Monday, November 26, 2012

Crosscurrents of the intertubes

I am pulled in different directions, by my love for this blog and the history I have embedded here; by a desire to stretch my writing into prose and poetry that stands (or falls) alone, that I can attempt to foist or at least revisit and re-edit until it is the best that I can do; and by the ease of sharing and networking I have found in other places.

So much of the current of daily life, especially concerning my family, now goes on facebook. Drop me a line at armagny [ATSYMBOL] gmail DOTT com if you want to stay in touch with my real life persona and share such news.

I have recently played with Tumblr, I am not sure I like it better than blogger for writing, it is, however, a beast of the networking era in a way blogger is not. As with twitter, the idea that tagged posts go out into the heaving mass of online verbage with the potential to be seen in unexpected places has its attractions. It is also simple to post and to keep things turning over, when one doesn't have the time or inspiration for a big post, by reblogging some of the interesting and beautiful things floating around that space. There I wrote:

As the sun warmed the side of the house the children played, first under the olive tree, then, leaving a trail of dirt and abandoned toys, they moved into the front room. I sat at the dining table as beyond me the room was carefully rearranged. Cushions moved from sofas to floor. Objects were brought in to augment the scene - pillows, soft toys, cups.

‘We are sleeping’ Bear informed me and they both lay side by side giggling and pleased. No angry cars or thumping bass intruded, just gentle light and perhaps, if my memory is not colouring the scene, a bird. Somewhere.

Up against the wall my briefcase sat unopened. Blackberry on the charger and on silent. I sipped my cold Earl Grey and smiled on through the minutes.

Lastly, I started a private writing spot. Free from the considerations of instant sharing and publication, I am hoping to work on some drafts of things that take a bit more time, that maybe I can share on facebook or even send to someone one day. That said, so far my facebook network has proven far less interested in my dubious creative writing efforts than nice photos and glib one-liners. Perhaps the answer is that none of the social networks really suit the type of writing that requires effort - either in the preparation or the enjoyment.

What do you think?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Blogger, are you still working?

Having some issues doing this through my iPad. Let's see... And is anyone still out there?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Driving back on the Hume Highway with road songs

Early Paul Kelly, a surprising amount of noise, I thought; accoustic, low key, folk-country but he gives sax and snares and guitar solos and dirty rock as well.

Family can be heartbreaking. Now I am in a better place and my role is to squeeze Beloved's arm and to help her steer through and beyond the broken timber into open highway. We drove for a long, long time, across two borders, for negligible returns measured in thimbles of warmth and cold spaces between hours.

I spoke to Beloved's mother. I asked for no more letters that represent the continuing tumble of psychological abuse and mental illness from generation to generation in that family. I heard about how my Beloved is unilaterally wrong, on everything, and how not one such thing could possibly taint the efforts of her mother. I noted the language of favouritism and rejection, the unpacking, in a few minutes of frankness that family never engages in, of years of building resentment and defences based on a false narrative, on a martyr complex, on an obsession with hating the former husband and shifting his ills to one of his daughters. I quietly, carefully (for my oft-assertive personality I was an angel of subtlety and restraint, I promise) pointed these things out. Perhaps the only person to ever do so. A sad, messed up but ultimately abusive person wrung her hands and refused to agree to even trying to meet her daughter half way, to conversation, to any sort of compromise, before walking quickly out.

I am glad we had this discussion. I repeated thrice that there be no more correspondence which, coming from such a place, can only be designed, no doubt subconsciously, to manipulate, draw out guilt, and cause continuing pain. She seemed to agree to this, if nothing else. Beloved, exhausted from 36 years of effort, did not complain about my uninvited intervention.

The JJJ hottest 100 is eclectic and that is a boon on a road trip. There is no sinking into a mood, an artist's favoured key or time signature, and becoming hypnotised by the gum trees. There is M83, and with that breadth of sound bringing to mind (in this time of 80s revisionism) Tears for Fears, and a ripping, screaming sax solo, I was disappointed to learn 'they' is just a 'he'. Starting to skip Gotye, out of familiarity but not contempt. Appalled at finding Lana Del Rey in my earworm.

Beloved lost her Pop, the children's Great Grandfather. For a variety of reasons, perhaps visible in the previous paragraphs, he and his now-deceased wife were quasi-parental figures for her. Dominating her childhood memories, providing a needed bedrock of stability and unconditional love. A sad life that commenced with more than a dozen kids living in a small shack, survived the most brutal battles of Papua and Borneo, lost 2 brothers in a terrible car accident when he got back from war, evolved into that of a successful farmer, husband, parent and, through the prism by which I knew him, much loved and stellar grandparent.

Gentle explanations of loss and death, hints of reflective comprehension from a 5 year old Bear. The generations assembled in the park opposite his hospital, in the final hours, and the joy of Bear and Mitts as they played with so much family they see so little of was ironic, but perhaps, as a celebration of continuity and the goodness Pop has left behind him, appropriate.

Why does it sometimes take a funeral to bring people together?

Beloved likes Emma Louise, Jungle, best of all. It takes her directly to Offspring, to cosy couch evenings stretching back through boxed sets of Secret Life and Love my way. It is strong, but also soft and reassuring. It is all I want to be as we ease in next to our house, back in suburban Melbourne, our children safe, excited cats already talking from behind the door, heater waiting to be fired up and a month's worth of chocolate to be eaten.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Bear starts school, and everything suddenly....

Exit bankerworld. It started tugging at my sleeve during transition, and has crystalised during the first few weeks of school. The difference.

The difference undermines your settled sense of balance. Sure, it bites that we can't be there more often, leaving the kids with others several days a week, but hey look everyone else's folks are in the same boat.

Except they're not.

Our mostly professional friends, the members of Beloved's mother's group, and importantly most of those other parents at our lovely, supportive, arty, just-right childcare centre all seemed to share the struggle. It was life, inevitable, we were just part of the flow. And compared to many fellow travellers we had things on a reasonable keel. I had my 4 day week for ages, generally I'm home before bed time, we both do some work at home, but if you're comparing with barristers, bankers and businessy whatnots who hang out for rare quality time when court is cancelled or the deal is done early, and otherwise bond by 'taking the child to swimming classes' on Saturday, it looks fine. Enough. (ignoring that nagging voice in the deepest part of your parental soul).

Bankerworld was buried down at the opposite end of our council's jurisdiction. The end where all the streets have speed bumps or signs telling you not to turn between 8 and 9am (in Melbourne this being the surest sign of money and influence). Beemers top and tailed with Lexii.

School is at the other end, where we have moved to. Sure there's a banker or two, there are also teachers and nurses, artists who can't afford that other end which abuts so many galleries and bars they ply their trade in. A farmers' market. And people who don't work, some of them men, and others who work nice, soft, genuinely flexible hours, allowing them to spend real time with their children, drop them off, pick them up at 3.30pm, attend those parent morning teas and twilight sports events that are not scheduled to work with Collins Street.

Like the one scheduled for 5.30- 7.30pm that I arrived half way through to be told I'd missed almost everything. In my office arriving at 5.30 means leaving at 4.30 which is like taking a half-day off.

Like the drop offs and pick ups largely being done by the au paire. Daddy I want you to drop me off said Bear, my little mate, and I can't and I want to. And the frustration of being told we can't afford to live on my income, which is well above the national average, so Beloved won't ditch her job, but she - understandably - doesn't want to go full time either so I'm rather stuck and,, at our friendlier, more corduroy, farmers' market-hosting school, we are now in the minority with our au paire, our expected shift into after school care, our turning up late to things in a suit. There is a community here, and I like it a lot, and I want at least one of us to be able to settle into that community, that pace alongside our children.

There are certain types of job that own you. Lawyer, even if part-time, or working for the government, is like that. Everyone is out to take your job, or file that urgent notice to produce documents when they know you're on leave. Two people in jobs that want to own you is a bad recipe.

My hours of themselves aren't ridiculous. I could work slightly more, in fact, if it meant Beloved could be there all the time. What I resent now is being trapped in the mid zone where neither of us feels we have room to move, or give. It is, to be technical, plainly shite, and now we can see that there are lots of other people who have rejigged something and made a bit more room in their lives to be human. I am buying The Age again, flicking across pages of community, teaching, local government jobs, for ideas, for either or both of us...