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Kangaroo Spotting

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Thursday, February 24, 2011


Matty + business dinner= mac and cheese for dinner and ME time.

I rescheduled my personal training appointment, put Adele’s new album, on repeat and set out my newly purchased acrylics.

Not sure why I chose the pear as my subject. I bought two lovely ones last week. Matt stayed home from work on Monday and I took one of the pears to work and leaving the second in our fruit bowl. I sent him a text saying “It’s alright if you already did, but could you not eat that pear cuz I want to paint it.”

His response “You’re going to paint on a pear???”

My literal thinking man. Our kids will be lucky because if they are dreamers, or somewhere in between-I'm pretty sure we've got the range covered.

The easel Matt give me for Christmas is like a work of art in itself, or at least a fancy piece of furniture. I actually tried to avoid spilling paint on it which is as silly as keeping paint off a drop cloth.

The result of my evening and three rounds of Adele- a pear study in shapes and colors. Very abstract- unavoidable really when using brushes from the Chinese dollar store. My professional easel and crappy brushes.

I ate the pear for breakfast today. It felt kind of wrong but delicious at the same time.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Writer's Block

Not sure if most writers have this problem or if I’m especially more constipated by fear than most. But when I sit down to write, I just think up any excuse not to- for example at the moment I’m looking for birthday presents for my brother. He’s 26 on the 26th this month.

Writing is my love, fear and hate all wrapped up into a burrito which I avoid like I’m on a diet. See, I’m even really struggling for a decent metaphor here.

The feeling and sounds of my fingers as they trip across the keys, watching words appear and disappear as the courser zooms back and forth on the screen. I love it all. Honest. Even as a child, when I wrote stories, I never finished them. What to do?

In college I took a creative writing course taught by an ageing poet (by that I mean he was like 100 years old) and short story writer who coughed so hard that each time he gasped, I held my own breath and waited for him to collapse in front of the U shaped table where we all sat.

I had immense respect for this man ever since he read aloud some of his published beatnik poetry, I could imagine myself being in love with his all-black, beret-wearing self in the 1960’s. Or if I were about 50 years older.

Before the class, coincidentally, I had read a few books for fun about writing- one by favourite childhood writer, Stephen King called “On Writing.” In it King wrote about how to avoid becoming attached to your own words and how at times, even the greatest paragraphs are better off deleted. I understood.

For this reason, I was better able to take criticism than most of the students in class. The elderly-cougher, he was tough but honest. When he said something was not genuine, or made no sense, that was the truth. The other students would get pissed off at the criticism and start defending one another.

This class taught me that writers were more sensitive to critique than our drama major counterparts. How could this be? We English students were supposed to be open-minded intellectuals.

But with every craft, I suppose the creator feels a certain amount of attachment. It’s this umbilical cord that sometimes gets in the way of seeing the big picture. The danger is in having the cord so tight that it barely allows breathing room between you and the page- you can only see one sentence at a time, let alone paragraphs or chapters.

In that creative writing class I wrote what I knew; boys, school and waiting tables. Practically turning journal entries into fiction simply by changing names, the results were descriptive and surprising.

One story (about a guy who said he’d call and didn’t call and gave me some lame reason for which I forgave him) our professor saw in it irony and naivety. I was embarrassed because I didn’t realize at the time that I’d been duped by Italian Chuck. When I reread the story later, I saw the tragic narrator for who she was, and it actually made for a good read!

One day while gathering my notebooks to leave class, the Professor asked if he could speak with me. I immediately panicked, which is always my reaction. I really wanted an A in the class.
“Did you ever finish the story you started about that waitress in the deli?” The professor asked (of course I had not.)
“No, not yet,” I said shyly.
“Well, you should,” He said. “You should write…. (the pause was deafening) A lot.”
My eyes probably popped out of my skull. That was seriously by far the BIGGEST compliment he had given anyone all semester long. this guy was usually harsher than harsh. I was floating on air all the way to the parking lot where I replayed the conversation while I got into my car.

The moral of the story is, I should write. A lot. Even when I don’t think I have much to say.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Another day, Another Existential Crisis and Help from Oprah

This has been my last 10 months:

Moved to Melbourne permanently, found and set up an apartment, worked 4 different jobs, endured guilt-driven emotional warfare from Mom, travelled overseas to Buffalo for Christmas, got engaged, celebrated, helped Matt renovate his investment property, painstakingly prepared documents for a partnership visa…

It’s no wonder I’ve lost track of myself in recent weeks.

A lot of it comes on the cusp of that final separation from parental praise- by that I mean, my Mom completely disapproves of me living in Australia so for the first time in my life I've stood my ground and barely emerged alive from the battle.

I read this quote today, which helped:

“A joyful life isn't about others; it's about the brightness that is associated with being alive. Your path to it is through anything that replaces thinking with pure flight, pure joy.”

I can no longer rely on "others" to validate my life choices and it's time to readjust my focus on what makes me happy.

And now, being forced to changed jobs again it’s like someone is in my face demanding to know who I am and where I see myself in five years. Without anyone else controlling the validation, praise or judgement there are almost too many options.

Yes I come from a culture where what you do is who you are, but I don’t personally buy into that theory- so why is it so daunting to pick a career? Or even a direction?

So it must be fear of success- or is it fear of failure? Unfortunately completing one undergraduate class in abnormal psyche means I’m no expert on psychoanalysis. (A little knowledge about lots of subjects.)

"Can’t someone just tell me what I’m supposed to do?" But of course not, that would take all the fun out of it.

I wrote an email discussing the topic of work/ life purpose to Sara. She nailed it when she wrote back:

“For a really long time I wanted someone to tell me what to do. I thought if someone could just tell me what direction to head in I could go and do it and do it well. But I know that would never make me happy nor would it you. I think part of the problem when you are smart and talented and good many things the idea of choosing one and heading in that direction is scary what if you fail what if you succeed? They are equally scary.”

Sara should start an advice column. And Oprah should have her own religion.

And today I read another brilliant article discussing how sometimes, when your path ahead looks fuzzy- all you need to do is adjust your lenses. Simple and true.

This article hit me right between the eyes.

After work, I bought some paint. When I got home I downloaded some new music. Matt and I went to the gym and out to dinner and talked about wedding venues. It's a successful start.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Food for Thought

Cooking is the one thing I look forward to all day. It has been my only creative outlet among the many highs and lows of the past few months.

Matthew asked me to marry him- yay!

Not everyone in my life was thrilled about this. In fact, one key person was downright depressed, hurtful and angry over it, my Mother.

Clearly this was not my dream of how engaged bliss is supposed to feel. But my non-traditional life choices have typically been wracked with guilt.

The proposal happened in Niagara Falls- on our trip to Buffalo for Christmas. Even though he is a meticulous planner, Matthew was thoughtful enough to pop the question on my turf so I could celebrate with friends and family.

The roller coaster began. Claws were out. Familiar territory.

We arrived back in Melbourne, shell-shocked. I turned 30. We went back to work.

Wound so tightly I could not breathe or laugh I needed something. Going to the gym helped but I craved creativity. With work and social life in the warped-speed mode that comes with an overseas proposal- I had little time betwixt the schedued smiles and appearances.

I always finish work before Matt so I found myself stopping in the grocery store on the way home (this is usually a loathed-chore we share). Rather than turn on the TV or taking a nap- I found myself preparing complicated recipes while waiting for him to arrive home.

Cooking Light is now a site I'm obsessed with to get great vegetarian and clean-eating recipe ideas.

Being able to make a delicious, healthy meal for myself and my fiance every night is something I take pride in. If I were on my own, I'd be far less interested. Cooking for an 'us' is something I am able to relish and develop and I'm happy to think about how this is going to become our little family tradition.

Last night for Valentines Day Dinner I made:
prosciutto-wrapped broccolini spears (they were out of asparagus at the supermarket), topped with a fried egg, extra virgin olive oil, Parmesan and a balsamic reduction.

I marinated and tenderized Organic Scotch, Eye-Fillets in garlic/ chilli steak seasoning and sauteed a few shrimp to make it surf and turf.

For dessert, quinoa, chocolate-chip peanut butter cookies. They were a bit crumbly so maybe next time I’ll add an egg.

None of the recipes were followed exactly- I like to get ideas and act on instinct. It was delicious and satisfying in more ways than one.

Now if I could just figure out a way to slice through and devour all this family drama.  Maybe I just need more comfort food.

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