it’s a wonderful day!

This morning I woke up with this stuck to me. It definitely wasn’t there when I went to bed. I’d never seen it before. I should probably also mention I woke up with Sylvie asleep in the crook of my arm, as I do most mornings lately.

She brings me things like giant twigs and the biggest cluster of leaves she can find. Also a lot of neighbourhood rubbish.  Things that rustle and twinkle, like pie wrappers and other people’s discarded mail. And now Hello Kitty tags. She heralds each new gift with squeaks. The prouder she is of her offering, the noisier she’ll be. It’s the only time she ever talks.

Anyway, how can it not be a wonderful day when in the dark of night Sylvie brings me a message saying so? I hadn’t even told her about my Hello Kitty thing.

emo moose


This is my cousin Marie standing in front of her paintings at the opening of her group show this week. I like how she’s holding her handbag and her paintings are of bags. We didn’t plan it that way.

I am in study quarantine on a Friday night. Simon and our house guests have gone out and it’s just me and M Ward and a whole heap of paper.


My brother just pointed this out on Facebook. It’s times like these I marvel at genetics and the similarities of siblingness, because that’s exactly the kind of thing I pick up on and find amusing. All week, out of nowhere, my head has been making spoonerisms out of absolutely everything, for example. My head is just one big dumb word-scramble. But at least I know I am not alone. Somewhere in Boston there’s someone who’s at least as alphabetically addled as me. It’s reassuring to know there’s someone out there with similar afflictions.

The house guests are now coming home, thank god.

Yesterday I caught the wrong bus and ended up on the wrong side of town. I wondered vaguely if we were heading in the right direction but I was sort of caught up in what I was reading and didn’t really contemplate the wrongness of my destination until it was too late.

The cats keep hijacking my glasses of water. It’s not really something I feel comfortable sharing with them. It makes hydration tricky. For me, I mean. Convenient for them, though. The bath has become their new drinking fountain of choice, second only to my freshly filled glasses of water.

I think I might wander around and admire my new house now for a bit with M Ward until the entertainment shows up.

dirty laundry


This is Helene’s photo. I like laundromats and I really like the birds flying over in this photo. I also really like the colour of the sign. It’s nearly the colour my new craft room is going to be. In 11 days I will have a new craft room. Actually I will have a whole new house. And while I’m talking about wall embellishments and what have you, this is possibly the pièce de resistance (in thunder). It’s only going to go on one wall, though. And in the formal room, as well. Although I should really just call it the music room, because it’s safe to say that’s what it will become (along with the rest of the house) and also we don’t really do formal, or even mildly grown-up, really.

I like imagining laundromats as a sort of stage for daily dramas, although I can’t say that I have ever frequented one.  I’d like to, but not to wash my clothes. I don’t really like the idea of dirty laundry in public, now that I think about it. Call me prudish or something.

Maybe it has something to do with the time I was returning to London from Sweden and my makeshift bag broke (I think I accumulated too much stuff so we made a new bag and put all my unwashed laundry in it and tied it up with string). Standing at the luggage carousel at Heathrow I didn’t think oh shit that looks like my underwear when I watched the oversized clear plastic bag go round and round unclaimed. I just thought what kind of shameless idiot would pack their underwear in a giant see-through plastic bag? Until it was the very last item on the carousel and I finally recognised the pattern on a pair of knickers or something and was forced to uplift it and fireman’s lift it (it was really that big) onto the tube and then the bus. There was really no disguising it, either, although I did try unsuccessfully to conceal it by using it as a cushion when I finally got to sit down.

Ugh. That’s a horrible recollection. I can’t believe I just shared it. But I didn’t really have anything else to write about this evening though, apart from the cats, and I have been thinking how I don’t really want to turn into crazy cat lady of the internet. So I’ve resolved to only post photos of the cats intermittently. Every other week, maybe.

Oh but that could then open up my blogging schedule for pictures of some little cuties, like these two…

Look how cute they both are. Even cuter than cats, dare I say it.

at the edge of the universe


I live at the edge of the universe, like everybody else.

That line has been stuck in my head for days. I think I know what it’s doing there. I think I do.

I just wish I knew how the poem goes on, off the top of my head, but I don’t. And I have empty bookshelves, so I can’t even pull out every Bill Manhire book I own and find it. Soon, though.

Magnus took the photo of this globe. It made me think of the edge of the universe line even more. I used to have the great privilege of having Magnus as my own personal in-house on-call photographer. He is an excellent photographer. Then he went and moved back to Sweden. He still is an excellent photographer, even in Sweden, but I no longer get to have his excellence on tap and abuse the privilege.

Digressing slightly (but only slightly) I ♥ Sweden so much. I miss my Annie.

I miss lots of people right now, more so than usual. The universe is very big and we’re all so far-flung. I miss Bex in Sydney and I miss LP and Mr America in Boston. I miss Marie in Paris (because even Google  failed to track her down). I miss Minx and Lou. I miss the farm cousins, even though they’re not far away. I miss Mogwai (RIP). I miss Lily and Liam (and damn they just won’t quit their growing).

I swear if I were 10 years younger I’d probably be hugely into emo. As it is, and as I am, though, I stand on the cross-trainer at the gym listening to ELO’s telephone line up really loud, getting all cut up and dewy-eyed. Oh well, I come from a very long line of emo. It’s genetically hardwired (i.e. not my fault). I’ve yet to pinpoint the Italian in the upper branches of our family tree, but I’m sure it’s there somewhere.

Bax in a box

Bax found a box with his name on it and made it his own. He’s not really one for photo opportunities, so I had to get a photo of it toot sweet, as Kath and/or Kim would say.

Speaking of French, I’m actually in the middle of internet stalking (well, trying to track down) my French friend Marie. It turns out there are quite a few Marie Lamberts in Paris. So I’d better get back to it… I may be some time…

frankly, my dear

Tonight (Matthew) I was going to talk about escapism, but now I’m not. Now I’ve got blog stagefright. Or maybe I just have nothing to say.

Earlier this evening it felt like I had a lot to talk about. Stuff about whether I am barking up the wrong tree or chasing my tail to no avail, or if I am maybe all bark and no bite — to use my three best dog analogies.

Earlier this evening I cussed quite vehemently in a sort of mock rage. And then I made a mess in the kitchen and I didn’t really give a fuck about the thing I was cussing about any more.  Although might I just say there are some almightly fuckwits in the world. And who would study, anyway? It’s stupid. It’s just a bunch of pompous stupidity. I only sort of mean that. But right now I actually mean it a lot.

Oh, and it’s also especially stupid if you happen to be lecturing on a discipline that fundamentally, more than anything, requires people skills and you happen to be utterly and spectacularly lacking in them. Oh, and if you’ve clearly never actually actively worked in the field you profess to know so much about. Or if you ever did it was about 30 years ago when people used carrier pigeons to get their news out. Oh god. My blood pressure.

That’s the thing about being a mature student. I’m actually more concerned about things like my blood pressure and putting my muddled time to good use. And it seems my bullshit detector has had some polishing in the days since first I made an eager and eternally grateful sponge of myself. And I can’t do all-nighters any more, or give too much of a shit, which puts me at a distinct disadvantage.

The night before last I rewrote the Frankie intro. And in eight weeks and counting I can write the end and eviscerate the middle. That’s quite good news. It makes incidental fuckwits sort of bearable. (Dear sir, you and your humourless remarks mean not a thing to me…)

Also, and more importantly, some of our new furniture turned up today. I hadn’t expected it to be quite so big. That’s the thing with ordering stuff online. The internet is entirely dimensionless. And houses are, well, full of dimensions.

I have been working at home a little bit too much lately and have been having some rather engrossing conversations with myself/the cats. There is something to be said for working in an office.

The latest, as of about three hours ago…

Me to Baxter, who is nudging at the cat flap, looking back at me disdainfully, witheringly: 

“Oh, so you’re off out, then?”  (Like I’m mother to a teenager who won’t tell me where he’s going.)

Me to Sylvie who is practically surgically attached to the heater all day long:

“Sorry, Sylver — do you mind if I just turn the heater down a wee bit?” (Said truly apologetically and like I’m actually expecting an answer.) “It’s just that it’s getting a bit hot in here and I’ve got the oven on as well. Why don’t you just come into the kitchen? It’s very nice and warm in there. You’ll like it once you get in there, I promise.”

She looks at me and blinks and does nothing (it’s been tested – she will stay surgically attached to the heater all day long whether it’s on or not).

“Oh, okay then, okay. Sorry. Yes, fair enough. You just stay right where you are. Sorry I asked.”

And that’s about it. I’m looking forward to having a functioning TV in the new house. Come end of October I am just going to hang out and watch TV, possibly for the rest of my life. When that time comes, if anyone asks me to speak at a conference or even just think harder than I need to at any given point in time then I will tell them, quite politely, that my season of ass-busting is over. Possibly for the rest of my life.

I would much rather fill my head with the Living Channel and crime documentaries than case studies on crisis management and dialogic models. Unless it involves a paint chart or a creepy voiceover and some telling DNA I just can’t bring myself to give that much of a damn about it.

sea change on the me-dial

I just found out the meaning of holding pattern, for real. I thought it meant something completely different. Sort of like a holding pen. Somewhere where you keep agitated hens, or slaughter-ready pigs. I think that’s what I thought it was, beyond just being an expression, I mean.

Today I had a ghostwriting dilemma. For some reason I wanted to use the words sea change in a document but I knew I’d be using the wrong voice, that it was something this person would probably never say. I did it anyway. I’m not really a very good ghostwriter. In fact I’m terrible. In the stairwell or by the fluorescent coffee machine or in our last-limbed lifts (at the same time praying that we don’t plummet to our deaths) people say to me, you wrote that, didn’t you? Because it ends up sounding like me, everything does. There are just varying degrees of me on the me-dial. Like business me and plain English me and clipped policy me and fuzzy adspeak me and call-to-action markeing me and colloquial/collegial tongue-in-cheek me.

And I’m just talking about work here. But the same is true with other sorts of writing, too. The night before last I sat down to write something that wasn’t Frankie or Dorothy or work or school or this. Something completely unrelated to anything. And yet, a few hundred words in it was the same old introspective nothing-going-on wordscape with the same breed of psychologically paralysed anti-heros, mooching in barely-lit limbos (or — dare I say it — holding patterns), deafened by their own go-nowhere/downward-spiral thoughts. So I stopped writing. I think I might have painted my nails at that point.  Whatever it was it was more useful than me writing the same thing over and over — only fractionally different each time, like one of those spot the difference pictures — for the rest of my days.

Maybe it’s not quite as bad as all that. But nearly. I took these photos tonight. Some of my favourite things. And Sylvie and I had fun on the stairs. Bax isn’t quite as photogenic, but he’s equally as cute. He’s a bit of a gangly adolescent and he runs funny, sort of lopsidedly. I think he might need to see a cat chiropractor.

Another thing for the things I like/don’t like list: FANCY LETTUCE. This one’s on the don’t like list. I’ve recently confirmed as a fact that iceberg lettuce is in a league of its own, and it’s cheaper. Even the name — fancy lettuce — is stupid. Two thumbs down. I still bought it at the supermarket tonight, though. Very begrudgingly.

Can’t think of anything else for the list. Lindsay Lohan is going to jail. Someone set their mattress on fire. It’s really cold. Nope, nothing else. 

I think my favourite lyrics for tonight are from Get Big by Okkervil River. Quite hard to find decent unmuckedup lyrics online (and no, I don’t want to download the fucken ringtone). So I have patched these up a bit.

And now I am off to write the same old circadian saga. Same saga, different day. Same sagginess of the soul, no plot to speak of. It’s like the overtrodden pathways in my mulish brain won’t let me do anything else. And still I persist. I must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on. Etc. 

Once we get to the end of this song,
then it will begin again.

So you said,
in our bed.
I was watching light slip
through the blinds to find your skin.

So take your medicine
and I won't ask where you've been.
Live your lost weekend.
I know you've wanted it.
Get big, little kid.

And I can't say why each day
doesn't quite fit the space
we saved for it.
But if that space now demands
that you throw up both your hands,
that you call it quits...

Take your midnight trip
I know you've dreamed of it.
Walk your sunset strip,
because I think you've needed it
to get big, little kid.

But just remember that our love
only got this good
because of those younger days
that'd you like to outstrip.
So drink your cup down
to the dregs and leave
that club on shaking legs
with another guy,
but just remember: I'm not him.

Take your medicine and I won't ask
where you've been.
Live your lost weekend,
because I know you've wanted it
to get big, little kid.

And once we get to the end of this song,
then another will begin.

I just don’t want to

I don’t. I really don’t. I did try. But I just don’t want to. It’s easier not to. It’s probably better like this. For everyone. I wanted to want to. But wanting to want is not the same as just plain old wanting. And it’s very very far from doing. And this presents some significant obstacles. And herein lies a presently insurmountable conundrum.

What I am talking about here is far more complex and nuanced than mere procrastination. More twistedly muddled than a Rubik’s Cube. More shrouded and foggy than the Wellington Airport on a midwinter’s morning. Or at least I like to think so.

Today I thought of a word I really like. MAMMAL. It’s one letter off being an anagram, and it just sounds nice. It also means being warm-blooded, which can’t be a bad thing.

Today’s context:

“Why are you so warm?”

“Because I’m a mammal.” (I didn’t even have my electric blanket on.)

I’m trying to think of other words I like, but I don’t want to detract from mammal. Like crepuscular or obfuscate. But I actually prefer mammal, so let’s just leave it at that for now.

I think we might be nearly homeless. Getting to a state of homelessness is quite an epic undertaking.

Baxter just reminded me of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. i.e. if you buy him biscuits he’ll give you all the love in the world, but he will not kiss you. It’s not in his contract.

Probably the funniest thing that happened this weekend was hanging out with Robin, as per below. Oh no — as per below. That sounds like something I might write in a work email. Somewhere alongside as requested and please find attached (even better when I then neglect to attach said attachment).

I’m going to go and wash the scribble off my arm now and call it a night. Because I just don’t want to do anything else.

butterfly_ _ _ _ _ stitches

Words sometimes fail me. Actually, no – fail, is the wrong word. What I mean to say is that I marvel at words. They are wonderful and strange. They do odd, perplexing and sometimes magical things. We forget the power of them (as you do with things you bandy about every day). 

In the murk of an everyday day, to be awakened to a beautiful collection of letters – a chance and pretty gathering of words – is like looking up and seeing a fully formed rainbow, or a sky full of country stars, or a motorway that is clear and blue all the way to the horizon after a long day.

I labour the point. I always do that. I use more words than I should. Maybe I’m the literary equivalent of a lady with too much eyeshadow, the glittering, bargain bin kind. Caked on foundation, all pores and powdery crevices. Oh well, fuck it. Bring on the shimmery aqua and the clumpy kohl, I say…

Tonight we went to see St Vincent and she was excellent. The highlight of my Festival, truly, although there is still one show to go for me. Now we are home. I am in the writing cubby hole I hardly ever use. We have a grotto full of candles, sleep-inducing nightcaps and records playing (more St Vincent, Leila Adu and now Joni Mitchell so far) and it is only one day from the weekend, which can only ever be a good thing.

The cats are talking to me again, after a long cold shoulder, and are huddled behind the screen of my laptop, on top of each other. Apparently I was air-stroking Sylvie in my sleep last night (i.e. stroking the air well above her) and mewling to myself as I did.

As for butterfly stitches. Emma and I went to lunch at Parade the other day. As we turned off to Oriental Parade we were stopped by a policewoman, asking us how far we intended to go. We were waved on, deemed unthreatening. Over lunch there was some conjecture as to the reason for the cordoning and the questioning.

And then, the next day, I stumbed upon this article on Stuff. I emailed it to Emma, our mystery solved, and she wrote back:

Something about the last line [a bunch of minor injuries and a woman requiring butterfly stitches to her chin] is both cute and gruesome.

I thought about it for a moment.

Butterfly = cute

Stitches = gruesome

I dunno. What do you call that? Juxtaposition? Oxymoron? Or is there no term for it, the strange spark from some words when they rub against each other?

Cute and gruesome. That is a good mix, right there.

Joni and vinyl is a good mix.

Bed and me is a good mix.

girl cat, so thin on love and barley

It’s Friday night and I shirked all end-of-week merriment and am at home alone listening to The Velvet Underground.

Long story and I don’t want too much preamble, but tonight I went through all my old journals. Early next week I will write more about that in particular, but the best thing that came out of tonight was that I found my original copy of Girl Cat.

Girl Cat is a collaboration between me and my friend Caroline (Caroline did most of the drawings and sent them down to me). We did it way back in 1998. It’s so old now that you can see where the adhesive from the sellotape has stained the paper. Tonight I digitised it all – something I have been meaning to do for ages – so that I have a record of it, I suppose.

The whole thing is based on my all-time favourite haiku:

girl cat

so thin

on love

and barley

That haiku captured my attention forever. I didn’t even own any cats then. So I made the book (i.e. glued together and folded) in the haiku’s honour; it must have been towards the end of university. Then I made lots of photocopies of it and handed it out around the university campus. I think mostly people just thought I was very odd. That was (and is) okay with me, though.

And here it is, online, finally.