But some chocolate Labradors are more equal than others.
Yes, that is the light that shines out of the baby Jesus's arse illuminating her face.
This is some serious shit
I wrote this ages ago for The Big Issue, but it's not online anymore and I wanted to show someone. So I'm posting it here.
In being single-related news, my friend Aristotle suggested I ask a man out. Why did you make this odd suggestion, Aristotle? It is a suggestion that preferences something that I’m not good at (i.e. asking dudes out) over other things I’m very good at (i.e. looking things up on Wikipedia; teaching my Labrador Martha to cuddle me with her front legs; remembering all the characters’ names in The Wire). As I said to Aristotle, “Aristotle,” I said, “If I see someone suitable (which I won’t), I’ll do it, if only because when said dude rejects me I can retort: ‘Hey, wasn’t my idea.’” Then I’ll do the thing my friend The Comedian’s (note that The Comedian is not to be confused with The Cobbler. I call The Comedian “The Comedian” because that’s what she is. Makes jokes, innit?) 13-year-old daughter taught me. Three fingers up, three fingers sideways, three fingers down, L on forehead. What. Ever. Major. Loser.
At the dog park, a friend tells me this story. Over the holiday, her partner, Polly, got very sick and they had to go to emergency.
Nurse: "What's your religion."
Nurse: (Looks at computer for a long while) "No, it's not here. Would it be called anything else?"
Somewhat of an argument over the intellectual merits of Elizabeth Gilbert lately with close friends. I was on the side of non-corniness. So somewhat of a relief to read this review of the movie in the Guardian latterly.
Sit, watch, groan. Yawn, fidget, stretch. Eat Snickers, pray for end of dire film about Julia Roberts's emotional growth, love the fact it can't last for ever. Wince, daydream, frown. Resent script, resent acting, resent dinky tripartite structure. Grit teeth, clench fists, focus on plot. Troubled traveller Julia finds fulfilment through exotic foreign cuisine, exotic foreign religion, sex with exotic foreign Javier Bardem. Film patronises Italians, Indians, Indonesians. Julia finds spirituality, rejects rat race, gives Balinese therapist 16 grand to buy house. Balinese therapist is grateful, thankful, humble. Sigh, blink, sniff. Check watch, groan, slump.
Film continues, persists, drags on. Wonder about Julia Roberts's hair, wonder about Julia Roberts's teeth, wonder about permanence of Julia Roberts's reported conversion to Hinduism. Click light-pen on, click light-pen off, click light-pen on. Eat crisps noisily, pray for more crisps, love crisps. Munch, munch, munch. Munch, munch, suddenly stop munching when fellow critic hisses "Sshhh!" Eat crisps by sucking them, pray that this will be quiet, love the salty tang. This, incidentally, makes me plump, heavy, fat. Yet Julia's life-affirming pasta somehow makes her slim, slender, svelte. She is emoting, sobbing, empathising. She has encounters, meetings, learning-experiences. Meets wise old Texan, sweet Indian girl, dynamic Italian-speaking Swede who thinks "Vaffanculo" means "screw you".
Roberts eats up the oxygen, preys on credulous cinemagoers, loves what she sees in the mirror. Julia shags Billy Crudup, James Franco, Javier Bardem. Ex-husband, rebound lover, true romance. Crudup is shallow'n'callow, Franco is goofy'n'flaky, Bardem is hunky'n'saintly. We hate Crudup, like Franco, love Bardem. Divorced Javier is gorgeous, sexy, emotionally giving. About his ex-wife we are indifferent, incurious, uninterested. She is absent, off the scene, unnamed. That's how Julia likes it, needs it, prefers it.
Movie passes two-hour mark, unfinished, not over yet. Whimper, moan, grimace. Wriggle, writhe, squirm. Seethe, growl, rage. Eat own fist, pray for death, love the rushing sense of imminent darkness. Scream, topple forward, have to be carried out of cinema. Reach life crisis, form resolution, ask editor for paid year's leave to go travelling. Editor stands up, shakes head, silently mouths the word: "No". Nod, turn, return to work. Personal growth, spiritual journeys, emotional enrichment? Not as easy as 1-2-3.
Wilcox (we're still friends — in fact, when he moved out, he really just moved round the corner) alerted me to this rather old — in technology terms — article Tony Martin wrote on The Scrivener's Fancy about popular fiction and the author Lee Child.
I rofled like a maniac rofler who was kicked out of Rofling University for being too damn good at rofling. In a sea of favourite bits, here's my favourite bit:
So, hang on, these literary cunts, they’re…what? Lazy? Slacking off? Leaving the reader to ‘do all the work’? I assume he’s referring to that half-arsed concept ‘ambiguity’, a concept that is, according to Child, completely devoid of enjoyment. Actually, I remember reading a lot of books where you didn’t have to ‘figure anything out’ and where ‘the work’ was already done for you. I used to love those books…when I was fucking five!
Does anyone blog anymore? All Twitter now, innit?
Sadly, I'm not quippy enough for Twitter. My real strength lies in long strings of various muddled strands of psychotherapy — Freudian, Jungian, Gestalt, psychodynamic, narrative, expressive, integrative — intertwined with my own beastly sadness (well, whose else is there?) and an unrelenting need — a need I've never not known — to unburden myself in writing of My Terrible Secrets. All swinging underneath a soundtrack of nose blowing, Labrador snores and Harry Neilsson.
But apparently people do still blog. In fact, three of my dearest have just produced blogs. Which made me miss this freaking nuthouse.
But then I have this inherent problem with my blog in that I want to tell the truth, and yet so many of the things I do are really quite against the law. Or, at the very least, morally ambiguous. I deleted a lot of, well, startlingly moving and ... jeez, I don't want to sound like a wanker, but what the hell ... life-changing writing on this blog already, because it was about drug use. But I'd still quite like to talk about [things that were probably too personal. Sorry, but I've deleted what I wrote here earlier. Because it was too personal.]
So I continuously ravel and unravel my security settings, stewing over whether my employers could possibly find me, which could in turn lead to a shameful cautionary tale on Snopes.com about employees and TMI on the internet. You know, stuff like this. Blerk!
If I could just be me it would be ok. If I was a proper writer, if my publisher wasn't giving me the "How about never? Is never good for you?" treatment, if I was a little less nutty and, more pertinently, if I got of my arse and wrote more stuff, then I could be me. (Although reflecting on the blog so far, I may have to thesaurus my way out of the words "shit" and "stuff".) But I'm a jobbing writer, and editor, and an occassional trainer in writing and editing. (An example of my training: "Listen up people! Don't do fancy nouns. Most nouns can be replaced by 'stuff' or 'shit'.") I write copy and I copy-edit clever books written by Important People.
[More deleted bits. That's why this post doesn't flow.]
My parents gave me a book my 26th birthday. I was not in a good state then — it was 1994; I was depressed, saving to go overseas in a McJob, drinking, shagging, experimenting, using my abandoned box of the pill (I switched to condoms) as a morning after pill, full to the brim with delayed adolescent defiance in, simultaneously, the uselessness and the importance of every object in the world, in opposition to what "the man" thought.
The book was The Penguin Book of Women's Lives, given, poignantly and hopefully, from my desperately worried parents. It is an excellent book full of extracts of women's autobiographies — I still have it.
My favourite extract was Emily Hahn's. It began:
Though I had always wanted to be an opium addict, I can't claim that as the reason I went to China. The opium addiction dates back to that obscure period of childhood when I wanted to be a lot of other things, too — the greatest expert on ghosts, the word's best ice skater, the champion lion tamer, you know the kind of thing. But by the time I went to China I was grown up, and all those dreams were forgotten.
"Chances are, your grandmother didn't smoke cigars and let you hold wild role-playing parties in her apartment," said her granddaughter Alfia Vecchio Wallace in her affectionate eulogy of Hahn. "Chances are that she didn't teach you Swahili obscenities. Chances are that when she took you to the zoo, she didn't start whooping passionately at the top her lungs as you passed the gibbon cage. Sadly for you, your grandmother was not Emily Hahn."I will never be someone's grandmother.
Randomly, I started reading my old blog from years ago, and found this story. Wilcox was so sweet. This is from back in the thick of IVF — I was, admittedly, pretty nutty.
1. Mince Fried Rice!
Boil up some Jasmine rice. Right at the end, add yummy vegies such as cauliflower and/or broccoli and/or peas.
In a wok, fry up garlic, ginger, chilli, onion and/or shallots, mushies, zucchini and some beef or pork mince.
Add cooked rice and vegies.
Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, or whatever.
Cook it a bit more.
You're done! Turn off wok and enjoy!
2. Cauliflower Mushy!
Boil up cauliflower until it's mushy.
Add salt and butter and garlic chives. Fuck it, add some parmesan if you want. Am I telling anyone? Am I your keeper?
You're done! Turn on So You Think You Can Dance and enjoy!
3. Anchovie and Caper Surprise!
Begin making tomato-based sauce.
At the initial fry-the-onions stage, add lots of anchovies and capers.
Finish making tomato-based sauce.
Add it to pasta or meat.
You're done! Watch The Bill on ABC2 because you missed it on Saturday and enjoy!
Wilcox's old schoolbuddy Justin has set up this awesome website called Perkler.
You sign up, you list all the loyalty cards in your wallet (no disclosure of identifying details involved) and they collate all the perks you're entitled to but forgotten about, plus several others you might like to take advantage of but never heard of. It's kind of like LibraryThing, but for your wallet instead of your bookshelf, AND WITH MORE FREE SHIT.
An excerpt from the poem by A.D. Hope
She feels it close now, the appointed season:
The invisible thread is broken as she flies;
Suddenly, without warning, without reason,
The guiding spark of instinct winks and dies.
Try as she will the trackless world delivers
No way, the wilderness of light no sign,
The immense and complex map of hills and rivers
Mocks her small wisdom with its vast design.
And darkness rises from the eastern valleys,
And the winds buffet her with their hungry breath,
And the great earth, with neither grief not malice,
Receives the tiny burden of her death.