Wednesday, December 03, 2008

less blogging, more real writing.
but sometimes it's the small things that drive you to the keyboard.
and after five years of waiting, I'm pleased to be able to record that my jacaranda tree is finally blooming. they're only small blooms, and the purple isn't quite that deep shade that I adore; but they're blooms. now all I have to do is get the lawn underneath to something approximating green and I can have fallen purple blooms on a carpet of green @ Christmas time. bliss...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through
the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body."

that would be this project

yes, on my third attempt, I have managed to push my way past the other developing-writer piglets to get my snout in the trough of government funding.

with the result that I now have to write an, um, book. about representations and mapping of Melbourne. in six months. aargh...no, it's a good thing.

but don't expect me to update this blog much in the meantime...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

have new voice recognition software. I think it's still taking longer to take out the typos than to actually type the copy correctly myself. and the typos are sneakier, as they are real words but in the wrong places, whereas typing errors tend to be findable easily by Word.

for example:

shall I compare of the two a summer's day? Thou art for lovely and more temperate rough winds to shake the Darling buds of May and summer's lease has all too short a date some time to hot the eye of heaven shines and often is his call complexion didn't and every fare from fares sometime declined by chance on Asia's changing course on trend that die eternal beauty shall not favour loose possession of that fair though as Nortel death brag about Wanderers in his shade while in internal lines to time now grossed so long as venture live arise can seize along as this and give life to be

Monday, September 01, 2008

just what I need in my life: another blog. I'm hoping this will be the project that has wings, so giving it its own space seemed a good idea.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

An invitation to play:

On Sunday mornings, the narrow bike track through the park that connects North Fitzroy, North Carlton and down into Parkville is busy; a contrast to the weekday mornings when I often have to myself, or myself and one or two random dogs with their walkers.

This morning, the first day of spring, there are small packs of wobbly middleaged ladies on bikes; elderly locals shouting at each other in friendly tones as they stroll; couples with massive baby strollers walking two abreast, blocking the path; driven-looking young women jogging with very young babies in custom-made jogging prams. For months it’s been chilly in the early mornings, sometimes even with frost on the grass, but today the air is warm with the promise of a thaw; I’m in bike shorts instead of long track pants, and I only notice after ten minutes that I’ve left my warm gloves off; I don’t need them this morning.

At Lygon Street, where the makers of roads have recently given in to the unspoken pressure of the people’s will and converted a muddy shortcut into a proper bitumen path that carves a more direct line to the pedestrian crossing, I sail across the wide road without having to stop and wait for crawling commuter cars; one of the upsides of weekend mornings. Beyond Lygon Street, the park opens out in a kind of widening triangle as if emboldened by the larger spaces of Princes Park and Royal Park a few hundred metres down the track. And in the middle of this open green space, there is a pool table.

There is also a three-seater vinyl couch in baby-poo yellow, a timber cue stand with four cues and a cue rest, a couple of frames for shaping the balls, a box of billiard * balls and an abandoned game in progress. On the table is another cue, a white cue ball and a few red and coloured balls, the coloured ones with numbers on them. It’s been a while since my pub pool days, but I’m fairly sure this means two different games have been mixed up.

The table is old, with square frames of wood for legs; these probably fold up. The string pockets are dirty-grey and bulging with billiard balls; they look like they might burst. The playing surface is not smooth felt, but a kind of close-weave green hessian. It rained last night, and I imagine that the table is probably damp. I also imagine that the table is heavy, and it would have taken at least four people – young men, I guess – to bring it out here, 30 metres from the nearest house. There are no bottles, cans or other leavings scattered around to give a clue to last night’s activities, but it was Saturday night; a game of pool in the park at midnight must have seemed like a good idea at the time.

Just now, there is no one else on the track. I lie my bike down in the damp grass and pick up the cue on the table. Its tip is missing, but I don’t think to look for another. I line up the pockmarked cue ball with a yellow ball and take a shot at a corner pocket. I miss, put the cue back on the table and continue with my ride.

After I turn for home, down near the zoo, where the bike track runs through the golf course, a group of uncertain Japanese golfers veer about in front of me, walking on the wrong side of the path, though I’m certain that in Japan, as in Australia, the rule is to keep to the left.

I have a tailwind now and climb the hill back into Carlton easily, swiftly. The pool table is still unattended, but someone else has taken a shot; the balls have moved. So I drop my bike again, line up the cue ball and hit the green ball, number *14?, straight into the edge of the table. I’m not having much luck this morning; I could blame the dodgy cue, the unevenly situated table, the chipped cue ball or the wet surface, but I think it’s just me; I never was much good at pool unless I’d had a beer.

I’ve had my turn at the table. So I get back on my bike and continue, saying to the world in general: your shot.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

have I blogged about surfing? probably not, I don't blog anything much anymore.

3 1/2 days in Noosa, fired up by reading Tim Winton's Breath, which is MUCH better than Dirt Music and should have been longlisted for the Booker but hasn't...anyway, hurled myself into some waves with complete lack of style and grace. got out the back on the ocean beaches despite having no idea how to get back. achieved that by being knocked off and then bashed in the back of the head by my board...then started working harder on the Main Beach waves, small (but big enough for me), culminating in a final 1/2 hour surf in my favourite conditions, ie waist-deep water, which allows me to throw myself onto the board to get extra momentum.

I think I was out of practice. I need to keep at it, week after week, to develop the muscle memory, and keep the fear and wimpiness at cold water at bay.

Little Cove beach was being graced with some lovely smooth waves just before I left. I sat on the rocks eating my lunch before the minibus came to get me, watching the (real) surfers catch them, and squinting against the silver and blue glitter of the water, wishing I wasn't going home.

but it was good to be back with my little boy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

In Central Victoria, water is scarce. No one waters a garden; the streets have a tired, dusty feel, and even when purple-grey clouds mass overhead, there's only a sense of foreboding, not hope: thunderstorms also bring lightning, fire.
This hot day, I drive to the Castlemaine public pool from my hideaway just outside town. Most reasonable-sized towns in Victoria have pools like this, relics from the 1950s and early 1960s, when the fever of the 1956 Olympics and a commitment to the country as the soul of Australia still lingered.
Like most of those pools now, the Castlemaine pool is rundown. The change rooms are open-plan and beaten-up; the showers are cold overhead faucets that must save thousands of litres a year by discouraging lingerers. The pool is surrounded by concrete and fenced in with a high chain link fence. It's only open from 11 am to 6pm, and then only in summer; a sign on the entrance booth informs visitors that "no volunteers=no kiosk. It is not the lifeguards' job to sell you lollies."
Not encouraging. But it's over 35 degrees in the shade where I parked. A swim is only $2.50; I pays my money and I takes my chances.
My natural habitat, aquatically speaking, is the Fitzroy Pool; not all that flash in the change room department itself, admittedly, but well-used, open 10-14 hours a day all year and possessed of little extras like a gym and a hot water system.
Today I'm wearing my most serious bathers; a blue Speedo-style onepiece, with a seasoned pair of goggles and tight silicone swim cap. The agenda, as it always is, is two kilometres; twenty laps of a 50-metre "Olympic" pool like this.
School holidays end tomorrow, and the local kids are making the best of it. Little knots of teenagers float inthe pool; parents sit on the edges, feet dangling in the water. Nothing to do with me. Every 50 metres I blow air out and roll, planting my feet firmly against the wall to push off, keeping up a steady pace.
But the children get in the way. They meander across the single lap lane on their way from the north side of the pool to the south side; they hang off the flimsy lane ropes like drunken acrobats; they dive in just as I'm approaching, forcing sudden application of the brakes. I start to watch them. At the deep end, where the bottom drops sharply away, a round-limbed pubescent girl in bright blue is kicking her way back to the surface, trailing a long dark plait of hair which looks heavy in the water. A pair of long-legged girls in scallop-cut shorts have attached themselves to the lane rope nearby, kicking idly and leaning on the rope as if it was a backyard fence between them. Boys turning into men dive for the bottom, not showing the effort as they surface. At the shallow end, two mothers and two children hold hands, forming a wispy circle of four that reminds me of Matisse's dancers against their background of blue.
I try to maintain my straight lines, swimming up and down in the space reserved for me alone, feeling lightheaded from breathing too deeply, concentrating on my newly corrected stroke as I do at the Fitzroy Pool, where serious laps are the main game and the frolickers are pushed to the edges. The unheated pool is chilly and therefore, despite the million floating particles suspended in the water, feels fresh on my skin. A diving child undercuts the lane, joining a school of submariners, and I am reminded of the darting fish in the Yeerung River on Victoria's east coast, where I swam at the New Year.
Here I am the queer fish. I am reminded of Douglas Adams, who suggested that dolphins were the smarter of humans and dolphins, because we invented the digital watch and airports, while all they did was muck about in the water having a good time. Am I having a good time? I swim on.
Two kilometres done, to the metre, I get out and walk across hot concrete to the "ladies only" change room, the soles of my feet burning, nondescript pop songs flooding out of the tinny public address speakers, songs that sound like the past, filling the summer air.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

things don't seem to be going well for my aspirational friend. his blog of affirmations is now a spam blog offering cheap loans. pity. I was kind of hoping he'd get the big house, the fast car and the beautiful wife.

I am still not Married Johnny Depp.

so this affirmation thing is bs, decided once and for all.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Safari on Mac and Javascript, they are not friends. I keep not being able to use drop-down menus, and now the draft function of Blogger is crashing Safari. and anyway, the draft from New York that I wanted, the one about how I used to adore Dave Eggers and his mob unconditionally, but the turning away of my disappointed four-year-old in the rain from the Superhero Supply Shop has brought about the inevitable decline in my opinion. Yes you're run by volunteers, folks, but you *could* put your hours and notices of unusual closures on your site. and if, perchance, a small person travels 45 minutes by foot and subway in the rain to visit your store and you're closed at a time that you're usually open, and you (meaning a young woman who I shall refrain from describing because I can't be kind about her), you could also let him in to look around for a minute or two.

if anyone else finds themselves locked out of the superhero supply shop by a heartless b*tch (oops, see what I mean?), you might want to look on the other side of the road a few blocks towards the station, where there is a fine, non-volunteer, for-profit, comic book and figurine shop which will happily sell your small child a light sabre and a Spiderman comic, thus saving the day.

so this is post 1921. will I make 2008 in 2008? not if my *&^# hand doesn't get better. a minor but significant - to me as a writer anyway - side effect of the cancer surgery was the loss of the lymph nodes in my right arm, and some subsequent swelling and discomfort. not huge, but enough to bother me. and of course handwriting and typing make it worse. so, I suspect, does swimming 2k a day whenever I can. but it's not stopping me. I think, though, that it makes me subconsciously reluctant to pick up pen or keyboard, makes me feel that what I'm writing has to be prejudged as worth the discomfort and risk of making my hand worse.
nothing on email. coffee not kicked in yet so randomly went to Blogger and clicked on a recently updated blog (they flash past like express trains these days).

and found this - the 2013-dated affirmation blog of a man who is probably in Indonesia or Malaysia or similar, probably has nothing (particularly not a house like this or a woman like this), but who clearly has some strange cargo-cult belief that by putting these affirmations out there online (and you'll note that each one appears to be hand-typed rather than cut and pasted, because there are typos), he will get It All.

and who knows? maybe he will. maybe I'll try it.

I am Married Johnny Depp
I am Married Johnny Depp..

(waits)

nah. nothin'.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

two posts to put up on one day; and as it's "a poor sort of memory that works only backwards", I'll do today's now and the one from two weeks ago later.

Jet lag. Like a dream of being awake in the middle of the night; but it's bright and trams and bikes are rolling by. I wake up at 6.30 am. It's not ligt yet; it could be midnight (it is in Vegas).

By seven, the sun is just rising. I keep it behind me as I set out on the ride, the same ride I always do in the morning. Today, though, it's different. Two weeks off these shores have disconnected me from the familiarity of landscape, the rhythm of days and I see anew with the clarity of an acid trip. It's been raining, and I'm in love with the sudden green of the park, the tang of eucalyptus in the air. All around me, people are taking this morning, Melbourne, here and now, for granted, but I arrive at the Vic Market at 7.30 with the surprise of a witness to a resurrection. I buy a coffee - proper coffee, which is unobtainable in America - and a donut - smaller than my own head and freshly made, I note to a friend later - and make my way in the anonymity of a scruffy bike rider to a chrome chair at a chrome table.

On the way I collect a free postcard advertising an anime exhibition, and what looks like a small cartoon/newsletter zine, photocopied and stuffed into the postcard stand. Only when I sit down, bite into the soft dough and hot jam and start reading, do I realise that it's a piece of provocation, a pretend newsletter from a pretend refugee action group, advising the good people of North Melbourne that they must take in refugees this month, and then learnt to slaughter sheep halal-style, to cover their heads and silence their women. Who would believe this was real? who would be turned against other humans by such transparent trash? I don't know, but a hot flush of anger invades my ghostly disconnected self; I leave my coffee, walk inside, take the rest of the newsletters off the stand and chuck them in the recycling bin. I wouldn't do this in America; I don't think I would. This is part of what it means to be home; to care, and to act, on how things are.

That was yesterday; today I rode out even earlier, at 6.30, when the only sign of dawn was a small crack of yellow sky hovering to the west. There was a storm coming (now, at 2pm, it's blowing all the trees outside down in a synchronised fawning bow, and people shouldn't go outside); the storm somehow coloured the earliest light of the sun so that the clouds were an inverted dunescape, red glowing sands on the peaks and dark purple greys in the valleys. Over the sky-desert a small flashing white light travelled tiny; a plane moving fast, but small and out of place in the angry sky. By 7.30, when I was almost home again and the sun was rising, a nuclear explosion coming up from the east, the city was a jagged mirror reflecting yellows and pinks against a purple western haze; the white trunks of the trees were tinged pink and the green of their leaves glowed with radiation.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

oh hooray. another movie. my average must be approaching one a quarter. and, strangely enough given my stated preferences and tendency to hide my eyes behind my hands when there's blood on the screen, another very violent one. No Country for Old Men; you don't need me to tell you it's good; none of the reviews I've read, however, noted the originality of the dialogue and the depth of characterisation even for minor players. seeing that has certainly moved Cormac McCarthy's The Road up in my 100-book pile of to-reads.

speaking of: have embarked on the second reading (25 years later) of Henry Handel Richardson's Australia Felix. I'm gradually coming out of denial about the gold rush being quite an interesting period; well, you try growing up with compulsory weekly excursions to Sovereign Hill and general Ballarat gold-obsession. yesterday I poked around some abandoned mine shafts at Yapeen; it's strange to think of all the people that once swarmed over that empty bush; I even caught myself scanning the ground for that fat gold nugget that several thousand people before me had missed. but it wasn't there. :(

and just btw, as comments are closed, but I know that Watcher is a well-read blog: this Jennifer Sinclair is not me. I think I've said it before. but I'd just like to say it again, as Watcher has pretty much summed up my general objections to the article in question. but not to my sharing a name (almost) with the author.

and the real question of the day: should I start another blog? this one is kind of personal ramblings; my current writing blog is just writing ramblings; I'm thinking of one where I could post completed works. yes, the ratio of rejections to acceptances is starting to drive me crazy; I'm in danger of missing the days when the ravenous Age published every word I could bash out. not that that was necessarily a good thing.

or maybe I should just roll all the blogs together and start labelling. so those interested in my surfing progress could skip the whinges about Melbourne uni, and anyone who cares to read my writing could avoid accounts of how cute my child is. have I mentioned how cute my child is?

:P

Friday, January 25, 2008

Fridays are Mummy Days at the moment. Today seemed a particularly long one, possibly due to the prone form of Daddy lying in the bedroom having a sick day off work while I cleaned, cooked and amused the child. Fortunately there was a visit from the grandparents to break up the uninterrupted joy of motherhood.

reading: David Sedaris. If I'd been born gay and Greek in the American midwest, I could be achingly funny too.

so after the grandparents were seen off, the kid was in bed and the husband driven out of my space by my objection to his turning the a/c off while I was working in the kitchen, I thought I'd top off the day with a trip to the supermarket. and as often happens, once out of the house there was no stopping me. First the Vegie Bar for good vegan apple crumble and surly service, then the lovely Brunswick St Bookstore: le cour de la citie, c'est commerce, or similar, as Sedaris would mangle it. I bought another of his books - just finished Me Talk Pretty One Day - among others, and took some schadenfreudian (???) pleasure in coming across a book of poetry by my ex-boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, the one before me. now, I have mostly given up poetry, or at least attempting to publish it. and she sure should have. there were poems in there about my dog, or anyway the one she passed on to the ex and me. then there was one dedicated to the actual ex, with salacious lines about thrusting. erk. no names, no pack drill, but erk. I still have a tape of this woman describing the ex as something unprintable - she saw fit to leave the message on my answerphone, so I saw fit to keep the tape - I guess time must have softened her view. although, you know what? she was right the first time.

Monday, January 21, 2008

horrifying fact: the review of Eastern Promises below, dated October 25, is the last time I saw a movie.

maybe it's because I've been bouncing out of bed early to ride every day, but I just don't seem to have the stamina for movies that finish after 10 any more. good legs, underdeveloped mind...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What do you do when you've tidied up your study, packed away all the 2007 calendars, re-sorted the unread books piles, written a list of places to submit work and connected up the new keyboard you got for Christmas?

Right. You blog. Consider this my official procrastination blog for 2008.

Year began well with a brilliant camping week at Cape Conran, though there wasn't much surf (didn't I mention I was learning to surf? maybe that's because I haven't been blogging for months). It has not progressed all that well, though, with the sudden death of my cousin, who has a three-year-old son and was one year older than me. Of course it won't sink in until the funeral; and of course it's wrong to think this way, as I'm alive; but her death has hit me that little bit harder because her boy is now in the situation I was afraid my son would be in when I was diagnosed with cancer three years ago. The parallels in our lives are strong; same age, late motherhood via IVF - but this is one parallel I didn't foresee. And there will be a funeral.

These are issues I might not have blogged before; among my new years' resolutions is to consolidate all my thinking. so bloggety blog may reactivate in 08.

other resolutions include not assuming the worst of people's motivation until I'm sure of them (springing from a few times recently I've flown off the handle unfairly) and to take all my vitamins. health and fitness are under control, due to my obsessive nature; in the past three months there have been 3 (three) days I have not ridden my bike, and I'm averaging 6 ks a week in the pool. and there's the surfing, which seems more likely to damage me in some violent way than to make me fitter.

and of course there is the question of writing/work, in an environment where there is plenty of paid work. with one uni subject to go and three days' kindy, I could easily start freelancing again. or I could get my teeth into the writing. I would prefer the latter; which brings me back to the big study-tidy, which has given me a relatively clean and clear space not full of kids' toys, washing and other distractions. possibly that can be a final resolution; to keep this space available and active for what I'm really trying to do, as opposed to the things that make claims on my time.