Who Doesn’t Love a Good Demon Hag?

Where’s my damn coffee???

It’s been a beautiful sunshiny weekend in Sydney, and I’ve been stuck in bed with the flu. Thank you to all of the filthy disease carrying commuters on Sydney buses who coughed or sneezed on me last week. And an extra special thank you to the drivers who insist on blasting us with air-conditioning in this bitterly cold winter, recycling other peoples germs and farts so I can breathe them in. This one’s for you.

So, I rolled out of bed today (at noon) and looked in the mirror. Sure enough, I looked exactly like Onibaba, in the picture above. Before I was so rudely infiltrated by the latest flu virus last week, I took myself off to the Art Gallery of NSW for a delicious post-Ramadan glass of wine with my friend Sarah, and a screening of the 1964 Japanese horror flick, Onibaba (literal translation: Demon Hag). I’ve got to say, I am very partial to a good black and white Japanese horror flick. These guys really knew how to create good scary movies. And still do. You’re lying if you tell me you didn’t have nightmares after you watched The Ring or The Grudge!

But back to Onibaba. In a nutshell, it’s a simple tale of vengeance, and what can happen to you if you let it take over your life. During 14th century war-torn Japan, a woman and her daughter-in-law murder samurai soldiers and sell their possessions in order to scrape together enough money to eat. When the daughter-in-law starts running off in the middle of the night to shag one of the neighbours, Mum tries exacting revenge by scaring the bejesus out of the girl by chasing her through the creepy reeds in a terrifying demon mask. But the ugliness of vengeance soon deforms the heart and face of Mum.

No Children of the Corn in here

Onibaba is visually stunning. I loved the haunting shots of the reeds swaying in the wind, the close ups of the actors, and the frightening Hannya mask. The Hannya mask is supposed to represent a hideous demon, but I found it quite beautiful. So, when I rolled out of bed today and looked in the mirror, I didn’t run screaming. Instead, I greeted Onibaba with a smile, blew the snot out of my sinuses, and felt beautiful in my own hideous hag-like way! Mind you, I was probably delirious thanks to being drugged up to the eyeballs. But I think it still makes for a lovely lesson. At times there’s beauty to be found in the the hideous, the sad and the ugly. Just take a look at it from an alternate angle, or put it in a different light.

So if you’re disease-free and looking for something to do in Sydney this Wednesday night, the Art Gallery is screening another black and white Japanese horror flick. This time it’s Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of Macbeth, called Throne of Blood. Come join me. Just remember to leave the germs at home. I don’t want to be waking up on Thursday morning and having an “out, damned spot” moment!

Onibaba Image

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Let's Flesh this Thing Out

Let’s Flesh this Thing Out

How cool is this? I was speaking to my brother, Daniel, the other day about an incredible program he’s designed for his university. As I was listening to his 4-stage plan, my jaw was hanging down to the floor. My baby brother had taken an idea and created the skeleton for an amazing movement/program/business in a cool 45 minutes, while I’ve been racking my brains to work out how to create a skeleton for my own amazing movement/program/business for months (if not years, if I’m really honest with myself!)

Lightbulb moment: If I take the flesh off his skeleton, I could reflesh it with my own! Brilliant! (Of course, with his permission and expert guidance – we’ve both been to university and are well aware of the consequences of that dreaded thing called PLAGIARISM! Plus, no one likes a family feud!) So, after the craptacular week that is now history, I now have not a skeleton, but maybe some bone marrow, or DNA to work with.

We’d spent a few solid hours chewing the fat prior to the jaw dropping incident. He’d called me to talk about something completely different, and the movement/program/business discussion popped up almost by accident. It made me think about all the times you rattle your brain for the answer to one of life’s problems, you set off down the road you think is the right direction, then an alternate route appears as if by magic. A fork that you didn’t realise was down that path. The house you weren’t looking for. The person you didn’t know existed. The skill you had no idea your baby brother had! And it confirmed to me what I’ve known for a long time and have avoided admitting recently because it’s all too hard and overwhelming not knowing the right direction (according to the part of me that thinks it’s all too hard and overwhelming not knowing the right direction). But if you set yourself a goal that you’d really like to achieve, you’ve got to be open to alternative ways to achieve it. If there’s something that you really want in your life, know that if it’s meant to be it will come to you, but it might look different to what you’d imagined in your mind’s eye. Often it looks even better than you’d imagined. You just have to make sure you start by taking that first step toward it!

Which leads me to another unexpected fork in the road. Daniel told me to watch this very cool video for a bit of inspiration. Again, he got me thinking: we’re told time and time again that we need to be leaders, and I’ve been trying damn hard in my own way to be one. But maybe it’s better to be a follower. Maybe it’s better to be the first follower of that lone nut doing his hillside happy dance. What do you think? Who are the lone nuts you’d be brave enough to shake your booty alongside to get an awesome movement happening?

Daniel, thanks for the chat. I’m pinching your skeleton and following your lead!

** I’ve noticed that when I embed a YouTube clip into my blog, it doesn’t appear in the emails that you receive as a subscriber. If you’re an expert on WordPress blogs, please drop me a line with how to fix it! If you’re not, here’s the link to today’s clip. And while you’re at it, you should probably go back a few posts to see William Shatner saving the world from turkey fryer fires over here, The Pugs of Westeros rugging up against the winter chill over here, Alan Watts talking desire over here, and a dude having the ultimate double-rainbow attack over here.  Happy viewing!

What a Craptacular Week!

Nothing but a load of trash!

So, was your week as rubbish as mine? My week was not the week from Hell. But it was pretty damn close. So much so that I haven’t been able to write anything here. Since the day when the Malaysian Airline plane was shot down, it seemed to me that there was absolutely nothing worth writing about. Why write anything when all that’s going on around you is one horror after another? People hurting other people. People hurting the planet. People hurting themselves. Rapes. Murders. Wars. Insane Governments. Sun flares. Sink holes. You name it, last week it was getting up in my face.

It got me down because to add to that my day job, my home and my relationship status (or lack-thereof) are all in serious need of an overhaul. But I didn’t want to bitch and moan and dump my misery on you. I don’t want to censor myself, and I want to keep my writing as real as possible. I write this blog for my own pleasure as much as I write it for yours so I made a pact with myself over the weekend to admit to you and myself that yes, last week was utter shite. Sometimes life is bleak. Sometimes you’re powerless to change the ghastly circumstances around you. But just like lightning things can change in a flash. And it can be something really simple that makes that change. For me it was this weekend.

From Drab

From Drab…

 

I awoke on Saturday to another miserable cold, rainy day, and toddled off to see my shrink (see, here’s me not censoring myself – depression and anxiety? Me too!) I had a really great and inspiring talk with her, then toddled further down the road to have brunch with my lovely friend Jini. By 10.30am I was already inspired, I was actually enjoying my cold walk in the drizzling rain, I had money in my wallet for a delicious meal at a nice cafe at the beach with one of my most favourite people in the world. Hello, I was waking up (again) to the fact, that my life is in fact, pretty bloody good.

A few more hours of inspirational creative discussions with Jini, who, dear reader, is an amazing writer – watch this space, I see a thrilling novel on the horizon – and the sun had started to shine as the rainclouds quickly dispersed. How good is mid-winter sunshine?! Seriously, when you feel awful, go stand in it for a few minutes and soak it up. Sunshine is joy in the form of heat and light.

An evening of laughter and bad movies with some other amazing friends – Krystyna and Marc – confirmed the goodness of life. (Snowpiercer is an awesome movie name, don’t you think?!) With more sunshine and coffee and beautiful scenery than you can shake a fist at in Manly today; phone calls with friends and family topped up the weekend, and my joy tank is now refilled. So the simple things – friends, family, sunshine, scenery, and lots of coffee – were all it took to bring me back to joy.

To Fab!

To Fab!

As I went for my evening run tonight, I made the commitment to myself to continue writing this blog as a form of enjoyment for me and for you. I won’t hide the fact that sometimes I feel like my life is crapola. I refuse to wallow in it either. I’ll be focusing on the good bits. Because life is full of them. Sometimes you’ve got to use a magnifying glass, but they’re there. It will give me the greatest pleasure to know that you’ve read my words and smiled, or chuckled, snorted, guffawed, or had one of those really big blasts of air from your nostrils where you freak out that something might have gone flying from it and hit your neighbour in the face. Belly laughs are great, and comments on the post are even better.

Remember, lots of shit makes your garden bloom with vigour. Imagine what a shitty week’s done for your life. Wishing you a SPECTACULAR week!

A Zed & Two Noughts

I’ll have you all for breakfast!

I vaguely remember watching A Zed and Two Noughts in my teens with my aunty Danielle. She was the one who put me onto the wonderful world of Peter Greenaway. It all started with The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. Greenaway has a way with food, lust, and decadence (with an emphasis on decay, and he belts you over the head with it in A Zed and Two Noughts). I always wondered where his wonderful imagery and film titles came from and if I’d ever have the ability to imagine such things for myself. Looking back at the stories I’ve written, I can see that there have been a few leaves taken out of Greenaway’s books – just ask Prospero. These writerly recipes I’ve only shared with a handful of friends, and I’m feeling the urge to share them with the greater world at large now.

But what if the world doesn’t like the way my writing tastes?

That’s the question I’m asking myself today. I love a quirky, clever take on the world, and a film title like A Zed and Two Noughts is all that and more. But if I push myself to come up with a quirky, clever take on the world (and Z words) I come up with zero. What do you think about quirky takes on the world? Do you like them or do your prefer a conservative version of reality? What is “reality” anyway? Is it really real? Or are we living in some kind of Matrixy delusion? I don’t know. But what I do know is that A Zed and Two Noughts is about a lot of dead things rotting. And it has a really rotten ending. Literally.

Samantha Nolan-Smith has a really lovely take on life and reality. She’s made a few interesting recommendations in her blog lately that I’m putting into action. The first one is meditating on two options; reaching a fork in the road then travelling down the paths that each take in your meditation until you find your best direction. This is a good one! Another tip is when you feel like you’ve reached the upper limits of good stuff in your life, like when things have been going really well and then you get sick, or your money stops flowing, or you have a big dirty fight, and it stops your joy in its tracks. At these times, it’s useful to ask yourself what good stuff is wanting to come through to you, but you’re blocking from your life. Then invite it in.

I'm gonna be meditating on this one for some time

I’m gonna be meditating on this one for some time

What good stuff are you blocking from your life? I know I’ve been blocking being the controller of my own destiny, being an entrepreneur, a writer, financially secure, and a whole bunch of other really cool stuff. Methinks it’s time to get on the cushion and meditate the crap out of the situation, then say “yes” to letting more juicy good stuff in. What do you do when you realise you’re getting in the way of your own best life?

As you stand at the crossroads of your day, remember, it’s a jungle out there. But we have a choice as to how we view that jungle. If we want we can choose to see it as a hostile environment; a battle to the death, our broken remains left out to rot. Or we can choose to see it as a place of mystery and wonder; a place that offers up all sorts of beauty, life, food and medicine for the soul. So today, don’t just ask yourself how your jungle looks. Ask yourself if you’re ready to be the king of it, then go sink your teeth into some tasty treats!

Yes! We! Can!

 

Victory is ours!

Well I’m back in Sydney, back to work, back to the blog, and ready to take on the world. It was great to escape for the last week or so, do a spot of soul searching, and get ready to take the next step.

The last step was to see out a successful exhibition. What a thrill to witness someone’s idea take form; a spark of imagination transforming into a drawing, morphing into a giant pile of styrofoam and fibreglass, and blossoming into a life-sized blue whale’s heart. Thank you Ronan for the opportunity to witness the unfoldment of your heart. And for the opportunity to get dressed up like a high school chemistry teacher in a backyard meth lab. We sure know how to rock our Personal Protective Equipment!

PPE Has Never Looked So Good!

While I was out of town, I pilfered my brother Daniel’s copy of Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large. In it, William Shatner discusses his rules for living. Amongst these rules you’ll find: Know which conversations require a bulletproof vest; Talk is cheap – unless you can make money with a talk show; Always have a spare set of underwear on hand; and my favourite rule, Say “Yes”. Bill almost always says “yes”. Why?

“Yes” means opportunity. “Yes” makes the dots in your life appear. And if you’re willing and open, you can connect these dots. You don’t know where these dots are going to lead, and if you don’t invest yourself fully, the dots won’t connect. The lines you make with those dots always lead to interesting places. “No” closes doors. “Yes” kicks them wide open.

I can feel an itchy foot, ready to kick a few doors wide open! Already I’m saying “yes” to organising the first Chiron Creative event in August. I’m saying “yes” to setting up an orphanage. I’m saying “yes” to climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge for my birthday. And I’m saying “yes” to falling in love with the unknown, and letting the dots connect in interesting and unforseen ways.

If I set you a challenge, will you say “yes”? Good. Then here’s my challenge to you: Take a pen and paper and write yourself a list of at least 3 things that you’ve always wanted to do. Go on, it’s easy. 3’s nothing. Write them down, and when you realise you can’t stop at 3, write some more. Write as many as you want. See if you can beat me and my 162 things. Now stick that list up somewhere you’ll see it often. Then get out and start kicking!

While you’re pondering the need to invest in some good sturdy steel-capped boots, I’ll leave you with a short cautionary tale called Eat, Fry, Love from the indelible Mr Shatner. As Bill knows, on some occasions it’s better to say “no”. Especially when you’re all out of Personal Protective Equipment!

The Ex Factor

Dig in!

Dig in!

What’s the protocol when it comes to destroying photos of exes? I was scrolling back through my iPhone the other day and stumbled upon a few photos of an ex of mine and was at a loss as to what to do with them. What are the rules around getting rid of photographic evidence of past disasters? Is it ok to throw someone into the trash? The evidentiary photos sent me on a journey down memory lane to the site of another photographic ex-disposal-session. This was way back in the day of glossy print photos that you could whack in a frame, stick up on your wall and gaze at dreamily whilst the object of your affections was stuck in his bedroom doing homework. Again, a moment of not knowing the disposal protocol.

As a kid I’d read about certain indigenous cultures believing that photographs captured a part of a person’s soul, and I think that superstition might have rubbed off on me. The idea of throwing the photos into the bin was completely abhorrent to me. Not least because I was in the photos as well. How could I throw my soul in the bin? Burning the photos wasn’t an option either. It just felt too destructive. And Satanic. My ex wasn’t that bad that I wished him to burn in the fires of Hell for all eternity. Maybe for a little of it, but not all of it! So I resorted to a photographic burial. It felt more organic to make worm food out of the two of us.

What about memories of exes? How do you deal with those? Can you simply switch them off? What about when you hear that song that you used to listen to together? Or travel to places you’d been together? Or when you drive past his house – not in a stalkery way, but because you have to bloody well get where you’re going, and there’s no other way to get there – do you avert your eyes to stop the memories flooding in? Or is that just like inviting in a trojan horse?

And how about when they sneak back into your dreams? Is there no privacy, I ask? No lock that can’t be unpicked? I dreamed of another ex from my oh-so-joyful school days last night whom I was happily snogging. But he’d been eating fish and chips, so he had greasy flake-flavoured kisses! What’s with that?!

Thanks for the Memories

There’s something fishy going on

You can bury a photo, but what about memories and dreams? I’ve seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, so I know what can happen if you try to erase your memories of someone. Sometimes they come back. And as any good Stephen King novel can attest, that might not be such a happy scenario. So tell me, what should I do with these damn photos on my iPhone? Especially now that digital is forever. And ever. And ever?

Winter Isn’t Coming, It’s Well and Truly HERE!

 

Frozen

Frozen

I know I shouldn’t complain. But I’m going to. It’s freeeezing!!! I don’t remember ever having to wear so many layers of clothing and still have to sit on top of the heater to keep warm. The way I’m rugged up, I feel like I should be guarding The Wall from wildlings with the rest of the Night’s Watch. Jon Snow knows nothing about how cold Sydney is at the moment. Even walking around in the sunshine doesn’t stop the wind’s icy needle fingers from penetrating your clothes and getting under your skin.

Even the Stark pugs are having to rug up and brace themselves agains the chill:

All this wintery weather is making me reminisce about the glorious sunshiney day of my 20th birthday (long ago in a galaxy far, far away). It was so warm on my mid-winter birthday, that I was getting around the Blue Mountains in my favourite Welcome Mat t-shirt and happily sweating like a teacup piglet. If I still owned that t-shirt and cruised around in it today I’d have bits dropping off me left, right and all around the middle.

The desire for mid-winter warmth is firing up my engine in preparation for a roadtrip North with my mutt, Django. Thankfully, the drive North will not take us to Winterfell. Instead, we’re heading into the heart of Big Banana land, which I’ve discovered really should be renamed the land of the Big Blueberry thanks to the major crop rotation in Coffs Harbour. It’s been a while since I’ve done the great Australian roadtrip up the North Coast thanks to Qantas and Virgin Australia! I’m looking forward to seeing how much things have changed (and stayed the same) over the last 15 years. Did I just write that?! 15 years?! Has it really been that long?! God I feel old!

As I thaw out my old bones on the drive up into to the sunshine I’ll be thinking of you and wondering what you’re doing to keep warm. Will you be telling stories by the fire like me? Yes, I intend to build a fire pit and incinerate some marshmallows while I’m away. Or will you be testing your mettle against the chill? Only a few days ago there was snow just 2 hours out of Sydney. Surely there are some snow men in dire need of construction. If you do decide to brave the snow while I’m away, just be sure that if some lanky dude with whispy white hair and glowing blue eyes approaches you, that you run. Run as fast as your legs will carry you; faster than a pug in a leather jerkin!

 

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The Vaguely Vegetarian Option

The Local Yahoo

The Local Yahoo

I’ve only been to Central Australia once. I was 19 years old and I was on a business trip to Darwin when I got to spend an hour sitting in the airport at Alice Springs. I remember it being very flat. And very hot.

If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll probably know that I have a list of things that I want to do before I die. One of those things is to visit Uluru (#144). Another is to sleep under the stars in the outback (#4). It’s been a while since I’ve ticked anything off my list, so I thought I’d contact my good mate Russ, who lives in Alice Springs (if you need a crane he’ll hook you up!) Being the complete ignoramus that I am, I wanted to know when the best time would be to visit the Red Centre. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s now. Perfect weather that’s not too hot, not too cold, just right.

Russ also told me there’s a race-day-rodeo-extravaganzary-thing coming up in August, a few hundred kilometres out of town, that might be a bit of fun. So I consulted my other good mate, Google, who guided me to the amazing looking event website.

It was looking like a lot of fun to me until I saw the “ladies cow tail tossing competition” with a photo of an enormous bloody cow’s tail in mid-flight. That photo completely destroyed my plans to hole up in my local cafe, The Butcher’s Cafe, in fact, with one of their insanely tasty egg and bacon rolls this morning. Instead, I had to deal with my first-world crisis by murdering a few almonds that went into the best damned almond croissant on the planet from Infinity Bakery.

I could murder an almond croissant right now

I could murder an almond croissant right now

So what about you? How do you feel about animals and eating meat? How do you feel about vegetarians? Are you a cow tail tosser?

Throughout my life I’ve gone through periods of vegetarianism and veganism, pescatarianism, lacto-ovo vegoism, carnism and back again. Yesterday I ate a plate full of sushi for lunch. Today I’m taking the vego option. Does that make me a hypocrite? Yes. Do I care? As a matter of fact, I do. I hate hypocrisy. Am I going to go to the race-day-rodeo-extravaganzary-thing? If circumstances allow, yes. Number 161 on my list is to crack a bull whip, and I might have a chance to do so there. BUT, I won’t be tossing any bloody cow tails. Not that the organisers would let me, because I’m not much of a ‘lady’ anyway.

Um… Hello? Can You Hear Me?

 

Open Mic

Is this thing on?

In pursuit of storytelling inspiration, I grabbed a my friend, Xenia last night and headed to the Art House Hotel for a storytelling slam session. ABC’s Radio National holds a bi-monthly open mic night called Now Hear This! And I wanted to hear what This was all about. Being a storyteller with an ENORMOUS fear of public speaking, I thought I’d also challenge myself to get up and tell a story. Next time. Last night was all about research!

So, what I discovered is that you need to be really amazing at maintaining focus, not allowing yourself to be distracted by the live music being belted out in the adjoining bar. If you want to score big on the points, you need to tell a love story if you’re a guy, or tale of tragedy if you’re a girl. If you go first, you will never win. And if you’re an 8 foot tall Amazon woman with the inability to keep still, you shouldn’t sit in front of me because I’ll remember you next time and I’ll make you pay for your misdeeds!

But back to the stories. There were tragic tales of Nullabor Plain crossings, and several stolen goods stories (luggage, computers, unpublished manuscripts). Prose on picking up chicks in the Sistine Chapel. The memoir of a 10 year old Philippino boy who wanted to be a tall skinny Bond girl, and my favourite tale about a smelly ghost. I didn’t have the heart to tell the smelly-ghost-storyteller that her house up on North Head was probably not haunted by a ghost from the nearby Quarantine Station. But the likely culprit was the sewage treatment plant down the road, which was very generously sharing the fragrance of Sydneysiders’ insides with her!

Shhh! Do you smell something?

Shhh! Do you smell something?

As the storytelling slam came to a close and the ferry beckoned to carry me home across the harbour – past the Quarantine Station, in fact – talk turned to something with a much finer fragrance: coffee. Xenia let me in on a little secret of hers when it comes to ordering coffee. It’s something that makes the whole coffee experience that much more delicious. She uses a coffee name.

“What the hell is a coffee name?” I asked.

“Well, you know how they ask you what your name is when you order your takeaway coffee? It’s really annoying because they always get your name wrong because of all the noise, and they never understand my Hungarian accent. They end up calling me Zena or Anya, and I can’t be bothered trying to spell out X-E-N-I-A because they’ll get it wrong anyway. So I tell them my name’s Vicky. Now, every morning when I come in to buy my coffee, it’s all ‘Hi Vicky’, ‘Here’s your coffee Vicky’, ‘Have a good day Vicky’.”

“That’s hilarious!” I said. “So, what’s your boyfriend, David’s coffee name?”

“Guido!”

And with that, I boarded the ferry, safe in the knowledge that when I heard the barista call out “Heidi” in the morning, my coffee would be good to go.

Technical Knock Out

He's mine!

He’s mine!

It’s Sunday evening and I can hear the neighbours going at it hammer and tongs downstairs. How utterly delightful! But I guess I could use it as a semi-appropriate soundtrack to tonight’s blog post as I regale you with my adventures from the past few days. Otherwise I could always jam my aurally abused earholes with the earplugs I bought myself today – seriously, I must be psychic. First, a return to the speed dating frenzy from Thursday night. As per previous speed dating evenings there was lots of sparkling wine and lots of laughs, but only one guy in IT – hurrah! So the evening didn’t fall flat on its face. However, the same can’t be said for a couple of the lovely ladies who were my opponents in vying for the attention of almost 10 gents. Virgin speed daters, these two fine lasses introduced themselves to me as “good friends”. But by the end of the night they were arch enemies, having drunkenly duked it out over a couple of the guys who they’d known for all of eight minutes.

Hahah! Nope, he's MINE!!!

Hahah! Nope, he’s MINE!!!

I escaped the scene of the carnage delighting in the knowledge that my “good friend” is over in Jordan right now, so there was no chance I’d have to worry about starting my own Female Fight Club. Tyler Durden can stay tucked away for another tempestuous Thursday night! But if you could fight anyone, who would you fight? Don’t say William Shatner! The thrills and spills of Thursday night left the weekend for getting art and about. After a familial brunch on Saturday where I told the tale of my novel-to-be for the ten-billionth time, it was off to Leichhardt to scope the size of the space for the upcoming art exhibition. That in turn led to me getting trussed up like this:

Big Foot the Clown

Big Foot the Clown

And learning the ins and outs of how to fibreglass a blue whale’s heart – the key’s in the dabbing; how to stop your safety goggles from fogging up – take them off; and what to do in an emergency situation when there’s no Malbec to hand – Merlot’s a decent alternative (and it works nicely with blue cheese). I also got my elbows out today and fought the crowds at the State Library on the final day of their World Press Photo exhibition. Some of the photos looked just like Fight Club, only for real. It’s a crazy, crazy world we live in, alright, so I’m going to take a moment now to count my blessings. And pop in my earplugs. Ahh, bliss!