Tuesday, December 23, 2008

'Tis the season

I was totally going to bah humbug this. Really, I was. I have not been feeling especially festive; my bells have not, as they say, been jingling. But you know… it's Christmas! Well, near enough, anyways. Sparkly, shiny things have always been my downfall, and Christmas is the sparkliest season of them all. Presents, tinsel, ribbons, the small tree ornament we found in box that looks vaguely like it’s wearing a KKK outfit – I love them. They distract me, they are delightful (well, maybe not so much the white-supremacist mouse), and induce in me a reaction which borders on the epileptic. For but two weeks a year, I am consumed by things that flicker. Oh parents of Alexander, the small child forgotten at a Christmas light display, one day your pain will also be mine.

As I’m too lazy to really write much on this these days, in bad-sitcom style, I shall try and reflect back on all the year that was:

Last year, I was putting the final touches on a thesis that could only swim on the screen in front of me; this year, I have glasses. Last year I was 10 days off moving to a Belgian winter; this year I’m guiltily embracing the drought. Last year, I decided I was going to be a grown up, get a full-time job, and make some form of something from my life; this year I laugh at the pear-shapedness of existence and have started to grow my own vegetables.

So that’s my news, not so exciting perhaps, but, you know, in times of turmoil and economic crisis, I feel pretty lucky to be able to label this one a Good Year. Thanks for your company, kids, have a lovely and safe Christmas and New Year.



Friday, December 5, 2008

Living the city

Wine with friends, with the heat on my back so strong I have to keep my jacket on. It was not made for these conditions and I have never dressed for the weather well. But covered or no, as we talk the sun chews slowly on us. Those across from me grow rosier as we drink, and not only from the alcohol.

I think something broke today, and maybe for the last time. Trust is a slender thread, a delicate filigree that can never be wrought too fine. Once, my favourite bracelet had a tiny tiger-stripe of a flaw: dropped, it shattered into 12 pieces. The same friends who counsel me now bought another, not from Venice this time, but one I treasure more than the first.

And so we drink, and we talk.

And then I wander home. I follow my sheep-track, the urban furrow I trace almost every day which winds from home to the city, and back again.

There are so many people. Girls are in dresses, impossibly short, and they stagger, emu-like in their high high heels. I watch a punk with a foot-long mohawk play on a giant chess-set. I think he makes a good move.

Men keep looking at my chest. I’ve gone up a cup size, my top is tight, and I’m tall. My breasts are at eye-height. I should know this by now. Buy new underwear; buy a new top. Or, at the very least, cross your arms.

I pretend to ice skate down the slope of the escalator. Not for the first time, people think I’m strange. But it’s cooler when I get out, like a fridge door opening on a hot, sticky day. With my bags I walk, past the commission houses, past the cemetery, and the callus on my foot rubs and my left heel is still sore from the shoes I wore the other day. And I walk, past your street and I walk into mine. And I turn the key, jiggle it, hoping that this time it will catch and I won’t be out here for hours, looking like I’m trying to jimmy the door to my own house.

And the wind lips at me like your kisses.

And maybe it's enough.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Four years to 30

It's the eve of my birthday and shock, horror, I'm writing on my blog. I'm not sure why, but after innumerable conversations about the fallen status of the world and the equally post-lapsarian descent of my chest, sometimes I just need to untangle things on the screen, to write it out, as it were, in some sort of attempt to get my head into gear. While I do try and take the Gordian knot approach to some aspects of my life these days, this time it's just not working.

When you get to a certain age, say, 26, do things start to make sense? I had always assumed so, but as I currently have about 45 minutes or so for the lightbulb to appear, it seems less and less likely that age will confer wisdom within the hour. Or, is ageing just a process of accepting? Do you just 'come to terms' with things, try and understand that they never really will add up, and make your peace with a small corner of the world. I'm not sure, but right now neither is working as one might hope.

It's just, there's something precious in my life right now, but it's also something that seems slightly out of reach. I'm not sure what to do, we're getting so good at banging heads that I'm worried we'll forget how to enjoy each other, how to live well. I want to hang on, but every time we clutch at one another in the search for something solid, we both seem to come away puzzled, empty handed, like participants in a magic trick that's worked too well.

Like Peter Pan, I've found my shadow but can't quite sew it to my feet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blahdy blah blah




It's been awhile. How's things? I hadn't really forgotten about you, I swear, I was just saving you from myself, I promise. Having spent the better part of the last two months on seek.com, all I can really say is, no-one needs to see, hear about, or have anything to do with that shit. Really. I'm sure the only thing that could be more boring than being a jobseeker, is being the poor ear continually bent by said doleista.

Having said that, however, I'll give it a go, just because we've got so much to catch up on, and I figure my friends have suffered enough. Basically, K Rudd's been giving me the occasional bit of pocket money to tide things over, but it's pretty slow. I did, however, score a job today. It was, however, the job that I think I wrote about in an earlier post - the 'positive attitude to data entry one'. I feel vaguely distressed by this - a job that I have seen advertised for years, which seems to feature only poor conditions, a bad wage, and what seems to be limited career development (and, which I applied for in a flurry of Newstart-requirement desperation) seems to be the only thing that has turned up after 3 degrees, higher education lecturing and tutoring positions, and international work experience.


Anyway, I have a couple of days grace on deciding whether to accept it as I actually have a medical 'reason' not to take it up. I've developed cracking migraines derived from - you guessed it - excessive, close computer work. Thus a neurologist has recommended that I don't take up this kind of work and find something out in the fresh air... or something.

Anyhoo, even though I feel like my brain is atrophying these days, apparently it's not. I had to have an MRI scan, one of the stranger experiences of my life, and came out with some purdy pictures. While I couldn't get mine off the 3D CD they gave me, one of them looks quite like this:

For those of you who don't know me, it's true.

I am this hot.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Shh... it's a secret

I have a confession to make. It’s a big one; you might not like it. In fact, you might not like me—it’s that bad. You know how we’ve been hanging out for a while, spending some time together …? It’s just that, well, I’ve met someone else. And we’re in love. Well, I am. It was an accident, I never meant this to happen … really, you’ve got to believe me.

It’s not my fault, he’s just everything I’ve ever looked for in a man: charming, funny, erudite … rich. There’s just one problem.

His politics.

Dear reader, I have abandoned you and everything we stood for, because quite simply, I am in love. Rapturously, mind-blowingly, heart-thumpingly in love. With Malcolm Turnbull. I don’t know how it happened. I mean, I love Kevin. I do. I just don’t love him, if you know what I mean. But Malcolm; Malcolm leaves me breathless, giggling like a schoolgirl into my twinset and pearls.

There’s just something about Malcolm; maybe it’s the hair, maybe it’s those rounded vowels, maybe it’s the way he made even the word ‘battler’ sound like it’s dripping with luscious blue blood. I really don’t know, but what I do know is that if there’s any more TV coverage of this particular silver fox, I may have to toss out my leftist sympathies for good.

So what’s a girl to do? If the situation were reversed, I know exactly how things would go. Malcolm would burst through my study door. His hair would be tousled; he would look wretched, tormented. He would possibly be wearing breeches. He would look deep into my eyes and say, through gritted teeth, “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. You must allow me to tell you how much I ardently admire and … love you”.

Upon seeing his magnificent grounds at Double Bay, or wherever it is he lives, and after much ideological foreplay, I would relent. I would ascend to position of stratospheric power and influence to prove that class is no barrier to success in Australia. And he, under the influence of my socialist tendencies, would give away his money to the poor. Well, not all of it; or, at least, not enough to make a difference to us, anyway.

It'd make a great book, eh?

As things stand, however, I don’t have much ammunition on my side. I can’t afford my health insurance, see, so my bright eyes have a bit of a squint these days; with my ill-fitting clothes I’m probably not quite handsome enough to tempt him; I could perhaps get my maid to cook him a seductive meal of tofu, but it might be a little bland, as fresh veg is kind of costly right now. At the very least it will be by candlelight (this will help save on utilities, too).

It kills me to say this, Mal, but it’s just not meant to be. I love you, I do, but you’re living, as I once read in a particularly bad Tolstoy translation, ‘in cloud-cuckoo land’. This doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. I’d do anything for you, really, you have to believe me. You can have my heart, you can have my soul, you can have my body, you can even, tempter that you are, have my self-respect. But my life’s darling, heart of my heart, source of all meaning in my world; it pains me to say this, but you can never, ever, have my vote.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

And so we return

I’m back. Well, sort of. I’m currently out in the Dandenongs and staying with my grandparents. It’s beautiful up here: the air is clean and fresh, yet still weighty with the scent of eucalyptus, mud, and jonquils. It’s a good smell, an Australian smell, and a smell that I hadn’t realised I’d missed until now.

I really just transited through Melbourne for a couple of days, picked up a new phone, caught up with a couple of my close friends before heading out again. As the one thing I have right now is a flexible schedule, I decided before I arrived that I’d head out to see my family as soon as I could. Both my grandparents were hospitalised almost simultaneously while I was away, and I really needed to see for myself that they were actually back, that they were still mine.

My grandmother bared her wrists and showed me the red, puckering scar that ran up her forearms, a reminder of the time three months ago when they removed some arteries and inserted them into her heart. She opened her collar and showed me the seam that ran from the base of her throat to her stomach. She had a quintuple bypass and is still shocked that she feels tired, and that she has to nap sometimes in the afternoon. She still seems in awe of the fact that she, of all people, was for a while helpless and hurting and unable to maintain her sense of humour.

She is still here.

My grandfather was hospitalised on the day my grandmother went home. He was shunted into an isolation ward as they thought that the TB he contracted as a teenager may have resurfaced. Then they thought he had cancer. Today we found out that he will cough and hack until he dies, but it won’t be that which kills him. So we drank a bottle of champagne, of which he would only have half a glass. But he is skinny now, turtle-like, and his head extends more tentatively than it used to from his rounded shoulders. Now when I hug him, his vertebrae feel like dinosaur bones. My Omi tells him to go outside when he heaves and hacks, as the sound is not nice to eat with.

He is still here.

They live on a hillside block in an Austrian-style, A-Frame house in a town they moved to twenty years ago because it reminded them of their home in Slovenia. They live here alone, drive, do their garden as much they can, and, despite it all, still need to be convinced to substitute low-fat yoghurt for cream in their meals.

They are still here. It’s good to be home.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

On being 'at one'

I love Bali. Until I came here, I never thought it would be quite my scene. I’d imagined a country resplendent with Bintang singlets and which boasted a 1000 Corbeys for every Corey. But I was absolutely and unequivocally wrong. Aside from the shit-scary feral dogs everywhere, Bali is a beautiful place, and, after fairly regular massages, great food, and some quality time with my mastercard, I’m about as zen as I’ll ever be this side of a lobotomy.

You know what I don’t love though? Hippies. I’m sorry; I know it’s wrong of me, but it’s true. Furthermore, not only do I not love them, I think I might hate them. Or perhaps it’s just the one. The one who sat next to me at dinner and insisted on ‘conversing’ in a language made up almost entirely of vacant glances into the middle distance. If you’ve never experienced hippie-speak in full flight, it can be a distracting and confusing linguistic mode to both the uninitiated and the uninterested. With its stream of dangling referents and nonsensical clauses and sub-clauses, hippie-speak has the power to dupe its recipient into thinking that a sentence has been completed, a meal can be consumed, and a conversation closed. Suffice to say, these will never occur. Ever.

It’s probably my fault, though. I should never have ordered dessert because as soon as he sat down, I knew I was in trouble. With Madonna-style arms, lustful glances at my tofu, and the slightly bugged-out eyes of someone who’s spent too much time contemplating the relation of their navel to the macrocosm, I knew a devotee of Guru Bullshit had entered my dharmic field.

Now, I think I’ve already discussed my particular gift for attracting strange, miserable men before, and tonight was a reassuring reminder that my madness mojo remains intact. And clearly, it’s a give and take relationship, as every time I encounter these people I seem to get one more stamp in my passport to Crazy Town. They stress me out with their need for me to deal with problems I know nothing about that involve people I have no connection with. And yet, despite the fact that they’re clearly a little bit on the strangeo-side, I’m always mystified by their continual and total inability to take a polite hint.

Why do some men think that a girl on her own automatically signals that she wants to talk to them? And why do attractive men who missed the headcase gene never possess this assumption? Furthermore, why do the crazy ones assume that, when they talk to me about their guru who channels Jesus (in Aramaic, no less), I have actually choked on my goreng, rather than being, as some more astute conversationalists may realise, on the verge of releasing both my inner child and my bladder?

I’m sorry, I do try to be a good person, but it’s not my fault: he told me to be “in trance with the dance”. The only reason I didn’t snort was because I had started to die on the inside.

But it never just stops there. In order to excuse the fact that they are sucking the life-juice from a total stranger, they must, in a token attempt to play by the rules of engagement, make a show of being interested in what I’m into. This is, of course, despite the evidence before them that what I’m clearly into IS MY BOOK. Furthermore, when it gets around to the fact that I worked in medieval literature, specifically on a rewriting of the Trojan War epic, rather than, say, accountancy, the explanations, plot outlines, and general defence of my existence become both excruciating and predictable.

‘Medieval literature, you say? Medeeyevaal … heh heh … like Harry Potter?’ For future reference, forty is never the appropriate age to try the ‘ignorance is cute’ hat on for size. Trust me, it will never, ever, fit, and will make you look like one of those bogans at the tennis who makes his headwear out of a VB carton. But it gets worse. Because after eliciting my ‘secret past’, they feel they have to make connections, show me how much they understand me, because we’re different, you know? And then, a hippie-style lightbulb moment occurs and they realise that they know of something similar that totally fits into their world-view, and if they’re lucky, might just fit into mine. Or my pants.

The horror.

Or, more precisely, The Ramayana. For your next dining experience, may I suggest an epic poem retold, explained, punctuated, and verbally footnoted by someone who




After one hour, I wanted to vacuum my eyeballs out.

Lucky I’m having a full day-spa tomorrow; otherwise, I might just have to kill someone.