31 August 2008

sunday self portrait

my life as a list (music)

The Cure turn 30 this year, which makes me think that the Stones must be approaching 100. A celebratory radio special had me lost in my own history – the body moves, the memories flow. I doubt there’s a single memory of mine that doesn’t include a soundtrack. I understand the role music plays because it’s always been beside me, strapped into the passenger seat. My first stories reside there. Wiggling + giggling to Ry Cooder’s version of ‘Little Sister’, my favourite when I was three or four. The forbidden record player: the turntable, the needle, the delicate mystery of its mechanics. So many albums in their glossy storybook sleeves; each one an adventure beyond my little girl understanding. Women backed up against the jungle in see-through underwear, an airbrushed superhero dancing across giant piano keys in even bigger platform shoes, soft-focus princesses + cowboy kings. My first rudimentary glimpses of sex, love, magic. And the magic remains.

Music has been one of the few constants. Music + friends + boys. Using the first to woo the other two. Crushes on a million musicians. Passions fuelled by favourite songs. Lust + loss + lyrics, all sweatily intertwined. The best kind of lifeblood. I don’t think of the Cure as my lifeblood, particularly. My friends Emily + Tina were truly obsessed. Bought all the albums, sourced rare live videos, pored over every detail. Once they signed up to something there was no limit to their intensity. I stood at the periphery: wore out my tape of ‘Standing on a Beach/Staring at the Sea’ + let my teen heart swell with the dark romance of it all, but usually from the privacy of my bedroom.

You flicker + you're beautiful
You glow inside my head
You hold me hypnotised, I'm mesmerised
Your flames, the flames that kiss me dead

A high school friend tracked me down last year (the facebook phenomenon), saying that the trigger had been a Cure concert. She couldn’t help but think of me as she watched Robert Smith moping around the stage, reliving the eyeliner days. It felt strange to have Mel link me to the Cure in the way that maybe I link Emily + Tina. I don’t own an album anymore, wouldn’t consider going to see them play live, but me + the Cure occupy the same space in Mel’s memory bank.

I remember a detested first year lecturer trying to win the class over with the Cure. Dropping in a line about them being the one band that was always cool, the constant throughout his teaching career. And he was wrong. At that point in time, in that brief window, he was wrong. I thought the Cure would never be cool again because in 1997 that was the truth. They were making shitty new songs, they were fat + old. They had fallen from the chariot + were being mauled by the hard hooves of the sell out. Then that window closed + another opened. Suddenly Vaughan is no longer wrong. He might even impress the class of 2008, although I’m sure he’s still a nob. Suddenly the Cure are everywhere again. A best-of pulled out as soundtrack to a friend’s dinner party. The classics making a return to the radio. ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ catching my ear on a regular basis. Influence obvious in scores of hot new bands. And now the 30th birthday party. The surprise lesson, which I learn over + over + over again, is that nothing ever dies.

26 August 2008

the minutiae

I've just learned an important lesson about life in the west. I'm working on Claire Time right now... one of the many benefits of being an unemployed bum. Maybe I go to bed at 11pm, maybe I go to bed at 2am. Maybe I get up at 7am, maybe I get up at 10am. Maybe other westies do their grocery shopping during daylight hours. I do mine at 6pm. Or I try to + then discover that supermarkets here CLOSE at 6pm. Not sure if it's the Bus, or the weird western trading hours, or what... but I'm now devoid of real food + cooking my first ever frozen pizza. Pretty much the only option the corner shop had to offer. Wish me luck.

In other exciting news for the day...
--the Shack is ready for Libby + Martin's return. It's 37 times cleaner than when they left. That's not me trying to bignote myself. It's just an obvious result of sticking a neat freak in a mess factory for 6+ weeks.
--my stuff seems to be multiplying at an alarming rate, as revealed by packing for my move to the Ferg. I know I bought a few new things but the growth isn't proportional to my shopping activities. I may not be able to fit it all in the car.
--a care pack arrived from Ethan + Holley with the new Holly Throsby album + the cutest letters on 'morning glory' paper. My mood did an immediate 180. Those guys are the best.
--my mates Mat + Sarah launched a fabulous new website to showcase Mat's gorgeous jewellery.
--Birdsworth called me for a chat. She is very sweet.
--I saw a small girl riding a bicycle down the highway, wearing bright pink crocs + reading a book, all at the same time. There's scope for a new olympic sport in that, or at the very least a circus routine.
--I'm getting stuck into 'Love Is A Mix Tape' by Rob Sheffield. I'm enjoying it so far in spite of the startling realisation that all the books I've read in the last two months have dealt with death on some level. Spooky. Although maybe there are just a lot of books about death.
--one underwire came free of my favourite bra, rendering it completely useless. Don't ya just hate that?
--frozen pizza is really pretty average.

And that, my friends, is the minutiae of my day.

24 August 2008

sunday self portrait

Cheating again. Yesterday it was a beautiful sunny day + I went + visited a lighthouse + it was fun. Today it's rainy + cold + my hair is dirty + I can't be bothered + I wish there was something chocolate in the house but there's not + I'm too lazy to even walk to the shop. So there.

my life as a list (d)

dark (on dark)
domestic textiles
daily practice

23 August 2008

itty bitty goodness

My best mate is preggers with Bun #2. I probably shouldn't be broadcasting it to the entire internet (aka my devoted handful of readers) but I can't resist sharing the method of momentous news delivery. We were talking on speakerphone, which means that I listen to the joyful chatter of the household + occasionally try to cut through the chaos with questions/comments.

Mumma: What's in my tummy? Is it a monkey?
Two-year-old: Noooooooo.
M: Is it an elephant?
T-Y-O: Noooooooo.
M: Is it a digger?
T-Y-O: Noooooooo.
M: Is it daddy?
T-Y-O: Noooooooo.
M: Is it a baby?
T-Y-O: Noooooooo.

In actual fact it IS a baby. (You'd be pretty alarmed if a digger popped out, eh!) So more teensy weensy baby joy in my world. Yay!

22 August 2008


I'm not going to write much tonight. I'm in the throes of two new pieces + finding it hard to tear myself away for more than a few minutes. But I thought I'd post a couple of pics of the wonder that is my new crocheted blanket. Isn't it the bomb?

Interesting pattern + GOOD colours, based on bright pinks + extending out into yellow, orange, purple, green. It's acrylic, which I suppose goes without saying. Enough yarn for a pure wool blanket is outside my budget, so I can imagine how far that idea would get with the pensioners. It's a little leery, I'll admit, but coordinated, matched + well executed.

GOOD colours. Honestly, I can't overemphasise the significance of this. It's such a rarity in the swathes of handmade blankets I come across in oppies. Most of them have colour schemes that may as well have been inspired by dog's vomit. They're beautifully, lovingly made but completely unusable. I do understand the appeal of using up the odds + sods of your yarn collection. And that yarn is very expensive. And that not everyone is as bloody fussy about colour coordination as I am. But I can't help thinking that the grannies are shooting themselves in the crocheting collective foot. Not my anonymous crochet hero of course. She is a champion among crafters + I will be sleeping well under her jewel-toned treasure tonight.

20 August 2008

outgoings vs. incomings

Ouch! I went slightly ballistic on the ol bank balance today. Poor little Plum was in desperate need of a visit to the car doctor... a decent service to remedy the cross-country onslaught + the exploded tire to be dealt with. Turns out I'd blown a headlight + stuffed my wheel alignment somehow too. (Weeze, do you remember hitting anything at any stage?)

I'd expected it to sting, but the compounding factor was spending the day roaming the Bun. The plan had been to work in the library + I packed books, pens + pencils accordingly. Turns out the library is a building site: closed for complete rebuilding. So instead of working I adopted the motto of when in the Bun + did what the rest of the little cream buns seem to do... shopping + lolling around over mugs-of-chino. I know I sound like a right royal snob, but it's a bogan town really, + the only attractions I could find were malls + shopping strips. That's my excuse + I'm sticking to it.

First I thought I might as well sort out a job interview outfit. I mean, y'know, that's going to swing around soon enough, + I can't show up in jeans + a scruffy pair of cons, can I? I found some cute corporatey dresses which solved the I-hate-suits problem nicely. A tailored black dress should see me through any interview. Then there were t-shirts... oooh... I love those coral-y, watermelon-y pinks. Hang on... the jewellery's on sale too... + those silk scarves are a steal. Uh oh! You can see how the momentum got going.

I still had five hours to kill so I hit the oppies. What else was I going to do? I won't bore you with all the details, but serious treasures were found, the most significant being a crocheted blanket in wild zig zag pattern for $5.75. (Photos soon Tones, promise.) I don't think any purchases past the interview frock fell in the category of NEEDED. Being unemployed + of finite means, what I actually NEEDED was not to spend money unecessarily. In future this will link closely with NEEDING not to visit shopping districts. Maybe even oppies. (Gasp!) As lovely Linda from next door observed, "that's the trouble with shops - if you don't go near em, you don't spend money".

Leon welcomed me home with an offering of rabbit paw, eyeball + vital organs, laid out in a neat row on the doorstep. A show of excess + greed for a show of excess + greed. Lesson learned, thanks mate.

19 August 2008

puff n stuff

Recent pressies for my girls. Odd pink puppy for Smokey + starry scarf for Tones. Made with much love.

my life as a list (c)

cut out
couch stitch
carbon paper

18 August 2008

shack grafitti

'Look for the answer inside your question.'

16 August 2008

we are not the poem

The problem is we think we exist. We think our words are permanent + solid + stamp us forever. That's not true. We write in the moment. Sometimes when I read poems at a reading to strangers, I realize they think those poems are me. They are not me, even if I speak in the "I" person. They were my thoughts + my hand + the space + the emotions at that time of writing. Watch yourself. Every minute we change. It is a great opportunity. At any point, we can step out of our frozen selves + our ideas + begin fresh. That is how writing is. Instead of freezing us, it frees us.

The ability to put something down--to tell how you feel about an old husband, an old shoe, or the memory of a cheese sandwich on a gray morning in Miami--that moment you can finally align how you feel inside with the words you write; at that moment you are free because you are not fighting those things inside. You have accepted them, become one with them. I have a poem entitled "No Hope"--it's a long poem. I always think of it as joyous because in my ability to write of desperation + emptiness I felt alive again + unafraid. However, when I read it, people comment, "How sad." I try to explain, but no one listens.

It is important to remember we are not the poem. People will react however they want; + if you write poetry, get used to no reaction at all. But that's okay. The power is always in the act of writing. Come back to that again + again + again. Don't get caught in the admiration for your poems... It is very painful to become frozen with your poems, to gain too much recognition for a certain set of poems. The real life is in writing, not in reading the same ones over + over again for years. We constantly need new insights, visions. We don't exist in any solid form. There is no permanent truth you can corner in a poem that will satisfy you forever. Don't identify too strongly with your work. Stay fluid behind those black-+-white words. They are not you. They were a great moment going through you. A moment you were awake enough to write down + capture.

(Natalie Goldberg, 'Writing Down The Bones', 1986, pp.32-33)

14 August 2008

my life as a list (insomnia)

Sleep has always been my friend, refuge, escape. I've sought out her still veil whenever the noise of waking life has felt too much. Feigning illness as a primary school child + retreating to the sick bay. A kind of broom closet for the unwell where I would slip in + out of darkness on a hard camp stretcher, lulled by the clack of typewriter keys from the adjoining office, waiting for someone to come + fetch me.

I developed an illicit addiction to Days of our Lives + longed for our sagging, rose-patterned couch, for Brooke + Beau + the full parade of unlikely hair-dos to leap back into my life. My understanding of plot was limited. I would have struggled to keep up if I'd seen it every day, no chance with a handful of episodes each year. But it didn't matter. There was something about the drama, the intensity, the long soapie stares, that was soothing + infinitely preferable to school.

After my fix I would head to bed + sleep until someone came to coo over me. I felt more noticed in sickness than in health. It was definitely the only time I had access to trash tv. Sometimes Mum would bring home a bottle of dry ginger ale, the forbidden elixir of soft drink, one of the best attentions available.

I was at home alone when Brian died. Danny called to tell me + I knew from the first sound that came from his mouth, the first breath, that Brian was gone. I was thirteen. I think it was November. It was my first real experience of loss. It wasn't unexpected, but when it came I didn't know what to do with it, where to put it. The emotions stormed around me + I went straight to bed, waking only to relay the news to my family.

The tears wouldn't stop the next morning. I walked into school + the corridors cleared in front of me, like parting seas. Burly Year 10s making way for this little girl grieving. The only time I felt space + respect within that first tumultuous year of high school. Our grief was real + it was treated that way. We gathered in the school hall + cried together.

Sleep had always been my friend, refuge, escape. My Saturday afternoon luxury. My healer, rejuvenator, loyal companion. My retreat in times of grief + sadness. Pete used to say that if sleeping was an olympic sport I could win gold for Australia. Then he went + broke my heart. Insomnia made itself known as my unpredictable nemesis. Sometimes the bed is a saviour. Sometimes the bed is a battleground. Perhaps we all know that on some level.

13 August 2008

my life as a list (b)

body (body parts)
black (on black)
blanket stitch
beautiful (grotesque)
botanical drawing
brown paper
broken (fixed)

shack grafitti

The smart talked of history + politics + we got bent!

12 August 2008

this week i ave mostly been...

I'm in a very dreamy, non-verbal space tonight + wondering whether I'll be able to squeeze out anything worthwhile. It's been a huge couple of days by this Lady of Leisure's standards. I drove down to Albany on Friday, to spend a much-needed weekend with others of my own species, + got back late last night after unexpected adventure. I blew a tire on a teensy weensy road between two teensy weensy towns + was rescued by the most gorgeous older couple - Mike + Linda. After changing the tire + discovering my spare was flat, they then drove me to Manjimup + back again. I was counting my blessings the whole way... not raining, not dark, not in the middle of the desert, not raped + murdered, barely even embarrassed by my total lack of dealing-with-emergency skills. A pain in the arse, but a very lucky pain in the arse nonetheless!

To summarise the remainder of my week. I ave mostly been...

smiling at...
--the verdant + varied land I find myself in. It's like stumbling into the wardrobe + finding myself in Narnia. Rolling green farmlands, magnificent karri + jarrah forests, the cutest of tiny towns, brutally beautiful coastlines. I love it here.
--my wild west family + the rare opportunity to spend time with them. It would be hard to pick a lovelier bunch of people.
--the first signs of spring. It's already so alive with growth here. I saw (+ smelled) my first freesias on Friday + immediately thought of Carolyn. Fingers crossed for a good show of the famous WA wild flowers before I leave.
--being looked after when the need arises. Be it seriously generous help with a blown tire, a hug from my rellies, or a game of backgammon with the next-door neighbours. I'm fibbing when I say I'm alone here!

--a leaf out of Kristy + Trina's book: with a big dhal + love week before my mini-holiday. It's amazing what you can scrape together from a cupboard that seems bare. Leftovers of many colours/shapes/sizes, odd-but-tasty toastie combos, odds n sods salads, carrot + date muffins.
--birthday pizza: made for my cousin Anj by her talented hubby Brad. Seven of us got through eight pizzas, made from scratch from a Jamie Oliver recipe. Scrumbo yumbo.
--retro cuisine: at the 80s themed dinner party we had on Sunday night. Prawn cocktails, beef olives, cordon bleu chicken + chocolate mousse, all washed down with 'Fruity Lexia' fresh from the cask. Heaps of fun!

listening to...
--a veritable smorgasbord of tunes on my new iPod, Mark III. Praise be to Apple for doing the right thing + replacing my last dud.

--bad 80s movies: from a three-pack that my step-mum loaned me as a parting gift. So far I've watched 'About Last Night' + 'Perfect' + seen enough of Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, John Travolta + Jamie Lee Curtis' nudey bits to give me nightmares. Those brat packers certainly weren't shy of a little rumpy pumpy. I've saved 'St Elmo's Fire' for last + am genuinely excited.
--too much bloody Olympics: I'm completely over it already + not willing to even touch on my political take on it here, for fear of being automatically deemed un-Awstraylian + blacklisted by the Chinese government. Thank goodness for my return to the Shack + bad 80s movies!
--too much bloody advertising: which is inseperable from the above + makes me want to knock all my teeth out with a hammer. There's an insidious side to the combination of games hysteria + soulless jingoistic advertising that Get Up have just shed some light on. Their attempts to screen a human rights statement during the opening ceremony were blatantly stymied by the commercial big guns. If you haven't had a chance to read about it you can do so here.

--more Cormac McCarthy. I'm stuck into 'The Crossing' now, the second book in 'The Border Trilogy', + STILL mustering (haw haw) enthusiasm for wild teenage cowboys. McCarthy regularly engrosses me in subject matter that I wouldn't generally give two hoots about, which I think says something. Of course the experience would be heightened if half the dialogue wasn't in a language I don't understand (Spanish). The lengths artists go to for authenticity, eh! The first part of the book, where Billy Parham captures a wolf + attempts to return it to Mexico, is one of the most hauntingly beautiful things I've read in a long time.

And that'd be me. Hugs to anyone who made it this far! xxx

10 August 2008

sunday self portrait

Tired but happy after a big weekend in Albany.
(And just to predict any smarty-pants comments... no, there's no one else in bed with me!)

07 August 2008

play pen

I read an interview with American artist Jill Bliss yesterday. She creates very beautiful, whimsical illustrations + products, which I was first exposed to via the gorgeous framed posters on Annie + Genevieve's kitchen wall.

In the interview, Jill talks about "incubating" ideas + not being able to talk about them while they're in the early stages of life. It's one of those YES! concepts for me. I'm unable to verbalise my creative ideas until they reach a certain point... part + parcel, I thought, of my general (+ uncharacteristic) inarticulateness when it comes to my work. So it's a relief to have someone else express the same thing. Incubating is a term I might happily borrow from now on.

I've continued tinkering with a couple of play projects this week + feel just about ready to let them out of the warm, dark confines of the incubator. The first are the Pattern Diaries that I started on when I arrived at the Shack. The idea was to ease myself back into drawing, without any pressure to take it seriously or produce anything "final". I've been collecting patterns/motifs/ideas from nature in Pattern Diary One. Doodles based on bits n bobs I pick up whilst walking + exploring.

Once I'd had a few days to reconnect hand + heart + eye, I began drawing from some favourite white hankies. They're part of an enormous stash found in my local oppie in Dulwich Hill, many moons ago, + carted around ever since. I'd like to make some work with/from them but have been stumped on where to start. So Pattern Diary Two is a space for playing with them. I've taped them to the brick wall of my makeshift bedroom + made some loose line drawings from there. I've also been incorporating lyrics from the music of the moment - poignant, ambiguous, personal fragments that catch me while I'm working. I'm loving it cos it lets me listen to the sad songs + then DO something with them. Brilliant!

The third project is one that was seeded during my annual art camp at the beginning of the year. Ruth + I came up with the idea of creating an encyclopedia or index of ideas that have come up in previous work +/or spark inspiration for future work. Hopefully this will ease the feeling that there's too much swimming round in my head + not enough focus. It should also be a valuable reference point. And on top of that it's heaps of fun!

For the last week I've been transforming two Golden Book Encyclopedias into the inaugral volumes of the Encyclopedia of Claire. Collect, arrange, cut, paste, paint. It reminds me of the hours I'd spend covering my books for a fresh year of school. Collecting images + arranging them to express something of myself + my undying love for whoever/whatever inspired it in that fleeting moment. They were with me every day from there on in + I can still recall some of them vividly.

I've been a collector for as long as I can remember. By the end of primary school I had a shoebox full of drawings, souvenirs, magazine clippings, flyers, discarded books + other ephemera. By the end of high school it was a big packing box. By the time I got to the Gong there were several of them. Then there's the collecting of words, lyrics, poetry, lists, letters, cards. It goes on + on... all these fragments that I hold onto, or that hold onto me. Why am I drawn to them? What do they say to me? About me? For me? I finally feel like I have an opportunity to turn them into something. I'm like a diabolical scrapbooker let loose on the world. Mwahahahaha...

my life as a list (a)

absence (presence)
allusion (illusion)
? anxiety
? anger
? abandonment

05 August 2008

han solo

I'm into week four of life in the Isolation Tank + have a feeling it might be make or break time. I'm still doing things I love, keeping busy, smiling, but all of a sudden I feel very 'internal'. I can't find another way to put it. I feel like I'm resident in my own head, whereas previously I'd been a child of the world.

There are tell-tale signs that the hermitisation has begun. My outfits are no longer colour-coordinated. My glasses are often grimy. My legs are very very hairy. I'm staying up til at least midnight most nights. Yesterday I struggled to hold up my end of a coversation with a checkout chick. I'd rather send an email than make a phonecall. (Okay, so that last one pretty much always stands, but I was running out of signs.)

Help is at hand. I'm heading back down to Albany on Friday to hang with the fam + reintegrate into society. It's my lovely cousin Anj's birthday + I'll get to share in the celebrations. Who knows, there may even be the opportunity to get mildly drunk. Actually I may NEED to get mildly drunk in order to talk to people like a normal, socially-functioning human being! Wish me luck!

04 August 2008

sunday self portrait

This one's also cheating - a Monday self portrait. (Hey! Sue me!)

I had a great day.

02 August 2008

sunday self portrait

This is cheating just a teensy eensy bit. It's actually a Saturday self portrait, taken at the lavender farm near Cowaramup. Do I look cold? It was right before the rain hit + bloody freezing. I had a lovely wander round Vasse + Cowaramup, moving from one foodie attraction to the next in spite of my best intentions. My excursion got completely flooded out again, which kinda limited the options for non-foodie fun. That's my excuse anyway! I'm still hanging for forest walks, but even the little I've seen has been stunning. Huge, majestic trees + beautiful birds. It's a very pretty part of the world.