Thursday, September 30, 2010

Being Lorraine

In my parent’s wedding photo there is this woman.  She is in the distance standing under a tree and you would never have noticed her unless you looked properly.  There are several reasons for this:
1.    Because she is out of focus and far away.
2.    Because mum and dad, being bride and groom, are the focus of the photo and right up in front of the lens.
3.    Because in the photo mum is lifting up her beautiful dress to flash the beautiful garter on her beautiful legs, and dad is smiling so handsomely that the two of them are positively blinding. 
I hadn’t seen the photo for years and when I recently looked at it, I was shocked.
It was the woman in the distance.  I’d never really looked at her properly before.   
And when I looked at her closely, I noticed that the woman was me.
It was a very Lynchian moment.  But it was true, the woman looked strikingly like me.  She was me.  In actual fact, she was one of mum’s old nursing friends.  But she was the spitting image of my grown-up self.
It’s mainly in her style.  She is wearing my boots, my jacket, she has my hair.  She has her hands in her pockets, just like I often do, and is holding her head at a similar angle.  She looks a little awkward behind the couple, like she shouldn't be there.  Her silhouette is exactly my shape.  The woman is me. 
It gives me a creepy feeling, in a sort of Mystery Man in Lost Highway way:
Mystery Man:  We've met before, haven't we.
Sexy Leading Man:  I don't think so. Where was it you think we met?
Mystery Man:  At your house. Don't you remember?
Sexy Leading Man:  No. No, I don't. Are you sure?
Mystery Man:  Of course. As a matter of fact, I'm there right now.
Sexy Leading Man:  What do you mean? You're where right now?
Mystery Man:  At your house.
Sexy Leading Man:  That's fucking crazy, man.
Mystery Man:  Call me. Dial your number. Go ahead. 
And the guy calls his house.  And Mystery Man is there.  (Shivers down spine...) 
Photo Lady gives me a similar, creepy, omnipotent feeling to Mystery Man.  But then, most eerie things in life always seem to lead me back to Mystery Man. 
But anyway, it makes me wonder - though we think we have forged our own identity, are we in fact just a culmination of things we’ve witnessed and experienced throughout our life? 
The photo of mum and dad and the garter was in the hallway as we were growing up: it’s a classic shot, one of the most iconic images of my life.
Perhaps I saw her then without really noticing.  I think her name is Lorraine.  Perhaps, though I didn’t know it, every day I passed her in the hallway she seeped into some distant part of my psyche, until, twenty, thirty years on, I had become her image.  I wonder if that happens often.  I suppose people morph into their parents, slowly, or their friends, or their grandparents.  Or their dogs.  I suppose it’s not such a long bow to draw.
I guess the thing about Lorraine is that I wasn’t aware I was witnessing her.  She was a sort of ghost lurking in the upstairs hallway, infiltrating me as I slept and grew and evolved.  Lucky she was nice and quite fetching, otherwise who knows who could have commandeered me.  I could have become anyone.
Maybe there’s a nostalgia thing about it, I mean Lorraine was very classic 70s in her look.  Maybe we’re seeking images of style to model ourselves on.  Maybe they go quite deep.  When you buy clothes, are you drawn to things that give you a sense of trying to recapture the past?  I can’t help but always be attracted to tomato-red.  And when I think of it, tomato red was always mum.  Her sexy little honeymoon twin-set.  The little dresses she would put me in as a kid.  The quilt on my bed growing up.  The chipped nails on her childhood doll.  My favourite patent-leather shoes.  All bright tomato-red.  Sometimes with tiny white polka-dots.  That still attracts me most.
But despite all that I can’t help but let my mind creep me out when I think of Lorraine.  The reflection of myself in her gives me a very ghostly feeling.  Did she inhabit me?  What if she had become herself in the apparition of someone before her too?  And before her again?  (Might be hard given the 70s style, but still…) What if she was never there?  What if, like the Mystery Man, it really was me in the photo?  Lynch might like that.
I wonder again about originality.  Is it a human construct?  Are we actually as individual as we think?  Or just woven from a whole heap of nostalgias and memories and distant people in photographs that we’ve cobbled together to create ourselves?
Probably.  I don’t know.  It really doesn’t matter.  But it’s funny sometimes when you stumble on something like Lorraine.  It makes you wonder. 
And whatever the case, I like being Lorraine.  I don’t mind if I’m not the original paper doll.  It was just a shock, at first.  And it spun me again into all sorts of different directions.

Artwork du Jour 30

Self-Portrait with Sleeve and Hair

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Music on the Road

I didn’t get a Gertie yesterday or today yet but I did drop a pen in the gutter this morning and The Love slipped on it which made a funny sound and that made us both laugh really hard so that was good.
Now I’m lying on the couch listening to the music on the radio eating some Mi-Cho-Kos which the divine D-Bunny sent me from Paris.  Mi-Cho-Kos rock, they could even be better than Carambars.  Which is saying a lot.  No, I don’t think they are better than Carambars.  They are near-equal.  Which is saying a lot too. 
I am thinking about Music and the Radio and I am wondering - do you think it’s sad when you think something’s something, and then you discover what it really is, and then it’s not so interesting any more?
Like when you think a song is saying something and you sing your heart out with the words you think, sometimes for years, and then you learn it’s something else far more logical and the song loses all it’s joy.  I think that’s called a malapropism.  Take the classic Paul Young example:
Every time you go away
You take a piece of meat, with you.
Or my version of Cold Chisel’s Cheap Wine and a Three-Day Growth
She’s crying like a teenage ho,
She’s crying like a teenage ho
Town ho!  Town ho!  Town ho!  Come on!
It’s so boring when you actually learn the truth, isn’t it.  I loved the town ho image the song created for me, she’s a teenager and she’s the town ho and everyone’s so mean to her they make her cry.  I could really imagine how it’d feel to be a persecuted town ho (and probably have!).  It was so romantic.  And then my fantastic images were brought crashing down by dumb old reality. 
I have another, weirder example, from when I was a kid.
When I was little and mum would tuck me into bed at that witchy putting-little-kids-to-bed hour, I could always hear this strange music.  The music was faint and eerie, and it changed every night.  But every night it would be there.
“What is that?” I would ask, feeling the nightmares and wild dreams already begin to circle around my head.
“That’s the Music on the Road,” she would reply, stroking my head.
The Music on the Road. 
The Music on the Road was a sort of travelling musical caravan/bus that would tour our neighbourhood at bedtime.  Several of the Muppets were in the band, including Beaker and Bunsen and Animal, and there was also Grover, Snuffleupagus, the Hamburgler, Willy Wonka in his purple suit, Annie, and a whole host of characters from assorted fairytale books and tv shows. 
I didn’t like the Music on the Road. 
Every night it haunted me, that creepy carnival bus touring around and around the streets, musicians hanging out the windows, playing their strange songs.  It gave me the Lonely Feeling; remote and small. 
I didn’t want mum to go, but she would kiss me goodnight and tiptoe down the stairs, leaving me to listen as the bus continued around the streets, singing, playing, talking.  Some songs were louder, mostly they were quiet and sometimes I could only hear the sound of one person’s muted voice.  Probably the conductor on the bus.  I would bury my puny ears in the pillow.  It was scary enough being in Own Bed let alone having to bear the awful Music on the Road. 
The Music on the Road continued for years and then as I grew up, it just seemed to go away.  I never forgot it however, or the Lonely Feeling.  It gave me lots of ideas for pictures and things.  I can still see the image of the Music on the Road so clearly, all bright colours and madness, loose characters flopping over each other, climbing out windows and onto the roof under a navy night sky with a big yellow moon.  The characters are quite happy, but in that strange carnie way.  They are all a bit drunk and melancholy.  Full of love, but flawed.  The caravan is hand-painted in scratchy rainbow colours.  I know all the characters so well but none of them knows me. 
When I became an adult, I asked mum about it. 
“Do you remember the Music on the Road?” I said.  “That troupe of musicians that drove through the streets at night playing music?”
She looked at me strangely.  “What are you talking about?”
“The music that would play when I went to sleep at nights.  You used to say it was the Music on the Road.”
She stopped washing the potato for a moment and thought.
“We always had the radio on at nights when you were little.  I must have been saying ‘The Music on the Radio.’”
I was stunned.  I had created a whole world in my head through the mistaking of a single word.  Isn’t that mad?  Maybe I was too young to understand the word Radio.  But it just proves to me, aren’t mistakes wonderful?  What imaginative potential they hold.  No wonder it’s so great to learn another language, your mistake potential just widens.
Ooh, I just got excited about returning to Paris next week, where I’ll get to make heaps and heaps of mistakes and malapropisms and misunderstand heaps of stuff.  Bring it on.


Artwork du Jour 29

The Music on the Road

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Attack of the Giggling Gerties

Yesterday at 6pm I had a piece of jam toast in my hand and I was in the bathroom and turned around to say something and the jam toast fell splat on the floor, face down.  On the tiles it made the most fantastic sound – PLAP. 

The shock of it.  The tragedy.

I stood looking at it for a second.  Then I lost it laughing.

It was hilariously funny, especially because I wanted the toast so bad.  I had buttered it perfectly with sea-salt butter right to the edges and just the right amount of raspberry and had eaten it around to that sweet part in the middle and now, there it was, face-down, dead.  And the fact that I had been loving it so much made it even funnier.  And the more I looked at it sitting there so still amongst the towels and hairbrushes and toothpaste splatters, the funnier it became, until I was laughing so hard I had tears dripping down my face.  And The Love who was peeing with his back to me hadn’t even realised what had happened and when I told him he didn’t think it was funny at all and that made it even funnier again.  He tore off a piece of Sorbent for me to wipe it up.  Kneeling down to the murderous gooey mess set me off again and I was doubled over on the tiles finding it difficult to breathe.

This has been a regular occurrence of late, at precisely 6pm.  Attack of the Giggling Gerties, Gran would say.  And she would frown, which, would set us off into wilder hysterics.

I don’t remember having such precise 6 o’clock Gerties for a while, but they’ve recently come back.  The day before yesterday at 6pm I was driving back from the beach and sent a message to The Love saying:

Ten away.  CU soon x

And he replied saying.

At IGA.  Need me to pick up anything?

And I wrote:

Just a kissy.

But I was turning right when I pushed Send and when I looked down I saw that predictive text had meant I’d sent this message:

Just a kiddy.

What a sight for anyone on the road.  I was literally crying from laughter.  Any passing motorist would have thought I was a lunatic, sitting there alone in Rhonda, trying to regain my composure before being set off again into painful, crying laughter.  I’m sorry, I know it’s not funny at all now, but at the time, the absurdity of the The Love picking me up a kiddy at the IGA was just too hilarious a picture – thoughts of evil kidnappers fused with The Love’s sweet face, bending down to select a nice plump one from the dairy aisle… Just a kiddy.  It killed me.

Something about 6 o’clock.  I remember it as kids.  The six-o’clock Gerties.  Did you have those?  They just crept up.  They drove mum mental.  The four of us around the dinner table, high-chairs and hairstyles, bibs and dribble, something about that time when the eyes would begin to dart, the giggle would lodge inside the belly, just waiting for an excuse to come out and then to build and build until someone was sent from the table.  They were fantastic, those Gerties – they hurt all over and made your eyes tired afterwards.

I wonder what today’s will be?  I hope I get one. 

Artwork du Jour 28

Let Them Talk

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Little Man In There

A deeply curious thing has happened. 

A little man has moved into my belly.  One day he wasn’t there and then suddenly... there he was.  I say Man in the sense that the person is human and part of Mankind, thus a man, but it could just as well be a little Lady.  Anyway, for the moment he is a Man and he is creating some very interesting sensations.

It’s strange, having a Little Man inside of you. 

Especially at first because you’ve been told he’s in there but you can’t really quite believe it.  A Little Man, just hanging out there – what is he doing?  Why did he choose you?  And you feel sort of sick and your relationship with food and other things in your life become all warped, perhaps because the little Man has ideas and demands of his/her own.  It’s as though, even being only a new tenant, he is already governing the house.   

Being someone's house is pretty weird.  I hope I’m a good, cosy one.  I never imagined I would be, more a big cold one with the wind blowing through the open windows.  Not a good nanna flat.  I would like to be a good nanna flat with a roaring fire in there and lots of blankets and some soup on the stove.  

I hope that the Little Man isn’t cold.  

When they first took a picture and a little movie of the Little Man Inside, well, that was when things got really freaky.  Because he was really There.  The Love's eyes were very, very wide.  The Little Man was moving around, playing with his toes, doing normal human things.  He was Real.  It was absolutely astonishing.

And the strangest thing was – though I didn’t even know this creature yet, I felt love.  Have you ever had that before? 

I couldn’t actually feel the little Man in there until the last few days when suddenly, though not like a tap or a knock, I could just feel that he was IN there.  I’m sure he must be doing a whole lot of excavation work, putting up shelves, perhaps some posters, making it his own, but for the moment that still feels pretty abstract.  But it’s nice to actually feel that it’s not just in my mind that he’s in there, he really, really is there.

I wonder what he’s like. 

The Love and I talk about him a lot.  We wonder if he’ll be a Man or a Lady and whether he’ll like us and the things we like and whether we’ll know what to do with him on the Outside, when we can touch him.  I’m already scared of breaking him.  For now, while he’s Inside he’s pretty safe, though it feels very odd that I can’t do anything to make sure he’s ok.  Except try not to eat so much white bread and musk sticks and carambars for breakfast, which is really, really hard.  I sometimes wish I could put a funnel down to him and just see if he’s going ok and if all’s cool and does he need any extra blankets.  He looked pretty happy on the video. 

I never really thought I’d see the day I’d become a home.  Since I began to grow to the age when that would be normal and expected, I felt a sort of rising rebellion.  It irritated me to be biologically programmed to desire such a thing.  What was I?  Why had I bothered trying to become a unique individual, when I was actually just like everyone else, just a basic animal needing to spawn, to lay eggs, to shoot out young.  It bugged me, deeply.  What was the point of all the travel, all the exploring, all the learning, when the most important thing was what everyone had already known forever – grrr – what was the point?  I felt fooled by the world that allowed me to think I was bigger than my own biology.  What an idiot I was.  I was very very angry.

But now I’m inside the biology and I’m human and I must say, it feels excellent.  It’s nice not to be a robot and stuck in your head all the time, it feels crazy – wild, uncontrolled, illogical.  Natural.  Animal.  I could howl.  I feel part of the kingdom.  A lion, a fish, an ant.  It's weird.  It’s humbling.  It's out of my control.

There is not that much sign on the outside yet that The Little Man is in there, though I got a very specific smile the other day from a grandma on a treadmill and I thought – wow – I think that was THAT smile.  It was a knowing smile, a sort of nod, a welcome to the Club.  Some other rather wonderful things have started to occur too, like my training bras have begun to heave and stretch and the deep, deep mystery wink of my belly button has gone flat down inside and is coming up to the surface.  I never thought I’d ever see the end of my belly button.  And now I can.  And it itches.  And I put special oil in it.  And every day I get to Violet Beauregarde just that little bit more, which is cool – I mean, what an adventure, to balloon and become an entirely different shape.  A giant blueberry.  How utterly bewildering.

Growing a Little Man is definitely the most intense, fascinating, surreal sensation I’ve ever known. 

And I don’t even know anything yet. 


Artwork du Jour 27


Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Strange Old Bunnies of Sunday

It was a weekend full of strangeness, the football final was a draw and the entire country was in shock and disbelief as a rematch was rescheduled for next week because that was the rules.  The toilets at the football ground overflowed and a gust of wind blew so hard it nearly took off the commentator's wig.  The lull was pungent, tangible and we all ate the rest of the sausage rolls to try to make ourselves feel better and woke up this morning with a weird feeling in our bellies.

It was a sunny day today.  And that made it stranger. 

I watched tv.


Artwork du Jour 26

What Goes On Up There

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday Somniloquy

Last night the Love couldn’t sleep so he played Angry Birds on his phone until 4am.  Apparently I sleep-talked.  At around 3am I sighed and said "Oh, that’s just AWFUL" with fake concern, like a Stepford Wife. 
He didn’t try to converse with me.  I didn’t say anything else. 
Don’t you think sleep talking is bizarre?  And awesome?  That not only can you form coherent language, but you can conjure up sophisticated emotions like fake empathy, all while being disconnected from your consciousness.  It blows my Bunny mind.  It makes me think about death and that maybe there is something in the argument that your spirit can continue to exist even when the body is gone.  I mean, if my body can go on functioning in the deep night without the permission of my conscious mind, then what happens to that part of me when I am dead?
Did you know that the technical term for sleeptalking is Somniloquy?  Isn’t that a beautiful word.  As though because you’re so alone inside your sleep you can sometimes perform a soliloquy, into which nobody can enter.  The Love has tried sometimes to interact with me but I never respond.  I am alone.  Though it may seem like I’m communicating with the world I am completely and utterly removed: dead.
When you’re sleep talking, they say it’s because one part of your brain is asleep, but another part continues to be awake.  I understand that, but how does your mouth know how to form the sounds and emotions that are going on inside your head?  Your body is dead, but your mind is still going.  And yet your body responds and acts.  So your body becomes a puppet that is animated by something, but what?
I suppose our muscles know what to do to articulate what’s going on inside our mind.  But it seems bigger than that.  We can act, we can animate.  We can walk for goodness sakes. 
So maybe there is something else to us other than flesh and bone and mind.  Most of me doesn’t believe it but when I think about sleep talking I think – well there is another part to me that I don’t even control.  I’m know science has a lot of answers for it, but I still don’t get how when, as far as you’re concerned you’re out of it, and yet your being can still operate and even create new ideas and thoughts.  I’ve written down a lot of what people say I’ve said in my sleep and it’s astonishing, and in a variety of languages, including an interesting gobbledygook.  Where does that come from?
I’m sure it all just comes back to the mystery that is the subconscious.  But what is it?  Where does it come from? 
Ah, my little bunny brain hurts again, I must try and not wonder so hard on Saturdays.  The Love doesn’t – look at him, lying there, killing piggies with his Birds in slingshots.  Take that fatty!  Whoop!  Slaughtered!
I think I’ll go back to sleep.

Artwork du Jour 25


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Instruments, Beer and Sadness

Tonight I get to stand on stage with some wonderful musicians in a dimly-lit room with a nice bar that overlooks the city and play a whole range of instruments, all which come out of my little keyboard which is attached to a computer.  Inside the computer is a whole world of amazing musicians who play the cello and the trumpet and cool old porno keyboards and harmoniums and tinkly pianos.  And when I hit the keys on my keyboard, I play the musicians playing the notes.  So I do play it, but it’s them making the sound.  I love those musicians inside the keyboard inside the computer. 
Did you used to think that people really lived inside of the television? 
Did you think, when you heard instrumental music on the radio, that the singer had forgotten to show up so the band were just playing without them, waiting, embarrassed, for them to come?
Have you seen the film ‘The Saddest Music in the World?’ 
I saw it years ago with my Israeli friend in Paris who convinced me to get on my bike in the snow and ride all the way to the Espace St Michel to see it.  She convinced me by calling me Motek, which means Sweetheart, in her big deep Hebrew voice.  I’m glad she did though, because the film was completely mad and great.  In it, Isabella Rossellini is a sort of beer baroness who has no legs and so she wear glass prosthetic ones filled with her own beer.  She says this great line,
“If you’re sad, and like beer, then I’m your lady.”
It’s the depression/prohibition era and she conducts a competition in Winnipeg to find the saddest music in the world as a ruse to get people to drink her beer.  

The song ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ is beaten by the simple playing of the notes of a cello.  But then the final winner I think if I remember correctly was nymphomaniac/amnesiac Maria de Madeiros singing on a swing – it’s so sad it makes Isabella’s legs burst.  So I’m not sure what point I’m trying to make with that.  Just that the cello is wonderful on its own.  And instrumental music can be truly transcendant.
Tonight will be wonderful.  

First to play will be a wonderful big 8-piece band with singers and a viola and keyboards and all sorts of things and then the most wonderful poet/singer/storyteller will play his guitar and sing his fragile bird-like songs with a 12-piece Ukranian choir.  Then our instrumental band, led by The Love, will headline, as it’s our Album Launch.  There will be drums and trumpets and guitars and keyboards and a big beautiful vibraphone.
I have marked the keyboard with lots of texta and white-out and post-its and tiny bits of sticky tape to remind me of where each song starts, in case I forget.  So hopefully the room is not too dimly-lit.
The Love will play his guitar as the lead instrument for his instrumental band, and that’s when it will be my turn to play the men inside the computer.  I told him what I’d once thought about instrumental music, not that it was a comment on the style, just that I didn’t know back then that bands could not have a singer.
He says that when you don’t have somebody singing words, then you can make up the pictures in your head yourself.  I like this.  And it’s true.  In some of his songs I see the strangest and funniest things and long, sometimes terrifying stories.
Do you like the instrument the theremin?  Now THAT tells stories.  Imagine trying to sing over the theremin.  It would bite you. 


Artwork du Jour 23

Show Day

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Village Idiot Spews Forth

Phew it’s hard writing a blog isn’t it, every day, trying to be interesting, to be smart, to say something meaningful, wondering if people are liking you and why would anyone care about what you have to say anyway, I mean, you’re just a silly bunny, the Village Idiot mum would say, just trying to get attention and liking repeating the same joke over and over again because for you the humour only increases exponentially with repetition, particularly the more idiotic the joke.
The Village Idiot was an affectionate term, it wasn’t mean to distress or harm, though it might have helped exacerbate that deep self-consciousness and made you try and keep quiet when you wanted to shout.
And now we can all embrace our Village Idiot and spout our nonsense on a daily basis across the entire planet, look at us all, Village Idiots everywhere, spewing forth words and stuff and loose info and homemade music and inane banter and little gold nuggets occasionally.
Golly I’m loose today. 
I like the spew of banter, I think, yes I do – it’s good – it means that no matter what, there is language, there is discussion and yes, there is a lot of junk, entire oceans of it, but that doesn’t really matter if in expunging that oily sea of junk one tiny glimmer of gold is set free to the world… hmmm – now I’m wondering, does it?  Because I got a flash of those poor BP birds and thought – now - it wasn’t worth spilling that for one more trip down the open highway, now was it.  Oh dear, now I’ve run myself into a corner.
Oceans of crap.  And somewhere in cyberspace, tiny nuggets of floating gold.  It does exist.  I hope I’m not contributing to the BP spill.  Though I definitely did just spill today. 

Artwork du Jour 22


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fruit Shop Man

Fruit Shop Man I’m sorry.  I could feel your eyes on me again as I crossed the road with my embarrassing bag of supermarket Junk.  I didn’t look up, not because I don’t want to meet your eyes, but because I’m ashamed, and scared.  I want so badly to connect with you.  But your produce looks sad and old and you grumped at me that time I came in and the irises were slumpy and overpriced and died the next day. 
Why do you do it Fruit Shop Man? 
You look so unhappy.  And you’re old.  And you’re Italian.  Doesn’t your family look after you?  Where is your wife?  Shouldn’t you be fishing or playing cards by the sea?  Why do you have to sit there behind that counter, day after day?  Can you not afford staff?  How can you afford rent now that the area has become all bourgeois bohemian?  Is your business a Front?  Why don’t you get better stuff and take it out of the ugly white polystyrene boxes it’s delivered in?  Don’t you wonder why your little shop is always empty?  Why don’t you make it just a little bit nicer?
Then I would come in with a little basket and buy lots of fruit and vegetables and flowers and probably one of those chocolate-coated liquorice sticks on the counter.  And we’d become friends and you’d know my name and I would know yours and we’d laugh and talk about the weather and about what’s in season and maybe you’d bring me some cannoli that your wife made and I’d bring you a piece of cake I made with your bananas. 
And there would be a nice grandfatherly feeling and you’d call me ‘Bella’ and there’d be faint jazz music playing and you’d squeeze fresh juice with your fat old grubby sun-spotted hands that would taste so good the whole neighbourhood would come in the mornings.
And nobody would need to go to the dumb old supermarket that hurts your eyes and stinks of artificial sweetener and old pies and plays terrible dance music over the PA and has surly late-teenagers working there who chew gum. 
Everyone would love you.  And I would feel all special that you knew my name. 
I like you so much and I want to come in and talk to you but I’m scared, because of the last time.  I didn’t mean to grab two bunches - I could only afford one.  Sorry Fruit Shop Man.

Artwork du Jour 21

Chez Shoe

Monday, September 20, 2010

Reality and Dreams and Sleep and Strangeness

Do you sometimes have trouble deciphering whether you’re dreaming or awake?  Like in ‘The Science of Sleep'? 
Ok, I just got an annoying thought which has nothing to do with where I was going with that, it’s about annoying English translations of French film titles.  WHY would they name ‘La Science des Rêves’, which means ‘The Science of Dreams’, (ie, what the whole film is about), ‘The Science of Sleep’?  For the sake of alliteration?  It irritates the pants off me.  I just don’t understand why they don’t leave the beauty alone.  It reminds me of a film a while back about the sexual awakening of two teenage sisters, one who was pretty, one who was overweight.  It was called ‘À ma soeur’, which translates as ‘To my sister’ - a lovely, appropriate name.  Translation?  ‘Fat Girl.’  Who are these people?
Anyway, in 'The Science of Sleep' our heavenly hero Gael Garcia Bernal, (who, as established over gnocchi and granita at Pellegrini’s the other night, is my One Free Pass), keeps getting confused between reality and dreams, leading him to get all messy in his budding relationship with Charlotte Gainsbourg (The Love’s Free Pass).  It’s so weird and funny and wrong.  Michel Gondry is a freak and a genius.  He’s my Free Pass #2 I just decided, though I’ll have to verify that with The Love.  He shot the film in a real Paris apartment block, a tiny old squishy one with a squishy staircase.  Can you imagine that?  The acting is off the planet.  GGB is outstanding.  Any man who can deliver the lines ‘I like your boobs.  They’re unpretentious.” with pure conviction is a true great as far as I'm concerned.  The film is cinematic risk after risk.  It moves me.
There’s this great scene where GGB is running down the canal to meet the lovely Charlotte because the divine, pervy Alain Chabat with his beanie on in the dark room said ‘Ok, you can go.  Mais si tu la BAISE pas!!...’ which means ‘but if you don’t FUCK her!’ and the subtitle infuriatingly reads ‘If you don’t KISS her’ – rrr - anyway he’s running down the canal but he runs into this scary man from his dreams who is actually his boss dressed as a homeless bum and the boss/dream-man tells him Charlotte’s not there and he runs away and goes to her apartment and tries to break down her door and bangs his head and leaves blood on it.  He is crying his eyes out because she didn’t come.  But she was sitting there in the café all along.  Oh Gael.    
I feel so sorry for him and sad that his dream has thwarted him.   I’ve never really had as strong blurs as that between dreams and reality, except when I’ve been really tired, like for example when I used to work in this art gallery during the day and also at a bar all night because I was saving to go to Europe and I was so tired during the day that the lovely big gay man I worked with in the gallery would look like a big warm walking pillow and when he bent over to write up a docket his back looked like a warm junior bed and I would stretch myself over it and go to sleep. 
Apart from that I just sometimes suspect that my whole life is one long dream and that when I reach the end of it I’ll realise it all took place in the space of five minutes.  But that’s effectively just the same as reality anyway, isn’t it.  We probably die and get to the big gates and the dude goes, ‘Ah-ha!  Now you’re awake!’  And you go – wow – that was a long, intense dream.  I got born and grew up and got married and had kids…  And he interrupts and goes, ‘Yeah, everyone says the same thing.  And to be honest, hearing about people’s dreams is boring.’  And you go, ‘Oh yeah, that’s right.’  And he goes, ‘Welcome to reality.’  And that's of course when you enter the Chocolate Room from Willie Wonka. 
Either that or what we’re living in is reality.  And if that’s true, then my subconscious definitely comes up from time to time to test the waters and make sure I know that I’m definitely awake.  She is evil that Subconscious.  She’s naughty.  She’s destructive.  And awfully, terribly embarrassing.
I can usually suppress her, like when she comes when I’m on stage performing a very serious monologue like the Messenger from the Bacchae telling of how Pentheus got mauled to bits by all the bacchant women for example.  Just at the most serious moment she comes and tries to get me to pull my pants down.  Or other things that are just too wrong to mention.  Sometimes she dares me to drive off a bridge or into oncoming traffic or to stand and say FUCK at a family luncheon or at a work meeting.  She often wants me to get up in a movie cinema and run to the screen and hit it with my hand and then just turn around and stand there.  Or to slide my body over the rail of a dress circle and flop onto the opera crowd below - soft.  Or to drop a match and see if the pub carpet sets on fire.  Stuff like that.  I have always managed to keep The Mistress at bay in these moments.  But there are few moments I can remember when she has won through. 
The moments are extremely embarrassing and it’s only now in my life that I am able to view them with a sense of fascination, rather than complete and utter horror.  They’re often sharp, tourettes-like outbursts, smashing of objects, things like that.  They make me feel terrible and I wish just so badly over and over that they’d never happened, while underneath feeling a curious sense of satisfaction.  Proof that I am, in fact, awake.
The first incident I can remember was in Primary School.  It was Grade Four School Photos.  I was a phase of my existence where I liked to pretend I was from different countries.  A new girl from England had inspired a bout of Pommishness and I would scale the fence alone, day after day, practising my lines.
Life was deep in Grade Four.  I felt a strong need to test the boundaries of my existence and challenge the constraints around me.  I wanted to see if I could be Nothing.  I couldn’t sleep and didn’t eat and rejoiced in the pinching feeling of starvation and the skeletal, jutting outline of myself.  It was comforting feeling those very definite lines around my being.  I loved refusing social things, especially food, it gave me clarity and independence and got me a lot of attention.  It drove my mother insane.  I grew my hair right down my back and didn't wash and wore boys’ clothes.  It all felt great.
On School Photo Day, for some reason the photographer chose me to sit centre-front. I never got chosen for centre-front, I was always too tall.  And ugly.  But there I was, centre stage, and I could feel the lights on me.  I felt surreal.  A weird feeling rose in me.
And I did something bizarre.  As the photographer called ‘Cheese!’ I tilted my head to the side, snarled, and… stuck my thumb up.  I know it seems like nothing, but it was such a lame, odd, unsure gesture, that made it even weirder.  If I’d have stuck up my middle finger, or done the Heavy Metal Devil's Horns, that would have been a clear protest.  But this was… well, it was just… I don’t even know the word. 
“Ahem,” said the photographer.  “Could the one in the front row please put her thumb down?”  A wave of giggles.  I put the thumb down.  But then, when the photographer took the second shot, up it came again.  It was out of my control.  I had to do it.  There was a serious compulsion behind it.  I didn’t understand it then and I couldn’t understand it for years as I would desperately try to remove it from the photo album and destroy it.  But Mum was there to intercept the mission every time.  She would smile, arms folded, and close the album, placing it with careful precision back in its evil hideaway.  Maybe she understood the significance of The Act.  She seemed to find it funny.  Everyone did.  But I was mortified.
Why do I have to be such a dick?  I wondered to myself.
But when I look back on it, maybe I was testing something.
The results were certainly definitive.  The picture was real as real.  The evidence was in the dining room cabinet.  I was alive.  I wasn’t dreaming. 
Another time, years and years later I was sitting in a café on the Rue de Rivoli with my friend Nicko drinking a lovely Bourgogne on a sunny spring afternoon.  We had been for a long bike ride around Paris and were happily tuckered out.  There was a woman sitting at the table next to us, talking very seriously to a man.  The woman was wearing a white shirt.  Suddenly my red wine was all down it.
She turned to me with shock.  I had no idea how I’d managed to flick the drink so far and I burst into laughter.  So did Nicko.  It was very weird.  I hadn’t been knocked, and I wasn’t even gesticulating, the glass in my hand just seemed to toss the wine all the way over to her of its own volition. 
I couldn’t explain it.  When the woman returned from the bathroom, furious, I apologised profusely.
“But you laughed,” she said.
“I know,” I agreed, “I’m so sorry.  I wasn’t laughing at you, I was just shocked.  I have no idea how that happened.  I’ll give you some money for dry-cleaning.”
She dismissed me with an angry hand gesture and went back to her meal. 
Nicko looked at me with wide eyes.  I shrugged.  I had absolutely no idea why or how that had happened.  All I could fathom was that perhaps it was just Strange.  Random things occur sometimes.  You can't always understand what's lurking beneath.  Even when it’s you driving.


Artwork du Jour 20

That Bit Between

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Darn You Good Dream

Don’t you just hate those dreadful Good Dreams? 
Last night I had a series of them.  Dratted things.  They segued in and out of each other like a joyful torture parade, making my heart soar and dance and drift.  I was rich, desired, loved, celebrated, surrounded by friends.  I had gills.  The sun was hot and the sky bright 70s green and I swam in vast oceans of yellow and I could breathe underwater.  And there was one of those sea dragons down there like we saw the other night on David Attenborough waving his tiny fins a zillion miles an hour and I swam right up to him and looked at him deep in his eyes.  He looked at me.  I looked at him.  Then we danced.  There was a feeling of safety and silence.  Then I was in the street and everyone was nodding at me as I passed and they were all wearing bunny ears.  I think I was the major.  Everyone liked me, like in the height of Hamsterdam when the lovely black cop looks around at his handywork.  It was Bunny Mecca.  A carnival.  It felt wonderful.  I began to do cartwheels and my body was fit like I when I was little and then I flipped off some monkey bars through the air and the trip lasted ages and then I landed in soft, soft green grass.  I was rich.  The green dress in the shop window was on the kitchen table and the bathroom was filled with Annick Goutal perfumes, every single blissful one.  Somebody began to bury me in warm sand on the beach and then I was lying by a pool in the South of France like the one from Swimming Pool.  All the beautiful friends whom I hadn’t seen in a long time were there.  Some who live overseas, some who live close but I hadn’t seen for too long, some that had died.  I was swimming and there were cocktails and people diving off a diving board.  It was a bit like Boogie Nights.  I never felt so happy in my entire life.  And I knew we had weeks to spend there, just drinking and eating food and talking to each other.  And it would be warm every single day right until we went to bed so we could swim into the night and never need to go to sleep.  Everyone was happy.  I was so full of happiness I could have burst into flames.
Then I woke up. 
Dam-nation.  It was only 8am and it’s Saturday and The Love was still sleeping so I gripped my eyes shut and tried desperately to return to the Swimming Pool house but it wouldn’t come back.  It was cold there now, and empty.  Dratted dream.  My how I loathe Good Dreams like that.  They’re mean.  They’re actually uncommon in my Bunny Sleep because I am a notorious Nightmarer.  Nightmares are Better (unless they’re the Really Bad Type 2 variety, and those ones are worse than Good Dreams.  Those are the ones that really make you shiver and you can’t forget them and the picture of them won’t leave your eyes and you have to get The Love to turn on all the lights and squeeze you tight and hold your hand to accompany you to the bathroom.  Not like those Type 2 Nightmares.  They’re no fun to wake up from.  And they can often leave you with the Lonely Feeling.)    
But the Type 2 Nightmare is rare and I’ve only had about five of them in my life.  For now, I’m talking about Standard Type 1 Bad Dreams.  Who wants to wake up from a dream like the Swimming Pool one, when you can wake up from being captive in a Josef Fritzl-type cave or a terrifying Wolf Creek-ish one where even though it’s daylight John Jarratt is still following you down the highway and no matter where you hide he’s going to sniff you out?  You awake with such a bang and it’s fantastic, because you won and real life just seems so heavenly.  And you smile and get up and make yourself toast knowing that John Jarratt has to hang up his tools and go back inside to his dusty transistor radio and baked beans because he Can’t Get You Now.  Sucked in John Jarratt.  
Yes. I prefer your standard Bad Dream.  And then to wake up and live a nice life.  Today I have a melancholy feeling because of that nasty Good Dream.  Naughty dream. 
Don’t get me wrong, Good Dreams can sometimes be Good too.  Just as long as they’re not too Good.