♫ 2012: The Music Edition ♫

The Shortlist:

+ We Rose From Your Bed With The Sun In Our Heads – Swans
+ G Is For Deep – Doseone
+ The Idler Wheel … – Fiona Apple
+ Freak Puke – Melvins Lite
+ Skelethon – Aesop Rock
+ The Seer – Swans
+ Yellow and Green – Baroness
+ WIXIW – Liars
+ Sun – Cat Power
+ Sod In The Seed (ep) – Why?
+ Come Home To Mama – Martha Wainwright
+ The Haunted Man – Bat For Lashes
+ No – Old Man Gloom
+ We Don’t Even Live Here – P.O.S
+ With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery – Moonface
+ Mumps, etc. – Why?

The Bestest of This Bunch:

Fiona Apple has always been a grower for me. I buy her albums and then shelve them, only to rediscover them and fall in love with them years later. It’s easier to do these days, when I don’t read much music press and have little external influences which bind music to any particular period of time; however, when it came to The Idler Wheel …  I loved it from first listen. My favourite track is ‘Werewolf’ because because it felt so familiar.

I love every single song on every single Bat For Lashes album and that never happens for me. Everything about the music and the art direction and the videos she makes for her music appeals to me. I think she’s a dark personality, and she’s unafraid to live in a less-than-concrete reality. This album is far more upbeat than the last two, and it’s all dirty synth and layered vocals and glitter sparkles in the gutter at night.

P.O.S is pretty much the best thing in modern hip-hop and he sells squat when it comes to sales figures, which is a huge shame. His last album, Never Better is, in my very humble opinion, the my intriguing hip-hop album I’ve ever heard and the only album I’ve ever owned that hasn’t lost it’s magic after I’ve compulsively listened to it. We Don’t Even Live Here is more straightforward, musically, but much more angry lyrically, like whatever was simmering in Never Better finally exploded as America sank further and further into economic trouble. He’s a smart man, P.O.S and I hope he makes a million more albums.

Yoni Wolf is the best lyricist alive, hands down, no question. I find something new in every Why? song each time I hear them and in 2013 I want to buy all their albums on vinyl and listen to them in the dark and be amazed by how perfectly he captures all the inconsequentials and shines light on how they shaped him.

Gigs:

I didn’t see a whole heap of live music this year, but my highlights were:

+ Mondo Cane at the State Theatre;
+ PJ Harvey at the State Theatre;
+ Atmosphere at the HiFi Bar;
+ Zoë Keating at the Clarendon Guesthouse;
+ Shellac at the Metro;
+ Radiohead at the Entertainment Centre.

New Year’s Resolutions: 2013 Edition

2012 was a bumpy year and I realised a lot of things about myself, some of them not very nice. I’m not confronted by that, I think it’s healthy for me to know and recognise flaws and positives. The biggest realisation was a simple one: I do not do well without structure and I take little time to reward myself. For the last month or so I have been thinking about what I want to achieve next year, because I think it’s time to amp up my life a bit and goals provide a perfect way for me to have structure and keep track of what I want to achieve.

Head + Heart:

+ Tune out of gossip, make my own mind up about people and quit buying into the myth that women need be jealous of other women;

+ Exercise three times a week;

+ Get down to my goal weight;

+ Come off my meds and Red Bull;

+ Change my sleep patterns;

+ Read all the long books that have been wallowing on my shelves for too long because I didn’t have the concentration span to give them the time they need.

Start with the following:

  • Joseph Anton – Salman Rushdie
  • Arguably – Christopher Hitchens
  • American Gods – Neil Gaiman
  • Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
  • The Executioners Song – Norman Mailer
  • The Great War for Civilisation – Robert Fisk

Fun stuff:

+ Go to New York;

+ Learn to play my uke;

+ Get a red sparkly manicure;

+ Go back to shooting with a DSLR more often;

+ Get rid of all the clothes I hate and replace them only with things I love, not hastily bought things;

+ Eat summer fruits;

+ Swim at the beach.

 Grownup stuff:

+ Sign up to GoGet and actually drive in Sydney;

+ Keep my credit card paid off;

+ Speak to the bank about a mortgage;

+ Learn to touch type;

+ Take the opportunity I’ve been given at work and run with it;

+ Take lunch to work;

+ Do a monthly budget.

A year in books: 2012

Since 2008 I have been keeping a list of book I’ve read each year, aiming for a book a week. I missed my target a few times, but in the five years that I kept count, I read around 240 books. This year was the last year I was aiming for a book a week, because I have a stack of thick books I really want to read that will take me more time to get through. I have scored all my books this year on a scale of 1 – 5.

Although of Course You End Up becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace – David Lipsky 4/5

The Best American Essays 2007 – David Foster Wallace (ed) 4/5

The Marriage Plot – Jeffrey Eugenides 3/5

A Book of Common Prayer – Joan Didion 3/5

BITCHfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine – Lisa Jervis (ed) 3/5

The Best American Essays 2010 – Christopher Hitchens (ed) 3/5

Girl With Curious Hair – David Foster Wallace 4/5

In Full View – Lily Brett 5/5

New York – Lily Brett 3/5

Between Mexico and Poland – Lily Brett 5/5

Experience – Martin Amis 5/5

New Selected Stories – Alice Munro 3/5

Oblivion – David Foster Wallace 4/5

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel 4/5

Giving Up the Ghost: A Memoir – Hilary Mantel 5/5

The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch – Michael Wolff 3/5

It Can’t Happen Here – Sinclair Lewis 2/5

Lucky – Alice Sebold 5/5

Swastika Night – Katherine Burdekin 3/5

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark 4/5

Darkness at Noon – Arthur Koestler 4/5

The Eclipse: A Memoir of Suicide – Antonella Gambotto 5/5

Lunch of Blood – Antonella Gambotto 4/5

An Instinct For The Kill – Antonella Gambotto 4/5

Bend Sinister – Vladimir Nabokov 3/5

Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty – Diane Williams 3/5

Catch-22 – Joseph Hellen 4/5

Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood 4/5

The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood 4/5

Bring Up the Bodies – Hilary Mantel 4/5

Columbine – Dave Cullen 3/5

What’s Not to Love?: The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer – Jonathan Ames 3/5

How to Be a Woman – Caitlin Moran 3/5

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rose of Raunch Culture – Ariel Levy 2/5

Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide – Maureen Dowd 3/5

How Should a Person Be? – Sheila Heti 1/5

Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck 3/5

The City & the City – China Miéville 2/5

The is How You Lose Her – Junot Diaz 5/5

The Yellow Birds – Kevin Powers 5/5

Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace – D.T. Max 3/5

Mortality – Christopher Hitchens 5/5

The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion 5/5

Blue Nights – Joan Didion 3/5

Foal’s Bread – Gillian Mears 4/5

Joe Cinque’s Consolation, A True Story of Death, Grief and the Law – Helen Garner 5/5

Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami 4/5

White Teeth – Zadie Smith 4/5

Of a Boy – Sonya Hartnett 5/5

Telegraph Avenue – Michael Chabon 5/5

Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov 4/5

Herzog – Saul Bellow 3/5

Sacred Country – Rose Tremain 4/5 

Year in Review: 2012

1.What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Bought a musical instrument, a ukulele; was in therapy; bought, read and highlighted a self-help book; saw Radiohead; started running for exercise; played laser tag; attended a same-sex wedding; dyed my hair bright purple; owned a gaming console; ate steak tartare (and enjoyed it).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I made many and I barely kept any. People seem divided on the use of resolutions. I figure they can’t hurt, even if they are just a guide to the goals you’re working towards. I have a list for 2013 because I think it’s productive for me to have structure in my life , whether it be bettering myself (working up to running 5ks, losing weight, learning to touch type), or keeping track of things I want to do that will bring me happiness that I might forget in harder times (learning to play my uke, travel). I also need to start pushing myself more, so I also have career and research objectives.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

One of my closest friends from high school, Lauren, had a beautiful baby daughter, Bonnie.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No.

5. What countries did you visit?

New Zealand.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

Better mental health and self-esteem; spare time better spent; savings; being more organised in general; a good sleep pattern.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I don’t even know what day of the week it is, dates are not my forte! I will always remember Amy and Nic’s wedding; the day I discovered black beans; seeing Radiohead and the night I meet Ant from Atmosphere. One of the most moving days this year was the day Steph and I went to the funeral of my friend Pete, a day a lot of people I know still think about a lot.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Keeping my head above water; a promotion at work.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I stopped trusting and believing in myself.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I was diagnosed with a form of hyperparathyroidism, which caused me a lot of stress and angst, CAT scans, blood tests, ultrasounds and all which ended with a very expensive specialist telling me to take vitamin D. I hope she has a great Christmas skiing the French Alps on my dime.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My hot pink Frank Kozik Ronald Regan bust!

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Michelle and Fiona for talking me down out of an entire forest of trees and being really nonjudgmental about it.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled?

My own. I had a really hard year and I won’t be too tough on myself about a lot of that stuff; however, I did buy into so much bullshit this year. One of my biggest regrets is listening to people’s opinions about people I’d never met or didn’t know particularly well. I’m learning to hold a mirror up to myself and see what it is about me that affects how I act and being unsure of myself and comparing myself to other people led to some pretty gross behaviour, if only in my own head.

In 2013 I want positive people in my life, I’m tired of drama and bitchiness and judgemental people, but I also owe it to the people I am friends with to act the way I would want them to.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Mostly on lunch, snacks and Red Bull. And New Zealand.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Bruce Springsteen tickets; the new P.O.S album, We Don’t Even Live Here; the new Why? album, Mumps, etc; my Ronald Reagan head; New Zealand.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Ryan Adams’s album Ashes & Fire.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

(a) about the same;

(b) thinner;

(c) … about the same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

 Laughing and appreciating what I had, when I had it.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

I am going to Diamond Beach with my parents and a smattering of aunts and uncles, some lobsters and champagne.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

Yes.

22. What was your favourite TV program?

Friday Night Lights.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No. I really dislike this question. This year I made a comfortable peace with someone and would much prefer to think about that.

24. What was the best book you read?

It would have to be This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz or Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

2012 was the year when I finally clicked with Ryan Adams. Solange Knowles’s song, ‘Losing You’ was definitely the best pop song of the year, and I discovered Moonface and The War on Drugs, but mostly I was listening to new albums by artists I already loved.

26. What did you want and get?

Time with my nerdphew; time with Mum and Dad; the trip to New Zealand; my Ronald Reagan bust; enough spare time to read my goal of 52 books; my promotion at work; an Adidas Santiago XL watch in green; tickets to Bruce Springsteen and the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival next year; renewed friendships and new friendships.

27. What did you want and not get?

Control over anxiety when I badly needed it.

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

Argo.

29. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

My friends and family; my housemate, Katie; mint M&Ms; losing weight.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

2012 was “This is what I rolled out of bed in” but 2013 is going to be “Why do I suddenly crave dressing as though I own a yatch?”.

31. What kept you sane? 

Time.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Ryan Gosling or Jeremy Renner.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Same-sex marriage, or the lack there of.

34. Who did you miss?

My grandparents.

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

I will always need to take care of my mental health, it’s just who I am.

36. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

 

To Friends and To The Brides.

In 2002 I scored a position on the university paper at CSU and in a stinky little office crammed with long-forgotten in-jokes printed out and pasted to the walls, a giant bear suit, and decades of issues of Interpellator, I met Kelly and Amy who were also on the team. Both were journalism students, quite well known around campus through Interp and student politics and after initially being shit scared of both of them, we bonded through mutual exhaustion and sugar highs, and we formed a little team.

We all moved in together in 2003, into a crazy little house with too few windows, a gap in the roof that let snow in and a backyard we never bothered to mow unless it was waist high. We experimented with cooking, home decorating, fought each other’s battles, drank too much, cried too much, laughed a lot and spent many a hungover Sunday watching movies.

We all had to go off and do our own thing once it was over. Kelly worked for country newspapers, in an AIDS orphanage in Kenya and a state-controlled newspaper in Laos, before moving to Western Australia. Amy moved to Sydney, worked her way up to foreign correspondent and soccer superstar. I did bits and pieces, here and there, all documented in dark and dusty corners of the Internet.

Both of them are very strong, very independent, very intelligent women and I’m lucky they’ve kept me around.

Both of them also have partners who compliment these strengths and on Monday I’m going to New Zealand for a week to attend the wedding of Amy and her partner Nic.

It special for many reasons, primarily because Amy asked me a long time ago to come and at the time, our lives had meant we hadn’t seen much of one another and I was both happy to be back in contact and at a place where I needed to remember who I was and what worth I had.

Because of Amy and Nic, I made baby steps into a whole new group of friends, all strong, independent and smart like them and I’m not going to forget anytime soon how welcome they made me feel.

Secondly, like Steph and Joel, Amy and Nic have shown me a great deal about how a good relationship works and how much of it comes down to accepting flaws, or celebrating flaws and propping one another up when needed and celebrating the good times and the simple things.

Lastly, Amy and Nic can’t get married in Australia yet. I won’t go into how nonsensical and cruel it is that marriage equality doesn’t yet exist in 2012, but it means something to me to attend and support their right to commit to their love to one another and to celebrate that experience and document it.

I don’t know that I’ll post while I’m away, but I’m sure I am going to have much to share when I’m back.