Sunday 7 May 2023

Nick Cave loves the royal family

Uninterestingly there doesn't seem to be a function in Blogger for rotating images. It makes sense, keeps overheads down here in the AI training dataset generator which is Sorrow at Sills Bend!

The last six weeks have been fantastic. The downside, and it's significant, is the major internal disturbance I'm now subject to about the prospect of returning to work tomorrow. 

Since therapy I regularly recognise and name (to myself) my emotions and subconscious thoughts. I think some people develop as beings for whom this is a natural capacity, for others, it has to be learned - if it's ever acquired. I stood up a minute ago to turn over a record and I heard myself thinking that the reason I don't want to go to work tomorrow is I'm afraid I'll be attacked. And it's true, I am afraid of that. I think it won't happen, I think I probably won't even feel particularly inadequate and I may even be welcomed back by some colleagues, and I may find that I easily remember what my job is and what I need to be doing. All of that is possible. But I know myself well enough to know that I will be in a right and escalating state until I settle down into something work-like tomorrow, around mind-morning. It's in my head but it still feels real.

I'll try to get there early enough that nobody sees me coming in, but beyond that, no pandering to worries and anxieties.

In the slightly longer term, going back to work means stepping out of the dream and wish fulfilment state of the last month and a half - epic amounts of time to make things. Not unlimited time, which made it feel precious, but so much that I have been completely free of the dismal irritated feeling of deprivation of time to be and express myself which has taken up so much psychological bandwidth in my life for so many years. The return of that emotion is going to be the big downside of the excellent time I've had.  I'll try to get very deeply absorbed in some reasonably interesting work thing as fast as I can manage, and that will help me settle down.

I wanted to get more pages done than I have, mainly so I wouldn't feel regret at having wasted this precious, precious time.  I had 42 days leave and aimed for 42 completed pages. I have completed 32 pages while on leave, a lot less than my goal but they are very good pages, so it's not a situation where I'm going to be tormented by regrets that I could have spent the time better.

I also did these things:
  • parented for three of the six weeks
  • celebrated David's and Leonard's birthdays
  • connected with some friends, not many but some, and it was great
  • did a bunch of annoying, deferrable household maintenance tasks, and it's great to get those off the mental load-list
  • did some field and archival research, some detective work, and engaged with people whose involvement and approval is needed for parts of the project
  • slept in pretty frequently, stayed up late pretty frequently, drank about three hundred cups of herbal tea, talked a lot to my pets
  • listened to hundreds of episodes of podcasts: In Our Time, Deep State Radio, Thinking Allowed, WTF, Nuremberg, Tinfoil Tales, 1001 Album Club, Oh God, What Now? Frontier War Stories, Shite Talk, The Political Scene, MPavilion Talks, You're Dead To Me, plus all my staple auspol programs: The Party Room, Democracy Sausage, Guardian Australian Politics, Radical Australia, 7AM, Please Explain, The Full Story
I'm planning to spend much of the rest of the day drinking tea and listening to Weyes Blood and Harry Nilsson records.


Thursday 20 April 2023

The Queen died

Yesterday I had to go to the dentist. I had made an appointment at the Melbourne University Dental School - instead of at the clinic in Carlton where I last went, three years ago - in the interests of dentistry costing less money (I got a mortgage in September last year and monthly interest has doubled since then) but I should have thought it through just a tiny bit - they did a whole lot of xrays and so on which the other dentist had already done. Just in case you don't think you want to read the whole story, the important thing is this: it turns out that there wasn't that much wrong with my teeth so dentistry is not going to be very expensive not just yet. Well, before all that became clear I still had to go through the whole process of going to the dentist.

I'm on six weeks of long service leave, and spending it working on my book, it's a graphic novel! it's about the Shrine. 

by the end of tomorrow I'll have done 55 pages out of 138. I've been working on it long enough to have found out that when I tell someone I'm working on a graphic novel, the first question is usually 'who's doing the pictures', which makes me wonder what they think a person does when they do a graphic novel, if it doesn't include...doing the pictures. While I've been holed up happily at home, on leave, just working on the book I've mostly been listening to podcasts and not to music. 
While I waited for the bus to take me to the dentist place, it was such a nice day, and even though I could see the crooked stick-on bricks on the front of the new apartment buildings going up across the street and they always make me feel really repulsed and angry, and also, I was going to the dentist, I felt like listening to music instead of replaying again the daily Guardian news podcast which that day was gratifyingly detailed and specific about how much further south Peter Dutton's personal approval rate has gone. So I looked in the playlists I had saved in Spotify.

I sent some messages while on the bus and missed my stop by two blocks so I had a reasonable walk back to the dentist. I walked past the multi-level car park in Grattan St which some local authority has said is a heritage building and some people object to it being called that. Having just been looking at a 2023 build I felt that the car park was easily the better building and could probably be easily renovated into beautiful apartments that everyone would really love, or something like that. I was really enjoying the music, and honestly, I felt unreasonably happy. It's an easy enough claim to make, 'oh I felt unreasonably happy', but if you consider that I was walking along with dual awareness that everything right now was really good but also within mere minutes I would be reclined in a chair with implements and someone's fingers in my mouth, probing for bad news, you'll know it's not mere idle words.
I have to stop this nonsense now but it seems likely there will be more just like it in the very near future.

Sunday 17 April 2022

Doing things

 Spring and summer I had the new experience of coping with deep fatigue.  It went away, mostly, and after it did I didn't stop appreciating how much better it is to go around without feeling like dragged and listless and like you need to crumple to the floor. Maybe a post-covid thing, partly; I have had a low key (in the scheme of things) case of long covid to deal with; but certainly also anaemia, and maybe just the foul  climactic effects of La Nina and its gross humidity.  I had an iron infusion in February and started taking the contraceptive pill, and with time I gradually felt better. I haven't used the pill since the early 90s and was apprehensive, but I didn't notice much difference to the system chemistry. I did however forget to take a pill at the regular hour - took it a few hours later - and I began to bleed the same day. Light bleeding, but gosh I feel like a wrung out dishrag again, restless and glum. It's been nastily warm the last few days, which either has not helped or has made it worse. Anyway, while this sucks, I don't expect it to last very long.

Fatigue and disordered sleep, and a break from routine, brings out a restless irritable grumpiness in me. I feel overwhelmed by the urge to be doing something creative and overwhelmed by the prospect of the herculean effort required to narrow down the possibilities to one and get started. I have a kind of accidental break from work going on at the moment, having racked up several days of time in lieu. Between Easter and Anzac Day I'm only going to work two days. So I've had three days off work already. 

Yesterday was difficult, what with annoyances, weariness, and a foolish overestimate of what it's possible for me to actually do in a day; and because it was bad yesterday, today was better. I have a sort of crisis of personal shabbiness unfolding in slow motion - grubby worn-out shoes, run out of mascara and moisturiser, destroyed underwear, stains, sleep attire all got holes in it, not enough pairs of pants etc - so yesterday I went off to Fitzroy to buy some cloth to make new nighties and to buy a pair of shoes. Unfortunately both shops were closed so I went straight back to the tram stop. I sat down and started reading on my phone about how Albo is going to lose the election just like Bill Shorten before him, and I wasn't paying attention and a tram went past, so I got up and walked up Brunswick St and Gertrude St to the tram stop outside the Exhibition Buildings. It was hot and I felt waxy, like a piece of wax, in the sun. A tram came and I got on it. A familiar-looking man across the aisle gave me side-eye, which is really the worst of all the minor public transportation annoyances. I disembarked at Russell St and entered Mountfords the Shoe Specialist, where I walked around for a while hating all of the shoes, trying to remain true to myself and not forget and buy shoes I hated. Then I thought I had better go home empty handed, rather than die here angrily on the slippery and dirty bluestone pavement of Bourke St, so I walked down to Elizabeth St. There were some anti-vaxxers waving flags in the mall, with police cars parked at either end, across the tram tracks. One man carried a teddy bear, as large as himself, which he or some other person had dressed in a blue gingham school uniform. He had the bear sort of half in a headlock, half cuddled to his side and carrying it was making him slump and crazily lurch, at least, he was moving that way, I don't know if that's how he always moves even when not carrying a bear dressed to represent the innocent children of Victoria whose blood must not be polluted with vaccines. At least I think the person was a man. It doesn't matter what he was, not for present purposes; enough to say he was a massive jerk. There was an article in The Conversation the other day about how one of those lifetime cohort studies has determined that anti-vaxxers are that way because they had horrible damaging childhoods.

I've probably written about this before: when I have a stretch of free time ahead of me I often feel kind of cross about the fact that it's not long enough and also, that it's eventually going to end. If I don't feel cross it's often because I've persuaded myself that I'm going to be super-efficient today; I'll measure, cut, sew; I'll plan, sketch, colour; I'll gather the materials and I'll make the thing; I'll do the trial run and do the real one too. The odd thing is that as unreal as I understand this kind of thinking to be, it's more or less how I did use my free time before I became a mother. Back then I always had a room to mess about in, I suppose that helped. 

In Elizabeth St I dragged myself through David Jones, an ordeal nobody should ever have to endure. I bought a new tube of tinted beeswax lip balm to replace one that got ruined in the washing machine. When I moved into this flat I sold my fridge and washing machine as the flat came with those appliances. The washing machine I have here now does not have a cold water input so everything gets boiled. I used to have two tubes, one in a shade called Cherry (warm red) and one called Rhubarb (cool red); Cherry got completely used up in the 2021 lockdown and Rhubarb was almost all gone too before it became hot boiled liquid wax and spread pink stains on Leonard's tile-print bedspread. In the shop the little stand with these tubes in it was three-quarters empty, like the shelves at the pet supplies warehouse, and the only tube they had left which wasn't a glossy pearlised apricot or mauve was the tester tube of Rhubarb, so I picked off the tester label and bought it. I had seen a bottle green beret in the shop window as I came in, and even thought it was 28 degrees and humid, even though climate change means there's really no meaningful use for woolen hats in Australia, even though I was there to buy shoes, I trudged up the escalators to the fourth floor in pursuit of a green woolen beret. As I approached the hat section I saw a delighted woman buying a green beret, which of course turned out to be the last one in the benighted shop. I walked up to a pair of boots standing on a circular plinth and lifted one to look at the price label underneath: $649. A woman dressed in black approached and said, Those are made in Canada and they're rainproof. I said What? and she repeated, louder, They're rainproof and they're made in Canada. 

On emerging from David Jones I felt a new and different kind of retail anger and instead of going to the tram stop I turned and went into Cos. As I went in the door, a woman came out who I used to work with at La Trobe and whose dress sense I had fiercely admired, except for her to my eyes jarring preference for very dark wraparound sunglasses. She was wearing similar sunglasses yesterday and I'm not sure if they were the reason I didn't recognise her straight off, or were they the reason I did recogniser her eventually?

I walked without hope around the shop for a while and then I remembered that the disposals shop across the street sold work boots. So I went over there and tried on work boots for a while eventually buying a pair. I feel moderately ok about this having happened.  I thought I had better go home and I tried to buy a drink in a shop, but the two girls at the checkout could not make it work so I stood there limply while they giggled and whispered to each other in Arabic. Eventually the taller one looked at me and said, I will have to shut it down and start it again and it's going ot take five minutes. So I thought it was okay to leave.

Now comes the part which I am least proud of, and I am zero proud of everything that happened up to this point so do your own research, as they say, less and less often do they say it these days but it's always on the tip of their tongue you just know it. Because I knew all the being in shops and so forth was going to be exactly like it was, I wanted to go shopping on my own and so at least the ignominy, the shame, the horror of it was endurable because unseen. But David was returning from a journey to the south-east in pursuit of pickles and there he was in Elizabeth St with a 3kg tin of them plus some other things; evidently having conducted a successful, non-humiliating shopping expedition. So we got onto a tram and I was cross and said nothing the whole trip.  

Today has been better. I went to Preston for a piano lesson at midday, then I went to Bunnings to get some things to try to cure the two different kinds of sickliness which have come over some of my house plants. On leaving Bunnings I felt so weak and tired that I thought I had better go very slow and gentle for the next part of the day, which was going to the supermarket to but the pantry items I now buy in large quantities every six weeks or so. The supermarket made me tired and at the checkout I decided in future I'll just pay the extra costs and always order this infrequent big shop. I started doing that when recovering from being sick and stopped out of guilt at how pained the delivery guys always look when they've finished hauling my goods up the three flights of stairs to my front door.

I went home, unpacked my shopping (three heavily laden trips upstairs, downward trips conducted carrying things to go into my storage box in the basement) and did a couple of small, frivolous jobs around the house. Then Lenny arrived, always a real mood-booster, and we watched tv and ate dinner. And then I did the thing I'm most proud of; I got a scrapbook and a pencil and a rubber and drew a picture of Lenny while he sat on the couch reading comics on his Kindle. I want to get better at drawing and when I want to get better at doing something, practicing it feels so much better than wanting. I didn't do a good drawing but I will do a few things different next time. It was that twenty minutes drawing which made the day alright. It quietened all the grumpy cross feelings about wasting time and being too scattered to settle down and do things.

I rashly offered to take Lenny to see Sonic the Hedgehog 2 tomorrow - just writing that I feel triggered by remembering the excruciating, interminable boredom of taking him to see Sonic the Hedgehog 1. I hope tomorrow I can have another day of doing things, Sonic notwithstanding. 

Friday 8 April 2022

Chanticleer fell in the bath

Leonard has been fairly unwell this week. I'm having to believe it isn't Covid, since he has been testing negative for five days, including one PCR, but it certainly looks and sounds like it. So a couple of days ago I made him take a bath instead of showering, and when he got out, for reasons best known to himself he left the plug in. A while later I was lying on my bed reading and I heard a terrible commotion coming from the bathroom, and then I saw a bedraggled wet fluffy black cat run out the door looking both persecuted and guilty. I realised he must have been trying to have a little drinkie of the cold cloudy bathwater or maybe to play with it somehow, and fell in, because he's bad at doing things that are important.

Als, today, Craig Kelly got egged, which is very pleasing. 

Here are some photos
'I'll have more to announce about that tomorrow' as Dictator Dan used to promise us.

Thursday 24 March 2022

I'm back! and I'm annoyed.

 It's been a while since I last blogged, I hope nobody was worried. There is never going to be a reason to worry. Obviously I'm always going to come back, sooner or later.  

Plenty has happened. I moved house in September last year, during lockdown, in order to live near David. I got covid in October. Proper Delta covid lad, not your pissy mincing other little kind as minced through by Barnaby Joyce, Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg, the Queen and Clive Palmer amongst other people who God should have taken, if he really existed which obviously he doesn't. 

While I was in a fortnight's solitary confinement my best friend of more than thirty years died of cancer. We finally sold the house in Brunswick the weekend I was released, for a shocking sum of money, but not actually enough for me to buy another place to live, it turns out, my insultingly low salary means I can borrow very little. So I'm still considering what I should do with the money now. 

I went back to work on 7 November and have basically been there ever since, excepting a 2.5 week period in summer when I had recreation leave, booked in order to go to Germany and Finland but a few weeks out, just at the turning point of the omicron wave, we decided to postpone it another year. I'll be surprised if north-eastern Europe is in any way a safe travel destination come next January, but hey probably anywhere is safer to be than in an Australian summer in the second decade of the twenty-first century.  

I've just finished another week-long solitary isolation period at home, no illness just the full logistical nightmare of trying to do my job in an increasingly dysfunctional working environment. Like the Victorian state opposition, I keep thinking it can't get any worse...and then it does. 

I started having piano lessons. In Preston. I think I'll be able to play the piano pretty well eventually. My piano is under the stairs.

Where I live now there are beautiful windows at both ends of the two levels and the outlooks are four different yet uniformly gorgeous combinations of buildings, sky and leafiness. Out of my bedroom window there is a view down to a spectacular, decadent enclosed shared garden with lawn, paths, pergola, crepe myrtles, azaleas, rhododendrons and a quirky assortment of mature tall trees. Birds zap and dive round, yelling, mapping 3D paths between trees so you see glimmers of how the neighbourhood looks to birds. At eye level there are interestingly Rear Windowesque buildings opposite with lit windows framing the silhouettes of people who I know more about than I really should, thanks to the magic of the private facebook group for the complex and my insatiable hunger for little details that can be recklessly assembled into a narrative. Beyond the buildings are rooftops and more trees and a single big new apartment complex that always looks to me like a cruise ship gliding up alongside the pier. Nestled below the sky is the tall elongated cupola of a Ukrainian church. 

It took me a long time to recover from the cove - months, really. It was heart and lungs for a considerable while, plus deep fatigue. Now I'm just really unfit and when I get tired it's from being flabby and weak rather than from any more ominous reason.  I hardly ever ride my bike any more and I can't understand why. I have got to lose weight. Menopause and 50 is coming for me.  My hair is well past shoulder length. I'm going to let it go all the way down to elbow length and get a heavy fringe cut into it. Like many people I have lost a lot of hair post-covid. I did have a lot to lose so it's not too alarming as long as I don't think about it much. It's growing back, shorty and fluffy bits sticking up over the crown of my head.

My cats have been really lovely and kind lately. I mean, they broke a big arched mirror in my bedroom by jumping all over everything, and they still won't let me pick them up, but Chanticleer in particular really gets a lot of satisfaction out of coming over to me and looking at me. Just because anthropomorphising is a long word, people think when they say it it means something. I have known this cat at very close quarters for two years now and I know he feels immense and complacent satisfaction when he sits on the floor next to the couch or the table and stares at me. In the mornings when I get up they are so anxious and worried that I might not feed them, it's completely adorable. They love the windows too. What they see is the cat from next door who is allowed to go out in the daytime. She's a real sourpuss. She goes down to the garden and we all watch her picking her way crossly through the grass and fallen leaves. And like me they also dig the hell out of all the bird activity. In the afternoons Pompey likes to lie by himself on one of the beds. He has a pretty good time.  

I haven't bought a new pair of shoes for five years. In December I got new prescription glasses and sunglasses, then I left the glasses on a tram, so I bought another pair. Then I lost the sunglasses too. All my underwear is worn out and disintegrating. The problem is not funds but time to go to the shops and do the shopping. I just can't make myself do it. This has happened before, now that I think about it. I think there was a stretch of some years around about 2002-2005 where I would have to pull my knickers up several times an hour, if walking, because of dead elastic.

I've been to some good places; Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, Canberra, Williamstown, Oakleigh, Brighton, Ballarat, Warrnambool. I didn't swim in the sea once last summer and I regret it now, but it made sense at the time. The last film I saw at the movies was Licorice Pizza and it was excellent. This quarantine I watched Yellowjackets on tv and it too was excellent. I had to end my subscription to the LRB, after twenty years, because they just would not or could not (i feel convinced that it's would not) transfer billing to a credit card which is not the old last remaining joint one with my ex-husband. They've got form. It took several years of persistent complaining before they removed the unrequested Mrs from address labels bearing my name. I get the New Yorker by post, it's more frequent than it needs to be but I do read it. I also took out a print subscription The Atlantic in November but have not yet received a single issue, fair enough, I didn't really expect to.  I also have Crikey, the Guardian, The Age and the New York Times. When I wake up in the night i listen to podcasts. It's a wonderful insomnia session when there's a new Guardian Politics podcast. The bread and butter of this affliction is a three-times-weekly US foreign policy show called Deep State Radio. It's good. I've been listening to it since 2017. The ecstasy of their hatred of Trump in 2019 carried me through the tormented nights of the very last weeks of ended marriage and before separation.

Thursday 3 June 2021

Prince Phillip died


I'm just easing myself back in to my blog. So many things have happened and in almost all cases it didn't even cross my mind to blog about them. Andrew Laming, he's another one I failed to blog about several days in succession. But there's just so many. Well, that's the terrible majesty of blogging, you just have to be like, well, I missed the boat on writing that down at the time and now it's gone forever, sunk to the bottom of the ocean and broken and swollen and brittle as glass, silted over, lost in the dark. 

I moved my cane palm inside off the balcony a few days ago because it hated being outside, but now it's inside Pompey has started to eat it, and knowing what he's like he won't stop eating it until it's completely denuded of leaves. 

Lockdown is just boring, thankless, a shit job one can aspire only to endure. For all of them my strategy has been fundamentally the same although the methods of executing it have varied. It's to exert myself and make effort, and to ignore my inclinations till they can't be ignored any more. So there is no putting off of things that are tedious or dismal and there is no indulgence. A Zoom workout before dawn each day, and ten thousand daily steps on top of that, no alcohol and next to no sugar, a brisk morning walk and a takeaway coffee carried back to start work, outside for brief bursts of ball games at different points and a long energetic walk between 4 and 6pm, keeping a close eye on the progress and timetable of school from home, plentiful varied healthy food, games and puzzles and craft and funny videos, and keeping things really clean, warm, fresh and comfortable. Jesus Christ it is a drag. At this stage, an unspeakable indulgence would be to snuggle against my pillows well past sunrise reading Mr Bligh's Bad Language. Maybe on Sunday I will allow myself this. But one has to be careful. A little bit of leeway and a cheat morning turns into a cheat day and cheat week, and before you know it you're where I was at the start of January, nominally still working from home as was mandatory, but in reality not even able to get out of bed let alone function like a proper person. 

This effortful lockdown life is designed to make and keep Leonard cheerful and happy. It is achieving that, although it must be acknowledged that I don't actually know whether he'd be just as happy with a whole lot less. It feels worthwhile when I put him to bed and he says he's had a great day and hopes tomorrow will be great too. I've been in analysis long enough to know that the anxious care I provide to him is being provided also by me to another baby whose survival I am always very frightened and uncertain about.