Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Every moment is golden

I'm reading a volume of Anais Nin's diary, from the time she met Henry and June. I love Anais Nin in such a way I can't explain. She reminds me of myself.

'I have had masculine elements in me always... I acted delicately and yet as a man. It would have been more feminine to have been satisfied with the passion of other admirers, but i insisted on my own selection, on a fineness of nature which i found in a man weaker then I was. I suffered deeply from my own forwardness as a woman. As a man, I would have been glad to have what I desired.
Now Hugo is strong, but I am afraid it is too late. The masculine in me has made too much progress. Now even if Eduardo wanted to live with me (and yesterday he was tormented by an impotent jealousy), we couldn't do so because creatively I am stronger then he is, and he couldn't bear it. I have discovered the joy of a masculine direction of my life by my courting of June. Also I have discovered the terrible joy of dying, of disintegrating.

“Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realise it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognise it as such.”

- Henry Miller

Saturday, 24 August 2013

I think that says a lot about me

Days. Days spent in bed. Yesterday me and Seb watched a french film called CRAZY and i think we both hated it and it left us both feeling pretty awful, it was one of those movies where really nothing good happens and you don't identify with any of the characters and therefore don't really care when they're sad or when they die. But it was about a family and was set over 10 or 15 years and i do like films that follow that general concept because i like to see how people change over time. It had an amazing soundtrack I'll give it that.

I've been re watching Dream of Life, the Patti Smith documentary - i never tire of it and every time i watch it i notice something new and something will resonate with me differently then the last time. It's also filmed over 10 years, and with a lot of footage from the 70's and 80's - it's practically her whole life condensed into film. You see her children grow up. She talks a lot about the Beats, about Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, and there's some footage from Ginsberg's memorial service - where Patti reads one of my favourite of his poems, On the Cremation of Chogyam Trungpa. The first time i watched it i cried. It's accompanied by piano music and it works so well it sends me shivers - but the second time i watched it i realised the accompanying pianist is in fact Phillip Glass! Who composed Einstein on the Beach (and also the soundtrack to one of my favourite movies The Hours) and I felt so happy and sad that he and Patti had done a collaboration and in fact they have done many over time, and i felt happy to be a human being and to know that they are also human beings and are capable of doing truly amazing things. This is a feeling I have often and i treasure it, it's different from acknowledging that someone has done something amazing - which is so often tinged with jealousy - whycouldntidothat illneverbethatgood - but actually feeling proud to have them in this world. You could describe it as the 'Sublime' - depending on which definition you're looking at.

On friday night i went out with some of my high school friends and it was really nice to see them again, in the early hours of the morning we went to Pony which is now called Boney and it was nothing like it used to be and it made me sad how things have changed and how i'll never be able to re live those days again, of being 15 and going out with my fake id and meeting up with my then boyfriend who was older and who would steal bottles of gin from behind the bar and dancing with punks who had green mohawks and studded leather jackets. I was talking to Amy who i used to call Freckle but now just Amy and that's a whole other story but basically we were talking about how we are each other's oldest friends, which is a strange thought because the group i used to run around with had known me since i was a preteen, and they had known my parents and they'd known all my bad hair phases and embarrassing stories and everything everything that's happened to me. In some ways i've become a different person in the last year, and those things don't apply to me anymore. When i went to a party and saw some other old high school friends a couple of weeks ago, i caught up with a boy who i used to be very very close with but unfortunately we just grew apart you know how it is and anyway he told me he still has a picture of my mum in his room from the funeral brochure and he said he looks at it every day. It really moved me i can't explain it i mean i feel like i'd been dying to hear that from someone for a long time, i like it when i see my family and we talk about my mum and it's nice and it's sad that Jack and Seb and Kassie will never meet my mum and they won't know what she was like or how her voice sounded.
Last night Jack had a gathering in his cottage and i drank too much red wine and my head hurts still and i don't feel like doing anything at all.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


Sue carried her hardships around like a prize medal to be worn on her dress. Sue recounted her bouts with the dark side, wearing a smile on her face. Sue spoke of getting shock therapy, in an airy voice that one would discuss gardening. Sue spoke about suicide, with a cigarette in hand and a glass of scotch in the other.

She curled her dyed auburn hair on top of her head, and painted her lips red. Holding her eyeliner with the skill she held a paintbrush, she applied the cat eyes that made her feel young again. Sue cooked breakfast for her family and whistled a Beatles song to her self, then dressed her kids for school and packed their lunches. She did not hug or kiss them goodbye when they left. Her husband leant over the kitchen bench to peck her on the lips; she extended her cheek with a fake smile and a cold silence.

Sue tidied the house. She straightened pillows on the couch. She organized her art supplies, made the children’s beds, and cleaned out the fridge. Sitting on the patio, she downed a glass of wine, and then finished the bottle. Afterwards, she had her afternoon nap, as she did every day. When she woke up her kids were back, her husband was preparing a glass of gin. Sue sat in front of the TV without watching.

Sue spent most of her days without talking to anyone but her family. Even then, conversation was sparse. Her children didn’t talk to her the way they spoke to their father; with him they would discuss their dreams, their days at school, their friends and their playground enemies. With her they gave curt one-word answers. They sat with their backs a little straighter when she walked into the room.

Sue had suffered Tuberculosis five or so years before her eldest child was born. The illness isolated her, she lost contact with all her friends, and she knew only the familiar faces of the nurses in the hospital. She didn’t speak to the other patients. Her family did not visit. Her favorite brother, Frank, was at war in Tobruk. He wrote her letters sometimes. When she was in hospital, she heard news of his death via letter from her other brother John. In a fit of manic grief, she ran down the corridors of the hospitals crying and screaming, yelling his name. The nurses had to hold her down.

She went and lived alone by the seaside. She enjoyed the solitude, the peace and quiet. Sue had had half a lung removed, and was told the TB might return. She was advised not to kiss or hug her friends and relatives, to avoid the spreading of germs – an aversion she carried through motherhood. She kept herself at arms length from the few visitors she had.

She moved back to Melbourne, living in a one bedroom flat in St Kilda. She began socializing again, making friends with the housewives of the men returned from war. Sue met Tim at a party; he was fourteen years her senior and had spent his time at war in Tobruk. He had lost half his thumb. He had lost his hearing in one ear. He had lost faith in the goodness of people; he had lost his faith in God. So had Sue, they bonded over atheism. They bonded over alcoholism. She fell pregnant and they married, they bought a house together, and their daughter was born.

Like trees that grow to and from one another, this family grew together then fell apart. A man returned from War has a certain aura that follows him. Something sad and quiet, that sits by his side at dinner parties, at work, on trains, in bed. Something that says ‘Yes, I’ve killed men’, and ‘Yes, I wish I could forget their faces’. Posttraumatic stress disorder wasn’t recognized as mental illness for another 20 years. Only those willing to admit to their suffering, to seek help, to reach out from their haunted sleep and identify the trauma they were dealing with, were able to have peace. There weren’t many who did so. Many men, like Tim, turned to the bottle as therapy. If he drank himself to sleep, he wouldn’t have nightmares. This was how he got through the nights, and there was no shame in it. His friends from Tobruk did the same, his neighbors did the same, and his children’s friends’ fathers did the same. The wives, when they met for cocktails on a Saturday afternoon, did not discuss it.

The good woman who cares for her War veteran husband puts herself second. She prepares his meals, she washes his clothes, and she holds him at night when he hears the sounds of his fellow men’s screams. Sue wanted to be that woman. She tried very hard.  It was the Australian version of the ‘American Dream.’  Instead she found herself trapped in a suburban nightmare.

Sue’s first attempt at suicide was when her children were of ages six and seven.
It was a Sunday, and she gave her children each a glass of milk. Both contained a sleeping tablet. Sue wanted some peace and quiet, for the children to have a nice long rest. After she put them to bed, the house was her own to walk about; she ran her fingers over the photo frames that lines the mantelpiece, she watched the chiffon curtain playfully shift as the wind teased it from an open window. She lit a cigarette. Then she downed the remainder of pills in the bottle she was holding, washing them down with scotch, and lay down on the couch.

Tim later found her and called and ambulance. He was in no state to drive her to the hospital, having been at the pub after a hard days work. She had her stomach pumped and suffered no series damage from her brush with death. The children were fine.

She recalled these events as if she were reading me a children’s story. Her voice was soft and light as a feather. Her lips curled in a smile, but her eyes remained cold. She told me she didn’t fear death, that western culture isolated death from life – but it was as much as part of life as birth. As love. After she passed away, I found a small watercolour landscape of a beach on her bedside table. I’d recognise her fine and skilled brush strokes anywhere. On the back, in curled and deliberate handwriting, she had scrawled a stanza of a Dylan Thomas poem.

Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;

And death shall have no dominion.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Heart Vomit

We all carry sadness around like a hole in our hearts. 
All the people we loved, who are gone now dead (kept alive in my head.)
Cry on my shoulder; fill my glass heart with your rain. There’s so much beauty in you -yes you- 
There’s darkness in all of us but there’s light too (don’t you cry now) 
I want to offer you a blanket, wrap it round your shoulders, tiny bird you’ll be safe with me. 
The void in your heart implodes like the creation of the universe in reverse 
and when you open your mouth the sun shines out on my moon tanned limbs and I 
can see the stars that I haven’t seen in years. Blink twice while I kiss you goodnight. 
Don’t ever say those words again; don’t say that you’re all alone, 
don’t ever say you want to die. Now, don’t you cry.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Free write.

I’m trying to read something but my brain feels like putty like something thick and dense and malleable. Mould my mind, mould my mind. It’s one of those days that held a promise in the morning but as usual I let the morning hours slip away, early afternoon never lasts long, evening comes on quick and then that’s that, that’s done. What am I doing here? This isn’t my home, just a place I’ve set up camp, made myself comfortable, a change of scenery a gas heater a chesterfield couch. Sometimes I need a break from my house and that’s okay. You can’t expect me to love that house. Some days I do. You can’t expect me to love that house all the time, is what I mean. I mean how could I. On days where I see clearly the cracks in the plaster and the dog hair on the carpet and I’m reminded of the fact that it’s been 8 months since the bulb burst in my room and I haven’t changed it yet. Strategically placed lamps and fairy lights. A softer setting for my tranquil space. Harsh overhead lights only hurt my retinas. I’ll tell myself that. 
On days like these I’m reminded of being a kid and taking a day off school, and being excited in the morning for a day of doing nothing and being at home and getting looked after for being sick or maybe I wasn’t actually sick just pretending but either way I enjoyed it. But then it would be over and it would feel all a bit sickening and grotesque and bleak because that’s a whole day gone and nothing came of it. Nothing good. Hours spent watching daytime TV and that slovenly gluttonous feeling, can’t shake it off can’t wash it off. 
A man once told me that when I feel this way I should try and ‘take control’ and ‘do something’ to make myself proud, do a drawing write a poem clean my room something like that. He worked at a hospital and he also encouraged me to let jesus into my life, and he really was annoying and kept annoying me until my Nanna told him to piss off. And it was one of those bonding moments where I thought my Nanna was really cool for swearing at a jesus man and she bought me a coffee afterwards and didn’t tell me off for smoking. But I listened to the advice part, not the jesus part, and today I’ve written this and I don’t think it made a difference but you can’t blame me for not trying cause i mean at least I tried.


Today was my mum’s birthday, she would have been 56. It seems strange that four years have gone by. It doesn’t feel that long ago, but at the same time I feel like a lifetime has passed. A time warp of grief. Today was a strange day. I didn’t really do anything; it was a nonevent. In past years on my mum’s birthday I’ve done something with my aunty or my mum’s old friends. Lunch, a toast to Roberta, a sharing of stories and anecdotes. But people move on, which is sad - but natural, I guess.

After my dad died and it was just my mum and I, we would sit on the back deck of my house and look out into the yard and listen to Van Morrison. And my mum would tell me stories about my dad, about their trips to India and their wedding and their first date, and it always surprised me how much she could remember – she would recount things down to the finest detail, the dress she wore a certain day, whole sections of conversation, the song that was playing at the bar they went to on a hot night in summer. It makes me sad that I can’t remember her as clearly as I used to. I used to have dreams about her a lot, so did my Aunty Sarah; we’d share our dreams as if they were treasured gifts, a chance to be with that person again. I once had a dream that I was on some kind of game show – answering questions trying to win a grand prize – it had that urgency and fast paced confusion of stressful dreams, heart a-racing, and I won – and the prize was that I got to go grocery shopping with my mum. And it sounds so funny but I really would just kill to go grocery shopping with my mum. I miss mundane things, like ordering pizza, or walking to the petrol station to buy cigarettes. And at the time I didn’t think anything of it, of course.

My parents loved books. They had three floor-to-ceiling bookshelves packed with literature – everything from Austen to Joyce – Kerouac to Alain de Botton. I’m working my way through it. It makes me smile to see my mums name in the cover when I pick up a book, and after I’ve finished it to know that we’ve shared an experience. My mum introduced me to Patti Smith. After she died I found a box of Patti vinyl’s – Horses, Radio Ethiopia, Easter and Twelve. But she died before she got to read Just Kids. And I’m sad that she never will because that’s something I would have loved to share with her. I read Just Kids every time I travel, and I think of my mum all the while when I travel, and every place I go I wonder if she’s been there once, too.

Astral Weeks by Van Morrison, this song is beautiful. *~*~*