Monday, February 28, 2011

Something Beautiful

This is my favourite song at the moment. It isn't new, which I like, and it isn't exactly happy, which is important to me right now, but it makes me feel comforted, in a way that doesn't pretend that everything will be alright.

I first found that out seven and a half years ago, and it came as a shock. It fucked me up for quite a time. But you find you keep on living, even if you don't want to or you're afraid to, and then, eventually, maybe you find little things mean more... I don't know. Things are different for everybody.

I just want to share something that's beautiful.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Million Reasons

You think you just can't have any tears left... and then you find them leaking out down your face again.

I've been thinking a lot about loss the last few days. At a time when people's lives have been lost and others' fallen apart, nothing else is important, and any other kind of loss seems very insignificant. But it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.

Vincent was born in Christchurch. He lived there until he was four, moved back there when he was seventeen, and stayed until he had to move for work after university. When things packed up in Auckland a couple of years ago, he packed up his car and went back there. No matter how long he lives away, Christchurch is home. For me, since my first visit, the two have been inextricably linked; I have only ever gone there to be with him, or since he moved up, his family. It made it very easy to love the city... and then I began to love the city for itself.

Buildings could never, ever be nearly as important as people. But they are a crucial part of memory and belonging; for city mice they are the land of turangawaewae.

That's all.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

We Are Not The First

Who, with best meaning, have incurr'd the worst.
For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down;
Myself could else out-frown false fortune's frown.

And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life!
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more,
Never, never, never, never, never!

(King Lear Act Five, Scene iii, lines 4-7 & 303-306)

Monday, February 21, 2011

So Much To Say

I was just saying to Vincent yesterday that I think I talk more than anyone I know. A lot of it is because I don't check myself; I like discussing things, and I just like for people, especially Vincent, to know what I think. About everything. I think it is also something to do with my not-completely-fleshed-out idea that people can't really love you or like you or dislike you when they don't know you, and they can know you by hearing how you see the world, and what/how much you choose to share. Anyway, there is a lot I want to say now and not a lot of time, so I'm hopping to:

1. I bought this and the suitcases at the top last week and I'm very proud of them because they are rad. The blue and the cup were a gift, but the orange one is mine! and being put to use the next time I go somewhere for a night.

2. I've been reading fashion magazines again and getting very annoyed at some of the looks about to hit, particularly women wearing men's clothes which is apparently 'oh-so-on-trend'. Vomit. Just under half of my wardrobe is men's clothes (some a specific man's - Vincent's), and it irks me to know that if I wear them, people will think I'm following capitalist trends and trying to look like everyone else. After the revolution, if fashion magazines still exist they will be a means of showcasing beautiful things to inspire, not pages of shit that is supposed to be bought (for the same amount of money that would feed an entire village in Uganda) simply because it's the current trend.

3. This morning I've been listening to Leonard Cohen and eating a soft-boiled egg with soldiers and it's made me happy. Monday mornings are not so bad, and things in general aren't so bad either; not when you can laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Holy Guac

Just watched the end... Wow. Go and get this right now (I'd lend you mine, but I'm watching it again at the earliest opportunity).

Dorothy, A Friend Indeed

Last night after a very enjoyable and eventful dinner at my parents' house, I came home happy as larry... before I was struck down by the worst toothache I've ever had - and I've had some bad fucking toothache in my time. I took twice the recommended dosage of nurofen, stuffed my cheeks with cloves, and had a very bad sleep; waking grumpy, tired, still sore, and with a coffee-coloured stain on the sheet from the cloves, which I spat out during the night. I passed a miserable day at work (still in a lot of pain), have hardly been able to eat anything, and can't see a dentist until tomorrow. I came home, hungry and tired, took more nurofen, stuffed my cheeks with more cloves so I resemble Alvin, and thought I'd put on A Star Is Born (the Judy Garland version), since I've been meaning to watch it.

It is amazing. Since noticing in the opening credits that it's based on a screenplay co-written by Dorothy Parker, I can't help seeing Dorothy's black, bleak but beautiful sense of humour all through it, and with Judy Garland as her instrument, fresh from a four-year break from movies, it's completely heartbreaking. Judy Garland, at only 32, is already showing the signs of the stress and drug dependency that ended her life 15 years later; the songs she sings ring too true, and her character's naivety makes it seem even sadder and more poignant as if she doesn't even know it, although I'm sure Judy Garland did. The love story is tragic, and so much more insightful than any of the supposedly genius films made now about celebrity and addiction. I don't want to say too much more so I don't affect how it seems to anyone else too much, but I do want to say that everyone who loves Judy Garland, or thinks they could, needs to watch this, stat. As soon as the throbbing in my chipmunk face had subsided enough for me to watch it, I knew I loved it. It entertained me, it distracted me, and it broke my heart. You're my boy, Jude... you're my boy.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Sundays

This isn't a new song, but it's new to me and I like it a lot and have been playing it lots of times in a row this weekend. It's a bit cheesy but I love cheese, plus I'm a total sucker for horns, and after playing it several times this morning I was off on a journey through Motown and then Stax (which is not cheesy at all; don't believe me? Watch Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story. Even if it hadn't opened with the hauntingly beautiful Otis Redding 'I've Been Loving You Too Long' and I wasn't crying before the opening credits were finished, I still would have been hyperventilating by the end), and spent a very happy hour reliving Standard Three (when I discovered Kool FM and spent a lot of time pretending to be Smokey Robinson). Soul and soul-inspired pop are among the most evocative and comforting things to listen to, and on a balmy Sunday when you've slept until eleven and are prancing around in your undies, it feels like there isn't anything better.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Done In Sixty Seconds

This morning I was listening to The White Stripes (yes, again; I'm in a happy music rut, and a happy coinciding food rut with toasted sandwiches and 62% cocoa chocolate - want a bigger waistline? Ask me how!), and while working through White Blood Cells, came across Little Room. It's a brilliant song, and it's only 49 seconds long. It made me think of all the great things you can do in under a minute; not rushing to get them done, but pleasurable or constructive things that just don't take long. Unfortunately I only came up with two (although all up, the thinking took less than a minute - yuss).

1. Listen to Little Room (aha!).
2. Text somebody back (this can also be destructive, but still pleasurable).
3. Check your breasts or balls for lumps (Vincent's suggestion, and a very good one; I think it's supposed to take longer but he's very efficient; he actually found one in one of mine which I now need to have removed).

Clearly, there isn't a lot I can do in under a minute, but I am a fairly slow mover. Something that is currently taking me a very long time is reading Wuthering Heights. I began it about a month ago, was immediately taken with it, then lost interest, lost the actual book, and then freaked out about being way off track for achieving my goal of reading fifty books this year that I haven't read before, and read a different book and then began another. However, I'm back on Wuthering Heights (saving In Cold Blood to finish in the weekend when I can read more at once so I don't break the atmosphere - Capote is quite a writer; like quite a fucking good one), and again (thankfully), I'm taken. I love Jane Austen as much as the rest of the sisterhood (did you shudder? Yuss again!), but Emily Bronte's depiction of love as an all-consuming, selfish and even destructive thing is so original and unexpected, and, for me, so real. Catherine is hateful, Heathcliff is brutal and cruel, but I know how and why they each love the other, and while their characters are unappealing, their passion redeems them to me. I know the way I love can be destructive; sometimes it even hurts me. It can be selfish, and I end up hurting the object of my affection because I throw myself into every part of how I feel about them, including the parts that don't feel good, like jealousy, and I'm not sure it's something I could ever grow out of, or learn out of, or be hurt out of like Marianne Dashwood. I'd like to know what other people think of the book. I've just been talking to one of my best friends tonight, and told her about some of my romantic neuroses and reactions, and just saying them aloud made me sound like a crazy person. But there must be other people like me; not just complete nutters like Cathy. Or are there not? Am I in a small boat with Cathy, and characters played by Glenn Close or Kathy Bates? Vincent, watch your children's rabbit...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Five Easy Pieces

I know it's not nice to gloat, so I'll just mention in passing, very quietly, that on Wednesday, Vincent and I bought two tickets to see Bob Dylan. Seats 45 & 46. Row 13. That's 13 from the front.

I'm not thinking about it too much and I don't want to listen to his music a lot in the interim, but yesterday morning (long before I knew about The White Stripes), in spite of myself, I found myself doing both. First I listened to My Back Pages, and pictured Vincent and me in our seats, drinking beer and trying to need to pee to get it out in time, and looking around at all of the silver foxes around us. Then I put on Ballad In Plain D, imagined myself as the younger sister, and wondered, if I were invited onstage, if I would give my full name or the shortened version. I imagined being asked what I would like to hear, and saying Desolation Row, partly because I'd love to hear it and partly because it's ten minutes long (getting my money's worth my aunty would say), then feeling bad about it and saying Like A Rolling Stone. Just before I left, I listened to I Want You, and thought about being 13 rows from Bob Dylan, with Vincent. I went to work happy.

This morning, though, all listened to was The White Stripes, like the sometime masochist I am. I don't feel like elaborating on what I was thinking about, other than to say I was in a massive shit for most of the day, until I hit the pub. These are five songs I listened to.

1. Jimmy The Exploder
2. Stop Breaking Down
3. Your Southern Can Is Mine
4. Ball & Biscuit
5. One More Cup Of Coffee

I listened to the last one lots during the day; the quiet and gravity of the song seemed appropriate but now I see how much so the lyrics are, and that I suppose I was trying to get my last cup for the road. Later in the evening I really had one more for the road (actually it was one more for my sister, who was on a roll), and now I feel a lot better about everything. And once Vincent and I get a drum-kit, I'll feel better still (getting my period won't hurt any, either). After all, *clenches fist, puts to breast* tomorrow is another day!

(If you haven't watched Gone With The Wind lately, I suggest you do; it really puts things in perspective.)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Something Very Sad

Tonight I found out one of my favourite bands ever has decided to call it a day.

The first time I heard Jack and Meg, I felt like I was living in the 70s; like finally I was hearing something the first time around, and it was real rock'n roll, not shitty 'rock' or something from my parents era that had been heard a million times before. I discovered them late in the piece, when Elephant came out, but they immediately changed music for me; they were alive, and new, and they were great. Everyone was raving on about The Strokes and I didn't know why it was that although I enjoyed their music, it just sounded kind of hollow. Then I found The White Stripes, and they were raw, and real, and they weren't posing (in fact, their get-up was ridiculous) and they were fucking loud; and then I knew why.

When Vincent and I were first getting together, we used to lie on his bed and plan a road-trip of America. We were each allowed to choose ten bands we wanted to watch on the way, and tried to figure out the route we would take and whom we would see where, and the route would change (Chicago! We missed Chicago!) and so would the musicians (Dolly Parton! Yes! No?), but it was always going to be The White Stripes in Memphis. The first time I met him, I discovered he loved them too, and it was an immediate bond; no-one else I knew loved them. When we were married, the second song we played at the ceremony was Hotel Yorba. I still remember putting on Ball & Biscuit in his room one day and just feeling like everything was too perfect when he knew the entire guitar solo.

There are drummers I really admire, like Mitch Mitchell, but the drummer I really want to be like is Meg; I just want to smash the fuck out of my drums. For a long time, I've really believed Jack White is a musical genius. The White Stripes are the only true and original rock'n roll band I expect to know in my lifetime. And now I know I won't ever see them live, or hear a new album. Yeah, they're alive. Jack will keep making music with The Raconteurs and Dead Weather. But I feel like a beautiful story has ended... and I just feel really sad.

Jack, Meg, it's been great.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In Praise Of Bolder Women

Yesterday I was thinking about people I really admire; not heroes exactly, but people who blow me away just as they are, without any kind of legend behind them - if anything, the legend is in front of them, if that makes any sense. And a person I kept coming back to was this force here:

If you know even a little about feminism, particularly French feminism, you'll know all about binaries. This small person is a perfect example of the problem with binaries, because they - both sides - exist within her. She is brave and afraid, and she is subjective and just, and she is emotional and totally rational. In spite of the limitations of her age and size, and the weight of expectations, she is true to herself, and when she has to do things she doesn't want to do, she does them in a way that is gracious but leaves no doubt about how she feels about them. She has fears but if something important is at stake, most often someone else's feelings or well-being, she puts them aside. When she's angry, she kicks doors. When she's sad, her heart breaks. When she's excited, she punches dolls in the face. She cracks jokes and laughs at other people's. She speaks up and she mutters under her breath and she sings so you can hear her. She loves like a fanatic. She lives through every atom of her being. She is uncommonly kind, and gentle, generous and original, and completely genuine. And she is six years old.

Sometimes she makes me feel really awful about the world we've created/allowed to be created, that she has to live in, and deal with. But then I think: she can change it, and every day she does, a little bit at a time. It's good to have heroes. But having someone you admire, who also thinks you're pretty good too; that's great. It brings out the best of both of you, and makes you really think about what you value and why.

I hope one day, if you're not a dick, that she crosses your path. You won't miss her. She's completely, utterly unmissable.

PS Her favourite song by The Clash? I Fought The Law, of course.