I turn and burn

January 31st, 2006

I’ve come to the conclusion that the main reason people don’t understand or dismiss the poetry of Sylvia Plath is because they don’t read it aloud. Really, it’s only when you read it as it’s meant to be read that you can see the pure genius in the word use and the stanza structure. My absolute favourite poem of hers to read out loud is Lady Lazarus –

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it.

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
0 my enemy.
Do I terrify?

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,
Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.

It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.
It’s the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

‘A miracle!’
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart—-
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash —
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there—-

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

A poem about suicide and the ghosts of her Jewish childhood. So few words, such amazing impact. The tension she manages to achieve just floors me. The imagery is really quite disturbing, yet, even though it is grotesque in places, it is really quite beautiful. Beautiful grotesque. This poem is like the ultimate of what a wordsmith can achieve, and really, isn’t the ultimate goal when writing to get maximum impact without being verbose?

I think what I identify with in this poem is how terrified she is, yet she is projecting a false bravado. She is verbalising how suicide means she’s strong, and mocking those who question it, yet the fear and terror she feels is palpable. It’s almost like the poem anticipates and manipulates the responses of the person reading it, like she alternately asks for our sympathy and then rebukes us for feeling it.

Anyway, I love it. And I’ve spent tonight reading and pondering Plath instead of reading the 100 + pages of migration notes I need to get out of the way before the course starts on Thursday. God damn!

Still, it’s only 9:30, so I have a good 2 hours before bed to get something done.

I’m gonna fight ‘em all

January 30th, 2006

I just realised how hungry I am and there is seriously no food in the house. I need to stand still for at least 5 minutes and write a grocery list. Actually, I should have done that yesterday instead of A) counting my CDs in the morning and B) laying on the couch and watching the cricket for an hour in the afternoon. Or maybe I should have thought about my stomach when I was driving home from work. Oh well, serves me right I guess.

Today was a bit of a shit fight, and it didn’t help that I felt really tired. My head didn’t wind down until about 3 last night, and it’s only because I slept in yesterday. I’m sure it’s psychosomatic, this whole unable to sleep thing, but I need to find a way to switch it off. To say, ‘hey, I’m a great sleeper!’ and for it to be true. Maybe I need a mantra. Or a clue? :P

So I saw the White Stripes nearly a week ago now, at the Horden Pavilion. It’s unlike me not to gush for pages after seeing a gig as good as that, and I’m not sure what was so different about this one. I think that I had a whole day of other STUFF after it, and it sort of got shelved in my head. So here I am with a step ladder removing it from the shelf.

I pretty much panicked the whole way there because the traffic was fucked. Still, I made it in heaps of time (after a quick change of plans and meeting Hell at the gig) and we got pretty good seats. We got there before the first support started (there were two, which I didn’t realise) – an Australian band called The Situations. I’m really not sure how on earth they landed that gig, unless they found a way to give the promoter head or something. I mean, one of their songs was called Situation Situation. By The Situations. PLEASE. Lyrically crap and just pound pound pound with the electric guitar and drums and they lead singer sort of screaming, rather than singing. The only thing I can think of that might be similar to their stuff is Frenzal Rhomb. On a bad day. Without the funny parts. Aha OH and they finished their set, got a little polite applause, and launched into another track. Ah, guys, I don’t think 10 people clapping constitutes an encore. But that’s just me.

The Greenhornes came on next, and they were actually pretty good. A little Beatles-esque and pretty tight. They had a bit of confidence about them and the lead singer seemed to have a bit of personality. Still, it got a bit samey after the first couple of tracks, and Hellen and I were more interested in talking to each other by the end of their set than listening to the music.

Most of the stage was covered up during the first two bands. There were drapes over what was obviously Megs drum kit and a baby grand. I was a good bit of excited about the gig before I got there, but I got increasingly so as the set was unveiled. When the drapes were taken off the drum kit the growing crowd really began to make some noise. The whole set was in red, black and white – the potted palms at the front of the stage had actually been spray painted white. They had some great canvas back drops behind the instruments on stage and even the instruments were red, black or white.

I had read somewhere that they don’t play to a set list, and that Jack is the one who dictates throughout what the next song would be. I wasn’t sure I should believe that, but it was really evident during the night. He’d whisper something in her ear before the start of some songs, or, he’d announce to the crowd what the song was (like, just before My Doorbell, he said Meg’s going to bring this one in and it’s called My Doorbell so she starts with the boom TISH boom boom TISH). Sometimes she’d sorta have to wing it though and just run with it when he’d already started. She’s not the greatest drummer in the world (although I guess if you’re making art, not music, keeping time is a secondary concern), and she can’t sing for shit, but she kept up with him pretty well and she’s pretty to look at. She can seriously get some noise outta that kit too :)

Jack, though, is an amazingly phenomenal musician. There was a marimba on stage (I found out what this was later), he had 3 (maybe 4?) different guitars, a funky organ and a grand piano. And he played them all, and sometimes two at a time. The intensity of his performance, while he was making the music, was really something. Like he was channelling something else. He didn’t talk a lot, and when he did it was high pitched and really fast like he was really nervous or peaking. When he started playing though it was all about the music.

Just before the last song he broke a string on his electric guitar, and I’m not sure if he meant to do it because he systematically started going to other strings on it and tightening them till they broke. I’m sure the guitar tech was freaking out because when they left the stage, after the last track, we felt like we were clapping and stamping for encore for at least 5 minutes. Good thing the performance was worth it :P I can just imagine how quick that poor tech was restringing the damn thing.

They played a lot from Get Behind Me Satan, which makes sense, a couple from White Blood Cells and a few from Elephant. Some other stuff too that I didn’t pick. I heard he doesn’t often play his covers live, but for encore he did ‘I just don’t know what to do with myself’ which was really, really great. The whole crowd sang for that one. And of course encore also had Seven Nation Army and Blue Orchid.

And he played Forever For Her (is over for me). If I could kiss him thanks then I would, because it made my night.

So yeah it was great great great. Part rock, part hillbilly, part performance art, part theatre, and a lot of cabaret. Like nothing I’ve ever seen.

Australia Day for me was interesting. We went to breakfast in the morning (mmm, omelette) and then I caught the bus to Darling Harbour, where I was meeting the boat. OH MY GOD the people. I don’t really ‘do’ crowds at the best of times, but combine many tourists + misguided patriotic Australians brandishing flags + street performers + security staff + general workers and you get a mind blowing, headache inducing chaos.

I found the boat, and I was the first one there (which felt a little strange). It was nice just waiting and people watching – I think, in a crowd of people like that, so long as they were leaving me alone and I wasn’t navigating my way through them, I could do that for hours. Anyway the rest of them finally arrived and we set off. It was nice actually, being on the water, even though it was really tough getting some space to myself. And people don’t seem to understand that, and constantly ask you to the point of driving you nuts if you’re okay or upset. No, I’m fine really, I’m just enjoying sitting on my own here looking over the water. PLEASE LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE. Ahem.

This week promises to be manic, because I have a course in the city for 3 days and then CRICKET on Sunday. I’m looking forward to the cricket, but the course can bite my ass. Ugh.

Everyone deserves music

January 29th, 2006

A memory came to me last night while I was sleeping. Actually, it didn’t come to me directly, but something about what I dreamt (which is a whole other story containing doors that lead nowhere in ancient mansions, university campuses and Hellens weak bladder) kick started the memory, and I woke up with it forefront in my mind.

I always thought my first music memory was The Beatles – me at age 5 listening to Sergeant Peppers with headphones on in the lounge room of the old house in Coleman Street. Sitting there cross-legged, picking at the threadbare, fraying carpet while I immersed myself into Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Turns out it might not be the earliest, although I think this new memory might be around the same timeframe. I can’t be sure.

I had possibly the best kindergarten teacher ever. Her name was Mrs Tutty (could there BE a better name for a kindergarten teacher?) and she was motherly, creative and patient and had a pink, frilled umbrella with polka dots. Actually, all four of us had her in kindergarten, and amazingly enough Mum bumped into her a few months ago in Wagga and she remembered every one of our names.

Anyway, she knew how to play the piano and one or two days a week we would have music afternoons where she would play for us and we would sing. One afternoon though, instead of playing the piano, she bought in a record from home. It was the soundtrack to the musical Peter and the Wolf.

Before she put the record on for us, she told us the story of a boy who was chased through the woods by a wolf. She didn’t just tell it though, she put us there. She told us how the wolf was chasing the boy because he had saved a duck from being eaten and he wanted revenge. The boy was chased through a dark, dark wood and had to make it through the wood to the other side and to his grandfather’s house, which meant safety. Part of the way into the wood the wolf caught hold of the boy, and for a second everything seemed doomed. But then, he managed to get away and eventually made it to the other side.

Then she put the record on. It was amazing – the story became the music and the music became the story. The impending dread of the creepy woodwind at the beginning, when the boy saved the duck, then the frantic, increasingly fast bah bah bah of the strings for when the wolf was chasing the boy through the wood. Then, a massive crescendo of symbols and brass when the wolf catches hold of the boy, and then more crazy bah bah bah strings when he runs again. Then, the glorious happiness of the full orchestra when the boy makes it to the other side and the safety of his grand father.

I was so affected by it, and actually quite terrified while I was listening to the boy running through the wood away from that wolf. And I wasn’t the only one – I remember the whole class being speechless at the end.

I want to forever thank her for giving me that experience. For helping me realise that music was more than a bass beat and a catchy melody. It evokes emotion and it tells a story, and it means something different to every person listening to it. I feel so bad for people who don’t get that, and it makes me more and more frustrated about the homogenisation of the music industry and shows like Australian Idol that just exacerbate the ignorance. But that’s another rant for another night I think.

And tomorrow night I will post about Jack and Meg and my Australia Day. Writing it here might ensure it will happen.

Ah…

January 27th, 2006

hi.

Oh well, then do the twist

January 24th, 2006

Things to be happy about tonight –

1) Rain, rain, rain. The temperature is bearable for the first time in days.
2) Jack and Meg White. Tomorrow night. Horden Pavilion. I MIGHT DIE.
3) My clothesline being free of someone else’s clothes. Conversely, please refer to point 1. Fuckers!
4) Tickets to see the Mountain Goats at the Annandale on April 19. I’m not sure how I will last that long without bursting.
5) Tara coming home. And me being confident of that.
6) Mum phoning tonight sounding happy and excited for the first time in months because Untouchable Face was being played on Triple J. ‘I just had to pull over and phone you because I know how much you love this song and I have never heard it on the radio before and they hardly ever play Ani and I knew you were the only other person who would understand!@^!’. Turns out eliminating full stops from sentences when you’re excited is genetic, because I’m a shocker for doing that.
7) Blistex watermelon lip balm. It tastes like heaven might, if there were such a place.

Okay so I just spent the last few minutes laughing uncontrollably. It’s probably over tiredness, but the ridiculousness of pegging my clothes out on the line in the rain sort of struck me while I was doing it.

And I’ve found reading migration regs is a sure-fire way to put yourself to sleep. It really works, until about 45 minutes in when you (well I) wake up with the usual panic slash anxiety slash yuckiness. It’s getting better though – last night I got about 5 hours solid sleep I reckon.

I’m kind of dreading Thursday. The boat on the harbour was a nice idea, but really I just want to sit with Hellen and Tony at the Sandringham Hotel listening to the Hottest 100. In the aircon, with alcomahol etc. Oh well, I’m sure it will be nice.

And besides, if anyone gets too annoying I will just push them off the boat.

Well I want a better place or just a better way to fall

January 23rd, 2006

Dear Neighbours,

There are certain advantages to living where we do. The frogs we have in the garden, the peace and quiet, the inexpensive rent, the view and the really nice landlord.

Seriously though, I’m beginning to weigh up if it’s all worth it.

I try to be a good neighbour, I really do. Last night when I was playing Audioslave it was no where near loud enough to do it justice, but because you were all likely sleeping I thought I should keep it down. Also, guy from number 3 who’s lady friend keeps parking in my spot – I just ignore that when it happens, and I park in the guest spot because really it’s too petty to bother with. Also, when I had to replace my pegs three times because they went missing off the line, I did it without creating, and now to avoid the problem I take them in the house when I’m done with them. I do my vacuuming before 8PM, even though late at night is usually when I get motivated to clean.

There is one thing that really makes me ark up though. One thing that really REALLY ticks me off and makes me want to crank RATM at 3AM. And that is when people use my clothesline.

C’mon people, we have one each. Actually, we also have 2 really big communal ones, if you’re into that sort of thing. WHY pick on mine? Why put your enormous man underpants and work shirts on my tiny clothes line? I’m a busy girl, I have limited windows for things like washing and, well, sleep. I left my friends place earlier than I wanted to yesterday to do my washing – to get it out of the way before this week started. I get home and my line is full of your stuff. Not only that, it was there all Sunday, there this morning when I got up, AND STILL THERE NOW. You think I enjoy using the communal clothesline? Really not.

But I’m on to you. I think I know who you are. And one night while you’re sleeping I’m going to peg every towel I own on your clothes line AND mine leave them there for a week. See what you’ve done? See how petty and vindictive I’ve become?

So please whoever you are (guy in number 2 I WOULD WATCH YOUR BACK), before this gets out of hand, restrict your clothes pegging to your own line. For everyone’s sake.

Fuck you very much,

Karen from number 10.

Sunday

January 22nd, 2006

Big weekend full of music, vodka, movies, a whole lot of lesbians, and meeting new people. But it was just what I needed.

Last week was just shitty. Work was horrible, I wasn’t sleeping at all, and my mind was a mess. It’s hard to get any clarity at all in your mind when you’re running on an average of about 2 hours sleep and every time you turn around someone is asking something else of you. My weekend, though, was surrounded by people and places and it was a lot of fun.

Friday night was interesting. It started out innocently enough, seeing a movie with Brenda for her birthday. After the movie about 6 of us from the office (sans Brenda) kicked on for a drink. When we got there, and sat down, I saw her right away. She was quite a distance away, and had her back to me, but I don’t think it would have mattered if it were near dark or she was at the opposite end of the pub – I still would have seen her. And it was bizarre, because had you asked me 15 minutes beforehand how I would react when seeing her I would have shrugged and gone ‘meh’. But my heart near stopped and I became really awkward and I wasn’t quite sure what to do. Particularly as some scouting on my part found out that she was there with Emma. So I did the only thing I COULD do really – I went over and said hi.

And it was fine. I coped, and she seemed really excited to see me. I was surprised how much, actually, because the last couple of weeks I wasn’t sure if it was me avoiding her or her avoiding me. Turns out, from some of the comments she made, it was the former. We spoke for about 45 minutes, just about Peru and how things had been since she had been back, then Emma came over looking really dirty (completely ignoring me) and she went back to their table.

She came back over to our table around 30 minutes later, and stayed chatting for about an hour. Emma by this stage looked really unhappy, and to be honest I’m not sure I blame her. We were having the sort of conversation you can only have with someone you’ve travelled in a third world country with, and it was a little hard for her to join in. So when she came and sat down with us things got really awkward and quiet.

But ultimately it was good. I came away from the whole thing feeling really grown up and like I coped with it okay. I think seeing her again, in that situation, was a good thing – no one on one pressure for either of us. And we both came out relatively unscathed. Moving right along and alla that.

Saturday was fun. I don’t think I’ve seen, ever, so many lesbians concentrated in the one area. Suz looked like she was having fun, and apart from 2 or 3 times when I wanted to punch Wendy (I mean, fuck, insecure much?!), it was good. I met new people and had conversations about James Joyce, TS Elliot, Marxism and Salman Rushdie. They were a really good group of people and I really enjoyed talking to them.

Today was late awake, breakfast at Caf?? C (BACON!@%!), home to washing and sleeping on the couch, and getting increasingly depressed at the state of our cricket team. With any luck they’ll actually PLAY on the 5th and not just fold like big Nancy boys.

Spending time with Hellen and Tony is always good for my head. I see what they’re going through right now, and the strength people find through things like this is amazing. The bigger the setback, the more strength you gain from it, and they will be strength personified when they make it to the end :)

There’s more. More than just step by step narrative of my weekend. But it’s having trouble coming, and I actually feel tired. I figure I should go with the tired and try for sleep – gift horses and alla that.

And I need to find a way to be two people this week. I think it’s the only way I’m going to get everything done.

Let’s all hold hands and pretend we’re having a good time

January 18th, 2006

So I bought Takk by Sigur R??s on the weekend. It was a punt, based solely on recommendations from LastFM and the absolute raves the album has been getting Triple J and every single music website I read. It’s a little intimidating, getting an album like that. There has been this huge build up to listening to the damn thing, and now I’m almost nervous.

Actually, I wasn’t planning to buy it on Sunday, but there was a special edition there for $20 – I mean, how is a girl supposed to resist that!? (And for the record, the album artwork is worth the purchase alone). When I took it up to the counter though, the guy serving me got really excited and said are you seeing them at the Enmore? I said no, tickets were already sold out when I checked, and I hadn’t really heard anything off the album yet apart from Hoppipolla. That’s when he started almost leaping over the counter telling me that the album had changed his life, and that he has tickets to the show at the Enmore and he was going to line up all day to make sure he got right in front. He also told me to listen to it stoned, if I was into that sort of thing. Aha!

Anyway, now because of all of that I’m going to have to put it away a while I think. And I think when I DO get it out, I’m going to have to load it on my iPod and hear it first through headphones.

OH the anticipation ;)

I would write about how shitty work was today, but NO, because my category count for work is getting dangerous. This is why categories suck – you can see how boring you really are.

I’m feeling all quagmirey tonight. I love the word quagmire. So, let’s make a list of things to be happy about –

??? Brenda is away for the rest of the week.
??? Wilco.
??? The White Stripes on January 25 (please Jack, don’t talk between now and then, I really need you to sing for me THANKS).
??? Impending thunderstorms over the mountains tonight.
??? My flu finally fucking off and my nose not running for the first time in almost 2 weeks.
??? My Audioslave DVD (and Chris Cornell’s eyes – OH. MY. GOD.)
??? News of a possible impending album release for Ani DiFranco in March this year (I’m resisting hyperventilation until at least February). I’ve been so GOOD this time around, and I’ve not downloaded any bootlegs of the new songs (because last time it kinda ruined the new album for me). Please hurry though Ani because I don’t know how strong my resolve really is.
??? A night cool enough for my doona.
??? Bright green frogs that live in the pot plant outside my front door. Noisy, yes. Cute, YES.
??? Vegemite on toast. It’s the food of champions.
??? The thought of the first really close tri-series in a lot of years – with Sri Lanka beating South Africa tonight, it’s all been thrown wide open.

Work your way out

January 16th, 2006

I wish I was a little less all-or-nothing. I need to work on my apathy, or at least find a happy medium between obsessive and ambivalent.

How many times undone
can one person be?
As they’re careening through the facade
of their favourite fantasy.
You just close your eyes slowly,
like you’re waiting for a kiss,
and hope some lowly little power
will pull you out of this.
None comes at first,
and little comes at all.
When inspiration finally hits you
it barely even breaks your fall.

I love 14 hour days. SO MUCH. And even better than that, I get to go back to work in 7 hours and do it all over again! WHEE!

Man will I be glad when this week is over.

Walk along to another day

January 16th, 2006

Sunday night. I always feel contemplative on a Sunday.

Tonight I have a feeling of wasted opportunity and an impending sense of dread because of work tomorrow. We have a very big week this week – important visitors from Ukraine and Racing Victoria, new staff fitting in that need training, Brenda being back in the office and her usual demanding self, and about 2732 hours of migration work that needs to be done. I’ll get there, because I always do, but the idea of it makes me weary.

Australia lost the cricket tonight too, so that sucks. Still, it was a really close game, and the last 20 overs were a lot of fun to watch. It bodes well for the 5th of next month. Watching live cricket at the SCG is one of my favourite things to do.

I woke up this morning with a list of options for the day. In the end I sat on the couch for about 2 hours, listening to Jeff Buckley, and from there I couldn’t work myself up to do anything. So, instead of going driving like I had sort of planned, I went to Castle Hill and bought some goldfish. I now have 3 new additions to the family and some company for Osama.

And tonight I had a phone call from John. When he emailed me this week asking if he could call, I was kinda dreading it. Not because I didn’t want to speak to him, but more because I was worried about his motivation for calling. We were emailing pretty regularly, until about 3 weeks ago, and then it all petered out. And to be honest, I was really okay with that. Part of me thought he was only keeping in touch out of some sense of obligation and feeling the need to be polite. Anyway, an email Thursday (I think Thursday) out of the blue asking if he could call.

And in the end it was fine. There was no talk of my feelings about him or what happened or any crap like that – the things I was worried about. It was more just catching up and him asking me how I was and saying let’s keep in touch. He said he missed talking to me and the sort of conversation we had – I think he’s lonely. I really wish good things for him – he’s such a lovely guy and a rare gentleman.

An ant just crawled out of my CD drive. That can’t be good.

I have so much in my head right now, but no words for it. I had the same problem last night. I had a Word document open for about 3 hours, but nothing. And I really feel like I should be writing about it, because the one thing I’ve realised since I’ve had this thing up is that it genuinely helps. But with all this stuff in my head I really haven’t the faintest idea where to start. It’s about letting go of the past, and looking toward the future, but about being brave enough to do that. And I’m not talking about work, but more about relationships and people. Finding a way to heal some scars and not be so scared. And realising it’s not always about me.

It’s also about doing something with this clarification I’m getting every day. Stuff is coming to me during the day and during my sleep – memories of different things that happened in the past, and also different ways of seeing things that have been bothering me for a long time. I’m sure it’s all working up to something; I just have no idea what. Right now it’s this huge amalgamation of thought and feeling – until I sort through it and figure out what’s what, I can’t write about it.

Aha, wow, that made no sense at all.

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