Everything Turned to White


Wednesday, 31 August 2011

For diversion you watch faces loom out of a rectangle
yelling to buy variously coloured & shaped objects.
Both the faces and the objects all
are scientifically proven to be more
space than solid, more empty than full.

For work, at another black-framed rectangle fingers
ribbon words marching black to a white screen.
For play you hold rectangles longways
and turn their pages, words flowing
across your eyes & freeforming blue, orange.

Like a swimmer into the water you
sometimes sit silent & carve out into the round &
for beauty you follow long golden fingers
(if you can see them) stretching out into
the silent terror of nullius.

There, every colour & shape, &
Rumi and his field have squeezed through
a just-right chink and sung themselves out
into the beautiful void of
everything, turned to white.

Pic:  monkeyc.net under creative commons licence

Damn You, Disqus - the Pendulum Swings


Friday, 26 August 2011

UPDATE:  So it was a case of a bad workwoman blaming her tools.  Not only did I not read the instructions before installing Disqus, but I also failed to properly read them after.  All of my comments have been retained and retrived, so I'm very happy about that :)


So you've bought the wall unit from Ikea.  And now you're home in the middle of the lounge room, and you've opened the impossibly flat flatpacked boxes and taken all the bits out.  You've made a space so you can spread out the 152 different bits that no way on earth are ever, ever, EVER going to blend into becoming anything like the wall unit you see in the picture on the box.  And what the hell is THAT bit???

There are two types of people in this scenario - the instruction-readers and the non-instruction-readers.  The "go ahead and do it without reading the instructions" person holds that piece of paper with diagrams and accompanying Engrish in contempt.  Bah.  Don't insult my intelligence.  I don't need to be told how to do this.  The instruction-reader thinks the non-instruction reader is too cocky for her own good.  You want to spend your entire afternoon putting this wall unit together, with an ad break in the third hour for your dummy spit, when you pick up a handful of the 152 pieces and throw them in rage, and then spend ages trying to find them?  Well, I don't, thanks very much.  I will learn from the people who manufactured this so I can get the hell out of here and do something more interesting with the rest of my Saturday afternoon.

Me, I'm both.  Some days I understand the wisdom of the second path.  Other days, it is a folly to be so anal.  I wish to work it out by myself, thank you very much.

When it comes to installing different platforms and softwares and doodads on your computer, it's easy to get complacent about stuff.  Everything works better these days.  After all, I can't even remember the last time I had a blue screen, or my computer locked up through driver or software incompatibilities.

And so stability has led to complacency.  Therefore when I signed up for Disqus last night, I didn't think anything of it.  Didn't even really know exactly what it was or how it worked, but what the hell, why not?  And so I blithely signed up, linked up my blog to it ... and now I come here this morning and it seems all of my pre-Disqus comments have gone, kaputted into the voluminous ether void, possibly never to be seen again.  And so now Erin, you have the dubious distinction of being the only commenter on this blog :)  And, a wonderful and superb comment though it be, I feel sad for all of the other comments that have been lost, forever, never to return (insert dramatic forehead slap with outward-facing hand).

Every time I type Disqus I keep going to type Disgus instead.  Which is far closer to how I'm feeling.  Disqus, after all, is a word with positive connotations for me, being the only first I ever won at Little Athletics.  I still remember that blue ribbon.  Whereas this morning I feel rather more disgusted that some platform would come along in its arrogance like the Western Empire and cut everything down before it.  And also a little disgusted that I didn't read before I clicked.

And so the pendulum swings back into anality once again :)  So, anyone know how to get those old comments back?

The Job Interview


Thursday, 25 August 2011

The suburb of Melbourne you find yourself in, with its emphasis on concrete, fast food outlets and bedding stores, is depressing and like a hundred others.  You can't pretend that it doesn't depress you, even though you know some other people for whom it doesn't clam them up in that way, and so who would therefore call you too sensitive, or snobby, because you are not like them and ergo there must be something wrong with you.  But all you know is that that environment makes your guts sag.  Whatever weather there is to be had in this place feels flat and breathless.  Even at the end of winter, the sun is beating down too harsh without trees to soften it.  You cannot hear any sound of animal life.

The office where you are going for a job interview faces out onto the McDonald's next door.  You have to press a bell to be buzzed in, and once you get upstairs to the first floor the overhead panel of fluorescent lights hits you like a moving morgue.  The air feels lifeless here;  partitions separate you from the unsighted workers who are going about their business with a low hum.  The atmosphere here makes you realise again why you are interested in doing a building biology course.

The woman who welcomes you directs you over towards the sign-in register.  You begin to feel as if you are going into a top-secret government laboratory facility, rather than a service agency.  After you sign in, the woman instructs, could you please go and sit in that chair over there, and wait for the interviewer to come and get you.  After signing in you notice a sign pointing towards the loo.  You think that you will just duck there quickly before taking your seat.  You only take one step in that general direction before the woman who greeted you rushes towards you saying, "No, no, no.  This way."

You tell her that you just want to go to the loo, and she shows you the way, and as you walk past more partitions and offices you have an olfactory hallucination where this space begins to smell to you the way the nursing home did when you went and visited your grandmother.

After your ablutions and your waiting in the chair reading Woman's Day and Reader's Digest, you are directed into the interview room where three people wait with pens and papers poised to inspect you like a stick insect.  Their questions are designed to assess your personality and aptitude a little further, to see how you would fit into their organisation.  After all, you don't have the requisite experience in dealing with volunteers, which is a large component of what this job entails, along with some desktop publishing.  The actual job itself sounds pretty good, to be honest.  They haven't had a lot of applicants because the agency deals with an area that is very unsexy.  The actual job is 32 hours a week, which makes you gulp, because you haven't worked 32 hours a week for a long time.

They continue asking their questions for what feels like 14 hours or so.  You have no idea if you are making a complete dick of yourself, realising a previously unknown psychiatric illness to everybody except you.  You think that you give an answer which pleases them sometimes because they say, "Mmm" with a bit of an upward inflection.  But you have no idea.  You bumble a lot and nervously drink from the glass of water they have offered you.

You are already thinking with longing of your home office.  It looks out on trees and trees.  The rosella has begun coming to visit outside the window on occasion.  You have your ioniser there, so the air always feels fresh.  You do not have to sign in and out.  Sure, the work you do is boring, which is why you are here.  But the work gives you the flexibility to have your mornings free to write and meditate (or at least this is the plan - you are struggling to get back into those regular habits lately).  You do not know how you would fit everything in with this job, and this makes you feel like a loser as well because so many other people you know work 32 hours a week or 52 hours a week and they don't complain about it.  You, you're feeling your throat tighten just at the thought of it.

You are, to all intents and purposes, far too sensitive to your environment.  And so this becomes the weighing factor - if you are offered the job, a job which you could quite like and could even see yourself losing track of time in occasionally, would that balance out the fact that the thought of coming here every single workday every week every month is already making your chest constrict?

You wonder - perhaps, to keep you motivated working in your home office, if you shouldn't just simply go to job interviews every week.  See what you're not missing.

For the Young Who Want To


Monday, 22 August 2011

Loving this poem by Marge Piercy.  Seen via a comment by Jane over at Pilgrim's Moon.  (Oh, and I *am* going out for a job interview tomorrow to "get a real job" ... but only if it gives me space to write :)

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.

Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don't have a baby,
call you a bum.

The reason people want M.F.A.'s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else's mannerisms

is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you're certified a dentist.

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved

The Limitations of Language


Friday, 12 August 2011

How often do you get surprised by your own words?

I reread my blog post from yesterday, and felt with a bit of a sinking feeling that maybe the tone I thought I was conveying was not, I don't think, conveyed :)  (I am feeling rather paranoid at the moment though, so who knows?  I am worrying far too much about what other people think, and second-guessing everything, which is a pretty ridiculous way of giving away your own power.  Much better to take that energy worrying about other people and putting it into being wary of my own immediate perceptions.  That sounds like a negative, but it is not - questioning my limited perceptions is often illuminating and sometimes I even get surprised by the joy that comes from that.  It takes me out beyond myself, into the field).

But anyway, where was I?  It is an interesting feeling when you reread something that you wrote in a lighthearted, slightly self-deprecating (I am Australian, after all) but ultimately positive mood, only to discover on your second reading that maybe it reads more small-minded and cynical and negative than you actually felt or intended.

Does this happen often with you when you write?  Or even when you speak?  Are you sometimes surprised afterwards at how people respond (or don't respond) to what you thought was plainly conveyed?  Human interaction is an art, after all.  And writing as a method of communication is a sort of strange thing to do, when you think about it.  Funny little scrabbled bits on a page or a screen are a step removed from conveying them ourselves.  And even conveying them ourselves ... well, when you think about the complexity of it all, to convey something from my mind to yours involves not only my ability to use the right words in the first place, but to get those words out past my face and body to you in a way that you get where I'm coming from.  The chances of you picking up on my slightly raised eyebrow, or my quirky use of a word that in my family had a slightly different connotation than it did in yours, is complexified by the fact that I remind you a little of your auntie who was mean, compounded by the fact that you are distracted by your iPhone pinging and that you don't understand why I'm talking about this particular thing because you have forgotten my comment about it yesterday, and if you remembered that then what I am saying right this minute would take on a completely different complexion.

Really and honestly, connecting with each other - even in person with all of the non-spoken body language that according to some conveys as much as 90% of our intention - is an art, and a hit-and-miss affair.  It requires time and questioning, silence and processing, a reasonable memory, focus and patience, shifting gears and changing lanes and using your indicators.  And even then we can't ever really truly-rooly completely understand where another person is coming from or who another person is.

Which is a fearful thing.  Other people can be hell, but even on good days they can often be scary to us, incomprehensible, even the ones we love, especially in the uber-fast turbulent world we all find ourselves in now.  But yet for all of that, the person in front of you being able to hurt you, misunderstand you, abuse you, is a mystery.  They are dark and beautiful and deep, of far more complexity and beauty than they often know themselves, or that your fears or your media want you to believe.

Because ultimately, despite the fact that we are all separate and isolated, out beyond that where the silence is, there we are all one, no matter how fucked-up with fear and greed it gets.  And science and the spirituality of all religions are in agreement on that one.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.

~ Rumi

Breathing Space


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Isn't it funny how cyclic we are in our habits.  It takes years to see the pattern and the shape of our rhythms, and the roots that trip us up.  I realised recently that it's been months since I've been in the habit of writing every day.  When I am writing every day it is almost impossible to imagine that I would ever stop doing this thing that I love, that I committed to years ago to keep working at.  But finding time to write is hard.  Finding headspace to write is harder (those two things I think are actually the same thing for me, in different clothing).

The whole writing gig is just hard.  Lack of confidence, big competition in the age of the internet ...  big opportunities in the age of the internet and staying focussed enough in your research to whittle down the markets that you think will be the best fit without getting sidetracked - these things are hard.  Researching your markets takes hours. You spend months waiting to hear back whether the short story that is the best you have yet written, one that you actually really can envisage being published, has found a home.  You then begin again three months later when you know for sure it didn't make it into the latest home you've been trying to find for it.  And so back you go again to the first square, sending it out somewhere else, trying to not let it be too draining on your confidence if your skin is too thin (mine is).

This writing game is a big fat bastard full of pus, and today I have felt discouraged enough that I cried piteous tears whilst waiting for my chicken and mushroom pasta to heat up for lunch.  Because I want to keep doing this.  And yet there is part of me that tries to keep me from doing this (and it is wily, and it changes its tack until I realise once again that oh, it's that again, wearing a different hat ;)   And the combination of those stumbling blocks within and without is sometimes just plain tiring enough to make you cry.

Especially when I'm at this part of the cycle.  Why is it that when you're out of the writing loop, not only is there the chill of the lack of ease and grace in that space, but the place you find yourself in is so totally full of discouragement on top of it?  It's like not only are you cold from the lack of grace, it's also stony and dark so you're stubbing your toe on jutty rocks, and bats poo on you from their belfries.  Only a stupid dick stays in this space when they know there is a loop to be back in.

However I, my dears, happen to be a stupid dick and so you see my predicament.

If I was a smarter kind of bear I would tune in more quickly to the fact that I've let my thoughts suck me down 26 samsaric levels below the flow of the river, and use the discomfort of being in this shithole to get out of it quicker than I sometimes do, to remember that there is a flow I can river down if only I can stop the fuck stressing long enough to go, be disciplined, sit down, start writing.  And so that's where this blog post comes in today, dear blogger :)

On Monday Lester, my dog, found a hole too irresistible to resist.  A deep hole that goes right underneath a tree and out the other side.  So deep, that if you put your ball in it, you can't retrieve it.  And so you put another ball in it, and you can't retrieve that one either.  The game is to put the ball somewhere difficult but not impossible to retrieve so that you get it back after a bout of shrieking and scrabbling.  And this hole looks like just the ticket, and so you put a third ball in the irresistible hole but then you can't get that out either.

I shook my head today at his stupidity as he trotted over to the tree, and dropped ball number four in.  Some dogs just never learn ;)