Words, don’t come easy

I’m going to see my one true love Frank Turner on Sunday night. Those who know me know my absolute obsession (I’m truly sorry, not sorry) with this “skinny half-arsed English country singer“…he is skinny but he’s not really a country singer. Ex Million Dead singer, punk/folk/rock/acoustic…bloody genius.

I’m obsessed with him because of words. I’m all about the words when it comes to music (movies, friends, relationships, Dan Savage “use your words”). He is a wordsmith…and I love me a wordsmith.

Like it was yesterday, though it was five years ago, I remember the night FT was gifted to me. I’m pretty sure it was my first visit to The Joker’s little house in Blacktown. He’d made me dinner (A MAN HAD MADE ME DINNER!!) and we were sitting on his sofa when he asked me if I’d heard of this guy. Nope, I said.

He proceeded to play me Substitute and it was a moment, a big moment. I looked into his sparkly but sad blue eyes and thought “how the absolute fuck do I not fall in love with this man”. Because if this was the song he wanted to share with me first up there was deep shit behind the facade. Quickly realising his error he played Photosynthesis, probably to lighten the mood, but it only made things worse. I was in deep baby. And Frank Turner was to blame.

Anyway this isn’t the story of my doomed love affair with The Joker, it isn’t even a story about my ever deepening love affair with the newly engaged Mr Turner.

This is a little story about words. How I love them; how they have all the power. To make us laugh, cry, despair and hope. To give us strength and to shatter us beyond redemption.

I’m not much into instrumentals and I don’t have any time for orchestral music. I understand intellectually that some music might be good but if there are no words or if the words don’t resonate in my mind and heart than it means nothing to me (oh, Vienna)…sorry…

It doesn’t always have to be deep and meaningful. The Ramones’ Hey Ho Let’s Go is a clarion call without being Shakespearean.

I love clever word play, I love humour in songs, the darker the better. Love me a musical comedy genius…. Tim Minchin, Weird Al, the Tenacious D boys, Flight of the Conchords…is there anything better? Rhetorical question.

Then of course there’s the dark without the humour. When I want to rub salt into the wound there’s always Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits. Suffer, baby.

What I wouldn’t do for that talent. To make people feel. To be able to wrangle words in a way that encapsulates a moment of the human condition.

As Tim Minchin said, us humans “we’re just fucking monkeys in shoes”…true, but we do have words. And I’m all about the words. When they’re wrapped in a song they are truly a gift that keeps on giving.

If music be the food of love, play on

I’m using this Shakespearean quote out of context, sort of. Stay with me.

It’s been a weekend of music. Both Friday and Saturday nights I went to Strange Tenants’ gigs in two different venues. The Tenants are a Melbourne ska band so intrinsically linked to my teenage years that I’m not sure I can imagine who I’d be without the countless gigs of theirs that I attended during the mid 80s and beyond.

Their music is the soundtrack to a large chunk of my youth and that I’ve been able to see them again sporadically over the past few years has been nothing short of miraculous.

I went to the first gig on my own, quite happily intent on dancing and immersing myself in the music. By happy chance I bumped into two old friends from the 80s and we went on to enjoy both gigs together; reminiscing, dancing and just having a bloody wonderful time.

As I left both gigs, hot, sweaty and exhausted I reflected on the joy of being 50 and not giving a fuck. Finally I can dance and actually not care if anyone is watching and better still not care what they’re thinking if they are watching. That’s meaningful shit right there. I can definitely say that’s not always been the case.

I ended the weekend by taking my kiddos to see Bohemian Rhapsody, the Freddie Mercury/Queen biopic. I had low expectations but I just loved it. I sang along and loved the music, catapulted back to the 80s, Live Aid, the Top 40… I shed a few tears at the loss of one of the absolute rock gods of my generation.

This musically immersive weekend has given me an opportunity to think about what music has meant to me. Basically, everything.

There are few life events that don’t have a musical association for me. I met both ex husbands at gigs. I stayed with the biggest but probably wrongest love of my life (largely) because of music. Music is intertwined with all my life experiences and all my emotions. I can think of songs which will instantly trigger joy, anger, sadness, heartache, hope.

I’m so very grateful for this weekend of music and for all the music that has weathered me into the person I am today.

To finish on a quote which, while not quite Shakespearean, I think eloquently sums up how I’m feeling right now: thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing… (you know the rest).

Two is the loneliest number

It’s taken me a long time (right up until the age of 50 and a half) to fully understand and accept that it’s much harder and more soul destroying to be lonely in a couple than on your own.

It’s counterintuitive that you can actually be lonely when you’re part of a couple but it’s nevertheless very possible and very painful.

Looking back I think I’ve consciously and subconsciously spent my life doing my darnedest to avoid loneliness. I’ve always thought I enjoy being socially busy and amongst people. Since I’ve been in relationships since my teens I’ve always had a significant other so I’ve never really had to face personal loneliness for extended periods.

During the past five years, since the end of my marriage, I’ve spent a great deal of time and energy chasing love, chasing away loneliness and generally chasing my tail. Now that I’m willingly and happily single again I’ve very clearly recognized that loneliness cannot be cured by simply being with another human and being alone doesn’t necessarily mean being lonely.

Obviously I’m a bloody slow learner. Well into middle age I’ve finally slowed down, I’ve found some calm, I’ve come to clearly see that I’m enough (excuse the new age bs). I actually quite like myself and my own company. I don’t have to pretzel myself to please someone else and in the process loathe myself. I don’t have to apologize for being me; for not being enough or being too much.

So simple yet so hard. Yet here I am. Not a minute too soon and luckily not too late.

People have the power?

I’m ridiculously invested in the US midterm elections coming up this week. The election two years ago took everyone by surprise and has unleashed evil onto the (not even close) best democracy in the world and onto the rest of the world by default.

I’ve gone from asking “why Trump?” and “how could they?” to understanding that there is an agenda and that agenda will be achieved at all costs. Even the so called moral cost of the totally immoral (non) Christians behind this nightmare.

I feel like a curtain has been drawn back and I finally see the puppet masters. I guess I’ve been cocooned in my safe, middle class bubble; surrounded mostly by left leaning friends.

Trump and the voters are tools and are being used to achieve financial and social control. The need to roll/claw back the advances of the last half century is paramount to these people and all ideas of human decency are meaningless. It’s quite simply about money and power (as it has always been).

It’s not enough to say they don’t care about gay people or disabled people or poor people or refugees. They openly despise them.

We have seen the horror show called Jair Bolosaro become president in Brazil, the audacity of the Saudis in a ridiculously not subtle murder of a journalist, the disappearance of the Chinese head of Interpol, the every day crazy of Putin and Rodrigo Duterte. Just to name a few. We are so desensitized to this now.

I’m deeply concerned about how Americans are going to vote because I have to cling onto hope that people power is still the ideal, that we can overcome, that fear will not win over decency. Because I have been watching Australia follow down a similar right wing path and I’m afraid. Behind ScoMo and Mr Potato Head’s inane grins is the same agenda being rolled out in the US and elsewhere.

I don’t want to live in a fearful world where those with a “difference” are marginalized, persecuted, ridiculed, ostracized. We are all the same and I want leaders who inspire us to hold out a hand not put in the boot.

Bollocks, She Wrote

I’ve been itching to write again but felt paralyzed by indecision. What to write about? I couldn’t think of anything I know anything about. Relationships? Parenting? I know more about Astro physics than either of those things.

I know nothing about housekeeping, gardening or car maintenance. I can follow a recipe but certainly not write one. My political expertise is limited to hating conservative asshats and making snide remarks on Facebook.

So I guess it leaves me just writing bollocks and nonsense. Both fields of intellectual pursuit I’m quite comfortable amongst.

Right now I’m rediscovering what I’m about, what makes me happy or at least fulfilled in this world and ways I can do something about the deficits I can see. You could say “I’ve been to paradise but I’ve never been to me”. I’d prefer if you didn’t say that though and certainly please don’t sing it.

DKG is writing again mofos.

The Big L

So it’s your Clayton’s blogger here… the blogger you have when you’re not having a blogger. I’m shit at the blogging caper, let’s agree on that and move on.

To what do you owe this honour of being blogged at by yours truly? Well, a milestone birthday, if you must ask. DKG is turning FIFTY. Half a century. Yes the BIG L.

If that doesn’t deserve a blost (that’s a word I just made up to signify a blog post…royalties via my agent, many thanks) I don’t know what does.

You might think a blost might mean I have something to say, that this milestone birthday has brought about an epiphany, some sort of unlocking of the meaning of life. Alas no.

Life is steady, life is good and there’s very little of any interest to report. I continue to thrash around in my little life; craving peace and excitement in equal measure. My emotional range rides the pendulum between sadness, frustration, anger (I am easily angered and frustrated as those nearest and dearest will attest) and joy, anticipation, lust for life.

Frank Turner has a newish tattoo which says “Everything is not enough” and I’m coveting it because I often feel that way. No matter how busy I am I feel it’s not enough; I should be squeezing in more, seeing more, doing more, experiencing MORE.

But those feelings are counterbalanced by a need to do less, to rest, to peace out. Mostly an inner equilibrium is achieved but at times the two inner beasts wrestle…wearing mankinis in a giant pool of grape jelly (which we all know is the shitest jelly).

Where was I? Oh yes, waffling. Do I know more at 50 than I did at 20? Undoubtedly but I know it will less confidence. The more I know the less I understand and the less weight I give anything.

This quote always settles me, resonates with me, fills me with calm. We are so ridiculous, us humans, so self important and yet so pointless and little more than tiny fires which burn brightly but briefly and are forgotten.

I don’t believe I’ve gotten any wiser. Only that I’m becoming a little more detached which probably comes across as caring less but I care a lot, I’m overwhelmed by caring and equally by the futility of caring. So I semi-consciously step back, wrap myself in a self protective coat of disdain. Act cool, knowing I’m anything but.

So on the eve of my 51st spin around the sun I am as happy and satisfied as a human can be. A weird and wonderful family who have my back despite the various shit we’ve put each other through over the years; people of amazing strength and character. Kids who continue to survive my dubious parenting style and bring me crazy, love and joy in equal measure. Friends without whom I couldn’t survive and who bring me truth, fun and a reflective surface in which to preen and reflect on a daily basis. A man who takes my shit while having none of it, a rare and wonderful creature indeed.

Life goes on and life is good. If it ends tomorrow I have been a very lucky chick and have not a single true regret. I’m aware that the sands in my hour glass are getting bottom heavy but each grain of sand represents days and years lived to the fullest. Who can ask for more?

Onwards.

I’m not voting YES

Image result for love is love

…because I believe in marriage. Marriage is a lovely, romantic idea. It really is and I used to believe in it. But unlike Elizabeth Taylor, the romantic glow has worn off after two marriages where husband 1 and husband 2 walked out without any prior warning or discussion. I have seen too many marriages fall apart, people turning love into hate, people walking out not only on spouses but children and responsibilities.

I want to believe in a happy-ever-after in the same way I want to believe in unicorns and fairies… it seems like a beautiful idea but the lack of evidence is simply overwhelming. So I have come to believe in happy-right-now. Right now is all we’ve got so carpe diem out of today mofos. Why make promises about tomorrow that you can’t or won’t take seriously? Let’s keep this shit real. There’s no god, there’s no unicorns and the chances that the homo sapien you love today and who appears to love you back will still love you tomorrow are, give or take, in the winning Lotto range of probability.

So I’m not voting YES in the ridonkulous Marriage Plebishite because I want members of the gay community to be able to waste gazillions of dollars on a marriage ceremony/party/whatever-form-of-celebration-involving-overpriced-wedding-paraphernalia they choose. I’m voting YES because I believe in equality. I believe in people not being humiliated and made to feel less-than because of who they are attracted to and where they choose to stick their sexy bits. I believe in people being able to live without judgement (unless it’s judgement of taste – or lack of – in music), without fear – real, actual fear.

I want Marriage Equality to pass and to become the norm and for all those people who are screaming that it’ll mean the end of civilisation and destroy the “sanctity” of marriage *cough *laugh *vomit to eat their stupid words and go back to finding something else to fear. I want to be part of a society where couples of every variety can live in a loving relationship without being shunned by their family or being denied basic human rights.

It is so fucking simple. Get your nose out of people bedrooms and lives. Mind your own bloody business. Let people live as they choose as long as they are not harming others. Don’t judge others by what your imaginary friend in the sky allegedly said *cough *bullshit. Live and let live. Stop being a fucking hypocrite.

Life is hard enough.

Breathe.

Vote YES.

Love and the Art of Self Loathing

I’m back bitches. Worst blogger award goes to…

So The Good Girl and I have set each other a blogging challenge to blog every week and this week, Week 1, is catch up week as we’ve both been very naughty little non-bloggers.

Anyhoo… I’ve been busy doing weird, fucked up relationship shit. Breaking up, getting back together, moving in together, breaking up. In summary the Joker and I have left no stone unturned in our quest to prove that love is not enough to sustain a relationship.

We’ve proven beyond reasonable doubt that a mutual love of Frank Turner, doughnuts and dark humour isn’t enough to sustain a workable, live-in relationship between two broken, fucked up middle aged people with a Mack truck full of baggage. At least it wasn’t enough for us.

All the pretty words and good intentions  count for bugger all when after a short while your love emotionally vacates the metaphorical premises and you’re left wondering what the fuck happened, twisting yourself into a pretzel to fit the uncomfortable and unreadable parameters of your situation. Bottom line: you’re back being lonely in your (now live-in) relationship and reading the tea leaves for how it came to this. In my case this turns love into self loathing. Why aren’t I good enough??!! Why can’t I fix this?

So it’s over and it was hard but this time at least I feel that it’s 200% done and dusted. There are no doubts that for the Joker and I love was not enough. I’ll let Jeff Buckley have the final word: “It’s never over, (he’s) the tear that hangs inside my soul forever”.  Except it is most certainly over.

Onwards. A couple of weeks after the END Miss M and I left for our much anticipated girls’ trip to Medellin, Colombia and NYC. It was just what the doctor ordered. Travel takes focus, especially when traveling alone with a child.

It was truly wonderful to revisit Miss M’s city of birth. This time it felt like a very different sort of adventure. The city had changed, it was safer and we were able to explore further afield. While the opportunity to meet Miss M’s birthmother did not happen it was still very much a worthwhile trip.

Then onto NYC. While Sydney is my home and my life, NYC is my love. I truly adore that city and yearn for it. I recently listened to an interview with the writer Bill Hayes talking about how he’s never lonely in NYC. I concur. Anthony talks about LA being his companion in “Under The Bridge”, that is how I feel about this city. I can simply walk along any street, at any time, and feel whole and happy and loved.

Of course quality time with my darling sister and BIL was great. We went to Philly for the day which was really fun…mmm, doughnuts…mmm, fried chicken… Where was I? Oh…we saw Tim Minchin’s Groundhog Day on Broadway. Brilliant. Wouldn’t be dead for quids.

On the last night we sat on the roof of our hotel, in the flower district – 28th Street, and listened to a fabulous singer kicking around some cool covers with her little band under the New York sky. A beautiful way to end a wonderful holiday.

I’ve been home a month. Back into work and school stuff and a little volunteering and exploring new possibilities. I never stay still long enough to contemplate things too deeply; at least not on the surface. Like a shark I’m always in motion but underneath the cogs turn and the gears grind and at odd times, like at the Botero Museum in Medellin, the tears come and the familiar punch-in-the-gut feeling visits.

Who knows where things are headed but I have my kids, my family, my friends, Frank Turner and endless Trump memes…to name a few of my favourite things. Life could be much, much worse.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…. (part 2)

So where was I? Oh yes… bonking the graphic designer. Ha! Sorry… I was starting work as the bookkeeper/office administrator for my dad’s new business. It was 1991. I was young, keen, enthusiastic but sort of aimless. I worked to live, definitely not lived to work.

As the years went by this job kept me secure and anchored through university studies, another relationship (and eventual marriage), trying (and failing) to have children, adopting children, building a house, selling a house, moving into a new house, selling the house, moving into an apartment, getting divorced… not necessarily in chronological order.

Basically this job was my rock, my home away from home, my constant in an ever changing world.

While it may not have tickled my creative spot I am eternally grateful for the privilege of a secure income and flexible employment during all of my major life upheavals. It can not be underestimated how lucky I have been to have fallen into a job which has allowed me to study and raise my kids on a solid foundation.

(May I also say how lucky we all were that this fledgling business with no right to succeed has gone from a turnover of around $100,000 a year and three employees to 16+ employees and a turnover nudging $5 million. Goodness knows we’re all pretty surprised around here.)

But in recent months things have changed and I have taken those changes to mean it is time to uproot. My dad has finally sold his share of the business and semi-retired. An opportunity presented itself earlier this year which, at first, I was dubious about… but then decided to throw myself into it. It seemed that life were nudging me to step out of my safety zone and test myself a little.

This opportunity is still changing in its form but in essence I will be operating a café situated in a beautiful park with an all abilities playground run by the wonderful Touched by Olivia organization. So I will be able to work with food (my love) and with my love (The Comedian) in a social enterprise environment with aims and goals I feel strongly about.

I’m confident of the future though it is still hazy in detail. I have become lazy and complacent after so many years in a safe and stable job I know inside out. But I’m not too old to learn and the part of me that isn’t shit scared is buoyed by the excitement of trying something new, testing myself and changing all the parameters of my life.

As I clean up files, shred old documentation, transfer data files onto a portable hard drive and make notes about what things I need to show my replacement I don’t feel very sad, right now it doesn’t feel that real. I’m sure as my last few days here approach I will feel nostalgic or something close to that but right now my feelings come in waves: fear, excitement, loss, uncertainty, excitement, hope. I’m unsure yet confident that all will turn out as it should.

Onward.

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…. (part 1)

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

(David Bowie “Changes”)

I’ve been at my present job for just short of 25 years. Well and truly over half my life time. It’s hard to get my head around at times. I started my working life as a typesetter. It was an accident really. I had little clue about what I wanted to “do with my life” (as we so grandly seem to say these days) when I left school a few months before my 16th birthday. I knew two things: 1) I wanted to make money and 2) I wanted to leave home. The first was a necessary precursor to the second.

I had been working after school and during school holidays at a child care centre where, at the ripe old age of 14, I would often be left in charge of a room full of toddlers. Because at 14 I actually felt more like an adult than I do now (because ignorance is bliss yo!) I took this completely in my stride and loved it. What I loved best was the money. My very own money that I didn’t have to ask my mum for. I could do whatever I pleased with it and that feeling was bloody intoxicating. Like your average meth head, I was hooked baby.

So the year was 1983 and I was in Year 10 and there was no way in hell I was staying on. I knew the workload that the HSC required didn’t work well with the amount of partying and slacking I was intent on doing. Plus it did not work with my plan of earning money and moving out of home (see above).

Despite the protestations of my parents (who had, after all, travelled around the world and survived countless hardships to provide me with this better life and these opportunities) I was dead set on being a working girl. So my dad lined up some work experience for me at the HCF art department (because what 15 year old girl doesn’t want to do something “arty”?). Of course the art department did not involve any actual art. We produced the brochures, posters and forms required to make a paper addicted 1980s corporation run.

That was fine by me. I did my week’s worth of work experience and fell in love with working in the city. There was nowhere I felt more alive than in the city. I loved working with adults (who strangely seemed to take me seriously), I loved being productive, I loved the hubbub of the city, I loved buying my buttered finger bun at the deli downstairs for morning tea.

The work experience led to me being offered a full time job as a “junior”. Looking back it isn’t impossible that my dad twisted some arms to get me in there. It’s never been expressly stated but as a parent now I wonder…

Anyway, in December 1983 I started full time work. In those days I was keen, eager and ambitious. I learnt the trade of typesetting and finished art quickly and progressed as different technology (cough… what passed for technology in the mid 1980s wouldn’t look out of place in a dinosaur museum today) was introduced. I moved from company to company and enjoyed the people and the challenges… oh, and the money.

Sorry I’m meandering… At the end of 1990 I was working part time at a small design/type agency in Surry Hills and wasn’t really sure what it or I was all about. I was bored and listless. So when my dad told me he was starting an engineering company with his business partner and would I come work for them as a bookkeeper I couldn’t see why not. I knew little about bookkeeping (though I had done an evening touch typing and bookkeeping course during Year 10 – who remembers the Receptionist Centre Girl ads?) and double entry journal keeping was certainly amongst my considerable skill set.

January 1991 I was ensconced in our new offices in Ultimo. It was mostly boring at that stage. Just me, dad and Bob. I was lucky if I put out one invoice a month. I think we turned over about $100,000 that year. Microsoft it wasn’t. But I kept myself busy by making sandwiches for us all for lunch, soldering the occasional batch of circuit boards, getting divorced from husband #1 and bonking the graphic designer who shared our office space.

Part 2 coming soon…