The Wild Wind


Friday 28 January 2011

Over the past several months I have been watching a man writing a short story online.  About 35 hours worth of viewing, all told, and I'm not even halfway through it yet.  Night after night, back in 2001, he was filmed as he wrote a story from scratch, not knowing where it was going as he went, writing live.  A most brave act.

The story was based on a postcard, a Kodak Brownie photo taken by an unnamed 1913 American of a man in an airplane.  On the back, they had written, "This is Earl Sandt of Erie PA in his aeroplane just before it fell."  This is all he used to begin his story.

I have been downloading the episodes from iTunes and watching them on TV.  I have found, with my limited concentration levels, that if I watch them online on the computer screen I will find the pace too slow, and I will drift off after a while, multi-tasking even though it's naff and stupid and makes me anxious - playing Bejeweled Blitz or something equally hyper, and missing the point entirely.

There is a slow aspect to writing, to creativity.  Sitting on the couch, being forced to sit as he ponders, goes backwards and forwards, enters me into that meditative sort of a space that the computer steals away.  Sitting on the couch, I doodle and draw as he is writing, and come up with the next thing I plan on making with clay. Sitting on the couch as he writes, or backtracks, or comes up out of his "trance" (a slightly pompous sort of a term to use in my opinion for what should be, when we're not revved too high, the natural state of things) to try to explain the mysterious and unexplainable.

I have recently been watching season one of Dead Like Me, a deliciously dark and cynical TV series which aired over two seasons back in 2003/2004.  The main character, George, is undead, a reaper.  She collects the souls of dearly-departed ones who meet a variety of ends.  None of their ends so far have been as glorious as hers - dead at the hands of a toilet seat from the Mir space station falling out of the air and ending her incarnation at the age of 19.

Last night I cracked open a book called The Book Thief.  You know that feeling when you realise you're falling in love with a 500-page book and you are only 15 pages in?  That feeling fills me up so I don't feel like I need to eat as much junk food.

It bubbles up into multicolour inside my head when little synchronicities strike in my world.  The book's narrator is a grim reaper.  The main character of the book sees someone die at the wheel of an airplane, 20 years and a continent away from the short story I am watching.  Completely unimportant little synchronicities in terms of the world but to me, a pulsing of that golden thread that I feel like runs through it, all the mysteries and darknesses and deep unknowns that still keep me feeling that even if I were to know everything there was to know, I could never quite pin down some ineffables.

When I am watching Robert Olen Butler write his short story, it is to try to understand just a little more that deep mysterious process, those things that bubble up from the subconscious, or the unconscious, or the superconscious, or whatever the fuck conscious is it.  I want to understand it all a little better, if I may.

But I am cautious, too.  Because to understand it means to break it down into small little parcels, portions, nicely categorised inside the part of me that is most dull and dreary.  The part that is fearful and wants to know ahead of time everything that is going to occur before I agree to it.  But the wild child wants to run screaming into the midst of the wind.  She doesn't want to label it.  She just wants to run in it.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Your eyes are bigger in your belly.

Three Things Scary


Saturday 15 January 2011

1. Bike Riding

Yesterday the weather broke.  For several days it's been horridly humid, very warm, and raining off and on.  The rain stopped mid-afternoon, the sun came out, and so did the bike. 

My reintroduction to bike riding has felt a little hairy.  Riding on changeable terrain - sand, and shifting gravel, pockmarked roads.  Yesterday was no different because of the rain.  The creek that ran through our riding trail was fit to burst.  The lake gave the illusion of bulging in the middle; it was filled to the scuppers.  Rain ran in rivulets down the paths where we rode.  

I keep feeling like I'm going to fall off.  Having taken 40 turns on the planet mean I'm a little wussier than I was in my twenties.  I'm gonna be wearing out the back tyre soon, what with all the braking I'm doing going down hills.  Anthony flies past me, more careful himself than in the days when he flew off his bike and into the pylon of the Whitten Bridge, dislodging bone.  Not inclined to ride roads anymore after the car plunged into him and tossed him into the air.  

Mountain bike riding is scary when you are 40 :)  It is also exhilarating.  Those two things sit very close together on the spectrum. 

2. Mr Naughty Gets Naughtier

Impertinence gets to come with age in the canine world, apparently.  Poor old Lester is due for a visit to the vet.  He is 11 now and covered in lumps and bumps of different descriptions.  Two of them are on the lid of his eye, and the uncomplaining nature of dogs means he just gets on with it, while the eye gets red and pussy from time to time.  It is time to get them removed.

Lester has pretty much gone stone deaf.  What seems to have come on very quickly has most likely been coming on for ages.  Now, even up close, he's not even responding to the good words, like ball, and walk, and car.  When I think about it, what I have taken for impertinence over the last year or so, when he would go trotting off down the street and ignore me was probably just an inability to hear so well.  

What is impertinent is the dog who stands in front of Anthony and me and our two empty dinner plates.  He has spent the meal looking at us, hoping for some of that amazingly smelled chicken wafting towards him (nothing wrong with his nose).  He got a few pieces, too, from the mushy-hearted lady.  But what all good doggies know is that you don't stare at the pets while they're eating.  And when the lady pet glares at you to stop, what you are supposed to do because of your place in the pack is to stop, and to go and do something else.  What you don't do is to glare back and bark.

Mr Naughty is getting naughtier.  And that's scary.

3. Red and Orange and Brown and White

In cockatoo language, these colours apparently say something I've missed.  Something outrageously rude, and scary enough so that when the lady opens the door first thing in the morning in her dress, you open up your wings to their widest span, open your big fat beak and jackhammer s-c-r-e-e-c-h. 

It was sort of insulting, a little.  I'm not always so great first thing in the morning.  Especially when I've been on a detoxing binge the last month or so and most mornings involve waking up with a headache and feeling toxic.    Now I know that the red/orange/brown/white dress causes such distress to this fella, I guess I'll reserve it for post-detoxing times :)  

Squirmy Squirmerson


Thursday 6 January 2011

The sound of 200 locusts flying through the air at once is a gentle one, like soft rain.  Inside your A-frame holiday house they ping themselves against the roof outside for hours on end, one after the other.  You begin telling yourself that the sound is simply the roof contracting in the heat.

When you are in your car, tons of them fly into the windscreen every second.  You can tell the locals on the roads by the mesh patches covering the front of their cars to protect their radiators.

Even the windscreen carnage becomes something you ignore after a while.  You just block it out because it's gross and you feel awful that all of these bugs are dying.  But even feeling gross, you simply do not notice it after a while, in the same way that familiarity causes the mansion dweller with the million dollar views to not see the Harbour anymore when he looks out his window.

When you both clean the front of the car with a brush and soapy water, you make sounds and feel ill.  The colour of a splattered locust is mustard.  A darker yellow than the fat on the dead human bodies when you watched Anatomy for Beginners and almost as vomit-worthy.

You feel awful for the locusts;  they are just going about doing their locusty thing, after all.  The weather conditions in Victoria have been ripe for them.  The state government has spent millions of dollars trying to eradicate them. You don't want to think about the chemicals they have been using to eradicate them.  One more toxic load of chemicals to add to the already toxic liver load that human beings suffer under every day.  Perhaps it would have been easier to leave them be.

Only to die on the windscreen of a Ford Focus.  You feel guilty, because you are a hypocrite.  You want to practise non-violence towards all living beings.  Your Jainist heart wants to wear a piece of fine material over your face so you don't inadvertently swallow even a bug, but you have killed hundreds of little beings on the way to your holiday destination, where you spray flies with fly spray and eat chicken.

You wonder how you would feel about the locusts, however, if they were to become a swarm.  The ones you saw were not a swarm.  There were large numbers of them, but the pesticides kept their numbers down simply to large numbers of locusts, flying in all different directions, diffuse.  In higher densities, just like humans, their behaviour changes and they become an army, moving as one, out of necessity, for food (unlike so many of our army movements of recent times, based on overactive fear and greed and power hunger).

You do not think the sound of locusts movements would be like gentle rain then, if it was a swarm.  It would be something more sinister, that would strip crops bare.  And then you wonder, would you begin to hate them then, when they have wreaked so much havoc?

You observed a locust at close range late one afternoon when you were out preparing to eat barbecued chicken sausages and salad and the locusts were preparing to bed down for the night, back into the holes from whence they came.  It looked different somehow to the others you saw - no striping on its body.  Perhaps it was a juvenile.  You looked at it right up close.  Its eyes were closed, and it looked intricately fashioned out of a piece of wicker.  A beautiful thing, really.  Beautiful like a human, potentially destructive like one too.  But still, like a human, wanting to live, intricately fashioned, beautiful and awful, simply living in the best way it knows how.

Locust housing