Archives: July 2003
Thu, 31 Jul 2003
The working week
I've finally finished the 26things project, with the last two pictures going up - authority and home. Actually, home was a picture I had already taken, but it made me think so much of the concept of home that I had to include it.
If tomorrow wasn't Friday, I think I'd just lay down and cry right now. I am so looking forward to the weekend. I know it will be over in the blink of an eye, but it will be wonderful to have two whole days where the mornings and evenings do not resemble a strictly regimented military operation.
And on top of everything, I've been having my period this week, which just wipes me out. Now that is something to look forward to in getting old and wrinkly - at least there will be no goddamn periods anymore. Halle-bloody-lujah to that is all I can say. Come on, menopause. I'll swap the periods for a tube of KY Lubricant anytime.
Or, maybe, in the short term, I could just get pregnant again.
Okay. Maybe not a good idea. Cancel that thought.
Our house continues on in complete craziness, as usual.
Matthew is loving school. He's learning to read, which is such an amazing thing to watch. He brings home little reading books every night and reads them to us.
He is going through a real "I'm not eating my dinner" phase at the moment. Every night is a struggle at the dinner table. Every night we negotiate. 10 bites of that. 5 bites of this. Man, what happened to the days when kids used to be a little scared of their parents?! Sometimes, though, we (the parents) win.
Deb: Okay, Matt, I want you to eat 6 spoonfuls of the mashed potato and three pieces of broccoli. Okay?
Matt: No, no, Mum. I've got a good deal for you. How about this? I'll eat 10 of potato and 5 of broccoli. Is that a good deal, Mum?
Deb: Well, you drive a hard bargain, but.... okay, it's a deal.
Matt's obsession with music continues. Overheard the other day:
Matt: What's your favourite Bob Dylan album, Dad?
Michael: Hmmm, probably Highway 61 Revisited.
Matt: Well, Dad, mine are Blonde on Blonde and The Basement Tapes.
Now I ask you, what other five-year-old can list his favourite Bob Dylan albums and can proudly show you his own copy of The Basement Tapes cd?
Joshua is still a terror, a one-baby wrecking machine. Still not interested in toys or books. Only interested in things with buttons and knobs and electric plugs. And he is soooo big. So big. He is only 17 months and he is wearing size 3s and 4s.
He is such a beautiful boy with an amazing smile. And he's at that age where he really likes to help. He likes to help with the dishes. He likes to help put the laundry away. He likes to help vacuum. Of course, what this means, is that every household task takes about three times as long as it should.
Ah well, I try to avoid household tasks if at all possible anyway. Way too many other things to do...
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Wed, 30 Jul 2003
I should have a template for my entries with the words "I am so tired tonight" already filled in. It would just save me the trouble of typing them.
I've started working fulltime again for the first time since before Matthew was born, and can I just say that this five-day-a-week deal is not good. Not good, I tell you. A meagre two-day weekend barely gives me time to catch up with the laundry, much less do anything that remotely resembles relaxing.
Still, I'm really enjoying my work at the moment. The project I am working on had its budget approved, which means we can actually continue what we've started. The project is challenging and fun. I have a great team. And my manager, whom you may remember caused me some concern a few months ago, has turned out to be extremely good. I like him a lot and I'm pleased to be able to work under him. I am learning a lot from him, mainly from his somewhat blunt, no-nonsense business style.
Since I last wrote I have put up seven new 26things photos: symmetry, monument, new, time, little things, transport and construction. This photo project has been such good discipline for me, and has made me view the world through a camera lens once again.
As I ride home on the bus after work I look out the window and snap shots in my mind, framing scenes in a little imaginary rectangle. I suppose this is what real photographers do all the time.
I'm hoping for some inspiration for my last two shots for 26things - authority and home. I have three completely different photos which could be used for authority, and I don't like any of them. So, if you have any ideas, send them this way. There is only one day left in July, and MFFWB (Mother's Fuzzy Fulltime Working Brain) has rendered me completely blank.
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Sat, 26 Jul 2003
Saturday night. I'm just sitting here in the office, the baby monitor is on and I can hear the sound of a rugby match on television. Australia versus New Zealand. It is a comforting sound.
The funeral yesterday was not an easy one to attend. The service began with the woman's 9-year-old daughter playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the violin. It was heart-wrenching. It just made me want to bolt out the door and rush home and grab my kids and hold them for the rest of the day. But I didn't. I stayed until the end, and hugged her parents, who had just lost their only child. I comforted, and talked and reminisced and consoled, and cried. And then I returned to work, the curse of the living.
It's been a long and difficult couple of weeks, and they have taken their toll on my health and well-being. I am weary tonight. Perhaps I will sleep well.
I would have been in bed by now but tonight I have been reading poetry that I haven't read in a long time, poems that I love, that have been tucked away in a notebook full of poetry that I have had since college.
by Nikki Giovanni
ever been kidnapped
by a poet
if i were a poet
i'd kidnap you
put you in my phrases and meter
you to jones beach
or maybe coney island
or maybe just to my house
lyric you in lilacs
dash you in the rain
blend into the beach
to complement my see
play the lyre for you
ode you with my love song
anything to win you
wrap you in the red Black green
show you off to mama
yeah if i were a poet i'd kid
Nikki Giovanni is a favourite poet. I read this and it is such a fun poem, so alive, that it rejuvenates me. Makes me happy. Makes me forget about funerals and work.
Makes me feel like I've been kidnapped...
...and taken away from all that.
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26 things: sunset and money
There are two new 26things photos up: sunset and money.
I have enjoyed doing this project so much. At first I didn't think I would complete it, but now that I have come this far, I'm sure I will. It's wonderful to see a group of photos come together, and I enjoy looking at others' photos as well, to see how they have interpreted the various themes.
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Thu, 24 Jul 2003
Three pictures and a funeral
I have three new 26things photos up: signage, light and animal. Only 11 more to go, and 7 days left. I think I can do it.
Also, I finally did an entry for Lost in Transit. It had been two months since my last entry there and I was worried that Miguel was going to kick my lazy ass off the blog, so I thought I'd better do something about it. Sorry Mig. I'll try to do better, honest.
I am not looking forward to tomorrow as I have to go to the funeral of the woman I wrote about in my last entry. I am duty bound to attend, although I hate funerals, and I'd rather not be reminded of my own mortality at the moment. I guess there is no good time to be reminded of that.
Have you ever thought about your own funeral? A friend told me recently that he wanted a party as a funeral, with jelly beans for the kids. Although I admire the idea, I think I'd probably stick with black and sombre.
For me, the ultimate depressing funeral death song is Cremation - Ashes to Ashes by Lou Reed from the Magic and Loss album (if you want to hear something even more depressing than Berlin, Magic and Loss is it — he wrote it about the deaths of two very close friends, of which Andy Warhol was one).
Anyway, Cremation - Ashes to Ashes:
Well the coal black sea waits for me me me
The coal black sea waits forever
The waves hit the shore
Crying more more more
But the coal black sea waits forever
The tornados come up the coast they run
Hurricanes rip the sky forever
Though the weathers change
the sea remains the same
The coal black sea waits forever
There are ashes spilt through collective guilt
People rest at sea forever
Since they burnt you up
Collect you in a cup
For you the coal black sea has no terror
Will your ashes float like some foreign boat
or will they sink absorbed forever
Will the Atlantic Coast
have its final boast
Nothing else contained you ever
Now the coal black sea waits for me me me
The coal black sea waits forever
When I leave this joint
at some further point
The same coal black sea will it be waiting
I always thought I'd be buried, but now I'm thinking maybe I'd like to be cremated, and my ashes spread in the ocean — maybe in the Atlantic, near where I grew up, or the Pacific where I live. I haven't decided yet, though. We'll see.
Well, on that cheery note, folks, I'm going to bed.
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Tue, 22 Jul 2003
Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief
We're sailing on a strange boat
Heading for a strange shore
We're sailing on a strange boat
Heading for a strange shore
Carrying the strangest cargo
That was ever hauled aboard
The daughter of close family friends died on Saturday, leaving behind a husband and two young children. She walked out the door to go to work that morning a seemingly happy and healthy woman. Hours later she dropped dead. The autopsy has yet to determine cause of death.
She was 38 years old. A year younger than me.
This death has shaken me. I live day to day, morning to night, as if I am immortal. As if I still have all the time in the world to... get fit, hug my kids, take more photos, do more cycling, travel, sort out my shit.
But, really, death is just giving us all another day's grace. Let's use that day wisely.
Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief
by Maxine Kumin
Blue landing lights make
nail holes in the dark.
A fine snow falls. We sit
on the tarmac taking on
the mail, quick freight,
trays of laboratory mice,
coffee and Danish for
Wherever we're going
is Monday morning.
Wherever we're coming from
is Mother's lap.
On the cloud-pack above, strewn
as loosely as parsnip
or celery seeds, lie
the souls of the unborn:
my children's children's
children and their father.
We gather seed for the last run
and lift off into the weather.
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Mon, 21 Jul 2003
More 26 things and Big Bird
There are six... count 'em... six new photos up on the 26things page: love, colour, sound, empty, water and food. I might just get this photo project finished after all.
I have some more coming soon as well. I took my camera into work today to get some photos. On the whole, they didn't turn out as well as I expected. I tried to get a shot of this giant stuffed moa that we have on display in the lobby/waiting area of our largest meeting room.
We are talking one big bird. It stands almost 12 feet tall. Therein lay my problem. At a rather modest 5'4'', my view of this creature was a little, well, limited. Trying to get an angle of it that was worthy of a camera shot was challenging. If I pointed the camera up to get its long neck and head, I'd get the lights from the ceiling. If I zoomed out, it was tiny. If I zoomed in, I got feathers. I stopped short of lying on the ground and pointing directly upwards, but I just might try that another day.
Anyway, I'll show you the moa soon.
Well, the photos might be crap, but on the brighter side of life, there is music. Right now, I'm listening to Lucinda Williams, Steal Your Love from the album Essence. This song is just incredible, her voice is so throaty and sexy. Go buy this and listen to her. Right now.
Oh yeah, I'm also thinking about a soft pillow and a little sleep. G'night y'all. Thanks for reading. It's important to me.
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Sun, 20 Jul 2003
I think the moral of this story is this: when you see that little window that asks Are you sure you really want to delete this? — think about that question.
In a fit of despair and anger I went and deleted everything from the server. I almost immediately regretted doing this. Fortunately, I had a lot of it on my hard drive here at home. But not everything.
I've lost all the entries from July, when I started with the blog software. I still have some of the July entries in text form on my hard drive, but I probably changed them a bit. I may try resurrecting what I can.
I've lost all the comments from all the entries on my old site, which I am heartbroken about. It's amazing how empty the entries look without those comments. It has made me realise how communal journals really are. They're really about dialogue rather than monologue.
I've lost the image of the car in the tunnel from the old site, which Michael may or may not have on his computer at work.
And so we start again...
This last week has probably been one of the worst in my life. It almost rivals the week my sister died. I won't go into the details. Suffice it to say there were a lot of tears, vomit and diarrhoea this week.
I was going to step away from this journal completely, but I realised that writing here, and putting pictures up here, is one of the few pleasures I have at the moment. Why should I destroy something that has been so important to me.
So. Here I am. Again.
Hope you can put up with the addled ramblings of an insane and impetuous woman.
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Thu, 17 Jul 2003
Sweet is the Melody
As I've grown older, I've learned to appreciate country music. That genre that I ridiculed as a teenager now sits comfortably in my collection and my cd player. Good country — and I am talking about good country music, not that Shania Twain shit — good country makes me feel things that other music doesn't.
When I'm feeling a bit down, and want to hear a real old-fashioned melancholy song, I listen to something like this — She Had Everything from The Flatlanders (launches Real Audio). I listen to this song over and over but still can't quite grasp what it's about. I just know that his voice sounds so... I don't know... resigned. So bittersweet. Sad.
Today, though, I wasn't feeling melancholy. Today I was home, cleaning like a mad woman, and listening to this - Sweet is the Melody by Iris Dement. Have you ever heard a voice as pure as Iris Dement's. If you turn this up really loudly, and sing with her, your voice lapses into that beautiful southern drawl, completely of its own volition.
It is a little known fact about me that I love to waltz. Real old-fashioned waltzing. This song makes me yearn to be on a dance floor, in a ballroom somewhere, with an arm wrapped around me in a strong lead, and waltzed into the wee hours of a morning.
Sweet is the melody, so hard to come by
It's so hard to make every note bend just right
You lay down the hours and leave not one trace
But a tune for the dancing is there in its place
The dance floor's for gliding and not jumping over ponies
Where boots and gold bracelets come and meet as they should
It's for celebrating a Friday night romance
Forgetting the bad stuff and just feeling good
Yeah, that's what this song does. Makes me want to glide.
A few months ago, when I was feeling really down, my friend Mark sent me this — Johnny Cash singing Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart (mp3). By the time the song finished, I was laughing so hard I couldn't stop. It was just what I needed at that moment. Mark's good like that. He keeps me grounded, so I don't take myself too seriously.
The other night I found myself in front of the television at 2:00am, unable to sleep, hacking and coughing, watching lengthy half-hour infomercials. I must stop doing that, because I came perilously close to buying Time Life's Classic Country Collection for three easy payments of $49.95. There was something about Conway Twitty singing "and as I put my arms around you, I can tell you've never been this far before" which just did something to me as I sat there in that weird altered time television glow in the middle of the night. Or maybe, I'm just getting older.
Note to self: buy some Johnny Cash.
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Wed, 16 Jul 2003
Coro Street versus Tom and Jerry
It's been ages since I've watched television on a Tuesday night, and you know what, I haven't been missing much. I mean, any selection that leaves Coronation Street the hands down winner is a sad day indeed.
Here's the rundown:
First up — Channel 1 — Coronation Street. Stale and crusty. Those are the only words that come to mind for this show. Right. The benchmark has been set.
Channel 2 — Some sort of game show, and since the words Jamie Kennedy are sitting in the lower left hand corner of the screen, I guess that Jamie Kennedy must be the person who hosts the show. I've been watching for five minutes now, and I still haven't a clue what's going on? What the hell is this shit? And who is Jamie Kennedy, anyway? Someone enlighten me.
Channel 3 — Charmed. Not. Yaaaawnnn.
Channel 4 — Commercials, couldn't wait, hit the remote.
Channel 6 — Backyard Blitz, Australian version of Ground Force. Okay, Coro Street is starting to look good here, folks.
Channel 7 — E Television - the Spirit of Diana - she talks from the other side. Woooooo. Did she love him? Was she pregnant? Do we care?
Channel 8 — The Antiques Roadshow. Okay, this is vaguely interesting. Watch people squeal in greedy glee as they discover that grandpa's old wooden cigar box (previously used to keep old receipts and spare keys) is actually worth $5000.
Channel 13 — ESPN. Some baseball game. I dunno. Padres versus somebody...else. Maybe. Shit, the greatest cycling tour in the world is on at the moment, and they give us baseball. Sigh.
Channel 31 — Juice TV, a music channel, currently playing an Eric Clapton video, circa 1991. Previously playing Tina Turner, circa, uhm, 1991. Yeah, you get the picture.
Channel 36 — The Shopping Network. Pretty bimbos with strong Australian accents selling cheap jewellry. "And theese leetle number is jest gorgess... reel 9 caret gold diamonesque necklace een the classic heart shape. Not many of thees left, so call now." Yeah, right. I'll wait for the next shipment, thanks.
Channel 37 — TBN — The Bible Network. Okay, so, I'm a little bored here. Now this guy, Mark Chironna, is kind of appealing in that Billy Graham sort of way. I mean, I'm not remotely religious, but you have to admit that Billy Graham was a master of preaching. He appealed to the intellect. And that's what this Chironna guy seems to be doing, upgraded with a little nineties business-speak. Not only is he a minister, but he's a life coach as well to top corporate executives. Well, a humble servant of the Lord has to earn a crust of bread where he can, now doesn't he.
Channel 41 — Cartoon Network. Tom and Jerry. Can't go wrong there. Could give Coro Street a run for its money.
Channel 55 — BBC World. Headline: International manhunt for an ex-marine who has run off to France with a 12 year old English girl. Hmmm. So the news is a bit slow tonight, huh.
Channel 56 — CNN. Just breaking: International manhunt for an American ex-marine who has run off to France with a 12 year old English girl, possibly parading as a 19 year old. And live on the spot in the girl's hometown is a CNN reporter. Yep, news is really slow tonight.
Well, it looks like either Coro Street, or Tom and Jerry.
Maybe I'll just give telly a miss altogether.
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Tue, 08 Jul 2003
I've been thinking alot recently about journalling and the act of writing. I have never tried to write well here. Not really well, I mean. I do try sometimes to craft an entry, to shape it into something worth reading. To entertain. But I never try to write well in any sort of literary sense. It always surprises me when other journallers talk about wanting to write well in their journals, in that way.
I used to write all the time when I was younger. Short stories, poems, diaries. I would make lists of characters and plots. I was fortunate to have teachers who encouraged me to write. I don't know why I stopped. I just did. Other things became more important to me, and I never saw myself as a writer.
And then recently I met a young woman, a fellow Lost in Transit participant. And she writes. God does she write. Her poetry just speaks to me. So passionate. I tell her she needs to get those poems out of that archive. Such passion needs to fly free.
It was Emma that made me think about writing again.
Always my writing here in this journal is done amidst a thousand distractions and impediments - children demanding my attention, housework to be done, phone ringing, cats fighting, sheer tiredness. I write piecemeal, and somehow hope that it hangs together well enough for somebody to read. Rarely do I have a stretch of time to myself or the necessary energy and frame of mind to write well.
I always come back to every entry, and think of what I should have said, how I should have constructed that sentence, the word I should have used instead of that one.
My journal is full of should-have entries.
But I write in the time and space that I have available to me. If I laboured over every entry, I would never produce anything. And yet even this is a copout. There have been women with similar distractions who have written incredible things.
Louise Erdrich, one of my favourite writers, says this in The Blue Jay's Dance - A Birth Year:
Jane Austen - no children, no marriage. Mary Wollstonecraft - died in childbirth. Charlotte Bronte - died of hyperemesis gravidarum, a debilitating and uncontrollable morning sickness. Anne Bronte and Emily Bronte - no children or marriage. George Eliot aka Mary Ann Evans - banned from society for an illicit liaison with a married man. No children. George Sand, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Gaskell - children. Emily Dickinson - no children, no marriage. Virginia Woolf - no children. Willa Cather, Jean Rhys, Djuna Barnes, Isak Dinesen - none. Kay Boyle and Meridel LeSueur - many children and political lives. Sigrid Undset - children, and Ann Akhmatova, Zora Neale Hurston, Dorothy Parker, Lillian Hellman. None. None. None. Grace Paley, Tillie Olsen - children. Toni Morrison - children. Anne Sexton. Adrienne Rich - children. Anne Tyler, Erica Jong, Alice Walker, Alice Munro, and Alice Hoffman. Children. Joan Didion. Mary Gordon. Rosellen Brown, Robb Forman Dew, and Josephine Humphreys and Mona Simpson. Children. Isabel Allende, Jayne Anne Phillips, Linda Hogan, Sharon Olds, Louise Gluck, Jane Smiley, and many, many others.
When I read such a list, I am humbled and in awe at the literary opus created by women in general, and mothers in particular. If only I had the talent and the steadfastness of mind to write something of value.
In college, my friend Carla fell in love with a gay man and wrote poems. While I was busy having failed sexual relationships, she was writing about unrequited love. It was Carla that introduced me to Stevie Smith.
'What is she writing? Perhaps it will be good'
by Stevie Smith
What is she writing? Perhaps it will be good,
The young girl laughs: 'I am in love.'
But the older girl is serious: 'Not now, perhaps later.'
Still the young girl teases: 'What's the matter?
To lose everything! A waste of time!'
But now the older one is quite silent,
Writing, writing, and perhaps it will be good.
Really neither girl is a fool.
Last I heard Carla was working in Boston for a publishing company. I don't know if she still writes poetry, or if she's happy, but I look back now and wish that I had done more writing, and less fucking.
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