How should we talk about mental health?

I’ll be brief. As people who care about others, it wouldn’t hurt any of us to invest five or so minutes in reading this excellent TED article, and hope its wisdom sinks into our actions a little. Every person’s actions can make a difference.
And for those of us who are writers, we are in the privileged position of being able to contribute in a second way too — the right word, a feeling captured, a This Is Me moment someone reads in a book one day, can save a life.
Five or so minutes to read this, okay?
Sorry to be soapbox-ey, but it matters.

Melt

Image

 

So, since my last blog post I was melting butter again (pancakes this time) and saw another photo opportunity. Not sure what this looks like, but I’m pretty sure some people will find it upsetting anyway. Certainly Bruce, who’s considered huge in the insect world, but…

Anyway, I also remembered I wrote a poem called Melt.

So here’s that.

 

A secret life
to hide…
Is feeling
alive…?

Sometime a he
come home to hide,
And touch a she
so deep inside
And torture be
a time he lied
And healing be
a word she cried

Then six cold men,
a frozen line,
No promise when,
no truth of time.
No now or then,
pretence of fine,
To live again ?
Sans lies sans fear sans wine….

Secret life
inside…
Feeling tips
alive…

Enlivened minds are melt
and faintest touch of skin,
a breathlessness heartfelt,
a falling floating in.
Sweat upon a lip,
two melt into a space
of heart and mind and hip,
and crushing flesh and face.

And when the moment’s done
and nothing left to hide,
The feeling to come,
a rising of the tide.
And riding on a wave
of love truth and desire,
The moment that we gave
did set our Lives afire…

Actually, I even made a stupid video for it. It’s had, like, 300 views in four years. And only 278 of them were me! I should have just linked to that instead of all this copying and pasting. But whatever. You should totally watch it if you’re really bored and have a minute and 13 seconds to kill. And I don’t sound like this all the time. Honest.

 

Steel and Feathers

Some years, men are not strong.

“What weighs more, a ton of steel or a ton of feathers?”
It’s what they ask you
when you’re a child.
(They hope to trip you up and make you wrong).

Then in your life,
your man life,
you try to find a home (that is a place to rest and be).
The soft and hard
they always weigh the same,
You be too much
of one and then the other (always wrong).

But one day,
in a really lucky life
you’ll find a place,
(and when I say
a place,
make no mistake,
of course
that place
it is a person)
This place you’ll find,
a place
where things aren’t weighed —
and you,
you’re right enough
(with her you’re home,
you’re always home,
and home is where you’ll always want to be)

Limerick Day

words hang in the air, somebody’s home, 2013

Okay, it’s Limerick Day, peoples.
Or Limerick Week.
Or Limerick Month maybe. I don’t do many blog posts.
Post a limerick you wrote yourself, or one someone else wrote (attributed if possible, though limericks seem to quickly become the property of the world), or both if you like. Or six limericks. Ten?
Or a good excuse for why the fuck you can’t even post one lousy limerick.

Did you know limericks didn’t even originate in Limerick?

Embracing Our Limitations

Well, it’s not like we don’t have plenty to embrace…
Great TED Talk by artist Phil Hansen, who developed a tremor in his hand that left him unable to create the art he lived for — until, after three years without making art, he went to see a neurologist who suggested he Embrace the Shake.
And didn’t he just!
Worth the ten minutes just to see his amazing art, but even better, the message on nurturing creativity is one of the best I’ve seen.

So, to follow his example, which box can you stop looking outside of, to find your art deep within?

Fifty Shades Success Explained by Nabokov

In 1956, the great Vladimir Nabokov wrote a short piece he called ON A BOOK ENTITLED LOLITA.
Apart from being a beautiful piece of writing in itself, he explains the seemingly unexplainable success of Fifty Shades of Grey.
You see, when he tried to find a U.S publisher for Lolita, all four he submitted the manuscript to completely misunderstood the work, some not even finishing reading it, and labelled it “pornography”, not mummy porn, but nevertheless, it’s certainly strange to hear Nabokov’s work labelled as anything like the pedestrian work of E.L James.

So here’s the relevant parts of Nabokov’s words.

‘… the term “pornography” connotes mediocrity, commercialism, and certain strict rules of narration. Obscenity must be mated with banality because every kind of aesthetic enjoyment has to be entirely replaced by simple sexual stimulation which demands the traditional word for direct action upon the patient.’

and

‘Thus, in pornographic novels, action has to be limited to the copulation of clichés. Style, structure, imagery should never distract the reader from his tepid lust. The novel must consist of an alternation of sexual scenes. The passages in between must be reduced to sutures of sense, logical bridges of the simplest design, brief expositions and explanations, which the reader will probably skip but must know they exist in order not to feel cheated ( a mentality stemming from the routine of “true” fairytales in childhood). Moreover, the sexual scenes in the book must follow a crescendo line, with new variations, new combinations, new sexes, and a steady increase in the number of participants (in a Sade play they call the gardener in), and therefore the end of the book must be more replete with lewd lore than the first chapters.’

So, casting my eyes through the above, I see the words mediocrity, commercialism, banality, and copulation of clichés. Fifty Shades certainly hasn’t much bothered us with style, structure or imagery, and to apply the words sutures of sense to James’s plot would be more than flattering.
The only difference between these Shades tragedies of literature and Nabokov’s suggestion of what constitutes a basic commercial pornographic novel is that in the Shades books the protagonists are faithful to each other. Which the TrendyPornMummies love. The simple twist that made it right for our times, and ok for every mindless mummy to love.

Comment as nicely or nastily as you like below, then please never speak of the above-mentioned books here ever again. Except for Lolita, which you should feel free to mention here and anywhere else you please, every day, forever and ever and ever. And we’ll live happily ever after.

Wanna argue about it?
Or better still, tell me which other great writer has advice for us on how to write the next MegaBestSellingPieceOfCrap???

What Home Looks Like

I don’t have proper photos yet, but thought I’d show you a few of these, just so you get the idea.

This is the dining table. What you can’t see is that it’s a 100 year old cast iron hospital table/writing desk. Adjustable enough so I can write at it sitting or standing. And it tilts to become a writing slope.
I had to put a new top on it, which is actually a single piece of Australian Red Cedar, my favourite timber, just edging out oregon. This piece of timber is really old too, salvaged from an ancient piece of broken furniture. The armrest under the window is the same timber.
Yes, that granny blanket draped over the seat is mine. Yes, I’m comfortable with that. It reminds me of my grandmothers. And that mess you see top left is usually hidden under the lounge cushions.

This next pic is looking to the rear of the bus The lounge cushions, for some reason, are up against the back windows.
The cupboard over the bed is where I keep my clothes, it’s Australian Red Cedar, and was a bugger to build there.
The doors are off a 1940s Tasmanian oak kitchen dresser. It was my favourite piece of furniture. Many photos of my kids have that dresser in the background, then it was damaged while in storage.
So I took off the doors, used the bottom doors on the cupboard under the lounge, and these doors here.. they’re leadlight with concave glass, and beautiful handmade workmanship from the 1940s. And they still have the beautiful original hinges.
The lamp at the left is a bit of Aussie history, a highly collectable Planet Lamp from Bellingen NSW. Ms iSkirt found it for a dollar at a garage sale, and gave it to me for the bus instead of selling it for hundreds of dollars. So maybe I’ll let her come with me when I travel around Australia. I might even let her sleep in my bed sometimes. If she behaves.

Below is what I see above me when I wake up in the morning. I’m no cabinet maker, but there’s something so satisfying about having made something beautiful that works. It’s a tiny home, but it’s comfortable, and it’s beautiful, at least in my eyes.
Any home is ok, a roof over your head is better than none. But an ordinary house compared to building something you love is like a churned out ebook compared to a beautiful hardcover book someone loved so much it had to be a work of art in itself.

An oregon book case, a big wide opening side door at the foot of the bed, lots of sunshine, bare feet and a borrowed dog. Does it get any better than this?

This is the first meal I cooked after connecting the gas. Mmmm… sausage, egg and mushrooms.
It shows the very modern 3 burner gas cooker and sink, with its glass top raised into the splashback position.
It also shows the oregon bench top, made from two really old painters planks. Pity you can’t see it properly, it’s really something.
And if you look bottom right, you can see a little bit of one of the 1911 hand carved Kauri Pine cupboard doors. Lousy photo of something beautiful. I gotta get some decent photos.
And at the top you can see a tiny bit of the hand carved Australian red cedar I salvaged from a broken chaise lounge.

Here’s a close up of the oregon bench top. Too close to see how beautiful the grain is, but hey, it has the remains of one of the bullets my old man threw into the fire when I last visited him.

And here’s what happens when some madman throws bullets into the fire, if you’re lucky. Yeah, I still have my eyes and all my genitalia. I was lucky.

So, that’ll do for now.
As you can see, it was originally a school bus. I moved some letters a bit, and added UN in front. From a distance it looks like COOL BUS, then as I get close people see the UN.
I did that for a joke with my kids, but plenty of people seem to get enjoyment from it, so I left it. So there it is.
My UnCool bus, seen here parked beside a pretty little creek. The best home I’ve ever lived in, and a work in progress.