Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Good reasons to become a lesbian

Please excuse me - I'm going to have a rant that really should be relegated to my private journal, but I'm in the mood for publishing it on the net.

Men are just not interested in me! Ok - a few qualifications: 1) When I say 'men', what I really me is 'a significant majority of the men I know' (no need for grose generalisations); and 2) When I say 'not interested in me', I don't mean 'not interested in me as a means of fulfilling their needs and desires'. I mean, 'not interested in me as a person'.

I just had lunch with a friend. I won't mention his name, because this is the internet, after all, and I'm about to say some things about him that are less than complimentary. Most of the time, we talk about HIM. He's not the greatest conversationalist in the world, so I spend my time with him racking my brains for things about him that we can talk about. Cricket, tennis, his work, his family, rugby, football - most of these themes I'm not actually very interested in, but because he is somewhat passionate about them, I grit my teeth and ask him questions, and then attempt to engage with the subject matter of his answers. He asks about me, but only out of politeness, or out of a conviction that he really SHOULD ask, as part of the universal 'give and take' rule of which he is vaguely aware. I usually give him short, slightly vague answers that don't really reveal must information about me at all. It's not that I don't want him to know - it's that I know he's not interested and that by revealing anything real about myself, I have to deal with the blunt reality that he doesn't give a flying fuck.

So anyway, today I thought 'fuck it', and I told him a few little details about how I was REALLY going. I kept it positive - told him about answering the buzzer to people desperate for a meal or a clean syringe, and how I responded. I told him how I'd run into someone I knew at Fed Square, who was watching the cricket, and that he was really angry because no matter what he did or how hard he tried, he just couldn't find a place to live, and was forced to camp in the Carlton Gardens. I invited the guy over for dinner, and he helped me cook, and I learned about his story, and it was wonderful. So I told my friend all of this. He wasn't really watching me as I was talking, but I kept going anyway. Screw it, I thought, I was going to tell him how I was! I finally finished my long, excited monologue, and sat quiet, waiting for a response. Nothing. There was five minutes of sheer silence and finally my friend piked up. "So do you mean to say that you were actually at Fed Square watching the cricket?" I confirmed that no - I hadn't developed a sudden interest in cricket beyond painfully boring conversations with my friend - and we left it at that.

I ate my Greek salad and he munched on his Hawaiian pizza all in relative silence. I continued the conversation inside my head. See, you're never interested in me, I thought, glaring at the thread of cheese dangling from his lower lip. The one time I actually give you any real information about how I'm going, your only response is to bring it back into YOUR realm - like the most important part of the story, or the only bit you actually heard, concerned the cricket. Your snide remarks about how I'm a 'bleeding heart'; the way you talk about my passions as my 'little causes' - well, you are probably too self-absorbed to realise this, but the only reason I'm friends with you is because of my fucking 'bleeding heart'! I should tell you that. I really should. Oh but I can't. You would be destroyed by the truth. My bleeding heart prevents me from telling the truth. You still haven't noticed that I'm shitty. Well, I'm not going to tell you that I'm shitty if you haven't figured out on your own that I'm shitty. I'm just going to sit here in silence, shoveling my Greek salad, and glare at the growing pile of pineapple on your plate that you're picking off your pizza.

We finished lunch and I asked him which train station he had to go to. He looked slightly surprised (how thick is the guy!) - I told him I had some things to do. We said goodbye, and felt instantly terrible. I should have told him. The poor stupid guy - he doesn't know what he's done. Maybe he has a right to know that the reason he has no friends is because he's not interested in anyone except himself. I should call him. No, dammit - he should call me! But he probably just thinks I'm being a weird woman - she's probably got her period, he'll be thinking. He won't call, until the next time he gets lonely, and then he'll pretend nothing ever happened. Sigh.

And that's just one guy. It seems like it's all of them at the moment! I've been on a couple of dates lately, and each time I get to the end and think, 'This guy doesn't know the first thing about me!' Even in the awkward silences, they won't think to ask, 'So, you know that interesting tit-bit that you threw into the conversation before about something that you seemed passionate about and might shed light on the fullness of you as a person - please tell me more!' No - they will either tell me something else about themselves, or else wait for me to ask them another question about themselves. And I usually do, and I really shouldn't. Maybe I should just launch into something about me. But that feels too weird - I feel like I should be asked the question first. And sometimes even when I am asked a question, I feel like I can't answer it properly - I feel like I've been given this little window in which to talk, and I'd better hurry up and explain myself, because it will be closed in a second. Not exactly conducive to bearing one's soul to a potential partner.

But I have faith that they're not all like that. In fact I know that they're not all like that - I've met plenty who aren't. And so, I suppose, I will continue to live in hope. Or become a lesbian. Not such a bad idea, I've been thinking lately.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mental health and human rights

Went to visit a friend in hospital today. Well, I suppose it's not technically a hospital - it's called 'extended care'. My friend is in the psych wing. She is researching human rights, because she says that her rights have been taken away from her. She has no choice but to take the medication that she is given, and no choice as to where she will stay. It's like being in prison. She says that she'd rather be in prison.

My friend wants to take the health professionals to court, arguing that her human rights have been breached. I didn't tell her that I'd studied law, and in any case, I really didn't know what cause of action you'd take the health authorities to court over. I thought about the Charter of Human Rights in Victoria - section 10(c) says that a person must not be "subjected to medical or scientific experimentation or treatment without his or her full, free and informed consent."

I thought that individuals could use the Charter to take an authority to court. But I've just looked up the legislation, and it turns out that individuals can use the Charter to take statutory authories to court if those authorities have breached a human right. But it also looks like you need to have another action first - in other words, the breach of the Charter can only be an add-on to some other legal argument. So, for example, I guess you could sue an authority for negligence, and then also argue that the same action or ommission had breached a human right.

So, I'm not sure if this legislation will really help my friend, because I can't think of another legal cause of action on which you could base a claim. I assume the health authorities have statutory authority to force her to take her medication, and also statutory authority to admit her without her consent. Although I should really look into that.

I don't think this Victorian human rights legislation goes very far at all. It requires that all Bills introduced into Parliament include a statement of human rights compatibility, but the failure to do so doesn't make the Bill or subsequent Act invalid. If a Bill or Act does not comply with human rights, then Parliament can make an 'overriding statement' which says that the Act will be valid despite the fact that it doesn't conform. The Victorian Charter is nothing like the US Bill of Rights, which people can appeal to directly to stop individual breaches of rights.

There is debate about introducing an Australian Bill of Rights. If it's anything like the Victorian one, I guess you could say it's better than nothing, but it really does fall short of all that one expects when they think of a 'bill of rights'. I would be very surprised if Australia introduced a proper bill of rights. It would be a pretty radical move, because it would mean the introduction of a whole new area of law that nobody knows about. Making Parliament and statutory authorities abide by human rights would be a vast, unrestricted requirement - human rights tend to be broadly defined and I imagine that it would be very open to interpretation as to what authorities could or could not do.

But, I think it should be done! Exposing government authorities to a public that demands human rights will cause legislators and bureacrats to scrutinise every decision and action for compatibility. Common practices - like force-feeding drugs to psych patiends - would be reconsidered, and possibility publicly debated. I'd like to look into some other human rights legislation around the world - apparently we're the only Western democracy without it. What does the other legislation look like? How has it been used by the public? Has it been effective to defend human rights?

This thing is not a canvas!

This a poem I wrote about a few men in my life.


This thing is not a canvas!
It is soft and curved,
with spikes jutting out here,
and some uncomfortable potholes there.
It is smothered with slathers of paint,
all different colours.
Some of it is still wet -
careful now.
This thing is not a canvas!
and I am at a loss
as to how you mistook it as such.
I guess you see
what you want
to see.
But if you try to project yourself
onto this thing,
you will find
that it won't take your image
very well.
It won't reflect back
a picture
of you.
It can't.
It's already a thing -
coloured and textured,
ugly and beautiful,
all the dimensions present.
This thing is not a canvas!
If you want to look at yourself,
please don't look to me.
Go find yourself
a blank canvas,
devoid of bumps and freckles and laughlines.
Or even better,
Go find yourself a mirror.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


There is all this political talk about 'security' - national security; global security. In this context, the orthodox idea seems to be that 'security' is synonymous with 'military'. Security is achieved through military interventions and war.

What is security, really? On my definition, it is to feel safe; to feel free from harm...in a global context, to be without conflict. There is an idea called 'human security', which goes much further than the typical militarised version in explaining what security really is. On a 'human security' definition, we look at geopolitical, social, economic and environmental conditions that might endanger or negate the quality of human life. Immediately we see that for humans to be secure, we need to involve much more than the military. We need to fight poverty, injustice, discrimination, environmental degradation. We must stop conflict. But increased militarisation is not the way to do this.

Australia is involved in 'securing' places like Iraq and Afghanistan, but it doesn't seem like those places are very secure. In fact, the military intervention that defines security has resulted in a lot of civilian death, a lot of homelessness and a lot of poverty. Also a lot of environmental degradations - Iraq is really radioactive now, as a result of all the nuclear-powered artillery used there. Australian Defense Force public relations is quick to remind us about all the reconstruction work they conduct in Afghanistan. Yet after 7 years of Coalition forces in Afghanistan, the country remains in tatters. Average life expectancy is 44 years. Between 53% and 80% of Afghan people live below the poverty line. Adult literacy is 29%. The continued presence of war and violence is not helping things. The UN and Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has condemned indiscriminate killings by US-NATO forces of unarmed civilians, including wedding parties and many children. Military effort in Afghanistan, aimed at establishing a 'democratic' (or pro-US) government, is not making things very secure.

If US-NATO forces left Afghanistan, there would be no pro-US, puppet government. However, the region may actually be more secure. Some commentators suggest that the continued US presence actually revived and provoked the Taliban, by providing a clear opposition and fuel beyond their otherwise domestic concerns. A NATO withdrawal could facilitate a peace process. The solution lies in peaceful dialogue, not military violence.

The ridiculous, thoroughly ingrained paradox is that violence leads to peace. This is a myth. Violence never leads to peace. It might suppress conflict temporarily, but the conflict will rise again, like ants from a hole that has been sat on by something big. Certainly, violence does not contribute to security. Security is achieved when there is social, economic and environmental justice.

The 'violence to peace' myth permeates our society. It is seen as a legitimate form of conflict resolution - in the home, on the street, in the bars and clubs. Police shoot knife-wielding 15 year olds, rather than finding nonviolent alternatives. This is not security. This simply promotes more violence.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

looking head on at that ugly thing

Just went and saw a documentary about the death penalty in Texas. I knew it would be full on, and I wasn't sure if I was completely up for it. It was about a Presbyterian minister who became the deathhouse chaplain. He witnessed 96 state murders - more than witnessed, actually, because he spent the entire day with the person who was going to die. I guess he was an active participant, although unique because he was on neither the side of the convict nor the side of the state...walking that fine line in between. I guess he role was to be a ray of God-light within the stark, grotesque, scene of murder.

I think I've repressed a lot of the trauma that went with doing the death penalty work in New Orleans. I think that it all got a bit lost within the excitement of being in a new place, and the feelings of loneliness, incompetence and rejection that I felt while being there. And then, after my 3 months were up, I shot off to Mexico and then returned to do other extremely intense work. But amid all that swirling sediment there was a rock that was the death penalty - something so ugly that I could never bear to look at. It is easy to avoid looking at it - to focus on the legal arguments, to get caught up in other work, to chat to the inmates on the phone or in person but never actually look the awful reality of state murder in its face and allow that feel of violent illness to wash over and do its work. Even as I write to Clifford, these few years on, I never really believe that he's going to die. He'll be ok. The lawyers will do a good job and get him off. Clifford is in his cell for 23 hours a day, but I want to believe that maybe it's not so bad. I guess my coping mechanism is to create a reality that's not nearly as bad as the truth.

Des and I had a good debrief afterwards, and I was thinking about how there's a part of us all that is attracted to the death penalty, and a part of us that is repulsed. The desire for revenge seems core to human nature, and exists buried within even the most articulate anti-death penalty campaigner. At the same time, the prison wardens throw up during executions - even the spirits of those most accustomed to the inhumane treatment of the state are sickened by this socially-acceptable kind of murder. I guess it's the light and dark in all of us.

I have a bit of money right now, and I've been wondering where to put it. I think I might donate some money to Reprieve. I don't think that I'll go back - it's really not what I'm gifted at. But maybe if I can donate some money, it will go a little way to preventing the state from killing someone else.

Monday, November 17, 2008

internet weather

Today I checked the weather outside by looking on the internet. What a bizzare world.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

hair plan has potentially backfired

According to most of the men I encountered today, my new haircut now makes me MORE attractive. In the words of Steve, I am now a "vision of beauty", and he refused to look at me during our entire conversation.

Thus, it may seem that my hair plan has backfired, in that it now attracts the dreaded "male gaze" far more than my previous hairstyle ever did. However, this shall not deter my determination not to be motivated by the desire for male admiration. It may have just made it a little harder for myself.

I will keep any readers posted on the way my new hair makes me feel, which is the most important issue here. I have not yet ruled out the possibility of a buzz cut. Christop suggested shaving the words "fuck off" into the back.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cutting my hair off

I'm about to cut all my hair off. My friend Andrea will do it for me. As a woman, I feel constantly observed; continually aware of the male gaze. Tonight, I cut my hair off, as a symbolic way of reclaiming the "actor" in me - not actor in the theatrical sense (although who knows what will come of this!), but in the sense of not being passive, but active. I refuse to be motivated by who is looking at me. I refuse to be driven by the desire to be 'captivating' or 'beautiful' or 'intriguing'. For those things are only from the perspective of the viewer. I want to live from MY perspective, not someone else's. I feel like I keep my hair long for someone else. Tonight I'm cutting it off.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What was told, THAT

On Sunday I bought a book of Rumi's poetry. Here is a beautiful one:

What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.

What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was

whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever

was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them

so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is

being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that's happening here.

The great warehouse doors open, I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,

in love with the one to whom every THAT belongs!


When I saw the echidna as I soured through the air on my swing, I sensed the essence of that poem. The beauty of the moment seemed to me a symbol of God's beauty...I sensed a whisper of love in my heart. I suddenly felt embraced by arms the size of the universe, yet small enough to cradle me, a small child in the hands of a grandparent. I am reminded of the words of Jesus, who assures us that God is with us, caring for us - just as she cares for and clothes the lillies of the field (even King Solomon was not dressed as well!) and tends to the sparrows of the air. God breaths love throughout Creation, and as we take our place amongst rose, cypress and sugarcane, it washes over us, as well.


Been thinking about loneliness a bit lately. They said that Urban Seed could be a lonely place for residents, and I didn't quite believe them. But now I understand.

Last Wednesday at house dinner Dave announced that he was going out with Gemma. None of us were surprised, and we chatted about it for a while. Geoff confessed that this was perhaps a bad time to ask, but how was my celibacy going? Last week I had also made an announcement - to have a one month break from men. Hard core, I know. I told him that my celibacy was going very well indeed, thankyou very much, and as I laughed, my laughter turned to tears and before I knew it, I had silent black tears dripping down my cheeks. The silent black tears then turned into sobs, and the sobs turned into deep shudders and before I knew it, Gin was cradling me in her arms. The crying came from somewhere very deep - a place in my gut someplace where I'd stuffed a whole wad of grief and loneliness; out of sight, out of mind. It had been sitting heavy for a while, and then, like the bursting of a dammed up spring, the tears came. Man, it feels good to cry. You realise how connected your body is with your spirit and your mind when you shake and tremble with emotion. Crying is to grief what dance is to joy. Maybe when we're disconnected from our bodies, we feel like we can't cry. Or dance for joy, for that matter.

For a while I felt mellow and very very slow. I went into the bush and found a swing on a tree and let it take me high. Then I saw an echidna waddling along and poking around a tree with its long funny snout. The wind picked up my skirt and I could see my undies. And I could feel God all around me. When I came back to the house, Ray gave me a bunch of wild flowers.

After church on Sunday I told my friend Michael that I was feeling lonely, and he said that he was a chronically lonely person. He said that he'd come to see his loneliness as a wounded part of himself - a part that he needed to embrace and love. While I was trying to solve my loneliness by being around other people more, Michael saw his loneliness as something from within, which needed healing and restoration.

Sophie said that she could write a whole book about loneliness. There was a difference between loneliness and being alone, she said, and the difference came down to whether or not she had a choice of being alone. For Sophie, loneliness came when she wanted a deep connection with someone but for some reason, could not.

Our little conversation expanded into a group discussion, and we realised that we all suffered from loneliness at various times of our lives. As we talked and shared our experiences, I felt a sense of relief that I was lonely, but not alone! I like Michael's ideas about inner wounds, and I am beginning to realise that my loneliness is partly a disproportionate sensitivity to rejection and exclusion. When I am alone, I sense that I am not loved or not worth spending time with. Somehow, I need to re-wire myself.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Man on a Wire

David, Dave and I went to see a movie this evening. It was Dave's birthday and David was shouting him a movie. I tagged along because I need to get out every now and then. After knocking back the suggestion of the 'period drama was feminist overtones' and another film involving underage sex, Dave settled on a doco called 'Man on a Wire' which is about a Frenchman who decides to walk on a tightrope between the Twin Towers of the WTO.

One of the most amazing parts of the film was the personality of the tightrope artist himself, Philippe. David used the word 'meglamaniac', and, if I was in a particularly medical mood, I would have been inclined to agree. But as it happened, Phillipe sucked me in alongside the disciples they showed onscreen, and captured my imagine as I watched him dance, suspended in the sky, between the towers of the Notre Dame, the pylons of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and finally, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. I, too, became a follower of Phillipe - a part of his artistic fantasy world as he strove to achieve nothing else but the beauty of a man dancing against the backdrop of a blue, blue sky. I was fascinated by his feet as he wrapped them around the wire and then delicately, deliberately, picked one up and placed it another step forward. There is something beautiful in perfect balance - though he remains asymmetrical, changing positions constantly, he retained a perfect alignment, like the elements of the universe meeting at his core.

The women in Phillipe's life were followers - their destiny swamped by his; their purpose to support him, as long as he wanted. Phillipe had no room in his life for any desire other than his own. And wouldn't it be easy to fall into a groove chiseled so deeply and passionately by another! Phillipe had a charisma that made people believe that his dream was the only dream that was worth living for. Watching his disciples plan and work and play around him, I sensed their joy in knowing that they were living for a passion, a purpose - even if it was somebody else's. We can't all be visionaries. For some of us, it's good enough to live and work beside those who see beyond - to know that we are part of something bigger than ourselves; beyond this Earth. I can see how cults are formed. For those of us who are unsure, we put trust into those who see the world with clarity and passion.

Monday, October 13, 2008

the umbrella principle

Today at lunchtime Clare and I were commenting on what wonderful weather the day had brought, and how just this morning the clouds were grey and dropping big plops of water. We decided that perhaps it was because so many people had seen the impeding bad weather and thus brought an umbrella. Since it never rains when you bring an umbrella, the collective impact of all the Melburian umbrella-bringing was unprecidented sunshine.

We should utilise this principle and all bring umbrellas on important days when you really don't want it to rain, like Cup Day or weddings of well-liked celebrities. Likewise, the farmers can use the idea in reverse and never bring an umbrella anywhere. Maybe they should introduce laws that prohibit umbrella-carrying in times of drought, and when there are floods, make sure that every citizen, no matter what age and how much they like getting wet, brings an umbrella wherever they go. Potential idea for a paper, I think.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


No gears,
No breaks,
No helmet,
No hands...
No worries mate!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Passive Aggression

Passive aggression is telling your housemate that he takes too long in the shower by turning on all the hot water taps in the house at the 15 minute mark.

Passive aggression is doing all the dishes, but making a point of not doing your housemate’s favourite plastic yellow bowl which is plastered in hardened pools of last week’s chocolate ice-cream.

Passive aggression is insisting on only washing that bowl at the 15 minute mark of your housemate’s shower.

Passive aggression is taking your housemate’s disgusting kiddy bowl and placing it outside of his bedroom door, so that he trips over it when he stumbles out of bed at midday for his shower.

Passive aggression is taking your housemate’s festering ice-cream coated plastic bowl that represents everything that pisses you off about your housemate, and barging in on him at the 15 minute mark of his shower, ripping open the shower curtain and screaming, “WHEN YOU THINK THAT YOU’RE SUFFICIENTLY WASHED, WHY DON’T YOU WASH THIS?!!”…and then turning on all the hot taps in the house.

That’s all I have to say about passive aggression.

On the Verge of a Kiss

Being on the verge of a kiss
Is the no-man’s land
That lies between
And Intimacy.
The loneliness of Freedom;
The stuffy air of Intimacy…
The “verge of a kiss”
Bridges both territories
With neither the sense of being alone
Nor feeling of suffocation.
The “verge of a kiss”
Is the best of both worlds.
Being on the verge of a kiss
Is so blissful
Precisely because it is so short:
Like the climax of an arduous novel,
Or the moment just after you jump,
Before hitting the cold depths of an ocean.
With willful shortsightedness,
I envision the Moment –
The brushing of hands;
The eyes that meet, then avert;
The silence pregnant
With expectations
And uncertainty.
Does he or doesn’t he?
Will she or won’t she?
Betwixt and between.
Not this nor that.
But like the law of gravity,
Or the tension in a piece of music,
What goes unresolved must resolve,
And what is short must end.
For “being on the verge of a kiss”
Will usually end in a kiss.
And if it doesn’t,
It will most likely end in disappointment.
What goes up must come down,
And as it does,
We find our place again
In Intimacy,
Or Freedom.

Friday, October 10, 2008

open mic

It's a Friday night. Weekend nights are becoming my time to blog - when cool, sociable people are out drinking and the like. I was out, and I was going to continue my night and enter higher levels of sociable-ness, but my friends bailed on me. Actually I'm a bit upset right now, to tell the truth. I've had a hard week and I was counting on seeing one friend in particular tonight. I guess the whole thing wasn't as definite in her head as it was in mine. I sent a slightly bitter text message, and she hasn't responded. Oh well. It wasn't a bitchy message - I just wanted to let her know that I thought it was a bit shit. But text messages are so hard to interpret, and sometimes you can get a whole different tone out of something than was ever intended.

Nathaniel and I went to an open mic night at the Art House on Monday night. We'd put the date into our diaries ages ago, and made a pack to write some poetry and then read it out. We'd planned to go to a different venue that we'd read about in the Victorian Writers' Centre magazine, but when Nathaniel go there, he was told that there hadn't been poetry there in 18 months. So he saw this other thing on at the Art House. I got there first. Turned out it was a heavy metal venue. It was dark and dingy and had a slightly creepy vibe. People sat alone drinking pints of beer or in small huddles, not saying much. I put our names down on the list, alongside scores of songwriters on guitars, and the occasional comedian. The MC was pissed, and swaggered onto to stage with a half-full pint of beer in one hand. He introduced the first guy, who got up sang a lot of ooos and aahhs in a minor key and had one eyebrow perminantly higher than the other. He had a lot of tatoos and looked like his heart had been broken a lot. He made a few jokes in between songs that not many people got. The people who followed were in a similar vein - full of angst and depressing themes like drowning one's self and not being able to get out of bed in the morning. I appreciated the comedians - one of them talked about blowing a whale up on a beach in San Francisco; and I remember laughing at the other one, but I can't remember what he talked about. Soon it was my turn, and I read my poems, which I had been quite proud of. The funny one got some laughs, and nobody laughed at the one that wasn't meant to be funny, so I thought it was a success. It was an odd experience, partly because I was the only female performer, and one of only a few women in the room.

After Nathaniel, there was a guy who got up and played the keyboard while doing hip hop lyrics. He did some reggae and other styles as well - he was pretty good. When the whole thing was over I got up and went over to him. I told him I liked his music, especially how it was a mix of different styles. He told me that he liked my poetry, and especially how I tilted my foot to one side as I stood reading. There was some intense chemistry. He told me he worked in a bank. I was intrigued. Nathanel came over and stood there, between us. I made some awkward conversation. The guy didn't say too much, but just kind of smiled a bit. Nathaniel kept standing there. I found out that the guy's name was Stu. He was from New Zealand. Eventually, we didn't know what else to do or say, so we indicated that we'd better go, and Stu dropped some hints about other places he frequented. Asking for a number was all too hard at that point. So kicking myself, I left the building. I said goodbye to Nathaniel outside, then turned around and walked past the door again. Stu came out. Why hello, I said, and he asked if I wanted a lift anywhere. Sure, I replied, and got into his car, no questions asked. Crazy, I know. He drove me to my place. I asked how he liked Melbourne, and he said that he liked it very much, except that he was worried about the water situation. More and more people keep moving here, he said, but there was just not enough water to go round! The way he said it was kind of cute, I thought. Eventually we drove past my place and he pulled over. We sat in the car a while. I giggled and he giggled. It's just like your poem, he said, and it was. The poem I had read was called "On the verge of a kiss". I said, "Do you want to get a drink?" and he paused and said, "Why not?" I told him that we would need to go through my place, which was a church (I live in a church), because I had to turn off the lights. He was intrigued, so I showed him into the sanctuary. Then I got excited and showed him Credo, because I love showing people Credo. I get pretty proud of it, I think. Eventually we went into the laneway. I could tell something wasn't right and he said, "It's late. I have to work tomorrow - can I get your number and we'll do a raincheck on the drink?" Sure, I answered, and gave him my number. We kissed goodbye - on the cheek, that is. And he went home.

And so that was it. That was Monday, and now it's Friday, and I haven't heard a peep. I jump everytime the phone rings - I think I'm really desperate or something. Part of it is the feeling of rejection, I guess. And disappointment, because I kind of liked the guy, and wanted to get to know him a bit better. Sigh. This morning I decided that I needed to get over it. So during my meditation, I tried to give it over to God. It sounds weird, but I lit a candle and then took an earring, and let the earring represent the desperate Stu situation. I put the earring beside the candle. And I felt better about it, but I still check my phone a little more than usual. I think it's all over now, although if I'm completely honest, maybe there's a small glimmer of hope that I've insisted on keeping alive. It's just that the chemistry was really great, and that happens so rarely for me. Oh well, I'm only ever attracted to guys with low self-esteem, anyway, which never really works out. The fact that I was so attracted probably means that Stu has REALLY low self esteem. Better to steer clear. Although if he rings, I'd see him in a flash!

I guess I'm just lonely. How sad. Around so many people, yet still have that empty ache. I just want somebody to hold me and tell me I'm special. Sob. Intellectually, I'm telling myself to sit with my loneliness. Don't fight it - just rest with it. I've started fasting, and in some ways, it's a bit like that. You can be hungry without fighting against the hunger. You can be hungry without dreaming of food. In the same way, you can crave intimacy without fighting the loneliness; you can have that empty spot without dreaming constantly of being held and touched and told lovely things. I want to sit with this feeling, but right now, it's feeling pretty yucky. I just want somebody to curl up next to.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

dinner with Dave

Had dinner with my friend Dave today. Had one of those deep, soul-nourishing conversations. Dave told me about a girl he knew from uni, who was a free spirit with quite left-wing political beliefs, yet held a quite conservative, evangelical theology. The girl turned to him one day, and asked Dave if he was an exclusivist - that is, somebody who believes that if you hold to a religion other than Christianity, you will go to hell. Dave answered that he was not. Presumeably the girl was. He reflected later that many people who hold to a very strict, evangelical theology are actually driven by a fear of hell. People are afraid of even considering truth in other religions, because of the continual threat of hell. This perhaps explained the fact that the girl was quite a free spirit in other areas of her life, but not in the area of religion. I can relate to that myself. Growing up as a Christian, I was taught that we had the truth, and that as long as I stuck with that, I had salvation. To deviate and explore elsewhere would be to risk losing my salvation. ("Once saved, always saved" went the theology that my parents ascribed to, but if you did stray from the bounds of Christianity, it showed that you were never saved in the first place. Better not to stray.)

I reflected on the past few months, where I have been stretching out my arms a little, feeling around the edges of other faith traditions. It has been slightly scary, but I've been able to do it without feeling like I'm about to go to hell. I wondered how this was possible, and I realised that it was because I felt secure in the love that I know God has for me. I know that God won't abandon me because I am peering outside the gates of institutional Christianity. I actually feel like God will honour the fact that I am seeking Truth - that I am attempted to get closer to God. So, I realised, I am able to travel as I do not out of fear, but by being secure in love. And with that, I began to understand how it is said that fear and love are opposites. We should not come to God out of fear of the alternative - we should come because we are beckoned with loving, open arms. Fear is often the result of not knowing. We are fearful that nation that we presume is full of terrorists, because we don't know the people. If we did know them, we would probably relax and realise that they are ordinary people, like us. To get to know them, we would need to step out in love. Love is about connecting; fear is about disconnected ignorence.

We also talked about feeling connected with God and feeling connected with community. I have realised that the two are very much connected. I'm reading a book about mysticim at the moment. Mysticism is the desire to be unified with God. Christian mysticism is different from other forms in that it sees connection with God to be based in community. The two great commandment of Jesus were "Love your God" and "Love your neighbour". It seems that without loving our neighbour, we cannot fully connect with God. Unity with God rests on both aspects. It's a wonderful realisation, because lately I've had a great desire to be unified with God, and it's helpful to know that I can't do it solo! It's also lovely because I am in a strong Christian community. I have realised that some of the times I've felt closest to God has been as we are singing as a group or praying as a group. It makes sense now.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Housing affordabiltiy info and resources


Australian Housing and Urban Reseach Institute:



"Overseas students compete for Melbourne rentals"

"Students take action on housing crisis" (about SHAC, but has good background info):


AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN AUSTRALIA: Some Key Problems and Priorities for Action:

ACTU, Affordable housing: Issues, Principles and Policy Options:


Association to Resource Co-operative Housing:


Community Housing Federation of Victoria:

National Housing Co-operative Conference 2007:

"Speed renting":


Sydney housing org 'Common Ground'


Council response:

State government:

Federal response:
Shelter NSW, A guide to a proposed National Affordable Housing Agreement:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

winter liberation

Got a new hair cut today. I have a fringe, which apparently makes me look for youthful. Gosh, I'm only 24, and I need to look more youthful. The future is grim.

I removed my winter sheath while I was at it - legs, arm-pits and bikini-line. Georgina, my hair-dresser/beautician, asked me whether I was still doing that liberated thing, and I told her that I wasn't sure. I lay back and raised my arms so she could get to the eco-system growing in my arm-pits. Georgina said, "Oh my goodness! We'll need to trim that back before we can start with the wax!" The under-arms didn't hurt nearly as much as you'd expect - given that she was ripping out the coursest hair from my body by the roots. I guess I've done it so many times now, I don't feel it anymore. Perhaps my nerves are damaged.

So no, I don't think I'm doing that liberated thing anymore. Liberation only occurs over the winter.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Writing on peace

I have two ideas for things I could write on peace:

- A piece on the military co-opting peace days like Remembrance Day and ANZAC day

- How non-violent principles can be applied to state actors i.e. how can the Australian Defense Force abide by non-violent principles?

The latter would take much more work, but would be very interesting. I got inspired after attending the White Paper on Defense community consultation in Melbourne last night. Some really interesting perspectives, especially on non-violence. I want to nut that stuff out and figure out what I reckon the role of the defense force should be, if anything.

Community responses to housing affordability crisis

I think I'd like to write a piece about this. Found out about SHAC - the Student Housing Action Collective. Apparently they've been occupying Melbourne Uni-owned terrace houses for two weeks now. Sounds great, but I don't think I'd like to live there! Anyway, I might go visit and find out more about it. Apparently they have community dinners every Monday from 5:30 til 9. Might go and help cook or something.

Another community response is the houses run by John Williams, who came and spoke to the Street and Hospitality team at Urban Seed yesterday. He rents houses and then sub-leases them to people who would never get a place in the private rental market. He's pretty focussed on community-building activities as well. Might include that in piece as well.

I wonder what other solutions are out there. I wonder whether church-owned property has been used for affordable housing, or whether there are any other housing-co-ops in Melbourne. Will have to do some research and see.

Monday, September 15, 2008

dinner, Tarzan, being vague and being successful

Just had Steve over for dinner and a DVD. I'd spent the day staring at a computer screen at work, so I wasn't feeling terribly sociable. Gemma, Gin, Geoff and Boony and I gathered around the kitchen table and peel pistachio nuts, because pistachio pasta is the only dish that Gemma can cook. That was pretty nice - felt like a community bonding event, like shelling peas on the veranda or something.

Before dinner Geoff said, "It'll be quiet without Dave around."
I said, "What do you mean?"
And Geoff said, "Dave's gone on leave."
I sort of went, "Oh yeah", but really, I had no idea that Dave was going on leave. I felt ridiculous, because I live with Dave, and I should have realised that he was going on leave and wouldn't be around for a week. I felt incredibly vague, and also kind of out of the loop, which is quite a common sensation for me.

I realised something about myself - I can only concentrate on one thing at once. If I'm watching TV, I can't talk. If I'm talking, I can't watch TV. If I'm typing, I shut out everything else that is going on in the room. I am ridiculously incompetant at multi-tasking - to the extent that I can't even drink my drink while I eat dinner - I have to have it at the end, or else be really intentional about stopping mid-way to down half a glass. Today was extra-bad - I couldn't have the salad at the same time as the pasta. And I'm a girl. I defy the odds.

So Steve picked Tarzan to watch, which was hilarious. It had all the social norms of a family from the 1950s, only it was set in the jungle and involved bad grammar. Tarzan plays the hero man and Jane and the other women in the movie play the doting, relatively passive women. But it was quite enjoyable. I find it hard to follow old movies, because the sound is all weird and maybe because it's in black and white. The films are just so foreign to what I'm used to - I find it hard to get past the fact that they make no attempt that making anything realistic - it's all about made-up faces (in the jungle for goodness sake!), perfect hair and general Hollywood glamour. Maybe if I watched that films enough I would come to appreciate their art, and see that the acting, which seems so shit to me, is really a cultural norm as much as today's acting is. But I'm not really committed enough to watch more old movies.

Well, it seems things are going well at work. John, my boss, has decided that I'm brilliant, because of the pieces published. He even mentioned a pay rise today! My paper on land tenure and disasters has just been accepted, albeit with a shit-load of changes. So my academic self-efficacy had increased of late, even in the face of the 58% I got for Professional Practice. So what if I'll make a bad lawyer? Who wants to be a lawyer, anyway? But it's funny how your self-perception is so tied to how the world perceives you! Even though I pride myself in not caring that much...in reality, I have so much tied to that stuff. It's hard to feel self-worth in simply living and breathing - I have to DO something, BE someone, be RESPECTED by other people. The myth of success is so prevalent and pervasive, and so dang hard to extract myself from!

Mum made a quilt for me because I finished law. It was so special. I didn't know how to thank her properly, or tell her how I felt. We don't really do that in our family. Maybe I'll write her a letter.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Some published pieces

Thought I'd put some links through to a few opinion pieces I've had published:



Visit to Gran and Dar-Dar's

Mum, Rebecca and I visited Gran and Dar-Dar today. In a frenzy of not-tiring-Dar-Dar-out, Mum took us to Number 16 beach, which she likes because not many people go there. The weather was amazing - a little piece of summer tucked into the middle of the Melbourne transition from winter to spring, like an Easter egg that you find in the grass days after the Easter-egg hunt ends. Mum was in a good mood and so were we. We all talked more than usual...I think that I might have talked too much, and listened too little.

Mum said that she loved the beach. I asked her why, and she said that she goes to forget about everything else. I told her about Ram, who I had met the previous Saturday night at a Sitar concert, of all places. Ram is the student of the master who was performing for us. He told us that he spends five hours playing music each day, on top of the masters or PhD thesis that he is doing - in accounting, of all things. I told Ram that I thought that playing the sitar must be a very spiritual thing to do.
"Spiritual?!" he exclaimed (silly me, what a ridiculous thought). "My sitar playing is anything but spiritual. It's an escape from reality!"
Ram told us (me, Michael and Dave) that he had been sent to Australia by his rich father to get an education ("either law or accounting...not art"), and that he lived everyday in guilt at the comfortable life that he led, while millions of people lived a life of poverty in India. Music was his way of forgetting - it was his drug of choice.

For me, the beach is a spiritual place - I sense the presence of God at the beach more than in a church or a city laneway or even in the mountain ranges that frame the northern horizon of the home I grew up in. I have never considered that I might go to the beach to forget, in the same way that Ram plays his sitar to divert his thoughts elsewhere. But then, maybe we're all describing the same thing in different ways. Maybe forgetting the details that plague us throughout the rest of the day is a way that we centre on God - a way of imagining what might transcend beyond our everyday guilts and problems. I'm just thinking that maybe this 'forgetting' is really a sort of 'giving up' - a conscious releasing to God, while allowing us to be embraced by Her love, in the form of the music of the sitar, or the roar of the waves. Maybe it's tapping into a deeper reality.

I'm not sure. Just some thoughts.

Dar-Dar has cancer at the moment. Lymphoma. He's in his 80s, but he's so strong and fit. I really think he'll be ok. He seems so much better than last time we visited. I told him that he seemed more "normal" and he laughed. He told us about all the lovely people at the hospital who treat him like he's their only patient, and they've been waiting all day to see him. Gran says it's a special gift that people are just born with. Dar-Dar told us that they draw a dart board on his tummy and then throw needles from 10 foot away, and that's how he gets his injections. He was in good spirits.

It had been Fathers' Day last Sunday, so Bec and I got Dar-Dar a card and a book of Rumi poetry. The poetry went down a treat, which was great, because it was a bit of a risk. He said he thrived on things like that. Phew. What did NOT go down a treat was the card. It was a Spike Mulligan cartoon, and had picture of a person being carried in a coffin, about to be put into a hole in the ground. The person had lifted the lid of the coffin and was saying, "I demand a second opinion!" Now, I thought it was funny and Rebecca agreed that it was definately Dar-Dar's sense of humour. A risk, yes, given the circumstances, but risks often produce the best results. Dar-Dar pulled the card out of the envelope and we braced ourselves in the silence that followed, expecting an eruption of laughter when he had read and digested the humourous message. Dar-Dar peered at the front cover, brow furrowed in concentration. He turned the card over, reading the bio about Spike Mulligan. Still nothing.
He turned to me. "So it's a man being carried...?"
"Yes," I started. "In a, um, coffin..."
"Oh. Well. Yes, that's funny." Dar-Dar put the card down.
Gran picked it up and said, "Oh yes, ha ha, that's very funny!"
We all sat awkwardly for a while. They say timing is everything. Mum said later that giving a man a card with a person in a coffin on the front while they are battling cancer is bad timing.

I guess that risks can also produce the worst results.