Because I Don't Want to Be Any Trouble


Friday, 14 August 2015

I saw the Great Dane puppies again today.  They are 16 and 17 weeks respectively.  One is blue and one is spotted black, white and grey.  This is the second time I have seen them in a week because I have been for two walks this week. I don't know the last time that happened.

Both times I have gone walking in abject frustration and with simmering fury at my body and the way its limbic system has revolted against everything ever since I was a teenager, as if a whole swarm of bees or a sabre is constantly threatening to end my life there and then.  No wonder I developed chronic fatigue syndrome.

I went walking both times furying and frustrated at this reaction that occurs without my permission to things that aren't even there and didn't happen last decade or even the decade before last, let alone now.  Having said that, I'm pretty sure that I'm traumatised from having this stupid disease, and at finding myself back in this relapsed state after being quite convinced I was healed forever of CFS.  Won't make that mistake again.

I went walking without the heart rate monitor, which is the CFS version of riding the top of a train or snorting cocaine with a bunch of hookers, or going out drinking all night.  Walking without the heart rate monitor is walking on the CFS wild side.  On the other side of the wild side is perhaps some kind of post-exertional malaise but I don't even fucking care because I've been able to go walking twice in one week!

When I walked on Tuesday (or was it Wednesday? All the days blur one into another in my stupid life).  No, it was Wednesday, which means I have gone for two walks in two days.  I reckon the last time that happened Hawthorn wasn't the premier.  At least.  Maybe it was even a Geelong premiership year.  We play Geelong tomorrow night.  I'm not scared of playing Geelong any more, not like when they beat us 90 squillion times in a row.  Which doesn't mean they won't beat us, just that it doesn't feel like we're their bitch anymore.  I would say if anything that it's probably more like Geelong is our bitch, but I don't like saying that kind of fate-tempting stuff the day before we play them because really, either team could win tomorrow night and really, I don't like saying another team is our bitch because I'm not 15 and I'm actually quite zen about being beaten.

When I walked on Tuesday I saw these puppies for the first time and they were just so beautiful.  One of them looked quite like this:

Jonathan Willier (creative commons 2.0)
The other one looked a little like this, only bigger and with different spots.

Bryan Peters (creative commons 2.0)

Or a little like this, only smaller and with different spots:

Jay Iwasaki (creative commons 2.0)

The woman who is the dogs' pet told me that her previous Great Dane had died a year ago at the hefty age of 13.  That's ancient for a Great Dane, who tend to live only till they're about nine or so.

Whenever I think of Great Danes I think of the Little Golden Book I had as a child.  One of the pictures, by that illustrator that I loved most called Louise someone or other, was of a Great Dane sitting next to a baby.  Gentle giants they are considered, and the dogs' pet said so too, and I could see it in them both even at this young age.  They are obviously well looked-after and of the pedigree variety of Great Dane, and are going very well at their doggie obedience classes.  The spotty one especially was quite smoochy, and sat very nicely.  Today they only jumped up a little bit and stopped when their pet said to stop jumping.  If there is any dog you must teach to not jump it's a Great Dane.  Well, any dog really 'cause jumping is very uncool, but if you lapse on training a Great Dane not to jump you'll accidentally kill your Aunt Martha when they jump on her in greeting when they're three.

When I saw the two dogs coming towards me today I felt a fluttering in my stomach because dogs are pretty much maybe my favourite thing ever.  They calm the limbic frazzle.  I may possibly have squealed a little, I'm not sure, as I approached them but I likely used my puppy voice.  I apologised to the woman.  I said, "Agh, you're going to start cringing every time you see me coming. Here's that bloody woman again, stopping me from walking my dogs."

"No, no, it's fine," said the woman, and I didn't believe her because my confidence is a tattered blood-stained period rag.  "It's good for the dogs to meet people," she said.

I patted the dogs for a bit and then shared what I had just been pondering before I came upon the dogs and their pet.  I was walking down the recently newly-opened track, the bit I'd never walked down before a few months ago because by the time I came upon the scene it was closed because of damage from the 2009 fires.  Six years later there is hardly any evidence of the fire anymore, just little bits here and there if you care to look.  Like on the rather beautiful, straight ghost gum tree.  Large, so that I just had to touch him as I walked past, almost white.  One of his branches had a branch running off it that was black.  But the rest of him was burnless, his skin intact.

"I was just thinking," I said to the woman, "how nice it is walking down here.  It's such a lovely track and seeing it now it's regenerated is cool."  Or something like that.  I can't remember what I said because it was more than two minutes ago.

But as soon as I said it, this pondering, ruminative kind of statement, it fell to the ground straight after coming out of my mouth.  The woman agreed in a dull kind of way, and I just knew that she was gunning to get going again, to walk her dogs so she could get home and do the seven tasks, and make dinner, and get online and blah, blah, blah, blah.

And I felt, as I feel so often, that I really need to just restrict that kind of pondering, ruminating to writing, and to talking to Andrea and my mum, and to not hardly ever speak a ruminative word at any other time because I'm so tired of this feeling that I'm like the old lady in the street that you try and avoid because you know she's going to ramble and you don't have time for rambling.

As I left the woman in my wake I continued feeling bad things about inconsequential things.  I felt that familiar feeling that accompanies me almost constantly these days, of being half invisible, a pointless blot on the landscape, a useless thing.  And I felt it rise up in me, this extreme dislike for people I don't know who I'm interacting with in a public place, who seem more and more like fucking zombies when I do talk to them.  And then it reinforced the same feeling that is probably reinforcing everyone else and making a giant snowball that will roll down the hill and smash us all to pieces, that people are crappy and closed off and disinterested and not worth talking to anyway.  I don't truly believe in my heart that people are crap, but it feels like they think I am.

Actually, as I walked away, I felt like the next time I come to walk here I will make sure it is earlier or later so that I don't run into this woman again, even though I really, roolly, truly want to run into her dogs again.  But I feel like I will feel uncomfortable next time, as if I can sense off that she feels uncomfortable, that it will be a burden stopping and letting this inconsequential woman pat her dogs.

And the inner witness part of me talked back to me and it said, "No, no. This feeling is just your paranoia talking. That's not necessarily how it actually is."

But the feeling that she might think that way about me is enough to make me react, so that next time I will happily cut myself off and go walking at a different time just to avoid it.  Because I don't want to be any trouble.

I've referenced Glaxo Smith Kline on here more than once in derisive tones.  They are a placeholder for the revolting capitalist corporate greed that we are all tired of because now we've realised that it doesn't have to be like this, it just is like this in the story that we're also sick of and are wanting to change without knowing quite how.  However, despite Glaxo being as tossbaggy as any other corporation, I find myself taking one of their products, lamotrigine, which I have grudgingly begun taking because it's good for people with CFS (I took it years ago for years until I stopped and forgot all about it.  Why I stopped is a reason consigned to the great Londonish fog of memory).

Lamotrogine is also good for anxiety, depression, mood stabilisation and PTSD.  Wish me luck.

Because I don't want to keep feeling like I'm being any trouble.

Beneath the Skin

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Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Australia is having a bit of a conversation about racism at the moment.  The booing that's oozed all over AFL player Adam Goodes for months may not have started out as racist, but it's certainly morphed into it now.  If you dare to boo at him in upcoming weeks in the way you may have done previously, then you can guarantee that that's the label your booing will receive.  (Which is unfortunate if you happen to be a person who is entirely unracist but who doesn't like something Adam does and wishes to voice your protest by a large boo, as is common to the football-going species.  This will feel entirely unfair and restrictive to you.  But, you know, maybe give it a few weeks until all this blows over.  Booing Adam Goodes this weekend will be like dancing in 3/3 time to a 4/4 song.  You don't really want to seem like a dick.  Just sit it out for a few songs, ya know?)

The whole Goodes saga has climaxed in Australia collectively lifting up a few large rocks to examine whether unconscious racism still scurries underneath our society.  There seems to be quite a bit of scurrying going on it seems.  Some of us feel repelled by that.  But it's not all that surprising.

It's hard for people to change their views in a climate of repulsion though.  Repulsion has the reverse-magnetic effect of moving two unlike groups away from each other, to a space of safety where they will demonise and label and caricature further, and makes everything more underground and poos and scurry-ey.  We seem to like to demonise and label and caricature these days, especially online.  It's why our quality of conversation is generally so inherently unsatisfying.  There's not a whole lot of space for nuance when we're sizing each other up ready to shove each other into rectangular dynolabelled boxes as quickly as we possibly can.  But we feel like we know what we're dealing with a little better that way.  It makes us feel safer.  And hell, there's a lot out there to make us feel unsafe.

Makes sense to push away, because repulsion is a horrid feeling.  But labelling a racist and putting them far from us is sort of interesting when you consider that that is what racists are doing in the first place.  Seems our quick-flex reactions are universal.  And they're understandable, too, on a biological level.  After all, our ancestors taught us, millennia after millennia, to fear that which isn't Our People.  It's leeched in our bones, in our synapses, in our limbic system, at contradistinction to other parts of us that given the right environment yearn to flourish higher than a reactionary state.  We can be higher when we're not being fight-or-flighted.  But that fight-or-flight nervous system response is what pings continually in many of us these days, and we feel it fire up when we see that person in front of us who isn't My People, whether racially or ideologically.  From a limbic perspective, it doesn't matter at all if that person is a minority and you happen to be a majority.  Look at the 1%.  Look at white Australians.  All our ancient limbic system knows is the quick sizzle, that fight-or-flight reaction that suited us on the Serengeti but is so fracturing in our current urban crumbly society.  All the limbic system senses is a possible impending danger clothed in the sinister garb of Not My People.  And depending on how your frizzled central nervous system lets you play it, they can be fucking everywhere.

Despite everything Descartes and your limbic system tell you, you're no more separated from your environment than your body is from your mind.  Everything affects everything else.  Your society affects you personally, and Australia has had racism etched into its own bones because that's what happens when His Majesty's ships come into port and one culture begins being slaughtered to within 10 inches of its life.  It might not feel like it to us, but 230 years is really nothing at all.  That's all the space there is between now and then.

Some of us find it abhorrent to keep talking about it.  We're sick of it, frustrated with what we are supposed to do with that information.  Why should I feel guilty?  Well, you shouldn't.  You weren't there, you didn't do anything to make that happen.  What your response requires is to go micro, to examine your own inbuilt assumptions, to see what you carry around in yourself that you've imbibed, and whether you want to continue to do so.

So we have all of these reactions at a time when our society is changing, as societies continually do ~ examining its biases, refusing to accept distinctions that seemed so obvious to those framing themselves within different stories in different ages that gave them different biases.  This is good.  We call out stuff that sucks, that demeans people, like racism and misogyny.  And like all modern people, we want change to happen last Thursday.  But just because we have decided to move on from an historical position doesn't mean that it's gonna happen even next Thursday.  If we don't allow for our bodies' reaction and our society's shadow to catch up, all we will hear reflected back to us is our own stridency.

We need to make far more space, in this quick-to-judge age, for what repels us in others.  People need space to tease out their biases and their creepiness in some kind of safety, without condemnation from those who are quick to take refuge for their own safety in self-righteousness.   If we don't create that space for each other, then the change will only happen on a superficial level in the macro.  If we desire change as much as we say we do, then we need to care a little more for the micro who make it up, encrusted though they may be.  After all, how else but encrusted could one be after swimming in neoliberal swamp water most of their lives?  And isn't that what we would wish for ourselves?

Control the Chaos (Cosmic Onion Bag)

The Long Play


Saturday, 1 August 2015

In my teenage years in the 80's we had big, cumbersome storage devices.  The floppy discs I worked on as a typesetter were huge, but not as huge as the LPs we played on our turntables.  LPs were good; the cover art was big, lyrics were often supplied, so you could sing along as you sat, without computers, tablets and phones to distract you, and listened to an album in its entirety.  Sometimes it was hard to put the stylus on the record without scratching it, it was so small - especially if you just had to listen to a particular album after you'd been out drinking the two cans of UDL vodka and orange that got you drunk for the night. 

It wasn't too far past the 70's so apart from big storage devices we also had big pubic hair.  No one had yet told us that carrying our pubes around au naturale was a hideousness beyond belief, and so therefore when you looked at us side-on in our underwear, there were ever so slight bulges of soft and fluffy pubic hair.  Some of those pubes occasionally poked through your undies, if you ran your fingers over their outsides.   Pubes are horribly condemned.  They're just trying to protect us, after all.

But this is not about pubic hair.  This is about my record collection.   Or what's left of it.

I had more albums than this.  There were my Mum's old original Beatles albums, Please Please Me and Hard Day's Night.  There were others that were probably pretty good as well but I will never know because they have disappeared.  I like to presume they were stolen from the garage when I lived in Braybrook.  I don't want to cast nasturtiums on any one person, but my bias would like to say it was Dylan, who rented the house in front of the granny flat I rented at the back.

I tend to think it was Dylan because he was basically a bit of a prick, really.  When I moved out, broke as usual, and he still hadn't paid me the money he owed me for bills, he simply ignored my text messages asking, nay pleading, for the 300 bucks.  Some people are just quite simply arseholes with very little concern for other people.  Dylan indeed was one of them.  His girlfriend Jane drove around in a pink car with "Janey" numberplates and when I looked at them I saw future domestic violence written across her face.  I hope Jane has upgraded.

So yes, the missing albums.  I also can't find a large stack of singles I had.  Some of them were truly ghastly.  Others were daggy one-offs that I'm happy to lay claim to, like 5705 (but there's no reply!)  And who can go past the wonderful Ah! Leah! by the punctuation-loving Donnie Iris?  Never heard of it?  Well, where have you been?  Get onto this 3 minutes of pure pop/rock awesomeness with self-deprecating nerdy-wish-fulfillment right this second!  The bit at the end where he's sing-screaming to Leah makes all the chest feels go all chest feely for me, just like it did all the way through the 80's.

The singles could possibly be around somewhere because my organisational capacities are malformed, and with my drastic energy levels are quite chaotic.  I just got my 2009 tax return done three months ago.  It's possible also that I have some cassettes lying around, although surely not by now?  Surely, the once-a-decade clean-up that happened in the 2000s took care of the cassettes?  I would have seen them, known it was time, and felt horribly guilty throwing them in the rubbish bin.  I hate living in a world where we produce so much shit!  My cassettes are probably making up part of that giant plastic island that lives in the Specific Ocean.

I do have some cassettes still though.  They are from the time in the early 90's when I was penpalling a guy in Arizona State Prison from my rental house in Noble Park who had put an advert in one of the music mags.  He used to whisper quietly into his tape deck's microphone.  Occasionally I would hear an iron door close in the distance.  He paused the recording a lot.  He drew a picture of me once.  He used to say, "Mercy, girl," and in the end it kind of creeped me out a bit because it just felt ... I don't know, like suddenly it was a commitment to be writing to this guy.  One day I just never wrote back.

I'm sure he was a lovely guy in his way, even despite the fact that the internet shows me that he is still in jail, after being released for some time.  One day I will bring myself to listen to those cassettes, there luckily being several cassette decks lying around these here parts.  But I'm having to build up to listening to them.  I feel like listening to them will make me feel squishy, embarrassed. I don't really know why.  I wish I would hurry up and have built up to listen, because those tapes are going to be like a time capsule from 20 years ago.  I really only want to listen to them to hear what James from Arizona feeds back to me about what Sue from Noble Park was doing and thinking at that particular point in time.

So that photo above is all there is to hand of the pre-digital music that made up my teenage years in the 80's - if you don't count the videos.  VHS video tapes came in somewhere around 1987.  I still have a few of those lying around as well.  I don't really know why.  I suspect I had this idea of transferring the music clips I taped off the TV onto something more digital, little knowing that YouTube most likely has got there first.  Or has it?  I mean, what are the chances that YouTube is going to have something obscure that I might find on those tapes if I looked that I would be horrified at the thought of losing again, after our enforced separation through chancing mediums for 30 years?  Surely coming across an old, well-loved musical treasure that you'd forgotten clean about is ... oh, I don't know, it's like the ultimate in musical spirituality.  That kinda reclamation can transport me for days.

So these albums.  This small little Dylan-depleted bunch of stuff that, quite frankly, is hardly representational of the music I loved, and the music I would grow to love in the future.  I mean, I was a teenage girl, right?  Some of it will be actually quite embarrassing.  And it's for that reason that it is going to be a pleasure to trawl through them, one after the other, as little possibly feet-curling memory portals back to a time when my hair was as huge as my pubes, climate change wasn't a conscious thing, and I would have been disturbed to discover that as emotionally wrangled as I was then, I would still continue to be so when more collagen-depleted, writing an excessively long sentence to end a blog post on a medium that I knew absolutely nothing of.

Stay tuned.