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Archive for the month “December, 2011”

A good cigar is a man but a I’d rather ride a bike

Back on my Bike. I ride through the streets and it’s past seven.

I ride to the river, recklessly riding not looking where I am going.

I ride through backstreets,

I ride through the darkening shadows of trees painted on the footpath,

I smell the effluvia of the ocean coming in,

warm bitumen,

spices in oil,

electrical lights,

dead possums on the road,

dog shit in the park,

gardenias in a Countess’s garden and I let go of pumping the pedals and scream down the street not looking for pedestrians, riding through the dark streets, gliding past cafes and people smoking on the footpaths, stopping, moving around them, not wanting to flick my bell but enjoying the slowliness of a few moments with my feet on the ground, a few recognisable perfumes, cracked heels in velvet shoes, nothing that looks like ambrosia in glasses,

I’m winding down through the streets,

my heart racing, my bike now an extension of my body, effortlessly sweating, moving.

you studied what now?

 

 

 

So I get into a conversation or at least I’m having a rant, finding anything tangible to grip onto with my partner N’s family.

N’s brother’s girlfriend, who is over with other members of the his family is going to do an arts degree. In a world filled with tradies and even bumper stickers professing the love of tradies I wanted to stand up for the arts students. Again. A literature degree?

A double major in Literature? Why? How will that guarantee a job? What career? Teaching?

Hmm. I never thought of the career. I thought of the books and the classes filled with passionate discussion, which happened, less than I wanted. Here I was, not even slightly drunk on white wine attempting to speak to stand up for the critically endangered species of the Literature student. Why? They look at me in my rented house, with my mis-matching cutlery and chairs that are broken but covered in fabrics, and they can’t fathom the reason.  But I didn’t stop there. I went on to do a Masters of Poetry. And in-between thought it would be a good thing to do a Grad cert in editing and publishing. Hmm.

Why? What trade do you possess? What trumpet do you blow?

According to the Melbourne University’s Website regarding the outcomes of a student who has undertaken a Masters in English Literature, these are some of the following skills and achievements acquired listed at the bottom of this piece. While I urge all literature students to address these skills and essential outcomes let’s remember some of the basic wonders of taking on such a degree as a Literature degree.

I formed the most intimate long-lasting relationships with books that transformed my world. Made me a better listener, made me a better writer, a better person. Ideas that carry across the ages, ideas I contest, ideas not worth knowing, ideas worth applauding.

Books transformed the small cubicle of knowing into a vast multi-dimentional hatchery of worlds. Books intersect with other books. I am able to live a thousand lives in a small human lifetime. I am able to feel more deeply through the complex rich interwoven experiences of characters from other times, in other situations. And I am able to feel the power of words. I am a traveller, I engage in a book on so many levels. I will read a book even if I don’t like the story, just for the words, just because a book forces me to read differently. The words change the reading style, the words manage the characters, like P.R agents, only better. The words force me into an uncomfortable reading style that I learn to adjust to. How wonderful. Joyce did that. Ulysses was able to change the way we engage with a text. To move into streams of consciousness, to melt the lines between what one is thinking and one is saying. Joyce forces you to approach a book differently. It’s not just style, no it’s content of course. What about Duras? Look at her style, like a tailored outfit with a few wine stains. A beautifully cut style of writing. The content?  The ego and the other. The ego and the other’s relationship. Whether it be mother/daughter, ego/brother, ego/lover, or a meshing of all of them. Those lines cut. Those short sharp dark printed lines where you know the ending from the beginning. But she’s going to tell you anyway. Just like when you fall in love and you know it’s going to be fucking painful when you break-up, but no matter. The story, that narrative, those sharp lines are going to tell you how it once was. Like a woman just before she gets really drunk. Marguerite Duras, on her second drink, not sloshed, but warmed up, her memory in-accurate but fiercely independent.

 

I have a strong sense of intellectual integrity and the ethics of scholarship

I have in-depth knowledge of their specialist discipline(s)

I have reached a high level of achievement in writing, generic research activities, problem-solving and communication

I am a critical and creative thinker, with an aptitude for continued self-directed learning

I am an adept at learning in a range of ways, including through information and communication technologies

I am knowledgeable across disciplines:

and I examine critically, synthesise and evaluate knowledge across a broad range of disciplines

I have expanded my analytical and cognitive skills through learning experiences in diverse subjects

I have the capacity to participate fully in collaborative learning and to confront unfamiliar problems

I have a set of flexible and transferable skills for different types of employment

I initiate and implement constructive change in my community, including professions and workplaces

I have excellent interpersonal and decision-making skills, including an awareness of personal strengths and limitations

I mentor future generations of learners

I engage in meaningful public discourse, with a profound awareness of community needs


I value different cultures

I am a well-informed citizen able to contribute to their communities wherever they choose to live and work

Shop till you Drop

Well darlings…how was it? Did you survive? Are you ok after that christmas hoohah. It’s a bit nuts right? All the preparation and all those wrapped up packages of second-hand books and home-made dolls and hours spent making cards. Well that’s what I did. I just couldn’t go into the city again to brave the crowd and buy things. There is so much stuff everywhere. One shop multiplied by a thousand. I see a light, a pack of baubles, a wrapped ham, a bunch of frozen pies in a big fridge, five million t-shirts, three hundred thousand shoes, seven thousand sparkly necklaces, two thousand diamond rings, six million pairs of eyes, four hundred thousand bags advertising themselves and it’s way too much. I calculate this shopping mall by all the ones in Australia and then just in the western world and then I’m calculating all the lights and bags and factories and people that make it all. I’m no fun at all when it comes to shopping. Give me a white christmas up the nostrils and I might cope better, help me support sordid industries and I might come shopping with you.

Yes you look great in that dress. But you are still boring me and can we go home. NO sex is worth this torture.

Yes that is a great deal. Two outfits for the price of one already shitty shoddy dress. Get another bag why don’t you? It’s important people know that you’ve got money to burn when you’re out. Those ultra-sophisticated Myers ladies will pay you loads of attention.

Yes it’s true, you’ve noticed no one looks like they had great mind-blowing sex in the last 24 hours. Except maybe those two guys. And that  lady with the sunglasses.

But let’s just keep moving along this escalator. Which level are we going to?

THROUGH ALL NINE LEVELS  of Dante’s Inferno. At least your ass doesn’t look big in that bed sheet.

xxxxx

The image here on your left depicts shoppers who have fallen off the escalator in the happy home-ware section of My-urghs. Some shoppers have the lucky genetic advantage of being able to decapitate themselves to avoid the inane conversations around them.

 

 

No amount of soap can make you clean

Now currently I won’t name them, but I can tell you that this one particular person has got everything she has from bullying and intimidating. I have learnt so much from her. She would constantly affirm ‘i’m amazing’ out loud and would bully her staff at work. She would often remind them of the ‘fact’ that she was making sure they got payed so they better do what she says. What a predictable creature. She carries an entitlement chip and has the notion that she has had to battle her way to the top in a company that I and some of my fellow colleagues once regarded as an ethical company. This does not even begin to hint at the amount of disrespect that this particular person has shown to her ‘underlings’ in this business. We are reminded on a fairly unconscious ‘worker bee’ level that we are expendable.  I have seen her coldness and nastiness extend to myself and other people, but she gets away with it. She gets away with it for various reasons. And some of these reasons can be logically deduced and explained. Bullies actually have self-inflated egos, not bruised ones. And to a large extent Australian capitalist systems are run by bullies. Our parliaments are a good example. And if someone has convinced a particular company of their greatness, then goes about bullying their ‘underlings’ into making more money, and so they make more money for this ethical ‘against animal cruelty’ company, then this person gets rewarded. This is the kind of person that in her spare time will be provoked to want to bash another woman whilst she is out on the town. This is the kind of woman that some companies enjoy employing. It is an interesting issue of investigation and it is one that I will keep exploring via short stories and articles. But for the moment I am collecting information and all my experiences with this person and the clones she has made in her image  which has given me delicious characters that I am excited about using. She may have fists, but I doubt she has the imagination and grasp of the english language  that I possess. I have learnt so much from her. I have always been polite to her and I have let her bully me and I have practised subservience to her. Did you know sometimes the submissive has power? Anyway she can hit, and maybe I can too. I’ve never actually hit a woman before. I’ve never slapped a woman’s face. I would rather fly than fight. But I can fight, as attested to the broken tooth I accidentally gave my ex-lover in a play fight wrestle match. But it’s not really my style, to fight with my fists. My hands extend instead to pens and keyboards, not to slander, not to be nasty, but to write stories. So this bully becomes another character in my files. I’ve watched her over the years, observed her, listened to her fucked up heart and taken notes. So I have learnt a lot. There are amazing characters, whether they be your boss, or your colleague, who are so un-real that they are perfect for writers like me. Some of these bullies make their employees fear they will lose their job if they don’t complement her enough. Her moods dictate the moods of the shop. Everyone must obey. And a large company rewards her. She makes the moola. The company benefits from this. Casual staff complain and the matter is ‘investigated’. This is a gesture but nothing more. It cannot be more. Money must be made and who will organise and train staff? NO animal cruelty should extend to protecting the staff from their basic human rights being abused; to work in a place where the dignity and personhood is respected.When I was suffering severe depression and my partner was taken to a psychiatric hospital, did you know what her response was? ‘Sweetheart find someone to fill your shift, I have a business to run, I”m not here to make friends’. Well you haven’t made friends. You have made your way up to the top of a mountain of shit. A crown of shit.  You have shown no compassion for any of  your staff. Let me re-phrase that…you have ‘shown’ compassion as a surface level of your job requirements. I wonder what happened in her last job…hmm I wonder if she was fired? I wonder if it was for bullying?

It doesn’t matter. What a great character she is. Bad people do go far, but they end up very lonely. It’s a business right? One has to do what one has to do. I’m not here to make friends. I”m here to run a business. Well I’ve listened to this for years and I finally quit. I knew to get out before christmas because I couldn’t stand another hour on the floor with her bossing everyone around, having to pander to all of her moods, watching her throw her weight around treating the staff in disrespectful ways. I couldn’t do it. It almost destroyed me. Almost.

So this character has made it into my files. My writer’s files. She will be dug up one day and moulded into a story and published, because I have learnt so much from her.

Any resemblance to characters living or dead is not a coincidence. Writers are dangerous. You might wear the lingerie of the same name, but we are the real Agent Provocateurs.

 

Raunchy Fat Chick

Now why would I put a bit of raunch up here? Well I clicked my mac photobooth and took a picture and took a few more. This is the more sedate of the raunchy pictures. I put it up here because I’ve been thinking about women’s bodies and in particular my own, which is the one I know the best, and how for years I have abused it, labelled it and not really embraced it. Don’t worry this is not going to be one of those ‘love your vulva’ pieces nor is it going to be ‘now stand naked in front of the mirror and sing ‘I’ve been to paradise but I’ve never been to me’. Urgh. Rather this blog has been fueled by my recent breast C scare and I started thinking of all the times I compared my body to those of my more petite friends. Listen I am not small, I am not thin, I am not slim figured. Call me a fat chick. I really don’t care anymore. I ride my bike with the wind through my hair, I laugh, I eat, I have fun with my body. And all my petite sisters I am not having a dig at your small bodies, but I am letting you know that NOT all great things come in smaller packages. Hey, guess what when I look in the mirror and see my work strong arms and my soft belly and my generous strong ‘squash your head between them’ thighs I am not berating my body. Sexiness is not equated with smallness. Sexiness is a style, an attitude, the way you hold your body, the way your talk so eloquently and intelligently, the way you have your own opinions and risk being wrong and also right, the way you can stand up in a room and not compare yourself to everyone other woman. Sexiness is not equated with how many guys or girls think you are hot. It is much more subtle. It is going about what you do with conviction and passion. It is embracing the bumps, the curves, the wit, the sharpness of mind. That to me is sexy and women who display these characteristics are damn sexy.

TitTax

So darlings, I havent’ written for a while and that is because I have been rather busy doing other things. In fact the title of this little bit of blog is Tittax because I had a scare last week. Yes, after hearing the news that my mum’s sister has had her second mastectomy it only added to my anxiety. My left breast was sore, all nervy like and tender and so I went to the doctor and got referred to get an ultrasound. Apparently because ultrasounds are preferable to mammagrams in women young like me. So after that ultrasound I waited an hour to get the results and yes they found something. Well life is strange and people stranger and when you don’t think you are strong I proved myself wrong. I am. And I wept and so did my partner and my mother, but let’s not give up hope. So I went to the Wesley Women’s Breast Clinic and I was put in a gown and got there for my 10.30 appointment and there was terrible coffee. The coffee tasted like cigarette water. There were men waiting in the room for their partners and sisters and mothers as well. Finally I get that groovy little ultrasound, which is you don’t know how it works, it’s basically sound penetrating my body and reverberating off different areas. Anyway…waiting…waiting…results after an hour or two…yes there is something…fibrous tissue?

Ahhh I’m freaking out. My morbid side is totally taking over. I think all those terrible morbid thoughts and immediately feel like George from Seinfeld when his career is about to be launched into the heights of success and he finds that white discolouration on his lip. ( I have a manuscript under review at a publishing house at the moment). Anyway feeling pretty damn sexy in my gown, and the nurses and doctors are so lovely. But I find out my best option is a biopsy…actually a core biopsy. That means they slice your tit, put a drill down and extract from the area that keeps showing up as a dark splotch on the mammagram. Well that was scary. Needles. knives, and I’m hoping the anaesthetic that’s made my tit numb is working! So that’s all done and I’m home by five. Only to have to wait around til Monday afternoon for the results, with songs like George Michael’s “last christmas’ going on in my head, which is tragic at the best of times.

But finally the results come to me, I meet them head on…and I am clear. My tit is healthy. I am healthy. My boobs are healthy. So here I am and I’m thinking well I must certainly love the years as they sag, I must learn to love their shape and weight and texture because an experience like that is so incredible.I kept saying to myself at every point ‘this is interesting’. And it was. So many brave women out there and so many people enjoying the visuals of breasts (men mostly, and women too). So a Tit tax! how about it. Every time you buy a rude mag or download an image of boobies on a girl, then why not donate a dollar to  breast research. Well I think it’s a good idea.

Christmas Lights

Walking through the burbs, albeit the inner city burbs, I am caught like a shimmering moth in front of hideously kinky Christmas lights, bold, baroque, unashamedly tacky, but I am completely won by them. It is my dirty little secret. I despise the ridiculousness of consumer  Christmas and the wasteful environmentally destructive force of coal for energy, the isolation and sheer desperation of ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ and yet I am struck like a six-year-old with sheer wonder at the lights. I think ultimately it reminds me of travelling through the streets of Northern Pakistan or Murree and those crazy buses with blinking lights or those roadside shops all lit up, like little casinos. These places despite the guns, the poverty and meanness of some places lent a personality to even the most destitute of places. These lights flashing tawdry and obscene made me feel safe. Because when you are in Pakistan it is like an apocalypse, it’s living on the edge every day, even if you’re rich, even if you have people to do your washing. The abyss was ever-present, maybe that’s why mosques are so prevalent and successful. bus lit up like a wonderful head dress of xmas lights

Ode to a bastard poet

I drank and drank until I fell

I kept on falling straight to hell

I swore I’d never drink again

I’d get a real job and be a real man

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