Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Time when Lucas Died

A little boy in Kiki's school died on the weekend. He was in an older class but there are only 40 kids in the school, so they all knew him well. It was an asthma attack. A total shock.

The Biggest Morning Tea was planned, and the whole school was filled with cakes when we arrived on Monday morning. A strange man ushered the kids outside, the parents into a small room. Faces were grim, I didn't know what was going on and my assumption was that we were being briefed on how to behave at the morning tea or something, that there was to be some sort of protocol. But he told us that he had sad news, that a little boy, Lucas, had passed away last night. We were stunned at first, attempting to register. I kept looking at the man, consciousness slowly pricking over my face. Then I looked around the room. Why did we look around the room at each other? To check on other faces if it was real? To see what faces they were making? I turned my self-conscious gaze back to the man. What?

Other parents were coming in to the room with the same curious faces we had and there were too many of us so the man asked the ones who knew to leave, and we formed a sort of progression past each other, eyes down, the newcomers heads bobbing around with what?


In the foyer my husband got annoyed. We can't just go on like nothing has happened! The grim man, who was a psychologist from the Department, said the procedure would be to continue with the morning tea as arranged, and the kids would be told after. We stood against the wall in shock. The young principal's face trembled. They say that's the best way to handle it. My husband shook his head. No! That's so wrong. The kids will know something's up. They're not stupid.


I agreed. What was wrong with our culture? Were we going to sweep this aside? Eat cake, sing songs, talk about curriculum? I thought back to when Gran died, how mum had gone and bought piles of cakes and got out the Whiskey bottle though we were underage. There are all these cakes. It's all set up for us to talk and eat and cry together. Are we seriously going to just ignore it?


We did. We talked and ate and tried not to meet each other's glances. There were red eyes and grey faces, but the kids didn't suspect a thing. And as time went on we found ourselves grateful for the time between the news and the telling - the shock had started to subside, we were less volatile, less shaky, more able to see things clearly. The choir sang. The cakes were eaten. And once the two hours were over, the kids were told. At first they said he'd passed away, then a teacher stepped in and said he'd died, so the kids understood. Maddie burst into sobs. He's my buddy! The little ones all had an older kid in the school as their 'buddy', to look out for them. Teachers cried. Principal cried. Kids looked around, wriggled. The little kids' teacher suggested they all go and sit around the circular desks and make cards for Lucas and his family about a happy memory they had of Lucas. I sat with them and listened to their conversation.


Lucas DIED. He's DEAD.

Maddie's sad. It was her buddy. (Maddie sniffles, she is sitting right next to the girl.)

Maddie's sad. She's crying.

Can you help me spell this? THE. TIME. WHEN. LUCAS. DIED.

The girl cuts out a picture of Lucas and paints a glitter necklace around his neck. He looks like a mayor or a hiphop king. She is pleased.

When you die your body goes and you turn into a ghost.

No, you don't turn into a ghost, your body stays here and you turn into an angel.

You go to heaven.

My Nanna's in heaven.

My dog's in heaven. He's dead too.

The kid next to Maddie wants to tell me a secret. My mum said Santa's not real. It's a game, and it's not true. But I still get presents. She told me not to tell the other kids.

No, please don't tell the other kids.


I won't.

Some kids at the other table are laughing about Lucas. They're teasing Lucas says one of the kids at my table.


That's not nice. Lucas is dead.

Yeah you shouldn't tease people that are died.

Maddie's sad. She's crying.

Yes, she might be sad for a bit. We all might be. We need to give Maddie lots of cuddles. And all of us - or any of us that are sad.

Was he a nice buddy Maddie?

Maddie nods, sniffs, draws a football.

They all keep cutting, pasting, drawing, smearing glitter glue. There is a Buddy Book with photos of all the little kids and their buddies in the middle of the table and the teacher has photocopied the page of Lucas and Maddie for the kids to cut out for their cards. Maddie is sitting with Lucas on a striped bean bag. Lucas is smiling wide, he is a sweet, chubby boy. Underneath the picture are the words.

LUCAS IS MADDIE'S BUDDY. LUCAS LIKE SPORTS.

Kiki has drawn a picture of herself holding hands with Lucas. Above his head is a shimmery line that goes up towards the top of the page. She goes over and over and over the line, giving it dynamic.

Is that Lucas?

Yep. He's going up to the sky.

I've drawn a red elephant, says Cara.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Christine Baskets My Hero

Christine Baskets is saving me right now, as my hope at women's uprising around the world bangs up against the cold hard feeling that nothing at all has changed and is in fact worse than ever.

A pussy-grabbing President. Girls Series 6, Episode 3. A story in the paper I can't shake about a 14 year-old gang-raped girl who felt forced to drop her case against the three men or ruin her life even further by proceeding with the trial (which would include being cruelly cross-examined).  

Christine Baskets is a giant pillow to cosy up on right now. That she's played by male comedian Louie Anderson only makes her womanliness more powerful and moving. How he melds himself so perfectly with this being is beyond me. She is superb. I could watch her shop at Costco, or do water aerobics forever. She makes the world brighter at at time when femininity couldn't feel more trampled on. 

In Girls Season 6, Episode 3, a young female writer has, upon reading another young female writer's account of a prominent male writer's coming-on to her, written an angry opinion piece about his behaviour in a small-readership magazine. The male writer invites the second female writer up to his apartment to discuss her piece - it has pissed him off. How could she write an opinion story based on someone else's account of something? It is bad writing, and she, according to the male writer, is an excellent writer. Our girl tries to hide she is flattered. The male writer is attractive, contemplative, celebrated, high-bookshelved. He is one of her favourite all-time writers. He reads the young writer a piece he wrote himself about the night in question - how the girl who wrote the initial piece had thrown herself at him, and when he tried to get to know her, offered nothing of her true self, only her body. We empathise. He is sensitive, broken - a father, an isolated soul. Our girl opens up to him about the advances of a creepy school teacher. Our man feels for her.

He asks if they can lie on the bed together. She is unsure, but does it. We are with him. The poor guy. So alone on his beautiful sunlit bed. So misunderstood.

Suddenly his dick is there. On her. In broad daylight.

Mechanically she holds it for a moment. Then jolts. EW! She jumps up and shouts at him, disgusted, appalled.

A smile spreads across his face.

It dawns on us, on her: he has fucked her over. The entire afternoon has been nothing but a game, won by his final masterstroke.

She leaves the apartment in a daze. Women pass her one after the other on the street, each entering the man's building. Are they real? It seems far-fetched. But also, not really.

Such a sickening reaffirmation of the state of things. We are playing, but not really. She does manage to reject the dick. But his card has been played: and it trumps (!) them all. See how easy it was? To get you - who this morning hated my guts, to lie on the bed with me?

I shudder.

Men will put dicks on us in broad daylight.

Trump will grab pussies and be President.

Guys will rape girls in parks, and get away with it.

But, thank God, Louie Anderson will play Christine Baskets. Thank heavens for Christine Baskets.



Monday, March 20, 2017

Crying in Cars to Songs

There were these two grandparents, I think they were Janine's. They were very old and one of them got diagnosed with terminal cancer. Rather than endure it, they drove to the far edge of a field, put the gas pipe in the car, held hands and started it. 

We were in café Iberia ordering coffees when the Johnny Cash version of U2's All I Want is You came on. It had been on our minds since Mr A had told us he was going to play it on his acoustic guitar as his bride walks down the aisle at Joshua Tree. 

'You're my trapeze girl,' said Mr Rabbit.

'You're my sexy dwarf,' I said.

'You mean my strong man.'

'No, the beautiful dwarf who loves her so much and goes flying over them all.'

'But she goes off with the strong man.' 

'Ok, the strong man.'

On our way to my sister's with the coffees we had to find the song on Spotify and listen to it really loud. It was the first time in years I had heard it and couldn't breathe for crying as the love story played out in my mind's youTube. The coda was just beginning when we pulled in to her house. The kids came running to the window. 

There was no switching the song off. We sat rigid in the driveway, holding hands until that final strain. My brother-in-law gave us a confused look as he walked past the car.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

And So it Begins

Kiki came home last week and said that Paul and Angelo climbed under the monkey bars to look at her knickers as she swung across. That's not cool, we said. Did you tell the teachers? Yes. Did they stop? Yes. Today I couldn't find her usual uniform so I grabbed one of the too-big ones that I accidentally bought thinking she was a giant. They were long and stiff and below her knees and she was pleased, she said, though she had despised them previously, as it would be harder now for Paul and Angelo to see her knickers. 

So it begins, I thought. At 5 years of age, already modifying herself to accomodate for the behaviour of boys. 

And the sad thing is I don't even blame them - it's their nature to be curious. It's not like their dads taught them that. They just feel like it.

Kiki said the boys haven't been under the monkey bars again since that day. 

But she still feels better in the long dress. 



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Bunny Eats Own Poop

Today Fluffball ate her own poop. I was getting her out of her cage as per our usual morning ritual. Two of her little round poops were on the little sheepskin rug we put in the sleeping bit of her hutch (it just occurred to me - is that barbaric?). As I reached out for her she shuffled back into the corner. The poops were between her and my giant smiling head speaking loving nothings as I coaxed her towards her breakfast of lawn. She looked at me. Then she hopped forward and ate a poop. 

BOOM!

I watched in shock as her little mouth chewed the poop and swallowed it. She then sat still, looking straight at me. How d'ya like that?

It disturbed me, not only because watching someone savour and swallow their own excrement touches a deep existential nerve, but because I'm in constant fear that Fluffball is dying. The vet said they won't vaccinate even pet bunnies against myxomatosis (they need bunnies to die so they can control the population and they can't even take the tiny risk of a non-vaxed fluffy home bunny escaping and weakening the deadly power of the virus). The vet shook her head and said she is constantly putting down mixofied pet bunnies, and described their death in horrifying detail. Basically their veins leak, which is why their eyes go red. Their bodies fill with blood - there's no saving them. She said bunnies around here are more likely to die than live very long. 

There have been a few moments when I have wished Fluffball dead, especially when we have to gang up and chase her around the backyard in the evening to put her in her hutch (so she doesn't get eaten by a fox). But it never lasts because I love her so much. From the moment I held her tiny white fluffy body in my arms I was in love. It's hard to love a bunny. They are in constant fear, so they can never love you back. They only love safety, and love is danger. All Fluffball ever wants is to hide in the salvia bush or under our bed, all day long, still, ready to spring out if death, or our hand, approaches. 

She can't communicate. She doesn't purr or bark or pant. When I look deep in her eyes I do see love. Sometimes her heart rate comes right down in my arms and I can feel she is at peace with me. That's as close as you get to knowing Fluffball is ok. 

Are you happy? 
Do you like living with us?
Do you hate your hutch for a reason - ie, is there a spider in there we can't see?
Are you getting enough food?
Are you angry at us for not getting you a friend?

She ate poop. Was it a message? Was she telling me that's what she thinks of my attempts to give her a good life? Was she sick? Suicidal? I rushed in and told Mr Rabbit. He raised his eyebrows slightly then went back to his New Yorker. I didn't want to tell Kiki, but I did, as she ate her breakfast. She looked at me, interested. 

'I'll google it,' I said.

Bunny eats own poop.

The first thing that came up, to my relief, was this:

It may seem gross, but rabbits normally eat some of their feces once a day, either early in the morning or late at night. These special feces are called cecotropes, or 'night feces.' They are produced through fermentation of food in the part of the rabbit's digestive tract called the cecum.

Phew. She's not unhappy, sick or dying. She's just a little shit-eater.  
What? You tried it?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Shit Mum

Kiki had been alone in the car all the way to French on Tuesdays and I remembered her friend from school also lived in France when she was little so I asked her parents if she'd like to come along. They said yes so today I drove them the 40 minutes there and the 40 minutes back. The friend has a little sister and the noise in the backseat was something I have not yet experienced, as the mother of a single child. Kiki will typically sing along to the French songs, we'll discuss something, or she'll doodle in one of the countless journals littering the back seat. Today it was loud. They were having fun - the whole way there and back. Giggling, pulling, pushing, playing, yelling, teasing:

'Mum! Say 'I eat poopoo'.' 

'I eat poopoo.'

'Hahaha!! Say 'I am a poopoo'.'

'I am a poopoo.'

They were really giving me the shits, with their playing and having fun. I realised this must be what it's like to have a family, not just a kid. Separating quarrels, telling them to pipe down, pulling the car over, leaving them in the Rob's Restaurant car park. 

I imagined these were both my kids, and this was my life. Then I dropped the girl off. And all was quiet again. Kiki, true to her usual form, brought up exactly what was on my mind.

Let me preface this by the fact that at nearly 6 years old, Kiki has pretty much let me off the hook in the baby brother/sister stakes. If she had started hassling me at age 3 I surely would have been unable to withstand the guilt. But she never did. She seemed born to be an only child; happy in her own world, in her own words 'glad to have all the attention.'

But there it was:

'Mum, why don't I have a baby sister or brother? I want a little baby sister or brother. There's only me. And my toys.'

My heart crumbled and died. 

'I don't know honey, I might be a bit old now.'

'Can't you and daddy just have another big kiss and make another one?'

Flashback to Paris. It's two years ago, Kiki is three, we are riding to Fnoo's house with her godfather Lukie. It's a balmy night, she is calm on the back seat, all is well. As we stop at a set of lights on the Avenue Voltaire her little voice pipes up:

'Mum, how did I get in your tummy?'

I took a breath. Did she have to ask that now? Luke was a wordsmith, a poet. 

'Umm... well, Daddy and I made you sweetheart.'

'How did you make me?'

Luke didn't look at us but I knew he was listening. 

'Well, we had a beautiful big kiss and cuddle. And then, there was this incredible explosion of love. And that created you!'

I was rather proud. I felt I had given it enough abstract power for her to feel she was both magical and real. Luke seemed to nod a silent approval. 

That she remembered this description tonight made me dizzy. She listens to me. She hears me. I am a mother. 

We pulled up at Springs Beach and I looked around at her.

'I will try, but I don't know if I can make another one my love. But what I can promise you is that even if you don't have a little brother or sister I will fill your life with people, wonderful people, all around you, and give you adventures, and make your life awesome.'

I thought I nailed it. But she just sighed and looked back out the window. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Doing the Reverse Kondo

So, you did it - chucked out a whole lot of (latent) shit, put shit in bags, held a garage sale. You made 20 bucks at the garage sale (not that it was about that), then took 80% of your remaining shit and left it outside the Salvos at 3.57pm on saturday, before they shut at 4. Then there was the 20% of shit that made it back into the 'unsure' bag - the shit you shoved back into the too-tight second drawer hoping its practicality could be justified so it could reenter your world, though you know it has moved into that Kondo purgatory already (once tainted with the brush of Kondo, forever lost). You had whittled down your wardrobe to the small built-in one in your bedroom and felt proud of yourself, though the doors wouldn't shut. Now, Sunday, you put your shoes back in the drawers under your bed, because you couldn't bring yourself to let the empty drawers go, they still sparked joy, especially in their new-found lightness. The shoes are back in the drawer, so why not the old pair of 'knockabout' pants retrieved from the garage sale, plus the faux fur coat causing the 'narrow' selection of clothes jammed into the one wardrobe to appear permanently nudged to one side?

There. Good. 

It's The Reverse Kondo. Clothes re-appearing in drawers, donated items recalled, the once-narrowed selection of objects fattening and starting to heave again with new old, dead weight. Yesterday you fossicked around the pots and pans cupboard for twenty minutes looking for that little square cake tin you knew one day you'd need - Damn. Kondo. You now have just one wardrobe (no more heaving clothes rack or overstuffed under-bed drawers) but the doors won't shut and why, oh why, did you think that black pantsuit didn't 'spark joy'? You hated it, but the fact you could put it on for yesterday's casual-yet-something rainy lunch sparked fossicking-for-a-half-hour-fuckety-fuckballs! KONDO!

Backwards Kondo going strong, a Mary Poppins interlude in my kid's room; broken toys, torn costumes, worn-out animals and crapped-out pens flying backwards to their original homes, happy, singing, sailing in reverse to where they were oh so content until Kondo.   

Little Edie loves Kondo

Friday, February 17, 2017

Man-tired

We were going to watch Manchester by the Sea last night and I found I physically couldn't. The story of Casey Affleck's sexual harassment suit was irking me on a cellular level - no amount of interest in the subject matter or Academy Award nominations could take the bitter taste away. It was a man-tired feeling, a feeling of exhaustion at how much men can get away with, are getting away with, still, their reputations intact, getting acclaim, even after settling two sexual harassment cases that read like textbook shit-man-behaviour, stuff that's happened to so many women I know, so many times, throughout our lives. It's bred into us. It's so familiar we've almost come to expect it.  

Well, I think we've had enough. It's become more boring than ever, and tiresome, and infuriating, to see people like him so revered, so celebrated. Just seeing his face in the trailer was enough to make me churn. So tired of it. So tired of what women have to go through not just in Hollywood, but in any kind of working life. Paid less. Abused more. Trying to get a leg-up, knowing what they have to do to get ahead. Shhh... don't fuck your career. There is an actress called Constance Wu who is being brave and loud about it, and I comfort myself by thinking there is sufficient groundswell beneath her that she didn't just fuck her career. Things are changing. I won't watch Casey. But I will watch you, Constance Wu, though I only just learnt your name. 


This is Constance Wu

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Mermaids

The Mermaids were just emerging from the sea this morning as I arrived at Springs Beach. I always hope to catch them on my jog but am normally too late. Today the sun was still morning low and the sea lake-calm, and lit from behind the older women aged mostly in their 70s and above (the leader is 86) appeared like goddesses wading together towards the shore. In silhouette they were ageless, the back-lighting painting their outlines youthful and strong - grey hairs and facial lines obliterated by the sun. The sound of their quiet female chatter filled the little cove as they made their way up the rocks to rinse their bodies in the freshwater shower and towel off their skin and hair, waving each other off towards their mortal day.

At 7.30 every morning regardless of weather, the Mermaids swim (or wade, or paddle) from Springs to a yellow buoy and back. In the summer there can be up to 30 of them, then in the colder months the number shrinks. Rumour has it there is a small group that swim every single morning of the year, even during the freezing temperatures of high winter. These are reportedly the older Mermaids, which to me is such a clear indication that the older you are, the more you know the secret. And the younger you are, always finding an excuse to not get up and swim with the Mermaids, the less alive you are.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Old Story New

I think I am figuring out what writing a blog is all about. Like Instagram, it's about being in the moment. That is one good thing about this era - life, and communication, has become all about now. You can't tweet an old idea or post a picture on Instagram you took last week (well you can, but that's not the brief - ie, insta), and to blog is to log the moment.

I have been trawling through my unpublished posts and realising how mean I am to myself, and blocky. I had written this big long story back in 2014 about this butcher on the rue du Faubourg St Denis that had been turned into a hipster restaurant. For some reason I didn't publish it. Maybe I thought it was boring. But with two years of wisdom I could see the post was fine, and a story I wanted to tell. So I back-posted it, putting the date as Wednesday September 3rd, 2014. So the blog would be kept in chronological order. Thus fulfilling the brief of blogging.

Well, nobody read it. It died, because it was not current.

I don't want things to die because they are not current.

Here is the story. It's called No Tongue, and it's about a pig's head, and a stirring spoon.

http://theexistentialbunnyrabbit.blogspot.com.au/2017/01/no-tongue.html

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Complexity of Fluffball

I don't know what to do with you, Fluffball. The breeder said at 4 months we should spay you, but someone else said 3 months was better so I took you to the vet and he said, seriously, you're too small, and besides, you don't have anyone to mate or fight with, so it may not be necessary at all. I took you home and was relieved, particularly after the image he drew in the air of your tiny reproductive system.

So that was that. It was decided, for then, but now, post 4-months, you're displaying the behaviours the breeder warned of, kicking, hiding and general antisocial behaviour. I get it, Fluffball, your only friends are us, and though we provide you with a life that seems idyllic, a backyard, nice hutch, etc, you are programmed for freedom and adventure. Also you are programmed to be devoured by a larger animal, so you are constantly in fear for your life, and you have such a tiny brain you can't remember that you are ok, that nothing can come and tear you apart, if you will just go into your hutch at night. 

Oh, Fluffball. Can't you see we only want what's best for you? 

So, what do we do now Fluffball? Selfishly, we just want you to be cuddlier, friendlier, and hutchier. We want you to be happy with us - but does that mean we have to put you under the knife? Is that the only way? Hysterectomy sounds so drastic, so mean. I don't want to, but it also pains me to think your instincts, your own desires to have babies and a family of your own, which we are most definitely not going to allow. If we are not going to give you this, is it more humane to remove the parts of you that program you for these fairy tales? Bunny sex, bunny babies, bunny species perpetuation? If I were in prison for life, no human contact permitted, would I prefer to be neutered, in order to just sit back, read and enjoy life, rather than scratching at the walls? If I know right now I definitely don't want any more babies, would I be happier doing away with those hormones and bits that make my brain tell me I do? Would life be less confusing and more ordered? Would I be nicer, less scratchy, more content to sit on knees?

Fluffball, tell me. 

Is it better to decomplexify your body, and help you lead a nice simple, garden life, or is robbing you of your complexity taking away the very soul of who you are? Should we learn to accept the moods, the floor-slides, the flips and dashes at bedtime? The weird little 8-punch combination? 

Are you happy like this?

Tell me, Fluffy. What would you do?  



Friday, January 27, 2017

Figuring it Out

I wonder if the best people have figured out what they are early, and are just that. Others of us take a long time thinking we're more something else, or other things, and try to be them too hard, until we look back and think - man, I was wasting all that time trying to be that, and I never actually could have been that. I always thought I was quite serious. But now today, just today, I realise, I never could have been. And all that time had been wasted trying to be serious. I watched a video, and in it I was trying so very hard to be serious. And it was just funny. I think of people I know, who are good at certain things, bad at others, and see at which point they figured it out. Some were only kids. Some have still not figured it out. We watch, patiently. Hopefully before it's too late they'll know. I don't want to wait until I'm old. I hope I know. 



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Once Upon a Time there was a Non-Allergenic Cat

Kiki wanted a story tonight about a lady who has three kids - two girls and a baby - and the two girls want a cat but the baby is allergic to cats. So they come to the pet shop and the pet shop owner - me - shows her a cat (the furry puppet Tigey) and the cat is non-allergenic. Or non-allergedic as she said. So we went through it - and I produced the non-allergenic cat which was great for kids with allergies because it had short hair and didn't mault too much, and all the family was happy including the baby, and lived happily ever after. 

Just as I was pronouncing the last syllable in 'ever after', Kiki made the baby let out the tiniest a-choo. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Just the Tip

I am thinking a lot about my need to be on the pavement - reading Vivian Gornick's book 'The Odd Woman and the City', and Lauren Elkin's 'Flaneuse' is not helping this. One thing I am liking in The Odd Woman is this idea that to being negative and miserable in a place (such as the city), does not necessarily mean you are not happy or in the wrong place. She may not have said this, but it is what I'm gleaning. I am also liking her un-attachment to objects and the home - and Leonard too, despite his affection for them. 

I am known for my indifference to acquisition... It isn't high-minded disinterest, it is rather that things have always sent me into a panic; a peasant-like discomfort with color, texture, abundance... All my life I've made do with less because 'stuff' makes me anxious. 
Leonard has developed a style of living that seems the direct obverse of my own, but, truth to tell, I think it the mirror image. Overflowing with Japanese prints, Indian rugs... his place feels like a set of museum rooms of which he is the curator. Yet he's never been at home in his apartment any more than I am in mine; he, too, needs to feel concrete beneath his feet. 

In 'Austerlitz' I'm sure I also read a passage about grand houses in the Belgian countryside or something - I must try to find it. I'm sure he said (and again I may be gleaning, or dreaming, or it was actually in I Love Dick) something about how in fact grand old houses, châteaux and the like, the ones that fill us with awe, is not for our wanting to actually to live in them, despite what we actually might believe, they fill us with horror which is what creates the awe. No man can be happy living in a vast space - we're not meant to live in such spaces. Which is why during the wars they were all full of weapons and turned into military bases, etc. I am thinking of this as a magnificent stately home here in Queenscliff is for sale - the place we spent our wedding night. It fills me with awe and admiration, all those French turrets and passages, the marble floors, the sun room. A couple live in there. I am remembering how the châteaux in France are often sold so cheap. A friend told me it's because nobody wants them! They're too hard and expensive to maintain. I wonder now if they're also too lonely. 

You never feel like you're going to be murdered in a chambre de bonne of 9m2. It's hard to feel scared or lonely when you can touch the walls around you with your four limbs outstretched.

Also I am thinking a lot about the iceberg effect of great art. How you may witness just the tip. I am reading like a crazy person. And watching. It's all I want to do. Like I just got my attention span back. It happened just before Christmas. I'm sure taking a break from copywriting is helping. 

Here are the things I've read and watched in the past few weeks, in order:
The Odd Woman and the City
Austerlitz
La La Land
Sophie Calle's 'Suite Vénétienne'
The Arrival
Search Party
Nan Goldin's 'Ballad of Sexual Dependency'
I Love Dick
Flaneuse
À La Recherche du Temps Perdu (but I'm only ten pages in, that sits near the can and will be ingested paragraph by paragraph (or according to bowel function) over the next however long it takes)

I am especially liking the things with just the tip out.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Old Photo used as a Bookmark

A summer night in La Villette, on our way to see a show at the Zenith, or maybe the Trabendo. It was an almost-full moon. We rode our bikes and chained them to a pole, to walk a bit. In the middle of the park was a still, quiet manège. The babysitter cost 10 euros an hour. We were running late, but we stopped for a second. 


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Still Lilies

When we arrived in this house there was a pot in the backyard with some green leafy stems in it, which looked nice. The previous owners had placed them there for the inspections, to make the yard look pretty, and had kindly left them for us when we moved in. I watered them for months not knowing what they were, imagining they were a kind of plant that had no flower and would just keep shooting its leafy stems up towards the sky, and perhaps fan out, before dying. But suddenly one day there was a large tight bud on the top of one of them, then another, then another. Kiki and I watched in curiosity. One hot day we came home and two of the buds had opened into glorious pink and white lilies. We were astonished - how did something so extraordinary just make itself, with so little input from us? The third lily bloomed, more compact but even more magnificent than its sisters.

I couldn't figure out why despite their beauty I felt repulsed. Were they too beautiful? Then a puff of breeze directed their scent into my nostrils and I saw it - a hundred vases on our childhood back lawn. That week after mum's death - the doorbells and the vases and so, so many lilies.

I had awoken one night with a start, stomach clenched. A strong scent was in my nose, in my soul. I was sleeping in the dining room with lots of cards and cakes and vases. I took the vases and put them in the kitchen, pulling the sliding door closed. But the scent was still there as I tried to sleep. It was the lilies, I realised, their powerful scent I normally loved so much. In concert the effect was nauseating. I tried to sleep. Couldn't. Eventually I got up and moved all the vases into the living room, past sleeping siblings, aunts, friends. On top of the harmonium, behind the big floral couch, beside the stereo.

Then I went back to the dining room couch and closed my eyes.

Still lilies.

It made me want to scream. I buried my face in the embroidered cushion. Tried suffocating my nose with the sheet. Still lilies. Lilies everywhere, up in me, all over me. Lovely lilies, cheery lilies, kind lilies, caring lilies, sweet lilies. My stomach turned, my head felt like it was going to explode.  

I couldn't take it any more. I went out and collected every single vase from all over the house - downstairs, upstairs, the bathrooms, the entranceway - and covered the back lawn with vases and vases and vases. It took an hour to collect every one, heavy ones, small ones, ceramic ones, glass ones. Even outdoors all I could smell was lilies.

I climbed up on the outdoor table and sat looking at what I had created, a landscape of tilting and toppling structures, castaways in the moonlight.

It is a year now since the surprise lilies burst open in our backyard, and today, despite being utterly neglected and forgotten, a brand new lily has appeared, boastful and defiant. 

And I'm back on the table in the moonlight. Madeleine de Proust.  



Sunday, January 15, 2017

Spark Joy

HBO bought the web series High Maintenance, which we loved, and they made 6 new episodes, which we watched, I think, in one sitting. It was good, especially the story told through the eyes of a dog. The characters in each episode kept referring to 'Sparking Joy' and we got so annoyed we googled it and found Marie Kondo's book 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up'. 

We giggled out loud as we devoured it, especially at lines like 'At school, while other kids were playing dodgeball or skipping, I'd slip away to rearrange the bookshelves in our classroom, or check the contents of the mop cupboard'. 

Then we threw out a lot of stuff from the house, and felt quite good.
From 'The Life Changing Magic of Decluttering in a Post-Apocalyptic World',
by Tom Gauld in the New Yorker 10/1/17

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Hypernormalisation

We watched a documentary the other night called Hypernormalisation. It was so riveting and unsettling I got depressed and didn't write for two days, because - what's the point?

One of the aspects I can't stop thinking about is this idea of us all retreating from engagement with politics and the community into individualisation; building up our houses, our bodies, avoiding taking part in a system we've accepted as corrupt and unchangeable. Retreating into our caves, away from the depression that comes with hopelessness, the inability to change things, or even be heard. Jane Fonda, from social activist to aerobicist. Brexit. Trump...

Now we live in bubbles, getting our information from sources that tell us what we want to hear so we can rebroadcast it around our networks that see things exactly the same way we do. 

Last night, watching Sam Bee's Full Frontal, I turned to Mr Rabbit and said - 'What is the point of watching this? We're in a bubble echo chamber. Look at her passion for change, for truth. And yet - she's just exhausting herself, preaching to us, the choir. Nobody that needs to watch this will ever, ever watch it. So, what's the point?' 

We turned her off and watched When Harry Met Sally for the eighteenth time. God it felt good.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Bunny Stares at Stars

We forgot to put Fluffball in her hutch and I just ran out there to find her. Expecting to go on a search I found her instead smack bang in the middle of the lawn, looking up at the one twilight star. The small white ball of her body was dwarfed by the immensity of the sky and yet she looked quite empowered, back upright, ears down. As I walked towards her she didn't move, and for a moment we looked up at the star together. 

Then she sensed me and did a full 360 on the air, sprinting beneath the quince tree for cover. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Universalizing the Personal

Something else Hannah Wilke said:

If women have failed to make the 'universal' art because we're trapped within the 'personal', why not universalize the 'personal' and make it the subject of our art?

Just thinking about that.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Do The Shadow

In The Tools, Phil Stutz and Barry Michels talk about this part of you called 'The Shadow' - something Carl Jung named. The Shadow is an intrinsic part of you, something you can't get rid of, which is hard, as it is the culmination of all the things you hate most about yourself. It's everything you desperately don't want to be, but fear that you are. We try to hide it, shame it away, especially in public, we're terrified it will come out and humiliate us in front of everyone. So we continue trying to be perfect, hiding that most embarrassing part of ourselves. In Brene Brown's talk about Shame she talks about exposing this icky, uncomfortable part of ourselves. She says, contrary to what we think, it's this part of us that everyone wants to see. 

Initially, I pictured my Shadow as this depressed, disgusting, swampy, reclusive, ugly, hopeless, lazy, flabby, weak, wasteful, flawed, dreadful blob of shit in the corner. In the book, they say you should try and picture the Shadow, draw it, try and really see it. And I sort of could, but the outlines were never really there. I figured that was because my Shadow was itself so lacking in definition. They say that when you connect with your Shadow and let its imperfections truly reveal themselves, it changes form and becomes a source of creativity and confidence. This seemed very far fetched. My Shadow couldn't get out of bed, let alone inspire confidence. She was in direct conflict with creativity: slothy, unmotivated, depressed. A squashed banana in the bottom of a bag. 

I forgot about The Shadow. This was months ago.

Then the other morning I woke up from this dream. I was standing in front of a mirror, arm slung around my big cousin BJ. We were giggling and staring at ourselves. I was the biggest Dork that had ever lived. My heart was full of joy as we stood there laughing our heads off at ourselves. The mirror was big and plain like the one on my dresser, and I can't remember what her face looked like, but mine was very ugly and contorted. My nose was big and sausagey and my eyes were way too close together. My face was long and weird. I had my hair pulled way back. I was a complete Idiot, and the thing was - I felt so so happy. My chest burned with it. The feeling stayed with me when I sat down at breakfast and told Kiki and Mr Rabbit about the dream. I could see the picture so clearly, and recreated it by pulling and contorting my face. The effect was bizarre, stupid, unexpected.

Wehhh! Mama! Look at mehh... I'm Mama! 

It's your Shadow!, said Mr Rabbit, eyes wide.

'Oh my God,' I said. 'No. I like her.'

I thought the Shadow was something you wanted to hide, something you hated. And then it dawned on me. That's exactly the part of me I do always hide - or at least want to hide. I just so badly wish it wasn't me. Even the fact that in the image it's me and BJ in the mirror, here at the beach - how I've been trying so hard to keep up my Paris life, never quite letting the true joy of the simple life down here in deep enough. That picture in the mirror is the absolute definition of the thing that I know I am, but never wanted to be.

Do the Shadow!, said Kiki.

This went on for days. And is still going.

Do the Shadow! 

Do the Shadow! 


Do the Shadow! 


Do the Shadow! 


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Shut Up

As I arrive at that familiar place in this writing where I think - why and what for and for whom, I keep thinking of Chris Kraus and the idea of speaking anyway, even if (it feels like) everything and everyone around you is telling you to Shut Up (especially yourself). I really want myself to Shut Up today, and especially with regards to those Hannah Wilke photos, but I can feel this in-built little tick inside me saying It's when you want yourself to Shut Up that is the most important time to speak. Is this true? I dunno. Dick Hebdige asked Chris Kraus to Shut Up, but he didn't realise the book had nothing to do with him, and speaking up made him look like he thought it was about him and thus a real Dick. He should have Shut Up, ignored the tick. In the book he comes off fine, it's her spiralling, icky, ugly self-humiliation we see, she lets us glimpse into her soul. Her passages about Hannah Wilke, who like her allowed us to witness her ugly (and beautiful) truth, have entered my psyche and are making me feel sick, to a point I don't want to write about them or post them, and so I am, because the tick is telling me that means I should. I can't stop thinking about her, how brutal her career was - precursor to the revered and 'more impersonal impersonation' artists like Sophie Calle and Cindy Sherman. Her beauty holding her back, even when documenting her gut-wrenching demise from cancer. The wall of Shut Up she faced, people writing things in the Village Voice like 'Hannah's vagina is now as familiar to us as an old shoe.' Dismissing her work as narcissistic, exhibitionistic (while complimenting it at the same time):



Even her series of photographs self-documenting her cancer-ravaged body were described as: 'A deeply thrilling venture into narcissism.' As if the only possible reason for a woman to publically reveal herself could be self-therapeutic, says Chris Kraus. As if the point was not to reveal the circumstances of one's own objectification.





Friday, January 6, 2017

Nothing

I wanted to write more about Dick and a whole lot of smart things about Hannah Wilke, but I was too tired so I wrote a whole rant about people saying Fuck You 2016, good riddance, and all of that, but then I took it down because I didn't really believe what I was saying. So I am writing this, nothing. And though I hate myself for not writing something better, at least I will go to bed having fulfilled the brief of writing a post a day. And like Mr Rabbit says, self-esteem is created by making little agreements with yourself and fulfilling them.

Here are three lines from I Love Dick:

1.
When the form's in place, everything in it can be pure feeling.

2.

For years I tried to write but the compromises of my life made it impossible to inhabit a position. And 'who' 'am' 'I'? Embracing you & failure's changed all that 'cause now I know I'm no one. And there's a lot to say...

3.
I found the second story that I’d ever written, 20 years ago in Wellington. It was written in the third person, the person most girls use when they want to talk about themselves but don’t think anyone will listen.