• NE Victoria is beautiful, even with fog and rain and crappy drivers that nearly make you collect guide posts.

  • The best lolly shop in the country might be in Beechworth.

  • Nothing goes together quite like bacon, onions and potatoes.

  • The more I put off this email to my boss the worse it’s going to be. Get around to it already!

  • Little brothers can be wiser than you think.

  • I’m thinking about South America again. And Ecuador. Discussing my trip with people this week has fired it up again, and the plans I had to travel to Ecuador again might be worth considering. At some point. In the future.

  • Why can I not get into John Vanderslice? Perhaps I just haven’t listened to him at the right time, or in the right mood. Perhaps I’m just never going to ‘get’ it, and I might become the only Mountain Goats fan in the world who doesn’t like both.

  • Look out Melbourne here I come.

On the road again

Two days of being at home is definitely enough. I think it was at about 3:30PM this afternoon, when I was sitting on the couch, twitching, watching Play School that I figured I wasn’t cut out for a life of unemployment. The time was good, though. My head feels freer than it has in months.

It’s nice, too, that I’m missed at work. As much as I know how much I do at that place it’s good to know it’s not all in my head. It seems a lot of what I’ve been trying to achieve the last few months is making myself more obsolete – i.e. trying to get people to work for themselves and think outside the square. It’s reassuring that regardless of any of that what I offer to the place is necessary.

It’s weird to be going away and not be rushing. I’m pretty much good to go, and all I have to do is put clothes on in the morning and load the car. It feels nice, but a little odd to be this organised.

Today I had time to do things I haven’t had a chance to do for a long time. There’s something very good about spending nearly an hour in the shower and coming out scrubbed and washed and exfoliated and moisturised. I smell like citrus right now, and it’s heavenly. I desperately need a haircut though. I started drawing again, not anything in particular, just my guitar and my hands and things about the house. It takes some time for it to just come again. Turns out all I needed was headspace for the motivation to come, because I was genuinely excited about it. I’m keen to see what canvases Nathan has for me in Wangaratta, and I’m trying to figure out how I can permanently set up my easel here without selling my bed or my couch.

I’ve been reading tonight about studio lighting. The light in my bedroom, or anywhere else I have where I can paint right now, is really crappy. I need to find a portable light source that doesn’t fuck around with the colour of the paint pigment after dark. The colour of paint can change so much between day light and artificial light, and I will really only get time in the evenings. I know what sort of light I need, but getting it portable will be interesting.

I’m faced as well with little to no internet access for the next week. I’m not sure how I feel about that, because my nightly ‘read about pointless things and write about how boring my life is’ ritual is kinda comforting. Oh well, pitching yourself outside of comforting rituals is what life is all about really. Right?

I am really, really excited about Melbourne too. Nathan is coming with me, so the 2 days promise to be full of all sorts of fun and debauchery. He will most certainly not dig the gallery, but that’s okay. It’s great to share something like that with a likeminded person, but I’m equally happy to do it on my own.

Ack! My fish. God damn. I’m probably going to have to get Alan to come over and feed them while I’m gone. I guess I could ask Steve next door, but I’m not sure how I feel about him being in my house. I probably should give him more notice than a few hours, too 😉

6 hours of music in the car tomorrow, and I plan to stop at Berrima just because I have never been there before. Sounds to me like great gobs of fun.

Speaking in sad and mournful tones

I actually had a whole other thing written about facing the fear of your past and finding a way to control your future, but then I was sitting here listening to a mix CD and ‘Forget Her’ by Jeff Buckley came on. For some reason this song always makes me well up, and it’s a lot of the reason I love the album Grace.

It got me thinking about songs that drag that sort of emotion out in me no matter how many times I listen to them. There are a lot of them, because when it comes to music I get a bit OTT, but tonight that Buckley song got me thinking about a few. There is no way I could put these back to back on a mix CD – I’d end up in a messy puddle on the floor, unable to function for a day at least.

There are a lot of DiFranco songs that can put me flat on my back. School Night is written with such stark imagery it’s difficult to not get caught up, and it is honestly (even if you were completely unbiased) lyrically one of the best songs EVER. Ever ever.

She’s choking on the smoke of unthinkable choices
She’s haunted by the voices of so many desires
She’s bent over from the business
Of begging forgiveness
While frantically running ’round, putting out fires

But then
What kind of scale compares the weight of two beauties?
The gravity of duties, or the groundspeed of joy?
Tell me what kind of gauge can quantify elation?
What kind of equation could I possibly employ?

Holy moly. Another one is Providence. The album To The Teeth is not my favourite DiFranco album by any stretch, but the two songs on the album that I really dig would probably make my DiFranco top 10 (the other being Swing). Providence is so bittersweet, and it’s about being in a situation where you know what you need to do to make the right decision, and yet you know you’ll do the dumb thing. It’s about hindsight and your heart leading your head.

It’s a narrow margin
Just room enough for regret
In the inch and a half between
‘Hey, how ya been?’
‘Can I kiss you yet?’
So we talk like nervous neighbours
Over a tall fence
True love
But for the lack of

There are a lot of songs about love gone wrong, and trying to fight for and persist with something that is doomed to failure, that make me feel wretched inside. The Mess Inside by the Mountain Goats is one of those songs.

We went down to New Orleans
One weekend in the spring
Looked hard for what we’d lost
It was painful to admit it, but we couldn’t find a thing

I wanted you
To love me like you used to do

Lyrics are usually the biggest part of music for me, but occasionally there is a track that based on music and melody alone will tear me up on the inside. Oh Comely by Neutral Milk Hotel is like that, and also Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. When I was 16 (or maybe 17) I was asked by a family who lived out at The Rock to house/property sit for them while they went away. Their property backed right up to the Rock itself, and was located on around 100 acres. There was literally nothing for miles around – just me, around 20 horses, 2 dogs and 2 pigs on this great big rambling property. It was a little unnerving at times, but most of the time it fully kicked ass. I took my horse up there and spent hours riding around the scrub and exploring the caves up the mountain.

Anyway, I digress.

I took my stereo up there as well (because the idea of spending almost 2 weeks without music was inconceivable) and at the time I’d just bought by first classical music CD. I played the Moonlight Sonata on repeat for nearly that entire two weeks – it made me feel dark and hollow on the inside, but it was that delicious introspective melancholy that can be so good when you’re on your own.

What Sarah Said by Death Cab for Cutie is a fairly straight up narrative about a friend meeting death and a hospital waiting room. It’s the punch line of the song though, that gets me every time, and I think it’s because I heard it first when I was swimming through the quagmire of Nan dying and helping Mum deal with that.

I’m thinking of what Sarah said???
Love is watching someone die.
Who’s gonna watch you die?

I’ve done more thinking about that song and those lyrics than is probably healthy.

Tiny Dancer by Elton John, Hurt by Nine Inch Nails, Forever for Her (is over for me) by the White Stripes, The Good Times are Killing Me by Modest Mouse, Anna Begins by Counting Crows, If You Really Want So Little From Me by Love Outside Andromeda, So Cruel by U2, Not the Girl You Think You Are by Crowded House – the list goes on and on and on.

And on.

But really, even though I don’t have to go to work tomorrow, I should really go to bed. I think I was born to be nocturnal.

Full of clean wind

And there’s wet wool blankets
One, two, three
Laid on to my chest
Till I just can’t breathe

Ani DiFranco – Heartbreak

Even I did something a little out of character today – I’ve been economising. With my time, mainly. I have a habit of spreading myself too thin, but I spent the morning phoning people cancelling things so I can spend all day at home tomorrow doing sweet FA. Also, I’m now going to Wagga on Thursday, not tomorrow afternoon. Those small things seem to have lifted those wet wool blankets from my chest and it’s like I can breathe again.

I figure, too, I should take the break while I can. In the last few weeks I’ve started Spanish again, committed to a fair bit of travel for work (including Gold Coast in September and Melbourne in November), I have been going to a guitar lesson every Tuesday night for the last few months, and recently I enrolled to do a diploma in Workplace Assessment and Training. Nuts.

I might need to get a Filofax or something.

A heavy sack of flour, sifted

I tell ya what, I am all kinds of glad I don’t have to look at that office for almost 2 weeks. It just seemed to drag on and on and on. First I wanted to get away on Friday afternoon, then that didn’t happen. Then I thought perhaps I could put 8 hours in on Sunday and that would be enough. Then I thought I’d go in for an hour or so today to make sure all the loose ends were tied up. 4 hours later I walk away, and still I know there’s shit there I should have taken care of.

Let it go Karen.

Tomorrow I have every intention of spending all day in my pyjamas watching High Fidelity eating marshmallows cleaning the house and packing to go away.

Tonight I had my first Spanish lesson for my intermediate course. It was equal amounts of fun and terrifying. Because I did my first two courses with a different college, and all these people have spent the last 6 months in the same class, I was walking into a situation where everyone already knew each other. They were making references to mystery text books and talking about things like ‘we covered this last term’. She asked what I’d covered with the other college, and I told her, and she went ‘ah, just try and keep up, okay?’ which scared me to death. As soon as we launched into it though I felt better right away. I think I’m behind where they are on verb tables and general grammar (they obviously spent a lot of time on that last semester) but I have a lot more vocab than they do. I’m sure this is mainly due to my time in South America. Anyway, I will swot up on verb tables this week and hopefully will be all over that shizzat by the time I come back from my break.

The weirdness from the weekend is still hovering. I’ve been here typing away for the last hour trying to articulate exactly where it’s stemming from, but even after maybe 2 pages of words and one very convoluted conversation with someone on MSN, I got nothing. What I’m coming to realise though is that the way I see and translate the world is directly related to the way I feel about myself. I think I’ve known this for a while, but sometimes shit like that just hits you up the side of the head, you know? Generally when I’m struggling to cope with things is when I’m having issues with myself, my lack of self-discipline or my level of self-confidence.

On one level I genuinely like the person that I am. On another level I have nothing but self-loathing for the person that I’ve become. There is very little middle ground when it comes to being Me. I should probably work on that.

On something completely unrelated, I really don’t get the MySpace thing. Like, not at all. Most bands have one, but they really don’t have any sort of information. Band official sites are much better for tour dates and you just cannot beat Wikipedia for information. The one thing MySpace IS good for – if someone wants to check out the music for a band you won’t stop crapping on about, generally they stream 2 or three tracks from their MySpace page. So there you go, not useless. Almost though.

Whenever my tired head hits the pillow

I’m not sure I can remember when I was last this tired. My eyes are doing funky things – it alternates between being fuzzy to being blurry to being just too bright in here. And I have nothing but the lamp on.

I’m sure a solid 8 hours of keeping them closed will sort that out.

I think Eels fans might be the suckiest fans that ever sucked. Friday night was actually one of the worst gigs I’ve been to, and it had everything to do with the crowd. There were too many people in the venue, no way for them to effectively move about, and there was a real feeling of agro throughout the whole crowd. Fights broke out, at least 3 girls were carried out after passing out (for whatever reason) and there were a lot of obnoxious drunk people. I had thought Eels fans would be more sophisticated than that. Turns out not so much.

The band, though, were good. I wouldn’t say great, because the way they played the songs made them all a little samey, and the sound quality wasn’t great. Still, they seemed to be into it and they rocked out pretty hard. Finishing with I Like Birds was pretty great and they played Rags to Rags.

The weekend was strange. I will write about it, because there is a fuck load in my head right now, but I can’t tonight. Mind = fog. I have just enough energy to read people arguing on online music forums and talking online. I’m wilting though.

Bed now.

Happily ever after?

So, I’m informed ‘Every Rose has its Thorn’ is sung by Poison, not Guns N Roses. Whatever – it’s still highly unlikely it’ll be busted out in the middle of a pantomime in Wentworthville sung by a guy in a dog suit.

Probably the weirdest night I’ve had in a long time.

And, even though I’m still waiting (somewhat apprehensively) for that first wish, I’m feeling good about that star tonight.

Panic! At the office

I was woken this morning by a tractor ripping up the front lawn at about 6AM. That meant I was at work by 7:30 as planned and had tackled around 25 emails by 8:30. I was feeling pretty good about the day. I checked the bosses email while I had her on the phone and there was something there from the big man at the EFA – an invite to a skills shortages conference in the city TODAY. I knew, when I saw that email, I should just not say anything. I’m thinking to myself ‘Karen, just keep your mouth shut’. Even as I was thinking that, I heard it coming out of my mouth –

‘There’s an email here regarding???’
‘Well, one of us has to go.’
‘Well, it’s not going to ME. I have 3 weeks work to fit into 3 days, there’s a problem right now between two of the staff that I really have to sort out today, and I have a meeting 2PM.’
‘Well, I’m in Melbourne.’
‘It can’t be me. I have too much to do.’
‘It has to be you.’
‘Please don’t ask me to do this today.’
‘Well, I’m not really asking you.’

Cue messy combination of anger and resignation. Also cue a crazy 10 minutes of me running around the office shouting random stuff like ‘when such and such calls tell them blah’ and ‘can you call so and so and tell them I’ll get back to them tomorrow’. Also awesome about spending an unexpected day away from the office is your inbox going from a hard earned 72 up to 136.

The rising sense of panic I managed to quell between the hours of 7:30 and 8:30 this morning has returned with the full force of a boulder to the gut. Tomorrow is another early start, and with any luck that means some amount of calm. At least, an end to the panic. That would be nice.

Thinking outrageously

ARGH. There is nothing else to say. For some reason today I was just gnashing my teeth from beginning to end. It might have something to do with the interruptions I was getting, every 3 seconds, that were stopping me getting anything done. ALL I WANT is perhaps an hour of uninterrupted time to get some shit sorted.

I think, once I have posted this, I am going to bed. Then, I am going to get into work at 7:30AM tomorrow morning and get shit done. Plan!!

I have this feeling of gutted disappointment in myself right now. Why? I have no idea. Well, I might have part of an idea, but I know that’s not all it. Also, I know I’m not coping as well as I could be at work, and I know that if I stopped trying to ‘patch’ things there rather than getting down to the nitty gritty of problems, long term it would work out better. If I were not going on leave in 3 MF DAYS that would be an option.

I just feel like I’m scrabbling and not getting purchase. I guess that’s what leave is for, right?