Wednesday 19 May 2010


Olga: I can't stand KFC.
Me: I won't eat their chicken because their chickens eat their chickens.
Olga: Yuck.
Me: I thought chickens were herbivores or whatever a vegetarian bird is called.
Olga: Maybe they are like vegetarians that still eat chicken.

Sunday 16 May 2010

Crazy Bitch

This weekend has been the best of what has already been a pretty damn good year. It's hard to pick which bit made it that. It's hard to explain how it started with a low low moment that involved not wanting to walk this Earth anymore. That passed. I had some alcohol and didn't do anything ridiculous. No mania. I went shopping for hours with my sister and friends then a night of dancing with 18 year old girls who were in their mother's tummy the last time I went clubbing in Darwin.

It wasn't a few days about that man I was once married to or any other man. It was just normal and fun. Reminded me of the last few months in Canberra before Sydney when life had a perfect pace and anything was possible.

I'm not 29 anymore but I don't want to be. I'm 33 years old and feel more fabulous than I ever have. Sure, I'm a crazy bitch on the best of days but that's ok. I don't think I ever was completely sane so going for that would be a waste of the awesome that is me.

Ahhh, I shall have a good week of work and then head down to see my Melbourne and Sydney crew. The other geek girl I work with, Jess will be there in Melbourne so you all have to meet her. She is one of the wonderful friends I've made up here.

Life can be anything. I can do it all.

Friday 14 May 2010

Whoever you are

“Whoever you are, there is some younger person who thinks you are perfect. There is some work that will never be done if you don’t do it. There is someone who would miss you if you were gone. There is a place that you alone can fill.”

- Jacob M. Braude

Tuesday 11 May 2010

My mother told me

You must have your own interests, your own life, your own self. Otherwise you will wake up one day, your kids will be gone and you will be left with nothing.

-- @Gabfran

Sunday 9 May 2010

Set me free

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I had all the time in the world to sit and contemplate what my mistakes are.

Over-think, I do.
Punish myself more than anyone else ever could, I do.
Find answers, I often do.

Today's over-analysis involved trying to understand how giving too much and living for someone else and not yourself could possibly be a bad thing. No matter how progressive the society we live in, women are told to live for their husbands or their careers or their children or all three at once. One thing I know we are not openly encouraged to do is to live for ourselves.

There is a haunting pain that shadows me daily. Some moments are blocked by distraction or entertainment. Some days I punch a volleyball so hard in the hope that I will tire it out and it will recede. Nah, it doesn't.

It is impossible you see, to run from yourself. When it is your existence that causes you to ache then continuing to exist means learning to harness that hum and use it for something else. For me, that is creativity. Slapping paint on a canvas and over some of the floor. Drawing a character that escapes my imagination and filling in outside the lines. Writing a morbid tale of reflective inner sadness is my way of putting it outside myself. Saying to that pain, if you are going to stay around then at least be useful in some way.

As far as I can see, me and my pain are on this journey together. One day we may part ways but while we are here there has to be some way to live with each other.

Unlike my failed marriage, one of us can not run away and think only of ourselves. Unlike my past broken friendships, one of us will not walk out and tell the other that they can't be bothered by them anymore. Unlike leaving a job you agonise about attending when you roll over in the morning, there is no peaceful resignation.

Life gives you one of those suck-it-up moments. Tame the beast or allow it to break you. Trust me, if I didn't allow that monster of a husband to break me then I'm sure not letting some negative thought tear me limb from limb.

You guys have to let me write my suicidal fiction and paint my horned demons without fret. Let me explore the darkness in search of the light. Support me if I fall and celebrate me when I don't.

I know it is only because you love me. I love you dearly too. You are my foundation. My family and friends. I will be ok but I will do it my way. That is Damana.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

“We laughed and laughed, together and separately, out loud and silently, we were determined to ignore whatever needed to be ignored, to build a new world from nothing if nothing in our world could be salvaged, it was one of the best days of my life, a day during which I lived my life and didn’t think about my life at all.”
- Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close


Saturday 8 May 2010

Happy Mother's Day

This year, it was hard to decide if a I should get Mum a cake or a bouquet of flowers for Mother's Day.

I got my friend Maria to make her a bouquet of cake.

It's an amazing art. Mum loves it.

Thursday 6 May 2010

My New Project

I'm writing fiction now. My first project is to write a short story in 7 parts in 7 days.

It's here, if you are interested.

Feel free to suggest ideas for the plot or anything else. I have some idea of where it is going but it's already very much crowd sourced.

Monday 3 May 2010

I am playing with Photoshop on a trial license at the moment, in order to decide if I want to shell out all those dollars for it. There is but 30 days so I better get to it.

Expect lots of experiments on flickr.

Women abusing women

Nothing stuns me more than hearing about women hurting, exploiting and tourmenting other women. For some reason, I expect the default female empathy to kick in and stop such cruelty.

I thought people usually hurt people who weren't like them. It made it easier not to empathise with the victim and allow the destruction to persist. Obviously, people hurt people who are like them and who are not like them. It's the problem of the person hurting them.

Hearing that mothers will assist in holding down their daughters while their genitals are mutilated, with full knowledge of the consequences since it happened to them too, I can not fathom the rationalisation that makes that ok. For me, I can stand back and say I don't understand the cultures in which these happen. That it is something that should be stopped but maybe the women participating have some logical reason for doing so. Of course, that reasoning escapes me but I put it down to culture.

When the crimes by women against women occur in the belly of a culture I fully understand, that is when my mind can not allocate it to the us and them way of thinking.

Mistreatment of women in Papua New Guinea is rife. Men beat their wives while drunk or sober. Men beat their mistresses. Women beat their husbands mistresses. Women beat their sisters in law. This is standard behaviour.

Only recently, shelters for women have been established to give women and their children some way to escape the violence and constant threat to their lives. There aren't many shelters. Certainly not enough to help all who need help. Even if there were, would you end up with a generation of women living in quasi refuge camps away from their oppressors who are also their families. I don't know about you but there is a hell of a lot I will tolerate from family. It's the way we were built as human beings. No one wants to be alone. Being without family in a society where that is your only social safety net is unthinkable. So, where do you go? What do you do?

The most recent tales to sadden my ears are of village girls who are basically used as slaves in the big cities of Papua New Guinea. Where I was born, education was not a right but a privilege. One that you studied hard for and paid through the teeth for. Yeah, there are public schools but the fees are high. They are equivalent to public school fees here except that people there earn a tenth of what we do and their money is worth less. Every year of primary school and high school has an important exam at the end. Students must receive a passing grade for the exam or they will not progress. If there is space in the next year, they can repeat the grade. Every year school fees must be paid upfront or the child can not enter the school. The usual outcome of a failed exam is for the child to drop out and let their siblings continue in the hope the the concentrated investment will allow the next one to do better. Just one successful member from a family can ensure the survival of the entire family, over it's multiple generations.

In the village, there is never much money. They have food from fishing, hunting and gardening but that doesn't enable much more than subsistence. The term village girl or boy is given to young adults (usually mid-teens) who have not passed school or were not able to pay for school fees. They stay at home in the village and wait to marry and continue a village life. There is not often an escape from this. The taste of the western world is given to them in their school years and then lost to them for the remainder of their natural lives.

Keep in mind that one years school fees for a student would be around A$50-75. Yes, for the entire year. For the amount of money I'd spend on a bottle of champagne, the life and lifespan of a Papua New Guinean can be limited to the hardship of living village life.

Previously, I mentioned the social safety net of the family. A Papua New Guinean talks of family in the same way we speak of an entire community. Imagine if someone in your suburb was out of a job and couldn't eat. You and your neighbors would take turns in cooking and delivering food to their house. You'd take them in to one of your spare rooms when they couldn't pay the rent. You'd lend them your car to act as a taxi and make some money. Everyone looks after everyone else.

That's the theory. Of course, any Papua New Guinean will tell you that this system can be abused. This is the wantok system. It is the basis for the social organisation of the entire country. Those connected by language are family. Corruption is a disease in that country and when it's explained to me, it always seems to sound just like the wantok system and what is so wrong with that?

Now, village girls are useful to rich city girls. They are cheap baby sitters, maids, cooks and all round helpers. It is common for city families to bring their village girl relatives out of the rural areas and in to their homes where they live for no cost as part of the family. They are asked to help out with children and housework. It is a much more promising option in their lives and often results in education, introductions to their new partners and an easier life than the village. It often feels more glamorous with mobile phones and modern hair styles. Everyone benefits and the social safety net is working.

Then comes the misuse of a reasonable system. Here comes my story. Educated city women bringing poor uneducated village girls in to their homes with the best of intentions (so, I am told). These girls then become the equivalent of wageless labour. They are now distanced from their immediate families and alone in a big city where the only people they know keep them poor and belt them if they don't obey or work hard enough.

You can sugarcoat it by saying that this is rare or that they are still better off but I think you should call slavery just that. If these young women don't have anyone close by to go for help or any money to escape back to the village then they are trapped in a life of servitude.

This is unacceptable. The fact that women are the abusers of other women leaves me heartbroken. If the most empathic members of our species start kicking the weaker versions of themselves then what hope is left.

I want to help but I feel helpless.

Sunday 2 May 2010

The good ol' days are now

“People so seldom say I love you
And then it's either too late or love goes.
So when I tell you I love you,
It doesn't mean I know you'll never go,
Only that I wish you didn't have to.”

-- I don't know who said this

You just start

People keep asking me how you start blogging. It's not a question that I asked anyone when I started. It was a time when everyone was getting online, erecting a pedestal and taking their place on it to rant at the world.

Of course, that produces so much noise that you might as well have your Twitter stream read to you by a speed reader, in Flemish. How the hell do you sift? People stopped writing blogs and found others to follow. Some kept writing. I think they all should have kept writing.

The joy of user generated content is in the search for what you can find out there to learn from; agree with; or fight with. That is the point. People with differing opinions and new ones. If we all accept that there is a certain way to produce content and that hour voice is represented mostly by what is said then we are going to encourage mediocrity and group think.

The Internet is an orchestra. At first everyone is learning and tuning their instruments and if you walk in and hear it, you think "what a mess!" If you hang around a while then you start to hear the music and maybe one day, you'll join in.

How do you start blogging? Just start.

You will find your voice and your audience. Or if you are like me, they will find you.

Tick Tocks

There are not too many things in life that are a certainty.

I do know for sure that time will pass. It always does. Things will change and we will be taken on the ride no matter how much we protest. Accepting this does not mean surrendering to it.

When I look back on life, there is no year that I would rather go back and live again. Every new day is better than the last and ever birthday marks the end of an amazing year of life and starts the new journey around the sun. This is not about optimism. It's about acceptance.

Acceptance is also the last stage of grief. We go through all the rest and come to the point of peace when we can say that we accept that what is... just is.

Today I deleted my photos of Giles from my phone and anywhere that I may run in to them, while going about my daily business.

Most of my posts hold a photo at the start but in honour of this moment, there will not be one. Instead consider it the absence of the pictures of Giles. The acceptance that what is lost, is lost forever and new paths must be walked.