The last week of February

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The move is finally done, unpacking is almost done, and as you can see, my new lounge room view is hard on the eye. To think, for the last two and a half years, my lounge room view was right into the lounge room of my neighbours. It’s nice to be able to look out a window and see something other than a huge family/prayer group looking back at me. And I assume they’re not missing the site of me wandering around in my undies.

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The lounge room window is also The Wuz’s new favourite spot. Here she can watch over the world, sun herself and snort. There is a lot of snorting that goes on with being The Wuz.

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I’m really loving living alone. It’s nice to be able to have things the way I want them. It’s nice to have routines that I like, as well. For the most part, I’m an incredibly cynical person, and I don’t tend to buy into anything with even a vaguely New Age vibe to it, but Kelly sent me a message, which has really encouraged me to believe that living alone is going to be most awesome and will work out ok because it just will. I think I need the time alone too. It’s been years.

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Mum and dad came down for the weekend, for, amongst other things, Steph’s “hens”. They dropped by and I made them visitor tea. I don’t drink tea or coffee, but I figure, I have a good place to entertain the people, and the people like tea and coffee, so I have a special reserve. Virginia Woolf and I are totally on the same wavelength. Penguin mugs are second only in coolness to the Popular Penguins.

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dress

Despite pretty much every-one’s hints, my outfit for Steph’s wedding is black. And I am a shopping queen, because I found all of it in one, fell, super fast, shopping swoop. The wedding is in two weeks. I am doing a non-religious reading. Of my own choice. Apparently it can be anything I want. At the moment the best I have is hip hop lyrics or something from Hunter S Thompson. Bitches and bastardry.

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Due to the impending wedding, we gathered a small group of folk and went to high tea at the Victoria Roomin Darlinghurst. As I tried to explain to the ladies and one dude in attendance, I will lower myself to drinking tea [rather than classy sugar free V] on occasions like high tea, where really, if you ain’t drinking tea, why are you there? The Victoria Room is a super nice venue. It reminds me a little of Manchuria in Melbourne.

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After we tea-d, we went to the Glenmore Hotel in The Rocks, and met up with dad and Joel. The roof seating is pretty sweet. Nice view, nice breeze. Lots of talk of the role Krispy Kreme is going to play in the wedding.

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And on the last day of summer, the clouds rolled in.

A very special woman I know, Fern, had a stillborn baby girl, Robyn Jade just under a week ago. Some of you perhaps know Fern, and if you do, you know she’s a spectacular mother to her two sons and that her third child was much loved before she even entered this world. Robyn would have undoubtedly grown up to be a beautiful, gregarious and fiercely independent just like her mother, with a dash of awseome geekiness from her dad.

For those who do know Fern, and have been thinking about her and her family, if you are interested in helping fund research into the prevention of stillbirths, the family have asked that donations be made the Stillbirth Foundation.

Faith No More/Isis/Max Gillies

I thought after 800 million trips to and from the old place to the new place, carrying a weird assortment of things, from almost five years worth of Vanity Fair magazines, to a handmade Melvins statue, I’d go into some kind of hibernation and reemerge in a few months to face the world.

Instead came The Week of Gigs. I haven’t eaten dinner since Sunday night, because I have not been home before midnight almost every night since then. And the chance I did get to eat a leisurely meal today was ruined by an amazing act of vomitechnics by The Wuz.

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First up was Faith No More at the Hordern Pavilion. There are a lot of things I really don’t like about the Hordern. It’s hard to get to get home from and a lot of the time the mix is really muddy. Unfortunately, for a band like Faith No More, it’s Sydney’s default venue. So to there, after work, we trudged [or bused. On a overcrowded bus in the lovely damp that passes for summer in this city].

First up was America’s Funnyman, Neil Hamburger. I have seen Neil a bunch of times. I have shamed myself in front of Neil once and that’s really saying something. It wasn’t the best venue for the stand up stuff, it’s much better in an uncomfortably small room with a few locals who have no idea who Neil is, but he also had his country band with him, which I thought was super funny, particularly the song Jug Town and another which really resonated with me, The Recycle Bin, which was all about people who are too stupid to realise what you can and can’t recycle. I want everyone to wave at my ex-neighbours right now, hello you fools.

Next up, were Eagles of Death Metal, without Josh Homme. I don’t know why I feel like I have to keep telling people that, maybe because EODM posters and promo shots all seem to feature Josh Homme? Maybe ’cause Josh Homme is about the most interesting thing the band has to offer? Anyways, I had no idea they were going to be the support, and by the time they hit the stage, I’d found myself a comfy seat in the stands. I don’t dig their music, it doesn’t grab me on any level and I spent most of their set Googling Jesse Hughes in an attempt to armchair analyse his need to talk about how much he loves the laydees between every song. Jesse Hughes really loves the ladies and he wants you to know it. Also, he’s a speechwriter for the Republican Party. Interesting fact!

The venue was sold out. I don’t know the capacity of the Hordern, but it’s thousands, and it was interesting to see the difference in EODM trying to get the crowd amped up and Faith No More coming on stage and having the entire crowd spontaneously go nuts. Amazing. For a band who haven’t released any music since 1997, and who have been on their current tour for about six month, the set was incredible. Faith No More were just so energised and they’ve re-worked a bunch of the songs to build tension before huge choruses, and even though it had to have all been rehersed, it never felt like they were going through the motions. I keep hearing people say that even now, days later, they still feel really buzzed from the gig, and I have to agree. The set list, for those interested, was as follows:

  • Midnight Cowboy
  • The Real Thing
  • Land of Sunshine
  • Caffeine
  • Evidence
  • Gentle Art of Making Enemies
  • Last Cup of Sorrow
  • Ricochet
  • Easy
  • Midlife Crisis
  • Epic
  • I Started a Joke
  • Surprise You’re Dead
  • Small Victory
  • Ashes to Ashes
  • Just a Man
  • Edge of the World
  • Digging the Grave
  • Introduce Yourself
  • This Town ain’t big enough for the both us
  •  

    The next night was Isis at the Manning Bar at Sydney Uni.

     isis

    I am a big Isis fan. They’re definitely a band I recommend to a lot of people and I’ve seen them on their last two tours, at the Annandale and Metro, respectively and they are always so good. I’d never been to Manning, so I was a bit apprehensive about it being a smaller venue and was imagining it being packed and gross. After a slight ticketing panic, and some booze, Alice, Jess and I wandered to the venue.

    Two things struck me. First, I love a good metal crowd. Almost always it’s the exact opposite of what you’d expect. Sure, it’s mostly dudes, but it’s mostly dudes in really good moods, who are really chilled out. There’s not an Isis gig I’ve been to where I haven’t struck up a conversation with someone in the crowd. Metal gigs seem to attract people who are 100% focused on the music and just having a good time. Secondly, the mix was amazing. I don’t know the history of the Manning, but the acoustics are incredible. Every single instrument was so clear. Big thumbs up.

    I think we missed the first band, but the second band were from the US, Baroness. I’d never heard them, hell I’d never even heard of them, but I was really impressed. By far the best opening act for Isis I’ve seen. I need to hear more of their stuff to explain it. It was progressive, but the guitars had kinda ’70s metal throwbacks. I really dug both their music and their appreciation of the crowd, and in return, I imagine I will soon purchase their back catalogue. See how it works bands? Be good and lovely and I part with my cash all easy like.

    Their set list, I believe, was:

  • Bullhead’s Psalm
  • The Sweetest Curse 
  • Isak
  • Jake Leg
  • Machine Gun(Jimi Hendrix cover)
  • The Birthing
  • A Horse Called Golgotha
  • War, Wisdom and Rhyme
  • Swollen and Halo
  • Rays on Pinion
  • The Gnashing
  • Grad
  •  

    Isis were tight, as Isis always are. I maybe wasn’t in the best mindset for the gig, being tired and heading out from work. The music is really pretty overwhelming and I would have liked to have appreciated it more. They were sort of at a polar opposite to Faith No More who burst on stage and immediately started getting the crowd amped up. Isis gigs kinda build slowly, there’s no between song banter, you just get more and more into the music as the gig progresses. Their set was:

  • Hall Of The Dead
  • Hand Of The Host
  • Holy Tears
  • 20 Minutes / 40 Years
  • Ghost Key
  • Wills Dissolve
  • Threshold Of Transformation
  • Carry
  • Celestial (The Tower)
  •  

    Finally, last night one of my aunts took me to Max Gillies’s new show, Godzone. It was super funny. Rudd, Gillard, Abbott, Turnbull, Christopher Hitchens, Barnaby Joyce, Howard and possibly more that I am forgetting, all got a serve. I liked his Hitchens and Abbott the best.

    I am also quite a big nerd, so as well as being excited to see the show, I was that person, who [thankfully internally] was going ‘Oooh! There’s Neville Wran! And Julian Morrow! AND BOB ELLIS!’ I was sitting almost directly behind Bob Ellis, and although his eyes and eyebrows project a kind of wearisome acceptance that he must share air with the likes of me, he has huge smile creases. He must laugh a lot. I’m going to start dressing in nothing but crumpled shirts and slacks and leather loafers, with my glasses on a chain. I tried to sneak a look at what book he had in his bag, but I was foiled, foiled in my attempt.

    Tomorrow I start uni and thus, for the next few years, a run of gigs/events like this is probably not going to happen, so it was a good way for Free Julia to go out.

    More on memoirs.

    Books

    I finished the first volume of Gore Vidal’s memoirs last week, and promptly started re-reading Little Martin Amis’s [Vidal’s phrase, not mine], Experience. I love Experience, it’s probably one of my favourite memoirs. I can’t really explain why. I guess Martin has a really rich history, being the son and one time step son of Kingsley Amis and Elizabeth Jane Howard, respectively, being a student in a time when Arts wasn’t frequently looked down on as a waste of time, growing up in the shadow of the Cold War, but spending his formative early years in a time when counter culture was coming to the fore.  More than that, he just seems very human, and very funny.

    On the topic of Arts, in Palimpsest: a memoir, Vidal says:

    I moved on to Paris, where I stayed at the Post Royal Hotel. Sartre and de Beauvoir held court in the downstairs bar: Tourists had driven them down from Café Flore. Now, at century’s end, I find it hard to believe that I once lived in a time where writers were world figures because of what they wrote, and that their ideas were known event to the vast perennial majority that never reads.

    And so if someone were to say to ask me what about Martin Amis’s writing makes me want to extol its virtues to other people, I would say it is because he has perfect, restrained comedic timing. The following passage, from Experience, is one of my favourites:

    My half brother Jaime was two years old in 1974, and it is therefore almost certain that the following incident belongs to a later summer. I tell it now, though, because it seems to me a sharp satirical commentary on my romantic life as it was then developing…Like many children in Spain, Jaime was allowed to accompany his supper with a glass of red wine,* heavily qualified with water. On this particular night Jamie kept a strict eye on the dilution procedure. ‘Agua, no,’ he kept saying, with raised forefinger, every time my mother moved to the tap. ‘Agua, no.’ He probably got two or three glasses down him – and then before anyone could prevent it, he seized and drained an unattended gin and tonic. What followed was a stark paradigm of drunkenness, astonishingly telescoped. Jaime laughed, danced, sang, bawled, brawled, and passed out, all within fifteen minutes. Then about half an hour later we heard a parched moan from him room. Jaime was already having his hangover. The voice faintly saying, ‘Agua!…Agua!…’

    Agua, si, said Kingsley when I told him about it.
    – Exactly. All the way from agua, no to agua, si. In an hour.

    * I don’t find this at all shocking. In my house, back in South Wales, you could have a cigarette on Christmas Day at the age of five [Amis’s footnote, not mine!]

    Stop! … Tummy time!

     

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    Photo by Mary Gardiner

     

    Vincent likes to look at faces. If you leave him for not very long at all, he gets distressed because he thinks he’s been left all alone in the world. For a mind that doesn’t hold very much yet, feeling alone and terrified is a pretty huge concept. You’d think babies would be programmed to have at least a few months of nothing but thoughts of unicorns and rainbows, not, welcome to the real world, kiddo, sometimes people leave!

    Lucikly for him, I’m more than happy for him to stare at me for as long as he likes.

    Speaking of feeling terrified and alone, welcome to my world! I’m trying to decided whether to:

    a) continue the housemate search, for the spare room which is actually preeeetty small, while trying to move and organise my life and start uni again, or…

    b) try living alone.

    I would like to try living alone. I’d like to have a bedroom and a separate office. I’d like to not have to consider someone else, to know that I’m in charge of everything that needs doing. The rent would be a lot, but I’m trying to work out if I can afford it, and if needing to be very cautious with money would mean that I’d have more motivation to stay in and study, because I really want to do well at uni this year.

    My heart says I want to live alone. My head is keeping me awake at night, telling me it’s a baaaad decision, but my head has long been a troubled head, so I don’t know if it’s being sensible or worrying too much.

    I think I might try it for, say, the next two months. Get myself settled. Get into the swing of uni, see if I enjoy it. After that, I can always hunt for a housemate. Thanks head.

    Luckily, finally, I have some sunshine on the horizon. Next week I’m going to see Faith No More, Isis and Max Gillies. Next weekend the parental unit is in town and we’re doing high tea for Steph’s “hens”. After that, there is only a few small weeks until Steph and Joel’s wedding.

    Exciting times call for exciting rhymes.

    Tavi

    I think in my old age [which is 27. Did you know I was 27? I didn’t, I discovered today that I am 27. No, it’s not my birthday, that was in October, it’s just that in October, I thought I turned 28…and I don’t even do drugs] I’m becoming less cynical. This is saying a lot, because I pretty much permanently have one eyebrow raised. I don’t know what happened, 2010 just feels like a good time to not be angry all the time. Although I have started sending people’s oversharing or passive aggressive Facebook status updates to Lamebook…okay, so in some regards I am less hellishly angry about the world, and I know I am so late on this boat it’s not funny, but recently I’ve been on the hunt for some new blogs to read and I remembered hearing about Tavi Gevinson, a 13-year-old fashion blogger. Yes, 13.

    I know that the Internet is filled with a lot of hoaxes, hogwash, hysteria and haters, but today I actually looked at Tavi’s blog, and well knock me down with a box full of vintage reading glasses, if she ain’t just the cutest thing ever.

    Tavi
    The above photos are from Cafe Mond and Grazia respectively.

     

    Tavi is your younger sister, right when she discovers Bikini Kill and your friends start asking you to bring her along to parties [and yeah, this did happen to me, except the band was Hole and my younger sister continues to be cooler than me].

    I mean, look at what I had to compete with:

    elton

    The child was rocking fashion in Goulburn like a mini Elton John, while I was still deluded enough to think floral bike shorts and giant t-shirts were a good idea.

    The thing that gets me about Tavi, is that she’s not hitting above her weight, she writes like a 13-year-old, just a very funny 13-year-old who happens to jet off to fashion shows in Paris and have her photo taken with big name designers. For example, I love this paragraph about the Paris shows: And so wraps up my intellectual, sophisticated review of this couture season. When at shows, it’s important to keep in mind that no matter how much you want to skip onto the runway and poke Freja Beha’s poufy hair, you must contain yourself and take a picture instead. Kumiko taught me that. 

    And the name of the post said quote comes from you ask? Why it’s entitled: In Which I Review Haute Couture Using 30 Rock Quotes From The One With James Franco.

    And boom, she’s cooler than you and I will ever be. It aint reinventing the wheel, but it’s fun.

    The big move of 2010.

    Today I started packing for my move, which begins on Wednesday. I’m at that stage where I’m surrounded by stuff and I don’t know where to pack it all yet. I did make some good headway, all clothes and CDs and DVDs and those boxes of miscellaneous pieces of paper, tax stuff, pay slips, super fund stuff, teenage poetry and notes from school friends have all been culled and packed.

    In doing the cull, I did not come across four polaroid photos that I took of blossoms and gravestones, which I miss dearly, but I did come across a card my grandma sent me to wish me luck in my HSC. She passed away unexpectedly when I was half way through my exams. Seeing it was like being punched in the stomach. I’m really glad I kept it, but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to see it. It’s been ten years this year.

    I miss her and Pete all the time.

    What a nice thing to do, to send a card at a time like that.

    Crib notes: the lesson here is that one should clip cat claws and wear a shirt to bed.

    I have a cat called The Wuz. She looks like an ewok, but has the personality of a Labrador. We’re buddies, we like hanging out watching teevs, she likes ping pong balls and playing fetch, eating midnight snacks out of the bin and being chased.

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    When Ben moved out, he took the pet snake we had, Wednesday, with him and in the past few weeks, The Wuz has become incredibly jumpy around anything snake-like, which is weird, because she ignored the snake for the entire two years they lived together. I’ve seen The Wuz trapped in the bathroom because she was afraid of a hair dryer chord, I’ve seen her jump two feet in the air at the sight of an iPod lead. The normally fearless The Wuz has become a scaredy cat.

    Last night, we were in bed reading The Week. This is the first time I’ve bought The Week and although, for sure, the national and international run down is superficial, but I like its use of maps and it certainly provides a good reference for recent newsworthy events that I could look up later if I wanted to.

    Anyways, The Wuz started to make herself comfortable for the night ahead, wandering around, trying to find a comfortable bed spot, when all of a sudden, she saw a reflection of, I guess, herself, in my iPhone, which was lying next to me. Oh my god. The Wuz is not a small cat. She’s not fat, but the breed is big and she has a huge boof head and all of a sudden, this furry boof head is about two feet in the air and puffy.

    Now when The Wuz is scared, she jumps backwards, and backwards in this case, was right onto my chest, which then scared her again, which caused her to go into some kind of spasmodic jumping shock, so I’m lying in bed, horrified, as my cat is jumping in circles on the cat version of tip toes all over my chest.

    wuz2

    Eventually, she jumped into my fan [which is foam, and which she’s stuck her face into before] before bolting from the room.

    The whole thing was not really conducive to sleep for anyone, and as someone who was, until recently, incredibly scared of the dark, and who is now living alone and is coping really well with it, all I have to say to The Wuz is: harden up.

    Actually, two things: harden up and stop leaving fish eyes everywhere.

    Memoirs

    Books

    Once again I am churning through a huge stack of books. I don’t know when I’m going to stop thinking that this is an aberration and just accept that it’s something I rediscovered and now spend a lot of time doing. When I got back into reading in 2008, every three months I’d blog and review the books I was reading. This year, I just listed all the books I read last year.

    I thought that for my 2010 books I might do something different again, and just blog about trends in the books I’m reading, or ideas I come across.

    At the moment I am reading a lot of memoirs. A well written memoir is about as close as it gets to a perfect book for me. So far I have revisited the lives of Joe Eszterhas and Lily Brett [all three volumes] and have just started on Gore Vidal. Vidal spends some time discussing his views on the genre, and a few chapters later, his acquaintance, Anaïs Nin. I’ve never read any Nin, indeed I didn’t know until now that she is perhaps most famous as a diarist.

    Vidal mentions her work, not only because they knew one another, but because he featured in her diaries. He, and several others he quotes, note that Nin rewrote her diaries depending on the temperature of her relationships with her friends and lovers.

    The idea of reading seven volumes of diaries appeals to me, much like my discovery that Marilyn French wrote a four volume opus on the history of women [called A History of Women, funnily enough], and although I’m aware of the pitfalls of thinking that objective truth exists in memoirs, I think it’d be a real challenge to read an account of someone’s history when I know it underwent rigorous, and presumably passionate, revision.

    Anaïs Nin: the precursor to the passive aggressive Facebook status update.