Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ocean? What ocean?

I haven't been surfing in a month. Not even near the ocean.


Sooooo, that's about the state of play here...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Down on the farm

I just spent some time at one of my favourite places on earth - my friend's farm. It was nice to be surrounded by so much green and to take walks across the property and through the trees. It feels so good to move along something that's not made of concrete or that's a concession to humanity for the roads and pavements of the city. The ground here rolls and undulates and it's easy to walk through the spaces of grass, trees and dirt.

We didn't really do anything all day to be honest. We drank coffee, ate biscuits, laughed at the goats and chickens, went for walks and read books while it rained - a nothingness of activity which speaks volumes for how close our friendship is.

The farm is beautiful and amazing and my friends, who have no farming background whatsoever, have developed this place into something viable and beautiful with lots of hard work and a level of commitment that I can but marvel at!

Even better, there is no mobile phone reception...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Abort mission! Abort mission!

Dear New South Wales,

It's not looking good is it?

My thoughts are with you at this difficult time,


PS. The video gives greater effect.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What I learnt about myself from advertising

This ad drives me MENTAL!

This poor young woman is just trying to cope with a new baby, let alone make sure that her friends aren't going to judge her by her imperfectly cleaned toilet! Are they?

This ad annoys me because I understand her levels of anxiety about it. I do feel that the cleanliness of my house, even if I'm sharing, reflects on who I am as a woman.

I have been the only woman living in several sharehouses and always took on the role of the cleaner because I always felt that people would look to me if the place wasn't clean! Silly, or is there some truth to it?

How often do you go to a female friend's house and they immediately apologise for the state of the place? And then there is the quick performance by the visitor that absolves them of any shame for being so bad as to have not managed to put away the kid's toys or clean the shower that week? Judgement is accounted for before it is even doled out.

I try not to let these conversations take place. And I try not to start them when someone visits me.

I try...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Obsession Sessions

My friend Dan reckons that these days the lineup can be like a massive pickup joint!

I don't know about that though.

I see more admiring from afar than actual move-making...

Action Sport and Music

Friday, October 17, 2008

Playing with fire

From Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importance;

LADY STUTFIELD: Ah! The World was made for men and not for women.
MRS ALLONBY: Oh, don't say that, Lady Stutfield. We have a much better time than they have. There are far more things forbidden to us than are forbidden to them.
LADY STUTFIELD: Yes; that is quite, quite true. I had not thought of that.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ode to Emily!

My first car was a 1979 Toyota Corolla who was delivered to me with both a history and an identity – her name was Emily. I inherited her from my friend, Kate, who had inherited her from her first and only other owner, Kate’s nan.

Emily was a bit of a character and it didn’t take long until almost everyone in town seemed to know that she was mine. I would be tearing along the road and arms would be flying out of cars in salutation of the two of us. Most of the time, I didn’t know who it was that was waving so wildly, but it used to bring me no end of pleasure.

Hailing from 1979, my little car had a few, um, perks that made driving both exciting and terrifying. Although a manual, the gears were almost arbitrary and you could pretty much just take off in 4th! The front passenger floor would turn into a small pond when it rained and sometimes she just wouldn’t start! When this happened, you just had to get out, walk away for 20 minutes and come back, a technique that both forced my life to slow down and made me to develop a greater level of patience than I had previously borne. After a while, I could no longer unlock the doors from the inside (if at all – many was the time I had to climb out of the passenger side!) so I just stopped locking her and simply didn’t leave anything in there that I was prepared to lose.

But oh my, how I loved her. Even though I couldn’t drive her more than an hour from home (on a good day) she was my freedom. I would put my mal on the roof and zoom off to the beach AT WILL which was a new luxury that I took advantage of at every chance. My board was basically as long as the car and I must have looked a sight in my little car with the enormous board hanging over the bonnet!

Although in the end she was both a hazard and a danger to both myself and other motorists, and although I now enjoy driving a car that starts every time, I miss Emily very much. I miss her unpredictability and I miss her character and I miss driving around in the car that was voted the 33rd sexiest ever (in a poll that I never found but which Kate assures me exists!).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oi mate! Buy us a beer!

I’m lucky to have been able to develop some really intimate friendships with a few men in my life. These friendships are locked in the non-sexual and both sides work at keeping it that way. But it’s sometimes hard.

With my girlfriends, it’s easier because they’re simply friends. I’m a hetero lass, so my sexuality doesn’t confuse the way I experience the intimacy we share. When it comes to the guys however, it can get a little more complicated.

There are certain ways that men are able to include me in their lives in an intimate but non-sexual way, with the most common method making them into some kind of brother figure. These guys give me cheek and tease me but if they hear of anyone else disrespecting me, they threaten to get involved. They have made me into a sister that they love and have great affection for but who needs their help and protection - because you can’t want to have sex with your sister. And sometimes, to be honest, I play on this too, because it helps me set clear boundaries. I don’t need saving, or protecting, or my battles fought, but if that’s the way these guys feel about me and if that helps us define our relationship, then I’m good with that.

But then I have friends who wouldn’t dare protect me and who know that I don’t need nor want that. These ones can be a little more tricky and negotiated. We’re really good friends, so we’ll go out together, car-pool, know each other’s families, go surfing, share toothbrushes, text each other, collect each other when we’re drunk, listen when one of us has their heart-broken and sometimes stay in each others’ beds. What happens once the lights go out..? Nothing if we’re both sober and thinking straight, but the bottom line is that we care about each other deeply - we love each other - and that intimacy can be hard to put boundaries on.

One of my guy friends told me, in a most emotional and intimate moment, that I was his mate. I didn’t respond well. That word to me is full of misogyny, fraternity and exclusivity and it’s not a word that I have used to describe any relationship that I have ever had with anyone. And here was one of my dearest, most adored friends calling me his ‘mate’. I told him to shutup and that I wasn’t his mate, I was his friend. He laughed and grabbed my arm and said again in a low and serious voice;

“No, Bec, you don’t understand. You’re a mate.”

He’s right, I don’t understand, but as I think about it I can only surmise that his attempts to negotiate our very close, not-at-all-sexual bond are leading him to define me using words that he can relate to and which he has experience of. I’m a person that he trusts and relies on and hangs out with and annoys and winds up and loves. I’m his close and intimate friend that he doesn’t want to sleep with.

I’m a mate.

And so I accept the role, but it still feels like an uncomfortable fit. To me ‘mate’ has an uncomfortable and rigid physicality about it. It reeks of beer and morning-after breath, wears creased t-shirts and boardshorts and sounds like a football game or loud, bad rock music. ‘Mate’ is wounds bleeding from surfing or skating injuries and laughing at shared stories about getting laid. ‘Mate’ is talking about tits and arse rather than owing them. Mate is getting into a brawl and then sharing a beer. A mate is something that I’ve never been before but that I’ve heard and seen others – men - be. I thought friend was enough, but mate is something more for him.

To be honest, I still don't really get it, but it makes it easier to keep it simple.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Within me a lunatic sings

The sun is warm on my bare shoulders, my legs feel hot in black jeans and my feet are dirty in thongs. It’s Spring! I climb the stairs and push my library book in the return slot and turn to head across the grass towards my car and home…

My earphones squish into my ears and I flick the radio on in time to hear the end of a live set from N.E.R.D. touring Australia in 2002. I wish I’d been there to watch them perform this song – it sounds like it was fun. I think of Pharrell and his beautiful, arrogant cat-like face, his clothes than seem to leak self-confidence and his skinny legs that stick out of his always long shorts. I imagine him jumping around the stage to the delight of thousands of screaming women…

I jump with fright as a friend catches my arm as I walk – I hadn’t noticed him as he yelled out to me, but he just wanted to say hi. Nice.

He kisses my cheek and we part ways for the day, I push the earphones back in place in time to hear a Sigur Ros song begin. Their music starts so gently that it’s almost hard to hear, but I know this song and I know that in a few moments it will be exploding and wheeling. They are from Iceland and my friend told me that they sometimes sing in a made-up language that is called, without a hint of cynicism or irony, Hopelandish. I like to believe that and it makes me want to be their friend! I didn’t understand their sound until I saw them play a few months ago in a performance that I’ll never forget. It was music as I had never heard it before, never seen it played, never imagined it. It was music that played at a level that was more than sound, more than human. Or maybe not? Maybe it was just simply human – soft, loud, pain, stretch, movement, still, silence, sound, pluck, bend, sway, solo, together, moustaches, feathers, voices, fingers, hands, bodies, eyes, sad, sad, sad, but underneath it all love. Is that corny? Well, that’s what I saw. Heard. Felt. And here it is on an October afternoon, pulsing through my ears and connecting me back to that concert once more.

The music coming out of the radio moves through me, through my chest and down my arms. I’ve had a good day and the sun is out and this song is one of my favourites. My mind floats and there is nothing to do but feel. My cheeks strain with a smile half-repressed and the day begins to swell inside my chest until I feel my diaphragm push against my heart. That’s what joy feels like in my body. My mind feels light, but my chest feels full, so full that sometimes the feeling strains up into my throat until I have to open my mouth so I can breathe and I feel like I might burst… Oh no, another cliché! But that’s how it is.

I must look funny as I stride along the road to the music, smiling, with my arms free and swinging, looking people in the eye and feeling, all alone, so buoyant.

And then the song ends and is replaced with Blue King Brown or Cat Empire or something else equally irritating and everything drains away. Happy, light, yes, but joyful? No. That’s gone. The fullness is replaced by whatever it is that I usually feel when I walk to my car in the sun, listening to music. Something less physical and much less consuming. And that’s not so bad either.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Cure as social commentators?

Before I go any further with this post, I need to admit something that will become quickly apparent anyway; I tend to become a little bit stuck on certain points, ideas, moments, conversations, songs...

That darn Cure song just will not move itself along and, try as I might, I can't seem to insert any other songs on that silent soundtrack in my mind and which has, thusly, led me to thinking about boys and men and crying. Or, more specifically, to thinking about which of my own male friends (of both the boy and man variety) I have actually seen cry. And it's not many.

Although it's something that I can't be specific about, I would say that in my life, I can recall less than 10 times that I've had male friends cry in front of me!! ALL of my female friends and family have been in tears in front of me on many occasions, and I certainly am not a stranger to shedding a tear myself, but when it comes to the guys - and no matter how close a friendship I share with them - these tears have tended to signify an emotional breaking point or major issue in their lives.

To be fair, I don't have brothers so I haven't spent significant family time with boy-types and that means my relationships are a little more time and place specific, but nonetheless, I do have many, many, many men in my life, some of them very intimate and loving friends and they just don't really cry. Well, not in front of me.

And I don't really get it. Ok, I understand that little boys are taught that it's not manly to cry ("don't be such a pussy/chick/wuss/blouse" etc etc), and that this lesson is ingrained over a long period of time, but is it not possible to move on from there? Surely these men are aware that I am used to seeing people cry. Some of these men have seen me cry, so they know I can cope. I don't sit in crying judgement if they tear up. I just listen or hold their hand or wrap them up in an enormous hug. The friends that I have seen cry don't ever seem to be embarrassed about it and nor should they be, so why not more often?

Maybe it's this desperate emotional association with their own experienced teariness that seems to make men so awkward when it's me that's crying in front of them? I cried the other day to a friend and while he was totally there for me, he kept his physical distance - I didn't even really get a stiff hand-pat or a back slap. I just sat with big, fat tears rolling down my cheeks into a cup of tea. And this is a man who's known me since I was THREE YEARS OLD and has, I am certain, seen me in all manner of states of emotion from joy to depression to fury to humiliating drunkeness. This is a man who uses a hair-straightener and is more comfortable with his own version of his masculinity than any other heterosexual guy I've ever met. This is a man who lies on his bed with me, trawling through Facebook and showing me profiles of the girls he's slept with that month while expressing shock that a girl he hasn't seen for years writes "let's play". This is a man I have NO romantic relationship to. This is a man I've known my entire life and I've never seen him cry. He's been through relationship breakdowns, health issues, romantic triangles of the daytime soap variety... we've talked about them all for hours on end with honesty and emotion, but, no tears. I'd be bawling and inconsolable, but not this man. Intriguing!

That has not always been the case. As a teenage girl I forced myself not to cry. I decided that I would be strong and tough and leave the tears for others, but as I get older, I can't be bothered with that restraint as much. So how can the guys? I don't know any woman who would sit in judgement of boys who do cry so what is the problem? Other boys and men? Well if that's the case then back off each other!!

Please don't take this as me wanting more men to come and cry to me on a whim, but it's just that it's still something that is unusual in my life and I'm wondering why?