Subdivision

November 21st, 2007

I live in a bit of a suburban wasteland. Actually, that’s a pretty unkind description, but it’s reasonably accurate. I live on a culesac, at the end of street full of 3 bedroom, brick veneer houses. The one at the top of the street has a pool, and the house 3 doors up has just extended up by building a second floor. The family across the road has two kids and a dog, and Fred next door (who, judging by his accent, is originally from Eastern Europe somewhere) is always outside watering his lawn when I leave for work at around 8 in the AM. It’s nice. There’s also something a little disconcerting about it. Part of the girlescapedfromWagga inside of me wants to hate it.

And I don’t. Hate it that is. There’s just a slight disconnect in me when it comes to the suburban living situation. I had exactly the same feeling when I was in Canberra this weekend. I swear to god, that place is like one big suburban back yard. Only without the pushed over bikes, sun-faded basketballs and worn out lawn from the slip n slide. It’s far too tidy for any of that. I can’t quite decide if it’s clean or sterile. The first couple of times I visited the city I went with sterile, but I saw more of the city this time. I’m not completely convinced, but right now I’m going with clean.

And where are the people? Like, the milling-about type people? Maybe they were in the Canberra Centre or around abouts that area. They certainly weren’t where we were. Which was mainly the gallery and driving along Northbourne and around Civic and ANU and what have you. Although, there were a lot of people around in Dickson when we went there for dinner, so I’m probably not being fair. And the queue in front of me when I went to check out of the hotel was at least 4 people deep. But really, everywhere we went was just this vast expanse of either park or bush. It felt a bit odd.

And you have to drive everywhere. Just like here. I mean, we saw bus stops. But I think we saw one bus in total. But the place is so spread out. You couldn’t really just go ‘oh I might go for a stroll down to the shops’. At least, not in the suburbs I was in.

And this is not hate mail to the city by the way. We had a really awesome weekend.

My experiences in the Big City here in Syders on the weekends is skewing my opinion of alla this somewhat. It’s not necessarily better. It’s just different. And I really feel like there’s something to be said for stepping out onto the street onto an actual footpath, and walking maybe 3 blocks max to either a convenience store, a decent café, or a supermarket of some kind.

I also had a big rant planned here about community and how we’re losing it with our TVs and high fences and lack of corner stores and what have you, but I got a bit lost speaking to friends on MSN and emailing beautiful boys (well, boy) about beautiful music. And now it’s nearly midnight.

So I’m going to bed.

I railed and I raved

September 17th, 2007

I’m planning a trip to Melbourne. It’s going to be a jaunt, and completely and utterly nothing to do with work, and great gobs on fun. And after all the gin drinking and hallway dancing involved with the crazy conference types, I’m going to need the let down.

AND how.

There’s going to be galleries and ambling and shopping and eating and drinking and noodling and sleeping and hopefully some live music. As soon as the Corner Hotel updates their upcoming gig stuffs. Although I’m sure we’ll find something. And it’s going to be fabulous. And I get to share it WITH someone fabulous. Hooray.

So alla this thinking about the awesomeness of one of my favourite cities in the world got me to thinking about trams. And that got me to thinking about public transport in general. And as I was saying tonight in an email, I’ve had a phobia of most forms of public transport for a very long time. And this has nothing to do with me being scared of stranger cooties or thronging with the masses or uncomfortable seats of un-air conditioned trains or anything like that. I don’t mind any of that stuff and I like getting in amongst it as much as the next girl. It has, however, absolutely everything to do with my horrendous sense of direction.

Anyone who knows me even remotely well understands the completeness of my directionlessness. I’m hopelessly hopeless. In shopping malls – you know, those great massive vast ones with 4 levels of stores and 3 food courts and what not – I completely lose all sense of up and down. I walk into a store, only to walk out of it again and stand for like 30 seconds trying to figure out which direction I was going before I went in. And I can list examples from even just this weekend. Like the fact that I was told to meet the boy at Redeye Records, which I’ve been to many times before, but I still had to ask for directions. And even then on the way I had to phone to make sure I DID know that North meant walking toward the harbour not away from it. And then there was the car park debacle. I’d only parked the car like 5 hours before, but when we headed back there do you THINK I could find it again? There was an exasperating 5 minutes of me going BUT I KNOW IT WAS HERE and him going HEY, it’s okay! And then the security guard found it for me. He was really very nice about it and I don’t even think he was laughing on the inside. Anyway, I digress.

This directionlessness does not really bode well with some forms of public transport. The trains are all good – you don’t need to know north or south or suburbs or streets or any of that hoo-ha. They run on their wonderfully unchanging tracks, they stop very predictably at the stations they’re supposed to, and even if they rarely run on time, you mostly know there’s another one coming eventually. And you always know where to get off, because you have no choice. Stations are stations. There’s no choosing between blocks or bus stops, or having to hop from one street to another to change bus lines. Train stations are so wonderfully predictable, and even I can read the train network map. I mean, the lines are COLOURED! C’mon! To get to Windsor I have to get on the yellow one, and to get to Kings Cross I have to get on the blue one.

Buses are a whooooole other thing. Once, when I first moved to Sydney, I got on a bus to Cronulla when I was meant to be heading to Coogee. Anyone familiar with Sydney right now has just snorted heartily. That was my first Sydney bus experience and sufficiently traumatic that I didn’t try it solo again for a very long time. And then there’s the whole having to tell someone where you want to get off. How are you supposed to do that if you don’t even know where you’re going? I guess I could try ‘umm, I don’t really know where I’m getting off. I’ll know it when I get there. Do you think $2.80 will cover that?’ And now there’s the scary ticket only buses. I really, really understand the why of these things. Really. But as a public transport part-timer (in the magical, suburban, infrastructure free land I live in we have little choice but to drive) these things are scary. I’m scared of rejection, just like every other fragile human being. I don’t want to be ejected from the bus because I’m not the holder of a magical ticket.

And don’t even get me started on the freakiness of the ferries.

I’m getting better though. I have my public transport buffer on the weekends now, and I really think I’m at the stage where I’d take a punt on a bus if I was on my own. That is, if I wasn’t in a hurry, or needing to actually GET to where I wanted to go.

Trams are a whole new challenge, but I’m game. I will take on the trams, and I will win. And I will see YOU, Melbourne, in December.

I can’t hardly wait.

Alchemy II

December 29th, 2006

What an awesomely awesome day. For the first time in a long time my head is clear and I feel ready for sleep. I’m crazy sun burnt though.


I have completely fallen in love with the town of Carcoar. Wanna know how much? I’ve been looking at Carcoar real estate online all night. There is not a lot of it, seeing as it’s a town of around 400 people, but enough to get me excited. This is in no way a short term plan, by the way. It’s a pipe dream at best, but one that’s most certainly obtainable.


You know how it is with some places. Or, perhaps you don’t. Anyway, sometimes when you first experience a place you feel some sort of magnetic, drawing force. When I last drove via Carcoar I felt this right away – it’s to do with the painting of Whiteley, sure, but it’s more than that. On the morning of December 28 last year I felt a kind of homecoming, and a magnetic pull to the town. I’ve been thinking about it ever since and I’ve known since that day that this year I would be back to follow that properly.


Today, when I drove into the town, exactly the same thing. I kinda felt like I was coming home. I stopped at the bridge above the town and looked down over it. I was excited to get down into the streets and start walking. I headed down the hill, off the main highway, and was struck right away with how well preserved it is – time has really stopped down there. Most of the buildings are beautifully restored, and the main street has had almost no change since the late 1800′s. Since reading tonight I’ve found out why, but it was the most amazing experience to step into it. I parked the car outside the old courthouse and headed to a park I could see across the road. What I found was the Belubula River – a clean, running river that runs right through the middle of town. I pretty much decided I’d follow that first and see where it took me.



I headed away from the main street (figuring I could do that later) and over one of the many little bridges in the town. I ended up on a tree-lined street flanked by heritage houses and buildings that meandered toward a dirt road in the distance. I walked past a caf?? and antique store where a woman and man were talking out the front.



I decided at this point that the road didn’t seem to head anywhere, so when I went past the last of the large buildings I turned around to head back. At this point the old man from the front of the store had finished his conversation, had crossed the road, and was walking behind me.



‘No’ he says, ‘keep walking. You haven’t seen everything there is to see yet.’
‘There’s more up there?’
‘The oldest house in the town is up there!’
‘How much further?’
‘Not much.’ And with that he started shuffling up the street, asking me where I was from. I told him Wagga originally, but right now I lived in Sydney. He gave me the normal thing of not being able to stand the pace of the city, so I explained I lived in the Hawkesbury really, rather than the ‘big smoke’. He stopped in front of a building and said -

‘This is the old pump house. The house behind is the oldest house in the town. You can’t see it from the road.’
‘Can I get back there to have a look? Or is it private?’
‘It’s private – I live there! Come back and I’ll show you.’

We went around the back of the main building and sure enough there is a very old brick and wooden house and building back there. He opens the door to the large building and we step inside. The room is very dark, but my eyes adjust and I see rows upon shelves upon walls of stuff. Just random, old, collectable stuff. Painted boxes from hundreds of years ago, children’s toys and pieces of furniture, old street signs and bottles and just everything you could think of. There were hundreds of old hubcaps hanging from the rafters in the roof. The convict brick work on the inside was amazing, and the original roughly hewn floorboards in both buildings were fairly interesting to navigate. He told me he didn’t work anymore (which made me smile because he honestly looked about 100) but he made things for the children’s hospital, like furniture and toys. He was most proud of his wood turning – he had a little glass cabinet on one wall of this massive shed where he had made tiny little tables and chairs, as well as goblets and cups and saucers, out of local wood from knocked down buildings and also seed pods from local trees. They were so delicate, and the patterns and colours in the wood were amazing.


He asked me why I was in Carcoar. I said I had no idea but I just felt like I had to visit here since driving past last year. I also told him about Brett Whiteley and feeling the need to experience what he experienced. He said there was a long history of artists coming to the area. Also, before I left him, he told me I had a ‘spark’. Actually, it was more like ‘You. You have a spark in you, you do.’ I have no idea what that means, and it was probably just an old man being nice to a strange girl ambling about his town, but it made me feel very good.


He told me I should keep following the road and head back down to the river – the original hospital was down there and the walk around the back of the town was nice and relatively flat. So, I did. I found the hospital -



I head from the hospital down to the river again. I see in front of me a bridge across the river in the shade of the main bridge from the highway. It looks very inviting. While I’m heading down to it I step to the side of the road to let a ute pass that had crossed the bridge and was heading up the hill. The ute pulls up beside me and the old man inside sitting next to his wife (presumably) says to me, completely out of the blue -



‘There’s a good fish down there in that water.’
A pause from me, who is just smiling like an idiot, and then ‘Oh?’
‘We saw him just now, crossing the river, he’s a good fish.’
‘Wow! I’m heading there now – I’ll have a look.’

And with that, and I kid you not, he tipped his hat at me and drove away.


So I head down to the bridge and start looking over the edge for this good fish. The water looked so clean and so cool, so I rolled up my jeans and sat on the edge of the bridge with my feet in the water.



After about 5 minutes me sitting there enjoying the cool water and the quiet and feeling like I was right out of Huckleberry Finn, the ute comes back down the hill again. Just before the bridge it pulls up, and the old man and his wife get out. They start grabbing things from the back of the ute and I figure they want to fish, so I say to them -


‘You need me to move? My feet might be scaring the fish away.’


‘No, we’re not fishing. We’ve come to get feed for the sheep.’ Turns out they, like every other farmer in the area, have no feed for their stock. They’d come down to the river to pull up some scrub to feed them. Thereafter came a fairly hilarious 15 minutes or so of me having a shouting conversation with these people about the drought and Carcoar in general while they’re traipsing up and down the river bank collecting scrub for their sheep.


From the river I head back into town and over another bridge covering rushing water. The river, even though it’s narrow, runs pretty quickly. I head back up the hill to the main street and decide to have a look around.


On the main street I see a total of two people and 3 dogs. The two men are talking outside the pub, and two of these dogs clearly belong to him. The other dog is waiting outside the pub also, presumably for his owner who was inside at the time. This is another great thing about the town – I hardly saw ANYONE. Also, every person I did see wanted conversation and to show me the town. It was awesome.



After taking some photos of the main street I got back in the car and headed to the top of the steepest hill – I could see some very interesting church spires up there. I find two beautiful churches – one made of sandstone and one, very gothic looking church made out of darker stone. While I’m outside the sandstone church following a blue tongue lizard I’d scared off the fence when I pulled up, another car pulled up behind me. A guy with very large camera got out and right away introduced himself. I asked if he was local but he said no – he actually lived in the Blue Mountains and was on his way to Cowra to photograph a wedding, but he knew a lot about the town and came here fairly often. He was there to take photos of the sandstone church that day, but he told me to go down to the darker church, which turned out to be the St. Paul the Apostle Anglican Church, because it was definitely worth a look inside.


As I was walking away he asked if I attended church at all. With a wry smile I said no, not at all, and then he said -

‘Take a look at the painting of Jesus on the far back wall. When you get into the church and look at it from the doorway the eyes will be closed. Then, walk a little closer and the eyes will be open. Try it.’ So with this I think him and head down the hill.


Churches wig me out generally, particularly old country churches that are wide open with evidence of being used regularly. I feel like I’m stepping into someone’s house while they’re not home, and I also imagine the whispers and taunts of dead people and spirits like the rushing you hear when you hold a shell to your ear at the beach. I walked into this church and right away spotted the painting of Jebus on the back wall. Okay, can I just say CREEPIEST PAINTING EVER. Of Jesus or otherwise. I will let you be the judge -



And yes, his eyes open and close. I posted this one because it kinda looks like he’s winking. It’s crazy, and it’s some sort of weird shading thing, but I got all wigged out the more I tried to figure it out and the more I couldn’t. So I went ahead and looked at the rest of the church. There were 3 other things particularly cool about this place -


Firstly, the kneeling cushions or whatever they are in all the pews. Each local family obviously has a reserved pew, and it looks like they’ve all hand embroidered their own cushions. There was something so perfect about this.



The stained glass windows. I love love love stained glass windows. They’re light and colour at their absolute perfection if you ask me.



The statue of an eagle at the front of the church. It was kinda creepy too, but in a much better way.



Once I’d seen the church I decided to leave the town. I’d pretty much seen everything there was to see, and I had other places to kick on to. I was so sad to leave though. I am already planning on going back – hopefully quite soon. The old doctors house has been changed into a bed and breakfast, so I might try and get an extra day off work some time and take a long weekend. Who knows what the future will hold for Carcoar and I.


I could write about Mount Canobolas, but I probably wouldn’t do it justice so it will have to wait until tomorrow. Ditto Bathurst and Blayney.


Sleep now.

Gotta gotta be down, because I want it all

January 1st, 2006

SO this year started with bacon, French toast, baked beans (for some – UGH) and paying out past idol contestants on Video Hits. So far so good.

And last night, even though by the time we left the house our numbers had dwindled significantly, was great great great. It was all about the music.

And what else is there really?

We meant to leave Blink at 12:30, because I (wrongly, mind) thought the film clip to Head Like a Hole was on Rage at 1:30. But they just kept playing awesome song after awesome song after midnight (leading with STINKFIST, I mean, c’mon) so we had to stay. And we danced and sang till I was a bit hoarse. The band before midnight was not bad, but a bit samey, and we were just itching for the DJ to get back on really.

So I book ended last year with Hellen and Tony (among random others) at Club Blink. It just seemed so fitting.

2005 was all about –
??? Realising my job is not my life.
??? Finding out how worthwhile friendship can really be and feeling so lucky for the friends I have.
??? Family SHIT.
??? Falling really badly for a girl which simultaneously raised and answered a lot of questions.
??? Getting over said girl after a whole gamut of shit and hurt.
??? Going to South America and challenging myself like I never have before.
??? The thing with John in Argentina that, while really not being a me thing to do, really has helped my self confidence and my outlook on this coming year.
??? Musically stretching past Ani DiFranco, U2 and Tool and finding bands like The White Stripes, The Flaming Lips, Doves and The Mountain Goats, and finding musicians like Beck, Darren Hanlon and Beth Orton.
??? Losing my Nan.
??? Finding, and even liking, a little more of myself.

2006 is going to be all about –
??? Not letting my family tow me around anymore (metaphorically, obviously).
??? Passing this !@%%@! exam on March 14 and becoming a qualified Migration Agent.
??? Going the rest of the way to not using my job as a way to define who I am.
??? Saying YES to as many opportunities I can.
??? Seeing as much live music as I can.
??? Losing all the weight I gained during my relationship with Alan. It’s the one reminder left of how unhappy I was then, and I want it gone.
??? Taking an advanced Spanish course so it doesn’t all just slip away.
??? Finally finishing The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, because I’ve started the damn thing 3 times. This is the year.

It’s all achievable I think. I’m not a fan of New Year resolutions, but I think it helps to roughly state what you want to achieve. It’s some form of accountability or something.

And it’s nice to have a whole 12 months stretching in front of me with no international travel. Although, in this job you never know about these things. As much as I LOVE to travel, it will be nice to mark time and consolidate for a while.

Here’s to 2006!

Alchemy

December 28th, 2005

Oh. My. Head.

I think one of the best kinds of happiness is when you feel it because you
see it in the people you love. Happiness and gratitude that they’ve been
where they have, and landed where they are, and found each other. A lot of
the happiness I feel tonight comes from that.

Each day that I was in Wagga I felt I was losing a little more of myself.
The last 2 days I have gained that back, and then some. Amazing friends,
conversation that matters, donkeys, an infinite black sky with a million
stars and 21 year old scotch. The thing that surprises me more and more
about friendship is how remarkable the subtleties are – it’s what you don’t
say, as much as what you do say, that matters.

I really can achieve anything. We all can.

One of my all time favourite quotes is from Brett Whiteley –

‘Everyone reaches a point in their life where they must either change or
cease.’

I first came across that quote in 1994, during Art while I was doing my HSC.
The gravity of it hit me at the time, and I’ve mentally held on to it since
then, perhaps as much because of his (at the time) relatively recent death
as well as how applicable it may or may not have been to my own life. It
has only been the last 12 months though that the true power of those words
have become apparent. It’s funny what ultimately shapes the way you think
and your eventual approach to things.

Today I drove from Cowra to Clarendon. I think I knew somewhere in my mind
Carcoar was around that way, but for some reason it didn’t register when I
knew I would be driving home that direction. As I was driving along I got
this weird sense of deja vu about the landscape. Then, I saw a sign for
Carcoar and it all made sense – Brett Whiteley spent a lot of time in
Carcoar and around Bathurst in I think the early 70′s. Some of his
paintings from that time have for a long time been favourites of mine.
There is just something nice about stumbling across something unexpected
like that – I took time out to look around, to pay attention to the towns
and the landscape and to try and see it through his eyes. It’s probably a
strange thing to say, but I sort of felt privileged to be able to do it, and
lucky that I didn’t miss that opportunity.

Actually, the whole drive was great. Big windmills (of justice) from the
wind farm that again, I think I knew was out that way, but failed to
remember. How can people think they’re ugly? I think they’re amazing.
Also, just driving along in my filthy car with great music and/or the cricket on was the
perfect thing to do this morning.

Reality hit me square in the face this afternoon when I get to the office to
have a client waiting for me in reception (2 hours early?!?). Also, there
was a power cut around 10AM, and after the power came back on they sat
without internet access for 3 HOURS until I got there because they couldn’t
figure out for themselves that perhaps they should CHECK THE MODEM WAS
TURNED ON. Do I really need to write procedure for everything?

Christ.

So tonight my body is wrecked, but my mind is clear as a bell. Sleep. Sleep is good.

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