Saturday, 29 March 2008


It has been noted that I was very quick to post the photo of the poor car. What can I say? I'm a child of my generation. Or maybe the next generation. I don't know.

After the accident I couldn't focus on anything and was useless at work. The paramedic told me not to go home and be on my own, just in case I was feeling worse and needed to go to hospital. Guan had the day off and was going into the city, so I tagged along. We went to Kings Comics, Kinokuniya, the Tea Centre and Borders. I bought Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman (and RSVPed for his Kinokuniya appearance in May), The Book Thief by Markus Zusak which I've wanted to read for a while, and Wicked by Gregory Maguire.

I was casting around for something satisfying to watch on DVD. At Borders I bought My Neighbour Totoro, which I had watched for the first time last week with Guan and Mary, and it was the perfect solution. Mum and I came home, she made the most delicious beef stroganoff for dinner (which is our version of comfort food!), and we watched Totoro together. She laughed and thought it was cute; I was glad, because she doesn't normally watch animated films and I didn't know whether she'd stick around long enough to get into it. It just made me smile so much, which was sorely needed!
Today, however, the adrenalin had all gone and I was just a big blob of meh. But that was okay. I didn't have anywhere to be, or anything to do. So I read and played piano and lay around. I walked with mum to Maroubra Junction to do some groceries and I almost passed out. It was exhausting! To think I had walked and walked all day yesterday, and today I could barely make it around the corner. I rented some DVDs and when we got home I just slept for a few hours.

We kind of partially did the Earth Hour thing, even though I think the hyperbole of it is ridiculous - "How are you celebrating Earth Hour?" Give me a break! But we do like candles. We turned off our lights and lit candles, had tomato soup and toast, and watched Once on DVD. Scout curled up in the curve of my body and alternated between being a little croissant-shaped cat and a fully outstretched mini-bear. It was very cosy.

Now I'm listening to the Once soundtrack and dreaming of music to be made. I'm very grateful for the chill-out time. Thank God for weekends.

art imitates

Helen Garner is one of my absolute favourite writers. I mainly love her non-fiction, but her fiction is sparsely beautiful and real and haunting. If I could be half the writer she is, I'd be happy. She has a new novel coming out on April 7 (her first since 1992), called The Spare Room, and there's an interview with her in today's Spectrum, though SMH doesn't seem to have it online. As my own fiction writing usually draws on my own life (much as Garner's does), I found this comment of hers extremely sane and encouraging:
I don't know where people think writing comes from. People talk as if a story is something lying on the ground that you pick up and dust off and put in a book. But material isn't a story, it's a mess, a cloudy series of events or experiences. On every page there's a thousand tiny decisions about how you're going to tell it. And once you've written something, you can't even remember which bits 'really happened' and which bits you made up. . .What any writer does who is fired by their own experience is open up an enormous space behind their own experience, where all the rest of the world can flood in and everyone else's experiences, too.

Friday, 28 March 2008

what i did to the car

what i did to the car, originally uploaded by the procrastinatrix.

Yeah so. This is what I did to the car.

I slept really well last night, for the first time in ages. I woke and thought "I'm going to take my time today, take it easy, look after myself." So I pottered around the house, took my time, and drove to work.

I had pulled onto the side of Houston Road to do a u-turn and was waiting for the traffic to clear. Eventually it did (or so I thought), so I put my blinker on and turned out onto the street. And promptly got smashed into very hard by a Spanish woman in a RAV4.

Thankfully, neither of us was hurt. We both cried and hugged and apologised a lot. I did hit my head on the window, and the ambos came and checked me out but said I should be fine. The police took about an hour and half to get there. The tow trucks, of course, were there within seconds.

I have to go now and buy a TravelTen.

Thursday, 27 March 2008


up, up, up, up, up, up raises
the stakes of the game
each day sinks its boot print into her clay
and she's not the same

just when you think that you've got enough
enough grows
and everywhere that you go in life
enough knows

half of learning how to play is learning what not to play
she's learning the spaces she leaves
have their own things to say and
she's trying to sing just enough
so that the air around her moves
and make music like mercy
that gives what it is
and has nothing to prove

up, up, up, up, up, up
ani difranco, 1999

Wednesday, 26 March 2008


In an attempt to address the headaches, I've started acupuncture. This is different to the deep needling technique that the chiropractor used on me to relieve the stress in my shoulders. This is more classical acupuncture, but Dr Lowe also seems to have interesting theories and a satisfyingly wholistic approach to treatment. He's also a Christian; it was unusual, when he was talking to me about how all the various systems in the body are connected, to hear a doctor remark on how amazing God is, and how the body is so much more complex than God has revealed to us.

He thinks my headaches are all complicated by my depression, stress and anxiety, so his initial plan is to try to raise my serotonin levels. I also have to get an MRI, which I hear from Sam and Barbara isn't the world's most pleasant experience (and isn't cheap either), but that should either reveal or cancel out any underlying physical problems.

I've only had two acupuncture sessions so far but they do seem to help a little bit. The only problem is the day or two after I'm usually quite emotional. Today wasn't an exception! But thankfully I had good friends to talk to, something interesting and involving to do at work, and I was alone down my end of the office so when the emotions leaked out it wasn't too embarrassing...

Now, however, I'm very tired. I'm not going to Bible study, but I think I'll have a bath and go to bed early.

Sunday, 23 March 2008


owlet, originally uploaded by the procrastinatrix.

I made this while watching Gilmore Girls this afternoon. My very first amigurumi!

He arose

This morning mum and I got up in the darkness and went to Coogee Beach for the annual Easter Sonrise service, which is put on by a bunch of local churches. I had forgotten that we were going to it, so it's just as well I didn't go out late last night! St Martin's is usually part of the Sonrise Service but I guess since Jeremy left, the other churches haven't really kept St Martin's in the loop about things; our service times weren't printed on the back of the sheet and I don't think anyone had actually told the folk at St M's what was going on. Though, to be fair, hardly anyone from St M's usually goes anyway.
Mum and I turned up at the usual time of a bit after 6am, realising after we had gotten up that the service would probably be an hour later because of daylight saving things and the fact that Easter is so early this year. That was alright though, cos we could just sit quietly in the dark and watch the light start to filter in over God's beautiful creation (instead of pelting down Coogee Bay Road, late for the service, like we normally do). We ate hot cross buns and drank coffee and chatted about what Jesus means to us.
I've been struck this year by Jesus' full knowledge of the immense sacrifice he was making. The passage in Luke that talks about him sweating blood as he prayed in Gethsemane that God would give him the strength to go through with it, to trust his Father, to take on the sin of the world, to save us - it's just mind-boggling. There's no way we can actually understand how that would have felt. Then to go from that to calmly and confidently accepting what had to happen. The horror of his beating and crucifixion. The three days cut off from the Father. And then rising, triumphant, powerful, and yet still someone real, someone you could touch, a man of flesh and bones who still wanted to share in breakfast with his friends, even though he had just literally gone through hell for them. The complexity of who Jesus is doesn't detract from the simple fact that he loves us enough to die for us, so that we can share eternity with him. That is just awesome.
And yet we are so earth bound. Although I really like the idea of the Sonrise Service, this year (as with every year) it puzzles me why they run it the way they do - mainly in regards to the music. The very first year they ran this service, they set up the PA and played the Halleujah Chorus as the sun came up, and that was just wonderful - you just stood there, drinking in the sunrise, the music, reflecting on God's glory and feeling like you were one body with all the other people who were there.
Now they have a dinky-sounding keyboard, and they choose songs that aren't that great to sing early in the morning. The song leaders don't smile, engage with people, or actually lead the songs. They kind of perform at you very loudly (and really not that well, though it is hard to do music live with limited resources so I give them credit for getting up there and giving it a go (though the girl singing and playing this morning sounded like she would have been more at home doing cabaret at an RSL club (am I allowed to be that harsh about...buh. I stand by it. It wasn't good music.))). It's like they are embarrassed to be standing up there, as though the opinions of the council workers emptying the bins matter more to them than joyfully worshipping our risen Lord. We sing 'hallelujah', yet most of the people sitting huddled on the steps at Coogee Beach look miserable - and these are the people who are already saved! It's like they are there because they have to be, not because they want to be.Well I sang loudly and with a smile on my face - even when we sang Shine Jesus Shine, which is my most hated of songs - because it is a wonderful thing we celebrate today, and every day. I loved the simple message in the talk that when the Son rose, everything became clear. The location is a great complementary metaphor; you're sitting somewhere like Coogee Beach, outside the infamous Coogee Bay Hotel, with drunken people staggering home from Saturday night parties, and the glorious morning sun is just blasting away all the grimy shadows of the night just passed. When we got in the car and drove home, I put the Hallelujah Chorus on full blast, and that reflected the way we felt much more than the insipid songs we sang on the beach.
So Happy Easter! I hope you are able to celebrate today, that you have the opportunity to reflect on God's greatness, to thank him, and to feel that absolute joy, love and gratitude spread through you.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

the Friday that was

Yesterday was a lovely day. It was akin to a Christmas lunch, only without the stress and pressure that Christmas celebrations seem to bring. I didn't get to church because it was raining and mum had the car and I was in charge of preparing lunch.

Meet our lunch. This is the 2kg snapper that mum bought from DJs, and he was massive. I've never really cooked fish before, let alone a whole fish, but armed with Stephanie Alexander's the cook's companion (my all-time favourite cookbook) and my trusty sharp knife, I set to preparing the fish for baking.

Nic and Linda came round at about 1.30, armed with delicious cheeses (including the most incredible soft cheese, Delice de Bourgogne - Linda knows I love it!) and Valhrona chocolates from Simon Johnson, and Nic's Wii. They were really excited to be over, as they rarely have time off to just hang out. Linda and her brother are opening a restaurant in Pyrmont soon so I don't think we're going to have a huge amount of time to spend together this year.

We did the fish with lemon, coriander, white wine and copious amounts of salt and pepper, and roasted a bunch of kipfler potatoes to go with it. Mum made a delicious salad of avocado, tomato, rocket, beans and zucchini (the last three from our garden). Nic filletted the fish for us so it actually fit on the platter, and then it was time to eat! It tasted wonderful, and was a success all round.

We pretty much just stayed at the table for the next few hours, eating, chatting, laughing. We didn't really have dinner, just slow-grazed on the cheese, chocolate and grapes. Nic and I repaired to the other room a couple of times to play Wii Sports, and I kicked his butt in every single one, except bowling I think. Hee! It was so much fun. Mum and Linda got to have some good in-depth chats while Nic and I shouted and carried on in the other room. This is what Nic and I look like in Mii/Wii form:

They left around 10.30, after looking at some old photo albums and mucking around with the cat. So it was a lovely family sort of day, with no pressure to be anywhere or do anything, and the promise of a sleep in the next day!

The end.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Good Friday

I feel like a spectator. Like life is moving and swirling and exploding in technicolour glory for everyone else and I'm just watching. Waiting. Hanging back by the door. Tentative and nervous and small, sad and frightened. Where did my bravado go? My bluster, the confidence of youth? How did it leach away, to leave this fearful, tearful person behind? When did I become this melancholy shadow?

But then. I remember that God made me. I remember that he knit me together in my mother's womb. I remember that he knows the number of hairs on my head. I remember that he knows my coming in and my going out. He knows about every tear that falls. And he loves me. He loves me so much sent his Son to take all the sin - the blackness, the stupidity, the hurts, the angry words, the jealous thoughts, the terrible actions, the spite, the venom, the mixed motives, the doubt, the despair, the arrogance, the willful ignoring of God - and all the punishment I deserved for that sin...and to obliterate it. To take the awful punishment on himself so I wouldn't have to go through it. To be cut off from God so that I would never have to be. To make it so that I can be in a secure, loving relationship with the God of wonders.

There is immense peace in that. There is confidence to move forward. There is comfort and joy and boundless gratitude. There is motivation to be more than a melancholy shadow, but to know that even when I do feel that way, he still loves me. To paraphrase the old hymn, the things of earth do look strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.


Thursday, 20 March 2008

a writerly diagnosis

There's a great interview in the Guardian with Terry Pratchett (via Neil). Pratchett is one of my favourite authors, and when I heard last year he had a rare type of early-onset Alzheimer's I was greatly saddened. But as he pointed out, "'I am not dead.' I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this may be further off than you think - it's too soon to tell."

He is incredibly prolific; according to the interview he has written his Discworld novels at a rate of 2 per year since 1983. That's staggering! I can't imagine such an incredible output, but I do appreciate it (more delicious books for me to read). But it's encouraging to know that even though he is so gifted, he still struggles with the whole process as much as anyone else:
"When I was going in for the tests, they asked my wife and PA to say what they had noticed in my behaviour. They jointly wrote a letter saying, 'Like any author who's in the throes of writing a book, Terry probably shows all the signs of dementia: he's unworldly, he doesn't pay attention to things, he's antisocial, grumpy.' I'm a typical bloody writer. Maybe all of us have had Alzheimer's for years without realising it."

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

night owls

Chad Perrin explains why I like working at night time much more than during the day (substitute 'hack' for 'writing' or 'designing'):
Crazy-late hours of intensive hacking lend themselves naturally to entering, and sustaining, a deep state of "hack mode":
  • Other (saner) people aren't around to interrupt. They're all asleep. This provides additional safety when juggling eggs.
  • The requirement of keeping from disturbing others inhibits the tendency to engage in distracting entertainments (like TV). This almost forces one to focus entirely on one's work. Only something like reddit stands in the way.
  • Subjectively speaking, it seems that the wee hours of the morning lend themselves to an almost surreal, abnormal perspective. Inspiration can be found in odd places under that sort of influence — which leads to new ideas coming to mind and being explored that, by the light of day, may have been dismissed immediately as "crazy talk".

via Lifehacker

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

maintenance mode

This is the week of maintenance. It's kind of annoying to spend time and money on, but I guess I'm lucky to have the resources to be able to do these things. I've been in a bit of a daze today, having gone to the dentist first thing, where I had three needles and four fillings (the anaesthetic wore off around lunchtime, and then the sledgehammer headache started). Got some pants taken up. Getting acupuncture on Thursday to see if it helps with the headaches. Haircut on Saturday, and also the pedicure using the gift voucher mum gave me for Christmas. So that's nice and spoily to finish off with!

It kind of follows on from Maggie Alderson's column in last week's Good Weekend. She talked about how when you've put on weight, can't fit into your clothes and you're feeling kind of blah about yourself, you tend to wear baggy stuff cos it's more comfortable, and then it only reinforces the fact that you feel crap about yourself. So her solution was she went and bought a nice dress that fit her, even though it was a size bigger than she normally wears, and that made her feel better about herself, so she was motivated to eat better and look after herself again.

I know there's a whole ranty school of thought that says you shouldn't care about how you look, or what other people think of you. But I think that's kind of facile. You have to be really committed to not caring about how you look if you're going to go down that path. It's not so much caring what other people think, it's caring enough about yourself to bother making the effort to do the little things you know are going to lift your mood.

I just know when I've been unwell or depressed or whatever, I don't make the effort. I'm not normally a high-maintenance chick anyway; I don't wear makeup every day, I don't wear suits for work, I don't dress up much unless I'm going out. But there are some things that can make a vast amount of difference to how I feel about myself. For example, if I'm feeling blah, I won't blow dry my hair. Sometimes just letting it dry however it dries ends up looking fine, and other times I look like I've just crawled out from under a hedge. Or clothes - I'll just keep wearing the same old ratty t shirts because I can't handle going clothes shopping and getting frustrated that nothing fits. Or exercise - I like doing yoga and it makes me feel great, but most mornings when the alarm goes off I just snooze it and avoid doing the physical activity. These are little things, but when you combine them all and mix them together with a low mood, they lead to a really negative self-image.

So I guess that's why the week of maintenance is worthwhile. It kind of levels the playing field of my mood - it gives me a good base to start from, instead of further digging me down into a hole. I did say this was the year of being kind to myself; I suppose this is just one of the many expressions of that.

Monday, 17 March 2008


I just have to say, I love Flight of the Conchords. Here is a clip from their HBO show to help me brush up on my French vocab...

Sunday, 16 March 2008


Yesterday I had an almost completely non-computer day, which was refreshing. I did check email for about two minutes (nothing of note).

At 10am Freda and I headed over to Marrickville to see what treasures we could unearth at the Remnant Warehouse, which was having a huge moving sale. Not your ordinary kind of sale either - this stuff is amazing. 25-50% off everything, and the most gorgeous dressmaking and craft fabrics I've seen in Sydney. I've always been disappointed at places like Spotlight and Lincraft; the stock is expensive and unimaginative, the staff tend to be harried, unhelpful and rude, and I'm never that satisfied with what I end up buying.

However it was the completely opposite experience at the Remnant Warehouse. They really do need to move to bigger premises; it's a big space but so crammed in with stuff it feels a lot smaller. This wasn't helped by the long queue that snaked through all the aisles of fabric and moved at a glacial pace. They had five cutting tables going, but of course when there were so many bargains to be had, people were buying up lots of stuff and it took a long time to cut everything.

But the thing that amazed me was that even though it was hot, cramped, and uncomfortable, everyone was in such a good mood. Nobody was rude, nobody snapped at people, nobody pushed, nobody shoved. The staff were polite, friendly and helpful. We stood in the queue for 45 minutes and it wasn't an arduous wait at all. In fact I found it interesting looking at all the different types of people buying fabric; older ladies buying up big for their next quilts; small Asian ladies buying bulk dressmaking fabric; trendy pierced design school types who all seemed to know one another and were imagining what amazing things they could make. I think that's one of the things I love about good fabric shops - the possibilities. You stand there looking at all the different patterns and textures and your imagination runs wild.

I got some great fabric - backing, batting and border for Imogen's quilt (the alliteration is unintentional), three packs of yummy looking fat quarters* that included some gorgeous Japanese prints, and some delightful yellow Beatrix Potter fabric that I thought mum would love and will go nicely in a nice baby's quilt or cushion. All up I spent about a third of what I had set aside for that shopping trip so I was pretty pleased!

Then we went back to Freda's place for lunch and sewing. I find sewing a lot of fun but also exhausting. I get so focused on the project I forget to eat or straighten up my back, so after a while I'll get a bit trembly and have a big sugar crash. Not such a good idea. But we were very productive. Imogen's quilt top has been sitting in Freda's cupboard for the better part of a year because I haven't had time to go back and work on it, and Freda looked a little sceptical when I said I wanted to try and finish it before I go overseas so I can give it to Imi for her birthday.

Well what do you know? Yesterday I finished Imogen's quilt.

We did a lot of work at Freda's with the sewing machine, and then I brought it home to do the hand sewing. I watched about five episodes of Grey's Anatomy and finally finished at about 1am; I was determined to finish it while I had the momentum, otherwise it might never get done. And I love it! I hope Imi does too.

Details for the interested: it's spread on a double bed, but it's actually a single bed quilt. Made of 100% cotton top and backing, with polyester filling. You are supposed to use wool for children's quilts but I think this is okay.
It's tie-quilted, which means I've just threaded purple Perle thread through all 3 layers and tied it at the corners of each square, rather than quilting patterns. It means it's quite plain, but I thought there was enough interest in the fabric that it didn't matter too much, and I quite like the cute, 'naive' look it gives to the quilt. It also means it was really quick to finish, as the quilting is the bit that takes the longest time (for me, anyway)!
I just have to sew the label onto the back and then it'll be done.

* the term 'fat quarter' still delights me - for non-quilters, a fat quarter (or a quarter of a yard) is a yard of fabric cut in half horizontally and again vertically - in metric that's approximately 45cm x 56cm. They're usually packaged together in co-ordinating colours/patterns.

breakfast fail

It is a good idea, before commencing to make (and look forward to eating) pancakes for Sunday breakfast, to check that you indeed have all the ingredients. It is very sad to sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl, only to discover that you don't have any eggs.

Oh well. Weetbix is good enough for weekdays, it's good enough for weekends.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

church with a six year old

Last night we drove down to Bundanoon after work for the Jeremy's induction to the Parish of Sutton Forest, and the welcome of the family to the parish. It's such a lovely part of the world, I always enjoy driving down to the Southern Highlands - although driving down and back on the same night after work was a bit of a marathon effort.

The service was lovely. Very positive and friendly and with a great supper afterwards. That's one good thing about living in the country - at least you know you'll always get a good feed. Very good baking.

I think Nathaniel was feeling a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. He took a long time getting dressed and was getting a bit cheeky and bossy. But when we went into the church and his mother and sister were busy chatting to parishioners, he brought his toy cars, his pillow and blanket and came and sat next to me. I guess I've been part of their family since he was born, so I'm familiar and comforting. But I was touched that he wanted to sit with me.

He's at that age where you can have really funny and interesting conversations. He was drawing on a piece of paper that had the CBA logo on it and he looked at me with surprise on his face and exclaimed, "The Commonwealth Bank! That's where I do my banking!"

But the best was when we were discussing hair length. I noticed his hair was getting longer and said that he might have to get a haircut soon. He said, "No, I don't want a haircut! I want to be emo!"

His sister Bethany isn't an emo, but likes black and hair over her eyes, much like me as a teenager. Nathaniel was very pleased when I showed him that his fringe was long enough to cover his eyebrows, and impressed with my fringe when I showed him that it came down to my mouth.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008


I got a new pair of headphones for my trip but also for general noise-blocking-outedness. When I buy things like this, I either do heaps of research and get all turned around by other peoples' opinions, or I just go out and blindly buy whatever 'feels' right. This time I went with the former, but there is just so much stuff out there written by true audiophiles that you can be paralysed by too much choice.

I couldn't decide between earbud-type headphones or the full, closed Princess Leia-type dealies. Depending on who you read, you can come to the conclusion that both earbuds and the big clamshells are the invention of the devil. So really it comes down to personal preference. But then I figured that the big ones make me feel like a doofus, and since I was buying them primarily to travel with, it made more sense to get smaller, portable ones. Then I read this review on and my mind was made up. I went on eBay and found them (new) for $70 less than anywhere else, bought them and patiently waited, hoping that my first eBay purchase wouldn't turn out to be a dud.

My lovely white Etymotic ER-6i Isolator earphones arrived this morning (always exciting to get parcels in the post). I like how they look like tiny, tiny rayguns from the Jetsons or something. They are 'in-canal' earphones, which mean that they sit right inside the ear canal to block out any ambient noise. This is supposed to reduce jetlag on long flights, because you don't have to deal with the constant whine and thrum of the plane engines and the air conditioning (and other people). It also means you don't have to have your music very loud at all, and you can hear every tiny little detail (unlike conventional earbuds, where you have to have the music really loud to drown out everything else, which never works anyway and can leave you with permanent hearing damage). Music sounds clean and beautiful, the bass is just right, and I'm happy in my own little world here, unable to even hear the clicking of the keys as I type.

The in-canal style does take a little getting used to, though, as I discovered when I got to work. True, it blocks out the ambient noise very well. But it amplifies the internal noise! I am having to get used to the sound of my head. It's a bit like when you dive deep in a pool and everything is deliciously quiet and muted, but your breathing becomes your soundtrack, and your teeth coming together sound like drums. The biggest surprise I got was when I started eating trail mix (as is my wont); hazelnuts have never sounded so loud (or so good).

Monday, 10 March 2008

mountains and other great weights

I saw an interview with Ian McEwan on the 7.30 Report tonight, in which he said that as a writer it was important to him to stay in good physical condition because writing a novel requires a lot of stamina. It's like climbing a mountain.

I remarked to mum that even though I well understand what he's talking about, when a successful novelist like McEwan describes the difficulties of the writing process like that, it makes me think "Oh what's he going on about? He's just making a big deal about nothing." After all, he's written many best selling books, right? (I haven't read any of them) He's internationally renowned and his speaking engagements sell out. How hard can it possibly be for someone like him to write a novel? Don't the words just pour out of him?

Such a thought is traitorous, to say the least, to writers everywhere. Because it is hard to write anything well. And it is very hard to write a novel. McEwan likens it to a mountain; my own experience is that it is like being trapped under a soaking wet doona. Or maybe, for an extra-complicated novel, a soaking wet futon.

I'm not sure what it's like for someone who writes novels for a living, who can devote their full-time working week to writing. But for someone who has to squeeze in the writing around a job, and the vagaries of ill-health, that smothered feeling is just inescapable. You have the weight of the book around you, on you, in you. You resent it. You fear it. You flail at it every so often to try and shift the weight but you just get further entangled. You get a flicker of light, the spark of an idea, and just as soon as you try to follow it, the wet mass snuffs it out.

Perhaps the method ought to be to calm down, to take some deep breaths and try to follow some sort of logic, try to find the ending, try to tie up the loose ends and find the way out from underneath. I'm not sure I've worked out how to do that yet.

One of the things I am greatly looking forward to on my trip away is having space. The physical space away from the everyday, and the exploring of new spaces, yes. But also the mental space. The creative space. The space that is billowing and airy and allows itself to be filled with just the lightest touch, bringing the tendrils and tender shoots of inspiration that can lead to new life. Even if things don't go according to plan, even if I don't have time to write much, I know that this holiday will be a time to clear out the clutter in my head, and time for the wellspring to start filling up again.

And I can't wait.

Friday, 7 March 2008


Insomnia is a very frustrating thing. The more you fight it, the more it digs its heels in. I try to follow advice such as not using my laptop while sitting in bed, not drinking coffee in the evening, listening to soothing music, getting up and doing something else for half an hour if I can't sleep and then trying again...but nothing works.

Last night I was exhausted, so went to bed at 9pm. Then I woke at around 11.30pm and was wide awake for the next four hours. For. No. Reason. Guh. Still, I got to finish reading Anansi Boys, booked accommodation in Oxford, sat on the back step and looked at the stars, and ended up finally falling asleep with the cat purring next to me. It seems to help having the cat with her constant contented rumbling curled up in the curve of my back, or with her head on my hand. The only problem is then wake-up time is when she decides it's wake-up time, which she heralds by biting me on the feet. If the feet are not available, she'll go for the calf, thigh, bicep...anything really. Not the funnest way to wake up in the morning.

I think the sleeplessness might have something to do with an adjustment in the medication I take, but the medication has a whopping great sticker on it saying 'may cause drowsiness'. Is there something wrong with me that it's having the absolute opposite effect?!

Was thinking I should get this Threadless decal to stick above my bed, but somehow I don't think it'll help. Now. For more coffee...

Thursday, 6 March 2008

hooray for holidays

Well here's some news. I'm going overseas in April! I'm very excited about this - it's been a few years since I've been overseas and I've just been longing to get on a plane and go somewhere.

It's going to be a leisurely three weeks of catching up with friends and seeing the stuff I feel like seeing on any given day. I'll be heading over to France first to stay with Emma and Stuart who are in Fontainebleu (45 mins out of Paris). Then over to Oxford to hang with the Baddeley Three. Then to Belfast to stay with Bek and John, and hopefully with Jake joining us. And on the last night before I fly back to Sydney via Singapore, we're all going to see Bjork play in Belfast!

I haven't completely decided what things I want to see yet. The top priority is to meet Jonathan Baddeley. But aside from that, the itinerary is open to suggestion. If anyone has favourite Paris/Oxford/Belfast haunts, cafes, restaurants, whatever do let me know!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008


I'm not entirely sure why, maybe it's the whimsical nature of it, but I've decided to give postcrossing a try. It makes me feel like a kid again, having a pen pal in some unknown part of the world. Or participating in some bizarre chain letter thing (which I actually a kid I did feel actual guilt when I stopped a chain letter in its tracks but...well...suffer). Visit the website to work out what it's all about, but the short version is that basically I am sending postcards to other postcrossers, and will receive postcards in return, but not from the postcrosser I sent the card to; the names and addresses are allocated randomly.

I have sent four cards today, to the US, Germany, Portugal and Finland. The postcards I had were touristy ones of Sydney Harbour, but that's not especially bad if you've never been here (and it is a harbour that was just destined for postcard greatness). My first attempts are rather banal; it's hard to know what to write in such a small space to people you don't know. It will be interesting to see what I get in return. I'm going to try to get creative with it; send a postcard of my favourite painting, or write my favourite quotes on the back. I wonder if I'll be bold enough to write a verse of Scripture on the back - I guess the recipient won't have my address so they won't be able to retaliate if they don't like it (don't worry, I'll do it in a nice aggressive postcard-Bible-bashing).

I think the thing that appeals to me is the serendipity of it, although I guess it's not truly serendipitous, as I am doing something that will cause the postcards to come to me, they won't just magically turn up on their own. But I am going to be in contact for the briefest moment with a stranger, somewhere in the world. They will send me a postcard they think is cool. They will write something on the back. And that's all. Little slices of life.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

An excerpt

or A passage of writing that shows why I like Neil Gaiman.

Fat Charlie blew his nose. 'I never knew I had a brother,' he said.

'I did,' admitted Spider. 'I always meant to look you up, but I got distracted. You know how it is.'

'Not really.'

'Things came up.'

'What kind of things?'

'Things. They came up. That's what things do. They come up. I can't be expected to keep track of them all.'

'Well give me a f'rinstance.'

Spider drank more wine. 'OK. The last time I decided that you and I should meet, I, well, I spent days planning it. Wanted it to go perfectly. I had to choose my wardrobe. Then I had to decide what I'd say to you when we met. I knew that the meeting of two brothers, well, it's the subject of epics, isn't it? I decided that the only way to treat it with the appropriate gravity would be to do it in verse. But what kind of verse? Am I going to rap it? Declaim it? I mean, I'm not going to greet you with a limerick. So. It had to be something dark, something powerful, rhythmic, epic. And then, I had it. The perfect first line. Blood calls to blood like sirens in the night. It says so much. I knew I'd be able to get everything in there - people dying in alleys, sweat and nightmares, the power of free spirits uncrushable. Everything was going to be in there. And then I had to come up with a second line, and the whole thing completely fell apart. The best I could come up with was Tum-tumpty-tumpty-tumpty got a fright.'

Fat Charlie blinked. 'Who exactly is Tum-tumpty-tumpty-tumpty?'

'It's not anybody. It's just there to show you where the words ought to be. But I never really got any further on it than that, and I couldn't turn up with just a first line, some tumpties and three words of an epic poem, could I? That would have been disrespecting you.'

'Well . . .'

'Exactly. So I went to Hawaii for the week instead. Like I said, something came up.'

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Headline Review, 2006, p92-93

Saturday, 1 March 2008


Mum and I drove down to Bundanoon today and were the Tonks' first visitors in their new parish. They've already settled in well to their huge, bright rectory, and all their stuff looks just right there. Nathaniel didn't seem at all fazed by us being there and although a little stand offish at first, after a while he even asked me to play X Box with him. I enjoyed cuddles with Bethany too.

We bought a yummy quiche at the local bakery, partook of Jeremy's excellent coffee, and had a lovely afternoon with our fine friends. The drive was easy and the landscape already autumnal, with a crispness to the air that was almost delicious. We hope and pray that their ministry will bear much fruit, and that they will be happy in their new home.


The support act, El May, might sound better recorded. They certainly weren't much live. The sound mix was ordinary, the songs were too polite and boring. The lead singer said, "We're here to give you a bit of a head massage before Feist blows your mind." Well I'm not sure about the head massage, but the mind-blowing was true.

Feist herself didn't come on until about 10.30. Em and I were commiserating about how old it makes us feel that we were irritated by the late start time. We both love being up late at night, but not in the company of many, many drunk people (see previous post for details). And the gap between the support and main act seemed to drag on forever. But once Feist came on, all gripes were forgotten.

A lantern surrounded by leaves is projected onto a screen at the back. A shadowy hand emerges, plucks up the lantern and then Feist tiptoes onstage, holding her lit lantern high, peering out into the darkness, looking for something while the audience creates a storm of applause and shrieking. She slips behind a white screen and sings an intro, silhouetted and looping her own voice until it's so distorted you can barely make it out. Then the band comes on, four guys backing this tiny girlwoman in a short white dress, her long dark hair sweetly straggling. She grins and says, "First I have to do this," and pulls a stretchy silver sequinned armband over her mic. I think that is when I fall in love...

She moves like a little girl, swaying from side to side, tilting her head. But her guitar belies the innocence, almost like it's the grown-up part of her. Her playing is sharp and strong and masterful. The band quietly supports her in her flights of fancy, just humbly making brilliant, tightly woven music that allows her to shine. Her voice is like honey and chocolate and spices and cream. The music passes through you, swirls in your chest, thrums down your legs, rings in your head, brings the smiles out to the surface.

The music is complemented by shadow-play on the screen behind the stage. A woman stands in the wings with a lamp and a bunch of props and she makes whimsical shadow shapes dance. I've completely forgotten which song it was now - The Water? Sea Lion? - but she uses her fingers to swirl something that looks like chocolate sauce, making shapes and patterns which eventually resolve themselves into the sea, and a small boat, which eventually is engulfed by the waves. It's mesmerising and I can't describe it in a way that would do it justice.

Feist talks to us like we're old friends, almost shy and bashful at first but then affectionate and delighted. She has a whimsical, quirky, sweet sense of humour that infuses everything she does. She says at one point, "I've heard the Opera House has some smaller rooms, is that right? Do you think that you guys could make it happen that next time I come I play there?" The crowd screams its approval and she smiles. "If you all brought a couple of people we could do it...bring your parents - parents love this show. And you know, with the comfy seats, and the various refreshments...yeah you can all come and bring your parents."

She sings all the songs I wanted her to sing - My Moon, My Man, Gatekeeper, So Sorry, Mushaboom, 1234 - and many more that are just as delightful. By the end, when she sings Let it Die, even the fools who have been chattering throughout the show are quiet.

We squeeze out onto George Street with the crowd, and I wish I didn't have to stand here with all these people. The city on a Friday night is an ugly place to be, and so far away from the magic and sweetness of the last couple of hours.

I look forward to seeing Feist at the Opera House someday.

I'll get to the show, but first, a rant

People constantly astound me. And not in a good way. It's partly why I don't go out much. I just can't understand why people would pay money to see someone as amazing as Feist, and spend half the time saying loudly "Ohhh she's so cute!", "Oh I love her" and other variations, and the other half of the time talking through the concert (you know the kind of conversations - those banal ones that people have loudly on mobile phones when travelling by public transport).

I realised quite early on that these two girls were not sober. They sang loudly and out of tune to every song they recognised. They lurched around and announced loudly they were going out to the toilet a couple of times. They broadcast to everyone around them that they were sharing a drink. They shouted stupid things out to the stage. But by the time they had carried on through half of 'Gatekeeper', a rather quiet and beautiful song, I turned around and said "Could you please stop talking?"

The brunette burst out laughing and the blonde one stared at me with her mouth open as though I had just slapped her. "I'm sorry?!" she said indignantly.

"I can't hear the song because you're talking," I retorted, and turned back to the stage, feeling the back of my neck bristling and feeling that hot, thick feeling in my throat I get when I get into a conflict situation. They ridiculed me and carried on, and then sang purposefully like a couple of soccer hooligans. They would start talking again and then the blonde would say "SSHHHHH remember, we're not allowed to talk!"

(As Emma said afterwards, "You should have said, 'Yes, but you're allowed to grow up. Feel free, anytime.'")

Eventually they did quieten down, but I kept expecting them to do something malicious like set my hair on fire (I later realised I was lucky to escape unscathed - I still can't quite believe how awful this story is). Thankfully that was the end of it, but it very nearly ruined the night for me. It certainly put a nasty streak through it.

People can be just horrible. Especially drunken girls.

(As we left the Metro the stupidity and self-centeredness of drunken girls (well some of them are like that sober too) was epitomised by the extremely inebriated girl in stilettos making strange, darting actions at the traffic surging down George St. As we passed, she screeched angrily at the cars, "I'm trying to cross the road!!!")