The day before Friday

Bad = Dine discontinuing the only kind of cat food that your bratty cat likes to eat. Little dude is just going to have to suck it up and eat whatever other stuff I can find that resembles it. He doesn’t like anything that has chunks and/or gravy. He likes his meat all meatloaf-like. God damn it.

I would really love to find a way to buy extra hours in your day. Or trade or barter for more time. I’d easily trade these strawberries I have here, or some old LOOK magazines for an extra hour tonight. I’ve only just now sat down to really spend some time listening to music and what not, and it’s already past 11. I want to finish listening to this Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy album, and I want to iron my clothes for tomorrow, and I want to make sure I have stuff together for the weekend, and I want to watch the rest of Antiques Roadshow.

Really, though, I should go to bed. I’m feelin’ a bit scratchy tonight and I know I need sleep.

I cannot form words around my relief about the fact that tomorrow is Friday. This week has been insane at work, for a number of reasons, and it only promises to get worse. Workload wise that is. How can it be so hard to find a good admin person? It seems that cheerfulness and competence don’t exist in the same person at that level. You get one or the other.

I’m SO not sleepy. And now it’s almost midnight (and no, my typing speed isn’t that slow. I got distracted). But I ought to sleep.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Mountain Goats gushing alert

At times I can be less then patient. I tend to want to rush to the end of things, and although I’m getting better in that regard, there are definitely still things in my life that I really want NOW. But I can wait. Not indefinitely, but for this moment.

One of these things I’m increasingly impatient for is a Mountain Goats tour. The reason I have, until now, been patient for this is the extenuating circumstances – JD has had his own issues of the health kind, and I’m not one to whinge and moan in this situation. STILL, even given that, I’ve been ever so patient. Really. I got over the whole tour cancellation on my birthday weekend by barely throwing my toys out of the pram, and I’ve patiently (and I would even say LESS then obsessively) been checking the forums for news of the antipodean kind. But nothing.

So I wait.

In the meantime, the fabulous people over at have bought us 4 songs from Mr Darnielle in a Daytrotter session for the ages. Well, for my ages. Or something. There is an unreleased song there that is so sweet it’ll make your teeth hurt, and the more upbeat version of There Will Be No Divorce lifted my heart and my shoulders tonight like the whole crappy day hadn’t happened. This song from The Coroners Gambit is easily in my Mountain Goats top 20 (which is quite a thing, really) and I love the way he plays this – the way he belts out that last chorus made my face crack involuntarily into a smile.

But don’t just download the songs – read the writing. I love to read what song writers have to say about their writing process, and given the personal and confronting and painful lyrics of Darnielle, I particularly love to hear what he has to say about his words. He is my favourite lyricist ever. FACT.

The article by Sean Moeller is also well written. I particularly love his dissection of Darnielle’s characters, because this truly is the strength of this writing.

The characters are at their wits ends, they are screaming at the top of their lungs, they are tearing their hair out, they are dismayed by words and actions, they are without options – or so they believe. They are thinking out loud, just letting the pent up storm clouds build and bulk into menacing thunderheads, opening the dams so the blackened hearts can spill out like ticker tape. These people that Darnielle has created are burning.


Dark matter

This post has been building up for almost a week now. I was avoiding it altogether – this is not one of those blogs that pitches for controversy. The second you weigh into this kind of debate publicly, not knowing your audience, the second you open yourself up to the flaming. But oh well. I think it’s an important debate to have.

I have been familiar with the art of Bill Henson for a little while now. I remember seeing one of this photographs at a gallery in Surry Hills when I first moved to Sydney (a crowd scene), and the image stayed with me for some time. When the Art Gallery of NSW did a (large) retrospective of his work in 2005 I went not only to the exhibition, but to a viewing of a film about his work and his creative process.

If only the greater public could have seen this film.

I was captivated by the exhibition. I was also a little disturbed by it but here’s the thing – not at ALL in a sexual way. Not in the way the world is spinning themselves crazy about this right now. The unease I felt came from the tension in the photographs – from the lighting and the landscape and the sense of doom about the images. ALL the images – the ones containing portraits of people and adolescents, and the ones that didn’t. His Paris Opera series left me breathless and his landscape photographs left you feeling a little off-centre, like the wind could whip you off your feet at any moment.

I’ve listened to and read nearly every face of this argument from the time the lid blew open on Thursday last week. While I have strong opinions on the issue, my head is also in a massive state of confusion.

First, Henson has been taking photographs of adolescents in various states (clothed or otherwise) for several years now. I have a hardcover copy of his (beautiful) book Mnemosyne – we were looking at it on the weekend and some of those images are decades old. The issue here is the sexualisation of children – but who is seeing and crying out about the sexuality in these images? Not the art world of Sydney, Australia or the rest of the world. Not the thousands of people who have seen every one of his works hanging in numerous galleries all over the world prior to last week. Not the models or the parents of the models that gave their children permission to pose. Heck, not even Cate Blanchett, a mother herself, who has come out in support of Henson this week. It is the people making the complaints that are sexualising these children. It’s a tragedy I think that we can’t look at a naked body, of any age, without automatically jumping to that conclusion. By crowing about the innocence of this girl being lost, you’re effectively stripping this model and this art of any innocence it had.

Second, the International art world is looking at us now, whether we like it or not. They are closely monitoring our reaction to this, and to the way we’re dealing with it. They’re watching our debate about censoring art and they’re scratching their heads no doubt, thinking that perhaps they were mistaken about us being more culturally mature then this.

Third, the black and white nature of this argument seems clumsy and ill informed to me. That the sexualisation of children is a heinous and inexcusable crime? Absolutely. That the naked body of a person under the age of 18 MUST be sexual? Absolutely not. Why so black and white? You could go on forever with this stuff, like the tube tops and hot pants being sold for 8 year olds in department stores. Or make up for little girls, with cherry flavoured lipstick and glitter purple eye shadow. Emanating their mothers, or the sexualisation of children? More socially acceptable but I’m confused as to why.

This article by John McDonald for the Sydney Morning Herald is well-written and articulates much more eloquently (and succinctly) what I’m trying for here.

I think there were some mistakes made though. The gallery should really look at their marketing of this exhibition – to put THAT photograph on the front of the invitation to the opening, cropped in that context, was asking for this sort of attention. I’m sure they were initially courting the hoohar, but I wonder if they realised the impact that particular image would have.

Also, for whatever reason, these photographs (at least, the ones I’ve seen), ARE a little different. Each Henson shot of a waif-like adolescent I’ve seen previous to this exhibition has been in some sort of context – either situated in an apocalyptic landscape or in amongst smashed car bodies or on the edge of a cliff in front of a glimmering horizon. For these photographs, for reasons only known to the artist, he’s stripped all the background and landscape away. The figures stand alone, beautifully lit, maintaining all the tension of the previous images, but without any sort of context at all. It makes it harder to explain. And right now the poor bastard is in the position of having to explain himself.

The media in all this has a lot to answer for. You slap the words ‘child’ and ‘pornography’ in the same headline and you’re bound to get hits and sell newspapers. And the general public seems to have been whipped up in the hysteria. The shame of it all is that if the girl in the images in question didn’t feel violated beforehand, I’m certain she does now. And I think the irony of that will be lost on most people.

Art is why I get up in the morning

After a week that pitched and heaved from beginning to end I’ve settled on this here Sunday in the possession of a nourished mind, a sense of dread about the oncoming week, a full heart and a diabolical headache.

It was one of those weeks where the world refused to stay upright. Where people didn’t fall in, where plans unraveled, and where more often then not I found myself metaphorically ass up, not knowing my hands from my feet. I don’t actually mind feeling that way every so often. Sometimes it’s good to get a bit dizzy and discombobulated – it helps put everything else into perspective. I’m at the point tonight, though, where I want to be turned up the right way, because the blood is rushing to my head and the nausea is getting a little old.

I remember sitting with a very pregnant Hellen some time late last year, ruminating about 2007 and how much had happened to both of us. We both agreed, however, that 2008 was going to be serious humdinger. I don’t know why, but we both knew without doubt that there would be changes this year unlike either of us had ever experienced.

And it’s only May. Hey 2008 – ease up a little buddy, there’s like 6 good months of the year left. Don’t spend it all at once.

The only thing that got me through this week was art. Well, the pursuit of it, and the discussion of it, and the experience of it. Hearing Jeanette Winterson speak about the essential nature of art in our lives on Tuesday last week was honestly soul food. It validated everything I feel about the place of creative pursuits in our lives, and how a lot of what’s wrong with the world stems from our inability to use our imagination. To look creatively at a situation and find, potentially, a not-so-obvious way around it. To see beauty and assume beauty in everything around us. To react to things in a subconscious and almost animalistic way, and to put things out into the world (be they verbal or visual or musical) that represent how we perceive the world around us and our place in it. To recognize there is more to life then what we’re fed through our LCD screens and computer monitors.

And the answer to the question ‘is it worth driving for 6 hours in one day to see an exhibition of paintings by the masters of landscape painting’ is always yes. Just so you know.

I’m going to bed now. I would really like the pounding behind my eyes to stop. This week is going to be better I know it.

You sing me back into myself

There is a surefire way to tell when this girl feels like she’s losing some control over the environment around her –

I’ve spent tonight making lists.

I used to be an enormous list maker. Hell, I used to make a list of the lists I needed to make. It was the only way I felt like I had a handle on things, because I always felt like I was spinning just the smallest bit out of control. I’m not sure when that stopped, but I think it was about 6 months ago. I had about 10 lists on the go when I moved, and since then I’ve phased every one of them out. Except the shopping list. A girl needs a shopping list.

I’m not sure if the lack of lists recently has been indicative of me feeling more control in general of my life and the direction it’s taking, or if I’m less busy then I was. I’m actually thinking it’s the former, which is a little reassuring. Still, the current flux of more than one thing in my life has me giving away, yet again, to the list making.

But it’s only two lists. That’s not so bad, right? If you have two things in your life that are heading toward major change, or potentially heading toward major change, then you gotta have a plan. I’m a little chaotic without a plan. And now is not the time for chaos.

In other news, I’ve spent a lot of tonight listening to the new Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy album. Will Oldham has a way of breaking things down to their most human and organic parts – songs about love and relationships and sex and sleeping in the rain remind you of the things the world really revolves around. It’s not DIAC deadlines or office politics or numbers or fuel prices – it’s partners and family and friends and just generally your people. And if it’s not about that, then what’s the point? Listening to this album tonight I’m feeling comfort.


Things are about to get very, very interesting.

If it’s okay with everyone, I’d just like to skip Friday and head straight into Saturday.

All in favour say AYE.

Tonight –

• Bowie has almost disappeared behind the couch cushions altogether.
• I have watched a total of 3 TV shows about buying houses and/or renovating.
• I have realised it’s only when you begin seriously looking at real estate yourself that you notice just how many of these house/renovation shows there are. A lot. In case you were wondering.
• I am determined to go to bed before 11.
• I have drank 750mls of mineral water that is apparently ‘bottled from an ancient Italian source’. It was on sale for 49 cents at the supermarket.
• I have listened to over two hours of Modest Mouse and Okkervil River. Good for the soul it is.
• I am running out of ideas of what to cook with brown rice.
• I am looking forward to eating bread again. At some point. In the future.
• I am counting the hours until 7 on Friday.
• The night air smells amazing.
• I mustn’t forget to peg out the washing that is sitting in the machine.
• I actually kinda fancied a glass of wine. But it’s only me here, and well, once you open a bottle there’s no point leaving any, right? Aha. So I didn’t. Open one that is.
• I am excited about the future.

Real life

You’re all that I need
Though I know that it never can be
I’d be pleased to post your decrees
To fall at your knees
To name all your streets and to sit down and weep
When you’re carried back through them and set down to sleep
And to lie by your side for sublime centuries
(Until we crumble to dust when we’re crushed by a single sunbeam)

Will Sheff = <3

I’ll build a house inside of you

Sunday nights I’m always contemplative. I think a lot of it comes from being on my own after a week of work insanity and a weekend of company. If I’m left to my own devices too long my head gets very active. And there’s a lot going on right now for it to think about.

I phoned my Ma tonight, for the obligatory Mothers Day call. I’d been trying to get her all afternoon but she can be a difficult woman to pin down. Her house is under siege by guests right now, but she managed to find some time to talk to me tonight. My conversation with her hammered home how much everything is changing. Particularly for her. What I realise more and more through life is your most of your days are made up of the people that you surround yourself with. I found out, necessarily, that I could live a good and worthy life on my own. I have since then realised I can life a joyful and magnificent life surrounded by people that I love. She is losing a great many people right now – geographically, mainly, but also emotionally. Mothers Day is still tough for her since Nan passed away, but Tara moved to Canberra in February, Hayley moved to Batemans Bay last week, and now Jodie is moving next week to Tasmania. She’s feeling the pull of time right now and tonight she sounded decidedly down about it.

Mental note to call the mother more than once this week and to find a time to go to Wagga.

There’s moving on my horizon too and I can’t even tell you how excited I am about it. Each and every time I’ve moved it’s changed my life dramatically, and this one will be no different. It IS different though, in other ways.

The first move, to Sydney, I did for someone else, and even though it didn’t end in happily ever after, it is part of the reason I’m here right now so I should be thankful for that. The second move was devastation personified, and it took me a really long time to get over. The third move was for completely wrong reasons – I was lost and scared and desperate to find and sink myself into anything that was familiar. I didn’t know myself or trust myself enough for anything else. The forth move was sad, and my hand was forced, and although I felt no less lost and scared, I knew it was for the best. The fifth move again, my hand was forced. Had it not been, I might still be living with Amanda in Wilberforce. Having said that, it did mark the start of something – it was a step toward living on my own, and I made the choice to forge a life for myself in that little flat up on the hill.

The sixth move, the most recent move, was a bold step into the unknown. It was me WANTING the change, and it was me knowing exactly WHAT I wanted, and that was the first time I had ever experienced that in my life and consequently acted on it. There was no reason for the move other then me wanting it. I wanted the extra space. I wanted a cat. I wanted my own yard and my own utilities and my own responsibility for my life. And that whole three months surrounding the move had this mammoth life force surrounding it – it was like when I signed the lease all the air started sucking from one end of my life and I was being dragged through a vacuum whether I liked it or not. And it was all wonderful, but it left me a bit breathless.

This move will be very different. I think I’ve finally hit on something – you can be one of two, and you can be part of a team, and yet you can still get what you want. You don’t have to compromise who you are or what you dream to share your life with someone. In fact, the joy comes from sharing it. If you can find someone who has the same heart that you do for the really important things, then a lot of stuff ceases to matter. Everything else will work itself out.

31 year old Karen wants to go back to 25 year old Karen and alternately smack her and hug the life out of her. I feel so bad for the person I was then, and I wish at the time I’d had someone like Hell or 31 year old me to wake me up a little. It took me a really long time to figure out what I wanted, and the revelation is to me that the second I did that, or realised that, my ducks seemed to fall into a row. I mean, it’s not all puppies and ponies from here until the end of the universe, I’m sure of it. But I feel like it’s all going to be okay.

Everything will work itself out. I feel like it’s all going to be okay. I read these sentences that I’ve written and there’s a little voice inside of me that goes WHOA. I think the girl is growing up at last.