Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Woodford Chronicles 06/07 (3)

Hello! I'm tired and dusty and just a little bit crusty but it's all for a good cause, romping the streets of Woodford in search of fun.

Someone I met yesterday said that they'd never been to a festival where there was so much time between gigs. My reaction was a doubletake -- WHAT? Turns out he was focusing only on the music, on the (make rabbit-ears here) big gigs (stop making rabbit-ears with your fingers now).

But that's the whole point! This isn't a MUSIC festival! It's more of an alternate culture festival. And I don't mean that in a feral sense, not anymore. Ferals are waaay outnumbered by the plebs who just want a fun time in a meaningful way (except tonight, when the whole place becomes inundated by drug-fueled fun-timers from Brisbane and the normal festival-goers bunker into their venue of choice to avoid the New Year street scenes). No, this is a festival where the main problem is finding the time to do everything! Aside from the music, there are spoken-word venues, comedy clubs, visual art classes, street performers who don't ask you for money, film festivals, excellent food stalls, clothing stals to browse, and a fully-functional children's festival (unlike the one at the National Folk Festival). How you could be bored here is beyond me!

OK, highlights from the last couple of days:

Me & Mr Brown. Yes, the combination of Bob Brown and transvestite comedian Dolly Putin was pretty damn good, apart from Bob looking extremely nervous and wooden. Dolly made up for it with slick, pacey jokes and a few Kath & Kim references. Totally Gourdeous were fabulous as usual and won my heart yet again by playing a Baterz song (Polesitter, for those of you who care).

A very odd magician with dark patter between and during tricks. Finishes by trying to cut his arm off unsuccesfully, which freaks out the kiddies.

The Breakfast Show. This has taken a very political bent this year, with guests Kerry O'Brien a few days ago (I forgot to mention the great discussion about accusations that the ABC is hostage to Australian university graduates, and Kerry pointing out that he'd never been to university. He was kicked out of his Christian Bros school six weeks before the end of his Senior, and was allowed to return to do his exams only), Peter Garrett yesterday (stay tuned for the Youtube clip) and today we had Sandy McCutcheon and George Negus. All good fun, with Martin Pearson and John Thompson not only being very funny, but very astute interviewers.

This was a women's cabaret/circus act featuring four women who included Tiger Lil from the Happy Sideshow days. (Space Cowboy is also at the Festival, bending spoons etc.) This was a great show, with a lot to say about female sexuality and constructions of feminity, and I wish I could write more about it now. That'll have to wait, unfortunately.

Time up. Only two more days to go, and then back to the jungle of the outside world. Sometimes this place feels like civilisation. More photos at flickr! (use yesterday's link, no time now, sorry!)

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Woodford Chronicles 06/07 (2)

Yesterday I drank a ULD of Gin & Tonic whilst watching the wonderful Kristina Olsen, then I went to the Stallholder's toiletblock and had a hot shower. I washed my hair with a nice smelly aromatherapy shampoo and washed my feet (and crocs) of all the mud that had been caking up. When I went outside again, squeaky clean, warm and still nicely tipsy, the sky was blue with fluffy clouds. My first thought was 'Is that all it took?' I've discovered an anti-rain ritual! And such a nice one. Today it's hot! sunny! with a cool breeze! Heaven. Wish you were here.

Woodford is not just a festival for me and mine; it's a time for getting together with beloved relatives. My brother- and sister-in-law have a stall every year, called the Never Give Up stall. They are devout Buddhists, and pass out bumper stickers to passers-by saying things like 'Never Give Up: Loving Compassion for all Beings' and 'Make Chocolate, Not War' (if you think they ripped off Supre a few years ago, it's the other way around. Big chain store rips off little stallholders. Boo, hiss.)

I spend a lot of time at the stall, because everyone walks past it at some point. It's on the main drag, and so we see all the festival-goers, plus all the street-theatre, and many of the performers pop in to stock up on funky silk clothing and cheerful pants block-printed with elephants. Who needs to go anywhere else? It's wedged between the Chai tent and the Murri arena, so the music never stops, and I must say here that I've heard some AMAZING stuff coming from the Murri/Koori stage. Gorgeous voices and fantastic beats. It's a mini-festival of our own.

I enjoy helping out on the stall. I find I'm very good at selling things, and retail work for jolly buddhist relatives at a feel-good festival is ever so much better than working for some poxy multinational franchise that won't change the frigging background music more than once a week (I gave up retail for barmaiding as a student; at least there was a variety of sounds!).

Today my other sister-outlaw, Naomi, has come for a day-visit with her small son. We staked out a spot in the Grande venue and managed to get some quality time with the wonderful Ash Grunwald. Man, can that bloke move a crowd!

Other highlights:

Kerry O'Brien (ABC, 7.30 Report) being a guest on the extremely funny Woodford Breakfast Show with Martin Pearson and John Thompson. (Which made up for yesterday, when I showed up to see their promised line-up of Sandy McCutcheon and George Negus and found myself trapped in the room with John Williamson. Kak. Phah. Erk. Bastards.)

La Famille. I know nothing about these people, but they are just fantastic, and I haven't tried to google them because I'd rather be typing to you. Swing jazz, saucy burlesque cabaret, and a torch singer who set the room on fire with her warm sexy voice. SO glad I found them whilst waiting for Joel Salom (who is the bomb).

The Street Theatre acts.
I've seen matronly Scout mistresses who walk around advising people in toffy English accents; aerobic 80s boys jumping about; huge kangaroos; enormous seagulls, to name only a few. Now that fain has stopped properly, tonight should be a blast.

Tonight or tomorrow I'm hoping to catch Me & Mr Brown, a club act involving Bob Brown (yes, the real one), a couple of transvestite comedians called Dolly Putin and Mea Culpa, and a band who play instruments made solely from gourds, Totally Gourdgeous. Sounds so kooky it might just work. I'll keep you posted.

BTW, If you want to see a few piccies, I've managed to upload a few (the internet cafe seems to have got its shit together today) at flickr.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Well, campers, I am now a resident of the People's Republic of Woodford, typing my initial report to you on the world's slowest frigging computer in a pretty disorganised internet cafe. So cut me some slack, because I keep pressing the wrong buttons on this awful, awful keyboard and I know any minute I will lose everything I've typed, and I've paid for half an hour, but at the speed of the computer you will only get 15 minutes of value.

OK. The theme at this year's festival is RAIN. The subtext is MUD. The dominant fashion look is raincoat or umbrella and Crocs. I've resisted buying a pair of Crocs for ages now, dunno why (probably because I'm never interested in anything until they're waaaayyyy out of fashion) but I succumbed today because they are perfect for trudging through slimy mud and over water-logged gravel. After the first few hours of rain you stop worrying about keeping anything dry, and just move through the rain as if it's perfectly normal to be soaked to the skin. The rain stops occasionally and everyone murmurs about the news saying that it'll be over by lunchtime, but just like both world wars, I think we're in for the long haul.

You can tell the locals from the tourists. People like me and my family find this situation utterly exotic and wish we could bottle the weather and send it home to the folks. The locals just roll their eyes and get on with it, wearing Crocs that are beaten-up and old.

We've dug a trench around the tent, so it's relatively dry inside, but everything, including the pillows, are damp. I never thought I'd crave the Queensland heat, but I do. I'm cold, and didn't pack a jumper. I have one pair of jeans, and they're pretty muddy, and it's only the first full day of the festival (yesterday I set my mobile phone alarm to wake us at 5.30 to get to the festival ahead of the hordes, and I forgot to allow for no daylight savings. We were halfway there before we realised that we'd risen at 4.30! So we've been here a long time already...)

As far as entertainment goes, I've glimpsed the Audreys from afar, over a sea of people and mud; I helped 50 kids make an accordian book (I had to cancel my classes because of my dratted ladybits, but I'm assisting my replacement, much to her initial discomfort, until she realised that I didn't give a toss how she did the bookmaking...); I've wandered around endlessly admiring the setting and variety of people, and I'm due to see a shitload of good circus and cabaret tonight.

My favoritest moment today was reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy whilst waiting for King Curly. It was such a great combination, because KC sing about such weird dystopian scenarios, and when I left the session the hairs on my head were standing on end.

OK, time's up, but I will be back sometime, and hopefully I'll be a lot drier. I hoe you're all having a good time too!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Faa laa laa laa faaarrrkkkkkk

I know it's only Thursday, but it's the end of a very long, busy week for me, and tomorrow I start a holiday which I hope will be full of fun and rest. As I type the house is half destroyed and half packed; small backpacks everywhere filled with life's little essentials (my booklight, his gameboy, books, sunscreen etc); large backpacks stuffed with clothes for hot weather and one or two things for a cool evening; boxes of sheets and towels (note to self: DO NOT FORGET TOWEL); CDs carefully selected for long journeys (we're going to listen to the Harry Potter 6 audiobook until I get the urge to write hate mail to Stephen Fry); and two nervous cats are pacing the floors, knowing that we are doing something but not sure if we're taking them or not.

We're not. We're off to Queensland, to stay with a dear friend for Christmas and then entering the wonderland that is the Woodford Folk Festival. A week later we'll emerge, dusty and tired, and spend a bit of time around Brisbane and the Gold Coast. We promised Bumblebee a day at Warner Bros Movie World, and not just a day, but a day where Best Beloved and I are not allowed to whinge about line lengths and general tackiness. This is his reward for pulling himself up by the bootstraps at school.

We have a lovely friend who used to share a house with me years ago, and she works long and thankless hours as a nurse and lives with her mother to save money, and every half a year or so she ups and goes somewhere exotic. She's a fantastic housesitter; the cats adore her, and we don't have to clean the house too much for her, because she's used to my messy ways and still likes me. Gold, absolute gold. She'll be arriving tomorrow for three weeks of lots of public holiday shifts to work, but inbetween a house with no mother and as many DVDs as she can watch beside the rotating fan, covered in cats. Her idea of bliss. The only downside is that she'll have to live through the noise of Summernats, but she doesn't seem to mind that.

So, just for future reference, so that I can see how mad I was when I look back at this post in years to come (I haven't had time to jot things down in my diary), here's a list of what I achieved this week:

1. I repainted our car.
The original design was by byrd, and as much as we all loved it, I needed a pick-me-up. I couldn't move house or redecorate (although I did find a comfy secondhand couch the other day which has transformed our living area), and I've done the haircut thingy, so the next best thing was a car makeover.

car before
This is what it looked like before I started spraying. I bought ten cans of good graffiti paint from an excellent new shop called Writer's Block in Curtin (get thee hence for all ye HipHop supplies, dudes) and at first decided to follow byrd's shapes but in a new colour scheme.

However, it all got a bit fun, and I started getting really seduced by the colour combinations... and this is what I ended up with:

car after

Hmm... a LOT more crazy. Sorry, byrd, I lost the plot. But I'm very happy with it, and I can see why people just keep spraying. It's pretty addictive.

I did keep a byrd souvenir:

car back

I kept the birdie on the right hand side, which is one of my favorite byrd images. I've been getting a lot of good feedback from people about the car; it's going to be fun to drive it up to Qld and back... if you see us, come and say hello.

2. I made a killer costume very quickly
Bumblebee had a class play they were performing for the end of year (they've been studying drama this term), and costumes were encouraged. He was playing 'Daddy Spider' in a play about Little Miss Muffet. On the morning of the play I whipped this up:

spider daddy

It's so annoying when all the photos of him smiling were fuzzy, and the one where he loks glum is sharp. He loved this costume, really. He wore his batman suit with a black t-shirt over the top, and then I filled two pair of stockings with rolled-up tissue paper and tied latex gloves stuffed with plastic bags onto the ends, and tied the end of each to each other and to his arms, so they waved around when he moved his arms. Gloves on his hands and feet made it all look pretty hoopy. So simple, and so effective! Made up for months of no effort on my part.

3. I did a shitload of work
All my design clients needed something done by Christmas, so I've been glued to my computer working on a catalogue for the art school, a scholarly journal, and a dictionary of Italian cinema. All finally finished at 6.30pm this evening.

Faaaark goes the crow. I've had enough. I'm on the road tomorrow with the wind in my hair. I'll continue to blog periodically, including my yearly commmentary on what's happening at Woodford (lots, according to my programme. Hooray!).

In the meantime, I wish you all a very happy and safe Christmas. I hope you get to do what you like best. And thank you all for being such good comrades within blogosphere. I hope 2007 continues our virtual adventures together.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A little something for you because it's hot and I'm busy and I'm still not finished with my Christmas shopping

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

Thanks to Crit for this self-esteem boost!

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Alright. Now you have full permission to pity me, because Best Beloved is ill with a chesty cold, and in my experience there is NOTHING worse than a sick man. I know it sounds sexist, but no-one yet has managed to disprove my theory.

Oh, excuse me while I rush off to make his snack, to be received grudgingly. Complete personality misplacement until body goes back to normal. Sigh.

air loon

I'm Ludvig II, the Swan King of Bavaria!
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

Born with the name of Otto, you became Ludwig at the request of your grandfather, King Ludwig I, because you were born on his birthday. You became Crown Prince at the tender age of 3, and soon after stole a purse from a shop on the basis that everything in Bavaria belonged to you. Tragedy struck when your pet tortoise was taken away; relatives thought the six-year-old prince was too attached to it. Your childhood was lonely and formal. Once, you were prevented from beheading your younger brother by the timeous arrival of a court official. From the age of 14 you suffered from hallucinations.

Despite striking an imposing figure with your great height and good looks, your speeches were pompous to the point of incomprehensibility. You became even more of a recluse, often spending hours reading poetry in a seashell-shaped boat in your electrically-illuminated underground grotto.

You are most famous for building three fairytale castles - Linderhof, Neuschwanstein and Herrenchiemsee - at tremendous public expense. Declared insane and confined to your bedroom by concerned (and embarrassed) subjects, you escaped on 13 June 1886, but were later found drowned with your physician in Lake Stamberg in mysterious circumstances.

Many thanks to Tigtog for this cathartic experience!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Oh oh oh!

I love this.

On bodies and bits (TMI warning)

Over the past couple of years I've read many posts about underarm hair on women, and we've all contributed to comment threads exposing our own practices re. that subject, but I just wanted to reiterate my amusement and frustration that underarm hair still seems to be up there with nipple escape as a titilating conversational distraction.

It's been very hot lately, and I generally prefer not to wear sleeveless tops (more to do with my bye-byes than anything else), but the heat has driven me to wear them. Nearly every conversation I have, with either men or women, gets sidetracked slightly if I raise my arms slightly and a wisp of hair is exposed. They don't change the topic, but I notice the other person getting a bit flustered and either looking or trying very hard NOT to look. One man I was talking to couldn't drag his eyes away for a moment. I felt like I was topless! In fact, I think if I had been topless he wouldn't have blinked; it was something to do with the hair.

I like to move my hands as I talk, so my underarm hairs do get an airing regularly. I even trim them neatly, preferring the slightly prickle of freshly-trimmed hairs to the sharp irritation of deodorant on raw skin and the agony of stubble rash. It's HAIR. It grows naturally. It belongs there. It's nice and furry. I shave my legs these days, but I can't relinquish the little underarm mice. Are we really such a waxed and polished society? I can't wait to get to Woodford (yes, we are going, after all) and let it all hang out in an anything-goes atmosphere for a while. That's what I call a holiday.

While I'm on the topic of bodies, my lovely sister outlaw, while commiserating on the phone last week about my ladybits, said something that really resonated with me. We were talking about that plunge into nothingness with general anaesthetic, and how scary it is even if you trust the doctor. She mused that she couldn't understand how people can willingly go under the knife with plastic surgeons, to take that plunge for the sake of making your body different/more acceptable. More acceptable to whom? is my first question. WTF? is my second. Especially in the case of vaginoplasties, or 'vaginal rejuvenation', as I was reading in the latest issue of The Monthly this morning.* Erk. Anyway, I agree with my outlaw: going under the knife for something necessary is scary and risky enough; going under for sheer vanity or to be fashionable is sad and foolish.** Apparently vaginoplasties are 'in' because it aims to make your ladybits 'more attractive', and as Anne Manne says:

These are not ... surgeries to increase female pleasure. They are designed solely to render a vagina*** more "attractive" -- and more in line with the quietly universalising standards established by pornography: the surgical version of the Brazilian wax, with its faint resonances of child pornography. Indeed, the Society for Gynecological Surgeons warns of the scarring, nerve damage and numbness which may follow vaginoplasty.*

Are men really that judge-mental? Actually, I can believe that some are, after an experience a few months ago (I can't remember if I blogged it and I'm being naughty taking this much time to write, so I won't search -- apologies if I have) riding along the bike path and having a man ride very slowly behind me for a while, then slowly overtake me and look back. He took one look at my face and sneered and shook his head, then rode fast away. At the next intersection I saw him chase up to another female rider, and then later again he was trying to chat another one up, a nice-looking girl with great legs who obviously met his standards. She was ignoring him. But the irony was that this man was short, fat and oddly hairy; something I wouldn't hold against him in an ordinary meeting, but in this context it was sad and offensive.

I don't really know what I'm trying to say here. It's a mosh of ideas that I just needed to vent today. Yay for women who like themselves just the way they are, to quote Mark Darcy. I'm sorry for people who think they need to be better. I'm sorry for people who can't accept other people's bodies. And to all of you out there who think women shouldn't have underarm hair, I'm sorry. It's YOUR problem. It's really very friendly if you get to know it.

* "Love Me Tender: Sex & Power in the Age of Pornography" by Anne Manne, The Monthly, Dec 2006.

** I should say here that I don't consider a breast reduction vanity surgery. Nor reconstructive plastic surgery. Duh.

*** I'm hoping that having the V word in this post may attract some readers who never think about underarms. May you learn something today.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Retro printers embracing the laserjet, heh.

Today I was sent a link to a cheering article about letterpress, via the artbooks discussion list (worth subscribing to, if you have an interest; you get all sorts of news about artists' books in Australia).

Of course, it's an article about letterpress in the United States, where there are mouthwatering presses everywhere and type and plates can be found at yard sales and in junk stores. Here in Australia it is possible to find bits of letterpress equipment and type, but only rarely, and it usually costs a bomb.

Unfortunately most of Australia's old type has been enterprisingly melted down for scrap or made into sculptures. Mind you, it seems that there are a lot of interesting letterpress bits and pieces sitting around in the garages and sheds of many offset printers of a certain generation, so if you're interested, keep your eyes peeled and never pass up the chance to talk to aging commercial printers. I certainly take the conversational plunge as often as I can, but be warned -- you may have to sit through a lot of gumph to get to the treasure! I have discovered a few Canberra troves that have possessive printery gargoyles sitting on top of them, but I'm a lot younger, and in the words of the immortal bard, we'll see who rusts first.

By the way, I love the fact that the article in question is all about the pleasures of using metal type, yet the photo on the first page shows a printer printing from a polymer plate, which is UV-cast in plastic from a photographic negative and usually set from a computer file! Heh. It's the little ironies in life that keep me jolly.

And while I'm here (and I'll be contacting her in person about this), a rousing GOOD LUCK to Girlprinter, who is living the dream and overcome obstacles of the heart to celebrate the opening of her Press yesterday in Melbourne. I'm ashamed that I didn't mention this beforehand, and I hope it went swimmingly. We need more of this in the Antipodes, and she is now my virtual rolemodel until I can get south and make her a real one. May the smell of wet ink linger in the air for many years to come.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Remember to purr

Things are going up and down here at &Duck world. I'm definitely getting better, but it's a slow and seemingly haphazard process. My days are good and during them I feel hopeful for a swift recovery followed by a relaxing holiday. However, I keep waking up in the early hours of my nights with horrible uterine cramps that make it impossible to lie still or quietly, so unfortunately Best Beloved tends to wake as well. We're both walking around with saggy baggy undereyes. It's become a cycle: wake up hurting, feel great during the day, feel positive around dinner, and then dread bedtime.

Last night it happened again, so I walked around for a while, then took some painkillers and lay back down. Mr Pooter decided to jump up and see what we were up to, which is quite usual, and then, quite unusually, climbed up onto me and lay on my womby bits and started purring. My first instinct was to push him off, but then I realised that the weight and the warmth were pretty good, a bit like a wheat pack, and a few healing purrs always help. Before I knew it, I was asleep, lying on my back with the cat draped on me, and I woke hours later feeling ok again. Clever puss.

The other DOWN thing is that I noticed that I'm getting a bit low on space on my computer, so I decided to do a bit of backing up and deleting to make some room. Unfortunately my addled brain got a bit ahead of itself and I accidentally deleted my whole photo folder, and before I noticed what I'd done, I'd emptied the trash. When I realised what I'd done I had what I can only describe as an Ovid moment: I turned into a crow on the spot, and started walking around the house flapping my arms saying 'FAAARKKK! FAARK!'. Metamorphosis back to human form took a while, I can tell you. I had the presence of mind to turn the computer off right away, and I've spent the last couple of days trying to retrieve the lost data in various ways, but Macintosh is too tricky, and even after buying equally tricky software, they have gone for good. And I eventually had to make a choice between trying to retrieve data for my own selfish purposes or doing some productive work for angsty clients who have been very patient over the last few weeks. So I made the sensible choice and started work again, which definitely overrides the lost files.

Luckily it is only the last 5 months worth of unbacked-up images (what can I say? I'm a busy, stupid girl), and a number of my favorite images are on cds and in other spots like Flickr, but when I wake in the night with cramps I think of lovely images I've taken which went straight from camera to the computer, things I was planning to work with (a lovely series of Sydney walls with gloriously peeling paint, for instance) that I will never see again. FAAAAAARRRKKK!

I know this sounds awful, but I think I'm grieving for the images more than for my lost pregnancy. Or at least, I can't tell the difference at the moment. But life goes on, and at least I still have the camera. And my sunny disposition :)

On the UP side, all your messages have been wonderful and sustaining and I'm touched to get so much affection and well-wishing. Special thanks go to Dean for sending me flowers last weekend, Zoe for sitting on the couch and not laughing at my greasy hair and satin, Fyodor for just being himself, and Laura for sending me the most exquisite hand-made handbag as an early Christmas present.* Plus Speedy, who should send me a proper email because I want to meet her ASAP.

All this niceness is overwhelming! It's as good as a holiday, RLY.

* I haven't got a single bit of tinsel up. There's a couple of Xmas cards from people sitting under dusty teacups, but you'd never think Christmas was so close from looking at our house, inside or out. This is habitual, so don't feel bad for me. I leave Christmas to those who are good at it, like my mother, who claims every year that she's doing nothing, then panics the week before and buys out everything she can see in the local Clints Crazy Warehouse. Every. Year.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Working through a few issues

A lot of sleep, a shower, a few nice chockies, and I feel like a new woman. It's remarkable what a difference the right medical treatment makes. I don't like feeling morose. But I've still got a few issues to work out, so indulge me just a tad longer, please.

Yesterday I was extremely nervous going into the operating theatre, and made this clear to my surgeon (Dr SB). I said that the last person who had curetted me seemed quite shocked afterwards at how soft my uterus had been. Tut tut, tsked Dr SB. Readers, he took me seriously. He wrote a few notes on my form and made the decision to administer a certain drug that would make the organ contract so that he'd have something to push against. Even if he'd planned to do it beforehand, the fact that he didn't just shush me and knock me out made a big difference, and I went down into the abyss a lot happier.

Waking up without stitched and a bloated laproscopy belly was such a treat. Instead of days of discomfort and stress, I was given a plate of mixed sandwiches and a cup of tea. Instead of seeing me incontrollably shaking from the cold and shock of being stabbed internally, Best Beloved came in to find me sitting up and smiling at him groggily. That's a big step towards healing.

I don't feel a lot emotionally at the moment. I'll probably feel more later, when my body is back to normal, or when I'm finally crossing that line when more chances to try are absolutely out of the question (at the moment I'd like to think that is NOW, but we'll see.)

I tried very hard to stay mentally detached from the whole pregnancy thing because part of my brain knew that it was a dodgy deal; of course it's impossible to be truly detached, because I was there, living inside a pregnant body. Yeah, I know, but no matter how many times I try to think of myself as a complete entity, I never succeed. Mind/body separation is a reality in my universe. I am here, my body is down there. It's always been so.

Bodies are frustrating things, especially female bodies, don't you think? I'm sure male bodies have their own bugs and features, but female bodies just take the cake. Sexualised, worshipped, reviled, abused, enhanced, starved, indulged; there's no neutral position. I must say here that I'm usually great friends with my body. Ordinarily, it's a good strong, healthy body that rarely lets me down. It's not a particularly ideal body by societal norms: my legs are short and lumpy, my bum IS too big in whatever I'm wearing (so I've never asked that question of anyone). But my body gets me where I want to go, does what I want it to do, and in fact has never been short of admirers for too long, so societal norms can go jump.

It was quite a shock to discover, in my late 20s and early 30s, that I wasn't in control of all my bodily functions. I managed to have a baby (unplanned, but blessed every minute he's been alive), but it was a struggle involving a lot of medical intervention and emotional investment that shocked me to my core. Both my body and my baby's body proved to be fragile entities that all the willpower in the world couldn't control. The only things on my side were luck to have been born at the right time and the fact that modern medicine had got to the stage it had. Bumblebee would have been left for dead only 20 years earlier, and last century I would have been left for dead whilst having him.

I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to be diagnosed with a horrid disease like cancer. I've been reading Humanities Researcher and admiring Stephanie's sharing of her journey through illness to recovery (I hope). That sense of your body betraying your life choices is a resonant one. Everything you want to do has to be put on hold, because if you don't take the time out and listen to your physical needs, the chance of doing anything in the future is compromised.

For me, as I mentioned the other day, having another child was a choice that everyone around me wanted me to make, but I was very reluctant to be proactive about. I have friends and family who have urged me (quite hard, and unfortunately, even today, are still urging) to try again 'while I'm still young enough'. That's the partly the problem. I'm not really still young enough. Anyone that thinks that they can put off having children until they're ready has to really think hard about the risks. After 35, the risks increase dramatically. (This message is not sponsored by the Federal Government.) Old eggs, old body, tired mind. If you have kids after 40, expect to do everything the HARD way. And that's not the life for me. I knew I was pregnant before I did the test because of the absolute, overwhelming tiredness. I was utterly exhausted by very normal activities, and I look forward to getting my energy back. I'm going to gambol like a newborn lamb.

The other part of the problem is a selfish one. Much of this urging is really on Best Beloved's behalf. He would love to have his own kids, but he doesn't want them at my expense. I would love to give him his own kids, but not at my expense. Having another baby (or even trying to get one whole and healthy out of me) means I really honestly wouldn't be able to concentrate on the projects that I hold dear and have been working towards for years. Ironically, in the last two years I've been setting up these projects to distract me from the fact that I'm hopelessly bad at babymaking. But now they've got a life of their own, and it's at the point where if I don't give them a go while I'm young enough to work hard at them, I'll hate myself for not trying.

Baby or books? Family or career? It's an age-old quandry, and I know that there are many many MANY women out there in the midst of it. Doesn't it suck? Isn't it shitty that you can't just order babies out of some gender-neutral catalogue? Isn't it outrageous that there are millions of kids in the world who need loving families and it takes so much money and red tape to be able to adopt them? I'll never be able to understand why that is so. Or why same-sex couples in long-lasting loving relationships get so much grief about wanting to bring up kids when there are millions of heterosexual couples out there who seem to think their kids should be in the doghouse with their pets?

These are the sorts of things I think about while lying in bed. I drive BB mad by saying that if I spend five years trying to have a baby I'll resent myself for never making the books I always promised myself; but if I don't try I'm scared that he'll resent me for not taking his needs seriously. To his absolute credit, there is no pressure from BB's side. He and Bumblebee have been seriously scared on both these occasions (more so last time) and they keep insisting that it's totally my choice whether I want to go through it again. But somehow that doesn't make it any easier.

Hey, I'm a Libran. I can't make choices like that. :)

Anyway, thanks for all the fab messages. Normal broadcasts will resume shortly. [Fyodor, you're a real man of mystery, but thanks for giving me something to think about yesterday in the waiting room...]

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Womb intact, hooray!

A big

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to every one of you.

Today went really well, and now I just cross fingers that there's no complications. I'm not allowed to drink alcohol for 24 hours (nor make important decisions or sign legal papers) thanks to the general anaesthetic, so I'll save the 'my womb is intact' party for tomorrow.

You're all marvellous people, and I knew that influx of good thoughts into the ether would help.

Now I'm going back to bed. I'll make some comment responses tomorrow. xxx

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gathering strength

Some of you may be wondering why I haven't been writing more about progress on my letterpress project and my arts grant. That's because there has been no progress. Why?

Ok. Get comfortable. This has taken me a few days to write, and I'm going to break it down a bit.


The day that I got the envelope containing my good news about the grant, I also peed on a pregnancy test and got two blue lines. I have to admit, I cried. And oddly enough, not with joy.


I don't know how much you've read back over my archives; I've got a bit of a history of reproductive problems. I gave a quick linkfest a couple of posts ago, on my wedding anniversary. This pregnancy is around the same timing as the last one, give or take a few weeks. This is the 9th week, whereas this time two years ago it was the 7th week.

I'm ambivalent about having another child. On the one hand, there's my lovely man, who would make such a fantastic father, and who is already a fantastic stepfather and uncle. On the other hand, I'm 39, and I've just managed to get to a point in my life when the next 12 months will allow me to achieve something to be proud of professionally, rather than helping other people achieve their goals.

But hey? When nature calls, even at an inopportune time, it's probably best to accept what is happening and make the most of it. Especially when everyone around you gets so excited and happy for you.


For the first few weeks I really had to fight off depression. I felt cranky that the only way we could add to our family involved my body, and my time and energy. I kept wishing that Best Beloved could be the pregnant one (nice thought, but I tell you this, in a classic female way, that if men ever worked out how to have babies I'd be first in line to protest about it). All I could think about was the lousy timing, and how I was poised to start printing, but then it all had to stop.

And everything HAD to stop; I'm really bad at pregnancy, and luckily had my name down with a specialist who started giving me blood tests every few days and hormone supplements. He told me I can't travel more than 2 hours, which put the kybosh on going to Woodford, and advised against riding my bike and walking too much. Printing, with its physical demands and reliance on solvents for cleanup, is definitely OUT. I've spent the last few weeks driving (oh, the petrol prices!) and sitting in front of the computer, sulking. Your blogs have kept me sane, truly.


Last week I started coming to terms with the thought of being pregnant. I realised that I can use the grant money, buy all the materials and get the artists involved working on their images, make the polymer plates (it's a pretty harmless technology), and then have everything in place to print later next year. I'm sure the Arts Board wouldn't mind granting me a slight extension.

I talked to my boss at the art school, and she was very supportive about a change of plans for the BookStud next year. And I could always work on my bookbinding skills, which don't involve a lot of standing up.

Best Beloved and I started talking about what to do about our tiny house: do we extend or move? We made an appointment with a nice real estate agent we'd bumped into to discuss how much our house would be worth, to help us decide. I know it's early days, but I know people who have their babies in amongst the builders' dust, or amidst packing boxes; it pays to plan ahead.

Actually, I started to feel quite jolly. Morning sickness was kicking in, and my boobs felt like bursting, but that's just the fun of sprogging.


And then I had an ultrasound last Friday, and encountered a familiar worried look on the face of the technician. Are you sure about your dates? is a question that makes your heart sink, especially when you've been there before. And yes, I was very sure of my dates.

From that moment everything went poo-shaped. It's amazing how fast you can go from feeling like you you're doing something special with your body to feeling like your body is just a mutant visitor from Planet Defect. It took moments. Suddenly you're not a fertile goddess, you're a failure. There was the black blobby sac floating on the screen, tucked in a nice safe place between three ravenous fibroids, but there was nothing happening inside it. Well, there was, but it wasn't alive. In fact, it had stopped about three weeks before, but my body was convinced it was still pregnant. It still is. But instead of feeling nauseous in the morning and knowing that it's for a purpose, now I wake up and feel nauseous and then feel nauseous about feeling nauseous. Just like last time.


Since Friday I've been pretty numb, apart from some pretty full-on crying in the car. I find the car is the best place to be a watery tart, probably for the same reasons that men like to talk sideways about serious issues -- you know, while they're gardening, or washing up. I can sob but stay in control, and that feels valid. Until you stop at the traffic lights and look sideways and realise that the people next to you can see you with snot and tears all over you. And they are always looking, probably because I have a wildly-painted car. Bugger. Lying on a bed crying just feels like I'm indulging myself too much. I know, go figure. It's not like I don't indulge myself in other ways.


Things I've done in the past few days to escape reality and feel better:

Videos: The Razor's Edge (1946 version, of course); the second series of Extras; Catching up on West Wing; Hairspray.
Music: Tim Buckley, new mashups by Arty Fufkin (great timing, thanks), Johnny Cash's American III.
Reading: Jasper Fforde, trash magazines, blogs, Anne Tyler.
Imbibing: wine, cider, chocolate, salami, soft cheese.

Have I ever told you how much I like Anne Tyler's fiction? Her books have a certain emotional space in them, and are peopled by characters who have been emotionally damaged in different ways; they tend to live quietly within themselves until she finds them a reason to come alive again. Each novel is a gentle lesson in internal survival and renewed hope. I go through phases of needing to read them. Now is one of those times. If you haven't read one, I recommend starting with either The Clock Winder or Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. Or The Accidental Tourist, but read it before you see the movie version.


I'm not telling this tale to get your sympathy, because I'm getting weary of casting myself as a person needing pity. I'm really starting to understand (although really, universe, I got the lesson at least 20 years ago. RLY.) that there is no quota for painful experiences. I know that there are many women out there who go through this, and go through it over and over in their quest for children. I saw many of them at the fertility clinic I was visiting for my blood tests, and I felt so sorry for them, with their looks of quiet, dignified and painful optimism. One day I went in and the place was full to standing-room only, and that air of suspense was palpable. When I asked about the crowd, I was told it was 'embryo implantation day'. Sigh. Poor girls.

I know that women go through miscarriages all the time. And they keep trying, which has my admiration. Or they stop, which has my utter understanding. I'm not trying again.


Actually, I'm telling this tale at this point in time because tomorrow morning at 10am I'm going under the knife to get Wellsley Giblet (see, we'd nicknamed it already!) scraped out.* And I'm scared. I want lots of blog-reading good vibes to steady that surgeon's hand and keep me safe. Last time a stupid doctor perforated me three times, and I bled for two months. This is a different hospital, a more experienced doctor, but the same soft mutant fibroid-filled womb. It should only be a day-visit, and I should feel better in a day or two. If all goes well.

Wish me luck.

*Actually, there's a tale here as well. This is the perfect situation for a drug like RU-486, when an abortion is needed and there's no live baby to kill. BUT. Because it was not available last time, I was D&C'd, roughly, and thus was perforated. It still isn't available now, but even if it was, I wouldn't be able to use it because the strong crampings might reopen the perforations from last time. GAH! Thanks, Mr Abbott. It's all your fault I'm going under the knife again. Put that in your pipe and stick it where the sun don't shine.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I just don't see the point.

cricket wtf?

There's nothing like being the only non-cricket watcher in a room full of afficionados* to make you feel like an alien in your own universe.

Does anyone else out there avoid cricket? Help me to avoid feeling alone.** How do you manage socially?

*Mind you, it was a pretty entertaining roomful: Zoe & Owen (I think of them as Zowen to save time), Floppy, and Harry, Dave and Lord Mattresshammer. But still...

**Best Beloved doesn't like cricket either. I know. We're just WEIRD.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Domestic Day of Wistfulness

Happy birthday, my wistfully-missed little brother.

A pinch and a punch (a hard one) for the first day of the month, just like the one Bumblebee gave me a few moments ago.

Watch out world, here comes Summer. I hate the heat. Bring back Winter. Maybe I'll move to Canada, or somewhere with a decent winter and a mild summer. Any suggestions?

I really wanted just to do a Remember to Breathe post (something I've been neglecting lately) but I don't have my camera this week, and I've used up my stockpile of nice pics, so here instead is a page from my artist's book What You Left Behind, featuring my brother and I in North Queensland circa 1980, quite easily the last time I ever looked good in a bikini (I was 13).

I left my body behind, you didn't

The text in his shape is from 'Morning is Broken', something we sang at his funeral, which was quite jolly and nice to do, but has ruined the Cat Stevens version for me forever and unfortunately major supermarkets like to play it in the vague hope that people will buy Morning Fresh washing-up liquid or something and I end up in tears in the biscuit section, much to everyone's alarm. I can just see them wondering what is so tragic about Tim Tams?


On a happier note, if you happen to be in Canberra any time over the next two or so weeks (Floppy, this includes you), have a wander down Alinga Street in Civic, between Northbourne Avenue and Marcus Clarke Street. There's a temporary Public Art thingy called Domain that has overtaken those two city blocks. (It's organised by the ANU School of Art, and because of this, of course there is no web link yet. They are dreadfully slow at getting relevant info online.)

It involves a number of artists doing wacky and/or thought-provoking things to the street-scape, the most obvious of which is Bella Wells' colourful plastic baskets threaded onto signposts and parking meters like lifesavers onto a pencil. There will also be video installation pieces projected onto building frontages in the evenings.

My favorite so far is actually inside one of the pubs on the strip, the Wig and Pen. It's a fleshy lump of torso, just a male chest and enormous beer-gut, complete with horrid bushy black body-hair, just sitting on a barstool beside the bar. Repellent yet oddly beautiful, and the best anti-alcohol message I have ever seen.

And has anyone local noticed the new flower message on City Hill yet? This is the hill in the 'centre' of Civic with a big roundabout on it, the main thoroughfare from north to south Canberra, and there's a flowerbed there which gets sponsored by various groups to have a community message displayed in flower colours.

Oh for my camera!

This month they have 'SPASTIC CENTRE'.

I hope the ACT Government can see it from their office windows, I couldn't have put it better myself.