Sunday, January 30, 2011

The week that was my holidays…

This past week I was off work on annual leave. I have a rule of thumb which is to never work on my birthday and this year, inspired by a friend’s reluctance to own up to a belated Christmas greeting, using all manner of excuses such as ‘Christmas octave’ and the ‘twelve days of Christmas’ as to why it was socially acceptable to provide a greeting 3 days after the day and not need to apologise or use the word ‘belated’… I decided to have a birthday octave of my own! If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!! So… in the spirit of us all being children of God, I took a week off work to celebrate my birthday!!! Ok… so it was an Octave minus one. But who’s counting?

Ah the birthday Octave!!!! I ate much and was surrounded by such lovely company…There was dinner at Mums, dinner at Danni’s, dinner at the waiters Club with Julie and Denise, a Thai dinner in Westgarth with Nadia and lets not forget the brunches and lunches (in particular lunch on Mount Dandenong with Valda and the three wild Rosella's who kept us company)…

One of the loveliest things that happened to me on the day of my actual birthday (aside from mums roast lamb and dessert!!) was a friend called to say happy birthday and then said that his partner wanted to say something to me… The next moment ‘happy birthday’ was being played on the cello!!!  how utterly fabulous!!!  That was one of the best birthday phone calls ever!!!

Now… the birthday… I must admit to being a bit excited about my birthday (and it isn’t because I brought myself seasons 1 & 2 of “To the Manor Born’ on DVD) the reason that I am excited is that it has been foretold that I will meet my man before I am 40!!! Given that I have just turned 39… This has to finally be the year!! My last year of singleness!!!  YAY!!!!.. and Uni, mate.. if you are listening.. no excuses !! Even if these fortune tellers are wrong (as they usually are), don’t let them be.. If it means anything, there will be a few extra bucks in it for you if you pull through for me on this one matey!!

This birthday also say a few new things; the box set of Gavin and Stacey on DVD ( British comedy will save all of our souls), the latest ‘Crystal Castles’ cd (Which I am really loving), To the Manor Born (obviously) and  lastly, Nick Lowes ‘The impossible Bird’ on vinyl. All I want to say is – Birthday Money ROCKS!!!!! I did mention to a friend the other day… if you do insist on getting me something.. I would prefer cash..

Talking about gifts on my birthday, I did have a bottle of wine regifted back to me!!!  I had originally given this gift to a close person.. ok lets just come out and say it.. to a family member and they obviously didn’t realise that I had given this to them… and now they have regifted it back to me!!  I am all for re-gifting… and if this wine isn’t any good then I have no one to blame but myself!!!

Anyway.. despite my many highlights during this busy birthday octave, the definitive highlight  for me was sleeping in!! I love sleeping!!! Regardless of my frantic social schedule this past week, most afternoons found me lying on the couch with a pillow and blanket! I think next year I have the perfect gift to myself !!! I won’t tell anyone I have leave.. I will block out the dates in my diary, there will be no ‘after work’ meets, drinks or meals and I will spend the whole birthday octave either sleeping in, or laying on the couch with a pillow and my blanket!

Yes, I think this will be my birthday gift to myself next year and I think the birthday octave is here to stay!

Some clips for you:
The The Manor Born- Unfortunately all of the decent clips on youtube, were 9 minutes or more longer.. feel free to explore at your leisure if you are not familiar with this brilliant TV program. 

Gavin and Stacey: This clip barely has the main actors in it, all of the supporting actors are 'strong', everyone has great lines...and the writing quality is consistent!

Crystal Castles- 'Baptism'.. channelling the best bits of Alec Empire and Electronic/dance music.. Is it music? Is it good? Is it a little warped?.. you betcha!!!

Lastly, Something to soothe the savage beast in us all...
Nick Lowe's 'The beast in me" from the LP 'The Impossible bird'. Originally written for and performed by his father in law Johnny Cash!!
This song was also used in the Sopranos... It makes perfect sense!!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Something old:

Johnny Cash- 'San Quentin' (Live from Prison). I am not sure where this is recorded.. He did do shows at San Quentin and Folsom Prison.. and probably other places as well. Regardless of where this was done, this is great!.. (umm... on watching this a few times more.. the sign in the background 'San Quentin' is probably a clue as to where this was recorded !!)

Something New:

Charles Bradley - The World (Is Going Up In Flames) - Feat. Menahan Street Band

I stumbled across this tune recently.. it sounds 40 years old and isn't. If you like your music soulful and funky this is it!

Something Borrowed:

Electrelane- "I'm On Fire"
This is a cover of the boss's own tune.. yeah -Bruce Springteens, but done by four women who ROCK!! This may not be to everyone's liking, but respect given to where it's, how can you not love women who ROCK ?.

Something Blue:

The Moody Blues- 'Go Now'
Even though they stole this from Bessie Banks, I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving this song or this version of it!!

Just to show you how much of the arrangement they stole from Bessie as well, here is her version.. which is absolutely brilliant, but shame about the quality of the recording (it was all I could find)

Monday, January 24, 2011

No presents, please! It's my birthday.

Today, January the 24th is just another day to many and I suspect a special day for a few. For me, it’s my birthday, I have no idea what that means, is it special or not? Regardless of the answer it doesn’t change the fact that I am now thirty-nine.

I make a point each year not to work on my birthday, it is my little way of creating some ‘me’ space and a day in which I can honour myself.  I don’t wish for gifts (A.K.A. things I don’t want or need), and though I may act like it at times, I am no longer seven years old and excitable by the mere sight of wrapped boxes. I know this sounds mean of me and that people mean well, but let’s just do us all a favour and dispense with the gift giving (the physical gift giving that is), lets disengage from consumer and hallmark expectations of ‘this is what you are meant to do on these special occasions such as birthdays’. Do you know what I much prefer? To spend quality time with those close to me- coffee/tea, chat, brunch, lunch or dinner, or even a quick pop in ... who cares, just as long as we are together!

One of the best birthday catch ups I have had in recent times was this past Saturday night. My mate B (no she is not a hip hopper) is 4 days older than me, so we generally catch up in between or around our birthdays and share a bite to eat. Saturday night saw B, Danni and I at Danni’s house (bless you bella!! As my place was a pigsty), where we munched on fish and chips, drank wine and enjoyed the great company… We chatted about anything and everything. We laughed much (as we always do), shared some serious moments, and as always, I left feeling blessed to have these people in my life. And !!!.. this is the yummo bit- Danni made a surprise for us.. She made Parfait with homemade amoretti biscuits!!! This woman is an amazing cook! (she is single, gorgeous, oozes style and taste- why oh why is she still single??? Another issue for me to raise with my dear friend Uni!). Anyway...Danni placed a candle on each of the 4 individual desserts and B and I were instructed to make 2 wishes each and then blow out the candles together... who would have thought that this gay man was no good at blowing and B had to finish off my two candles for me!! I ask you, where would I be without the women in my life?

So, what does this all mean?

Well it means,

If you want to give me gifts, I can’t stop you, but I would rather you didn’t, please (I ask very politely).

If you insist on gift giving then here are a few suggestions to make things easier for you and I:

1) you can create a mortgage free life for me (ie pay off my mortgage)

2) you can buy me good quality gin/Campari

3) you can create a mortgage free life for me.

However, I do ask you to consider-What is the point of giving gifts or cards when it is done because that’s ‘what we are meant to do’. For me, Saturday night highlights perfectly what a birthday is about. It’s a great excuse to get together and share life, laughs and more with those we love. It’s a reminder to call up or see a mate and say ‘I value you! And I probably don’t say it enough’. It’s not about the gifts or cards, it’s about us and that’s what really makes it special.

Just for you-The parfait:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dating and the importance of names

Recently a well-meaning friend suggested that I meet some single friends of hers, so far so good… except when I asked for their names… which when heard, left me with a look of horror upon my visage. In all seriousness I cannot possibly date someone called Dominic (no offence to my mates called Dominic), I mean that becomes ‘Dom’!! Cripes...not sexy!! (err again, no offence to my mates called Dominic). I have learnt this all from past experience when I dated a Craig, who several weeks into the relationship suddenly started calling himself ‘Craigo’…err no thanks! You may as well just call yourself Yobbo!  There was also the thirty year old ‘Bobby’ I dated, whom I always referred to as Robert. I cannot possibly call a grown man Bobby and in fact when he introduced himself to my mother as Bobby, I corrected him and said- ‘Robert’ (Yes I know I shouldn’t have let it get as far as meeting my mother).  Now, this dear friend of mine who meant well in trying to find me a man, also suggested another poor bastard called…. Hmmm something insane like ‘Robert Ann’. I have no idea how anyone can possibly date a man who has a female surname like Ann!! what is this world coming too?? And, as I have already dated two Roberts in my life, have a mate as well as a Brother-in- Law called Robert, I cannot possibly have another Robert in my life at this point in time… In fact I fear that I may have completed my quota of Roberts’!.... Next !!!

Does this all make me picky, finicky and elitist? Probably!  The reality is that circumstances have propelled me up the class ladder and I now sit too comfortably amongst my middle class peers . My Bourgeois leanings led me to contemplate important things such as- do I really have the time to dedicate to that book on Proust I had seen at the new specialist book boutique which had just opened and that no one else had stumbled across yet? Obviously serious thoughts such as this are pondered as I sip my latte and nibble on my Pain au chocolat… or have quiche for lunch at Monsieur Truffe (served with a divine relish, on the side-of course!). My expanding waistline seconds the motion and highlights not only my lifestyle of privilege, but that of prosperity.  What does this all mean? It means that these lips cannot bear to speak a name that reeks of vulgarity. Surely it is obvious to all that I need a man whose name matches my station in life. 

Do not, I repeat do not send me names that can be reduced to Bogan yelps on a sporting field or in a bar (or strip club for that matter). No Dazza’s, Bazza’s or Stewie’s.  And please spare me the fragility of a Nicholas, Francis and the like.

No… I want a man with a decent sounding name like Karl, Max or Alexander. I need a man with a name that inspires and gives one a feeling of confidence. Fear not, for I am reasonable and will consider most things. For those men who are wonderful human beings but unfortunately have appalling and distasteful names, there is always the option of officially changing your name to something much more civilised… I am sorry if you were named after your Grandfather, or if you had some traditional name carried down through the generations forced upon you, but that is neither my fault nor my problem, if you want any chance at all of being chosen to be in a relationship with me then the answer is obvious-‘ deed poll’.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is this adulthood?

I am in-between times… hmmm…perhaps it is more accurate to say that I feel like I am in-between places. 

I no longer feel like I used to and am not quite ‘there’ at that new place yet. I think am becoming a new person, an updated and more mature version of me, but I am yet to be certain, yet to feel complete and comfortable in this new ‘skin’. I am not really sure what is happening or how long it may take…but strangely enough I somehow trust in the process and am waiting it out. l do feel a little like I am waiting at a station for a bus that never seems to arrive, but I am strangely confident that it’s only a matter of time.

I don’t seem to know much do I? Well, that’s not entirely true… I do know that I am slightly restless and wonder when this will end... I do know that old behaviours are waning.  I know that I no longer feel dependant on the approval of my peers. I know that I feel more my own person. I know that I am more self-reliant than I have ever been. I know that I am happier and more content. I know that I recognise my own value more and... I wonder if this adulthood?

 I think the tell-tale sign for me that I am now emerging as an adult is that where I once felt like I was special and destined for greatness… now I recognise that while I am special, we all are. We all bring something different and wonderful to this life and to each other. None of us are to be singled out as being any more special or destined for more greatness than any other and that includes myself.  I recognise that the people that I have felt honoured to have met in my life, have been those who were humble and down to earth. Their honesty and openness has shown me my folly, shown me the burden that was my pride. I reflect upon the child that was I, and in casting off the shackles of my ego I allow myself to grow into my potential. I realise that it was never meant to be all about me … Ahh!!!  This is it!!! The eureka moment!! I think back to Piaget, developmental psychology and the stages of childhood development… and whilst I am rusty (very rusty) on his theories… there was something about the development of toddlers and children, moving from ego-centricity to being able to understand the world through another’s eyes or perspective… except now I am finally moving on from the egocentrism of a young adult and now experience (rather than see) things through the lives of others. I am less judgemental, more patient and accepting of that which is.  I am more grateful for what is and for what may be. I also realise that if we want to live in a better world, we need to create it, slowly and tenderly. This means doing things for others, even though we may not be seen to benefit from it. Why?, why not! We need more kindness and altruism in this world. We need to model these things for others foreign to such concepts or for those who may have forgotten them, and in doing so we show them/remind them of an alternative.

Is this being responsible? Is this adulthood? Yes! Like the butterfly that emerges from the cocoon, after living life as a voracious caterpillar, consuming everything it could, I think I am finally emerging as an adult from my own cocoon of self-centeredness. Finally understanding the complexity of it all and how contradiction can sit comfortably within. I understand more fully that without sacrifice we cannot have that which we want or need. I understand now that it is sometimes not enough to simply dream, and that sometimes you need to ‘do’.  But most importantly, I am slowly recognising that each of us has our own path to make and that no path is any more right or wrong than any other.

The key to me realising that I am becoming an adult is the understanding and acceptance that it is not so much what others are doing that matters, but what I am doing and how this affects others.

I think I have grown up.

As a footnote I want to mention that as I typed these thoughts I realised the music flowing from the speakers and into my room as Explosions in the sky’s lp “The earth is not a cold dead place”. A double lp consisting of three sides of music and the 4th side being etched vinyl with the words -the earth is not a cold dead place because you are breathing, because you are listening. This is written as a sentence that never ends and never stops inspiring. I breathe in and listen to the world which is, and I sigh contently for right now I am filled with love and hope. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The good the bad and the ugly Jan 2011

The good:

Recently I was talking about Billy Bragg, err yes well...very recently (Isn’t everyone?? His name seems to be 'in the air') and while some groaned at the sound of his name, others swooned and said ‘Oh I love Billy Bragg!’ and words like ’comrade’ and ‘on with the revolution’ popped up every few moments in the conversation. A few poor souls even said ‘Billy who?’ can you imagine?

The ‘believers’ (AKA the converted) are a tough and loyal mob and I was recently almost beaten up by them.. As they talked about how they love his political views, I jumped in with ‘ehh… he talks too much , I pay to hear him sing, ‘play your songs bragg!!’, I don’t want to hear some guy who has just flown over from the UK ranting about local Australian politics…I’m paying for a concert, get on with it!!!’… yeah.. very brave of me I know.. because ‘crazy eyes’ happened.. you know what that is, when the eyes glaze over and they are experiencing silent rage and thinking about the many ways they would love to kill and dismember you… So the moral of the story is, Billy Bragg fans are loyal and crazy Mofo’s- so bag Bragg at your peril!

But this is about the ‘good’ so lets quickly move onto that.. the good, yes…that would be the seven inch double A side single that arrived at my house this week. It was Billy Bragg’s – ‘Accident waiting to happen’ (red star version) which has the sublime AA side ‘sulk’.. one of my favourite Billy Bragg tracks. I am playing it as I type and singing along, It is up extra loud so that my neighbour can hear it through her wall… I am thoughtful!!

"If you love me, why don't you show it?
If you hate me, why don't you let me know it?
Why don't you just pick up something and throw it?
You just sulk"

Simple and great.

The bad:

I am always mistaking people for someone I know…
Once, many years ago I walked up to this guy in the street thinking it was my housemate and as I stood standing in front of him silence ensured.  I just stared at him wondering why he wasn't saying anything. At some point I said ‘hey!! John!!!’ in a tone that suggested something was wrong with him and I was a tad annoyed.. he just stared at me silently confused… This lasted a few moments more until I then realised that this was not my housemate, they had jackets that looked a little similar from a distance, but up close looked nothing alike, it also dawned on me that he didn't even really look like John.. in fact I had no idea who this guy was! This week I did something similar. I was walking down the street and saw this guy coming towards me from a distance and thought ‘Hmm I know this man from somewhere’. As we got closer I thought.. ’oh !!!  I think we had done some volunteer work together’, so we make eye contact,  nodded a hello and smiled. As we get very close I slow my walking pace down and say ‘hey!! How are you?’.  This guys just smiles and does not slow down (I think I may have heard a faint ‘hi’). Now I have come to a complete standstill (as you do when you want to say g’day), but he keeps walking!!!! ..Rude bugger!!  I stare in outrage and somehow get his eye, he then looks at me almost transfixed as he passes (yes, he is still walking!!!) ... I give him a ‘what the FUCK!’ look and have my arms flapping about in a ’what?? Your ignoring me now?’ way… I mean what is this all about?  That is just so bloody rude!! And to think we worked together…. … and then it hits me.. I don’t know who this guy is.. umm maybe I saw him on tv once… maybe…

The ugly:

Picking up people at the scene of an accident, which they have caused… is all kinds of wrong and morally ‘ugly’ in my books. Let me explain-

This week a poor young female cyclist accidently ran over a cats head in my street. She door knocked looking for the owner, which is how I got involved.  I went out to look at the cat, just in case it was my next door neighbours, thinking it would be better that I see the poor thing and tell her about it, then she see it... anyway my neighbour was already at the scene of the accident (thankfully, It wasn’t her cat, we don’t know who’s cat it was). Some towels were fetched and placed over the poor dead cat and then it was rolled onto the towels.. where the extent of the damage to its head was seen.. It was pretty bad…I have no idea how this slight lady could have done this simply by riding her bike...the damage suggested that someone had done a ‘bunny hop’ on the poor cat. Though my neighbour ‘kindly’ suggested we just put the cat in her rubbish bin, we as a group decided that the cat should be taken to the animal hospital and if it has a microchip the owners can be advised of what has happened… instead of waiting about fretting, putting up posters and wondering what might have happened….Anyway… one of the guys present offered to put the cat on the back of his ute and take it to the hospital. I asked the young cyclists if she is feeling ok… she says she is, but I suspect she is in shock. Everyone leaves and I go off to get some water to clean the road as there is blood and bits of stuff on it... as I return, the guy ( who owns the ute),  has walked back over to the distraught cyclist and asks her if she is currently seeing anyone!!!!… errr not sure if this is the right time.. she just killed a poor harmless beautiful cat,  and I am washing bits of its skull and brains off the road!!!!! Mind you he walked over that mess to try and pick her up !!! What is going on with that??? So very wrong on so many levels... what is this world coming to and what’s wrong with the youth of this country? 

Yes, I am 38 going 70.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Records!!!

I have recently received a few new records and boy am I excited!!!

The one I am most excited by, I found online and had ordered from the States, what seems forever ago!
Billy Bragg- 'Back to Basics'. I arrived home to it at 10pm last night and at 10.05pm my neighbour heard the joys of it through the wall we share!! My dear friend Judy introduced me to Billy by way of cassette she had made me back in the day and I haven't looked back!

Some of his songs soundtracked my overseas trip last year... Right now I can recall hearing 'St Swithins day' as i traveled by train from London to Brighton. here is a taster from the LP. Billy doing 'St Swithins day' Live and handsome in 1985!!

Lyrics like:
"Thanks all the same
But I just can't bring myself to answer your letters
It's not your fault
But your honesty touches me like a fire
The Polaroids that hold us together
Will surely fade away
Like the love that we spoke of forever
On St Swithin's Day"

ahhhh Billy......

Nextup is something a bit different... Joy Divison's 'Unknown Pleasures'. This has one of the coolest LP covers EVER!!

One of my favourite tracks on the LP is the opener on side A- 'Disorder'
the clip may just be a slide show.. but the tune ROCKS!!!!

Lastly.... is the amazing Nick Lowe. I love his Lp- 'At my age' and already have it on vinyl, so thought it about time to invest in his back catalog courtesy of my mum giving me some money for christmas!!! Thanks mum!! I know she'd approve. So.. now I have added  Nick's great Lp 'Dig my mood' to my collection.
The Sublime 'faithless lover' opens the Lp. Unfortunately I couldn't find a live clip of this, so forgive me for the still of the LP cover, but enjoy the tune nonetheless.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Smog, Rock Bottom Risers and opportunities for us all. - Repost of a piece originally posted 23/04/2007

For some reason this old blog piece came to mind this morning and wouldn't leave. I was reminded about some intimate conversations that came out of it, friends sharing their own stories, some tearfully. I was reminded of how much I also loved Smog's album "A river ain't too much to love". It was constantly on the cd player and it now also sits amongst other records in my vinyl collection .
I thought that now would be an appropriate time to revisit this piece. Part love letter to the album, part recollection of my past and part comment on the responsibilities attached to education. It personally reads as a little disjointed in parts, but out of respect to the piece and the time it was written, I will leave it intact albeit with a few very minor changes.


Sometimes I think of where I came from and where I am now, and I don't know whether to feel pride or awkwardness. I started with nothing and now I have something, but what does that all mean? Have I left behind all I know and all I was, only to arrive someplace else, someplace full of strangers? Has my life become something better, or just something different?

Bill Callahan (also known as Smog), seems to understand. He talks of those close to him helping him transcend who he was and then leaving them behind: 'I left my mother, I left my father, I left my sisters too. I left them standing on the banks …they pulled me out of this mighty, mighty river' (from 'Rock bottom riser'). The track 'rock bottom riser' is an acknowledgement and an ode - 'I brought this guitar to pledge my love, to pledge my love to you. I am a rock bottom riser and I owe it all to you.' Unfortunately sometimes when we change and rise above, not everybody understands and Bill knows this: 'Why is everybody looking at me, like there is something fundamentally wrong? Like I'm a southern bird, that stayed north too long' (from 'Palimpsest'). He seems to understand my dilemma.

The album is called 'a river ain't too much to love' by Smog. It is sparse and warm. When you listen to it, you feel like a friend is confiding in you. It makes you feel special and connected. Every time I listen to it, I tend to reflect on my life and myself. I have always felt different, like I was meant for something more, something better and bigger. Arrogance at any early age?, I don't know.

I grew up in Collingwood, an inner city suburb of Melbourne. Unlike now, then it was full of factories, migrants and the poor. I lived on a housing commission estate and like many others, had to deal with the general issues around growing up and going to school, as well as issues all to common in environments such as ours;  families struggling to deal with feelings of disappointment, helplessness, poverty, failure, bullying, anger, abuse and alcoholism. I left school at 16, part way through year 10. I worked in a shoe factory for a year and a half and then started an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker. After six months into the apprenticeship I realised that this was not the life for me and I decided to go back to school, despite pressure from some family members not to. It was not long after I returned to school that we were taken on an excursion to a local textile factory. We were given a tour and told how the textile industry had changed over time. We were also told how much money we could make a week working there. For 16 year old's (I was a bit older), who mostly came from families living on unemployment/sickness benefits or low working wages, it was impressive amount. I recall many eyes ablaze at the thought of all of that money, and on a weekly basis! We were told that we were at, or approaching the age where we could leave school and enter the workforce if we wanted to. Any interested people, and there were a few, could speak to our tour guide after the tour (who also happened to be the foreman).    

I remember feeling angry at this, outrage in fact! This wasn't an educational outing, it was a recruitment drive. It was the academic establishment offering us up as factory fodder, because they felt that it was all we could ever be. They didn't seem to have the inkling to push us further academically, or perhaps the ability or funding to do so. In my experience in the factory environment I found it repetitive, monotonous, the pay terrible, and on only a very few occasions did I have any feelings of worth or accomplishment. I realise that this is not the same for all, but surely the education system shouldn't just give up. Or worse, make a judgement that this should be the calling of some students, and then whitewash it as an educational field trip.

Children in low socio-economic areas already have so much stacked against them, that we can't just give up on them because we lack vision. Sure it can be tough for all involved, some kids manifest their home frustrations through aggression at school, some have been convinced by parents that they won't amount to much anyway and are wasting time at school when they could be out 'there' earning a wage. The education system has a responsibility to reach out and ensure all receive a chance in life to be the best they can, to realise their potential. We need to ensure that we are creating equal opportunity for all to succeed. Especially in times like these where IR laws are disadvantaging workers even more, with lower wages and conditions. Historically the poor always come off the worse for wear. We need special programs not only for the academically challenged, but also for those who have challenging home lives that may affect their ability to concentrate and achieve their full potential, we need to reach those that do not believe that they can achieve or even deserve to. We need to inspire and raise up the hearts and hopes of those around us. As members of a 'civilised society', don't we have a responsibility to each other to support, love and encourage? Education is fundamentally important in life. Programs that assist the disadvantaged to reach their potential may exist out there, I hope so, I just know that I didn't see or experience them myself when I was at school. 

I stop typing and turn my head toward the stereo. The song 'say valley maker' is playing. The lyrics resonate with me; 'bury me in water, and I will geyser, bury me in fire and I'm gonna phoenix'. I understand the sentiment. I will be all I can no matter what you try to do to stop me. I will succeed because I am strong of will and mind, I am focused and I am driven to do so and above all I am stubborn. I let my thoughts return to the music that is playing. The simpleness of the words contrast with the richness and depth of their meaning. I smile. The track 'Let me see the colts' starts with 'Knocked on your door at dawn, with a spark in my heart'. What wonderful imagery. I love Bill Callahan's use of language. It's the language of the everyday person. He sometimes repeats phrases and ideas to stress their importance or the person's inability to express themselves any other way. Just like real life, just like myself at times. He casually mentions religion, and in a few simple lines reduces the arguments around it to a basic and honest level: '… god is a word, and the argument ends there.' (from 'I feel like the mother of the world').

These are but some of many the moments of beauty that the album is infused with. One of the most enduring aspects of 'a river ain't too much to love' is the ability it gives listeners to explore the layers of meaning and sound over repeated listens. I personally thank Smog/ Bill Callahan for the hope he provides in the lyric 'no matter how far wrong you've gone, you can always turn around' (from 'I'm new here'). I guess I could turn around and return to whence I came… but would I fit back in? do I want to? No. I have become a different person, a better person than the one I was and I am closer in becoming the person I have wanted to be for so long. Albums like this give me cause for reflection and in doing so allow me to realise just how far I have come on my journey and just how much I have achieved. They remind me to celebrate. They also provide comfort in letting me know that while I may feel isolated at times I am not alone. As for the sadness I sometimes feel during remembrance of what I have left behind, I have learnt that we can't take it all with us and somethings are better left behind. I have made sure that the things most important to me aren't left behind, like the ones I love, my mother, my father, my sisters, my brother and my friends too. As for my transformation, I owe it all to us.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dear Universe

Dear Universe,

I am writing to inform you of my severe disappointment with you and your service. So much was promised in your name and yet, here I stand with naught but myself and these fading dreams and unfulfilled requests (ie orders). Several well respected people had advised me of your services and also informed me that not only were these services free (which is a bonus in my books), but that you could provide for any wish. I have now asked at least on half a dozen occasions for a man and here I am, still single.

At first I was very detailed and specific with my request. I stated emotional, spiritual and physical characteristics, but with each unfulfilled request I grew less and less detailed, finally being in essence, prepared to take what ever man you had in stock for me, even a eunuch. Dear Uni (If I may call you that.. I feel that we have become quite close in our frequent, yet one sided communications), my disappointment stems, not so much from you not being able to fulfil a simple request, but from your rudeness of not replying. You took my orders without a word and never gave me anything in return, not even a :

Dear Sir,
We are sorry to inform you that your soul mate is currently out of stock. We hope to have more soul mates in stock later in the year, please try ordering again with us at a later date,
We apologise for any inconvenience…

Nor a :

Dear Mr Schiavello,
Your ‘not quite the man of my dreams, but he will do’ is on order. We expect him to be delivered to us in 8-12 weeks. Once he has been received in our factory and we are satisfied that he meets our strict high standards, he will be shipped straight off to you...

No, I have received nothing back from you, no notification, no hysterical or contemptuous laugh suggesting that I am dreaming... nothing. This is poor customer service… no I am being too kind, Uni this is appalling customer service. I cannot understand how something so powerful as yourself, that has a global population of about 6.8 billion people to pick from, you cannot even find me one gay man (preferably not attached.. but only if that’s a possibility I don’t want to be too picky). Anyway…surely the least you can do and the most polite thing would be to inform me of your inability to live up to the expectations and hype of others. To date I have submitted just over half a dozen orders (ie notes under my pillow) and so far I have received no advice from you either way.

Your service is substandard and I will certainly be telling my colleagues, friends and family members to avoid it at all costs.  I have heard on the grapevine that an extended family of recently arrived refugees are opening up a competing service across the road. While my experience with you may have scarred me for life and limited me to being unable to hope for anything more than this current life of singleness, I will however be doing all I can to direct all business away from you and towards your new competition, for I am sure that they will provide their customers with what you so far have not been able to, namely respectful communication and outcomes!


Matthew Schiavello.

P.S. I had submitted a final order just last night and IF this order can be completed, then please disregard the above, 

Yours faithfully,

Matthew Schiavello.  

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year’s resolutions

New Year’s resolutions, why do we have them? Why do we share what they are with others, because, let’s be honest we rarely fulfill them. How many resolutions did you fulfill from last year? I know personally that I fulfilled zilch, nada, niente, zero!   

I know that my own lists are identical each year. Let’s see, I am always going to:

- lose weight,
-to do more physical activity (walking, yoga, swimming etc),
-Have more self-respect and stop dating losers,
-Have more self-respect and stop dating any man that gives me the slightest attention,
- be more creative (play and write music).

Every friggin’ year this list is written out again, looked at, a personal pledge is made, the list is shared with my friends and then that’s the end of it… well until the next year when it’s all regurgitated.

A few days ago, an elderly Chinese lady I know, pointed at my stomach and said ‘Fat tummy!!’ A week or more before that, I visited my mum and as I entered the room I noticed her eyes zoom down to my expanding waistline, she then masked a sudden look of surprise and stood there staring at it, transfixed by its hugeness for several long drawn out moments. These events tempt me even more to fall into that unfulfilled resolution trap again…but this year, this year the answer is ‘no!’. This year I am keeping my mouth shut and I will just keep on doing what I have been doing all along… and that is to think about all the changes I want to make- including losing the spare tyre around my tummy and then head off for some coffee and cake in celebration of life and the start of a new year (umm... isn't that the reason any of us have coffee and cake??). and cake, why not? Good cake makes us all happy and no resolution means that I won’t have any guilt about not living up to my self-made pledges, or fear that my friends will remind me of my resolutions just before I hoe into some yummy dessert, in which case I then have to pretend that I am grateful that they have reminded me of my resolution and painfully push the yummy dessert aside…. all the while on the inside I am crying my little 'dessert hungry' heart out…no good can come from New Year’s resolutions- .I tell's ya!!

So happy New Year to you and may the year ahead bring you happiness, contentment and lots of cake and yummy desserts! And may you never feel compelled to have a list of New Year's resolutions, feel guilty for not living up to them, or have your dessert stolen away from you from friends that mean well.