Before the doing is always the sorting

The drawing subject I’ve been studying has naturally resulted in the accumulation of a whole bunch of new things. It has also meant that I’ve finally found a use for some things that I’ve bought in the pass without having any idea how to use them (about three different tins of graphite pencils for example). Because they were new things (or old things but finally being used), they didn’t really have a proper home and hadn’t been integrated into my little study. This meant that they were spread either all around the living room or piled up on the floor in my study–both of these things being counterproductive if you’re trying to create a calm working environment.

It was also growing super inefficient, and I was spending way too much time looking for things. I don’t enjoy looking for things, and I find it extremely frustrating, and this leads me to get twitchy, then annoyed, then grumpy.

I spent all of yesterday doing (yet another) sort and organise of my working space. It’s got a bit of a different purpose this time as I try to get all of my sewing and embroidery stuff into the little space that we made by getting an extra wall put in. Which has meant that what is left in this space is only the writing things, the folders and the notebooks. (It was kind of revealing as I put all of the notebooks into one square of the kallax). I made a few archive boxes for things like catalogues and postcards and other kinds of categories that make complete sense to me but would be laughable to anyone else. And for now I’ve got a place for everything, which means that I can put anything I pick up in a place where I will find it quickly and easily.

Today I have done (yet another) big push on sorting out my admin to-do list, including getting on top of some glitchy email thing. One of my email addresses isn’t working properly–well I guess it’s working, I haven’t set it up properly but it amounts to the same thing. So today I sat at my desk determined to work through everything and find all of the lost emails.

Combine all this with the fact that last week I caught up on my oustanding art homework, and I have that sense of righteous calm. Which is a good foundation for the large amount of creative work that I want to get finished over the next couple of months. At the same time, of course now that I’ve started on another round of sorting and organising I’m a bit seduced by other opportunities for sorting, of which there are still (always) many. But I am reminding myself that ultimately creative work is more rewarding than sorting, especially if that creative work is built on the back of a bunch of sorting.

Talk tomorrow (or the day after or maybe even next week).

Dear brain, please explain

I’m not going to bore you with the details of it, but walking up the stairs and back to my desk just now, I remembered that last night I had a dream, the upshot of which was that I made a commitment not only to myself, but to a strange David Brent type person, that I would write a symphony. According to this David Brent type person (and I promise this is the only detail with which I will regale you), anyone who is anyone has written one by the time they’re forty.

In my dream, I seemed to believe not only that I should add ‘write a symphony’ to my list of things to do, but that I had the skills to follow through.


I can’t think of a suitable title

I have just been reacquainting myself with some research and statistics, during which time I have reading the Facts and Stats factsheet on the White Ribbon Foundation‘s website. The report says, amongst other things:

Australian women’s experience of violence in the last 12 months
The Personal Safety Survey also provides data on Australian women’s experiences of violence over the last year. In the last 12 months:
Over one in 20 women (6%, or close to half a million women) were the victims of violence;

That is half a million reasons it is not okay to call a woman a bitch. If you read the report, Tony, you will find that sadly, there are many, many more.

I keep telling myself it won’t get worse, and then it does

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We were all sitting around the table just now, the mister, the lads and the I, eating our lunch and the conversation was civilised, but stilted, because we all had our heads in books or screens. Some of us were reading Asterix, some were clicking through their blackberry, and I was flicking through news from home, and I was all, ‘Listen to this’ and ‘Can you believe?’ and then I saw that photo.

Seriously, Tony Abbott, how dare you take democracy and do that to it? Especially now, while so many people in so many places are sacrificing so very much for democracy. How dare you? We go to school every day with families whose hearts are heavy with fear and uncertainty, but also burning with hope. I check my email constantly for messages from friends in places I’d rather they weren’t. And while they are doing these things, showing courage beyond imagination, this is your contribution.

‘Look at this,’ I said to the mister when I first saw that photo, and I turned the screen his way.

‘Can I see?’ Eldest lad asked, but I said, ‘No,’ and turned it around before he could see. I don’t actually shield my children from much of the news. We don’t watch graphic images on the television, but we talk to them about most things.

But not that, I’m not letting them see that, because I come from a time and a place where such attitudes need not be explained. I come from a time and a place where our leaders respect women, respect people, respect democracy and take the responsibilities of freedom of speech seriously.

Eldest said, ‘Mum! Don’t cry! Think of a happy thing.’

Right now I can’t.

Morning tea at work

Yesterday, at eleven o’clock, after thinking about it for over an hour and making the perfect amount of coffee to accompany it, I realised that I had left my cake, a slice of the best banana cake I have ever baked, at home. And the only thing on my desk was the banana I’d bought in the day before.

Today, I did not forget to bring my cake to work, and I will be having morning tea at ten thirty, not eleven.

Movie of the year (imho)

Walking into Rango, knowing nothing more about it than that the kids want to see it and it stars Johnny Depp is like picking up your drink thinking you are having lemonade only to find that you are drinking soda water.

Once you have adjusted, you will realise the treat is not sweet as you were expecting, but it is something better. You are left, not with a sweet cloying in the back of your throat, but a bubbling sharpness and a single thought. I am more alive than I used to be.

I bet that’s what it’s like having an actual relationship with Johnny Depp (in relation, I mean, to the relationship I do have with him which is limited to simply repeating, ‘oh, yes, Johnny Depp’ everytime someone mentions his name and then trying to look like I still care what the other person is saying). And don’t I wish I had the chance to take that ‘I bet’ from the realms of speculation into lived experience.


At school, the families from Japan have organised a stall selling handmade Japanese craft. Thanks to our eldest child, we have a house that is overflowing with paper cranes and frogs and lilies and balloons, but their sign says, ‘Even one dirham will help us.’

On the way to the final birthday party of the weekend, youngest said, ‘I’ve just realised, I’m the only one in my football team who comes from a country that has English as the main language’. On the way home, he said, ‘Amir didn’t come. He’s from Libya. They don’t feel like celebrating.’

I tried a new hairdresser. Eldest’s teacher’s hairdresser. Eldest’s teacher always looks beautiful so I asked her where she goes. The hairdresser asked the normal questions. ‘Where are you from? How long have you been here? You like it here?’ And when I shrugged and smiled in answer to the last, he smiled an almost-laugh in return and said, ‘You are like everyone.’

I wanted to say, ‘Every day I live here I believe that less than I did the day before.’

At home, the mister said, ‘You look beautiful,’ but eldest said, ‘Oh no, you look just like Miss. I won’t know whether I’m at home or school.’

Lucky for that dermatologist, he doesn’t live next door. He’d never get any peace.

I have spent quite a lot of this weekend standing in the light of the window twisting my head towards the back of my knee and my knee towards the back of my head, trying to work out whether or not that mole is new, whether it has grown since I first noticed it two weeks ago and whether said mole it is itchy because it’s got a bite coincidentally and randomly next to it and, in so doing, comparing said possible bite to another left on the front of that thigh and another on the back of the other. (Another being bite and other being thigh).

I am trying not to spend too much time on the internet googling around for images which will freak me out. I’m sure you can guess how successful this latter (in)activity has been.

Friday morning (an hour in my life)

What’s a priest? What’s sin? Can I have a bandaid? Can I have a playdate with Oscar? Can I have a playdate that turns into a sleepover with Oscar? Have you remembered to put band-aids on the list? What am I going to be doing while he is at the birthday party, I don’t have to do jobs, do I? Have you got a pencil sharpener? Have you got a pencil sharpener that isn’t broken? Is this paragraph opinion or fact? But if Ned Kelly just went around shooting people what good things did he do? If I buy that book of poetry can I have the other Big Nate book as well? Why do you like coffee? When I’m an adult do you think I will drink wine or beer? Can I have another playdate with Oscar? What movie are we having for movie night? What’s intimidating? What’s retrospective? Are you on facebook? Are you playing wordtwist again? If we lived on Kangaroo Island could nuclear power reach us? Could we get drowned by a tsunami? Can I go on mathletics now? Now? Now? Well, when can I go on it? Don’t you think you should go and get dressed now, it’s already nine o’clock? Why can’t we go out and play football now, we’ve finished our homework? What happens if the lava in the lava lamp does spill? But what if it does? Where does the measuring cup go? What happens if you drink rotten milk? Who invented wars? Which dinosaur came first t-rex or stegosaurus? Do you want to play Cluedo? What’s trivia? If we had a fire now, do you think we should escape through the front door or the back? Have we got any carrots left? Can I go and pick some cherry tomatoes? Can you read us another chapter of Holes? Can we have one more? One more? Just one more? Pleeeease? What’s 65 times 16? What’s a mortgage deed? Why did Ned Kelly burn the mortgage deeds? Is Julia Gillard still our Prime Minister? Can actors get married in real life? What about if they have to kiss someone else in their movies? But why do you like EastEnders when it’s just a bunch of people having arguments?

‘Mum can you come here?’ I went, because that’s the kind of mother I try to be. ‘Look,’ he said pointing at the Jenga blocks he had arranged in an apparently random fashion on the loungeroom floor. ‘It’s called the Mom Mall. You’re the only one allowed in it, and it’s totally silent.’

I do love that kid.


I know that it looks like the Middle East is just a rolling ball of conflict at the moment, but there are so many differences between countries in the region that in many ways it is nothing more than regional, and they share nothing more than geography. So while Bahrain is geographically closer to home than anything else has been for me, life goes on as it did before.

Nonetheless, with the mister on a plane for most of yesterday and thus incommunicado, I felt the familiar twinges of the vague uneasiness that I lived with for many years returning. A shortness of breath, a fluttering stomach, a sleep not quite deep enough. It is not a full blown stress and because it is attached to nothing in particular, it is not necessarily something on which I can act, but it manifests itself in sighs and rolled eyes when one of the lads reminds me he needs twenty dirhams for a school fieldtrip and I only have fifteen in my purse. I slam my bag on the table when, because the strap has stretched, I can’t quite reach my keys without first putting down the cake eldest lad volunteered to take to school, the scarf which I need in the office because the air conditioner is crap and the yoghurt I’m taking for lunch.

Last night, I managed to use every bowl in the kitchen – soup, salad and mixing – doing not very much at all (though see volunteered cake above, and know that when I started the cake I was intending to bring it to work to share with lovely colleagues), which led to a great many hours standing in front of the sink an occupation complicated by the demise of the hot water system (yes, again) which meant I had to boil the kettles each time the water had to be changed.

I have given myself a stern talking to this morning, because, you know, boiling kettles blah blah blah…get a grip woman. There’s earthquakes, nuclear leaks, floods, conflict. And no one is even reporting on the Ivory Coast. But then there’s the other thing, isn’t there, because really how do you go on boiling the kettle when others are living through such difficult times. Watching terrible things unfold, it seems on the one hand wrong just to keep on with my simple, privileged life, but on the other, disrespectful not to live this simple, privileged life to the full.

I really like what Deborah wrote only a few weeks ago: ‘and then carry on’. I’ve reminded myself of it many times.