Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Day 13/365

Truth bomb:

I am tired and very sad.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Day 12/365

Favourite bands of people I've loved that I love too:


I have actually written about OK Computer before, and the moment of listening to it for the first time. My mum was there, which is a weird thing in that I don't know if that's something you should be doing with your mum. I made her listen to the whole damned album because I'd bought it in Tamworth and we were driving the hour home to Kentucky. It rained. It was ridiculous how great that whole first listen was - from start to finish with the rain coming down (from a great height).

I bought the album because of a boy I loved called Grant who loved Radiohead. Grant was and still is an amazing artist. I wanted to be as clever as him, as mysterious and artistic and poetic. Armidale's female Thom Yorke was my aspirational goal. I drew the Kid A bear on all my school books and my folder. I filled notebooks with lyrics interspersed with my own poetry, solidly referencing their lyrics. Nothing I produced for a good 6 months after finding this band was really mine. 

I loved Radiohead when I was 15 (and onwards) because they blew my mind. They were unlike anything else I'd listened to so far: they made my brain want to grow in new and unexpected ways. They made me feel ok about what I'd probably now identify as anxiety and depression. They made me understand that all the best people were weird and didn't have the right things to say in public. My love for them grew way beyond Grant in a matter of months, which was a relief as he and I were never meant to be.

Smashing Pumpkins

In the determinedly stalkerish way that only a 16 year old can manage (and, I like to think, get away with) I found out that my Year 12 crush was into the Pumpkins. I proceeded to purchase their back catalogue with my hard-earned Saturday morning job monies. I loved Siamese Dream the most, because Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was almost too much to take. Double albums are not for beginners, particularly the raw feels of Billy Corgan (totally grew into it though). I loved the lush strings and the bleak lyrics. I felt hope, held in the arms of "and we don't even care to shake these zipper blues/and we don't know just where our bones will rest/to dust I guess".

I scrawled the lyrics into the spaces on my Radiohead-covered folder and, I can't believe I'm admitting it, sat myself next to his group of friends at weekly Friday assemblies, taking care to leave the folder somewhere he could notice it, read the lyrics, recognise his soul mate. It worked, too. I dated that guy for 3 months and pretended to be impressed by his attention to detail in referencing my love of the band made clear from my folder. I never told him I'd pressured his friend to tell me his favourite band and gone stalker-levels of crazy.

I listen to these albums now with the fond smile of someone who will hopefully never be that unhealthily obsessed again. Plus, turns out modern-day Billy Corgan is kind of a dick. I'm sticking with the old stuff and the memories.

Stay tuned for more like this, the Friends edition: mainly, bands my littlest brother has introduced me to.

Day 11/365

Five things I've written down in the notes section of my iPhone in the past 12 months:

1. "Talk to this guy about port. He'll eat your ear off it." - Phill, speaking emphatically of Mark.

2. "No amount of lipstick is ever going to make the patriarchy comfortable with the words coming out of your mouth, if you've an ounce of courage, or ambition, or anger." - Laurie Penny, "Unspeakble Things", p 36.

3. "Swagzilla and the Funky Bunch" - band name? Trivia team name? You decide.

4. "You could jazz it up with a few well-placed accessories." - Stu. Nailing fashion.

5. "Life rains sometimes." - Ellie wisdom. Undeniable.

Day 10/365

An Album from 2003: The Official Fiction, Something For Kate.

I recently saw Missy Higgins play in Newcastle - she was glorious, and touring for her new album which is amazing covers of Australian bands. She covered Something for Kate's You Only Hide, introducing it with the tale of her love of the band and the fangirling over Paul Dempsey, frontman for the band.

It reminded me of this album, which I haven't listened to since the second half of 2003. I listened to pretty much just this for 3 months, when it was up to me, or when I was driving, which was often as I still lived in Kentucky, 50+ kms from anything or anyone.

Something for Kate are one of those bands that crept up on me - I remember finding them quite tough listening originally, preferring silverchair or Powderfinger or Nirvana or Radiohead or yikes, any of a million things. I listened to a lot of music, and I still do, compulsively. 

Something for Kate's You Only Hide, the song Missy covers for her new album Oz, was actually the gateway song for me. The lyrics caught me in the midst of one angsty in-love-with-someone-who-didn't-love-me-back situation (one of many, to be honest). I listened to their back catalogue with the same determination I gave any new band I thought I might love. By the end of highschool I'd been sidetracked by Smashing Pumpkins and then, unfortunately, the likes of Counting Crows (a phenomenon I like to refer to as "assimilation with your boyfriend's bland musical taste"). At this point in time, I wasn't a Something for Kate groupie - I didn't know they had released a new album when I bought The Official Fiction in '03. 

I had just finished my HSC - it was the first time I was desperately concerned about my marks and for some reason certain I wouldn't do as well as I expected. Despite years of evidence to the contrary, I was sure I'd disappoint myself and studied obsessively. I ended up with a stupidly good mark which still makes me shake my head. I didn't even need all those marks - I did a BA in the end, but how was I to know that's the decision I'd make? 

I also had just embarked on my first real relationship with someone I'd known since Year 8. Unfortunately I was way too rosy-eyed about that one, but at the time I just waged the constant self-confidence battle in my mind of "why in the ever-living fuck is this amazing guy interested in me?". Unfortunately for me he turned out to be considerably different from what I expected or imagined a relationship was. But you know, now we can laugh about it and I can speak much more knowledgeably about mental illness, so there's that.

I had finished my exams, and the boyfriend had come up to stay. My parents were being incredibly cool and letting him sleep in my room (they were a little distracted as you will learn shortly). So we had passed a terrific night of me awkwardly refusing to have sex with him yet. I woke up in the morning and walked into the kitchen, and my parents sat me down and told me they were splitting up. It was not a thing I expected, at all.

The urge to flee kicked in pretty quick and as I was grabbing some things to leave, Mum gave me $50 cash with pretty much no instructions. 

So that was how I funded the purchase of The Official Fiction. I made the boyfriend drive us into town, I dropped him off and went to KMart. I wandered aimlessly. I got to the cds, noted a new Something For Kate album and figured it would do. I drove around town for 2 hours or so, and damned if those lyrics didn't assure me that I was not the only bruised heart in the world.

I mean now, if I'd had news like that and been given $50 it would have gone to whisky as a no-brainer. But I'm glad (for many reasons) that 18 year old Helen didn't know about whisky. This album was a lot of things to me for those 3 months. 

And after that, I moved to Melbourne and I couldn't listen to it again. It moved around with me and my cd collection several times until I sold it at the Camberwell markets along with many other things I owned and moved to Canada. 

The one that gets me now is 'Reverse Soundtrack'.

so you dance and you shuffle, into the eye of the storm
your eyes all on fire as if you've never been here before
and you say it's all nothing, but tell yourself quietly
but i hear you from my house, breathing differently
and when it all falls down

you won't just stand there
looking at the ground
holding your breath
holding out.

so you drive til the water changes from blue to green
and you wait there until the wind knocks you out of your body
you can stay here forever counting the stars
trying to separate yourself from how things are
but you know you won't get very far
until it all falls down

so don't just stand there
looking at the ground
and holding your breath
holding out.

In fairness, The Official Fiction isn't their best album. But it got me through 3 months of my life that I don't remember much of besides that music. It got me here. 

I bought a copy of it on iTunes post-Missy Higgins show and I don't regret it - it makes me want to listen to all their stuff again, and quietly love Paul Dempsey in particular for giving me something. Thanks, Paul.

Day 9/365

on the revelation of the teenage self, to be found in small town America:

the coming of age stories of American teenagers never fail to have me contemplating my own existence. I've a weakness for it unlike anything else ever: I have this craving for the small towns in the middle of nowhere, full of the misfits and punks that are alienated by everyone and everything for having different ideas from the rest of society. movies have taught me that the everyday glamour of weirdos that have a point to prove is powerful beyond measure. every fucking time.

how am I nostalgic for something I've actually never known, and won't ever know? I'm not American. I'm 29 years old. I'm not misunderstood anymore - I might be confusing to people now and then, but I'm hardly on the outskirts of respectability and society. plus all I need to do is write about it and put it on the internet and then everyone gets their chance to know what I mean, properly.

tonight I ate an amazing vegan massaman curry that I'm particularly proud of, drank a glass of wine and sat up to watch roller derby-based coming of age Fox Searchlight production 'Whip It'. for those of you who haven't caught it, it features the star-studded likes of Drew Barrymore, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Jimmy Fallon and of course, the charming Ellen Page, who is yet to disappoint me in anything she does. 

Page is Bliss Cavendar/Babe Ruthless, a 17 year old who appears to have been plodding along through life as an unwilling beauty pagent entrant at the whim of her mother. Bliss discovers rollerderby on a shopping trip to Austin, TX. rest is history - all it takes is a rollerskating training montage and a mouthguard and she's the arse-kickenest derby kid in town. hip checks for days.

every time I watch this movie I desperately want to move to Texas, although I suspect it's way too hot for me there. what makes me want to move there? the notion of kids working shitty fast-food jobs, hanging out in attics full of records, breaking into swimming pools at night time and taking off all their clothes to leave them floating in the pool. seems careless, but that's part of its charm. the day-long date spent in arcades, laying on the bonnet of a car, losing your keys in a field of hay. fuck yeah, break me off a piece of that.

it seems that I am actually capable of envying the kind of small-existence-with-a-dream life that I already have. I think I'd even manage to please 17 year old Helen with how things have turned out. it's just the damned nostalgia for my inner American teenager that gets me. 

I love the way this movie is really just about someone stubbornly loving a thing her mum hates but eventually comes around to. I love the way it's not about the boy in the band, who's enough of a dick that I only want to date him long enough to kiss him underwater and then slap him in the face when we break up. I love that they end it with the tiniest but hugest of victories: Bliss sitting on the roof of her place of work, planning to move to a bigger city. I want that outcome for myself: the most insignificant of things that means the whole world.

I think the theme of the posts this week is showing itself to be 'reasonably awesome women in movies I have recently watched'. stay tuned.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Day 8/365

On the incredible captivating power of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:

Periodically I become obsessed with Steig Larsson's Lisbeth Salander. While I love the 2nd and 3rd books of the trilogy because we get to learn the depths of her story, the first installment in Larsson's Millenium trilogy allows her to be a stranger to us. Fresher in my mind are the movie and graphic novel depictions of her, where the statements of her difference are made through haircut, piercings, clothing and of course the eponymous dragon tattoo. 

I find it interesting how she's meant to be dark and foreign to her own people and fucked up and something of a sociopath. I want to be her friend; to acknowledge that the world is a shitty place, and that everything's here to serve old rich white men. I want to give her power of her own; not to fix her or heal her or teach her to love again, but to just say yes, you're right. World is fucked.

I am a fangirl, that's how much I love Lisbeth. I loved the movies (both of them; I care deeply for Rooney Mara's Lisbeth, even though Noomi Rapace's Swedish depiction is the one I'd choose to kick some patriarchal arse with), I love the books, and most recently, the graphic novel interpretation put together by the likes of Denise Mina. Amazing. I'm in love all over again. 

I love that she gets to attack, torture and tattoo her rapist. I love that she works the system under straight-disguise to steal all the monies by way of brains and cunning. I love that she's so intelligent and socially non-compliant. I love that she gets to pick her own ending. I love that she saves the man at the end. 

I'm growing to really appreciate a murder mystery. I'm particularly loving the ones with female sleuths. Fuck yeah! Clever sassy ladies catching out murderous men! Best.

If you haven't watched or read it, do it. And do it soon.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Day 7/365

What I'd like to know is if everyone else has the same sort of imagination that I have. Why, I live whole lives based on one tiny whim. It's exhausting to be in here sometimes.

I've constructed some beautiful narratives based upon the flicker of meaning in eye contact, or the twist of a sentence in a conversation that's gone somewhere you didn't expect it would. 

Sometimes I think the greatest struggle in life is things not turning out how you expect, and for this I blame my overactive imagination. It's also a great indicator, because if I am truly content, I have no need of the narratives. A friend was talking about her imaginings the other night and she was explaining how involved she gets with them until suddenly, they're over, and they're no fun anymore, and she's not sure what she was thinking in the first place. 

My imaginings are mainly about my parallel life - the life I live somewhere else in the world. Maybe I live in a tiny flat in Montreal, and sit staring out the window at the snow falling, drinking wine. Maybe I live in Scotland somewhere with my future husband (he's probably Scottish, otherwise why am I living in Scotland?!) drinking scotch, because Scotland.

My imaginings are also rather idealistic and romantic. Another friend, once upon a time, called these "screensaver thoughts", and I tend to feel it's a good term - to stare off into space while you live your ideal life does save the reality of your existence from burning itself into your eyeballs. 

It's not that I don't love my current life. Because I really do like it. I have a collection of friends that I challenge anyone anywhere in the world to beat. I have the means of escape, I have a job that I actually enjoy, there's not a lot else I need. The future husband is very negotiable. He's really only in my Scotland-specific imaginary life, and that's because I like the accent so very much.

I've gotten distracted by all this. My point was to explore imagination, and what I use it for. I guess it's really about sneaking off for a holiday when you can't afford an actual one. I feel like if I was a fiction writer I'd have more tales to tell here, but I suspect I'm not. Besides the small lies I tell to get through my day-to-day life, the imaginings of my other lives are really all I have. And for now, just being able to have them is enough.

Perhaps that's why the future husband is negotiable. Because in my imaginings he has little to no actual impact upon my life, and that my friends is not how they work.

I'm publishing this to come back to later. There's something here.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Day 6/365

Here's a first line of a thing I'm working on:

"I think this story starts with me accidentally giving a boy the moon."

Monday, 5 January 2015

Day 5/365

I'm cheating tonight - stealing something from September last year - I'm too tired and too private to share my brain with you tonight.

September 28:

Sometimes it exhausts me that everybody's trying to pull each other apart. Like the points for cleverness are earned by taking someone else down a notch, or even further, ripping their ideas to shreds. It's a disaster of trendiness and intellectual pissing contests, and all we end up with is pieces.

But I also resent unquestioning acceptances, and so I suppose I must resolve to never be pleased.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Day 4/365

New Year's resolutions are funny things. I'm turning 30 this year and any thoughts I've had about things I might like to change up to this point in my life are pretty similar every year. It gets to feel like you're ringing in the next year with a list of all your faults, and I'm not about that these days. Nobody is going to win all the things and save all the money and fit into all the pants and get all the promotions. Not in one year.

This year I'm going to do it differently. I'm going to keep note of all the great and amazing and tiny and smile-inducing and bittersweet and grand things that happen to me, every day for the year. 

Today I hung out with my friends who just celebrated their first year of marriage and they filled me with delicious beverages like whisky, cinnamint flavoured tea and Turkish coffee. We caught up and then I got to sit on their couch while Kate did a bit of crossword. Then I got to watch about 20 minutes of Matrix Re-Something (Rewired? Replugged? Too soon?) with Phill and then I got to go home, drink a beer and watch a movie with Justin Timberlake in it.

Not each daily post will be of the "what I did today and what I ate for breakfast" type things, but it is today. Because I'm too tired for cleverness.

More did happen, but it's a secret. It involves a stolen rose, and I didn't hate it one bit.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Day 3/365

I got lots of sugar for Christmas this year. My favourite sugar was this sugar. 

How do they make it? How? The tiny citrus. The banana. The passion fruit. I feel like this is a mysterious craft, perhaps a secret, perhaps handed down from generation to generation.

I've almost completely gone off sugary treats - give me a cheese on a cracker any day - but I love fake fruit flavours. Fake banana. Fake mango. Fake passion fruit. 

And that's today's gripping secret about me.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Day 2/365

let me explain to you about me and FOMO.

i'm often curious about whether i'm an introvert or an extrovert. the part of me that hates people and planned social events suspects i'm an introvert. the part of me that loves shit-talking, hanging out with people who excel at puns and emphasizing articulate points (fuelled by gin or whisky or microbrews) by banging tables loudly at public establishments thinks that extroverts have all the fun.

FOMO is the fear of missing out. sometimes i like to think i am part of things that other people see on the internet and wish they were also a part of. more often, i see the things the Other People from The Internet are up to and somewhat wish i was one of those guys. the ones who are laughing and all knowing each other and have wonderful posture. 

tonight, i am dead-on-ma-feet tired. the kind of tired where i got home from work at 4 and have watched 4 episodes of season 5 of Gilmore girls. i had popcorn and malteasers for dinner (it's Christmas leftovers, ok?). i've slept about 7 hours in the past 72 on account of the Brisbane heat and the insomnia and the New Year's and the thunderstorm last night. i had to work today when 85% of my office did not.

as a side note - in season 5, Lorelai and Luke get together and it's been building basically the entire series, and i just really do not think that enough is made of it. and Luke has the most fantastic and muscular broad shoulders and he's only ever gruff because of his emotional depth as a human. end rant.

but then my friends are going to the bar later. because i missed new year's in armidale and because i haven't seen these folks in a bit of time and because it's Friday Night and because i feel as though i should, i am unpicking the shoulderpads in a dress i bought for $6 at lifeline that i'm probably not going to actually wear so i can go out in a little bit for a tiny while.

because i don't want to miss out. sometimes i have the emotional strength to miss things, but not tonight.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Day 1/365

We drove much more quietly on the return trip, the cumulative effect of a late night and heat and much whisky. It's a special kind of friendship, one that will sit next to you in the car, having bursts of significant conversation interspersed with observations about the sky, mixed in with the quiet of thoughtful people.

I decided I didn't quite have resolutions, but that I did want to write every day in 2015 - lots of words, or less words with a picture.

I know this year is going to be another big one, and if the open blue skies of today are any indication, it's going to be wide open and beautiful.