Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Who? My Generation, Barack

I now understand the line in The Who's "My Generation" - "I hope I die before I get old". I used to think it was because they thought that if they grew old that they'd end up like their parents. Now I know better.

So with apologies to The Who ...

People still try to put us d-d-d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Just because we're still renowned (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
The things you say are more of the old (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
But we took action no one foretold (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

It is my generation
It is my generation, Barack

Why don't you just f-fade away (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
And don't try to scorn what we all s-s-say (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
You know who worked to change this n-n-nation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Yeah, I'm talkin' 'bout my g-g-g-generation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

It is my generation
It is my generation, 'Bama

Why don't you just f-fade away (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
And don't try to scoff at what we s-s-say (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm not sending you a d-d-donation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm just talkin' 'bout my g-g-generation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

It is my generation
It is my generation, Baby

You can try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Just because we got things done (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Our changes were wonders to beho-o-old(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Yeah, and we made them before we got old (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

It is my generation
It is my generation, Barack

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Joy of Slob

I'm not an overly neat person, but neither am I a slob. On scale of 1 to 10, I'd probably rate a 6.5 on tidiness.

And for so one so neat, I seem to know an abnormally large number of untidy people. The first really untidy person I've known, is one of my best friends back home.

I remember years ago, driving around Anglesea in Australia. Anglesea is a small sea- side town in Victoria. I'd heard that my friend was staying there over the Christmas holidays, and being in the area, I decided to look for her, though I did not have her address. Unphased I drove around the sleepy town till I saw a car parked in a driveway, full of old newspapers,
My Friend's Kitchen Floor

unmarked exam papers and several half-read novels, anarchically disarranged amongst children's toys and discarded audio tapes. Between the car and the front door was a trail of old towels and kid's clothes. Eureka. I'd found her. There was no doubt in my mind, and I was right. "There you are," I said as she opened the door. "How did you find me?" she asked. "Oh", I lied, "I recognised the car."

A few years later, I hired a cleaner. I found her details from an ad in the local rag. She turned up for an interview. Her name was faintly familiar but I couldn't work out the connection.

We had a cup of tea together and she explained that she was needing some extra income as her ex was a bastard and she had no other source of income. She explained that she was a writer, and not really a domestic. She went on to say that her own house was a rubbish dump and that before deciding on taking up cleaning, she'd toyed with the idea of moving to Los Angeles and setting up a practice for people wanting to realise one's inner slob.

LippiI hired her on the spot, and after she left I realised what was familiar about her name. Her ex was in fact a childhood friend of mine, directly descended from Fra Filippo Lippi. He'd told me a few year's prior that he'd married a very untidy woman. And I'd thought he was exaggerating. See what happens when people emigrate to Australia. From angelic Lippi to Melbourne slob. Remarkable.

Then there's my husband of eight years. Of German birth. "Well at least he'll be tidy, being a German", a friend commented. ASIF! Before him I'd had an American lover with bad teeth. So much for stereotypes!

My good friend, my old cleaner, my husband - tidiness doesn't worry any of them. How can they be so messy?

But two weeks ago I had an epiphany. Husband away. No house guests ... why tidy up? Let's see what it's like to let it all go. So now, if I drop something, I wont pick it up. If I spill something, I wont wipe it up. I open the mail after work and instead of organising it into neat piles, I just leave it on the table. I've stopped making the bed. I sling dirty dishes into the sink, not even rinsing them. Instead of eating at the table, using a plate and flatware, I eat out of cartons, sitting on the couch, and when it is bed-time, I just leave the wrappings and half empty wine glass on the floor.

I throw my clothes on the floor instead of hanging them up. I leave the groceries at the front door in their plastic bags after shopping in the supermarket. If I need anything from them, I get it directly from the bags, rather than the fridge or cupboard.

When I take clean clothes from the drier, I chuck them onto one of the many piles of dirty clothes. I don't clean the grill. If I want a glass of coke, I just open another bottle, not worrying about the various half-drunk bottles lying around the apartment.

When I get up in the mornings and try to get ready for work, if I can't find clean clothes, so I just put on anything.

And guess what? I feel LIBERATED!!!!

Way to go! Now I just have to find the ex-wife of Lippi's descendant. I'm sure we can set up a successful Californian pop psychology company.

Discover you inner slob and find true happiness.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Nightmare in Manhattan

I stepped out into rush hour on Fifth. There was blood in my mouth.

I clenched my lips together, squeezing the blood-drenched gauze that the dental nurse had squashed onto the place where a molar had happily lived for more years than I care to remember. The nitrous oxide was wearing off.

Ah, the dental nurse. I remembered. I had realised we were off to a bad start when I sat in the dental chair, a view of high-rise offices eighteen floors above ground level facing us. She was putting the lead apron over me, ready for the xray.

"Here's your bullet-proof jacket", she joked. "To protect you from the snipers". She waved her hand towards the window. "Or a crane falling", she added, lest I failed to latch on to her sense of humour.

Now normally after a fix of nitrous, I leave the periodontist with an urge to buy clothes. But not today. I half-heartedly entered Cole Haan's. But how was I to buy anything? The periodontist had told me not to talk. But for how long? I thought of the blood, of cranes falling in Manhattan. The traffic seemed noisier than usual. The people around me looked like the people in the carriage on Anna Karenina's last train ride. Time to go straight home. I took a cab and opened my Kindle. I'm reading Tom Rob Smith's Child 44.

"The system might carry them into the Gulags or to a building, just behind this one, on Varsonofyevsly Lane, another State Security compound fitted with sloping floors, log-paneled walls to absorb bullets, and hoses to wash away rivulets of blood".

I snap the book closed. The day had started badly anyway. And I'm not referring to the periodontal experience.

I'd called my daughter back home before I left. It appears she's being stalked. A long story. Frightening actually. But maybe it wasn't true. Nothing about it had made sense, but you never know ... It had had an Ian McEwan like quality in the telling.

Back home. A dose of Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen eases the pain and I fall sleep, the TV blaring. A nightmare of a day obliterated. Temporarily.

I awake an hour later. The TV news is no longer on - it's now showing a documentary on Pete Seeger. "There is a season turn turn turn". Wonderful", I think. "The world is not such a bad place after all." My mood brightens. Life is good.

Then just as Seeger breaks into "Guantanamera" the phone rings. I look at the display, and the time. It's an Australian mobile number and the time there is six in the morning. No one I know wakes up that early. My heart hits my stomach.

There's an X-generation voice on the other end. Things were certainly taking a downward turn! "This is your daughters friend", it upwardly inflected. "Yes, yes, what's the matter?" I snapped. "Oh nothing. She's together. I'm at her place now. She's asleep." Then silence. Then ... music.

I recognise it instantly. Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side". From Seeger to Reed, from one extreme to the other. It's a long song. Precisely 5.58 minutes later the X-generation voice returns. "And the coloured girls go Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo". I interrupt. It's one thing to listen to Lou Reed playing over a phone line 12,000 miles away, but I didn't really fancy listening to Ms X-Generation's rendition.

I was fast losing the gentle visions of world peace brought about by "We Shall Overcome". The world suddenly reverted back to horror. In any case, I mused, Seeger probably supports Obama!

"Did you like the song?" Ms X-Generation again. "Oh yes", I yawned, "I've heard it many times. I think he first sang it before you were born. I see him round Manhattan sometimes. He's old and ugly. Like me."

I don't think she heard me. She was in free-fall, talking about a cousin who was a neo-Nazi, and Christians who are intimidated by women. I let her talk, asking a question now and then.

I find out heaps, but nothing adds up. Her story and my daughter's are worlds apart. I tell her this. There's silence and then she speaks. "Oh I probably shouldn't have talked", she tells me. "That's what happens when you drink all night", I snap.

But she's off again. "MY parents are tolerant and forgiving", she says in tones reminiscent of religious hippie cultists, looking pityingly at the world of men-in-suits, or just "suits" as they now call them.

I look at the clock. Over an hour has passed. I suggest she get some sleep. She agrees. We hang up.

I look around my apartment. NOW what am I to do? Read the book about Gulags? Look at the gaping gum in the mirror? Love my neighbour?

Lou Reed or Pete Seeger?

"A hustle here and a hustle there
New York city is the place where ..."

Lou Reed it is.