great melting pot that is America.

Fuck that. He should have been called Hussein.

Oh, but wait. There was a Malik - a black dude. To me it's a good Muslim name, but there was no reference to religion. He was a rapper/actor with anger issues about his dead sister, shot at 11 in a drive-by.

Oh cliche-ridden piece of shit that you were, Fame.

I turned to my daughters carefully as the credits were rolling afterwards. I waited until they told me what they thought. Great, good, I liked it. I held my tongue until I was pushed to say what I thought.

"My one was better, I thought, the old one. But it was from my time."

They nodded at that. They understood. I am an old dag, and I can't appreciate that wonderful movie that unfolded in front of them.

"I remember the old one being funnier. It was heavy in parts, but there was also lightness and joy. This one was just so serious for most of it."

Silence.

"Didn't you think?"

Silence again.

Then Princess said, "But they were under so much pressure. Of course it's going to be serious."

'Yeah," I said. Wanting to let them have their Fame.

But they don't know what they missed out on.

This for one:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday

Well, it all went brilliantly. BRILLIANTLY I TELL YOU.

Tooth settled with some quick Nurofen and I got onto the antis.

And we drove, oh how we drove. The weather was filthy for most of Victoria. It took us an hour and a half to even get onto the Hume, fucking hell, my inner voice was going, while don't worry, we'll get there my outer voice was going.

Stopped for petroleum and food about 3.5 hours in. Then a coffee stop for about 10 minutes after another couple of hours. Princess talked the whole way; her story idea for a book. So not only am I to try and write my own books, I have to help her with hers.

God help me.

We managed without music or any other diversions for hours. It was only as it got dark that we put some on. First we listened to a truly atrocious CD called Great Driving Songs or somesuch. It's Clokes' and because most of our stuff is in storage still, we are light on for CDs. We skipped through most of the tracks. They were woeful.

Then I tried to introduce her to Fat Boy Slim. She liked the first song, then wanted to skip the bit where the lyric is Fat Boy Slim is fucking in heaven. Fair enough. Then we listened to the Beach Boys. The good old reliable Beach Boys.

It was dark and my night vision is not great. We crawled along, driving very carefully, also cause by now my tooth was hurting again. We got there. We checked into our very clean, nice motel, about 5 mins drive from my bro's house. We ordered in food, had showers and slept together in the Queen size bed, using the single as our vertical wardrobe. Am I the only person to do this?

Next morning we decided not to do anything. The weather was cold, so we woke up at 9am to feast upon our breakfast tray, then lay in bed watching tv (her) and reading (me.)

I had texted my sister the night before, with no reply. Then I texted my brother-in-law cause he's usually good with his phone. No reply. Then I'm starting to worry a bit that their plans had changed. Imagine if they'd all driven to Melb? I had checked they'd be there through the week, so was fairly confident but when you do wild and crazy things, sometimes your brain can make you second-guess stuff.

So I called my brother on his mobile. He answered and was happy to hear from me. I asked if the others were there, I hadn't heard, yes, they were there, he said, sitting on the couch. They were all getting pretty excited. The bbq was going to get fired up, and they had a couple of other friends arriving to have lunch and watch the game.

"Oh ok," I said. "Well, I'll call later, to talk during the game, have fun!"

He he he.

Then I set about making mini floggers for the kids. Then we got ready and went and picked up some bbq meat stuff and two bottles of champagne and a box of nice chocolates for my bro's long-suffering partner. When Melba and her sibs get together, we can be a little much for other people.

We drove there. Princess said she was nervous.

"What if they're not happy to see us?" she asked.

"They will be!" I almost shouted at her.

"But how can you know?" she asked.

"Because they're family, and they like us. It'll be good, don't worry."

So we managed to get to the door. We rang the door bell, Princess hid behind me, scared. They opened the door and we jumped up and down shouting "SURPRISE!! SURPRISE!!"

It was awesome. My brother was really moved, I could tell. They couldn't believe that not only were we there, but we'd driven up the night before. Sneaky!

We had lunch, cracked the champers and settled down to what was a fantastic and exciting game of footy. It would have been bad if Geelong had lost and we'd been a miserable little cavalcade back down the Hume. As it was we flew our Scarf of Victory, only pulling it inside the window once we got to St Kilda Junction. We wore our Hats of Victory for most of the weekend.

I got back last night to a table full of newspapers, oh joy. Reading through them, still not finished. I have sheets of newspaper stuck to the wall with blu-tack. My father is incredibly happy, not least because of my sneaky plan. My brother is happy we went up, and my sister cried when she saw us, and then again when the Cats won. We jumped up off the couch, we shouted, we stamped and we howled.

It was great.

And getting a text message from INC was great as well. Thank you friend. Thanks too to everyone who asked about my tooth. It really is a bastard but it's behaving itself now. I'm so glad we went. Surprises are good like that if you have the right family. And Princess really jumped on board and got into it as well. She hates long car trips, but there was not one complaint. She is the acest of all.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday

Things facing me today.

In a little while, I am going to pick up Princess from my mum's place and we are going to drive to Canberra. My brother lives in Canberra and my sister and her family are there visiting. I had planned to go up this past week but couldn't because I was working.

But then the Cats got into the Grand Final.

And I know everyone will be at my brother's watching. Us three kids haven't ever watched Geelong in a GF together before. My sister and I went to the 1995 Grand Final. There is a photo of us and our devastation afterwards. When Geelong played Hawthorn in the 1989 Grand Final I was on a road trip to Lake Eyre with two friends, and on that Saturday we drove four hours or so to a pub that was showing it. We sat in the mostly empty front bar and drank beer and then went and kicked a footy with the aboriginal kids outside afterwards. Two years ago, we were in Istanbul and couldn't find a tv showing it. There were phone calls to my dad and brother who were both there but not sitting together. And last year, we were at friends' watching, and that of course was depressing.

So I figured this might be the last chance for a long time? It would be a really feel-good moment to all be together if they win.

So I formed a wild and crazy plan to drive up there, check into a motel nearby, lie low and then about an hour before the game, ring their doorbell and just be there. Mad and spontaneous.

Great plan, innit?

Booked the motel, printed out google maps, have a little bookshop to visit half an hour out of Canberra tomorrow morning, a little side activity.

Princess jumped on board and is very excited. I had to tell my mum, and yesterday my Dad (because he asked me and Princess to the Parade today. Never been to the Parade, never want to go) and I swore them to secrecy.

I want it to be a complete and utter surprise and my sister and her husband and children are all very loud people so it will be effective and satisfying.

EXCEPT for my fucking tooth.

I went to the dentist Wednesday morning for further work on a root canal. I wasn't in pain, just having to floss frequently because the tooth had chipped. But it wasn't bad, he said, luckily I hadn't cracked the tooth, blah blah blah. He cleaned it out (again) and while it didn't hurt, it was unpleasant. I'm not good with things in my mouth. I think I've mentioned here before I used to have dreams of my mouth and throat being filled with cotton wool or barbed wire or broken glass and me having to breathe around it all the while trying to pull the stuff out.

If I believed in previous lives I would think I was probably buried alive, with dirt filling my nose and mouth and throat.

I also have a fear of me or someone I'm with choking on food and dying.

The tooth was ok when I left. It was ok for the rest of that day. A little tender but I wouldn't say painful.

Yesterday I went to work, and it was still the same, ok but not terrible.

Then last night, Clokey and I went out to dinner.

We went to a new place in Fitzroy Street called Waldorf diner (they really shouldn't call it a diner, just Waldorf would be fine) and enjoyed the food. Sausages, bread, all made on the premises. Slow-cooked food, beautiful pork-belly, divine beef carpaccio. Only one mention of "foam" on the menu and it wasn't really; more a potato puree and yummy.

The tooth was fine. I chewed on the other side, but no real problems there.

We came home, to watch the Footy Show (I couldn't bear it, what a horrible show it is, all the prancing around of the "hosts" it's like watching a neighbourhood kid's concert) and we had some ice cream.

Maybe it was the ice cream, but my tooth has gone from not terrible to very terrible.

Before I turned my light out in bed last night, it was so painful, I couldn't read my book. I took two Nurofen, and that must've helped because I managed to sleep until 5am when it woke me up.

Since then, I dozed, and now I don't know what to do.

I am miserable right now with this tooth, and I am in the comfort of my own home with my dentist virtually around the corner.

What will I be driving off to?

Is there dust in Canberra?

What will the weather be like?

Will the Cats lose?

Will it be worth it or will the whole weekend be a disaster?

Is my tooth a bad sign?

I feel a wreck, so tired, with a headache (referred pain?) and a tooth that's killing me.

All I want to do is crawl back into bed, but I need to get in the car and drive all day.

Was it the ice cream that triggered it?

Will it settle down again if I avoid ice cream? (Easy enough to do.)

What should I do?

I'm a stubborn person. Once I get an idea in my head, I don't want to change a plan. Especially when it involves such delicious surprise and fun.





UPDATE - my lovely dentist rang back, he is going to organise some antibiotics and Panadeine Forte for me. He thinks working on the tooth has stirred something up, and the antibiotics will help. I am anti the antis, but in matters like this, I will take them happily. So yay, let me go now. Get ready, get the drugs and head off. Will report back Monday.

Go Cats.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm thinking Fridays are a good time to do diaries. Except it's Thursday. Woo hoo.

So hasn't it been wet today? What the hell is going on with Beyonce and the dude who interrupted Taylor Swift? I haven't really caught up. And the evil father who incested his daughter, for fuck's sake. At work we get all these emails that have been filtered IN for sexual content, either socially, psychologically, medically and so on. You guys at work have filters to get rid of this shit, whereas our servers allow all kinds of stuff. We have to go back to work and look up "felching" and "choat."

I get to go to my desk at work and there are all these alerts from the librarian pointing me towards articles about everything you ever wanted to know about sex but were too afraid to ask.

[Apologies to Woody.]

Today, I was busy explaining to Year 9 girls how head lice and pubic lice are DIFFERENT and don't use the head treatment "down there" or you will burn that shit. Did you know that pubic lice cannot live in your head hair but it sure as fuck can migrate to your chest hair (general menfolk, non-body-builders) and underarm hair (general menfolk, non BB and non-European laydees)?

Does that even make sense. I don't care. My weekend starts TONIGHT.

Also, we had condom balloons being patted around, girls in a huddle at my "kit" pulling out all manner of ribbed, warm heated and tight-fits. I had one girl fit a condom over her entire hand and she was licking the end of it. All I could think of to say was

"Doesn't that taste yucky?"

During my short time in the job, I have already used the expression "If you were my daughter, I'd say you should..."

I have already used the expression "We know that girls are giving oral sex - or head jobs - to boys more than they are receiving. It. Why is this so?" and I make my eyebrows beetle at this point.

I have already used the expression "slut-stick" for the Implanon contraceptive rod. In a purely homey, I'm down-with-it way. I think I'm not "comfortable" using that term so I won't any more.

Today I was told that a "blue veined cigar" is another name for... you guessed it PENIS.

Did not know that one but I worked it out pretty quickly.

I am no longer a sex-ed virgin. I have masterfully handled the hot-pink dildo, and parried the question:

"Is that a sex toy?"

with

"Yes. It most certainly is. But it's not mine. I got it from work. But I chose the colour!"

I am loving my new job. It's fun, it's honest and it's important.

And there are statistics!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Looking looking looking

Things that are pretty much a deal-breaker for me when looking at houses to buy.
- spa baths
- hot tubs
- pools
- gazebos
- feature walls
- sponged feature walls
- low ceilings
- stupid fucking floorplans
- cross-hatch parquetry flooring
- any parquetry flooring really, other than the very tasteful, very expensive type, which is rare
- floating floorboards
- aluminium window frames
- vertical venetians
- gravel or stones on pathways or driveways
- wood panel bathrooms
- slate flooring
Sorry if I've offended you, but really no one will know if you have any or all of these in your house. Most are cosmetic and can be dealt with, but things like this


you know the owners are thinking it's a major feature, especially when it's the hero shot for the ad.
Suburbs we are looking at circle Melbourne. It's too fucking hard and it's giving me a headache and I think I need to eat some cake. Luckily, there is some in the fridge, thanks to Princess turning 13.
I am mother of a teenager. How did that happen?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Our Quentin - response to Inglourious Basterds.

Quentin Tarantino is a special type of boy. I reckon he's probably the large version of a kid only a mother could love. You can tell he would be annoying as shit socially, professionally and if you were unlucky enough to happen to be in some kind of intimate relationship with him.

Scene 1: red carpet, cocktail party, awards night.

Quentin: So, you know, huh, what's your favourite movie?

Me: I don't know.

Quentin: HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW? WHAT ARE YOU A FUCKING LOSER? WHO ARE YOU ANYWAY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? ARE YOU IN FILMS ANYWAY?
[insert one hour diatribe of his top 10 of the best and the worst movies, ever, in the whole world.]

Me at intervals of 8 minutes: Where's the drinks waiter?

* * *

Scene 2: on the set

Actor 1: So, I think I got it. You want me to [insert interpretation of script here, character attributes, foreshadowing of plotline, consideration of subtlety of facial descriptions] and you want my tits out, when I die.

Quentin: NO, NO, NO. NO TITS!!!!! MUMMMMMMEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Actor 1: Sorry. I thought you said you wanted boobs.

Quentin: No. I. Said. That. I. Wanted. You. To. Die. In. Bits. That means when the soldier shoots you, there will be alot of bullets. A humungous lot. But no tits. IN BITS.

Actor 1 to actor 2: God he's a fucking pain.

Actor 2: That was short, Diane, what are you talking about? He storyboarded me dying. He's got my head getting stomped and beaten with a bat by "The Bear Jew", the baseball wacko, I get shot, and before that I have dialogue so I have to, you know, foreshadow my death.

Actor 1: Yeah, I know. Subtly.

Actor 2: No. Not with subtlety. Fuck, is this your first Tarantino movie?

* * *

Scene three: with a girlfriend, or a goat, in bed.

G: So, what's your thing, babee?

Quentin: You know what I really dig? If you talk about movies while we do it. But it has to be one of my movies. And it has to be a really intense scene, you know, like when John and Uma are eating burgers or when Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are about to do the holdup. I wanna get some of that tension going, right here baby.

G: ...

Quentin: OH, AND CAN YOU LUBE UP MY ASS?

* * *

I think Quentin would be fun to be around for about five minutes. Even if he was being fun and loose and not all intenso-man-about-film, I'd probably still get sick of him pretty quickly. When we were kids, my brother had a friend who was so in your face, so annoying. He would get in front of us and the tv we were watching, to annoy us. He would be really loud, using "funny" voices, mucking around. The thing was, he was amusing for a short while. Then he got annoying and he wouldn't stop. As an adult, he was obsessed with movies and emailing forwards all the "funnies." He didn't know when to stop. I get the feeling Tarantino is a bit like that.
-------------------------------

I love Quentin Tarantino's movies. If it's made by Tarantino, then rest assured, I will be buying a ticket and sitting there to squirm and peek through my fingers. Even my mother went and saw Pulp Fiction.

"It's very good," she says. "Violent, but very good."

Reasons I loved Inglourious Basterds:


1. the opening scene is filled with tension. He plays with the audience, he really does, and you know something is going to happen, but not what. It's agonising, and sad, and tragic.

2. that a character who kills Nazis with a baseball bat has said this about the backstory:

My guy is a guy from Boston who gets every Jew in his neighborhood to sign his baseball bat with the name of somebody they're worried about in Europe. The thing is that he doesn't want a machine gun, he doesn't want to shoot Nazis, he wants to beat them to death with a baseball bat. He wants to feel it in his hands when he's busy pummeling them to death. This character thinks of himself as a Jewish warrior, who is fighting on the behalf of those who can't fight and for everyone who can't be there. When I kill that guy, I didn't want people to think, "Oh, this is Eli being a psycho with a bat," I want you to really feel that pain and that rage, which is very real. There were branches of my family that were wiped out in the Holocaust. My roots are from Poland and Austria, Russia, that's where I'm from, and my grandparents who got out and survived, all the other relatives didn't and got killed, so it was very real to me. It was a very real, very personal role, and I held a great sense of responsibility in doing it. It wasn't just an acting job.

3. Christoph Waltz as Colonel Hans Landa. This is the guy everyone is raving about. He is amazing in this movie. He is the most sinister villain for years. What a dab hand he is. How cruel he is and the strangling scene where he rides Kruger like some demented jockey as she bucks and splutters under him; he shows how personal it is.

4. Melanie Laurent who plays a French girl whose family are slaughtered by the Germans. She has the opportunity for revenge later on in the movie.

5. Diane Kruger. The fact she doesn't have the requisite retrousee nose-job nose. Refreshing. A good portrayal of an actress-spy under pressure.

6. The cinematography. Beautiful. Just exquisite, particularly in the opening scene.

7. The music. An overlay of spaghetti western music. It worked.

8. The use of German and French, and subtitles. For such an American guy, you might have expected them to all speak with American accents, or bad European ones. Not so. The change to English in the opening scene at first seems like a convenience.

Oh, let's get rid of the subtitles. They've had a taste, we've made a point, but now let's do it in English.

No no.

There is a reason for the change to English. Fucking brilliant.

Subtitles appear in the rest of the movie.

9. It goes for 2 and a half hours and my arse did not notice.

10. Sylvester Groth as Joseph Goebbels was very good. He is a Nazi film buff and there is a scene where is he excited about the screening and he does something with his hands that is very comical yet touching. He is a baddie, but he's obsessed movies. Very Tarantino.

11. Brad Pitt and his jaw. Nice to see this matinee idol was happy to distort his face for the sake of art. A tick from me.

12. The shoot-out in the bar. I love Tarantino's extended scenes. Some might get bored with them, but he just builds tension, layer upon layer, and you can appreciate the actorly skills as he probably shoots them in one shot? That's a big assumption, maybe I'm wrong, but it would be a Tarantino thing to do, n'est-ce pas? I can't be bothered researching. At the end of this scene, there's only one survivor, and she doesn't last too long.

13. Having the idea to have two plots to destroy the cinema and everything in it. And neither group knows what the other is doing. In the end, the Basterds get to them before the fire does. Have they cheated Shoshanna out of her revenge? Little matter, she is being dispatched upstairs.

14. The scene where The Bear Jew and his sidekick break into the upstairs box. They prepare in the bathroom, strange weaponry strapped to their hands, and the slo-mo action of them getting past the guards is very Tarantino; his mark is all over it. Or his spray.

15.The fact that there is now a movie where Jewish people are not portrayed as victims; they are the aggressors, they are someone to be feared. These basterds have the Nazis scared, wtih stories getting back to Hitler, making him concerned. And then they kill him, and Goerring and Goebbels and



Things I could pick at if I had to.

1. Brad Pitt. Let's face it, the man is a distraction. It was fairly difficult to see him as Jewish and as a Nazi-killer. He is always Brad Pitt which is a bit hard for him to get away from. I think he was the weakest of the main characters. A pitty.

2. Hitler. I guess he had to stay in the stereotype range of how Hitler has to be portrayed. Anything less and there is the risk of being accused of showing him in a human or even sympathetic light. Better to stick with the parody, I understand it, and the dude did well. He was only a small character anyway, a small but central character.

3. Mike Myers plays a general who is obviously an uncle of Austin Powers. I wonder if that was deliberate or the only way Mike can "do English." Knowing Quentin, and the crazy guy that he is, it was possibly an intentional reference.

4. The scene at the showing, beforehand where the Basterd crew pretend to be Italian friends of Bridget von Hammersmark. It was a comical scene with underlying tension because you know Landa is a master at sniffing out the falsities.

5. We don't see what happens to Shoshanna's man. He heroically tossed his smoke onto the pile of celluloid at the back of the screen to start the fire. Did he go down with the ship? Not important? Probably.

6. The way von Hammersmark and war hero Fredrick Zoller come to an end. I would have liked to see her seduce him, or allow him to take her instead of them killing each other. But that would be against the NO TITS rule, and also would mean a smaller body count. Also against Quentin's code of operations.


* * *
Things that unsettled me:

The violence. To have it shown, a man's head being beaten with a bat, bodies being pummelled by bullets, a woman strangled most graphically. And at the end a close-up of a swastika being carved into Landa's forehead.

At times I couldn't look, I had my hands up and peeped. The old cushion on the couch trick from my childhood. To think that impressionable young people (and they are fucking impressionable, they just don't know it nor how much) are seeing this movie. It's a bit of a worry, but that's just me being old and motherly and teacherly I suppose.

The trickiness of the subject matter: Nazis and Jews. While I love the idea of rewriting the Second World War, there would be some (and not just on the Jewish side of things) who might see this is sacrosanct, not in a good way, but somehow untouchable, and that it shouldn't be tampered with even in fiction. Everybody wishes that Hitler could have been killed or taken out of the picture, and the war ended earlier, or not happened at all, that the Holocaust hadn't happened. I looked around to see what the Jewish commentary might be.

There's a page here where someone has gone through a range of sources which have published articles.

And this article which refers to the problems of revenge. There was a screening at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, attended by the Weinstein Brothers (makers of the film) along with director and major actors. Some people in the audience commented on feeling satisfaction when they saw the cinema being burned down with Hitler et al locked inside. "With Hitler there, and all those high Nazi officials—how great would it have been?" one said.

But the final word best goes to Tarantino's producer, Lawrence Bender, who said that he read the first draft and then told Quentin:

As your producing partner, I thank you, and as a member of the Jewish tribe, I thank you, motherfucker, because this movie is a fucking Jewish wet dream.

Taken from this article here, Hollywood's Jewish Avenger.

Friday, September 04, 2009

My Friday

Today I have to:

- drive son to school. It was the concert last night, he is going to school late

- get Father's Day present for hubby at Southland. I fucking hate Southland. I hate any and all shopping centres, but if I have to go (ie to appear normal to girlfriends) my choice is Chaddy, darlings.


- this picture represents what disturbs me most about fashion people. Can you see any skerrick of embarrassment in this picture? Any trace of self-awareness of how shallow and parasitic this industry is? I see no cynicism in this picture, and there should be. Lots of it. I am having trouble reading one of my favourite blogs because of pictures like this, and particularly because of the two dudes on the right. The blogger is light-on whitebread, and can't punctuate to save her life, but she is pretty and wears fab clothes and she posts pics of herself. I like to watch.

These people should look like Grace Boddington from Vogue magazine. In my opinion she was the star of September Issue, the biopic about Anna Wintour, editor at Vogue.


Anna



Grace.

Grace is a tough old bird who is a stylist, so she arranges the pictures and the models and the clothes and the props. She's been doing it for decades, used to be a model herself. She's still in the biz because she loves it. Those boys above, why are they in the biz? To look like that at parties?

Movies I want to see:
Inglourious Basterds
Blessed

Movies I've seen:
September Issue - good bit of fluff but actually I think it put Princess off wanting to be the editor-in Chief at American Vogue. A good thing?
Coco Avant Chanel - ok
Beautiful Kate - disappointing.

I have much to do today. Get ready for tomorrow's writing thang, including a pitch. For fuck's sake. I never want to pitch anything to anybody. I've stalled and gotten back on track about five times in the last month. I have too many ideas and go around in circles. I'm sad I'm almost finished the final Maria Hyland novel, which is her first one. I've read them backwards, why I don't know. But I love her. And where am I going to get the goodness now?

Happy weekend. Be good, be nice, don't king-hit anyone, don't kick the cat, don't belittle a child. But swear all you like, and eat some cake. Or some fish and chips from the shop in Glenhuntly Road. It's near the intersection with Orrong, up from the supermarket going east.
Best. Chips. Ever.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Good thing about today:

The sun is sunshiney and it feels good on the face.
Bad thing about today:
Having to pull a bit of poo out of Gigi's bum.
Also, yesterday went well, thanks for all your good wishes. It all went smoothly. Onwards and upwards.