Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wanting: Enid Blyton's Imagination

Did any of  you lovely people ever read these books as a child? I was obsessed with them, and I'm cetain that I've read them all through ten times at least, and the Magic Faraway Tree another ten on top of that.

The illustrations are just exsquisite, I remember pouring over them for hours, chosing my favourite pages, and always skipping the part where Saucepan Man flings Moonface up through the hole in the clouds and he can't get back down because the land has changed. Clearly I had trouble dealing with conflict from a young age.

Anyway, I really wish my mum hadn't given them away, I would have loved to have passed these books on to my children (this isn't really something you give a cat, is it?).

Monday, January 30, 2012

Letters From South America #3


For a town of such condensed architectural beauty, Arequipa has a lot in common with sacrifice. In the heart of the city square the ghosts of the Santa Catalina Nunnery live within its chambers, where the second daughters of the wealthy colonial families were given over to the nuns and the mercy of God, thus completely cut off from both the pleasure and danger that thrived in their outside world. Their duties were to pray for not only their own souls but the souls of their families, that flitted precariously between the vices of the human condition and guilt ridden restraints of religion, and who all the while were able to take comfort in the fact that they had someone to pray for them when they could not bare to face God themselves. Why must it always be the women who have to repent for the sins of the patriarch who, without the tree of knowledge to sustain their unquenchable  curiosity, would have deteriorated into that which is now deemed uncivilized and thus their duty to conquer and correct?

In Arequipa I sit on the window sill of my hotel room as the city flows below me like an ocean of bodies moving in and out of taxi cabs. I feel suspended above my own life because I am in love in a foreign city; my body is here, but my soul is travelling to her on the back of an albatross across the Pacific ocean.

My father was the next man to leave my life, but his temptation was not disguised as death, but dressed plainly as another woman.  His absence from the house was not immediately noticeable because he spent most of his time at his office anyway; he worked long hours in advertising. He was very good at persuading people, I had to admit. He had persuaded my mother to think that he was faithful to her, hadn’t he?
 Yet soon the emptiness began to spread, sporadic, like a fungus in the corners of the rooms, starting from the study where he used to spend most of his time when he was at home, into the living room where his armchair sat empty, and through the kitchen to his seat at the head of the dining table.  But I think it was not he himself, but the removal of his things from the house that had the most impact on me; the framed photographs of his race horses, his coats in the hallway cupboard, the change on his bedside table. That’s how I knew that he had really left for good. It was the sentimentality of these objects; when removed from your life, it is that sentimentality that remains to remind you of their owner’s absence.

 I knew I wouldn’t be able to bare it if he told me he had been fucking his secretary, simply because it was so cliché. I hated myself a little for having that thought, especially because it turned out that he had left my mother for one of her friends; not a close one, but close enough to give the phrase ‘the wife’ a face and a set of feelings that she should have had the decency to acknowledge before she wrapped her own, perfectly symmetrical legs around my father. She even used to give me her old clothes because we were both a size 6. My mother is a size 10, and looks nothing like me. Our feet are the same, but I can’t wear her shoes.

When he left, my mother was so hell bent on making sure that it wasn’t because of me and my condition that she ended up taking all of the blame upon herself, to the point where she walked stooped with the weight of my disease and my father’s sin. She would move about the house like a ghost, so disheveled and despondent that she was unable to have an impact upon anything, except to fill the house with outbursts of sobbing at erratic intervals during the day; she certainly couldn’t take care of me. It was like we had been travelling on one train for our whole lives without being taught any of the emergency procedures in the event of an impending disaster.
So I tried to take some of the blame off her by letting her know that I wasn’t really a perfect, helpless daughter, and that it wasn’t her fault in the hope that she would stop feeling so guilty. I started smoking cigarettes, and I would leave the butts all around the house for her to find, and I wouldn’t bother taking mints to cover up the smoky scent on my breath when I kissed her goodbye. I stayed out late, way past my curfew, drinking malt liquor with boys I didn’t really know, and I would let them kiss me in the back of their cars.
I did cocaine once at a party, but it interfered with my regular medication and caused me to go into spasms of intense pain, so I never tried it again. I stopped turning up to my doctors appointments, I was rude, surly and mean. I still went to Church though, every Sunday; I didn’t want to rule out the possibility of there being a God that could absolved me of all this sinning later on. But the more I tried to pull her out of the downward spiral of debilitating depression, the further she sank, and the less she noticed me. She swept up the cigarette butts without a word, she stopped checking my room in the mornings to make sure I was there, she rescheduled my doctor’s appointments. She clung to the remains of her routines like a shipwrecked sailor, instead of using the wreckage to build a raft and rescue the both of us. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Suitcase Planters

I love this! I am going ot make these one day, when I have my own balcony, that is hopefully strung with some degree of fairy lights / candles / fruit loop necklaces. Found here at English Muse

Monday, January 23, 2012

Slow Readers Book Club

So I joined the Slow Readers Book Club. It's an online book club started by Diana from Our City Lights back in 2010, and uses facebook, tumblr, and discussion forums to get people involved and excited about reading. Hooray!
The time you have to read the prescribed books is a lot longer than most book clubs I've heard about, which I like because it gives me time to read other books during that time. The last thing I want is for reading to feel like a chore.

Currently we are reading The Virgin Suicides, which I've already read but hey, like I need an excuse to read it again! So if you want to get excited about reading but don't know where to start, or you need someone to talk about books because all your friends just don't share your love of the written word, regardless of how many times you've tried to lend them The Bell Jar, this could be the community you're looking for!
I can't wait to find out what people think of one of my favourite books, and expand my reading horizons for 2012!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Letters From South America #2


You have to watch yourself in Lima, or you may find that when you leave it, you could be missing not only your wallet but also the skin of your teeth. Yet Lima is not only a den of thieves, theives that watch for you to drop your guard with unblinking eyes, it is also a city that indulges in a self professed necessity for love. In Lover’s Park, the flowers bloom with such vigor they could only have been conjured by Aphrodite herself, as she broods over those who come to share or bask in her pious gifts. The gardens are enclosed by mosaic walls, each exhibiting a unique pattern and arrangement of colours; no piece is the same as any other. Each shard represents a fragment of a love affair, and although they are quite small and insignificant on their own, when brought together they can create more beauty, more colour and more light than one person could comprehend with just their eyes, causing  their hearts explode in a shower of colored glass. This is the nature of love; it can create beauty out of things that were once broken, and bring the most unlikely pieces together to create a work of art. There are so many different types of love for so many different types of people; there are so many different ways to say I love you.

Yet life is all about duality; if you allow your soul to be lost to another in the rip tide of first dates, first kisses, and first ‘I Love You’s’, and do not keep a small fragment for yourself, you might wake up one day to find yourself standing on the edge of Suicide Bridge (built precariously close to Lover’s Park) without knowing how you even got there.

That night at Ormond Hall I stood with my face drawn up from its usual downward gaze to the eyes of that man and his guitar. Most people say that at gigs they lose all sense of self awareness and just melt into the music permeating the atmosphere, but that night I felt almost hyper aware of my body; I could feel the fine hair on the inside of my thighs brush together as I moved each one slowly past the other, in a sort of musically initiated dance that had started in time but soon became independent of the beat. I wondered if I continued it for long enough I could conjure up some fleeting sense of electricity. It was noticing these details that always made me feel abnormal, even more so than my more obvious defects; other people never thought or felt like this, I would think. Is this another genetic defect, or is there something wrong with me on the soul level, too?  I thought about the angles of my legs, the warped, triangular shape they naturally made.  They weren’t the right shape to fit around that man and his guitar, but I still wanted him. Maybe our relationship could begin as a purely platonic one, fueled by conversation and a mutual love of The Beatles, and the angles of limbs would be completely irrelevant. Out of the rich and fertile earth laid down by our intimate soul connection, our love would soon grow like hot house flowers; wild and striking from the depths of an unnatural environment, freakishly beautiful despite an inorganic cultivation. We would not be made of perfect puzzle pieces, we would exist as a mosaic; glued specks of tile and mirror onto his guitar, shards extracted from where they were embedded in his heart, painted ticks burrowing into the wounds to make him scratch at his chest and sing these sad, sad songs. We would glue the pieces of our broken hearts together to make murals, like the ones on his album covers, and if there were any cracks still showing we would paint over them.
But if he were happy, happier with me, with his legs wrapped around my uneven hips, his hand running down the jolting curve of my spine, then where would the songs come from? No one wants to listen to a completely content musician; they cannot relate to him, they will stop buying his records.  I would have to let him beat me, he would have a raging temper, and he would be an alcoholic, or a junkie. I would have to hide my jewelry from him, including my engagement ring, I would steal money from the safe he kept underneath our bed, I would buy a gun. Then we could be together.

But he never even gave us that chance. On April 5, 1994, he died of a self inflicted shotgun wound to the head, leaving his wife, his daughter, and me behind.

Hottest 100

Woo! It's nearly Hottest 100 time again! To be honest, it's probably my favourite thing about Australia Day, usually because I'm always working on Australia day, and alas I shall be again this year *sigh*.
But that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it up until 12pm, and party on after 5!
Here's who I voted for:

Alpine - Villages
Bon Iver - Holocene
Florence & The Machine - Shake It Out
Foster The People - Warrant
Gotye - Save Me
Laura Marling - Sophia
New Navy - Zimbabwe
Seeker Lover Keeper - Even Though I'm A Woman
Slow Club - Two Cousins
Wye Oak - Civilian

There were so many good albums out this year, which meant lots of touring, and thus lots of memorable shows that I was lucky enough to be at. Best gig of 2011 is definitely a toss up between Darwin Deez and Bright Eyes, but I can't choose between them for the life of me! So I shall love them equally, just like my future children/cats.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just Kids

So I finished reading Just Kids today. Patti Smith is such an incredible woman. I wish I could have been alive to see her in her time.

There isn't really much I can say other than how highly I recommend this book. It will inspire you, and it will break your heart.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Letters From South America #1

So a while ago a wrote a not so short story that incorporated diary entries from my trip around South America. I've decided that it's too long and too disjointed to submit anywhere, so I'm going to post each of the sections on here, one a week for the next five weeks.

Mancora holds the spirit of the surf children; honey skinned girls with long salt stiffened hair woven with colored threads to hang like ropes, and sun darkened boys with peeling shoulders, carrying surf boards or baby sisters under their arms. The beach is lined with bars made from bamboo and banana leaves, restaurants selling raw fish and markets overflowing with shells and woven bracelets.  The liquid afternoon sun soaks into your skin as you lay amongst the palm trees and the red hibiscus flowers, drinking rum by the poison blue pool, or sitting to sip Pisco sours as you watch the surfer boys ride the waves, until your mouth begins to go numb. Take your soul to be cleansed by the Pacific Ocean, talk to strangers playing cowskin drums in your best Spanish. Dance with the fire twirlers, go swimming in the ocean late at night, sleep on the sand and wake up with your hair caked in salt and a soft feeling in your bones from being baked in the heat and then soaked in salt water.  Under midnight blue velvet star studded sky, indulge your body and soul in the freedom of love.
The rough, almost fragile nature of the landscape and the people is always connected with the spirit of the ocean; there is no structure, no barriers of race or class, only spoken language. Here the world moves in a languid fluid motion; children and dogs and old beggar women and street performers and dancers and gringos and locals all gather together to celebrate their proximity to the sea. Children run without their mothers, chasing hairless dogs that do not shiver from the cold, playing with glittering pieces of broken glass as if they were jewels in a diamond necklace. In the city, wise and jovial old men with broad smiles and skin that crinkles around their eyes like paper are lined up against a deep blue concrete wall, each one with his own typewriter, composing love letters for the illiterate.
The love, it falls around me like glittering fish scales, and as I bask in the suicidal sun my heartstrings are pulled spitefully by it all.
In Mancora, the young live wild and free.

The first boy I ever loved used to take me surfing every Sunday morning in the summertime. And when I say take me, I mean he would bring me along, like you would the family dog, sit me on the beach wrapped in a soft, fraying alpaca blanket, and run off into the ocean as soon as he had waxed his surf board. I didn’t mind it though, it was obvious that I would be a terrible surfer, and I liked the way his back muscles rippled when he reached behind himself to pull the zip on his wetsuit, I liked how the silver light of the dawn lit up his lithe and solid body, and I liked the rough, stretched feeling of his salt encrusted skin against my bare shoulders after breakfast. But what I loved was witnessing that first dive into the swell, as he connected with the movement of the ocean; it must be why he is such a good lover, I thought later, he understood her undulation.  Sitting alone on the cold grey morning beach, I had never felt more like an outsider, witnessing that private moment of intimacy between my lover and his, and I felt glad that he had never insisted on teaching me; there was no room for me in this relationship, I would feel like a rusty third wheel, a clumsy lover, a plank of drift wood carried out to sea. So I would sit and watch him, or sometimes when I could not bear to do so, I would gather the folds of my blanket around me like an old bag lady and wander off to collect shells. Aqua Operculum. Mother of Pearl. Tesselata Spotted Olive.   I would say each name aloud as I picked them up off the shore, stringing them together on long strands of my own hair to give to him when he returned. I thought maybe if the gift was made from parts of both of us, he would see that I knew, and that I understood.

Liking someone makes you smile, but loving someone makes your body cringe inwardly with the weight the emotion, it falls on your chest like a breaking wave. That’s how you can tell the difference.

For a while it was enough for all of us, but then one morning he decided that it wasn’t, and he left me on that cold grey morning beach to be with her. Or perhaps she had had enough of me and my demands on his time, and decided to keep him all for herself.  She had asked him with the voice of Siren to stay, and there was no possible way that he could refuse her. When the Police questioned me later that day, they asked me why I had not called for help, and when I couldn’t answer them they put it down to a severe case of shock. But I had a reason, tucked up inside one of my Orange Tahiti Snail shells. I had not gone for help because I knew that he had not wanted it; I knew by the way he had kissed me that morning that he was saying goodbye, that he was not coming back.

Love was getting up at 4 am every Sunday morning to sit on an empty beach, love was realising that not all of a whole person could belong to you. Love was accepting that one day you would be separated, in this life or the next, and there was nothing you could do about it.

The Writing Disorder

So I sold another story :) and I use the term 'sold' very loosely here because I'm not actually getting any money for it. But I get the privilege of being included in another collection of stories by some very talented individuals.
The Writing Disorder is a quarterly online literary journal that includes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art, as well as book reviews and interviews, including one with the fabulous Francesca Lia Block. I submitted my story nearly a year ago now, and it's just come out in their Winter issue, so it has been a very long time waiting. Reading it over now, I've realised how far I have come in one year; I still really like it (and I hope you do to), but my classes with Francesca have changed my approach, for the better I think, so that now I'm more focused on writing in the present.
Still, I invite you to go
check it out; this one is free to read, I promise, and you'll also get to find out my real name! My cover is blown! Haha
And while you're there, have a peruse around the other contributor’s work; I did and found fellow Love Magick-er Ashley Inguanta has some of her photographs included in the same issue. They're really something!

Image: Ashley Inguanta

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Dresden Dolls - The Forum

So it seems that in the past few months the powers that be have been following up on a few prayers I made when I was sixteen or so; last November I was lucky enough to see Bright Eyes for the first time, and on Sunday night I attended the performance of another of my most cherished teenage bands, The Dresden Dolls.

I remember the first time I heard this band very clearly; my dear friend Laura was in the middle of converting me to triple j, and was playing for me songs from a CD she had called The Hottest 100 Vol. 13. One of those songs was Coin Operated Boy, and hearing it for the first time, I was instantly fascinated by how this adorable yet subtly perverted homage to a woman dreaming of a plastic, inanimate lover could exist, what kind of mind it might have come from. This curiosity led me to eventually buying their first self-titled album, back when I could spend all my measly wage on CD’s. I became enamoured with their dark playfulness, their intelligent lyrics that covered everything from paedophilia to self-harm to the epidemic of Jeeps in Boston, their costumes and mime makeup. But there was also this feeling this thrill I felt while listening to the album, as if I were sitting down to tea with the enemy. As a kid I was too scared to rebel properly; hell, I couldn’t even deal with wagging classes (something I wouldn’t have a problem with in University) so instead I rebelled through music, and Amanda Palmer became the leader of my army. I remember many a party at Ruby’s house, getting drunk on Melon Cruisers (no judging please) and flailing about with her and the few others who understood, whilst reciting every single word to Girl Anachronism, much to the dismay of, well, everyone else. I think they saw us as deranged, intoxicated spazzmatrons with a poor taste in music, but in those moments I didn’t care because I felt invincible. I wanted to do Amanda proud.  

This was the third gig in my life that I have attended alone; Ruby is back overseas, and the others were either apologetically busy, or I just haven’t seen them for years.  I walked into the Forum brimming with that old adolescent excitement that often borders on hyperbole, and was met with a perfect view of the stage, and Amanda already standing on it.
“Oh god!” I thought, “It can’t have started already, can it?”. But my hyperventilating began to cease as I realised that Brian was not onstage, and that she was in fact singing a song with the Jane Austen Argument, the first support act. Both members were dressed in full cabaret garb complete with lace gloves and coat tails, glitter and black feather wings pasted to their backs. Amanda was wearing a white silk kimino. I walked in halfway through their set, but was instantly drawn to their music; it reminded me of an old carnival, complete with haunted carousel and freak show, and their harmonies were to die for (I have a bit of a thing for boy girl harmonisation – see Slow Club).

The second support, to my most pleasant surprise, was the The Bedroom Philosopher.  He proceeded put on an excellent show, complete with his own band of well-dressed dudes and ladies, which he aptly named the Awkwardstra. He’s most famously known for making fun people who live in our inner city suburbs ie. Hipsters, which I find very amusing (even though there is a bit of a crossover in our interest. I’ve decided, though, that I could never be classified as a hipster because I’m too optimistic). A great example of this is his song “Northcote (so hungover)”, which he remixed for us so that the verses were made up of comments people had left underneath the youtube video of this song. It was definitely a highlight.

When the time came for the Dresden Dolls to come onstage, I was primed to be entertained. I stood there in my little space just to the right of the stage, bouncing on the balls of my feet and trying to guess which microphone was Amanda’s so I could position myself square in view of her.  At 9:30 Brian and Amanda strode out, Brian shirtless with his shorts, stockings and bowler hat, and Amanda still dressed in her kimino and accompanying army cap. They opened with a ballad, a song I hadn’t heard before, but captivating all the same. However, at the end of this song, when Amanda flung off the silk to reveal her true costume; a black lace bra, framed by suspenders and a pair of high waisted pants. She struck the keyboard, beginning the opening riff of ‘Sex Changes’, and I was lost. She could have asked for my first born child and I would have happily written her an IOU.

Let me tell you what I’ve learned about Amanda Palmer. She is possibly the nicest performer I have ever seen; I don’t mean nice as in sugar and spice and all that, because she’s got quite a foul mouth and a wicked sense of humour, but what she does when she’s not singing  or playing is just so genuinely lovely, so much so that it makes her bawdiness utterly endearing.  You could just see it in the way that she interacted with the Jane Austen Argument that she was so proud of them, especially when the female half came on to sing Delilah (more harmonies, bliss!).  Another example is that when the front rows complained about being hot, she ordered all the water from backstage to be brought out to the audience.  She crowd surfed, she personally introduced the support acts, she gave us all her Australian mobile number so that we could text her our email addresses. She is not just a singer, she is a performance artist.

One of the things that I loved about the show was that both Brian and Amanda really knew how to engage the audience; it didn’t feel like a concert, it felt like an intimate show put on for friends in their living room; just me, them, and a few hundred other people. I also loved the way they interacted with each other as they performed, it was like some strange pantomime; I’d tear my eyes away from Amanda’s snarling face to see Brian acting out some the lyrics with his impressive repertoire of facial expressions and contorting limbs.

Highlights: I could honestly say I enjoyed every minute immensely, but that seems like a bit of a cop out, so I’ll pick out a few exceptional tracks.
Sex Changes, Coin Operated Boy, Fight for Your Right to Party. This included the Jane Austen Argument, Justin Hazelwood and his Awkwardstra, plus friends, other halves and random people from the crowd, Brian singing and Amanda playing drums. Delilah, with one half of the JAA, Missed Me, Half Jack and the seamless transition from this to Girl Anachronism that could have brought me to my knees. I danced, not alone, but with two hundred or so other people who understood.

Now all I need is for Middle Earth to be a real place, and all my wishes from my teenage years will have come true. Now to work on the ones from my twenties....

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year

Happy New Year! I know it's a little late, I've been a tad busy with work and with general summer laziness.

Did you have a good new years eve? Mine was quiet, but I liked it that way because it was the first one I got to spend with Lovely :) We made a yummy thai dinner (and by we I mean he did and I tried my best to help/ not get in the way too much),and rosemary gin fizz ala Sassy Radish. There were also some real live fireworks, which we watched from the excellent vantage point of his bedroom window. It was very nice.
This year has been a crazy one, full of extremes. There were some wonderful highs, and some pretty harsh lows, but overall I think this year has been a good one; I've seen some beautiful things, achieved a couple of lifetime goals, made some great new friends, and had lots of fun times with my old ones.

In other news, Love Magick is out now!!! The early realease came as quite a shock, but it's been a perfect way to cap off the year! The whole anthology is available now from the Amazon website for only $7.99 US, but don't worry, you don't have to have a Kindle to read it. I'm about a third of the way through, and so far I'm pretty blown away by the writing! 

I hope the New Year continues to be wonderful, or brings with it the fresh start that you need.
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