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January 27, 2006

Home alone

Extravagant or even wild claims by someone close to you could leave you exasperated today as you know the truth of the situation. This may still not stop you going along with some harebrained scheme that you'll later regret. Follow your best instincts and refuse an offer that seems too good to be true.

Fresh from the flag wavin', beer drinkin', sausage eatin' mayem of Australia Day, I have woken late after a blessedly long sleep to a day relatively empty of boring commitments and full of social engagements. I love holidays, however short. My day so far has involved naught more than a bowl of museli, a few unexpected tears at reaching the end of Estelle Blackburn's stunning work of investigative journalism, Broken Lives, and an ongoing internal battle about whether I should go to the gym or not. For now, I am content to sit here wearing not a stitch, revelling in the quiet and warmth in a house empty of housemates, noise and distractions.

Soon, I must turn my mind again to Joe Cocker, he of the scratchy and haunting voice who I must ponder over. I have clothes to fold and put away, manifestoes to consider, showers to climb in ... but all I want to do is sit, gloriously free of clothes and unfettered!

Last night, I was suprised to find myself relatively unaffected by the fireworks. When I was a kid, the cracking and pin-wheeling seems inordinately exciting but now I find myself thinking idly about the possible pollution of the swan river, whether it is justifiable to spend squillions of dollars on pretty lights when our health system needs an overhaul etc etc. I was especially incensed to hear John Howard's ponderous tones waxing on about multiculturalism between hits from Kylie Minogue and Paul Kelly - this from a man who refused to condemn as racist those wrapped in the Australian flag during hateful acts of violence. I can see the value in celebrating our way of life - because damn, it's good - but I am still rattled by the ugly face of Australian patriotism that has flared in recent months with "race riots" at Cronulla and the ongoing attacks on the Muslim community.

I was fascinated to sit in the park last night behind a young Muslim girl who was perched with herfamily next to a rollicking bunch of drunk, chain-smoking, bare-and-brown Norwegian girls. Head turned, her eyes followed their every movement - the flinging arms, the raucous laughter, the long swigs from the bottles. Her faced was etched with something like a mixture of disapproval, fear and worry - I wondered what was going through her head. And I found myself over compensating for my disappointment at the things I have seen and read about my fellow countrymen - every time I caught her or her sister's eye, I would smile extra wide and welcoming, as if to say, "But I don't think those things - not I!"

Almost a month of this new year has passed, impossible though it seems. God only knows what trouble I am doomed to get into later this evening, judging by today's horoscope ... I'll keep you posted.

January 19, 2006

Looking skyward

a soul in tension that's learning to fly
condition grounded but determined to try
can't keep my eyes from the circling skies
tongue-tied & twisted just an earthbound misfit, I

-- Pink Floyd, "Learning to Fly"

January 18, 2006

Freeing oneself from the shackles of existence

An irritable urge to be free of constraints, social obligations, or bureaucracy typifies this time period. You may inadvertently provoke the disapproval of colleagues, superiors, or other authorities through some presumptuous act on your part. Beware of overly optimistic schemes or self-indulgent purchases at this time also.

My irritable urge to be free of constraints today manifested itself in yet another job application, delivered with the same sense of hope I have carried through the past couple of months (I choose to ignore the "overly optimistic schemes" part). Yes, it's true as my horoscope suggests that this could possibly raise the ire of my superiors, who are about to send me on an all-expenses paid trip to three states. But what can I do? I have to follow where my heart is leading me and however longingly I think of Sydney, I think of new work horizons more.

In other news, I am mewling quietly after yet another B12 injection that boosts my energy no end but which leaves my left hip feeling bee-stung. I can't wait for the rush of energy that's soon to hit - after spiralling slowly into fatigue, these little magic bullets shoot staight for the bloodstream and get things pumping again. They bring clarity of thought, brighten the eyes and cause the black circles to fade - bliss! I am looking warily at the rest of this week, which is packed to the brim with lunches, dinners, meetings, appointments and other such niceties ... but I have run out of time just to be. This will not be the pattern of 2006 ...

January 17, 2006

Sorting things out

The expansive feeling you might be experiencing lately is apt to be rained on today as you get the feeling that you have lost touch with reality. Make sure you connect with real life, Flip, and do a bit of planning to balance out your whimsical nature. Things that you haven't accounted for might crop up and slap you in the face to serve as a reminder that you need to deal with here and now.

If it's planning you want, planning you get. I have just spent the past few hours happily sorting out my affairs without actually meaning to. It started with a scrunched up receipt and has ended with a big pile of rubbish, neatly filed magazines and a clean desk. I have interrupted my frenzy - which is set to end with a list of things to do - to revisit la blog and make sure I am sticking to at least one of the things on my new personal agenda. I am slightly distracted by a larger than life Queen Latifah, currently blue-ing up the screen on the screen as host (?) of the Golden Globes.

I am dazzled by the blinding white teeth and bling, the vacuous smiles and professions of gratefulness from each and every one of these over-paid "artistes". It's trash culture at its finest, wrapped in gold lame. What a deliciously wasteful distraction ... oh, there it goes. Someone just said "it's a privilege to be here" again. Sigh.

I was rather excited today at an even lamer prospect - the chance to appear on Channel 9's Temptation! I am going to the audition on Sunday at 1pm to see if I can access the glittering television studios for my big debut. Oh the whitegoods! Oh the bad jewellery! Oh the "Famous Face" segment ... the money is bound to be behind Jana Vendt! A testament to gluttony, it is. Now if could just remember the names of those famous composers and the primary language of Nicaragua...

Anyway, back to the grind.

January 16, 2006

Buried alive

You may find yourself tied up in knots when it comes to your joint financial affairs. Tuesday could be confusing as you may be offered a deal, but there may be reservations about whether you will actually get it or not. Don't worry too much, as this side of life will look a lot better after February 4. You may find it hard to resist an urge to escape to the blue yonder. The more tropical and magical the place the better. You are due for a change of scene - go for it.

Call it Mondayitis or whatever you will, but I have been suffering from a severe lack of sleep all day and have felt my brain cells slowly collapse under the strain. Much like last Sunday, I woke suddenly in the wee hours of the morning and was wide awake for hours thereafter. My mind was racing with any number of thoughts that flickered through at lightning speed and kept me tossing and turning fitfully. I hate it when that happens! Every time my brain started to filter through the sorts of nonsensical thoughts that precede sleep, the thought "hey - I'm about to fall asleep!" would trigger and I'd be wide awake again.

When I finally fell asleep for all of twenty minutes, I dreamed I was at some strange hippy girl's place, who kept offering to "cleanse my chakras". I picked up some flyers and walked out then realised I had forgotten my red handbag, which was full of money, my camera and other important things. Luckily a friend had picked it up so I went and tugged it out of her hands, but she didn't seem to register that I was there. Next thing I know I was walking up a big hill, on a road bordered by barren land. I was so exhausted that I kept sitting down on the ground and sobbing my heart out. M was there and he wasn't saying much, but I could sense his disapproval. At one point I smacked him on the arm and told him to go away, crying and ashamed of it. We entered a tunnel of some description and I lost my footing on the road and slipped into the ditch alongside it. I had time to register that the grassy floor of the tunnel was wet on my bare feet before I realised that the long grasses were closing over me and I was sinking. The last face I saw before I went under, screaming, was J. And then I woke up.

It was awful, horrible. Nightmares are bad enough but to have such a vivid one after protracted hours of sleepless suffering seemed altogether more cruel. Tonight I will be praying for a bit of relief.

January 15, 2006

Sharks n' more

Today your biorhythms may be a little low, Flip, and so you're not likely to be feeling very sociable. You're more likely to want to bury your nose in your projects instead of being your usual outgoing self. This is OK, but take care that you aren't so reclusive that you miss receiving some sincere compliments. That can make a big difference in the way you feel!

Despite feeling a bit ho-hum about it (must be those goddamn biorhythms!), I have decided to sit and do some blog-blurting to see what comes out. Things on my mind today include:

Shark attack at City Beach. This shark business is getting out of hand! We were frolicking around at City Beach yesterday without a care in the world, enjoying a barbeque despite the greyed out sky and chilly water. All togged up, we refused to set foot in the water for fear of the big freeze, choosing instead to chow down on our food and chat. And now this! A shark, in the same environs, less than a day later, decides to chow down on a diver! These close encounters really freak me out. Takes me back to a time at Cottesloe beach a few years ago when I was dumped unceremoniously on coral and gashed my hand while swimming drunkenly in the wee hours of the morning. I swam back to shore bleeding profusely. About three hours later a big hungry shark was spotted meandering around in shallow water just off the beach. To this day I remain convinced that it smelt the sweet, sweet scent of my blood and came to tuck in.

A great meeting. This morning, N and I created a masterpiece of a marketing letter. Bouncing ideas, words and sentences backwards and forwards over soy lattes we managed to find consensus, communicate a vision and get all excited about the structure. Perhaps if you're a lucky client, you'll get to see it one day. I really enjoy working on stuff like that, brainstorming and feeding each other's creativity. As a writer, it is rare that I get to do it very often and I feel I should make more time for such pursuits. Creating something with someone else makes it altogether more fun and engaging sometimes. I feel really lucky to have a friend with such clever design ideas and it inspires me to try to find words to wrap around them.

A list of things to do. What was I saying about not procrastinating? I have a small pile of essential-yet-tedious things to deal with and I seem unable to get enthusiastic about them. Probably because most of them involve money, or more specifically the spending of it. Yes, I need a pile of DVDs to back up my computer. Yes, I need to go and buy The Australian Writers' Marketplace. Yes, I do need to renew my driver's license and pay the water bill and settle my newspaper account and buy kitty litter, but does it really all have to happen at once?! I sense an early night coming up anyway, following a couple of glasses of champagne at Must. It's becoming quite the Sunday thing.

My knees. I have decided that out of all my body parts and components, my knees really upset me. I can deal with the occasionally frowsy hair and the layer of padding (it makes me cuddly!), the blackish circles under the eyes and ... only just ... my sensitive skin, but I would happily chop off my knees and replace them with something altogether more sleek if I could. There - it's out there. Now it's time for me to go and have some fun!

January 13, 2006

Astronomical times

This is a time of new beginnings in your life, a time for going after what you want and pulling out all the stops. You tend to be more aggressive or competitive than usual, eager to prove yourself against many a challenge. There is no reward without risk, and you're a real risk-taker now. A susceptibility to fevers or headaches, perhaps an accident-prone period.

The emphasis is strongly on being confident, showing your ability to speak in public and being bolder or more innovative in your search for support. Especially if you are seeking to make advancements within your profession. It's also a warm and caring day to be with those you love.

What great stars! Someone should have told me eariler and I would have woken up in a better mood. It certainly seems to ring true, though - after yet another crappy day at work yesterday my determination to find pastures new is even stronger. It feels like I have been firing resumes off right left and centre, so one of them is sure to hit the mark! I have my fingers crossed for a feature writing job at Community Newspapers (arts world here I come) but as always there is that gloomy sensation that comes with applying for hotly contested jobs.

In other news, the rumblings on the homestead have started, with great cracks and fissures about to appear. I am exhausted even at the thought of moving again but really need to get into a place where I feel comfortable and have enough space to work without being brushed by the clothes on my over-stuffed clothing rail. How this will transpire I'm not yet sure ... but ideas are certainly zinging around at the moment. I am excited at the thought of new faces and personalities!

Funny how this time last year was a time of great gloom over exactly the same issues, bar the unhappy crumbling of a doomed relationship. At leat I feel very positive about my prospects this time around.

Right, now I'm off to be competitive, aggressive and confident...

January 10, 2006

About me

I am gossamer threads
humming molecules and filaments
by tough sinew and
firecracking thoughts
that fizzle and leap
am I wasting my limited
supply of seconds?

January 9, 2006

Fifteen minutes

My hand is burning red hot thanks to green chilli that has infused my pores and refuses to wash off. I look wan and tired, grey under the eyes and hair askew. My back is tilted into crazy shapes by a restless night's sleep and the trapped nerves are singing in my ears. I am about to be late for tea. Today was the first day back at work after 18 days holiday and time has not softened the glare of the fluorescent lights.

Mea culpa.

January 8, 2006

Retail therapy

Perhaps I should have added one last resolution to my list - I am determined to write at least a few lines in the blog each day. It makes for an interesting journey, reading back. So herewith a practical use of the 20 bare minutes I have between now and when I need to start painting over the cracks (read: put on make-up) for a foray to my favourite wine bar.

I worked out today that over the Christmas break I have made a veritable fortune from wielding my pen. In fact, sitting here this afternoon with a free agenda, I remain convinced that there must be an assignment I've forgotten - a discourse on the tendency for hemlines to rise in summer months, perhaps? But no - I have managed to get everything done on time to great aplomb and with many a "cheque is in the post" promise. So, to celebrate I visited the shopping faux-Mecca that is Perth city and proceeded to blow a wad of cash on a rainbow of tops.

It started well, as I picked out the suitable-for-work stretchy cotton numbers in neutral khaki and peacock. Inspired, I started roaming and that is where it started to unravel. Within the hour I had obtained a teal silk top with plaited straps, a dusky pink top with stitching detail and appliqued butterflies and flowers, and a softly fitted Alannah Hill singlet in moss green with silver detail. These charming items now sit in a meek little pile on my desk as I type, each clamouring to be worn first, while my credit card groans under the strain.

Things I did not find: work pants. From shorty-short shorts to extra long, extra wide trousers, the world of pants held little joy for me today.

Fascinating huh? Anyway, I needed the retail therapy after the past 24 hours, where life seemed to grind to a halt and I seemed unable to shake the desire to be solitary which was coupled uneasily with a desire to be entertained. Luckily Y sprang to the rescue, and over limited wine and minted ice-cream we swapped stories and watched the delightful Garden State yet again. We went to the video shop in search of "something funny" to no avail - banning myself from the art-house section and determined not to come home with the gritty, slice of life dramas that I am always drawn to - especially if produced in Paris, or anywhere else where clothes seem to fall of with a suck of a Gauloise and a raised eyebrow - I was left with a limited choice.

What does a girl have to do to find laughs in this town?

January 6, 2006

The last of the lazy afternoons

It's hot, so very hot. I am lying on my bed sans blankets, fan trained on my feet, ice cubes slowly melting into the remains of the diet coke. How has it come to this? My time of relaxation is nearly at an end and siestas will be a thing of the past. The hours between 2pm and 4pm will again be lost to the mind-numbing stare of the monitor at work. Ay carumba.

Anyway, part two. After all my blustering yesterday, I never got around to writing down those resolutions. In no particular order:

Do not procrastinate

I have learned over the past few months that I am my own worst enemy with regards to getting stories done on time and in a relaxed state. Last week and this, I resumed practice on the "looming deadline method" whereby I attempt to trick my brain into thinking there are only a matter of hours - and not weeks - until submission. This works surprisingly well, as does telling myself off when my mind starts to wander, I develop an interest in tabloid websites or suddenly decide I am hungry. The new way is to treat my freelance work as though it were a full-time job - reliant on speed, accuracy and with impetus to get things done. (And I can make a lot more money, by stuffing many more stories into the agenda)

Learn, and learn well

The next task for 2006 is to learn the following: French, Teeline Shorthand (to be resumed after 2005's dismal attempt), where countries are in the world and what their capitals are (for this I will purchase a giant wall-mounted map), who the major players in politics are and why, how to build a website (and practice by getting my domain name up and running) and the role cognition has in determining pathways in life.

Be strong in body and in mind

This one has always been a bugbear. I spent the latter days of 2005 furiously smoking and drinking in stuporous fashion, aware that after more than ten years of partying this ol' body is starting to feel the pinch and my time is nearly up. After a briefly successful spell at the gym late in the year that fed my muscles and sparked euphoria, I have signed myself up to take this to the next level by hiring a personal trainer for fortnightly appointments. I have warned them that they have nearly three decades of bad habits to plough through - namely a negative view of exercise (despite feeling the buzz more than once), a negative view of my capacity to commit and a general laziness that sees me happier pottering around the house or lying supine on the couch than puffing around a track. But I am prepared to lay this out on the table and see what happens. Stay tuned.

Don't do drugs or get drunk

Closely related to number three. Among my friends and I there is growing disquiet about our capacity for having fun sans sparkly party starters. Actually, i put don't do drugs in there cause it will be easy really - apart from cigarettes I have few vices these days. But the demon drink is a gorilla on my shoulder which has led me to do some spectacularly stupid things over the years. So if 2006 is my year, there ain't no place for excessive beer.

Remember to be happy, and be grateful to be alive

All too often I focus on the stresses in life, which has a tendency to drag me down. This year, it's time to focus on the positive things in life. There are many - my darling friends, my career prospects, my strong spirit, my great haircuts - the list is boundless. I honestly feel as though this year holds great promise and I am ready to see what comes my way. I am happy to keep riding the rollercoaster cause while there may be dips and lows, the highs bring an addictive rush. Happy new year to me, and me, and me.

January 4, 2006

Better late than never

Formulate then formalise. I have read that the goal-setting habits of successful people are eerily similar in their capacity to knock over willpower hurdles, so herewith my own attempts. A new year, a new way. How many times have we told ourselves that? Somehow, the first of the first is imbued with a mystical quality that smacks of fresh starts, new leaves, brand-spanking new habits and a banishment of the old.

As a preamble, I am glad 2005 is over. The past 12 months brought plenty of angst as well as much joy and I spent most of the year seesawing merrily between the two. As my brain readjusted to challenging situations, life would loop and whorl in other directions and hit the equilibrium for six - over and over again. Life, death, grief, excitement, friendships made and lost, drunken abandon and career ambitions all spun together in a muddied whirl and made for a sometimes exhausting ride.

During that time, I often thought guiltly of my failure to articulate what I wanted from life and how that added to the confusion. Strange for a writer to avoid the pen, but it when it comes to making concrete the fizzing ideas and ambitions in my head I have always been tempted to leave it for another day ... because, I suspect, their articulation comes with a price. I always thought to name them aloud means they must be achieved, but now I have spent some time considering: for whom do I make these promises? I have realised something - I am not ashamed to fail, am prepared to accept my human capacity for failure and am ready to take on a whole new raft of challenges.

Bring it on, I say.