Macquarie Uni train station smells like glue.

macquarie

Today I enrolled in university for, oh, the fourth time I think? I studied PR at two universities but couldn’t stomach the thought of it being my career, then got Honours in English, but let’s face it, there’s not really a career for someone who has a pretty good idea why feminists like writing science fiction, so I’ve been working the last few years in various media-ish jobs, but then I thought recently that at some point I should get a career.

I have no idea why, but I got mega scared last night. Let’s face it, it wouldn’t be the first time someone had rocked up to a highly bureaucratic wrangling session to find some sub-section 7.1.4 hadn’t been filled out to specify which kind of M&Ms you prefer.

And let’s face it, the last few weeks haven’t exactly been throwing baskets of fluffy kittens, nestled in pink and blue clouds of fairy floss in my direction when it comes to matters of life being solved painlessly, so when I rocked up to Macquarie Uni this morning and discovered that the prac element of teaching diploma doesn’t just take place in blocks, but one day a week in a classroom with the same teacher, I kinda rolled my eyes and imagined how I was going to tell my boss. And I panicked. And may have writhed in my chair, groaning. Then it turned out that as a part-time student, that’s my life next year and this year, I get the pleasure of only having to actually physically attending class on Friday mornings, the rest is on the ‘net.

It’s been something like five or six years since I studied and worked and I think it’s going to be harder this time around. Less beer drinking probably. Less fun. I definitely won’t live across the road from a pub with a publican who is nice enough to ignore my pyjama-clad status and instead satisfy my desire to use the pub’s microwave to pop my microwave popcorn for a last minute, late night movie watching session.

Those were the days…though I was working at Bunnings, so I guess one upside is that this time I don’t have to wear an apron and carry a box cutter at all times. Silver lining!

And now? Now I need to find a place to live before uni starts. And I need to pack all my stuff. And move into said new place. And open some champagne and give a long-overdue  toast to the end of this chapter.

Vincent

Vincentangel

On Thursday afternoon, after hours of being on edge, Andrew, my brother-in-law, called to tell me my nephew had been born and that his name was Vincent. I’m always conscious of speaking quietly on the phone at work, but I know in this case I didn’t care about anything other than finding out Vincent’s name and if he and my sister were ok, as I got a congratulatory message from a friend across the room before I was even off the phone.

That afternoon, my younger sister, Steph and I messaged back and forth, willing the clock to move faster so we could go and meet Vincent. One bus ride and an erratic car ride with our mum later, and we finally saw him and he was tiny, and soft and very, very new.

I was expecting to be excited, I was expecting to be enamoured, but nothing can prepare you for falling immediately and totally in love with a little being and to have their safety become paramount to you.

I’ve barely seen Vincent with his eyes open, but already he’s a huge part of my life and seeing his first few days have been bittersweet. He has been a bit jaundiced and it was hard watching both him and Mary during the blood tests. It’s an amazing instinct that kicks and tells you to try and stop a little person from having to feel any pain.

Thankfully, his tests this morning showed enough signs of improvement that he has been allowed to go home, and so a new little satellite Gardiner family exists.

At this stage it feels unnatural to have to be back at work tomorrow. I wish the world would just stop for a while, so everyone could be there when Vincent settles in. However, as I keep having to remind myself, he’s here now and he’s not going anywhere. And he’s my date for Steph’s wedding, so we really need to discuss coordinating our outfits/coordinating his tuxedo bib with whatever I decide to wear. These are the important things a newborn faces.

Now, if only his cuteness would stop waking me up at 5am and forcing me to look at photos.

The dear deer.

My mum thought I should explain the story of the deer head, just in case anyone thought that I had gone out and killed a deer.

I didn’t, my grandfather did. That makes it…better?

That doesn’t make it any better, so let me explain:

Once upon a time in the olden days, my dad’s family lived on a farm. Actually, both sides of my dad’s family come from “the land” as they say. We are country folk. This continues on, my dad is a stock and station agent and he and my mum live on property. My mum used to draw love hearts of the ear tags of their steers, but that stopped after my dad was like ‘Sheesh woman!’

So basically what I’m getting at is that land = farming = a different way of life, which sometimes = hunting.

In this case it involved hunting deer. Like Big Buck Hunter, but for reals.

This is my grandfather, and the deer that is now just a head:

pete

The deer used to hang on my grandparents’ wall, just inside the front door, though this picture, of the deer as a hat holder, suggests this was not always the case:

PJG_SambaDeerDadsHat[1]

I can’t remember how it started, but my grandfather, or Pete, as we grandkids called him, started to talk about wanting me to have the deer head. I loved Pete very much, he was the sweetest man alive, and when he passed away, I struggled with the ethics of owning it, but seeing as though it was the one thing he wanted me to have, I decided to take it.

It’s too heavy to hang on my wall, by it’s propped up on a table in my lounge room and the cat hangs out with it sometimes. The other day I accidentally head butted it and it hurt, and I looked into its sweet brown glass eyes and patted its stiff fur fondly, and thought about Pete.

And that is why I own a stuffed deer head.

A weekend of…

picturethis

Visits from aunts

I have an exceptional collection of aunts, and recently I have really been digging hanging out with them. I think it’s because all of them have really good senses of humour. I really like shooting the breeze with people and letting conversations take flights of fancy. I have whole conversations with people that are completely false. I find that funny, especially if they get a little weird.

I got to catch up with author aunt of the soothing voice on Saturday morning at Kinokuniya and we discussed many things from puzzles [puzzles are the new black], to iPhones, to weddings [not mine] and babies [not mine] and writing. She said something which really struck me. It was a quote from someone about how the people who are the best at things are the people who do them the most often. I think I was saying something about how much I like writing, but how I don’t write, and she pointed out that I’m coming up to ten years of blogging, so really, I have been practising this whole time. I like that idea.

Spontaneously buying art

As I was leaving Kino, I noticed they had some very large and striking prints in their exhibition space and wandered in to have a closer look. By the power of the iPhone, I emailed the artist and bought a piece all in the space of minutes. I sometimes like how small the Internet makes the world. Then I remember all the ugly things about Facebook. Then I stare off into space and think about how much I like cheese and why it is that cheese can’t be eaten for all meals of the day. Then I sigh. Anyways, this is my new art, it is called Isn’t it Midnight:

l_midnight

Random family meet ups

My older sister is one week overdue with her first child, my first nephew and my parents’ first grandchild. There’s a lot riding on this kid, who I have named Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer. My parents were delivering me a couple of new lounges, and organised an impromptu lunch with me, both my sisters and my bro-in-law. It was nice, I drank cider.

Up in the Air

I have always really liked going to movies alone. I like sitting alone, I like the dark, I like coming out afterwards and wandering around.

Here I would like to stop and mention something that makes me mad. George Street cinema does allocated seating, even for non-premiere events. When I first discovered this, I thought everyone would think like me: sure, if the cinema was packed for an opening night, seat allocation makes sense. But if the cinema is practically empty, everyone sits wherever they want despite their allocation. No. No-one else thinks like that. What happens is, the ticket people ask where you want to sit, everyone says they want to sit in the middle, just in case they get stuck with the front row or up the very back and then all these sheep-people sit piled on top of one another in the middle few rows of an almost empty cinema.

It amazes me. Who are these people afraid of? A teenage usher with a torch who will shame them in front of their adult peers by making them sit is their correct seat? I have had people come and sit right next to me when I’m the only one in the row and the rows behind and in front are completely empty. Who are you people and why do you want to ruin your cinema experience?!

The moral to this story is that my screening of Up in the Air was almost empty and everyone else sat crammed in a few rows and I sat in comfort and solitude. How do you like them apples?

Up in the Air was great. If there was a genre called Films With a Great Deal of Dialogue but not Necessarily a Great Deal of Action, it would be one of my favourites. You know, Royal Tenenbaums, Thank you for Smoking, The Squid and the Whale, Rachel Getting Married. I love them all. Up in the Air is not amongst the best of its kind, but it was still really beautiful. Vera Farmiga has an amazing face.

David Sedaris

After sitting in the cinema for a few hours, I wandered off to The State Theatre to spend An Evening with David Sedaris. David Sedaris is one of my favourite authors, introduced to me by the wonderful Ms Michelle Ho. His humour is so black and he has an interest in the macabre that is so strong that even I find it a little creepy.

I actually missed out on tickets, but through the wonder of Twitter and my marvellous friend Fiona, I scored a last minute freebie. In the fifth row. Putting Sedaris right in my line of view. It was fantastic, he read a bunch of stories, all of which were sinister and hilarious and then I waited three hours for him to ask me the last time I went to hospital, ask if we’d met before, laugh at a joke I made and sign one of my books. Eiip!

sedaris

This photo was taken with my new Canon 50mm  lens, aka The Plastic Fantastic. Um, yum.

House parties in the ‘ville

I have a fairly newish group of friends. Or a group of ladies who I’ve known for a while, but who I’m hanging out with more. Anyways, they are totally the sort of ladies everyone should have as friends, they really go to great lengths to help each other out and have been fantastic in the last month or so with me. One of them, Meegs, had a birthday coming up, and Fiona and Lucy decided to throw her a backyard party in Marrickville, complete with local musicians Bernie Hayes and Gen Maynard.

crowd

As I said elsewhere, I think it’s such a testament to Meegs that everyone wanted this surprise to be pulled off, that people travelled from Melbourne and that Bernie and Gen couldn’t have been happier to play in what is, admittedly a really awesome, backyard.

backyardstudio

bernie

gen

bernandgen

Birthday gatherings in Neutral Bay

Sasha and Pen very kindly offered to take me from one party to the next, meaning I got to catch up with perps I haven’t seen in ages, spend more time with people I’ve only met briefly, make plans for indoor rock climbing and hang out with Pete on his birthday. And drink cider. Om. Om nom nom nom.

Deer head positioning

It’s such a weird problem to have and one that is now completely pointless in trying to solve now that I’ve discovered I’m about to be given 60 days notice to move out of my unit, but deer heads are really hard to find a place for. FIRST WORLD PROBLEM!

deer head

dear head2

It was a great weekend, so I’m going to count it as the start of 2010. Now I am going home to my cat and my ill-placed deer head and my cider and my 30 Rock.

It seems so unlikely in this day and age…

Finding myself single at age 27, when the last time I was single was age 22-ish, when my whole dating world revolved around one person who pulled out every cliché in one date suggestion by asking if I wanted to climb Mount Kosciusko to watch the sunrise while we drank champa- … actually, let me pause here on number one for a second. Not only was Every Single Cliché Date in itself a pretty disturbing thing because Hollywood romance kind of thing make me feel a little queasy, actually, the word romance makes me feel queasy, but, more to the point, for some reason, guy number one was insistant that this date be a secret. I couldn’t tell my family or my flatmates where I was going, or I could tell my flatmates I was going away so they could lie to my parents, but I couldn’t tell them where I was going, or with whom. Creepy right? Creepy and sounding almost suspiciously like guy number one was taking me off to meet my maker or had a girlfriend already. Lucky I have some streets smarts about me and I was all, ‘Oh hells no, friend!’

I hear he has a child now.

So I had that tempting offer, or guy number two, whose afro I really liked, but who kissed me and said ‘That was the biggest mistake you’ll ever make’. It wasn’t, but it came pretty close. FYI, it takes a really long time to delete 800,000 answering machine messages left every time you step out of the house for twenty minutes.  

I hear he doesn’t have a child now.

Now I really have no idea what to expect other than that history suggests I am going to need Botox at some point for my facial lines caused by bemusement. I have no idea how the kids meet other kids. I come from a small country town. You make eye contact with someone across a smokey bar, and all of a sudden you find that you’ve been living with them for five years. For the first few weeks I just sat at home and looked at my cat, and because she looks like this:

wuzzy-pola[2]

, staring at her for hours is actually fairly satisfying.

But then, all of a sudden, I realised, I can date myself. I don’t have to worry about who wants to see what movie, when, at what cinema and if their sleeping pattern allows for it. I don’t have to worry about if it’s annoying to spend hours in Magnation, trawling hundreds of different magazines to see if they’re as good as Vanity Fair. I don’t have to share food, or worry if someone thinks it’s freaky that I order the same meal every single time I eat out, but still go through the motions of pretending I’m going to make a spontaneous meal choice.

So! This weekend me and myself are going to:

– have coffee with one of our favourite aunts,

– see a screening of Up in the Air

– go and see one of our favourite authors, David Sedaris, speak at the State Theatre

– go to a house party in the ‘ville ‘hood, with new friends and old, and

– eat brie and quince paste.

Yes perps, life is pretty good.

Then, I have found me two tiny new gig buddies. And they like metal, so the night after I go and see Faith No More in February, I’m going to see Isis at the Manning Bar, which I’ve never been to. This time at Isis I plan not to faint standing up, or stand behind the guy moshing like he’s having a fit.

A year in books: 2009

I’m writing this as I sit sweltering in yet another Sydney summer. I intensely dislike this city in the summer. The humidity is bananas and not even a most awesome Cyclone ice-block with peach sorbet in the middle makes me feel more forgiving.

books

In 2008 I decided to keep track of the books that I read, simply because I was curious. At the end of the year I had a really interesting list, filled with all sorts of goodness, that made for a really awesome gift buying guide.   

I decided to try it again this year, and so here, at start of a new year, are the books that I read in 2009.

The Complete List:

  • Vice: Dos and Don’ts: 10 years of Vice Magazine’s Street Fashion Critiques – Sursoosh Alvi, Gavin McInnes and Shane Smith
  • When You Are Engulfed in Flames – David Sedaris
  • The Call of the Weird – Louis Theroux
  • The American Way of Death – Jessica Mitford
  • Jonestown: The Power and the Myth of Alan Jones – Chris Masters
  • All the President’s Men – Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
  • The Army of the Night – Norman Mailer
  • The United States v. I. Lewis Libby – Murray Waas (ed)
  • My Boring Ass Life – Kevin Smith
  • The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death: Reflections on Revenge, Germophobia, and Laser Hair Removal – Laurie Notaro
  • Experience – Martin Amis
  • The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  • In Full View – Lily Brett
  • Koba The Dread – Martin Amis
  • New York – Lily Brett
  • Between Mexico and Poland – Lily Brett
  • American Psycho – Brett Easton Ellis
  • The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
  • Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell
  • Barbarians at the Gate – Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
  • Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
  • Ada – Vladimir Nabokov
  • After Julius – Elizabeth Jane Howard
  • Enough About Me… –   Jancee Dunn
  • The War Against Cliché – Martin Amis
  • The Second Plane – Martin Amis
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
  • Money – Martin Amis
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock – Joan Lindsay
  • Prozac Nation – Elizabth Wurtzel
  • Running With Scissors – Augusten Burroughs
  • Dry – Augusten Burroughs
  • Barrel Fever – David Sedaris
  • Look Me in the Eye – John Elder Robison
  • Naked – David Sedaris
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris
  • Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim – David Sedaris
  • Sins of the Brother – Mark Whittaker and Les Kennedy
  • Helter Skelter – Vincent Bugliosi
  • When You Are Engulfed in Flames – David Sedaris
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
  • Bonjour Tristess – Françoise Sagan
  • Slash – Slash and Anthony Bozza
  • Ancient Gonzo Wisdom – Anita Thompson (ed)
  • Generation of Swine – Hunter S Thompson
  • American Rhapsody – Joe Eszterhas
  • The Rum Diary – Hunter S Thompson
  • To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Murial Spark
  • The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
  • Murder in Amsterdam – Ian Buruma
  • The Electronic Whorehouse – Paul Sheehan
  • Raven – Tim Reiterman and John Jacobs
  • Rabbit Run – John Updike
  • Rabbit Redux – John Updike
  • Native Tongue – Suzette Haden Elgin
  • Judas Rose – Suzette Haden Elgin
  • Earthsong – Suzette Haden Elgin
  •  

    A large number of the books I read this year were re-reads. I think I needed to catch up with some old favourites, and to be honest, I am fast running out of room for books. Kindle? Maybe, I certainly don’t see it as being the death of the book, I collect different editions of some books I own [and sometimes I lose my mind and buy more than one copy of the exact same edition of a book. Anyone want a copy Generation of Swine by Hunter S Thompson? It’s, unfortunately, not a book for someone new to the good Doctor, and I’m guessing most Thompsonphiles would own it], so I think the Kindle is more a really convenient way to read books I may not feel the need to own. If only I’d owned one before I got sucked in to buying a shrink wrapped R18+ version of the over-hyped and altogether too long, American Psycho.  

    The moral of the story is: books are awesome, don’t impulse buy, but do go to your sister’s house on really hot days because she buys ice-blocks and gives them to you. For free. Although, being at your sister’s house requires resisting the urge to go pantless in the heat, ’cause pantless + relatives = awkward. I hope we all learned something today.