Memory and Memorial


Tuesday, 31 January 2012

At the age of 41, I have finally come to admit the obvious - writing a journal or a diary is not my bag.  In hindsight, it seems pretty obvious.

My first diary, began when I was 12 or 13 years old, records small snippets of where I went, with whom, and who "got on" with whom, and who was a bitch (and, for some strange reason, every time I got my period and how long it went for).  And it never really got any better.  Later journals collectively make my toes curl.

There is something about the way I feel when I go to journal which makes for tedium.  It cramps me up, makes me feel tied and constrained, so that what I write is like a dull new version of "Dear Grandma, I am at Wilson's Prom.  It is really good.  We went to the beach yesterday.  Love Susan" type of letter my Grandmother must have choked on her false teeth with excitement about.  Or else it's a bucket into which I pour all of my emotions.  And how hard it is to write emotions well - reading it back I feel so sickened that I, who does not like schmaltz, writes page after page of it.  I sound so Pollyanna in my journals that reading them makes me want to go out and set fire to people's letterboxes and get a mohawk.

I tried to remedy this constraint by writing on unlined pages, so as to free myself up.  But that is a case of not-good workpeople blaming their tools.  It didn't help.

Part of the problem has been the feeling that someone is reading over my shoulder as I write.  A paranoid feeling that it is going to be read by prying eyes.  It means that if you were to go to my journal when, say, my marriage was beginning to falter (or, more truthfully, I was beginning to falter ... or falter even more than usual) there is nothing juicy there to find at all.  No confidence in sharing confidences with Dear Diary to be found.

I tried to remedy this by writing a journal on the computer, on Word, with a password protection.  That's a cool idea in a way except that it still feels tedious.  Add to that the fact that I can't remember what the password was I used to password-protect them and I think you'll agree I'm flogging a jar of Clag when it comes to journalling.

I remember one day when I was about 12 years old.  My father in his wisdom went to the tip ... and, as was his style, took a whole lot of everybody else’s stuff with him without asking them.  No discussion, no apology afterwards.  His decision, and that's how it was.  It infuriated me.

I think I've been fighting against that memory ever since.  I think it's partially why when I began writing morning pages six or seven years ago, I kept them.  Now I have folders and folders and folders of morning pages.  (For those who don't know, morning pages are a tool used in The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron - three pages, preferably done first thing after you get up, of handwritten stream-of-consciousness whatever-comes-outness.  The point of them is to get all of that crap out of your head and onto the page, so it's not running round in there all day taking up valuable space that your poem would rather take up.  And they work, too.  I stopped doing them for about a year and a half and have only started up again.  And after a few days of "What is the bloody point of this?" I have realised again how helpful they are.  They're like a meditation, a space cleared in my head at the start of the day. They work).

The good part about having kept my morning pages is that so many of them were written on different coloured paper so that I, in my desire to recycle wherever possible, am able to write my current pages on the blank undersides.  There is something comforting and expansive about reading what I wrote back in 2005 or 2007 or 2009, and then turning it around and writing on it in 2012, most likely the same boring dreariness, except that after I finish I don't even read them anymore.  In they go to Anthony's paper shredder.  Gone forever.  Writing them opens up a space.  Shredding them creates even more - throwing them to the tiles.

Some of that shredded paper is currently becoming part of a page of the latest incarnatiion of journal writing, one which I actually think I am going to get pleasure out of re-reading - an altered book journal.    A new life for an old children's book bought from the library for 50 cents, which has become the place where I am beginning to paint, stick down bits and pieces, collage bits and pieces from magazines, draw, stick down shiny Magpie bits I've found and want to keep, etc etc.

I've joined an online group (along with Kel from XFacta), run by a generous woman named Effy who creates her pages and films them in real time.  Alongside is a Facebook group where everybody shares what they have created.  I think it going to prove to be much, much more my style.

I'm a total beginner.  Some of my pages make me cringe in a different way to my old journals.  But it's fun in a way that diaries never were.

Here's one I prepared earlier.

Supermarket Squeeze


The soap you once bought
from the market and which
smelled awesome is now being
stocked in the supermarket
& doesn't smell quite so
super anymore.

This is no coincidence.



Monday, 30 January 2012

Your tiredness competes with your absorption watching the kind of men's final you dream of.

Way past 1am, and way more people than you would have thought are awake like you, commenting on the game on Facebook.

Your dog sleeps on through the entire almost-six hours.  He's not all that into tennis.


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Sunday, 29 January 2012

One man's dead useless tree
is another animal's

Anal Retentive


Saturday, 28 January 2012

You take a look around as soon as you walk in.  One other person here, finishing up.  Good.  Hopefully they will be gone by the time you get to begin.  It is far better when you have the place to yourself.

It's a situation studded with intricacies.  It's most crucial there's no soundtrack - the splash factor is ably avoided by scrunched up paper.

A social embarrassment strangely and irrationally shared by many, the Public Toilet Poo is best avoided wherever possible.

Australia Day


Thursday, 26 January 2012

In 1967 the then-Prime Minister of Australia, Harold Holt, disappeared while swimming at Portsea.  His body was never found.

A rather Australian gesture of memorial was to name a public swimming pool after him.  The Harold Holt Swim Centre remains today, a monument to his name and to the pastime that he loved that also claimed his life.

It's kind of amusing really, a rather ironically Australian flavour of humour that's hard to decipher (truly, and probably becoming harder even for Australians to decipher because we are a changing breed.  Change is, after all, the way of a flowing life.)

I love my country.  I fear for where we're going, but I am so grateful to live where I live in this deeply flawed, overbureaucratised, beautiful nation that is fearful in so many ways, easily fearmongered, and struggling with its own identity (Murdochia does not help).

That's not to say that I don't find patriotism to truly be the last refuge for a scoundrel.  The Australian flags flying off many cars and utes lately fill me with a slight trepidation.  There is so often a sinister element to patriotism, a refusal to look at the underbelly, a defining of yourself against another to find the other wanting.

Despite being one of the most multicultural countries on the earth - and a particularly successful one at that - there is a deep fear of the outsider here.  Especially from the whitie Anglos amongst us (the ones, I could claim, with the greatest identity problem of all) we look with mistrust to the boats coming across our seas as if we are going to be swamped.  Many of us in our white suburban enclaves look with mistrust at those who are already here who are not us.  As if we've always been here or something.

I understand the desire to belong.  It is a particularly strong element.  To be able to trace your roots is something that is important enough that there are silly ads on television for an ancestry website (with joining fee), and shows on televisions that show celebrities tracing their histories, often with some surprises - and quite a bit of emotion, too).

My mother's side of the family originally hail from Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, near England and France.  It was particularly poignant a few weeks ago to see if I could trace online our history in Guernsey, to find that it's already been done and my earliest recorded ancestor in those parts was a Pierre Brehaut, who was born around 1360.

There is something truly comforting in that for me.  I do not quite understand why, but it's one more tether that helps me feel part of the earth.

There's nothing wrong with having a day to celebrate your country and way of life.  It's a good thing to be able to stop and have gratitude for the good and wonderful bounty you've been fortunate by the stroke of luck and genetics to enjoy.  So many don't.

It's just that I can't do it on the anniversary of the day that powerful imperialism sailed into the bay and began systematic genocide on the oldest culture on the earth.

That's the underbelly.  And celebrating Australia Day on this anniversary will seem an anomaly from taste to generations in the future.  A scratching of the head and saying, "How on earth could they have thought that that was okay?"

It's not.  There's another perfectly good 350 or so days of the year we could do it on.  Let's do it on one of those instead.

The Poo of Royalty

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Someone has been eating berries - the magpies or the cockatoos, maybe.  On the railing and the stairs, purple poo splotches.


Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Overcast skies this morning.  A drizzle so fine that you just barely notice it on your arms, but it is damp underfoot when you rise from the grass to go inside.

University Enrolment


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Sighing through piles of papers to find tax file numbers and other sundry items that prove your existence, you have a dream world picture in your head:

A vast paperless and numberless field, stretching as far as the eye can see.  Everyone's bare feet, sinking into the grass.

A much more "civilised" version.

Morning Pages


Monday, 23 January 2012

I have begun doing morning pages again.  Three freehand pages of stream-of-consciousness with the first cup of tea.  Which then get thrown away.

Questioned the point of this exercise.  Questioned them as if they are the point.  I forgot ~ they are the path I walk on which reveals hidden doors in the trunks of the trees that line the way.  Everywhere I turn.



Saturday, 21 January 2012

Mathinna by Thomas Brock, 1842
You drive barefoot to the post office.  You are aware of the thoughts that people have about grown women who choose to sometimes not wear pieces of material upon their feet.  You are ascribed a range of propensities, attitudes and behaviours by this simple fact.

But you are flying around in the air in your head.  The thoughts are racing through like wind and you need to be on the ground.  You go home and sit on the grass for 10 minutes, away from technology, and suck it in through your soles.

Mathinna would not wear shoes either.  Her body knew what the civilised forget - that the earth nourishes your injured instincts.  She speaks right beneath your feet.  


Friday, 20 January 2012

A small squishing noise comes through the open door from the darkened decking.

The possum has found the banana.

If you could see it, it would be sitting up on its back legs and nibbling the banana held in its front paws with small dainty bites.

You like yours ripe but firm.  Your partner likes them ripe and browning.  The possum likes them whatever way they come.

Cedar oil


Thursday, 19 January 2012

Cedar oil
massaged into your back
on a warm summer evening.

The minutes lengthen.

Ragdoll Style


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The naturopath's cat lies on the paving outside.  He wishes to be alone, facing away from newcomers.  His tail swishes, a disinclination to be patted.  Nevertheless, "miaow," he says without looking at me as I walk past.

When I finish my appointment, he has moved to the couch inside.  He sleeps ragdoll style, his legs dangling over the edge.

New Year


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Your cynical side says university degrees are not worth the paper they're written on.  The rest of you is delighted when you log on and see you have been offered a place at the university where you first began your degree, way back in 1999.  Some things simply take a little time :)


Monday, 16 January 2012

The pigeon has an eclectic dress sense.  Around its elegantly shaped neck, a snazzy checkerboard scarf.  Its feet it copied from the seagull - pink webs that stand out like white rosella beaks the longer you look at them.



Sunday, 15 January 2012

Your first feeling is of your heart hanging heavy in your chest.  Your mind has given you roadblocks even before you were fully awake.  Thanks for that.  Your thoughts have logjammed your own damn dam, even before your head lifts from the pillow.

Some days, turning your thoughts around takes till past lunchtime.  Then the afternoon is sunny.  A victory, unseen by anybody except yourself.

It may seem you can't easily see the way out.  Clear eight-point plans are tempting but they are indicators to a path you've trod so many times before that the grass is flattened at the verges.

Thinking straight is not really that hard.  Except on the days when it is.

The lofty peak is ahead of you, hazy in the distance.  On that peak, you hardly think at all, swimming in the space.

Song Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces

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Saturday, 14 January 2012

You know those songs that rattle around inside your head - the ones where you only know a tiny portion of them?  And you don't know who sang them or when or what the song is called, so you can't go and listen to the song and therefore get to exorcise your brain its cruddy fragment.  You just have to put up with it playing over and over hundreds of times an hour because it's a soundbyte of five seconds' duration.

No?  Okay, then, must just be me :)

I've been trying to work out a particular song for years.  My internal radio station, Radio Susie, loves these song fragments because Radio Susie likes to try to drive me a bit batty, and these songs are particularly effective at being sung over and over inside your own head for days on end until I'm willing to gouge them out via my ear canal with a cordless drill.

One of those songs I talked about it in this post way back in May 2008.  I put out the call to try and see if anyone knew what the song was, but nobody did.  Well, finally, thanks to Rage putting tonight's playlist online, there it is:  Show Me Some Discipline by the Sunnyboys.

Ahh.  There is something very satisfying about finding a pointless piece to a pointless jigsaw puzzle that's been sitting on the edges of your mind for years.  There is a part of me that believes that solving this particular puzzle will enable the few bytes of brainspace involved to somehow magically defragment itself into becoming greater memory capability or somehow contribute to lessening my brain's tendency to jump from one thing to another and forget where I ...

Lemonade stand


Four lanes of traffic in peak hour.  You wait to turn onto the busy road.  On the other side, two kids stand at a lemonade stand.

"Delicious lemonade!" You manage to decipher her yells through the cars.  Shrieks, really.  It is rather cute for the first 10 seconds.

It takes you several minutes to get onto the road.  The busy traffic is frazzling.  People drive so aggressively here.

The little girl has learned to spruik by watching TV ads of shrieking men selling Persian rugs.  You feel ashamed that a cute little kid selling lemonade can stress you out.

But everything is so damn loud.

Laughing Castanets


Thursday, 12 January 2012

The kookaburra flies onto the decking.  He's been digging in the dirt for worms.

He shakes his head and the top and bottom of his beak hit together.  It sounds like a castanet.

Summer Part 2


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Last week,

This week,
a dusting of snow on Mount Hotham
and ugg boots on your feet.

Welcome to Melbourne.

Holiday Desk


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Your work desk is piled high with writing books, papers, stray pencils, a jar of Clag, a pile of wonky CDs and sundry things that live somewhere else.  It is a desk that has been on holiday.  Today you clean it up.  One step closer to the return to (paid) work.   Not that you're counting.

Bulbous Beaks


Monday, 9 January 2012

When you notice something you've never noticed before, it looms large for a period of time, like a giant red nose on a man partial to all-day tipples.

The rosellas have white beaks.  How have you never noticed this before?  Soon they will not loom so bulbous, but will resume their rightful size poking out of pretty heads and red and blue feathers.

You Don't Have the Right


Sunday, 8 January 2012

You don't have the right bike
or the right amount of stamina
or the right waistline size.

You don't have the right CV
or the right liver function figures
or the right job.

You don't have the right
amount of thickened skin
or the right level of assertion.

None of these things
would feel quite so wrong
if it wasn't for the satanic policeman
who lives in your tissues and
filters out into your bloodstream
whenever you fail,
"You have the right to remain silent,
but you don't have the right
to be who you are."



Saturday, 7 January 2012

In a room with a bunch of strangers you sit.  Rugged individualists are you all, with the cultural power to destroy the world and the cultural grooming to despise each other.  Up on stage, a man plays impossibilities with his fingers onto a guitar.  You see them ribbon out into the room and tie you all together.

An everyday miracle.  Unseen.



Friday, 6 January 2012

When you get tangled in the reeds, it's easy to forget that
you can swim.



Thursday, 5 January 2012

Rationally, you know your heart is not going to dislodge out of your chest.  You know your legs are not going to lose their will to attach and fall off, simply from riding your bike.

After 20 kilometres, the incline of the trail is more easily ascertained by how it feels in your legs and shoulders than how it looks to your eyes.

You learn, on your way back up the trail, that the gear you are riding your bike in is called the "granny gear" by those who are fitter than you.



Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The days begin to
run into each other.

Falling off the edge of chronos
is a sliding into silk.



Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Your spine twists into the yoga poses, becoming more supple.

Savasana - corpse pose.  Relaxation time.   The phone rings.

A test - how supple is your mind?



Monday, 2 January 2012

The eucalypt shimmers in the garden.  What causes the shimmering - heat from the eye of the staring sun, or the breath of the 50 lorikeets sleeping beneath its leaves?



Sunday, 1 January 2012

The sea rages.  It reaches out long fingers and scratches blood lines down her leg.  But she - she stands at her easel and paints in the shallows.  She knows how to quell the tide.