Friday, October 30, 2009
I have just waved goodbye to my lovely librarian friend, he must have been given the afternoon off as he usually leaves at 6. Earlier this afternoon he joined me with his cup of tea during his break and we chatted quite loudly in the "Quiet Study Area." That's about as naughty as I ever get.
Something remarkable has just occurred. A young woman walked into the library, and I know her, well...I don't really know know her...but there's a story.
This young woman walks down the street where I live every so often, and every so often I notice her and admire her from afar. She must be in her early twenties, pale pale skin, dark red long and straight hair, and perfect posture. She wears wonderfully inventive clothes, items that look like they might have been found in an op-shop and each one with a perfect quirky twist. In the height of summer I have seen her holding a small parasol. She lost her tortoiseshell cat a year or two ago and she asked me if I'd seen her. I told her that I love her style (doing that, as we all know, is called "blackbirding") and she thanked me. The way she spoke matched the way she looked, quiet, fascinating, confident, peaceful.
The woman sitting at the desk near me is sharing the one electrical outlet with me. Every hour or so we swap our laptop plugs around...it's like we are plugging into the Muse...taking turns listening to her whispers. When I said that to the woman she looked at me strangely. Oh well. I know that you understand.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
For afternoon tea,
The invitation was signed by
R, A, E, J, K and me.
"Please darling sister
Do walk through the door,
Please sit at the table
And tell us some more.
For last time you did visit
You told quite a tale
About women and men
And some artwork for sale.
Your tale had arrivals
From faraway lands,
And a quite dizzy spell
And two strongly held hands.
Your tale had a castle
Which pierced the blue sky
With that most joyful laughter
Of earthlings trying to fly.
Now invited once more
To our small kitchen table,
Please sip tea and begin
For us a happy new fable."
"Please my sweet darlings,
Neither wonder nor fret,
For united you make
A quite wondrous sextet.
Share your woes with each other,
Tell each other your rhymes,
And I promise you'll greet
Many more fruitful times.
You may think that you need me
But truth is -I need you
For your tea does me good
On the days I feel blue."
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Callie Khouri (writer of the screenplay "Thelma and Louise") was asked in an interview here what was her one piece of advice to give beginning scriptwriters. She said "Just show up for the Muse."
I think that's good advice for bloggers as well, because sometimes you just don't really feel like posting anything...and yet....you have a nagging suspicion that you really should. Maybe you DO have something to say, but you just won't know it until you're sitting down in front of that blank "new post" page?
It's also good advice for anybody undertaking a new exercise routine, especially me. I've been meaning to start training for the upcoming Eurolush Challenge and yet here I sit, refusing to show up for the Muse. Meanwhile, I have a nagging suspicion that Ms. Muse has flitted off to a little village in Germany where she's trying on some popping lipglosses and snacking on some fine baked goods.
Generally, showing up for my Muse means getting out of the house. You'd think I would have learned that by now, yet I still thought that I'd be able to order a house-call today and not have to brush my hair or put on shoes. Bad bad idea Eleanor. Tomorrow, I'm hauling my ass back onto the jogging track and then straight into that library.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Last night I attended a screening of a film (well, really 4 short films) produced by both AFTRS and NIDA students. It's the first time they have collaborated in this way, so there was a great buzz in the air. There were also many many young, beautiful actors and actresses in the audience. They were obviously all NIDA students and I just could not stop staring at them. I kept marvelling at how attractive they all were, and they had this aura of confidence and joy which was infectious. Actors need to have charisma, I had forgotten that.
I was introduced to the producer of "Starstruck" and I found myself gushing quite a bit about how much I loved it when I was a teenager. We talked about how cool it would be to re-market it to women who are now in their 40s and look back on it with nostalgia. I posted a song clip from it a while back and I remember a few of you remembered it too. What do you think? Which do you reckon came first - Jackie from Starstruck or Cindy Lauper?
Here's the original trailer for your enjoyment:
Monday, October 26, 2009
If you can possibly remember that the bit where the doctor saws through his ankle is all plastic and ketchup make-believe, then you really have a very compelling film. I'm still a beginner so Mr. CB has been instructed to pinch me every few minutes and remind me that it's all make-believe.
Now that's another thing - isn't it amazing that film can be such a powerful medium that we can watch actors pretending to be hurt and we feel absolute revulsion and horror to the point of not being able to distinguish reality from fiction?
My friend Sarah, during the last days of her rather awful illness, was reading this book. I was at first shocked at her choice of reading material, I was still a ridiculous romantic in those days who believed that a very pretty piece of poetry might be the sort of recommended reading material for someone nearing death. But now it makes such perfect sense. Fictional worlds of death and dismemberment go a long way to take our mind off the TRULY horrific fact - that when we die there is just nothing, no "me" any more. Much more fun to think of blood, guts and mysterious clues.
A few months ago I heard an interview on the radio with Dorothy Porter. It was repeated from the previous year, when she had been feeling well enough to talk. She mentioned that what gets her through her bad days, those endless days in the hospital and in her bed at home, is reading Agatha Christie. She said that when things really got bad, nothing but Agatha Christie would do! It made perfect sense to me - the plotted murders, the poisons, the cunning animosity, the striving for justice. That's just what makes you feel better about everything.
So I'm now shedding one more prejudice, one more cliche, and I am embracing the horror and celebrating a creative life which need not be hemmed in by lovely rhymes, romantic embraces and soft-lit sunsets.
For who knows what tomorrow may bring.
I thought this photo might amuse you. Blue and I had a walk in the rain on Sunday:
Some other things I did on the weekend:
Watched the first "Saw" movie on DVD and learned that it was written by a couple of Aussies.
Watched "The Final Destination: Death Trip" in 3D at my local cinema. I can safely say that I am not the target audience for this film.
Watched "An Education" and thought to myself that my blogging friends would LOVE this film. A great film and I highly recommend it!
Had an Indian dinner here.
Not a bad weekend at all really, although somewhat confusing.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
My graduation ceremony was held outside on a very bright and sunny day. It was very hot sitting there in my black gown. I was looking straight ahead and concentrating on the speeches when the girl sitting to my left nudged me and passed me a small can of apple juice, saying “Pass this to Eleanor.” My mother had crawled up to my row and asked the person sitting on the aisle to pass the juice to Eleanor. The girl to my left watched me drink the juice, nodding understandingly and whispering “Diabetic?” I just nodded.
For Miss Commentbox’s last trimester we moved to a new apartment where I spent a lot of time curled up in an armchair, reading about pregnancy and parenthood. Looking back, I’m amazed that I actually thought I could study for motherhood. I clearly remember telling a friend that I couldn’t understand why parents complain about sleepless nights, I had pulled many an all-nighter studying for exams, it would a pleasure to stay up all night with a BABY for goodness’ sake.
O the innocence.
Miss Commentbox was born exactly on her due date, very clever of her. Would you believe me if I told you that she was born with LONG hair? Well, she was. I woke up in the hospital a few hours after her birth, couldn’t see her anywhere, so I heaved my sore little self out of bed and down the corridor to the nursery where she was having a check-up and HER HAIR DONE. The nurses all gathered around me eager to tell me how much fun they had styling her hair. They had brushed her long, dark locks up onto the centre of her head where the curls sat at attention as if they had been gelled.
Today is Miss Commentbox's 18th birthday. EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD. Dear friends, I need to share this day with you. I need to tell you that I still cannot get over the fact that the tiny baby we dreamed of is now a walking, talking real-life young woman. Dreams do come true. So party on Miss Commentbox. Party on!!!!!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I used to jog to this song quite a bit:
And this one too:
But I need to update the playlist, and I just KNOW that you will be able to help me.
So get busy people! As a thank you I might even post another jogging-photo-post and challenge Eurolush yet again. I really whooped her ass last time, remember?!!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Apart from that I have a moral tale for you:
My son's best friend is a boy who lives across the road from us. This boy, let's call him R, is actually three years older than my son but they have been buddies for as long as I can remember. In fact, we have lived across the road from each other ever since my son was born.
For the past year or so, R has been coming over to our house every single Saturday night. The boys order pizza, play on X-Box, rent DVDs and generally have a great time until they fall asleep. I do NOTHING during that time, in fact, I am often out watching a movie with Mr. C. I don't cook, I don't serve, they even make up the bed themselves, and then put the bedding away the next morning. I basically leave them alone and occasionally get on their nerves by asking R how he is.
Last Saturday R's mum came over with a little card and present for me and Mr. C, to thank us for all those Saturday nights. She specifically repeated that R always talks about what a great cook I am!! Then R came over and asked me if I like the present, he said that his mum had asked him what I might like and he said to her "They're always reading," so she got me a Borders voucher...R hoped I like it and he said how much he liked coming over and how he thinks of my son as his brother.
I was deeply moved by this teenager's appreciation and tenderness. I was also incredibly surprised that I got all of this recognition for basically doing NOTHING.
So, dear reader, the moral of this story is:
Do not think that you, as a mother, have to always DO A LOT OF STUFF, to make kids happy. Just being there occasionally with a welcoming smile is often more than enough. Isn't that amazing? So no more guilt.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Mr. Commentbox and I have seen several movies during the last few weeks:
Funny People, over 2 hours long, not funny at all, not dramatic at all, poorly acted, boring.
Couples Retreat, felt like 5 hours long, cliched, predictable, not funny, not romantic, extremely annoying to me because all the women looked like models (and wore bikinis most of the time) while the men were all pudgy and unattractive. Except for the yoga instructor, he was muscular and unattractive.
Mao's Last Dancer, annoying because it is a cliche which is actually based on a true story, so you can't say "It's such a cliche" because it HAPPENED to someone, it really did. It reminded me of those ballet movies I loved in the 80s...was it "White Nights" with Baryshnikov? Or maybe "Turning Point"? In any case, I had to go see this one on my own because Mr. C REFUSED. Mr. C was born in the former USSR, so these sort of cliches really piss him off. Also, I can't really TELL anyone (well, except for you) that I hated the film because everyone I know read the book and ADORED it, and then watched the film and thought it was so good that it actually made them cry.
So then we tried some arthouse pics. Oh my god "Seraphine" was another 2 1/2 hours of torture. I liked the premise - cleaning lady thinks God wants her to paint, and she does, and she's an artistic genius, plus - based on a true story. But it was very very slow, and very very deeeep and meeeaaaningful which soon became booooring and made me repeat over and over and over in my head "OK, we get it, she's an artist, everything is very beautiful, now can we PLEASE move on with the STORY?" But there was one thing I liked about it, Barry Otto was sitting two rows in front of us. He's lovely. Sigh.
"Moon" was all right, I suppose. The acting was superb, and it's been a while since I've seen a classic science fiction film like that. But it left me unsatisfied. We saw this one with Master Commentbox, and he really summed it up by saying "It didn't have enough themes." I don't understand why, if a fourteen year old kid can notice that, then why didn't the people making the film notice that? It could have been so much more fun if they had bulked up the story with at least one or two different THEMES. Sorry, I'm beginning to scream in my head now, which is a sure sign it's almost my bedtime.
What else have I seen lately? Hmmm.... Oh yes, we saw the new Woody Allen today, I guess I must be trying to block the memory of it. It's called "Whatever Works," and it didn't work AT ALL for me. It's not very interesting to listen to the monologues of an elderly New Yorker who hates life, especially when he speaks directly into the camera as if to DOUBLY remind me that I am indeed sitting in a cinema and will NOT be transported ANYWHERE ELSE during this movie.
Time for another Aussie film I thought to myself, let's try "Blessed" I thought to myself. Mr. C refused to accompany me on the grounds that it looked very dark and depressing and he knew this would make me dark and depressed. So I went by myself, and I have to tell...I actually thought it was a very good film, beautifully scripted and acted, a very powerful premise, an exploration of motherhood. But people....PEOPLE.....it was SO DARK and SO DEPRESSING that it took me days to recover. There is one specific scene which still haunts me late at night, a scene involving small children which no mother should have to watch on screen. Ever.
Oh, hang on....I just remembered a couple of films I sorta liked. "Julie & Julia" was great, and I am the target audience, and Meryl Streep can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. But, truth be told, it was a tad slow...a tad too long..and it did NOT transport me. Oh, now hang on a minute, just remembered "Inglorious Basterds" which I loved, adored really. HOWEVER, Mr. C hated it, which took away from my own happiness. Mr. C was uncomfortable with the subject matter, and I don't blame him, but I was able to enjoy it for the fabulous imagination and oh-so-clever plotting, and the dialogue to DIE for (literally). It did transport me, from the very first scene which is so powerful you completely forget who you are and what day it is.
So I suppose movies are not really that bad. Would you look at that, I cheered myself up. All righty then.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I saw her again a few days later at the local pharmacy, she was rushing to get to the airport and the pharmacist said to her "There you go Sacha darling, have a great flight."
Yesterday evening I saw her husband with the two kids at the video store, then he crossed the road to the liquor shop. It wasn't like I followed him on purpose, I just happened to see him as I was going about my own chores. Honestly.
It gave me an enormous thrill to realise that his wife was probably AT THAT VERY MOMENT in her dressing room at the Sydney Theatre Company, preparing for the evening performance of "God of Carnage" while he was busy renting a Pixar DVD and buying a bottle of red to help him get through the weekend.
I think today she had two performances. An enormous thrill.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Strange thing is that my actual childhood (not metaphorically speaking) rarely contained moments of carefree play. I had a very happy childhood, but my personality tended more towards solitary peacefulness and introspection than skipping around the house while singing, bouncing a ball and twirling admiringly in my new dress in front of the mirror. If you know what I mean.
My younger brother spent YEARS standing in the doorway of my room, BEGGING me to come play with him. I refused to play. I know what you're thinking...my poor parents. Oh, hell, they soon got used to my ways and accepted the serious, quiet, old-woman-child in their midst. Of course, I'm still stuck with her today, but I think that she actually became much more playful and fun as she grew older. By the time she turns 80 she'll be positively giddy with life life life.
That being said, I still balk at the pressure to "have fun." I've never met any girls who just wanna have fun. I have, in the past, ruined many an OK day by constantly questioning myself: "Am I happy now? Is it fun now? Am I doing it right? Is this what a happy woman looks like? Is this what a happy family feels like?"
And now I shall amuse you with my favourite music from a lovely film called "Pan's Labyrinth." Being a little girl is not so simple really.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
If I was an American character and I didn't know how to swim, and an Aussie friend of mind voiced her surprise at that fact, what American city/state would be the best to fill the gap in my explanatory response:
"I grew up in __________."
Did that make sense at all?
Moving right along.
Today is day 3 in the Eurolush challenge. Thanks to you all for your encouraging comments!
Today I opened the newspaper and saw that my little post about tv and mothering was in the "Heckler" column - that's the far left column of the back page which invites readers to write a "heckle." I had sent it in on a lark and there it was, with my name on the bottom.
Holy cow!! I almost passed out!!
Here is a link to it, also I got some comments. Who knew that people comment on the Heckler?! I actually didn't want to read the comments at first because I could immediately imagine some of the responses. It can get nasty out there in the big wide world, so this is a good exercise in thickening up my skin. Also a good exercise in jumping up and down and dancing and singing at the top of my lungs at the fabulous experience of seeing my words in a newspaper and getting some lovely comments.
The best part of my day? When I was sitting in the library and one of the librarians quietly came up to me and said "I enjoyed reading your article dear." She remembered my name from my library card. I tell you, that's the best library in the whole world.
Oh, just remembered something I wanted to tell you. One of my other local libraries has just started a new system for the borrowing of the latest fiction books. They buy 10 or so copies of 3 or 4 brand-new titles every month or so and put them on a separate set of shelves, you can borrow each for one week only, no reservations, no renewals. There were 4 copies of "Her Fearful Symmetry" just sitting there yesterday. Isn't that a clever idea?
That's about it for tonight. Baked salmon with rice and green salad for dinner, I shopped! I cooked! I'm still in a good mood! It's a miracle!!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Here is the fabric up close, isn't it just wonderful?
I'm writing this post in a terrible rush because Mr. Commentbox would like to go for an evening walk with me. When I said to him "I'll just write this post first," he became somewhat agitated. That might be because, in the past, I have been known to "just write this post first" for great lengths of time, finding myself browsing, reading, emailing and generally neglecting Mr. Commentbox.
So I'm off now.
What do you think of that my sweet Lushy?!! I'm posting 2 days in a row!!! Woohoooo!!!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
What might Lushy like to read about today I wonder?
Lushy likes to read a lot actually. I can't keep up with her reading list, she's a bookworm, a very cute darling bookworm who curls up by her fire with Tex and reads while the autumn winds howl outside her cozy German house in the gorgeous village of Fraumuller.
So I shall talk about a book I have just finished reading. I belong to a book club (gasp, I know) and we chose this book this month and I got to take it home because the meeting was at my place and that means I got to choose first.
You're wondering what sort of strange book club I belong to? It's an anti-book-club really. We don't all read the same book, and often we don't read at all. During the last few months I lost my reading mojo and was still given a standing ovation by the group because I read "Who" and "New Idea."
Each month one of us gets a dozen books from the local store on spec and we vote on them and then we buy one or two new books to add to the suitcase library, and we return the rest. Sometimes we have lengthy discussions and arguments, for example I HATED "Eat, Pray, Love" while 2 of my friends ADORED it. I had to leave the room and stick my head in the freezer that evening, it got so ugly. Other times, we might be tired and just say "I liked it," or "Beautifully written," or "Great for the beach." But mostly we just gossip, and that's why I never ever leave book club first, 'cause then they all gossip about ME!
The book is "Her Fearful Symmetry" by Audrey Niffenegger, and guess what???!!! It's about twins!! Yep, a perfect book for Lushy. Niffenegger wrote "The Time Traveler's Wife" which I never read, can you believe I never read it? We rejected it at book club, probably because we were too busy gossiping and eating, I think we might have been at M's place that month and she's a gourmet cook. Anyway...back to the book. Ugliest cover in history of book covers, two anorexic blond girls dressed in white mini-skirts, berets and high white boots. But I like the picture of the author on the back, she looks like she should be a blogger (which is the highest compliment I can give anyone really).
But the story, the actual story, that's what Lushy will probably want to know about. Let me put it this way:
Things I loved about the book:
It made me believe in ghosts, or at least seriously wonder if my grandpa is watching me.
The American twins' aunt leaves them her London apartment in her will. It's an old, fabulous apartment filled with beautiful furniture and first-edition classic novels.
The descriptions of London remind me of Alice's style of writing and felt almost as comforting.
One of the characters has obsessive-compulsive disorder and I adore him and feel for him along with his friends.
Much of the action takes place in and near Highgate Cemetery which I never visited while in London. Why? Why did I not know of its existence?
There's a small white cat called "The Little Kitten of Death."
There's a picnic scene at "Postman's Park." WHY did I not know about this park when I was in London years ago?? Sob...
I could hardly bear to read the ending because I didn't want to finish the book, the suspense was so enjoyable.
BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, it's all about being TWINS, you know - like me and Lushy! Although we're not identical, Lushy is much cuter than me, I know, don't rub it in. All RIGHT, she's also much wittier than me. OK ALREADY, I KNOW that she's the beautiful and clever twin. I'm not at all bitter about that, because I love her. Like a sister.
See you tomorrow!
Monday, October 12, 2009
Now that my two little commentboxes are teenagers (one about to graduate) I have almost forgotten those school holidays. But this morning I listened to a radio talk-back show about some new study which has found that television is detrimental to children's development and health. "OH PHOOEY!!" I found myself shouting through the steaming water of my shower, and suddenly all of the bitterness of those years came rushing back. Not bitterness at the children, but bitterness at a society that get its kicks from endlessly researching child development and then dumping that information on innocent, unsuspecting, naive mothers.
Mothers are doing all of the hard work, they are there, on call, 24/7. Mothers put aside their own needs and desires so as to raise their families, and all they want is an hour or two every day to have a break while the kids watch some television. Give them a break, researchers. Or better yet, why don't you research the emotional and psychological well-being of mothers who DO NOT let their kids watch television, and then research the impact those mothers have on their children at the end of a long, hard working day.
There are so many things I miss about the younger years of my family, but one thing I am delighted to have left behind is the constant criticism from the media aimed at mothers. The endless arguments about breastfeeding, crying it out, thumb-sucking, circumcision, nappies, haircuts, television, schooling, organicbloodyfood etc etc etc. The minute you have a baby it seems that everyone has an opinion. Why don't they research the impact television has on 50 year old men? Or the impact of junk food on 30 year old single women? Or the environmental impact of cardboard coffee-cups?
That's what I found most difficult about mothering young children - no privacy. Suddenly, everything you do in your home becomes public property. So to all the mothers of young kids on school holidays who are feeling guilty about putting on a Wiggles video so that they can write a post or cook dinner or stare into space with a cup of tea - stop feeling guilty right now!!! You are doing a brilliant job, one for which society should be thanking you. You should be provided with a FREE Wiggles video every year as a public service, and you should be encouraged to take breaks from your work - just like every childless worker in society who enjoys endless coffee breaks, lunch breaks, entire evenings of healthy relaxation, and quiet, fulfilling weekends.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I've known many women
Having seen them for years,
Heard their words in the schoolyard,
All their hopes and their fears.
I've known women
I've known women
With the joyfully fearsome
Sweet bitter goodbyes.
They would sit on the benches
(I see them there still)
And talk of the futures
Of their wants and their wills.
But their children will never
See quite what I've seen,
They'll change much of the settings
And the words
That have been.
For the women I've known
(Through those years)
To a decade of handwringing
It's the cheer of the women
Who know that one day
That same schoolyard of laughter
Will pretend (far away)
To be more of what wasn't
And yet less of what was,
And a great deal of the other
With a teacher and class.
With a shoe
And a notebook,
A quite small
And then found
On the child's small face.
And with a label so named
That it's easily seen,
Those same women I've known
Know too well
Where I've been.