Friday, 22 January 2010

This Place Actually Means Something...?

Taking a brief break from study and I just wanted to quickly write about what an extraordinary week it has been particularly after the non action that characterised the last few. Mainly through a set of lucky circumstances, and through one of my blogs I had a strange, but nonetheless delightful encounter with my distant past this week that I would have never, ever expected.

More often than not when I examine my past like it is one of those cheesy clip shows that television series do to fill up air time when they run out of creative energy. I pick and choose the best bits of my existence to fit the larger narrative, and sometimes along the way I miss the small and incremental steps that are just as important, mostly the dark and stormy times that are uncomfortable to revisit. Through this week’s strange turn of events though that is exactly what I’ve had to do, but the great thing about the experience is that now I am able to put a positive spin on probably the darkest period of my life to date.

On a somewhat related topic, this week has also made me realise that literally anyone can read this particular blog. Not that I didn’t realise this before, but the prospect of this week’s events actually occurring were indeed so remote that it still feels like a dream. To me, my writing is ineffectual to anyone but me, a place where I come to vent my frustrations mostly because it is possibly the only outlet I have where I can make sense of my world. To think that others read these words and actually take solace from them, respect them, or are indeed inspired by them is a foreign concept. This week however I now know this to be true, that strange dreams can become reality, and that great things can happen when you least expect them.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Adding to the Equation

This week I have been alone in my huge house with absolutely nothing to do. The books I talked about previously still have yet to arrive, I have been reliably informed that these should arrive on Monday. I knew I was going to be alone this week for a year now, and at the time I had high hopes that I would actually make some progress with my work during this free period. It was a year ago this week that I travelled to my hometown of Adelaide to see Tegan and Sara put on a terrific show. Although that was the primary objective for my trip, it was partly a whistlestop reunion tour for my parents. Catching up with old friends and family was important to them, given they had resided in the city of churches for over four decades, whereas Adelaide had only occupied a comparatively small fifteen years of my existence. As they conducted the majority of their tour I spent my time reading Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. As ever I remained keen to look forward, not back.

Sometimes to my detriment I have always been a planner. I knew I wanted to be involved in politics at aged 12, initially as a Federal politician, and eventually to become Prime Minister. Although I wouldn’t be opposed to that eventual career path it seems more likely that I will become a political strategist or academic now. A slight change of plan yes. That may come with age but its also largely due to my inherent pragmatism. If you were devise an equation that illustrated my life it would be pragmatism + planning = the future.

And so with a lot of time on my hands and no Twilight Saga to read this time, I have actually had time to think about what my future might actually look like. The big picture stuff is easy for me, I know what I want to be doing, I know where I want to be living and so on. Readers might notice that I again refer to the individual and myopic aspects of the future, no mention of the people who will surround me as I carve out this path.

Every single person who comprises the G6 I mentioned a few months ago has disappeared this week for various reasons. They say ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ and whilst this may be true to a certain extent, it has highlighted what an important role they play in my life. I’ve begun to think of them as just as important in my future as the ALP, and as hard as it is to believe they never really entered into this thought process before. They existed as vaguely abstract notions, I took it as a given that they would play a part in my life: I didn’t need them, they were just an added bonus. I realise now I need them more than ever.

I understand more than ever I need these friendships if anything just to keep my sane, but some for more than that. I have just spent the afternoon carving out a realistic portrait of what a future might look like post PhD completion in 2012. We’re not just talking about what a twelve month period would look like either. They all might be at my Parliament House to see my maiden speech. They may well see the dawn of a Winther government as I address party faithful. I know that they all will feature in the acknowledgements section of my first book.

To see decades into the future terrifies most people. It is why they prefer to take trips down memory lane and try to indulge in past glories that can never be recaptured. It is easy to do that. The past teaches us things yes, but the future some say is uncertain. I believe that is bullshit. I could die tomorrow perhaps, but I have always held the belief that we make our own future. I know that I am destined to be involved in social democratic politics that is easy to predict. It is much tougher for me to recognise that I needed my people, but more importantly how much I love them. That love is what I know will carry me through the halls of parliament or academia. Them and Tegan and Sara. At least Adelaide confirmed that much.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Oh To Be A Writer

The first week of 2010 could not have provided me with a worse start. I’ve spent most of the time wasting it because the books I need to continue my work with are not available currently. I find this immensely frustrating. One would think I could spend this time doing something constructive, but this has also proved difficult. My brain cannot shut off ever. Even if it tried it could not provide me with respite.

So unfortunately I’ve spent the past 10 days to two weeks essentially doing nothing and obsessing about things I should not be obsessing about. It is fine to obsess about things like music, movies and deadlines for example, for these things are tangible. Obsessing about the abstract, or the possibility of future events that are yet to happen is not wise. Suffice to say I have been doing too much of this. Having a discussion today with my best friend, we both concluded that PDA online style breaches the line of good taste, for we have had to deal with too much of it in the past. So, I won’t bore you dear reader with details. Suffice to say I really need my books to hurry up and bloody well get here.

On the few occasions my mind has been diverted, I decided that in another life I’d like to be a writer. Not the academic writer of which I plan to make my living, but a writer who creates pleasurable things for others to read. I don’t regard myself as a very good writer at all. Sure I can string a sentence together and prattle on about the state of political parties and so forth, or alternatively go into great detail about online PDA, but that gets very few inspired, or does it? I’m unsure.

I thought about compiling a list of my favourite writers. Those who are known like Bob Ellis and Christopher Hitchens, both inspire and challenge my thoughts on politics and the world around me. Then there are those like Marieke Hardy and Clem Bastow, who write and talk about Australian pop culture in such a way that everything they utter: the good, the sublime, and the plain wicked, act as the ultimate intellectual aphrodisiac. There are also those who are not famous: like the person who inspired me to resume blogging in the first place, a woman who is such a talented writer even though she does not blog anymore because she is a doctor. Or the blogger whom I have recently discovered that chronicles her daily life in such a painfully honest way that it both inspires me profoundly and forces me to think about the way in which I live my life every single day.

They are all great writers because they speak directly to me. Every time I read pieces by them my brain fires away and they inspire me to think creatively. On Christmas Day I started Bob Ellis’s book The Capitalism Delusion: a wonderfully old fashioned left wing diatribe about the perils of free market economics. Sure, it was designed for a very niche audience of which I am apart, but it inspired me to think about political issues, issues which I think about every day, in an entirely different perspective.

Those like Hardy and Bastow provide a marked contrast to the serious political discussion I read about every day. They both share my political views, but more importantly they are the voice for my generation in age of over saturation and idiocy. They extensively use social networking websites, but they are used to provide witty commentary on current events and important issues. Bastow tends to work from the inside out commenting on such events with personal insights, often with hilarious wit. Hardy uses her profile on the ABC’s First Tuesday Book Club to educate viewers on great literary works of Amis and Hemingway, and her newspaper articles praising great shows like Skins, or showing her rightful contempt for Daryl Somers, all in an irreverent fashion.

The thing that astounds me the most is that Bastow is only a year older than I, and has more talent for writing than I possess in my little finger. Hardy whilst a little older again has already written a TV series, has another that will air on the ABC later this year, and is working on a manuscript that I cannot wait to read. Oh, and if she finds the time can she finalise her divorce and shack up with me? How’s that for online PDA?

So if you’re currently stuck in a rut like me, check out the above writers, ask me for links and perhaps you too will be momentarily distracted from that person who occupies your mind for every waking second. Opps, too much PDA again, sorry. Still working on that.