A Woman Scorned


Friday 30 October 2009

Well I'm drunk on self pity,
scorned all that's been given me
I would drink from a bottle labelled Sure Defeat
Over the Rhine - Poughkeepsie

I don't go in much for self pity. Out of all the bad emotional habits, there are others I much more prefer, like underhanded self sabotage. The unstinting victim focus required for self pity becomes dull to me after about 15 minutes.

I can go for months without having any sorts of menstrual problems and then whack, down flows the black cloud and suddenly it's like a different world where all the colour's leached out and all the hope's done taken some trip on some downbound train spouting Bon Jovi lyrics.

It's just descended on me over the past few days this little black cloud and I feel like all my get up and go has got up and buggered right off. So hard it all feels, so hard. Such a struggle just to stand still. And I have a bloody headache.

Once I would try and fight through this and now I embrace myself, I walk into my house on Friday night and sigh and feel the house enfold me. I look to the Cirque de Soleil DVD I have to watch. It is surely time to go searching for some David Attenborough to top it off, to watch the wonder of the natural world and be soothed by it, somehow, even when the animals of the natural world have this awful propensity to keep eating each other. Time to immerse myself in some clay, to batten down the hatches and look after myself.

This morning it was too hard to swim myself up out of the mood. I do admit, when I walked up the ramp into the train station to go to work I probably exuded a bit of "Get out of my bloody way you bastards" sort of an air even though it was somewhat closer in mood to "Ahh, what's the point of all this again? Tell me, I doth forget." It is an unfortunate occurrence of human facial features that depression and arrogance often look the same out of one face and the time you most need someone to smile at you is the time they will most likely glare.

The young man and I, for all I can see from my single perspective, were most likely just as much to blame as each other really. In hindsight my bag was pretty overladen with stuff and obviously I bumped into him more than I realised at the time. But he was carrying a backpack slung over one shoulder and he bumped into me too. Oh, the single eyed focus of the self-righteous, more one-eyed than any Collingwood supporter.

Now, I've heard it said that when we recount incidences containing ourselves more than a few times we begin starring ourselves in a rather shinier role, and I am mindful of that. Perhaps I did bump into him more than he did into me. Perhaps if we were able to instant replay it could be found that my bumping was 23% more than his happened to be, and yet it is not how it felt to me.

"How about saying sorry you rude fucking bitch."

I had walked past him and was on my way to the ticket machine. I stopped when I heard this and turned around.

"Yeah, you," he sneered. "How about saying sorry for banging into me. Pretty fucking rude."

"Likewise," I retorted. Quick tempered young man, I saw the steam begin pummelling itself out of his ears. There were many people around us and they began staring at both of us. Time slowed down as it does in such confrontations, when it feels like everything is heightened and at the same time everything is muffled and I do not know how much I remember correctly.

I do remember, however his next words. He spat them out of his mouth.

"You fat fucking bitch," he said.

"You ugly prick," I said. It was pretty deadpan. Timing is everything in comedy you know. He wasn't really. Ugly, that is. He was quite an average, pleasant looking young bloke but you know, you take what your mind dishes up for you at the time. He started spluttering.

Whereas I should play poker. I have had so many years of teenage arguments with my father that I can stay stone cold and deadpan on the outside while inside I am seething, boiling, white hot, red hot. Of course it has a time limit on it. All that anger ends up seeping itself out and if I play my hand too long I give myself away, my voice quavering with the white and the red, my fingers shaking involuntarily. But right now it was coming out as ice, which INFURIATES young men with anger management problems.

The whole thing probably took 10 seconds. I walked towards the ticket machine and put my ticket in. See, there they were beginning already, the slightly shaking hands. The deep deep shame. You fat bitch. Obviously a few hundred more yoga sessions are in order.

The young bloke continued saying things I do not now remember.

"Why don't you fuck off and go and sit on someone's face, you fucking bitch," he said. Which sounded slightly less stupid when he said it than it does here but nevertheless still didn't make me think he was off to a Mensa meeting. He elaborated a little more on his strangely phrased thoughts, which contained the word "fuck" quite a bit.

"Perhaps an extended vocabulary might come in handy," I commented as the machine vomited my ticket back out at me and I stalked off onto the platform. He stormed off down the ramp out to the street. I could hear him for much longer than I could understand his words.

My hands fluttered over my page as the train came. I read the same paragraph over and over, all the way to Flagstaff. 'Do not cry,' I ordered myself crossly, like a child.

Can't let them see you cry. Don't let them see you cry. It feels to you as if your whole world would collapse and your soul would dissolve if anyone was to see you cry, if anyone was to know that the words of a stranger - you fat bitch - hurt you enough on the inside to make you cry. You read the same paragraph over and over, and you make it to work, and you tell a workmate what happened, and then you manage to get a bit of work done but it's the kind pity in another workmate's eyes who has heard why you are upset, and that is what does it, and you escape to the ladies room.

The ladies toilets, two toilets for about 50 women, that are always, always full so that you can never get a quiet poo in in peace, and now they are mercifully empty and the tears escape down your cheeks before you can hold the toilet paper up to your eyes.

You wonder where you have learnt this rule, the rule that says that no one must see you cry. You know where you have learnt it. It is a tight, tight, tight steel wad of pride that is lodged somewhere up under your chest cavity and no one, no one, is going to dislodge it except for Love.

Turn the other cheek, someone once said, but you didn't. Not today. Really, would it have been so much skin off your own nose to have stopped and said to the linguically challenged young man, "Sorry"? Really, now, girl, would it have? If you had, then you wouldn't have had to box him up into something mean and negative, would ya?

Naw, I don't be thinking it would have taken any skin off at all.


I Am the Toast of Life


Thursday 29 October 2009

Why do people keep seeing Jesus in their pieces of toast? Why does it always have to be Jesus? Is he the only one allowed to appear on pieces of toast?

This so does not look like Jesus to me. It looks like Frank Zappa.

Handmade Fences and Beautiful Gates


Wednesday 28 October 2009

I have begun reading one of the secondhand books that arrived from BetterWorld Books the other day. It is called The Journey From the Center to the Page by Jeff Davis. It is all about combining yoga practice and writing practice and so far it is proving a timely, lovely and thought-provoking read.

It always amuses and ponders me the amount of rituals creative people surround themselves with to define their practice and give them the courage to walk into the dark. Some of those things are cliched, like a bottle of bourbon, for example. On Sunday, before my writing time I stood in mountain pose, with my hands folded at my chest, felt my feet grounded into the floor and asked myself a simple question: "Why am I writing?" I waited for the answer to bubble up, and it did eventually. At least that day it was simply "To express myself." Last night it was "Because it joys me" and I felt the bubbles of yellow flowing up from my solar plexus at that sort of champagne definition.

Asking this question of myself seems to somehow bring me down into my body so I can write from that space instead of being all stuck up in my disembodied head with the 14 million mind monkeys. It feels most delicious.

The second part of my beginning ritual, after asking this first question, is to ask myself what am I writing for in this particular instance? Both times it has been to further my short story and in fact last night I finished it. I don't know how good it is - some parts are good, and now comes the revision, but I've finished it. I've actually finished a short story. I've been so blocked for so long, and now writing just feels hard with a natural tendency to want to procrastinate about it - but it feels able to be done. Somehow, it doesn't feel anymore like the invisible gates or doors that were keeping me out are ... well, keeping me out any more, or maybe even there any more.

I have performed that little ritual above twice now at the beginning of each writing time. In the book I mentioned above, the writer talks about how we can build "handmade fences with beautiful gates" for our thoughts. Is that just not a delightful sort of a way to put it? The simple ritual of lighting a candle at the beginning of my writing time and blowing it out at the end helped to build a fence around that time and make it something special.

Hooray for me, I've finished my story :) *back pat*
Pic: Sarah Murdoch on the latest Womens Weekly cover.

The Australian Women's Weekly has run its latest issue with a non-airbrushed cover shot of Sarah Murdoch, model and daughter-in-law of His Antichristness, Rupert (how on earth did such a man come out of a dudey gal like Iris, but I digress).

Hooray for some sense and guts to come from someone appearing on a magazine cover. Sarah asked for her shot to not be airbrushed. As she said in this interview from the ABC site:
I think when I'm retouched in photographs it's worse, because when people see me in real life they go, 'Oh God, isn't she old?' ... It makes me mad that we can't embrace the beauty of ageing, because we're all going to do it.
Yeah. Like, duh. Good stuff, Sarah. Awesomeness.

The Weekly's editor, Helen McCabe, when asked if they will do it again said:

There are real business imperatives why magazines have gone this way. It's a very competitive industry and I'm - at this stage - just taking a little baby step and seeing how this goes for now.

I am planning on buying a copy of the Weekly. I'm hoping it becomes a business imperative to NOT airbrush women. It's disgusting and pretty much immoral, and also dehumanising for women to constantly have portrayed at them unattainable beauty that doesn't even exist.

Nothing is done if profit cannot be achieved in the small, small business world we now live in. But oh, how cool if this was to become a standard.

Body Praying


Monday 26 October 2009

I have so much more energy these days, now they are lengthening. I am sorry that the consequence of them lengthening for me is that Erin is most likely suffering from the shortening of them at her end. I cannot think of a remedy for this situation, living on a sphere and all that. If we lived on a flat plane, then we could all have the same amount of sun all the time, but it would probably mess with the time-space continuum and stuff wouldn't grow and who knows what else :)

Anyway, if I was going to create a place for people to live, far cooler a round ball that just hangs in the middle of nowhere being held up by nothing, with distinct seasons to give variety. Maybe the flat plane thing would be boring. Or maybe there's one of those in an alternate universe.

My floors are almost vacuumed, due to this excess energy. I've got some yummy meals to cook. There's clothes flapping on the line. I've driven to Vermont and back and then to Seaford and back in 24 hours. I've delighted in catching up with friends. All this yoga I have been doing has been a total Godsend. How delightful it is to get back into this space where if I do not do an hour's worth of asanas one day, I am hanging out for it the next. I can feel the greater flexibility in my body already, plus I am beginning to tone up, and the sense of wellbeing is pretty much priceless.

I am in love with my spine. It doesn't get paid all that much attention in our society but it really is the centre of the ship, something that I focus on every day now. The main seven chakras, each of which is linked to a gland, run along the spine. So does the central nervous system. Working my spine keeps me centred, helps keep the anxiety at bay, the mind monkeys from chattering me into a coma.

It's amazing how spot on people thousands and thousands of years ago were about intricate parts of the body - glands and things. It was knowledge arrived at in a different way to the way we often measure our knowledge these days. What amazes me is the great poetry and narrative that accompanied earlier ways of knowing - and how accurate it was. Mindboggling really. And exciting too. We "know" in many different ways. Our bodies "know" things before our conscious minds do. We do well to listen to them instead of dismissing them as something evil.

It also amazes me, the whole chakra thing, how it works. We dismiss them as stupid moronity because you will not find a chakra on a micrscope. And yet science is consistently finding that we are energetic bodies. Chakras live in our energetic bodies, not our physical bodies. That makes them no less real than what we sense as that part of us that goes on, that is our essence. People dismiss this stuff because our ways of viewing things are too narrow and restrictive. Sola scriptura ways of viewing anything dismisses what does not fit into small compartments of our own making. As if any of us ever know anything perfectly.

I cannot begin to describe how wonderful it feels to do different poses that stretch the spine and flood my body with good feeling. I feel like everything is working better in my body since I began a regular yoga practice. Performing yoga asanas is like an active, beautiful form of prayer to me, now.

Fearfully and wonderfully made and all that. We are beautifully made too. The intricate complexity of our bodies, of all of these different bits that all come from a single cell. God, you take my breath away. (And you give it, too :)



Friday 23 October 2009

Although we must continue to speak on behalf of those who are oppressed and warn oppressors, my willingness to forgive them is not dependent on how they respond. Being able to extend grace and to forgive people sets us free. We no longer need to spend precious emotional energy thinking about the day oppressors will get what they deserve.

What I am learning about grace lifts a weight from my shoulders, which is nothing short of invigorating. When we can forgive and accept those who refuse to listen to God’s command to do justice, it allows them to hear God’s judgment without feeling a personal judgment from us. Which, in the end gives our message more integrity. The ability to give grace while preaching justice makes our witness even more effective.

Spencer Perkins

Great article about grace to be had here.

Grace is one of the reasons why the concept of an eternal hell where you are punished for your unrepented sins sounds more like a concept arising out of the ego of a man who doesn't really understand what grace is than out of a God who calls himself Love. Punishment for the sake of getting rid of your own anger and fear seems such a human device. God seems so much more creative than that.

The whole wanting to see people get what they deserve thing is one of the biggest prisons there is. It speaks just as much about the person mouthing the words as it does about the person who has committed the crime. I do not understand how some people are so dead-set on vengeance as they think it is anything other than a dead-end for them personally. It does not change anything at all within your own soul to see someone be punished, even if that crime was perpetrated towards you. It will not make you feel safer. Nothing makes you feel safe except knowing, really knowing, that we are capable of anything that those we hate and demonise are. And if we don't know that then we don't know how far down we stretch beyond our conscious knowing, both for good and ill.

"Vengeance is mine, I will repay" says God somewhere and for a long time I used to see that as a threat by a somehow deficient God and now I see it as a sigh of relief.

On our train system there are different sorts of artworks stuck up on the walls. "Moving Melbourne Through Art" they say. I think it's a good thing. Yesterday I saw a poem which contained a line about, "First enlightenment, and then go do the dishes." I laughed when I saw it again in the post above: "“Caring for each other, forgiving each other, and keeping the dishes washed."

I do not think enlightenment always produces amazingly lofty results. Surely the most amazing but seemingly most mundane is the way our eyes are opened to how truly amazing a single person is, how low, how deep, how fucked up, how dreamy and beautiful. The most basic and life-altering result of enlightenment is taking seriously how deep the changes go when we care for each other without insisting our personal agendas be consented to. Liberating.



Thursday 22 October 2009

I wish I'd been to Bruno's Sculpture Garden before the fires that almost wiped it out. I would have loved to have seen these pieces amongst the beauty of his rainforest garden. And yet, even with a depleted garden the pieces had lost none of their charm and whimsy. Apologies for not-the-best shots - my camera was behaving badly along with my unsteady hands.



Wednesday 21 October 2009

The main street of Marysville. Remember all those beautiful overhanging trees that used to run all the way down the street? Forty people died in the fires that ripped through the town back in February.
There is something so sad and so hopeful about this pic. No more the gorgeous little weatherboard shop that was a must-visit on the handful of occasions I found myself in Marysville. The lollies sampled (Spuds, sweet coconut balls) tasted scrumptous. Of the few shops that have survived, over the other side of the road and a few doors up are the bakery and a cafe. They were doing a roaring trade on the weekend.

The hills surrounding Marysville look really strange. The trees are still there but they look naked, and the tops of them stand up like needles against the sky. But still, everywhere you look, green fuzzy growth fronding their way out of blackened trunks. The effect when we first drove out of Healesville was ... well, it was stunning, to be honest, with stand upon stand of black trunks all together. Such a dramatic sort of a look, a stark beauty. The rains have brought green grass growth everywhere and the eye is drawn to it hungrily.

There were several of these gates without blocks. This is pretty much all that is left of what was once a swank conference centre (except for the empty swimming pool).

Tired Mr Spots


Tuesday 20 October 2009

Mr Naughty is very tired after his busy weekend. He only just got out of bed now.

I will write a bit about Marysville when I get the chance. Quite surreal; didn't feel like it was the same place. I was worried the earth would be drenched in sorrow, like everyone's grief would have been impaled to the ground and we would have had to have climbed over it, but it wasn't like that, at least not on a Sunday and Monday in early Spring when most of the people around seemed to be tourists.

There is fuzzy new leaf growth running up the seared, blackened trunks of mountain ash everywhere, and the tree ferns have rebounded amazingly well, as they do. The recent rains are running the stream fast behind Bruno's place and have greened up the grass all over. The insistence of life to continue on after death.

I understand the "for sale" signs. Some things are too hard to overcome and life must be begun somewhere else. I also understand the caravans here and there on cleared sites ready to begin again.

"We met over the internet ..."


Sunday 18 October 2009

At the Gatehouse fundraiser on Friday night there were several people on Louisa's table who asked me how we knew each other.

The words "We met on the internet" still carry funny undertones, somehow. You feel like you want to add, "But it was all perfectly harmless really. We met via a mutual blog friend who introduced us and hey, isn't the internet amazing for meeting people!"

And you exclaim at the end because you're trying to make up for the fact that when you say "we met on the internet" the idea that floats up is of meeting sordidly via a group sex with donkeys chat room or something.

I wonder when that stigma will pass :)

Off to Marysville. Toodle pip.

Rich Grateful Trepidatious


Saturday 17 October 2009

You can tell you've been on Facebook a bit too much when you go to type as the first sentence of your blog post: "is amazed at how quickly the day flies."

So I'll start again.

I'm amazed at how quickly the day flies. It is almost 2.30 pm. After a bit of a sleep-in, followed by my customary morning pages, an interwebs chat, a scan of the interwebs, then some meditation followed by a yoga session, I feel awesome ... and am wondering what happened to the morning! By the time I get done with those luxurious-necessary things to start my day my day is almost ... well, finished.

Which is why I too often stay up till 1am :)

I am feeling rich and grateful and a bit trepidatious today. I am feeling rich because there are two books waiting for me at the library on reserve ~ Breath by Tim Winton, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Bliss, peoples. Just bliss.

I am feeling trepidatious because tomorrow I'm going to Marysville, which was one of the villages almost totally destroyed in the fires back in February. I am going to Bruno's Sculpture Garden. The people who have rallied behind this man to help rebuild his sculptures - he must be the type of man who has given much to the people in the first place. He is staying in Marysville to rebuild. He did lose his house and his art gallery, but 60% of his sculptures have survived. Maggie was telling me that a group of people who love him helped comb through the debris like archeologists finding clay fingers and such things to help rebuild some of the pieces. Most survived the heat of the fires (having already surived the heat of the kiln) but were busted apart by falling branches. I am going to be like a Japanese tourist tomorrow, sucking up inspiration into my camera.

I am feeling excited on behalf of my dog because if he was doing anything other than doggishly living in the moment, and if he understood English, he would have heard me yesterday that there is a little mini road trip on the cards for the puppy dog. I am staying up in Marysvlle tomorrow night with my mum - I always make sure I stay in dog-friendly cabins in dog-friendly caravan parks :)

I am feeling grateful that I am coming out of hibernation and back into circulation. I went to the fundraiser for the St Kilda Gatehouse last night. The Gatehouse has been providing support to street workers for the past 17 years; Louisa has been superlatively working there as a support worker for the past 6 months. I am looking forward to going down there and meeting the women and volunteering some of my time. We all need each other so much. This world is too beautiful and too awful to do it alone. People need people.

(What they do not need, Radio Susie, is segues into Barbra Streisand numbers. You just keep yourself out of it, thanks very much).

As a bonus, last night I saw the maestro singing storyteller Mr Paul Kelly sing a couple of songs. No surprises he opened with From St Kilda to Kings Cross, with updated references to reconstructed beaches. And he finished with one of my favourite songs of all, How to Make Gravy. Loveliness. Gratefulness for sharing of gifts.

Hey, happy Saturday, bloggers!

(ΠΣ¨ Ι ςαντεδ το τυπε μορε ον τηισ ποστ βθτ σομεηος Ι ηαωε πρεσσεδ τηε ψομβινατιον οφ βθττονσ τηατ ηαωε τθρνεδ μυ Ενγλιση ιντο Γρεεκ. Πρεττυ φθψκινγ αννουινγ, ρεαλλυ!!!!)

Translation: ("PS: I wanted to add more on this post but unfortunately I have pressed some buttons so that I am typing in Greek. Pretty fucking annoying." Or words to that effect. Luckily it's taken me a bit quicker to work out how to change it back than the last time I accidentally pressed Alt Shift :)



Friday 16 October 2009

I saw K last night. Feeling rather despondent, as you do with broken or cracked ribs. They came about because some woman with a smack problem who had just lost custody of her kids chose to take it out on the homeless woman outside the court.

Scapegoating in action. Please pray for my friend K.



Thursday 15 October 2009

I am feeling whiney today. Must be the clouds. I am tired and dismayed at how difficult it is to get to a place where I feel safe creatively and then how easy it is to fall off that space. Which is weird because when I'm there it's like a grounded giant field and it doesn't ever feel like I could fall off. But then, that's the weird nature of being in God, is it not? Whenever I am in communion with him/her I never feel I could step even a centimetre away. An hour later, my thoughts have me situated in a weedy piece of industrial wasteland next door to a nuclear power plant somewhere far away than where I was before.

And yet Winston Churchill's speech to university students remains one of my favourites: He got up, students expectant, and speeched in its entirety: "Never give up. Never give up. Never, ever, ever, ever give up." And then sat back down.

Sometimes it pays to just cut the bullshit and call stuff for what it is. All of these flights and flutters and removals and blocks are ALL fear.

Until I get back to feeling safer I do not write my story. I cannot continue to write a first draft until I am feeling free. (I am getting there; it is a powerful place; it draws me on, despite being faithless that anything I am doing will get me back there. And yet everything I am doing is also powerful even though it feels weak and stupid and pissy).

And so I come in to my story through the back door. Started painting a mandala last night which was nice. Tonight I hope to stick back all of the snapped off bits of hair from the clay bust that I removed in a fit of pique the other day.

(Pique. Now, there's a word that does not really sound the way it feels. Pique sounds too fluffy, as if there is custard in there somewhere and when I experience pique, it's all spiky and made out of tetanus-inducing bits of scrap metal.)

I snapped off the bits of hair because a couple of bits came off accidentally, and rather than glue them back on (the piece is leather hard and I don't think I'm going to get it fired) I snapped all of them off in some sort of self-sabotage. But it didn't work because now some of the pieces snapped off too high, revealing the fact that instead of fashioning ears for my piece I just made lumps because hair was to cover them.

I really have this expectation somewhere in my mind that things should always go smoothly and when they don't it's because I'm failing. When really, it's just because things never really do go smoothly in the perfectionistic sort of way that I expect them too. It's called life.

Ahhhh, expectancy. Please come back and smother my expectations.

Laying on of Hands


Wednesday 14 October 2009

What does the term "laying on of hands" mean to you (if anything - good or bad connotations)?

Have you ever experienced something like this? What happened?

(Methinks it's all a bit too wild and mystical for the overly intellectual Western Church to know what do with :)

Ms Do/Be


Sunday 11 October 2009

Ahhh, perhaps I just think too much. But when I consider rejoining Christian circles again, so many things come up on the inside, you know? They flare up and they scare me. I guess what it comes down to, the crux, is the do/be distinction. And I do want to be a good DoBee, buzz buzz. Just not all day long.

But it's the do/be distinction that scares me, and because of my own issews and past history and weird shyness/extroversion thang, and a desire to be pleasing to people and not piss them off, and how the past 10 years have panned out for me, I don't have a shiny spiritual CV to take in with me, held out before me like an offering. Can I join your gang, without a shiny spiritual CV? Actually, that wouldn't be the gang I would be joining anyway. I don't even want one of those sorts of CVs; I've at least worked that out.

I guess if there was any club CV I would want to possess, I imagine it would be the grungy emergent sort of CV. But - no. I don't belong there either. I don't like labels. I don't like to call myself an emergent, although perhaps this is the closest tribe that I could sidle up to. Apparently it is an emergent thing to not like labels. That therefore could be taken to mean that I'm emergent simply because I might sort of look like one and I discount the label, but that's something I could maybe dismantle quite easily just from the completion of a couple of first year philosophy 101 classes. And yet, I digress :)

So I don't have a grungy gritty spiritual CV, at least not one that is externally observable. I don't have anything. I don't have a "ministry" and I hate that word. I despise that whole boxing up of gifts that ebb and flow tidally into a commodity. All I do is I pray, I intercede; sometimes I let my heart go out to people who might need it for a hug. I want to 'be' more than I want to 'do' and I want to 'be with' more than I want to 'do to'. Of course, that feels like I am right in the centre of everything when I see that this is what drives me. And yet, so often fear rises up that I am wasting my life. And how often it rises up living in a culture that is all about 'doing' and externalities and shudderingly finds itself with contents who have no idea about how to 'be'.

And I guess this is what scares me. From living within that culture, I am desiring to enter back into a sub-culture which, last time I looked, was pretty much about 'do', as far as I could glean anyway with the super sensitive radar I got to hone as a kid. And though the desire is for me to do, and to do within a group of people who are also doing, the real scary question is, do I get to 'be' first?

I think I really don't believe that I will ever find anywhere spiritual that feels like home. This belief does not mean it's true, of course. It's just that, the tag 'Christians' carries so much baggage with it, and every little bit of shame that still resides in me (still, dammit, STILL!!!!) springs to attention like something on Viagra when I consider a return to a people who, when I am being really honest, I don't trust. Not even if they're not shiny.

And yet, maybe that's a good place to be, at least in the admission. After all, you can still be friends with someone you don't trust in certain areas. Maybe it's sort of along the same sort of line, the way Nate and Erin were surmising in the comments on her latest post, that you can love the church without liking the church. With boundaries, of course.

Aggggggh. A crack of thunder just sounded overhead while I tidied up the ends of this post. Brings me back to the centre again, to an untamed God who is rather ... well, big, I guess. Big enough to keep working this stuff out in me, I guess. Big enough, thank God, than my fluttering, worrying mind.

Ponderings of a Bubbly Melancholy Solitudinal Extrovert


Saturday 10 October 2009

Okay, so it so feels like a new sort of chapter in my life. Of course it's Spring, and it feels like that every Spring to me, after coming out of Winter and its doldrums. But this time I feel like something even bigger has ended somehow, something that has gone on for 10 years, all this deconstruction and wilderness walking in solitary places. I feel, really feel, like I want to get out amongst it a bit and be involved and so I'm taking steps towards that and going where I'm drawn and hopefully where I feel like God is whispering.

One of the things that is scary about that (on a list of about 1400) is the whole busyness thing, the feeling that for you to be committed to something means ignoring your own needs, you know? I am, after all, requiring decent doses of solitude - not like before, but still, a decent dollop. It's just that now my grief isn't seeping out my sides I feel like I can start being amongst other people and be myself again. How good that feels. New Spring growth.

Someone at work said to me yesterday, "You're such a bubbly personality. I see you bouncing around the place and it just exudes from you." Which was a lovely thing to hear. But I feel like I sweep such a big range, you know? I told her that I also am inclined to melancholy and she was surprised. Hell, I'm surprised. How do you be a bubbly melancholy solitudinal extrovert? It doesn't make sense.

But I am. I guess I am just hoping that knowing myself and my boundaries and all these other things I have learnt out in this space (I love the desert, I cannot ever leave it fully) will hold me in stead when I am in amongst the mix. Because peer group pressure never really goes away, does it?

Happy Saturday bloggers. It is a beautiful one out there. I have just been to the chiropractor and walked for 40 minutes first thing in my morning and I feel wonderful. Happy weekend to you.

Christian Meditation


Friday 9 October 2009

As an interesting aside: anti-mystical Christians who attack meditation often do so because of a groundless metaphysical argument: that if we “clear our mind” we are leaving ourselves open to demonic attack. This is ridiculous for two reasons: first, it is as impossible to clear one’s mind as it is to consciously stop one’s heart from beating: the point behind meditation is to relax and slow down the mind, so that we can become conscious of the luminous space between our thoughts. And secondly, as Evagrius makes it clear: if a demon is going to attack us, he’ll attack us through our thoughts, not through the silence between them. With that in mind, meditation, far from being a vulnerable practice, actually is a powerful tool that any spiritual warrior would want to use; for it enables us to calmly observe our thoughts, learn to practice non-attachment in relation to our thoughts, and — again, as Evagrius points out — empowers us to gently turn our thoughts over to Christ, for the purpose of discerning which thoughts are truly worthy to act on. Indeed, if more of us could learn to submit all our thoughts to the light of love, wouldn’t the world be a better place?

Succinct, McColman dude.

Funny how you start seeing a fourth century monk in one place, and suddenly up he pops all over the joint. Good to hear you speak more, Evagrius. You have much to say to us 1700 years down the line.

The luminous space between our thoughts.

May they grow ever bigger for all of us. I find there is sometimes so little space between my thoughts that they can spiral me down into a teary funk in the blink of an hour. This is why I need meditation and prayer. To remember me to the luminous space between my thoughts. Made out of clouds, or fabric softener, or kittehs, or something :) Made of God, who beats my heart.
The days have lengthened considerably around these here parts. It always springs up quickly, and then the daylight savings thing happens, and suddenly the light isn't disappearing until 7.30.


I'm excited like Big Kev, but not about cleaning products (bicarb and vinegar, thanks) but by the impending weekend where I shall bypass the head orcs as best I can and continue to write my story (or at least write about my story if the orcs won't let me get at it. BTW, I am really looking forward to reading one of the six (6) secondhand books that are about to wend their way to me via Betterworld Books. It is a book about writing and yoga practice, of which I have been gorging myself on and blissing myself out on a couple of times this week. Oh, man, there is such a sweet centre within me when I'm doing asanas; it holds all those years when I couldn't and makes it even sweeter. They are another type of prayer for me, like a dance before the divine ... with the occasional grunt thrown in. Yoga asanas are quite strenuous considering you aren't actually pounding the pavement. The rapid heartbeat testifies to that, along with the glitchy niggle near my shoulder blades this morning).

I have just about finished the replacement for my "inner psycho critic" clay bust so sometime this weekend I am going to be taking to the original with a hammer. I'm looking forward to that. I also have many ideas about the next piece I wanna mess with, a variation on the music head idea I was playing around with a few weeks ago. Yet another bust.

Ahh, small creativities, I loves you.

I feel happy today. Happy about the little stuff. Calm and centred because I have been writing and doing yoga and meditating and playing with clay. Making space for the Papa to hang in :) And it's the weekend!!!! I am so looking forward to messing about with the things that expand my world and catching up with friends. Wooh!!!!!!!

I guess them's the sweetest times, huh - when you're aware of the way an ordinary lived life is a prayer. How washing the dishes can be a prayer :) How sweet this space is.

Alright to Come Over?


Thursday 8 October 2009

I was listening in to someone's mobile phone conversation on the train home before. As you do. Sometimes I like to play, "Spot the dude going to score some choof" (I don't have the heart to play it with the people going to play more hardcore reindeer games :(

I thought the guy tonight might have been a contender, but the way he said, "I'll be at Sunshine Station in a couple of minutes; I'll give you 10 minutes to meet me there," had a tad too much disrespect in it for it to be anything other than, like, his brother being forced to come pick him up.

The girl standing in the opposite doorway was obviously speaking to her dad. And men with daughters, I know it warms your heart cockles but really, do not let your daughters wheedle and cajole and manipulative you. Do not give in when they say, "Pleeeeeeese, Daddy," at least not while they're on their mobile phones in public places, because one day someone will slap them and it will be your fault for letting them be such horrid little manipulators when they're, like, 25. Oooh, the way she was laying it on thick and sneery at the same time. Smackworthy :)

I imagine that the choof dealers on the other end of those "Alright to come over?" calls must scratch themselves a bit more in their paranoia in these days of public mobile calls. Back in the eighties they'd be sitting there, the end of the day looming hard as they've dealt deals from their couches since lunchtime, sharing cones with a few customers and now watching Wheel of Fortune and keeping an eye out for the cops. The always-ringing phone at least would have Gazza calling from his own lounge room. But now, you've got countless Gazzas calling from countless trains saying, "Duhhhhh, alright to come over?" when really, they may as well say, "Spot me a quarter and I'll pay you next week, is that alright?"

You know, if I was to end up working from home, I'd have to do a few trips with the notebook every now and then. The variety of life that flows through a carriage on any given day is fascinating, I must say :)

Ahhh, all those people looking for God at the bottom of a bong. We just all wanna feel the love, don't we? I have a soft spot, I suppose, for people getting caught up in drugs. It's a short-cut way to dull the pain and feel the transcendence and it takes away with the other hand twice as much as it'll give you but I guess my heart goes out to those people because I did my reasonably fair share of partaking of the old chooferoonie. But oh, it's the wide road, though. Wish God didn't have such a bad rap in the hearts of men, makes it twice as hard to let him find us, and twice as easy to take the shortcuts.

Acedia and the Opposite Course


Wednesday 7 October 2009

When I know that I should remain in my study, writing if I am able, and if not, being willing to be alone with God, doing nothing, I am easily tempted to leave and seek the company of other people. But if I am honest with myself, I will admit that my inability to be alone is no reason to abandon my solitude; the danger is that I will use others as an excuse to avoid confronting matters that require my full attention. Evagrius defines this temptation as lust, the desire to draw others to ourselves for selfish purposes, and he warns: "Give no confidence to such promptings; on the contrary, follow the opposite course." If I feel a strong urge for solitude, I need to ask: Is it because I wish to foster contemplation, or am I seeking an excuse to avoid other people, for whom I harbor a secret contempt? If it is the latter, then I must not remain in isolation but seek companionship. Only then will I come to better appreciate what Abba Theodore termed "the sweetness of the cell". I may still wish to be alone, he says, but not because I despise my neighbor.

Acedia is a devious temptation, and if the thought of going outside to see whether anyone else is about is not sufficient to distract us from our interior work, we may find ourselves convinced that it is not distraction we seek, but only the opportunity to help people. Perhaps the monk beset by what John Cassian calls "the foul mist" of acedia decides "that he should pay his respects to the brothers and visit the sick." The monk in this condition is in danger of using other people in order to feel good about himself, and may fantasize about performing the "great and pious work" of making more frequent visits to this or that holy man or woman who is more isolated than he, and who has little support from others. The last thing he should do, he decides, is to remain, "barren, and having made no progress, in his cell."

Cassian warns of the real peril that this monk will forget who he is, and "the reason for his profession, which is to practice silence, solitude, and meditation. If he succumbs to one diversion after another, he will lose the capacity to pray, and become more prone to despondency. Theologians have always regarded acedia as an especially serious, or "capital" sin because of its ability to engender and nourish other vices; it is a root out of which both despair and anger can grow. We are to be wary, Evagrius says, when "the irascible part of our soul is stirred up," and anger tempts us to keep others at a distance. Solitude may remove us from the immediate disturbance, he tells us, but it won't help us confront the cause of our irritation and sadness. That will happen only through the mediation of those "others" we are apt to scorn and detest. Then, tending the sick would be appropriate, a humbling act of charity that might free the soul from vainglory and illusions of holiness. Serving others in such a spirit could help us appreciate these words of Anthony the Great: "Our life and death is with our neighbor."

The monastic perspective can assist us specifically with regard to understanding the value of community. Imagine for a moment that the people you encounter at home, work, or school are the very people God has given you to pray with, eat with, and play with for the rest of your life. And you are supposed to thank God for this, every day, several times a day. This is what monastic people take on. And what they've learned from this particular asceticism, in attempting to live in peace with themselves and with others, may constitute their greatest gift to us. How radical to think that we can best know ourselves by embracing commitment, not rejecting it; by relating to others, not callously relegating them to the devilishly convenient category of "other." Monks know that taking on this challenge entails struggling with acedia, and that is one reason they have been so dedicated to discerning its presence within themselves and accurately naming it.

Kathleen Norris, Acedia and Me

Such a long quotation, but I could not cut it anywhere. I am not called to the monastic life in the defined sense as given here, but I do feel called to the contemplative life, to be present within it, to a writing life (regardless of how many publishing credits I shall notch under my belt, I cannot shake the conviction, often returning, that I am called to this sort of life, whatever it means). The wisdom contained here in this book is profound. I heartily recommend it to everybody; I do not know quite how to come at talking about this slippery thing acedia, so easy to dismiss one minute and clobbering me about the ears the next, wended through my life in everything I do so that I can be full of the living water one hour and uncaring on the couch the next.

I do not quite see its tentacles reaching so far into my spiritual life these days as I do see it in my creative life. I have recognised it - or at least felt the hem of its garment and its fleeting shadow, if I could not put a name to it - earlier in regard to God, and I see that he has been teaching me how to chop away at it and cut down its legs to a certain extent. But in the writing life, I am just learning to name it here. It's like a weed-infested garden in which I always knew the amazing shrubs were here, hidden under. But oh, the commitment, over and again, to resisting that noonday demon and its delicious invitation to not care. Like a spiritual dose of morphine.

Of course, the best part of all, like a giant bottle of weed killer and a great delight and hope, like some sort of transparent sky honey, is recognising that this great noonday demon acedia is simply temptation, though it roars. How amazing to realise that the prison that has kept your hands silent for so long is one that disappears while you go about ignoring its presence, as if it wasn't there. Who needs to be a dragonslayer out in the real world? I have orcs in my head.

Every damn day.

Here is the discipline and wisdom of the left hand not letting the right hand know what it is doing and pressing on, one foot in front of the other, regardless of the hundreds of despondent couch sits on the way when you forget that the prison is not made out of cement but of paper ...

Sentence of the Week


Tuesday 6 October 2009

This is my most favourite sentence of the whole of last week:

Just walked up over Maggot Hill, down to Giddy Green, and back across the fields to Wool.
That sentence was both written and walked by MikeF. As if it's not enough that he lives somewhere called Wool, he also gets to gallop up Giddy Green and brave the wilds of Maggot Hill. It's not fair.

Cos hey, I can mosey on down to Sunshine if I want, and while it gets just as much sunlight as its surrounding suburbs, it's pretty uneasy on the eye. And heading back to my home suburb of Braybrook, you can be pretty much dead on guaranteed of finding neither a donkey nor a bubbling stream of water to break the monotony of its gooberly working-class-struggling-towards-middle-class dull suburbanness .

Whereas the fact that they are situated in Dorset, England, makes a straight 50 bet that Giddy Green and Maggot Hill have at least a miniscule portion of charm a pretty safe bet :)

Make up the spare room for me, Mike. I'm coming over.

H.A.L.T. Anyone?


Monday 5 October 2009

I've been feeling horribly out of sorts this afternoon. Earlier in the day I was sort of swish, but as happens sometimes to the unfortunately moody, my emotions took a swift downhill turn for no reason whatsoever (well, apart from dwelling on silly worries about having possibly offended someone, and instead of asking her if I had I just got a bit churlish in myself. And then the thoughts just continued rolling downhill like Jack and Jill as the clock inched forward and I took pity upon myself, considering what a pathetic specimen of humanity I am, always destined to put my foot in my mouth, and how everyone was laughing at me behind their hands, and blah and blah and blah blah blah. Terribly boring and annoying and a complete waste of a day, but what can you do?

So late this afternoon, as I walked the streets feeling sorry for myself and shedding a tear (it's true, dear reader), considering my poor lonely existence with only fleeting social interludes to remember me to my fellow brethren and sisthren, wondering if I should gas myself in the oven and then feeling annoyed that my oven is electric, I had the thought:


Am I, I asked myself through my tears, Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? I hid myself behind my hair as I did, walking past the Sri Lankan man taking his rubbish bin out to the kerb and too proud to be seen crying on the street, a frumpy old hag only fit to be set beside his red-lidded rubbish bin and taken off to the tip tomorrow morning with all the stinking Glad bags.

Okay. I'll stop now.

Where was I? Oh, yes. H.A.L.T. Well, I have already informed you I was feeling a tad weepy and lonely at that point in my walk (dogless, with Lester at his father's abode) but then I realised what the problem is with me: garden variety tiredness.

Plain old going to bed at 4am on Friday night and then daylight savings the next night and now here it's made me a haggy old baggy discombobulated cactus head getting all maudlin over the life I was perfectly happy to be inhabiting yesterday and the day before. I hate getting emotional; it's so uncool. And it makes my delicate under-eye area all congealed like soggy bruised looking tissues and then I feel REALLY haggy.

And it's tiring being so emotional. It is excessively tiresome being like Queensland in the morning and then like Tasmania in the afternoon and now it's evening and I'm Melbourne (ie, who the hell knows from one minute to the next?)

(Still, making fun of myself has put me in a really good mood now. Sometimes you need to tell yourself you're just a big stupid dick and then suddenly everything is okay again :) Now I know I'm not having a nervous breakdown and I'm just tired :)
How difficult it is to be open about the things that you really think and hold to and subscribe to when people are so inclined to be ADHD Fox News in their reactions to each other (and that includes all of us, I'm afraid, even those of us who have more discriminating media tastes - which to me these days seems to be no media at all, but I digress).

You can say to someone, "I believe X to be true", and yet you know that this doesn't quite fit what you mean, that you hold to the general flavour of X and yet you don't necessarily hold to all the superfluous stuff surrounding X. But it doesn't feel like there's enough time to go into all of that. You feel like you would be boring your fellow listeners who are getting used to snap summations in soundbyte size.

From within that very short space of time in which we have to do anything at all, people hear that you subscribe to the truth of X; they presume that you must also accept all the stuff that surrounds X, or if you're not then you are picking and choosing to suit your own whims. But is that true, or is that just convenient for people who want things to be nicely set up with X always and ever meaning X and its surrounds? Do you have to accept the surrounds of X, when all you really want is X, because these are how X comes packaged? What if you think that the long-ranging-over-centuries discussion about X took a wrong turn in 1794 and went off on a tangent? What if you want to see things as they are, not as they appear to be in their accumulated and untested state and you cannot hold to the stuff surrounding something that you can hold to?

Some people claim that you are like the New Agey sort of person who eats from spiritual cafeterias if you claim the truth of X but discard its fuzzy or mouldy or stupid surrounds. Especially if you find truth helpful and compelling from other camps and places and times than the one your own camp deems is "right" and "safe". Then your own camp of X people view you with mistrust. And it's true, there are some spiritual cafeteria eaters who do not want to follow things down to their roots or to be have any mess but want to concoct their own thing over here, a fluffy thing called F containing bits and pieces of everything but without being earthed, but that's not what I'm talking about either. In fact, what I am talking about is almost the opposite of spiritual cafeteria eating.

Getting to the heart of things is hard work these days. Seems there is fluffy mould surrounding almost everything. I guess if you are really wanting to see things as they are, and you know that things are shakier than we would like them to be, and that your thoughts grow and change over the years and you really can't sit with conviction and say you are "right" and therefore everyone else is "wrong," you are always going to be misunderstood by people who are desperate to feel safe and who therefore do not have longer than 1.3 seconds to entirely process what you are saying, people who presume that they are seeing you as you are, but really they're just seeing you from their own preconceptions. I guess maybe that's why it's so tempting for us all to vaunt ourselves up into ADHD narcissism - we know that other people see us as too small, that they judge us too soon, that they are quick to dismiss and to scapegoat and to hate.

Unfortunately, they are we, if we are going to be honest. We are judged and so we judge and make others down small.

I think the egalitarian model is much more attractive. I'm fucked, you're fucked. I wouldn't be able to correctly summarise you in 1.3 million hours let alone 1.3 seconds so maybe we would come at a safer place if we agree that other people are both much, much bigger than we can imagine even if they have stupid wrong ideas and are stupid Fox News watchers, and that we are much, much smaller than our pride estimates when we're recalibrating our past wrongdoings and much, much bigger in terms of the depth of our true natures, the stuff that gets iceberged out in the small, small world.

Or something like that, sort of :) I think what it comes down to for me is that I need to discard this childish sort of desire to be understood by everybody, for them to see me as I really am. Or then again ... maybe that's not so much a childish desire as a childlike one, and a future hope.

Song to the Siren


Sunday 4 October 2009

I just came across this beautiful song (I am up waaaaaaay too late watching Rage). Never heard it before and oh.

This is one of those songs that is a better version than the original (written and performed by the brilliant-but-as-yet-relatively-unexplored-by-me Mr Tim Buckley. How much talent in one family, goodnesss me).

Life is Strange


Friday 2 October 2009

I am setting foot in a church building this evening :)

I know, I know! Crazy and whacky :)

Bridesmaid Duties


Weddings are ridiculous extravaganzas now, aren't they? I went to the hairdresser last night and mine was in a bit of a rush. She is to be a bridesmaid this weekend. The night before she'd gone up there and had the fake tan done. This night, after she finished cutting my hair, she was rushing off again up there to have her nails done.

I would feel totally like a Nazi princess expecting my bridesmaids to spend one evening the week before my wedding getting fake tan AND the next night getting their nails done PLUS all the previous stuff of getting fitted for dresses and shoes PLUS to be my bridesmaid on the day. Isn't it all just getting a little bit too precious??

To be honest, I think the extent that some women go in the whole wedding thing is just plain creepy.