What is it about christmas? Three wise men, a baby in a box of hay and a wandering star? Or endless parties, feverish activity and total exhaustion? I don’t do christmas. There’s a long history of not doing it in my family or doing it too much, depending if you look at the paternal or the maternal side. My dad excelled at reading in the bedroom on the holy day. Mum went all out. Presents stacked to the gunnels of the fake christmas tree and roast turkey in the next door neighbour’s oven because it was too big for ours.
I’m erring on the side of total exhaustion already and I don’t even shop! Not the regular type anyway. My aunty reminded me of my dumpster-diving days today. I’m still up for gleaning but I haven’t been head up in a skip for a while now. Living in France got me out of the habit. The dumpsters were thin on the ground and my vegie patch was prolific. When I returned to Australia I started digging in the sharehouse backyard and now I’m waiting for my zucchinis to mature. But I appreciate the efforts of all good recyclers everywhere. May your christmas findings be perfect in every way. Abundant, in date and at the top of the skip.
I have a love affair with my bike. Or to be more precise, I have love affairs with several bikes on two different continents.
There’s the red boy’s bike I rode across the sunflower-infested fields of France. Trustworthy and reliable but slightly clunky. The green girl-frame abandoned in a three story ruin in the southern mountains due to relationship problems. The foldable bicyclette I flirted with and left with a friend near Toulouse. Then there’s a long series of Australian biikes, all secondhand or built from parts, culminating in my present partner. She’s blue with a beautiful basket and racing tyres. We have politics and sport in common and enjoy long rides in the countryside. Although she dreams of travel, I’ll probably have to leave her when I return to Europe.
Biking in France: photo copyright Jeni McMillan
Why do I spend so much time thinking about men? There’s the ex that I’m almost over, the ex ex who is still driving me crazy and the potential future ex who I am flirting with at the moment. To be honest, it’s a waste of good creative time. I have a load of jewellery to glaze today and a manuscript to revise before sending it off to a publisher.
This morning there are remnants of last night’s dinner party, like a note to self, ‘tidy your expectations and move on’. Excess gluten-free vegan delicacies on unwashed plates. A trail of ants lead to the fruit salad. Wall to wall camping mattresses and rumpled blankets in the loungeroom and La Dina sitting amongst the debris trying to navigate a video-editting program on her laptop. Jewelpunk migrated upstairs sometime during the night and the only trace of El Eco is the abandoned guitar in the corner. I also discover that my crush has disappeared.
Perhaps I could have played it differently but I was off balance when La Dina suggested the sleepover in our communal space. My idea of a sleepover wasn’t so inclusive.
It began with making yoghurt. As soon as I start heating the milk at the same time as my housemates are in the throes of fake-duck wraps and smoothy preparation, my instincts kick in. This is not the right moment. But forward momentum overtakes logic and before I know it I am speeding toward destiny. I pour the tepid liquid into a jar and wrap it in a teatowel, hoping that I don’t offend La Dina beyond forgiveness. My technique for maintaining the temperature until the milk coagulates into a more digestible substance is simple. I embalm the jar in a few more layers then place it in my bed until it’s ready. The lid needs to be tightly screwed on. Except this time I am using a jar that has a clip-down lid and requires a rubber seal that I do not have.
This morning I am at one with myself. I will go and glaze my pieces and make time for editing my story. The universe has left me a clear message. Wet spots in the bed can spoil a good night’s sleep.
Fatigue has reduced me to a mere shadow. My brain is in energy-saver mode.
My housemates are awesome. There’s been little activity in the bedrooms, not merely because we all seem to be celibate at the moment. The loungeroom has been the epicentre of Jewelpunk’s crafternoons, crafterevenings and as the consumer highlight of the year approaches, beads spill over to the early hours of the morning, Then there’s the jamming. El Eco plucking at his guitar and La Dina belting out songs about murderous vegetarians. She’s vegan. I’m vego. Obviously I’m the criminal in this story.
Last night El Eco’s mum stayed over. While my housemate bunked out in the communal loungeroom, his mum snored in the bedroom, a thin wall away from where I tossed relentlessless. I tried earplugs. Toasted sandwiches at 2am seemed promising but didn’t deliver. Checking my stats at 3am caused a slight pang of anxiety. I have followers. They could be stalkers for all I know. According to google, some of the common psychiatric symptoms of sleep deprivation include disorientation, hallucinations, and paranoia. I’ll ponder this. There’s not much chance of sleeping. La Dina has just turned on the blender for her 100 banana a day diet and the kitchen is directly underneath my bedroom.
I’m happy to admit that I’m a Creative Art Addict. I can’t keep my fingers off paintbrushes, pencils, clay, cameras and computers. The other day I discovered beads and wire and I felt like I had regressed to Creative Craft. Then I remembered Ceramics. Not the throw a pot type. More the ‘find deep inspiration from that overgrown bit of brain real estate which has been swallowed up by life in the past decade then allow brain plasticity to do it’s stuff’. It’s like riding a bike. I got back into the saddle and before I knew it I was doing a quality check on some funky pieces fresh from the kin.
I should be trying to get my manuscript published and here I am, on the blog again. I suspect that i have deep issues that undermine my ability to succeed. My very core says create. That’s my downfall. I’m not going to buy a condo on the Gold Coast or even the latest model SmartPhone by my self-indulgent behaviour. Not that I want one, a condo that is. Though a new phone might come in handy considering mine has just transformed into an object of torture. Every few minutes I am alerted to a new message. It’s the same one. Trish, I know you’re a great friend but your xx is really driving me crazy.
Writers’ block. That old demon. I started my first blog ever and bang! silence. Who would have thought it? I’ve written 120,000 words of narrative non-fiction and looking for a publisher. I’ve even started a sequel. Then there’s the dilapidated Trip Book that I found in a dumpster and carried in a neat circumnavigation of the spanish/french Pyrenees. It’s full of words. Even a few french ones. Perhaps that’s the trouble. I read somewhere that birds have only enough room in their brains for a certain amount of songs. I may have reached my quota. A literary swansong.