Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pessimism is a last resort

Very busy dreams last night.  Melinda (she's a fitness instructor) is baking pies. I'm not allowed to touch them. Eunice is at Coles, she walks past me, I'm near a register waiting to be served. I must also find time to enter the Moran Art Prize. The dream shows me ten artworks so beautiful, a whole body of work - pointillist, silvery, esoteric - great stuff. Tiny windows of magic light flashed at me for a second. I suppose my imagination was exhibiting what I am capable of. I drink them down fast like shots.

I wake up to fart and think on this coldest morning of the year. 'Six degrees' reported from MSP who delivers the morning cup of 'hot, steaming Joe', which it is not by the time I pull-up on one elbow. My fingers peep out from under the doona, feeling bitten, looking for pen and paper. My arse does an excellent impression of a trombone. I consider risking frostbite up to the elbow to reach the coffee before it is beyond repair.

This was to be the weekend I meant to rent a six hundred dollar snow chalet overlooking Lake Eucumbeen. Poverty, once again, has forced me to live behind my hopes. Our next fabulous weekend planned in the country of my day-dreams is Dubbo Western Plains Zoo. I shall wake up in August and think 'I dreamt of lion's roaring last night - in Gladesville'. 

It hurts. I like to concentrate on pain in the morning. By afternoon I've worked my way up to mild discontent. If I plan an outing I can enjoy slight boredom. In the evenings I turn to drink. I've decided that making money might get me truly wondrous. That way I can use it to gawp at expensive magazines, spread my legs at top-class beauty salons and ideally visit African animal resorts and centrally-heated winter cabins. I would alleviate my ennui with trips to IKEA and post large packages of gifts to my nieces instead of the piddling efforts I'm currently guilty of.

For this week's menu, in order to buy myself a book or a bra, I'll plan meals that rely heavily on noodles and vegetables. That old temptation to toilet train Chuckles returns every time I enter isle three for nappies. By the time I pay for my trolleyload I'll experience the equivalent of a tiny thrill, smug in the knowledge I can feed the family for another week, or is it just seeing a three figure number on a cash register. In my Coles dream I spot Eunice shopping, I bet she never has to count carefully for groceries. In real life I did phone her for a loan so I could rent the snow chalet. She never acknowledged the request, she did however tell me of her own plans to take her children skiing. I pray to be a considerate friend, so blog bitching about them isn't very good as they are my only readers. Names have been changed.

There is a particular time of morning, when I am due to get up, the sun enters the window, piercing my dim, sleepy world. I am not a morning person because I wake up angry, covered in sleep-mud. Writing helps me beat off depressing, rabid-dog thoughts. I have to mentally kick the little fuckers off me. Sometimes that small, happy square of sunlight drifts over me and picks me up from under my armpits and props me up on the pillows and says 'here, drink this'.

The clouds mask the sun with a grey filter, everything is not so sunny, there is no pick me up. My pen is grumpy, the coffee has gone cold. But today I remember the science, that if I lay here as usual, I know that somewhere the sun is swimming in its blue sky as usual, just behind the clouds, right there where it always is, only obscured by a passing earth mood. It will come back. I cheer myself with thoughts like 'when I am dead I will get to sleep in a bit longer'. My Auntie Christine (pictured in the 60's) died in her mid-thirties of a brain tumour, cleaning the kitchen cupboards.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Space and Time

Lying under the flight-path, I like to listen to old, heavy planes rake across Sydney, this one at ten-thirty pm, half an hour before curfew. Some come later, in bad weather - you pity the pilot, egg him on to his landing strip via tantrummy clouds. The growl of engines taking their time across the sky, big and slow, travelling in an alternate universe it seems, time slowing down.  I think of them from my bed.  The old ones sound different, probably it's the props or the weight of them. Coming in from the desert or some map-dot of a place where things are run differently - places that don't have a curfew or runway lights. They must see Sydney from a hundred kilometres away, a huge hub of light, even at this late hour.  In that glow the Pope is here, somewhere, awake - are his rooms full of 'groupies', post-mass on this Sunday night?

Sydney mums sigh, everywhere, with both relief and sadness. School holidays finish soon, the last day of freedom tomorrow - we'll fork out some goodies for the last time and make sure the uniforms are clean, bananas & ham stockpiled for lunches. Baby siblings say goodbye once again to your playmates. Be ready to rise for the school bell everyone. The roads will clot once more with cars full of kids heading towards ABCs/123s.  Families return from all corners of Australia, from far-flung relatives, spare rooms, the snow or the farm, back home tonight by air or road. The rain falls for the first time this sunny, quiet week they were gone. We are always the ones to stay in town whilst others leave, left to enjoy the empty streets.

The sewage pipe is still broken, the real estate office is useless, all these holidays we've had our waste spilling onto the lower lawn and down into the earth-sponge and sadly, to the swamp I love.  Nobody cared, nobody came when we asked, all were off somewhere.

Me and my children, my husband occasionally wafting in from the world of men. What did we do apart from play imaginatively, roam in pyjamas, make snacks, watch DVD's and read laying in the sun, crawling all over each other?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I Love Books

I am supposed to be making a booklist for my pregnant Melbourne buddy, the only smart one from school (apart from moi, in our circle of jocks and social climbers anyway). I loathe going to Borders without knowing what to get, finding myself frazzled  by all the designer dust jackets and busting to go to the loo, it must be just the smell of books that makes me want to 'go'. At home we have Gabriel Garcia Marquez short stories as a loo read. At age 18 a family friend put together a great list for me of 'must reads', they were all fantastic, none of which are included below.

On this list there might be one you like or have not read yet. After trolling our fiction section these fell on me. Must get shelves. Authors with an asterisk I've found good for more than one book:

'The Time Traveler's Wife'  - Audrey Niffenegger
'The Mists of Avalon' -  Marion Zimmer Bradley
'The Dice Man' - Luke Rhinehart
'Moon Palace' - Paul Auster *
'The Way I Found Her' - Rose Tremain *
'Lost in a Good Book' - Jasper Fforde
'The Clan of the Cave Bear'  - Jean M.Auel (series) * 
'Atomised' - Michel Houellebecq *
'Eucalyptus' - Murray Bail
'The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency' - Alexander McCall Smith *
'The Red Tent' - Anita Diamant
'Year of Wonders' - Geraldine Brooks
'Staring at the Sun' - Julian Barnes *
'The Restraint of Beasts' - Magnus Mills  *
'The Old Patagonian Express' - Paul Theroux * - non fiction but hilarious and also excellent fiction writing depending on where you start.

In bookstores I find myself wistfully looking at all the books I've already read, wishing I'd never read them yet, and wonder what the fuck I'm supposed to read now. Please return me a list of your favourites (doesn't have to be the definative list as mine isn't), but I've loved all these books.