Guitar – Barre Chords

Last night I had my final guitar lesson for the year and I explained to Casey (who can be found here by the way, if you’re in the market for an amazing Sydney-based guitar teacher) what I would like to do with my lessons next year.

First, I need to practice more. That’s on me. Casey gave me a handy sheet that I can fill in every week with my focus for the coming week and I check it off each day I practice. Being a visual and list-driven person, this is perfect.

Second, I’m happy to jump around songs, but I don’t want to move away from any particular technique until I have it down pat. For example, I really need to focus on barre chords, so for the next however long, we’re only going to play barre chord-based songs. Which is problematic. Because I can’t hear barre chords in songs so I could suggest 500 songs to Casey and the only things I can guarantee you is they’re not going to be in 4/4 time, there’s probably going to be a capo involved and no matter how much the lyrics make me cry, they won’t move Casey to tears.

Third, I need to stop pulling monster faces every time I do something wrong. Not because they’re not completely endearing, but because they give my mistakes away and maybe I could sneak a few past Casey if I wasn’t grimacing (Kidding! He catches me every time.).

Fourth, and this will make Casey laugh, when the time comes and I feel like I have make progress on all of the above, I’m going to pick a song and get Casey to help me write an alt-country version of it. Much like Delilah, I am treat-focused.

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I find barre chords tricky, and they make my wrist sore (if I don’t practice enough) so we had to come up with some super fun songs to keep me interested.

I am a sucker for a saccharine melody so Veruca Salt ending up being the perfect choice. We’re going to switch between the newest VS song, ‘The Museum of Broken Relationships’ and good ol’ ‘Volcano Girls’.

Fiji, baby!

Me: “I want to go to Fiji.”

B: “Ok!”

Me: “I want to stay in a bungalow over the sparkling blue water.”

B: “Ok!”

Me: “Here is one, let’s just pop some fake, mid-year dates in for, say … one week!”

B: “…”

Me: “…”

B: “…”

Me: “$11,000, and I think that’s in US dollars.”

B: “…”

Me: “It’s ok, all is not lost, if I can’t stay in a bungalow over the water, can I drink a cocktail out of a pineapple?”

B: “Coconut.”

Me: “All is lost.”

New Year’s Resolutions Naysayers

Random Internet People: “New Year’s resolutions are dumb!”

Me: “I think having resolutions are a good idea!”

RIP: “Yeah but why wait for the start of a new year? Why not just start today? Or tomorrow?”

Me: “That would be fine, as would having them start on the first of January!”

RIP: “No, that would be dumb.”

Me: “Do you have any?”

RIP: “Hell no!”

Me: “I have a few. I’m going to finish the C25K. What do you think about that?”

RIP: ” … nothing.”

Me: “Aren’t you angry?”

RIP: “No?”

Me: “But I’m starting on January 1, not today or tomorrow!” *makes spooky ghost fingers*

RIP: “I don’t care what you do.”

Me: “But you think I’m dumb, right?”

RIP: “I don’t know, shut up okay?”

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I like New Year’s resolutions and I make them every year. Maybe one for this year will be finding out if ‘New Year’s’ is always capitalised, because I’m really not sure about that one.

I have discussed this with my psychologist before. Sure, it’s not necessarily healthy to do things like eat 14 tubs of ice cream every day until June 26th and then think to yourself, ‘Oh well! I don’t need to worry about stopping that until January 1st!’ but for a lot of people a new year brings new circumstances and things shift and change.

For me, the new year brings the start of a four day working week, which frees me up to do stuff like plan out a whole month of running. University is also something new, so I’ll need to shift things around to fit that in.

This time of year also means a lot of people are on holidays. For me that means reestablishing contact with people I haven’t seen much of in the whirlpool of 2014. It means having time to get back into reading books for book club (another resolution), catching up with Nic and learning about riding in Sydney (another resolution).

So while Random Internet People are squawking into the void of social media about how much they hate New Year’s resolutions (the capitalisation is starting to feel less and less correct here), as far as me and mine go? At the end of the year, maybe I’ll be a fitter, more reliable book club attendee with a kickass grade point average. a lady who cycles to work! Maybe I won’t be any of those things!

The only thing for certain is naysayers will always be shouting into the void and it doesn’t make a difference to me (resolutions on the other hand …).

Edit: Also? Always question people who try and tell you that something positive you’re doing for yourself is dumb. Ask yourself why, if it has no impact on them at all, they need to try so hard to make you feel bad about your choices. The answer is always interesting and almost all the time, never about you.

My True Love Gave To Me … 18 Hours of Blissful Sleep.

It seems 2014 has decided to be the first “adult” Christmas I’ve had. It’s Christmas Eve and I don’t even feel a sparkle of Christmas excitement.

I’m working until seven tonight and my ideal scenario is heading home, having some dinner with B and his siblings, a few drinks and then sleeping in really, really late tomorrow.

I feel like one of the plethora of dads in ’80s American young adult fiction, who works at a post office during the night and everyone has to tiptoe around in case they wake him up and he gets angry. On Christmas morning all the children huddle around the tree, while their nervous mother cooks pancakes in the kitchen. Finally the bedroom door creaks open and the father shuffles out: robed, five o-clock shadow, blue-black circles under his eyes and pauses at the sight of his four children (boy, girl, boy, girl always). They tremble with fear, and the youngest one (blonde, curls always) lisps, “Daddy!” around the damp thumb she is sucking and suddenly the dad roars with laughter and throws his arms around his children, who fish toys out of the pockets of his robe while the mother stands in the doorway, skillet in hand, smiling at the scene, a tall glass holding a generous serve of straight vodka just out of shot on the kitchen bench.

Tomorrow is going to be fabulous, I know it, I’m just used to having more time to get excited.

New Year’s Resolution: only work one job at a time.

Guitar – Melvins

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On Saturday I had a guitar lesson and I forgot my song book, so Casey and I looked through the list of songs I’ve emailed him in the past, which we pick from as I get better (or sometimes when I get worse).

On that list was my favourite Melvins song, ‘The Bit’. We’d looked at it a long time ago and set it aside for some reason.

Casey: “Why did we do that?”

Me: “Barre chords?”

Casey: “There are definitely no barre chords in this.”

Me: “Is it too hard?”

Casey: “No, it’s actually too easy.”

Me: “… IS IT BECAUSE IT’S DROP D?!”

Casey: *shudder*

So now I can play a Melvins song and it is pretty easy, but it’s also super crunchy and fun.

My plan for the next month of guitar is get super good at the hammer-on parts in Ryan Adams’ ‘Trouble’  and at barre chords with Veruca Salt’s ‘The Museum of Broken Relationships’.

A Year In Review: 2014

1.What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

Jumped without a net.

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

I didn’t keep them but I will make more for 2015, in part because for B and I, 2015 is going to be a year of preparing for some changes and I think it’s an excellent idea to spend some time getting healthier and fitter and more rested and organised and more careful with money. Which makes it sound like we’re having a baby. We are definitely not doing that. Unless it has fluffy ears and a tail.

I don’t have the best track record with resolutions but I want to try.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! My older sister Mary. We welcomed Lexi into the family in January.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, but there was a lot of grief for lives lost this year, particularly in recent weeks.

5. What countries did you visit?

None. B and I are meant to be in Japan right now, but changing jobs meant delaying the holiday and then cancelling it completely.

Next year we want to visit Hobart and Queensland to see B’s parents and there’s some talk of spending some time lying on a beach in Asia somewhere and escaping winter for a bit.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

Energy. Plain and simple.

I want to be more proactive and positive about all kinds of things: my guitar playing, being a more reliable friend, saying yes to more things and pushing through the exhaustion.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

31st of May, when the sweetest puppy in the kingdom came to live with us. We love you Lilie!

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8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I left a job I’d had for six years and I didn’t have another job lined up. It taught me a lot about myself. I feel more comfortable with change, I realised life doesn’t work to a linear plan or look a particular way and I learnt to trust my instinct about what makes me happy.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I didn’t always do things with as much grace as I should have and I wasn’t always as reliable a friend as I would have liked to have been.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

December last year, my thyroid shut down. I’m still coping with the fallout from that.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

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12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Wuz for putting up with Delilah.

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Honestly, I know a lot of people who voiced their opinion on contentious issues which made life harder for them and they did it anyway.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled?

I can’t even begin to list them all. It was not a year you would hold up as an example of one where humankind flourished.

14. Where did most of your money go?

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

Delilah and moving to a better house, both of which turned out to be two of the most stressful but excellent decisions ever.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

“Back to Your Heart” – a seven year old Dinosaur Jr. song.

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

(a) I’m not sadder, life just got a bit harder.

(b) Fatter.

(c) Poorer, but doing okay with it.

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

Swimming in the ocean.

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

Sitting around feeling sorry for myself and eating my feelings.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Mum and Dad are coming down and we’re having lunch, then a couple of B’s siblings are coming over in the evening.

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?

Nah, I just stayed in love 🙂

22. What was your favourite TV program?

Broad City, The Mindy Project.

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

This question always troubles me. I don’t like to hate people, because mostly those people just aren’t worth the time and effort.

I will say that there are several people from my past who I will be making every effort to leave behind because there’s no point in continuing to be angry at them, nor do I want to resolve any issues.

24. What was the best book you read?

I read a lot this year, so I’ll go with the books I most recommended to others:

The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

The Gift of Fear – Gavin de Becker

Telegraph Avenue – Michale Chabon

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

That I still mostly like the same music I have for the past five or six years?

Besides great new albums from old favourites, Young Fathers are amazing.

26. What did you want and get?

Haha! A corgi puppy.

27. What did you want and not get?

Materialistically: a car.

Travel-wise: a trip to Japan.

Life in general: energy.

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

I honestly can’t recall a single movie I saw this year.

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

B, books, basketball, the greatest housemate known to man, Anna.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

Ha. How To Dress A Woman Who Gains Weight Fast … And Then Some.

31. What kept you sane? 

Anna. I cried the night she moved out. We had good times and she is someone I’m very much looking forward to seeing more of next year because I am going to be that person who catches up with friends.

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

Khloe Kardashian.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Racism: institutionalised, personal, shared on social media, played out in the courts. All of it.

34. Who did you miss?     

Anna.

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

If you think the ship is sinking, it probably is. So jump!

36. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

Breathe your air
Cut my teeth
Bones of a hypocrite that look like me
Ashes stain
Windowsill
Punk rock dream in a dimebag world
Free your family
Lose your mind
Think about the valley from time to time
Bittersweet things I’ve never been
Happy that we left but i would leave again for you

Bad Habits

Every Thursday or Friday night if B and I end up shopping for dinner together after work, this one thing inevitably happens.

I will pick up the newly minted copy of Who Magazine and put it in the basket. I will walk quickly until I am two or three paces in front of B. Then I will turn and say loudly, ‘Oh! Did you remember to get that that Who Magazine that you love so much?’.

He used to roll his eyes, but now he plays along and pretends it is for him and he’s been dying to read it.

I read Who Magazine because I would read the back of a box of cereal if it were in front of me. I read a lot, it’s a thing I do. I also need a break from, say, reading about the horrible things going on in the news, or books which require all of my attention and look, I’ve always been a total Hollywood gossip busybody.

I tried to give up Who Magazine earlier in the year, because of Lara Bingle. I used not to have an opinion on Lara Bingle until a few years ago when she tweeted that she needed to go to the gym because, ‘fat girls don’t get phone calls’ and I looked at my call logs and she was wrong. My mum calls me at least once a week.

Another bad habit is Red Bull. I came home from work last week and practically squeezed B’s cheeks until they fell off while forcing him to guess how much I paid for a four-pack of sugar-free Red Bull ($2.99!) and then realised it’s really unhealthy for that to count as a highlight of my day.

Today I also fed a troll on Twitter. I never feed trolls. I had a terrible flame war in 2002, and my Internet eyebrows are still singed, but today I couldn’t hold my tongue. I waded into the murky waters under the bridge where the trolls claiming #illridewithyou is an attack on white people. Racist against white people, even. A person with a sparkly porcelain unicorn picture as their avatar and a bio that used a lot of commas and ended with ‘I love angels!’ told me I was racist. Against white people. Because I like the theory behind #illridewithyou.

Except sparkle unicorn couldn’t grasp a basic fact:

Sparkle unicorn: “Your racist!”

Me: “*You’re”

Sparkle unicorn: “You and your friend, your both racist!”

Me: “First one was right, second one? *You’re”

Sparkle unicorn: “Your not going to defend yourself against racism are you?”

Me: “*YOU’RE!”

Eventually sparkle unicorn deleted all their tweets to me and blocked me and though I’m not keen to lurk again, there was a certain thrill in annoying someone to the point of exasperation.

A friend checked in: sparkle unicorn is still angry at white people being racist against white people and is still using “your”.

 

 

 

‘Til Human Voices Wake Us

This week has been exhausting and distressing.

I don’t have much to say because I don’t have any answers, I don’t even have questions at this point and more so than any other time, I feel the pressure to say the exact right thing, the perfect little concise response that has considered every nuance of every argument while also describing exactly where I sit on the issue.

I just don’t have that. I don’t know.

I’ve watched hours and hours of news footage at work this week. I think maybe in order to cope, I’ve shut down. I had to transcribe a foreign correspondent from The Washington Post discussing the massacre of children in Pakistan and there’s no colour or cue to indicate how badly his voice shook throughout the whole report.

I was talking to workmates. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to has cried while captioning live news stories. I did this week too.

There’s degrees of getting burnt by something and getting to go home at the end of the day is the salve I get for not knowing anyone who was taken hostage this week, or witnessing it, or going to a school that a faction of the Taliban (and it was just one faction, another condemned it, something interesting I learnt today. I guess why wouldn’t the Taliban have factions?) decided to use as a soft target.

There’s a quote someone once told me, I don’t remember it exactly, this is paraphrasing: people used to be concerned that governments were hiding things, withholding information. Now they don’t even have to bother because there’s so much information that things just get lost.

That’s how this week has felt. Like we’re all just getting lost and we’re using words to try and keep us afloat without realising they’re washing us further away from things.

Excuse me, sir!

We live near the M5, so close in fact that on our first nightly walk in the new neighbourhood, we rounded a corner thinking it led to a dog park and instead discovered it actually led onto the M5. The road part. You could just meander right onto an 80km zone. In a way that’s terrifying, in another, it’s nice to see a vestige of times gone by when people were expected to rely on their own smarts not to get flattened by a truck.

I hate a very specific part of the walk. Unfortunately it’s the part that starts from our driveway and continues for about ten minutes until you navigate traffic and get onto a dedicated pedestrian/cyclist track. For that ten minutes I don’t want to talk, I feel miserable, I never want to walk ever again but as soon as I’m on the walking path … BOOM. I want to walk forever.

Last night we just got to the walking path when it started to rain. B wanted to turn back, I hadn’t wanted to go on the walk in the first place, so imagine his surprise when I forced him to trek onwards. Delilah loved it, she’s very much a water dog. When she stayed with my parents for a few weeks, Mum emailed me and told me Delilah got into a drain and lay down, so only her eyes and ears were above water and she just lay there, like a very furry aquatic spy.

I took Delilah for a very long walk the night before, to a postal depot in the boondocks to pick up parcels. On the way back we were waiting at a set of traffic lights when I noticed several men in their respective cars laughing at something. I looked down and Delilah was lying like Superman: front paws out the front, back legs straight out behind her and her head down, eyes closed, doing a very good impersonation of being fast asleep. We waited through three sets of red lights before she deemed it time to end her power nap.

All this is just dressing on the fact I have to go back to the gym. And keep going back. And not stop.

I even had a dream about it last night. I went to the gym and discovered they’d moved everything. I couldn’t find a single treadmill to use, or any weights, and a naked white man with dreadlocks showered in front of me. I don’t know what that part means, but the rest of it seems very much like my subconscious telling me to get off my arse.

Home Bedside Tables

I moved out of home almost 15 years ago and never in that time, until this house, had I owned a matching set of bedside tables.

I could never find anything I loved, or that I could afford. They’re deceptively expensive pieces of furniture to own.

Bedside tables were on our “must have” list when we moved, a list that shrank and shrank as the cost of moving grew and grew. We decided to keep our old couches and my increasingly unattractive bookcase for a little while longer, but I couldn’t give up on my dream of having a bedside table to call my own.

We found Hemnes tables we liked at Ikea.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #8: Master bedroom, Earlwood

I spent about six months looking for a yellow lampshade for a lamp I had in our previous house. I wanted yellow to set off particular tones in a large framed photograph I own.

I finally found a table lamp at Freedom that had the shade I wanted; however, the electrics in the lamp I wanted to fit it to blew, and in our new place the photo no longer hangs anywhere needing lamplight so I’m using it as a reading lamp. I don’t mind it, but the owners painted all the trimmings in the house green, so it does mean the bedroom has a particular Australiana kitsch factor now, which I don’t love.

I have a framed cross-stitch of the title of an Atmosphere album, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, which my younger sister made for me.

The ‘Hustle’ card comes from Mi Goals, and I’m going to frame it and put it in the office eventually, as motivation for study next year.

Also featured is a manuscript I am reading for a friend, my RETROSUPERFUTURE reading glasses and a handmade fountain pen, gifted to me my the talented Mr Evan Beaver!

Up the back is a foam bust of Einstein. He has a peg at the back that opens and closes his mouth. Normally his mouth is stuffed full with sheets of medication so I don’t forget to take them.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #9: Master bedroom, Earlwood

B’s bedside table is pretty much all Apple gear, silver and black. While I tend to read books, B reads e-books and comics on his iPad, which we also occasionally use to watch episodes of Futurama in bed.

‘How to Train a Superdog’ is a recent addition to our library, because our super dog sometimes acts up a little. Barry reads it and tells me interesting facts.

One thing I particularly love about the tables is the top drawer has a half-length sliding shelf.

Handy for those frequently used items!

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Speaking of super dogs, here is our frequent bedroom guest. We keep saying we’re going to stop letting her on the bed, but it is super cute in the mornings when she’s first let inside to cop 12 kilos of frantically excited corgi.

We love her!

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