Sunday, September 26, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love and Get the Bleep Over It

I’m reading a book right now. At least I’m attempting to read it. It’s a book that’s been feted worldwide with not a negative heard about it. Its been made into a film with Julia Roberts with her endearing (yet unnervingly middle-aged) coltish ways trit-trotting across the northern hemisphere in a west-east direction. And I’m having trouble with this book.

Eat Pray Love is the story of one woman’s search for… actually I’m not quite sure what she’s searching for – something that’s a combination of God, Prince Charming and a shag (and I may be wrong but I’m only half way through the book so bear with me here if I’m wrong).

I’m not dissing the deep despair and emptiness she feels in her marriage that leads her to leave her husband, have a dysfunctional transitional relationship, then leave the US on a year of travels to find whatever it is. However maybe I’m just a tad impatient with the sheer indulgence of the exercise.

Throughout the entire half of the book I’ve read so far, there has been nothing to make me want to like her and I didn’t know what that was until yesterday. And that one thing is that she demonstrated care for no one or nothing other than that which could directly serve her.

Even in one episode where she is struggling the mantra her guru insists is said each morning at the Ashram in India, she finally finds a way of getting through it by concentrating with love on her nephew (who she apparently loves more than anything in the world but its taken half a book to mention him in passing). There seems to be a shaft of selfless light shining through for a moment but then it was all back to her when she finds a passage in a holy book that says how someone else, many years ago, got through the mantra by concentrating on her beloved nephew and so it therefore was God’s way of telling her she’s on the right path. And back we go to stage one.

I’m not criticising her for being carefree, I guess I’m just irked by her excess of indulgence, choice and money and the assumption that these are required to go on this holy quest.

Hundreds of thousands of women have done the journey before her (myself included), but without the necessity for a passport. They’ve done it in their own kitchen, their own backyard because responsibilities have curtailed physical movements.

And maybe that’s the nub of it. Maybe I’m simply jealous and that’s what’s colouring my view. I’m reaching an age where I’m slowly divesting myself of responsibilities. Since my teens I’ve had the responsibility of looking after my parents, and then having a child. Well the parents are now gone, and the child is growing fast, and I’m entering a time where I’m having more fun than ever before, and I’m blessed enough to have a partner who’s at the same stage and who’s with me on the fun quest.

Would I have taken myself off to Italy, India and Bali if I had the freedom and resources? Probably not.

When I picture her life as it was, it makes me feel quite panicky. There’s no reference point other than the self, no anchor. And that self is in freefall and at that stage not to be trusted for any judgement call. I wonder if she would have learned the same lesson by volunteering with homeless people or by devoting herself to some service to others? Probably, but it wouldn’t have the glamour of the world trip. Cynical? Moi?

I may finish the book loving it – I’ll let you know. But in the meantime I reckon it should be called “Eat,Pray Love and Get the Bleep over it”

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Back to the Wall

Much as I love South Australia, there are a few things that puzzle me.
For instance, I almost always refuse to eat alfresco in cafes. I just don’t understand why they take their precious customers and put them in the most unpleasant place to eat and drink - right out at the kerbside.
Look at any European café, and its outdoor tables are huddled against the building, allowing pedestrians to walk on by in peace, allowing vehicles to park at the kerb if they want to and generally streamlining the process of either going where you want to go or sitting down and having a coffee.
Switch to SA and as a pedestrian you have to do a kind of Indiana Jones operation if you’re walking past a café, as you have to dodge the crossfire of waiting staff travelling to tables loaded with food or from tables loaded with used crockery. Just as restaurant owners would complain if someone built a pedestrian thoroughfare through their restaurant, its no fun wafting through the aromas of other people’s meals on the street just to get somewhere. Sometimes I’m so tempted to steal a chip as I fly past, just because I can.
Sometimes they kindly put bollards at the kerb, which I don’t find too reassuring because it implies that previously there was a risk of rogue vehicles ploughing into diners at some point. Plus you also get to suck in those lovely exhaust fumes that will add a certain je ne sais quoi to your Fettuccini puttanesca.
So, please, Councils and Restrauteurs, use whole of brain thinking when you’re planning your next alfresco project and take the diners back to the wall!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Show stuff and Dads' Day


I haven't written a blog for a few weeks now. Suddenly I seemed to have dropped the habit of the weekly outpourings. Ah well, its best to go with the flow.
Its not that I haven't been writing at all - I have - just not the blog. The most important writing has been happening in aid of our upcoming Adelaide Fringe show, and what an experience that has been.
Some shows can seem like a struggle from the start, even if you can't pinpoint the exact cause. And others like this one seem to have a life of their own from the point of conception. I'm working with colleagues Kate Burr and Kehau Jackson on something that we think will tickle many fancies this coming Fringe season, and the show is writing itself.
We decided to move from straight standup to comedy cabaret. Of course with cabaret comes music, and as none of us are musicians it would seem that might be the first obstacle.
To date we've now written five songs - words and music to four of them and words to a traditional tune for the fifth. Like those bumble bees who fly because no-one has told them that they cannot according to the laws of physics, we couldn't see why we shouldn't write our own stuff. The main reason was to avoid the copyright palaver of using other peoples music, but its now taken on a life of its own - move over Carol King, Peter Allen and anyone else who's in the way. Wood Jackson and Burr are recreating the Brill Building here in Adelaide. Watch out for more info soon on a show you'll definitely want to see.

Its Father's Day here in Australia, so I'd just like to give a shout out to all the good Dads.
Also, to the men who've been good fathers to me in one way or another:
To my own Dad John, who passed away two years ago, love you and miss you dad.
To my darling husband Steven, thankyou for being such a great dad for Michael and Andrew, and for David.
To my brother in law Dave, thankyou for being an alternative father figure throughout my life.
To David's grandad John, thankyou for being a great grandad and teaching him to enjoy fruit!
To my father in law David, thankyou for welcoming David and I into the family and being a lovely dad-in-law.
To Father John McL, thankyou for the love and spiritual guidance. I miss you and think of you often. I know you're still looking after me from wherever you are.
To Jim Martin, my best mate's dad who's done so much to help me - especially when I was at my lowest ebb.
To Arnold Halliday, who welcomed me to the Halliday family almost 20 years ago.

All fine men, all good men, and all should be proud of their abilities as dads.
Happy Fathers' Day!