hitting the big time

I guess I haven’t really mentioned much about this before, but one of the best things in my life is my relationship to little old live-music. I don’t mean the big arena, pyrotechnics, 20,000 people type of live music (although Prince the other week was pretty friggin sweet), I mean small, intimate, local venues, small stage (or no stage), local talent, and most importantly – seeing friends play.

You see, sometimes life can feel so sedentary, or sometimes you just get so tired of thinking about all the things that are wrong, or it all seems boring, or frustrating or annoying. Sometimes you don’t want to fight against anything or be inside your own head anymore and you’re looking for some sort of fix. Something to wake you up. Something to appreciate purely for the pleasure of appreciating. Something beautiful. Sometimes you’re looking for soul food.

For me, this means going to watch friends play music.

 See, once upon a time I was a very little girl who had picked up her first microphone before she could really walk properly.  Okay, so the microphone was a hairbrush, but stay with me people. I was obsessed with singing. I learned every word to every song I came into contact with. I staged concerts for poor, long-suffering friends (often just a singing monologue while in the backseat of a moving vehicle – a trapped audience is, literally a captive audience) and often I was asked if it would be possible for me to not walk around singing the songs to every advertisement on TV, all day long.

Anyway. My biggest dream was to be taken seriously. But not in a big, get famous, over the top sort of way. I mostly just wanted to be listened to. I thought that if only someone, somewhere, could appreciate just once, for one little second, that I really, really could sing, then I could die a happy woman.

So one day, 16 years or so into the life of me, somebody did notice and believe I could sing and they found me a vocal coach and for the first time in my life I had someone who once a week, would sit down with me and listen to me sing and talk to me about it all with the seriousness that I used to sing Whitney Houston songs.

 Halle-fricken-llujah.

And after a few years of this I started to dream a little bigger. I thought to myself, if only, if only, somebody, somewhere thought I was a good enough singer that they would actually let me inside a recording booth and actually record a song, then oh my dear god, could I die a happy woman. I wanted to wear those vocal-booth headphones so flippin badly.

And then one day, somebody did think I was ready to record and they let me inside the booth and they spent eight hours actually putting my voice on tape and layering my harmonies and giving me support and attention, and oh my dear lord was I in heaven.

 After a few years, I started making bits and pieces of money from this and then, many vocal booths later, I moved to another city and started making friends with all sorts of amazing musicians.  And they would actually talk to me and everything.  And one day it came to be that some of them actually wanted me to be in live bands with them and sing on stage with them in front of a live audience and EVERYTHING.

And so it was. And now, a few years later, singing in bands and being around musicians and watching or playing live music is a part of my life in an integral, embedded take it for granted kind of way. ie: I can still barely believe it.

And so you can see now, that when I go to watch my friends play music, the joy I get from it, the reason it’s my soul food, is due to an amalgamation of being in total wonder that I have such talented friends, of my brain’s reward centres overflowing with the dopamine that rode in on the music, and of the three year old in me, with a hairbrush as a microphone, feeling that just by sitting in that humble room, she has somehow hit the big-time.

I really think I did.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

I’m inviting her to dinner

Sometimes all it takes to make your day is a funny stranger.

At work on Friday we hosted a BBQ for all the residents of the retirement village adjacent to our building.  I sat down next to this little old grandma in some awesome looking pale pink velour tracksuit, paired with chandelier earrings and a bum bag.

This get up alone made her my new hero.

Anyway, I was eating my sausage in a roll when I start to tune in to the conversation my workmate is having with her,  and the first thing i catch is:

Grandma:  ‘………My goodness. You could have one here, love, and one at home‘.

I lean over to my workmate and whisper: ‘what’s she talking about?’

Workmate responds:  ‘Men’.

Grandma continues to chuckle to herself, spill potato salad all over the floor and, apparently, scope the place for cute men under 87.

What a legend.

Occupy

The other day H and I attended a free forum called “OccupySWF” as part of the Sydney Writer’s Festival.  It looked like an exciting line up of political commentators and authors coming together to talk about the largest and arguably most important movement in social justice in recent history. Occupy is a big topic and one that has occupied (ha!) a lot of my thoughts, conversations and ideas. In a nutshell, the movement is primarily about addressing the abhorrent disparity in wealth between the top 1% of the population and…… well, everybody else. Multi-national corporations and the laws protecting them are one of the main targets as, for example, executive pay in the largest corporations has quadrupled since the 1970’s (even after adjusting for inflation), whereas the average employee now earns approximately 10% less.

quadrupled vs 10% less??

Say what?

Moreover, the richest 1% of the U.S. population owns more than a third of the overall wealth.

1% owns a third??  Now, I’m pretty shit at math, but even to me that sounds pretty fucked up. 

And – 42 million American’s now live below the poverty line.

Um, that’s like, double the population of Australia.

Jesus.  Did I go to sleep one day and wake up in some screwed up, 21st century version of feudal society?

FUCK THAT.

Anyway, when I hear dissenters of Occupy say things like, ‘Their message is baffling and incoherent’, I just take another look at the statistics mentioned above, in plain old black and white, and think, ‘really??!!’   And when they say ‘Occupy is irrelevant and meaningless’, I say ‘to who? Me? The millions of people who will never move above the poverty line? The thousands of us being pushed outside the city limits due to the gigantic ever-widening gap between earning capacity and cost of living for the everyday middle class?  To the thousands sleeping on the streets every. Single. Night?  No?  Just you then?’

And then I think ‘asshole’.

Anywaaaaaay, the forum. It was billed to ‘incite, inspire and inform!’

It did not.

Lots of things were wrong with the forum. The use of the language of the speakers was a bit off putting. Loretta Napoleni kept identifying the movement as one of the most fascinating, important and unprecedented actions ever but kept referring to the people as ‘them’ and ‘they’. I’m sorry Loretta, but your use of the word ‘them’ infers that you believe yourself to be of something else, which in turn implies you do not identify with the 99%, which means you are the 1%, which means we don’t give a shit what you think

Academics on their high horse, wanting to study the little rats so that when the movement is successful, instead of having been a part of it, they can just write about how good their research was.

Give me a break.

And then there was a bit of a pissing contest between speakers and a lot of academic toshery (word?) It was not all annoying though. The good thing about this forum was that even though these academics all had different opinions on the movement, what to call it, how history will view it, where it will end up – they all agreed, unanimously, unequivocally that this was something incredibly important. It was something they were all taking extremely seriously. It was something that they all recognised as having the potential for worldwide historical relevance. And that, is a very good thing indeed.

Occupy is not a quick fix solution – it is not a protest about one specific thing, the demands of which can be simply met, tomorrow. Occupy is the beginning of a worldwide change that started today but will take decades. It would be a mistake to ask Occupy for immediate results and call it a failure when they don’t appear.  Big results are a long time away – but the all important rumblings of dissatisfaction, the questioning of why things are like they are, the demand for respect, for accountability, the opportunity to think about how things could be done differently –  these are the roles that this generation will play in the change.

 I hope that in centuries to come people will look back on this section of history and view the rule of the corporate class with the unfathomability we now view slavery.  As in, ‘well, that was so obviously wrong’.

 It is so obviously wrong.  Dare to dream of a better way.

lucky day

i have a cat.  did you know i have a cat?  he’s the sweetest cat in the whole wide world and so, very, very cute.  he’s also affectionate and playful.  i am so in love with this cat that I have heard whispers of ‘crazy cat lady’ at those times when i get caught going gaga over him like he’s a baby.  here is a picture of said cat:

 

this morning the little fuckwit pissed all over my bed.

 FUCK.ING.HELL.

 the duvet cover, the duvet, the flat sheet, the bottom sheet, the sheepskin mattress thingo and the fucking mattress itself.  did he save it up all week?  how does one little cat hold so much piss???!!!

 errgghh, i don’t know why.  he’s normally so sweet, he normally sleeps in the bed why is he doing this to me?  When I caught him, the little bastard was still on top of the bed doing the little scratching thing that cats do to cover their tracks.  did he think i wouldn’t notice??

 i admit, i lost my temper.  i yelled, i swore, i threw him out.  i mean, jesus christ, i wasn’t even dressed yet.  i think that having to deal with this as you come out of the shower in the morning is probably the best way to start the world’s worst monday. 

 oh and i not only had to strip the bed and start feeding it bit by bit into my little washing machine, i also had to struggle to singlehandedly drag my mattress out of my room, down the hall, through the kitchen and out into the back yard where I promptly lost control of it and it fell, face first, into the soaking wet lawn and probably cat shit.

 do you think this is because I posted about not being religious?  

fuck.

 anyway, onwards and upwards.  i’ve already been home twice today to feed the washing machine with yet more bedclothes.  and I’ve already forgiven the little mofo.  and I’m keeping my bedroom door shut at all times from now on.

 

 

socks with sandals

this is sorta hard for me to admit, but  it has become apparent to me over the years that i am actually extremely judgemental.  it really bugs me that this is the case, i judge myself about it (irony), however the truth remains.  almost every single day i catch myself out making a judgement about somebody else.  i would ask you to not judge me regarding this little disclosure but that would be, well, hypocritical.

now, when i say i’m judgemental i don’t mean that i’m a really overt, loud-mouth, big issue ‘i-have-an-opinion-about your-behaviour-and-you’re-going- to-know-about-it’  type of person.  i mean it in a far more subtle, running internal dialogue, pent up annoyance, mostly about shit that doesn’t really matter, type of way.  which, i think, is pretty much the definition of petty.

potential things that get me pretty worked up are:  if your breakfast foods include a chocolate bar or a can of coke;  if you insist on using ‘there’ ‘their’ ‘they’re’  inappropriately in business emails;  if you repeatedly laugh too loud in an open plan office;  if you speak too slowly;  if you ask the same question more than twice;  if you slam the door too hard when leaving the house early in the morning; or if you think britney spears was the first to utilise the microphone headset (it was madonna).

judgements i will be making regarding the above abominations are, in order: gross; idiot;  annoying;  idiot;  idiot;  insensitive;  idiot.

*sigh*.  so many things of  little consequence, so little hours in the day.

anyway, i was thinking about all this judgementalism and it inevitably brought me to the subject of religion.  because, truth be known, i am also sort of judgemental about those of faith.  i always say how i just don’t understand people who can dedicate their lives to a belief that is so fantastically constructed by man and man alone.  that clearly religion is just a deterrent from the cold hard truth that there is no way of knowing what is going to happen, and a way to indoctrinate people about what they should think is right, wrong or otherwise.

then i thought about how i, the unreligous person of presumed intellect, will throw around words like ‘fate’ and  ‘soul mate’, will have faith that ‘everything happens as it should’,  all the while reading horoscopes and trawling episodes of ‘sex and the city’  for some sort of divine intervention.

riiiiight.  hypocrite much?

it seems we all have some pretty dodgy ways of dealing with the unknowable.  tying this together with judgementalism –  i reckon this is where the non-religious might fall down.  at least the devout, pure type of religious person has a sort of decent enough framework to work with in regards to how to treat others. with the non-religious there’s no asking  ‘what would jesus do’,  it’s pretty much just  ‘if i don’t like it, then you suck’.   ie: judgementalism is the religion of the non-religious.

or probably just me.

in any event, i’m gonna have to just sit with that for a while.  maybe i’ll think twice before  getting annoyed at people who pray, or who, you know, wear socks with sandals.

GOT party

Last nite a good friend of mine hosted a Game of Thrones dinner party.  It was lots of fun and we had a huge vegan feast and then we pushed all the couches together to face the TV and they ended up blocking the exit and I worried about fire safety for a second, but then I just relaxed and ate cupcakes.  It was a really awesome nite and the whole idea of watching TV with friends felt very youthful and indulgent. 

But anyway, about this Game of Thrones.

It’s a bit weird, right?

I know people love it, they’re nuts about and hey, I just sat and watched three episodes back to back.  But still.  I have questions.   Like, for example, why is it in fantasy, when the writers have gone to great pains to invent entire countries and lands full of witches and zombies, white walkers and dragons, that women still just get to be whores or queens?  Just wondering.  Cos that ain’t fantasy – that’s just good old fashioned medieval history.  And why is it that all non-white people are portrayed as savages that need salvation from the beautiful white people?  That’s not fantasy – that’s just colonialism.  And why is paedophilia and incest okay?  Who’s fantasy is this?? 

That’s really the question isn’t.  Considering it’s a worldwide smash.

A friend of mine pointed out that Game of Thrones is basically just biblical stuff.  The author just took one look at the Old Testament and went ‘Shit. I could totally sell this’. 

 And he did.

 Personally,  I want to see me some fantasy that is actually fantastical.  You know, shit that didn’t already happen all throughout history.  I’d like to see a land where women are not being dominated, where black people rule and all the men are whores. 

Just for kicks.  Until then I’ll probably just watch the rest of the series.  But only with friends and cupcakes.

sliding scale

i’ve been realising lately that a great big part of being a grown up is about being at peace with the fact that real life exists on a sliding scale.

let me explain.

in childhood, everything is black or white.  there is right, and then there’s wrong.  there is good, and then there’s bad.  there is ‘friend’ or there is ‘that catty biatch who won’t let me play with her barbie’.  and in terms of thinking about your future relationships there is ‘the one’ or there is ‘everybody else’.

basic.

combine this childlike black and white attitude with the fact that you spent a big chunk of your childhood memorising every line to certain big-screen musicals, and you have yourself a recipe for disaster.  the ‘musical’ genre of movie really runs with the black and white concept.  it so fully believes in the idea of ‘the one’  that it has whole songs and big chunks of the score designed specifically to signal to you that ‘the one’ has been found and life is about to begin.

what i took from all this was a very ill-advised approach to life.  basically i’ve spent the last twenty years walking down the street waiting for the dance routine to signal that the good times have started.  and in my relationships i’ve always felt like something was ‘missing’.  but really, the only thing missing was that the poor guy hadn’t sung at me from a gazebo while i coyly danced around doing harmonies.  so i’d dump him.

anyway, clearly this worldview has not really been working for me.  the thing i’ve come to realise is that everything exists in shades of grey, on a sliding scale.  there is no good or bad or right or wrong, only varying degrees of each depending on a multitude of other variables including context.   i’ve been okay with accepting this for most areas of my life  but i really didn’t extend it to the way in which i conducted my relationships.  i’ve really been holding onto the black and white thing like some sort of cop-out relationship life raft.  the obvious truth is, of course, that if there is no right and no wrong, then there’s probably no ‘one’ and no ‘everybody else’.  all relationships exist somewhere on the sliding scale in between, and a happy relationship is one that is peaceful and accepting of where they are on that scale.

this is hard to accept because it puts a lot of the responsibility and choice onto our own shoulders.  with the idea of ‘the one’, you relinquish all control over the decision, handing it over to fate.  essentially, you don’t have to make a choice.  the one, is the one and that is that, you only have to sit back and wait.  but with the sliding scale, what it means is, that we have to actually make our own decision.  it means we have to take a risk based on our own judgement and risk making the wrong decision.

and that, my friends, is terrifying.

i guess the silver lining here is that presumably your decisions are also on a sliding scale – there is no wrong one, there is only what you choose.

*sigh*.  someday i’ll be brave enough to do that.  but today i’m just gonna go watch Grease. one. more. time……

 

some days

so, some days you do things like go to work, hang out with friends, and read a book in bed. other days, like yesterday, you get to do things like….

see PRINCE!!!!!  sorry for the bad cell phone pics but i was a tad drunk off the VIP PRE-SHOW PRINCE COCKTAIL PARTY.  ahem. i mean, what can i say?  i have bruises across my thighs from standing and leaning into the row in front of me while screaming and pointing at him and my throat feels like i’ve contracted glandular fever in the past 24 hours though i suspect it has more to do with how many times i squealed ‘PRIIIINCCEEEEOHHMYGOOODWOOOOOAHHHHPRINCEESHIIIITTOHHHMYGODDDDD’ or something to that effect.

he was fairly fantastic.  i mean, it’s PRINCE.  a living legend. he’s the purple rain to my little red corvette.  the cream to my controversy, he’s the D to the I to the A to the……well you get the picture.

anyway, in short, some days are decidedly better than others.

staying here

Some weeks, like this week,  I feel like I’ve fallen out of orbit, or I’ve been flung from the centrifuge out into chaos.  I feel as though I have lost my centre, I have no axis – I’ve gone completely out of my mind.   Actually, that’s  the exact opposite of what happens.  It’s not that i am out of my mind, it’s that i can’t get out of it.  

Oh my mind, my mind, my poor crazy mind.  Without its orbit, something to focus its attention on, it wants to go in all different directions at once.  It loves the past and all its glorified suffering and regrets.  It likes to point out where in time the fork appeared in the road and what the weather was doing the day I took the wrong path.  It likes to imagine the future, but only if there are several versions at once, and only if they fundamentally contradict one another; and when I protest that I cannot be all things in one life, my mind is quick to reassure me that I’m not capable of achieving any of them anyway.

Oh my mind, it is not a very nice friend sometimes.

When it gets like this, when it takes over on it’s little chaos party, it’s my present that suffers. The present becomes invisible, uninhabited, put on pause while all that I am is living inside my head in the future and the past.  My present me becomes a shell of a thing, fumbling through the motions, relinquishing control to the battle within.  Gradually, the present starts to be the thing that doesn’t exist as my imaginings  render themselves concrete in the interior of my mind.   My mind starts buying up all the prime real estate in my brain and furnishing it with all my doubts, desires, afflictions and limitations.   It gets so busy doing this that it begins to convince the rest of me that we don’t have time to do anything else.  No time to focus on work, no time to dedicate to the blog, no time to write music.  There is only time to dwell, now step to it.

Oh my mind, my mind, addicted to all that never was.

It is such a struggle to stay in the present moment.  To bring the focus and awareness on what is happening in the here and now. But it is a struggle worth persevering through as the present moment has a profound ability to heal.  Being focused on what is in front of you, to be in that state of flow with what you’re doing right now is your ticket, my ticket, to freedom.  When I manage it, I can feel all of everything that makes me feel bad, start to reconcile and expel itself as a breath from somewhere deep in my chest.  It’s euphoric. I can feel the chains release as I regain what is rightly mine.  My life.

My mind does not win forever, but it has won this week.  I am regaining the strength to bring all our faculties back to now.  We want to stay here, we’re moving back in.

of lawn mowers and sunshowers

so the other day, my work day consisted entirely of mowing the lawn belonging to this large house:

 

Q: How many staff does it take to mow a lawn?
A: Seven (and two whipper snippers, one lawn mower, three rakes, a hedge-trimmer, 2 extension cords and five hours)

now, let me just point out that this photo was not taken the day we were there.  we know this because the day I was there those little baby hedges you see lining the path?  yeah, they were taller than me and joined in the middle.  and those quaint little yellow daisies you see growing on the grass?  yeah, they were smothered by the knee length flaxlike jungle lawn that encompassed the entire area. 

wait.  why are you mowing this lawn?

so, we have an annual volunteering day at my work. this means that every year, every employee spends one day volunteering their time to another one of the organisation’s programs or facilities.  I love this about my job.  I love that volunteering time is considered a non-negotiable in this world.  I love that in meetings we talk about how we can better serve the poor instead of talking about how we can better serve the company’s bottom line.  it makes me so happy.  but anyway, the other day, I was assigned to come to this big old mansion, a boarding house for boys from country or rural areas that allow them the opportunity to come to the city to study or work. there is only one caretaker for the property and it sits on over an acre of land.  It has been raining here for what seems like EVER and as such……

it’s a jungle out there.

we sorta thought we might spend the day sitting in the garden, doing some light weeding and chatting, maybe with a spot of tea and wearing one of those big floppy straw hats that women always have on in the garden in paintings.

what actually happened was we ran over two electrical cords with the hedgetrimmer, nearly set the hedge on fire, and had to spend the first three hours wielding giant whipper snippers in an attempt to get the jungle flax lawn down to a point where we might be able to think about getting a mower in there. it hurt. a lot. spot of tea my arse.

but we got there in the end and we were mighty proud i have to say. i definitely need to find a chiropractor, but hey, what a great looking lawn.

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