Thursday, November 26, 2009

Through a Lens, Falsely

Methinks it is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics, when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never more at home with their own hearts than while so occupied.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, 1859

A classic example of intentional imperfect exposure is when a photographer intentionally overexposes a portrait of an older woman by a full f-stop or more to minimize facial lines and wrinkles.
Canon EOS 50D Digital Field Guide

Girls showing sewing, open day Bathurst Demonstration School 1958 (perhaps)
The photo has been lying around in one of my many boxes and folders for some time. I usually smile when I come across it - when looking for some other photo or when just tidying up.

Today it turned up again, but this time I turned it over and saw, for the first time, the writing on the back.

"Katie - at her Open Day at the Girls' School - showing her sewing (N.B. less of it than the other girls have). She was in the maypole dance and loved it. Will you return this photo and keep the other one. Love, Chris".
Liverpool pre-Beatles

Liverpool post-Beatles

See Beatles Cinematic.
Chris - my mother. What did she mean - I had less sewing than the other girls? That's me on the right. I scanned the photo in and blew it up. Perhaps I did have less but why point it out? And I HATED being in the maypole. I have no sense of rhythm and have never been comfortable dancing. Look at my haircut with that short fringe. I actually remember that cut and remember hating that short fringe.

Mothers and daughters .... Strange why the writing on the back of the photo would bother me as much as it did. I must get all my 1950s photos together. There's something so very gray and depressing about them. I'll put them all together and throw away the key.

But today I was in a masochistic mood. I looked at each and everyone. Hoping to find something to contradict my vision of the black and white world of Australia in the fifties. Oh look, here's one of me and my brother on our way to the beach. We look more like we are fulfilling a duty rather than about to have FUN! And I still have that bloody aweful fringe!

We grew up. Times change.

From the fifties in black and white to color. I remember in 1964 when the Beatles came to Melbourne. I went to their concert. The world turned to color.

I've turned over the last fifties photo. I keep going.

I find a late photo of me and my brother. The fifties are behind us.

And we are actually smiling.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Alphabet Kids
(Will the REAL Baby Boomers Please Stand Up)

What letter are our kids? "A", "Z" - what?
Peg from Bacchus Marsh during a phone conversation about kids, October 2009

Generation X is the generation generally defined as those born after the baby boom ended, extending from around 1960 to the late 1970s. Generation Y spans from the late 1970s to the early 1990s.
from Wikipedia's Generation List

Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
From Bob Dylan, "The Times They Are A-Changin'? ©1963; Special Rider Music

A Generation-Xer  January 1970
Stand while they can, that is. For to quote old Bob, we are now "Rapidly agin".

I do hope I'm not becoming an apologist for "My Generation". It was bad enough having to explain ourselves away back in the sixties when we felt we had tell tell our own parents "don't criticize what you can't understand". To come full circle and to feel we have to justify ourselves yet again is a bit over the top. Babes!

Yet it seems that is the case, as our offspring look at the world they have inherited in horror, thinking in many cases that the bad stuff is all our fault.

But that's not what I intended to write about. I wanted to write about Generation Y - the offspring of those boomers who procreated late in life, or the X-ers who procreated early. The digital children who have grown up with FaceBook, Twitter, cell phones and all things digital.

Interestingly, these "children" - who can subsist in the world by texting rather than talking, FaceBooking rather than fraternising, googling rather than gossiping - are now letting it all hang out.

Baby Boomers Living It Up circa 1958 (outside their Nissan Hut Home, Broome WA)
"If they're not letting you know every specific detail of their menstrual periods, relationships and emotional state, they're undertaking their morning ablutions on the train", writes Avril Moore in Baby boomer lament: too much information from generation.

"I don't wanna know what kind of cocktail you are, which member of the Beatles or which 1950s movie star. I don't give a toss if you're a ninja or a pirate ...", sings Gen-Y Kate Miller-Heidke in "Are You F*cking Kidding Me". Which begs the question, "does anyone?" Care, that is.

I'm always amazed when I see the enthusiasm with which many people (and not only Gen-Ys), partake of the character quizzes on FaceBook. Which superhero are you? What sort of tea-cup are you? I even saw one claiming to categorize people into groups of pen-types. Are you a Texta or a Biro? How truly bizarre.

And how supremely self-centered. Because of course, people are only interested in what sort of whatever their own selves are. They are hardly going to take the time of day looking at what sort of farm animal some "friend" that they have yet to "un-friend" happens to be.

Has anyone done, "What Letter of the Alphabet Are You"? Or should that be "R U"?

And more to the point what will the Generation Z people - the Gen-Zs - be like? The Gen-Xers supposedly grew up on a diet of television, the Gen-Ys on media, communications and digital apps. What's in store for the Gen-Zs? And will they grow up complaining about the Gen-Xers? And if so, what will be THEIR gripes.

"Oh dad," they will text, or perhaps telepath, "did you REALLY spend Saturdays 'working out' the gym and did you actually OWN an iPod?" "Why was your carbon paw-print as big as a Yeti's?" they will silently transmit. "Did you have a cat-slave and WALK your dog on a leash?" Or some such 2020s blah.

And what letter will the children of the Gen-Ys be? Their parents, the Gen-Ys being into recycling will not know whether to re-use "X" or start again with the letter "A". And what will Gen-A's be like?

By then, the pre-alphabet people, those people who pre-date even the Baby Boomers, those people who lived through WWII will be long gone.

I'm alphabeted-out!

I have only one thing left to say -

Will the last Letter of the Alphabet please turn off the lights.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bear Gully - A TJ Post

"That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest."
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

"God! my pubes are on fire!"
Steve's friend Nemo (Bear Gully 1990)

Well I'm off to Bear Gully next week, for a whole week! Yippee! This is camping at its best. Mother nature, good friends and the freedom to swim at midnight or open a beer before breakfast.

I am a "baby boomer" (eat your heart out Kate Miller-Heidke). Late in the 1970's I was living in an extended urban commune when one of the girls said "can't you guys just take the kids away for a while?"

Thus started the "dads and kids camp".Things were pretty wild at first and we were lucky to bring the kids home more or less intact.

Bear Gully has evolved over the decades. Now we have grandkids, and the "kids" even bring their own beer.

On the Saturday night we do a sheep on a spit. There is a
concert after. Guitars and comedy and a camp fire. I love it!

Thank you Mother Nature!

- TJ (brother of Kate)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Baby Boomer's Daughter

I'm not gonna meditate anymore
The revolution is off the agenda
I'm a baby boomer's daughter
And I'm never gonna reach nirvana

The sixties were 50 years ago
You know
Get over it
©Kate Miller-Heidke, "Politics in Space",

I'm livin' in the 70's
I feel like I lost my keys
Got the right day but I got the wrong week
And I get paid for just bein' a freak
from Skyhooks' , "Living in the Seventies"

How do they see us? The sons and daughters of the baby boomers. Or what's more relevant to us baby boomers is perhaps, how do we see THEM?

Here's a photo of little Sammy. A baby boomer's daughter who I knew way back in the seventies. It was taken in the country-side in Australia, where I lived at the time. You can see a water tank behind her, and what is part of a makeshift fence that I put up to protect my vegetable garden from the dogs, ducks and chickens.

We - my husband of the time, and children- didn't live on a commune, but many of our friends did - including Sammy and her parents. And although our family lived as a nuclear family, with a male breadwinner, much of our lifestyle embraced rural communal living. Hence the ducks, chooks and organic vegie garden ...

What happened to our "babies"? I follow the lives of many of them, though I've completely lost touch with little Sammy. I last heard of her about twenty years ago - when someone told me that she'd become a "greenie" - an environmental activist.

Do these babies of baby boomers feel as Kate Miller-Heidke does - that the sixties are ancient history that we should "get over"? Not all feel that way, I'm sure, but I know several who do.

Listening to Miller-Heidke 's "Politics of Space" I thought back on how WE, the baby boomers, saw our OWN parents' past.

Baby Boomers' Mothers - being little devils
Baby boomers' parents lived through WWII and many would remember the Great Depression. Some buckled down. Most in fact. My parents 'rebelled' - in a way. They didn't go on demonstrations or attend 'sit-ins', but they did protest what they saw as social injustices. Here is our mum (second from the right) and an aunt (second from the left) on stage in a theatre review, New Theatre, Melbourne circa 1943.

I can remember being mildly bored with my mother's stories of the "war" and the Depression. But, "get over it"? I don't' THINK so.

So what have we done to our children to lead them - well some of them at least - to be annoyed with the "sixties"?

I'm ducking for cover here, but I suspect that there's element of jealousy. I remember when my daughter was about thirteen, berating me for giving birth to her in 1972. "I missed out on the sixties," she wailed, "And it is YOUR fault." "Blame your father," I retorted, just to get her off my back. But she'd have none of it.

So have we represented the sixties as some golden age? Have we made out that the sixties was a time of fun? Well it was. That it was a time of freedom? Well, it was. Of sexual experimentation? Well for some ...

And yeah, many of us thought that we were changing the world, and we didn't - well not completely. I like to think we did have a positive affect. And yes there are the negatives. We have bequeathed materialism, pollution and AIDs.

But then ... that was all a long time ago.

Look Kate Miller-Heidke and ilk - as much as I respect your creativity, your skills and your ideas - the sixties were 50 years ago.

Get over it!

The Pink Glove

When talking about the quality of lenses, we don't use the word "lens". It's too obvious. Instead we say stuff like, Hey, Joe's got some really good glass," or, "He needs to invest in some good glass," etc
from Scott Kelby's, "The Digital Photography Book, Volume 1"

Picture This
from the 1978 album "Parallel Lines" by Blondie

Day one of my new camera! And as I did in A Thousand Autumn Leaves, I took photos on my way to the gym.

Unfortunately the colorful autumn leaves have gone. I'd wanted to take a photo of them with my new Canon EOS 50D and compare with the photo of them from my point-and-shoot.

With all settings on automatic I decided to just try my luck and I managed to take five photos that I actually liked.

One was of the lost pink glove, on a wrought iron spike on a fence of a brownstone. You can see a larger version HERE.

Walking east and I couldn't resist a peek at these guys.

Unfortunately they turned out to be rather shallow, with the depth and personalities of cardboard.

I probably could have done something more with the balloons outside the Vinegar Factory. Still, I like the shot although it looks better in the larger size - HERE.

Dogs are people too. And in Manhattan they have day care, play groups, sleep-overs ... and spas.

Autumn is lingering. I like to view the skyscrapers ghost-like behind the last leaves.

I hope to begin to master my new camera. It's a daunting task that I shall take, one day at a time.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hey Merrill - Are You Reading This?

Hey boy that's Balwyn calling
Hey boy that's Balwyn calling
Hey boy that's Balwyn calling
Get off the phone and get out of Balwyn
From Skyhooks', "Balwyn Calling"

For three days after death, hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off.
Johnny Carson

"Schnitzel the size six iPhones"
Jedro74 on Twitter, Nov 21 2009

Somewhere in Manhattan is a woman called Merrill, who doesn't get along with another woman whose name is Cheryl. They were both out at a restaurant dinner last night with a Jessie and a Susan and one other person - a man in his fifties.

How do I know? Well it's not just me who knows. There must be at least forty other New Yorkers who know, or who knew earlier today. Most likely the others have forgotten. I only remember because I made a mental note of the names at the time. The time being around 9:35 a.m. today. The place - on an M15 bus in Manhattan.

Our informant - a skinny, though I'm certain he'd use the adjective "trim", man in his late forties or early fifties, wearing jeans and an open necked shirt. Not too bald, but not well coiffed either. And certainly not shy. He was calling his therapist on his cell phone. Loudly.

He needs a name. What shall I call him? "Phone-Man" will do.

So there we all were, sitting on the M15 bus, most of us on our way to work. At 72nd Street Phone-Man got on. I didn't notice him at first because I was engaged in a discussion. The woman next to me had struck up one of those New York conversations which sound like the conversers have known each other for yonks. She was pointing out a couple two seats away and commenting on their argument-in-progress, which was getting louder by the minute.

The male part of the couple had a big bulbous alcoholic nose and hadn't shaved this century. His companion looked normal enough, though perhaps it was only in comparison. Bulbous-Nose was carrying on like a pork chop, complaining that my neighbor had brushed his leg as she walked past him earlier. Mrs Bulbous-Nose was being reasonable and telling him to chill out.

We were interrupted in our discussion about strange complaining people with bulbous noses by what at first seemed to be a rather loud soliloquy. It was coming from a man close to the front of the bus, on the opposite side.

Was he practicing for a Broadway audition? We listened.

Nope, turned out to be just another cell-phone New York monologue conversation. It was Phone-Man asking his therapist about his friends Cheryl and Merrill, explaining their conflict, though it seemed as though the therapist was not getting a chance to respond.

How could Phone-Man modify Merril's behaviour and had he done the right thing by confiding later with Susan, who by the way was obviously smitten by Jessie and so hadn't been listening? The questions were endless. Every now and then Phone-Man would introduce another character. Susan sounded rather nice. Jessie was obviously a bit pushy. And Britney - well she sounded like a Britney. The monologue was sounding like one of those radio soaps they had in the olden days. "Blue Hills" or "Portia Faces Life".

I looked around. I wasn't the only one distracted and annoyed. A Jehovah Witness put down her "Watchtower", obviously unable to concentrate. A schoolgirl gave up on drawing squiggly hearts on her French homework and stared ahead blankly. The twenty people reading "Buy Ketchup in May and Fly at Noon" (it's a current New York Times' best seller), put their books down and turned to the cartoon sections of their Wall Street Journals.

I turned to my neighbor and raised my eyebrows. She raised hers. "I'm going to say something to him," I said. "Good idea," she said. And then ... he was suddenly silent. Was the therapist at last getting a word in? Seemed so, as Phone-Man eventually said thank you and goodbye doctor. He then sat quietly with a satisfied grin on his face.

It was almost time to get off. I sat for a while pondering how cell phones have taken over our lives, wondering about Merrill and Cheryl, and thinking how my own son now uses his iPod as a unit of measure. Where will it all end?

The bus stopped at Sixtieth Street. My stop. As I walked past Phone-Man I turned to him and said, "I have to disagree with your doctor. I think that Cheryl was clearly in the wrong!" "Shhhhh, Don't tell her," he responded.

I got off the bus shaking my head. If I didn't get annoyed by people who say, "Only in New York", I'd say "Only in New York".

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Thousand Autumn Leaves

Outside our apartment building -
Thanksgiving plants and autumn leaves
in the park

Turning into Second Avenue - subway construction

Heading east along 93rd Street

Through the Projects

A Thousand Autumn Leaves

Arriving at the Gym

Children at Play

View from the Treadmill

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pastrami on Rye

The first printed mention of to be found in the Community Regulations of Krakow, Poland, for the year 1610 which stated that bagels would be given as a gift to any woman in childbirth."
from by Leo Roste, "The Joys of Yiddish"

[Cut to a "Swedish film"; a barren winter landscape narrated by a man and woman speaking in Swedish, with English subtitles]
Man: When does the bus come?
Woman: The bus never comes.
Man: Then I want to die.
Anthony Bordain, "No Reservations"
"Take Out" ("Delivery") menus, New York
I am beginning to realise that I'm a slow learner.

When I first came to New York, and for many years after, I believed that sooner or later that I'd be invited to dinner parties, the keystone of a social life.

Yep, I was Melbourne through and through. Coffee with friends on weekends, dropping in, and a dinner party or two, monthly.

It didn't happen of course. I took a while to learn the rules of New York life. It isn't about dinner parties. And coffee in a coffee shop? Helloooo!

Coffee is that slop you put in a polystyrene cup and have at your desk at work.

I have been to two dinner parties in my fourteen years in New York. The first was about ten years ago and I can't tell you much about it. All I can remember is there was a man there who had to interrupt the dinner to call his pet canary. But obviously there was more to it than that.

Coffee in a Box with Donuts
The second was about two years go. A neighbour in my building invited me to "dinner with friends to celebrate the 4th of July". I was elated. "Good things come to those who wait" - who said that? My mum? It felt like it was true. I bought a good bottle of wine and knocked on the door round 8:00 p.m.

It seemed that I was the first to arrive. "What cuisine would you like, the others aren't here yet - I asked my hairdresser and the girl at the pharmacy," said my neighbour in one breath. She then laid out a selection of take-out ("delivery") pamphlets from local restaurants. I could pick from a dozen or so cuisines. Great.

I can't remember much more about that night. The human brain is a wonderful thing.

The upshot is that I've now come to realise that socializing in New York is NOT about dinner parties or coffee in polystyrene cups. It is about ... it is about. Well it isn't.

Which brings me to the subject of FOOD. TV is big in America, and one of the more popular channels is the FOOD Channel. I've recently become an avid fan. This will surprise though who know me, as I've never considered myself as a good cook, or as a gourmet. But now I am beginning to understand - the food thing, that is.

It's not about food. It's not about dinner parties. It is about imaginings.

Take Bourdain's "No Reservations". New York chef, Anthony Bourdain goes to a different country every night. And we can all WATCH!

On coming home from work and eating a hot dog or a knish, we are all equal. In the democracy that is America, IF we have (premier) cable, we can ALL watch Bourdain slide across exotic countries, criticizing and or admiring the cuisine. It's almost like being there!

And if we are in a negative frame of mind we can tune into BBC America and watch Geoffrey Ramsey ("Kitchen Nightmares") try to rescue a vegetarian restaurant in Paris run by a spoiled child of a Scottish business man. We can then feel good that WE aren't the child. OR the businessman parent.

It isn't about food. It is about ... well it is about, not being ALONE.

Who NEEDS a dinner party? Who WANTS one? Not me.

It's much easier to dial the local [restaurant of your choice] and tune into a cable channel.

The world at your fingertips.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

We can't return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game
from "The Circle Game" ©Joni Mitchell

I know that my circle of true friends has become smaller and smaller over the years. If I live long enough there may come a time when the circle has completely vanished and there is just me left as the dot in the middle.
At that point I will have a furious argument with myself and disappear in a puff of smoke!
Tim's comment on Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Several years ago when I made a short visit to my home town of Melbourne Australia, I was very surprised to find a very large Rubik's Cube standing in the Exhibition Gardens there.

Apart from its rather seventies look, I was negatively attracted to it because I have a "thing" about Rubik's Cubes. For ten years I was married to a man who "doesn't believe in Rubik's Cubes". Regular readers of my blog will know of him as "the man-who-doesn't-believe-in-washing-machines". Well, he doesn't believe in Rubik's cubes either. And who can blame him.

So I was bemused when sometime this century, I came across the HUGE Rubik's cube in Melbourne's Exhibition Gardens, and hence the cartoon. Shock horror!

Five Minus Four
I put it here because I like to start my postings with an image that sums up, epitomizes my thoughts of the moment. This was the best I could find.

Last week I read the comment, "I know that my circle of true friends has become smaller and smaller over the years. If I live long enough there may come a time when the circle has completely vanished and there is just me left as the dot in the middle", from a NON-expat (Tim, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do).

For YEARS I've believed that my friends have been dropping off because I am far away.

And "It ain't necessarily so," as the song says.

I'm not the only expat who has thought this. I and others have felt that, as the years away increase, the friends back home, decrease. But maybe not.

Four Minus Two
So I got to thinking about how many friends I had when I CAME to America, and how many I still have. They are decreasing almost exponentially.

And they leave in reverse order from when they were acquired. Last in, first out.

My friends who remain were all, almost all, acquired before 1985.


This doesn't look good for my social life.

On the other hand, I live in New York and barely have a social life.

In the past week, before dropping off to sleep, I've counted lost friends instead of sheep. I do encourage this for any insomniacs (over fifty) out there. It is so frightening that your natural defenses of denial kick in, and you are soon sleeping soundly, if not happily.

Yes Tim is correct. I HAVE lost most of them because of arguments and not because of distance.

Do we get less tolerant as we age? Or is it that our live's experiences separate us from more and more people?

I suspect in my case it's the latter.

Unless you are very much like everyone else, as you get older, your peers are less willing to accept you. Especially if you are outspoken.

So here I am in New York. Outspoken!

Pondering the friend thing.

Who was it sang, "Hello darkness, my old friend"???

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Another Side of New York

I see skies of blue, and clouds of white,
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night.
And I think to myself... what a wonderful world.
From "What a Wonderful World", ©1968 Bob Thiele

--- the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs ---
from "God's Grandeur", Gerard Manley Hopkins

Manhattan Balcony, Fall 2009
I once went to see a gay English comic - who was incredibly beautiful in an androgynous sort of way - who joked about waiting at the airport carousel for one's luggage. "I imagine," he joked, looking sad and wistful, "that it's like parents feel when they wait for their kids to come out of the school grounds ... Is that mine? No. Oh here mine comes, oh goodie."

I thought of that comic today as I walked home from the gym; how it is difficult to imagine the experiences of people of another kind, of people who "have" something that you will never have.

When I leave the gym, I feel like what I think Catholics must feel like when they leave mass, or that Methodists must feel like when they leave Sunday morning services. Good, virtuous, a job well done ... N'est ce pas???


Flowers for Sale
Today was one of those perfect New York days. People were out and about doing New York things. And after blobbing about at home all Saturday I decided to do the right thing, and go to the gym.

On my short walk I thought of the image that many non-New Yorkers have of New York - as a harsh and soulless place - and I thought how different that is from the reality.

Let me retrace my steps. I walked out of the apartment building to the local fruit-barrow opposite. There I stopped to chat with the vendor and another customer about how best to eat pomegranates. Then east down 93nd Street to First Avenue.

Produce at a Farmers' Market
At First Avenue there's a New York Farmers' Market. Fresh fish, fruit and vegetables and "home-made" apple, cranberry and pumpkin pies are for sale. I decide to shop for my dinner ingredients there on my way back.

I cross First, making a short-cut through a huge apartment block owned by the New York Housing Authority. "Projects" - what we call "Housing Commission Flats" in Australia. There are children's playgrounds in between the project's buildings. The view from many of the apartment windows must be spectacular as the buildings are adjacent to the East River with the George Washington Bridge being visible to the north, the 59th Street Bridge to the south. The grounds are clean. Nothing is broken. No muggers lurking. Safe as houses!

Adjacent to the project are other, 'private' apartment blocks where the rent costs an arm and a leg, and selling prices for individual apartments are $1 million up.

Children at Play, Mad Hatter Statue, Central Park
Now I'm at York Avenue and I walk over the road to Asphalt Green, my gym.

Asphalt Green is not for profit and sits on 5.5 acres in the middle of Manhattan. It has an Olympic size swimming pool, the largest in Manhattan. I check in and plug my memory stick into a machine that tells me what my exercises are and details on my past performances. This is what I need as I'm competitive and require some structure to stay motivated.

After using the exercise equipment in my program I hop onto a treadmill.

And as I pace at a pathetic 4 m.p.h., I look straight ahead through the wall to ceiling windows, at the East River and two of New York's finest bridges. Postcard-perfect.

Then it's off to the women's shower room where all manner of products are available as part of the membership fee. I shower and dry and it is MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

I walk back home.

Feeling good.

Feeling virtuous.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

They say that breaking up is hard to do
Now I know, I know that it's true
Don't say that this is the end
Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again
Sedaka and Greenfield, ©1962

When it's three o'clock in New York, it's still 1938 in London.
Bette Midler

Please excuse him; he's from Barcelona.
Basil Fawlty

Broken Things
Shhhhhhh! I'm in hiding.

The sort-of object of I am Furious, Yellow is furious with me.

Of course, dear reader, I exaggerate. He was furious with me before I wrote I am Furious, Yellow.

He was furious when it was ME who should have been furious with HIM. So I've learned my lesson. I'm not going to write about real people any more.

Not that I have been. Any resemblance between the characters and persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

But just say, for the sake of argument, that someone you knew, a member of the opposite sex, had been your friend platonically, for forty years. And then that person had a falling out with you over the use of a three letter word. And just say that the member of-the-opposite-sex-who-had-been-your-platonic-friend-for forty-years, got mad at you and said that he didn't read any of your blog postings because he was so mad.

How would YOU feel? Furious no doubt. So you just might, might, might write something, exaggerating here and there, about people who are similar to the member of-the-opposite-sex-who-had-been-your-platonic-friend-for forty-years. Writing with a view to being amusing, with a dash of reality thrown in for good measure.

And then just say, that the VERY person who had said he wasn't reading any of your postings because of the one allegedly misused word, actually read the very posting where you wrote sort-of about him, and got even madder.

And then just say, you broke up. Yep, the time has come. Like two teenagers we've called it quits. Friends no more.

When my birthday comes round next May, the usual lone message in my in-box will not be there. It is a pity that HIS birthday comes round before mine - I will have to be the first one to NOT say "happy birthday". In that case it is I who will look petty.

But what if I DO say "happy birthday" and then come next May, HE doesn't? I would be really furious.

What's a girl to do?

One thought strikes me. I could say "happy birthday" in an American sort of way. That would really annoy him, but would get me out of being the first one NOT to say "happy birthday". But how DOES one say happy birthday in an American sort-of way? Hang on, I've got it. I could say, "Have an awesome birthday!" Or "Have a real awesome birthday." Even better.

And then I could sign off with "Have a nice day."

Yeah, that's what I'll do.

I'm feeling better already.

Or should that be

"I feel better already yet"?

Or simply

I feel real good.

My name is Kathleenwg and I approve this message.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Mean Girl Syndrome

You think everybody is in love with you when actually, everybody HATES you! Like, Aaron Samuels, for example, he broke up with Regina and guess what? He still doesn't want you! So why are you still messing with Regina, Cady? I'll tell you why, because you are a mean girl! You're a bitch!
Janis in "Mean Girls" 2004

We are the Mac Rob girls
We wear our hair in curls
And when it comes to men
We do the best we can
MacRob unofficial school song circa 1965

Mac Rob Girls 1963
It was the year 2002 and I had met up with an old friend, another aussie expat, but this one from the UK, at a rodeo at Pakenham, Australia.

It was one of those perfect Australian days that are ruined by flies. Marquees had been put up around the outlying fields and families were picnicking while they waited for THEIR friend or family member to compete. Rodeo enclosures remind me of those primary school concerts where the parents in the audience have their eyes glued solely on THEIR own little boy or girl.

It had just gone lunchtime and tired of the flies buzzing around us (we'd forgotten how bad they could be during our expat years), Dee and I wandered around toward the general area of the bar.
Approaching us, walking in the opposite direction, was a skinny-looking woman who I could swear I'd never seen before.

"Quick! hide," hissed Dee in a voice surprisingly like her high school voice of long ago. Yikes, had I stepped into a time-warp? Was I back at Mac.Robertson Girls' High School?

But there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. We were out in the open, surrounded only by grass and flies.

Dee, Science Lab, Macrob 1963
The skinny woman reached us. "Hi Sue," said Dee. "Hi Kate," said Sue. "Do I know you?" said I.

Turned out that Sue was Dee's cousin and we'd met way back when.

"What have you been up to all these years?" I asked Sue, making what I thought was safe conversation.

"Basically," said Sue, "seeing a therapist to get over what happened to me during my adolescence and I STILL haven't recovered."

I could feel Dee pulling at my arm trying to get me away. To no avail. I wanted to know more.

"You don't remember me, DO YOU," Dee was accusing me. "I actually met your MOTHER YEARS after you and Di left home. I worked with her in the solicitor's office. SHE was a nice lady. SHE came to my wedding. SHE wasn't stuck-up."

"What do you mean?" I asked. More tugging from Dee.

"You and Dee used to lock me out of Dee's bedroom when I'd come over to play. You said you were studying. You never talked to me. You were McRob girls."

"She's mad, crazy," said Dee, reverting back to 1963. "Come on, it's no use talking to her."

Was Dee trying some weird therapy getting Sue to confront the past by living it out. Not so.

As we walked away Sue screeched after us, "You are STILL doing it!" "Yeah, right, go annoy your therapist," called Dee.

And I laughed.

I don't remember her at all I told Dee later. "She isn't worth our breath," said Dee.

Now don't get me wrong. My good friend Dee is a compassionate person, warm, friendly, butter wouldn't melt in her mouth.

Was this all part of the "mean girl syndrome" we now hear about? I think not.

I remember another time and place. There was a fat girl, also called Sue. Our families were camping. It was summer and the end of year 12 exam results came out. We all slept in the one large tent, on air-beds.

Sue failed her exams.

I remember a boy, about four years younger that me. A kind kid I thought, think.

In the night while Sue cried herself to sleep, the boy - WHO SHALL REMAIN UNNAMED - tied a piece of string round the stopper of Sue's air-bed. Then around four in the morning, he yanked it out.

And I laughed.

And I'm sorry.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I Am Furious, Yellow

If you knew Peggy Sue - then you’d know why I feel blue
without Peggy - my Peggy Sue
oh well, I love you gal - yes, I love you Peggy Sue
©Buddy Holly and the Crickets 1957.

60's kids
Sometimes I wonder how the younger generation will take over from us. After all, it was hard enough for us "baby boomers".

And then something will come along and I'll know, it's all OK.

A daughter of a friend of mine sent me this Kate Miller-Heidk video clip today. And on openning it, I knew that all can be right in this world.

But why am I furious? And why am I yellow? Well, readers, I'm not yellow, but when I was young and naive, there was a film called, "I am Curious, Yellow." I didn't know what it meant then, and I don't know now.

The difference is, that back "THEN" I wasn't confident enough to know that it was "OK" to say, "I don't know".

Even in this day and age. I wonder if things have really changed. I voiced my opinion on women in the sixties, in an earlier post, She'll Be Apples. Yes, I dared to voice my OWN opinion on the Melbourne scene in 1969! It wasn't "done" then, and surprisingly, it isn't now. The email responses I received, shocked me. Apparently I had no right to diminish the memories of my men of that time. HELLO!!!!

To my young, FEMALE readers, please do not condemn us. We thought we we were doing the right thing. We thought we were, "Cool".

And so, off we'd traipse to theaters to see black and white movies that made little or no sense. "Last Year at Marienbad", " Cul de Sac", "Breathless", "Through a Glasss Darkly".

Now I'm not saying that these films meant nothing. Aù contraire. But did they mean anything to us? To me, to Peg? To the guys accompanying us?

Who was to know? We never found out.

The only people we had to validate us were people like Helen Reddie ("I am Woman") and Germaine Greer "Female Eunich"). Hardly enough.

So my dear daughters and sons of Baby Boomers, we did our best. And I am happy to say, you pulled through. In spite of us.

Not all of what we did was good. Some was pretentious. Indeed, some of us continue the pretense.

Truth is, we didn't really know what we were doing. But we knew what was pretentious.

As do you.

Even if it is US.

Congrats. And thank you!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

In search of lost youth - and a photo

Come on down to the mermaid cafe
And I will buy you a bottle of wine
And we'll laugh, and toast to nothing
And smash our empty glasses down
from "Carey", Joni Mitchell

The act of miming is crucial for Antonioni and Blow-Up because it is the mime who brings our attention to objects by their absence. For the mime, the imaginary tennis ball is every bit as "real" as the evidential photograph is "illusory."
from "Blow-Up"- a review by Stephen E. Bowles

B - from the Bell Street Days
A century or so ago, my friend B and I had our photo taken standing side by side in a kitchen in Bell Street, Fitzroy.

I was living with B at the time, and we were young and carefree, slightly rebellious. Well B was ... The photo turned out to be quite beautiful, and as is not always the case, we both looked good. So we took the negative and went somewhere downtown Melbourne to have it blown up to poster size. Then we stuck it on a wall in the kitchen.

From time to time we'd embellish the poster, using our makeup to add lipstick to paint our photo lips, eye-liner to line our photo eyes, and so on. In the end it was a veritable masterpiece, if we did say so ourselves.

Me and B, Marquis of Lorne, Melbourne, 1993
Eventually I left Bell Street to travel overseas, and then B left to move elsewhere in Melbourne. What happened to the poster, or the original photo? B left them behind at Bell Street when she moved, and they are gone forever, but not forgotten.

For a few years after I returned to Australia, B and I would try to recapture the image. We'd stand or sit side by side and prevail upon someone to take our photo. We never even came close to the excellence of the original. Here are a couple of 'attempts'. Pitiful. We seem to look less wonderful with each successive photo; I wonder why.

Sometimes I think that we should just give up; call it a day. But I doubt that we will as we are both women of perseverance.

Especially B. I first me B in a pub (bar) bathroom, though I'd seen her around campus heaps of times. She was a minor celebrity - not for any special feat of academic excellence or social accomplishment - just for being B. I was slightly in awe of her.

Anyway, one day at the regular Friday night drink-up at the Mayfair Hotel, I went to the bathroom. I didn't bother to lock the stall door. I was going to be quick. Then in comes B.

"Shove over," she commanded, and pushed me to the left of the toilet seat before sitting down herself - the two of us 'sharing'.

What chutzpah I thought, or would have had I known the word at the time. What class. What style. This was my sort of women.

We've been friends ever since.

Me and B, New York 2007
I think of B often, even though she and I are now 12,000 miles apart. She's visited me in New York (photo on the left) and we talk on the phone. But I miss the fun of going out with her, her carefree spirit, her chutzpah, and her love of life.

And in all my years no one else has ever come into a toilet cubicle and told me to "shove over".

The only thing I'm cross at B about is - how could she lose that bloody photo!