Sunday, June 29, 2014

A luddite on the rampage

Last Tuesday my computer seized up and died.  The young man at our local computer shop, Streetwise, was confident he’d be able to fix it, just a soft wear problem he said, but as the days passed the story developed first from a soft wear problem to one of irretrievable decay. 

We bought a new computer and the Streetwise fellow offered – for a price – to install my old data, which we had saved onto a backup disk, as all sensible people do.  The Streetwise chap had hoped to be able to save it from the original damaged hard drive but no such luck. 

Then the back up drive only coughed up data to 2011, the rest is not there.  A problem with the way the back up disk was connected to our computer via Time Zone or some such guff.  And so we needed to take the damaged hard drive to a fellow in St Kilda Road who retrieves lost data, again for a price.

He’s confident, this second fellow tells me, that he can retrieve my data.  For $440.00 economy, it will take approximately ten days; for $900 priority, he'll need four to five days, or for emergency, he can retrieve it all in one to two days for $1200.00.  Despite my desire to have my data back now, right now, I opted for economy.  I can wait.

But to wait, when it feels as though half of my life is on ice.  I exaggerate, but this business of losing my data has unhinged me.

Strange dreams in which I move house with two of my children as youngsters and the place, filled with many rooms – a mansion of a place – is chaotic.  No matter how hard I try to tidy, the kids drag toys out from everywhere and I cannot get my house into order. 

A new computer is one thing, a fun thing you might say, but for me it’s cruel the time it has taken to get my new computer running and all of this dependency on the genius of my children, who are au fait with the lingo and all things computers, is debilitating. 

I bought an IMAC but did not realise I needed Microsoft office until I made another visit to Streetwise.  Until then almost nothing would run, and then another visit later, this time to Office Works because Streetwise had closed by then, to get a new separate disc drive because the newest computers are slim and lighter to carry than their predecessors and in line with the view that one day soon DVDs will disappear altogether as Videos did before them, the new computers no longer have the capacity to insert discs.

I sound like a luddite or an ancient person who cannot bear change. 

I had resisted up grading my computer for this reason.  My computer was eight years old, they tell me, a good long life for a hard drive. 

It seems computers do not live as long as pets. Hard drives are destined to fail sooner or later, they tell me.  Human error and the limitations of all things mechanical. 

Inbuilt redundancy, I reckon.  It enrages me and adds to the stockpile of junk, unless we can recycle.    And all this new stuff to learn again. 

But then I tell myself, it’s character building, the re-learning that is, not the accumulation of junk. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Other people's words

At the moment I am sitting in Eleanor Dark’s studio with a rug over my knees and a heater close by, two heaters in fact.  It’s cold in the Blue Mountains, colder than I had imagined, but at least today the sun is shining and the world outside - despite the dew on the grass and the bare tress in the garden dripping with left over rain - looks almost spring like and therefore warmer, warmer at least than yesterday when the day was over cast from morning right through to night and there was a steady misting rain. 

I went out for only one walk into town yesterday and did not enjoy it, not as I have enjoyed my walks through Katoomba in the past.  But it goes in cycles.  Exhilaration to misery in as little as five minutes.  The pressure to do nothing but write and read and think about writing is a luxury but it’s also a burden and for some reason I feel it more acutely this time.

I’m stuck in a well of the familiar and I cannot get out of it.
In this studio, once the writing place of Eleanor Dark, there is a series of drawers in which other writers who have used this room have left snippets of their writing drafts, a page or two, no more. And perched on top are two tall chests with flower embossed fronts in which someone has placed a slip of paper with the words:
 ‘Courage is the first essential.’ 

In the next cupboard alongside but separated by mouldy dictionaries and grammar books, this same person, I presume, has penned the words:
‘And coffee second.’

In another of the drawers below where there are countless screeds from countless writers I found one piece that has taken my fancy.  It’s from an Australian poet named Jude Aquilina and it reads like this:

First Penis Transplant
A cutting from The Herald, 2107

Today, the first penis
transplant was successfully
performed on a woman in her
twenties.  I’ve always wanted
one, stated the Sydney
housewife, to prove that
women can wear penises too. I
don’t intend to flash it nor
thrash it, just use it for its
natural purposes and I hope it
comes in handy around the
house.  I want to invent
practical attachments such as
dusters and dish mops.  How
many mothers have wished
for an extra hand? – crossing
the street with a child each
side, I’ll hang my handbag on
nature’s hook.  And when I
 go dancing on summer nights,
I’ll wear bangles that jangle
 from side to side. I really
think they’re going to catch
on, Women have been without
them far too long.  Surgeons
say their lists are full of
women waiting to fulfil their
masculinity; the problem at
the moment, unfortunately,
lies in the lack of donors.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Clandestine visits

He told me I could drop in at any time, but could I take him at his word?  What if his flat mate had been right?  What if he had a line of women who visited one after the other and I arrived at his doorstep while he was entertaining one of them?  

I had already said good night to my mother.  My father was asleep drunk. I was alone in my bedroom.  It was easy to change into a dress and put on sandals.  I did not bother to pack a bag. 

It was easy to walk out the front door on tip toes, undetected.  My parents did not lock external doors in those days.  And so I closed my bedroom door on what my mother could only assume was my sleeping body.

This walk along Warrigal Road in the dark under stars and with the occasional flash of headlights did not trouble me as it might were I on my way home at other times.   Such as after university in the evenings when I took the train from the city to Cheltenham and then needed to walk for thirty minutes to get home.

Even as I walked along Centre Dandenong and Warrigal Roads and avoided the side streets, I imagined footsteps behind me; someone preparing to grab me from behind bushes.
On such nights I trembled all the way home, but on this night, almost midnight, when there was no one else about, I relished the solitude.

The only hurdle now involved the knock at his door and the fear I might not be welcome.  

He was alone in bed without any of the women of my imagination beside him.  It was easy to slip in beside him, to hold him, to be held, to try once more this business of having sex and then when the first rays of light were about to break through the window to dress and say goodbye. 

He offered to drive me home but I preferred to walk.  I needed to put some distance between me and my mother.

The early morning light had an ethereal glow as if I were in heaven and it was just cold enough to stiffen the hairs on my arms.  By the time I had reached home, slipped through the front door and pulled the blankets back over my head in pretend sleep, by the time my mother stuck her head around my door to say good morning, I was hot.
But my mother was none the wiser, or so I suspect she’d have liked me to think, but I will never know.

Can you imagine it, your nineteen year old daughter slips out and is away all night long and in the morning you find her in bed in her pyjamas as usual?  

Only she knows what she’s been up to.  You have to guess.