Monday, 30 June 2008

I'm Sorry, Chuck

I'm sorry Chuck Klosterman but I cannot finish your book.

I read three chapters, which I enjoyed, but don't feel implored to read any more.

I like your style and the level of attention you pay to the minutiae of pop culture, but you are almost too likable, or trying too hard to be likable, and reading your words makes me feel like I have eaten too much sugar.

I have enjoyed your magazine articles, and think your style is better suited to that medium than to the paperback.

And I'm sorry PJ and Z who bought me this book for (Step) Mother's Day, at my request.

I might read more of it later, but feel at the moment I have no time in my life to read books that may be non-fiction, but that are far too concerned with titillation.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

King Corn

Instead of going to see Even play last night, we stayed in and watched King Corn, a great doco that investigates the prevalence of corn in the US food chain.

While studying at college, two friends have strands of their hair analysed in a geochemistry lab and discover that the carbon in their bodies originated from corn. So what do they do? They go to Iowa, the middle notch on the US corn-belt, where they lease an acre of land and become corn farmers for a year.

The people they encounter along the way combined with the guerrilla style filmmaking makes for compelling viewing, and what the guys learn, and we with them, is extraordinary and frightening and fascinating.

The journey the corn travels from Iowa to the filmmakers’ hair is worrying, but not nearly as distressing as the entire world view presented in The World According to Monsanto, another food-related film we recently saw.

It seemed a nice coincidence that we watched King Corn last night, on the eve of my sister A’s return from the US. She is back for, among other reasons, our grandfather’s 90th birthday party. When she returns to the US, she will be heading to Iowa to take up a two-year writing scholarship.

At the heart of the film are families trying to make a living on their farms, and the two filmmakers tracing their own genealogies back to their Iowan great-grandfathers. 

And at the heart of my reaction to the film is my own family, and my sister’s expedition to the centre of the madness.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Hello .edith

Yesterday, the organisation that oversees the Internet, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), unanimously approved the move to introduce domain names other than .com, .org, .net and 21 other suffixes we have come to be familiar with.

Some people are predicting a goldrush mentality to develop.

.countries, .cities, .brands and .names will in early 2009, be available to the highest bidder.

Just as we now can't imagine life without the Internet, I bet soon we'll be wondering the same thing about the multiplicity of domain names, whether for good or bad, or just plain confusing reasons. 

But what I think will definitely have a positive impact, is ICANN's decision to allow extensions in languages other than English, with characters other than the 37 Roman ones currently available.

It really makes me wonder if the virtual world will become the last bastion of diversity.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Goodnight Edith

From the Seattle P-I:
Edith Macefield died at home, just the way she wanted.

The Ballard woman who captured hearts and admirers around the world when she stubbornly turned down $1 million to sell her home to make way for a commercial development died Sunday of pancreatic cancer. She was 86.

"I don't want to move. I don't need the money. Money doesn't mean anything," she told the Seattle P-I in October.

She continued living in the little old house in the 1400 block of Northwest 46th Street even after concrete walls rose around her, coming within a few feet of her kitchen window. Cranes towered over her roof. Macefield turned up the television or her favorite opera music a little louder and stayed put.

"I went through World War II, the noise doesn't bother me," she said in October. "They'll get it done someday."

Macefield's stubbornness was cheered by Ballard residents tired of watching the blue-collar neighborhood disappear under condominiums and trendy restaurants. Her story was picked up by the national news and spread around the world.

In the last year of her life, she forged an unlikely friendship with a kindred soul, Barry Martin, the senior superintendent on the construction project engulfing her home. They met when he started working at the site.

It started with an offer to drive her to the hairdresser, then a doctor's appointment. He made sure she had food, ran to get groceries for her, picked up prescriptions, cooked her dinner.

She had been ill off and on for the last year or so, recovering from a serious fall, and bouts of the flu. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

From A to Z

Ten days ago I dissected my relationship with Z's mum, PJ's ex. I wrote about my fondness for her as well as my acceptance of the space that divides us.

Yesterday morning, Z's mum and I were thrown into that space - the space that I had circumnavigated and justified and believed in. 

I have never been out with a man who has a child before. I have never had to contend with an ex-wife or The Other Woman who is still on the scene. This is all still new for me. 

But yesterday, what I thought I had dissected, I realised I had only grazed.

Early yesterday morning, she and I and PJ received an alarmingly inappropriate email from the principal of Z's school. So disturbing was it, that we were forced to make the decision to remove Z from his care.

Under the banner of Team Z, we three rallied and formed an alliance - we cried, talked, strategised, comforted, ate, laughed, shared and devised.

The content of the email is just background noise. What took centre stage is the bond the two parents and the new partner formed, and the tender way we held each other's hands around the wonder of our boy.


Welcome to the Land of Meg, to all you budding bloggers!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008


The best part of Lyndal Jones' show at ACCA was meeting the barista at the café in the foyer. And not just because she makes a great soy latté.

Behind the coffee machine on a stool, I noticed a spiral of rolled up knitting with two knitting needles poking out of the top. The wool was different shades of red, which is what initially caught my eye. When I asked her what she was making, the barista, Buni, told me she didn't know, though she had several ideas for her very long creation:

You see, I too am a knit wit, though my tool is a Knitting Nancy. And I too am a knitter of wool that is many different shades of red and I too have a very long creation that I have dozens of ideas as to its use.

Initially my sister K was going to knit the red rope into a basket, then we thought maybe a rug, but for the moment the best use for it is to keep my hands busy and warm during these chilly winter months.

Monday, 23 June 2008

What Comes Around

We came home last night after seeing Young Werther play, to find a big bag of limes on our doorstep, delivered by our friends I and V. I went straight out again to buy a bottle of vodka so PJ could make us some caprioskas.

In my attempt to share the love, please allow me to point you in the direction of Green Energy Watch, a site that is offering two free energy saving lightbulbs to Australian residents. It's a privately organised initiative being run by a very switched on (sorry!) 26 year-old guy, whose aim is to "bridge the gap between government awareness campaigns on global warming and the ways in which we can all reduce greenhouse gases in a practical and inexpensive way." 

You'd think the government would be giving away solar panels and compost bins and energy efficient shower heads and lightbulbs. But I guess they don't see the science as urgent. I wonder when they will.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Getting a Grip

On Friday we had another meeting at Z's school to talk with his teachers about his bad behaviour.

In my opinion, the school isn't setting enough boundaries. They are telling him what to do and what not to do without showing him the consequences of his decisions. It's as though they have forgotten he is six.

Here is Z this morning with new footy boots before he muddied them at Auskick. 

Co-operation and team playing, responsibility for self, listening, learning, watching, a safe environment to run and tackle, and now, a better grip on the earth.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Everybody was Born

When my sister K was pregnant with one of her girls, I can't remember which one, she told me how she would walk around looking at people thinking, Everybody was born. Everybody was once carried around in their mother's womb and was given birth to.

At the same time, my sister E was looking for a new share-house and I remember her saying that she was walking around thinking, Everybody has to sleep, whether it be in a home or on a park bench, every single person has to sleep.

When I was working on this project, I was obsessed with nails and corners and hooks and edges from where I could suspend my t-shirts.

How we see the world through our individual lenses interests me. Like the guy looking for the best place to dance in yesterday's video. Like the woman looking for found objects in the city. Like this woman looking for the best blog moment, today.

Friday, 20 June 2008

The Best Place to Dance

One of the things I like about this video, is that the guy who made it must have spent a portion of each day looking for the best place to dance. What a great way to evaluate the world!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Wednesdays with Jo

Every Wednesday afternoon before I started my current work contract, I would go to see Jo. Jo is 84 years-old and lives in a hostel for the elderly, five minutes from where I live. 

She signed up for Computer Connections, a program that matches people with limited mobility with those who are technically minded, in Jo's case, me. 

Initially she wanted me to teach her how to set up Skype and her webcam so she could chat to her sister, who's 90, in the UK.

Every Wednesday I would visit her after she came back from church and we would go through how to do various tasks on her PC: how to scan old photos, resize the images and email them, how to write letters in Word and print them etc. 

When Jo phoned me last night to say hello and to see how I was getting on with my new work, I thought about the principal at the local primary school. Recently, he went to the U3A to invite them to spend time with his students - to read with them, talk with them, mentor them. 

It's such a nice feeling to be a part of a community. I never had that, living in the city.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Way to Go

I caught the train and bus home tonight after two days' work in Melbourne.

I love public transport.

I am a member of the Public Transport User's Association and I am a member of the public who loves the random encounters you often have with other commuters, sorry, customers, as Connex calls them.

When I was teaching English in Bangkok several years ago, my parents came to visit me. It didn't matter where we went, so long as we took a different mode of transport to get there. Ten days, ten different ways: ferry, canal boat, motorcycle taxi, regular taxi, tuk tuk, bicycle, train, express bus, air-conditioned bus and public bus. It was a fantastic trip. 

Writing this, I find myself thinking about all the fantastic things about public transport, yet wondering why it is so expensive in Australia and not subsided by our government, who instead feels it's more important to commit 35 million dollars from its Green Car Innovation Fund to Toyota to make hybrid cars that still require petrol to run.

Now that is fantastic! I mean you couldn't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

For Del & Phyllis!

Congratulations to all the same sex partners in California who, as of yesterday, are now legally allowed to marry each other.

It's the best international news I have heard in ages.

And congratulations for its progressiveness to the Supreme Court of California who overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage in a four-to-three decision.

Being one of four sisters, I feel I am an expert in how to love deeply a person of my own gender. And feeling how I do about PJ, I am an expert in love that gives you no choice; in love that shreds you, like a confidential document.

I miss you PJ, love Meg in Melbourne.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Kit and Kaboodle

Yesterday I wrote a little about PJ's ex and my relationship to her. I have been thinking a lot about relationships and all the other people we go out with when we couple up with partners. There are their children, if they have any, which they do in my case. There are their former partners, siblings, parents, friends and associates.

Today after I picked up Z from school, PJ's mum phoned to speak to Z abouAuskick, which he went to for the first time yesterday, and to thank PJ and me for her Mother's Day present. She and PJ's dad live in NSW, where we arranged some tickets to their local cinema to be sent. She rang to say they saw a film and loved it and thank you. It was such a lovely phone-call, from which I hung up feeling great.

It's true that relationships and families, including our own, can be exhausting, but oh the simple joys small gestures can invoke.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

From Z to A

Every Sunday morning at 9am, PJ and I head out to pick up Z from his mum's, 10 minutes away. In the beginning it was awkward for me - driving to the house that PJ built, and built another life in, in a world that did not yet have me in it. But as time goes on these discomforts ease, as we all come to learn.

I really like Z's mum. We give each other birthday presents and on Mother's Day, I make a special effort to give her a gift to honour her role

I remember one of the first times we met, I had the strong feeling of wanting to ask her 1000 questions, to really get to know her, but I had a stronger feeling that this would never happen, that she and I will always be in each other's lives, though never as confidantes.

Today's post is to give voice to the awkwardness of relationships, between the present and what's present in the past. To the difference between being friends and friendly. To the wonder of human encounters, to all that is complex and smooth.

Friday, 13 June 2008


Tonight in the bath when PJ got home from work, he at one end me at the other, I finished reading this book - a chance find in a good book shop.


De Zengotita says: The issue is no longer representation versus reality, phony versus authentic, artificial versus natural . . . there is no going back to reality. . . . We have been consigned to a new plane of being engendered by mediating representations of fabulous quality and inescapable ubiquity, a place where everything is addressed to us, everything is for us, and nothing is beyond us anymore.

This notion of being perpetually addressed is the framework that cities are based on, De Zengotita says. Whereas nature on the other hand, doesn't address you or flatter you, it ignores you, which is why humanity no longer cares for nature, because, “the flattered self is spoiled. It never gets enough. It feels unappreciated. It whines a lot. It wants attention.”

So we ignore nature back, we control it and use what we can get for our own advantage. And because we are so disconnected from the natural world, so wrapped up in our busyness and shopping and blockbusters, we forget what's really important.

We make placards and take to the streets to protest when governments threaten our entertainment, yet we do nothing when they sell off our natural resources, put chemicals in our food, force us into war, put taxes on what's rightfully ours, stick their noses into our sex lives, hop into bed with corporations and prioritise economics over wellbeing.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

For the Love

As a freelancer, I am always on the lookout for the next interesting project to work on. As a mortgage owner, this often means I have to say no to some great contracts and yes to ones that are a little more dull, but that offer higher remuneration. 

I have recently been approached to do some work that I have had to decline. The work is great, the company is great, the people are great. But unfortunately, the pay isn't. 

And so this morning on my walk in the rain, I once again found myself indulging in the fantasy that money didn't own us, and that we owned ourselves.

But until the time when governments talk about their citizens' happiness and personal growth before economic growth, in the realm of fantasy my daydream will remain.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

What I Didn't See

During my lunch break, while I was working in Melbourne, I went down to Degraves Street to get a bite to eat.

There are so many choices, so many options, so much to do and see.

There's so much excitement, so many possibilities, down every laneway.

All the shiny shops with their shiny things to buy.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

On Nervousness

I started my new contract today and felt nervous all morning. There are so many names and job roles and faces and seating arrangements and procedures and systems and passwords to remember.

But even if there weren't, I know I would still be feeling like this.

I have been here before - day one of a new job and feeling confident I can do the work but unsure how I am going to do it. This has to be hard, I know that. This has to be challenging and this has to be unfamiliar. I know that that's the only way I'm going to improve my skills and learn new things. But it's also human nature, well, it's in my nature, to want to make make the difficult things more easy. And to feel nervous that I won't be able to do that. Even though I'm glad that they're so hard.

Monday, 9 June 2008

My Dad & Ronald Hollowell

Happy birthday to my dad who today is celebrating his 61st birthday. Happy birthday to my dad who is one of the most ethical and dependable people I know. 

One of the qualities I inherited from him and my mum is the need to make sense of things in my own way.

If you have a look at the very bottom of this page, you'll see I have an Add Free Stats logo that when I click, takes me to a page where all my blog visitor info is listed: how many page visits, how many return visits, what browsers people are using, their IP address, what keywords they googled to find me etc.

And so, I was able to see that at 4.38pm yesterday, someone in St Louis visited the Land of Meg using a Netscape browser and that they googled the word Monsanto to find me. Following the thread of their IP address, I was able to discover that it was a man named Ronald Hollowell, who touristed this site from the Monsanto world HQ in Creve Coeur.

Hello Ron! If you like what you read on my blog, you might also like to check out my dad's blog. He, like me, or should I say, I, like him, am a proponent of human rights over shareholder profits, of the natural over the unnatural, of good over evil.

Want to know what other beliefs I champion, Ron? Come back and visit my blog tomorrow.

I'll be able to tell if you do.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

The Seed

We sat up in bed last night eating popcorn and watching The World According to Monsanto - a frightening doco that shows how the US corporation, Monsanto, through its genetic engineering technology, is strategically destroying worldwide biodiversity and social harmony, all in the name of shareholder profits.

PJ stayed up to write a letter to premier John Brumby, urging him to see the film and speak to independent researchers who have been studying the effects of GE technology.

Today, PJ, Z and I spent the morning in our garden. It was a beautiful few hours with each other and the earth, but still I have a very uneasy feeling in my belly.

We plant seeds in our soil and think that with water and sun and nurturing that they will grow, and that wanting to do our own thing on our own land is enough. 

This isn't just about the infusion of the unnatural into the natural, this is about the corporatisation of our basic human rights. This is about converting food to a patented product of intellectual property, that is owned by greed, not communities.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Motion Sickness

I am about to begin a month-long contract. Usually I work on projects for a shorter time - a week at most - editing or writing content. I am looking forward to immersing myself in the work, but also have reservations.

One of the habits I have happily unlearnt during my time living away from the city is scheduling. Working full-time doesn't just mean that your job takes up the most productive hours of your day, it also ensures the commodification of the rest of your hours, and the need to plan your unplanned time.

I don't want to live like that. I don't want to be busy or managed or pencilled into appointment books. I don't want my business = my busyness. I don't want 24/7 scheduling or accountability. I don't want quality time or me time. I don't want to have it all.

I just want dead air time - the silence that I used to avoid.

I mean really, the only timetable we need to live by is the seasons.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Off the Rails

Before we trained to Melbourne this morning, PJ and I went to Z's school where we met with his mum and three of his teachers to discuss Z's bad behaviour - his preying on vulnerable kids, his smashing of a window, stealing knives, drawing on furniture.

As we drove from the school to the station, we saw a car had gone off the road. We pulled over and ran down the scrubby embankment to see it. It had ploughed right through the top of a T-intersection, right through the middle of a long sign held up by two poles and off the road, just missing a big old sentinel tree. White airbags lay limp and unfurled on the front seats, though the car was empty.

Two other cars stopped while we were there to ask if everybody was ok.

Later, when we were seated on the train, I thought about Z and the car - reckless behaviour and reckless driving - and I thought about the fact that we had stopped, along with two other cars, and I wondered how and at what age, what stage, a human being learns empathy.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Two Ducks

Remember this album from 1998 - Fatboy Slim's You've Come a Long Way, Baby? The cheeseburger eater with a cigarette in his hand, his watchband tight around his wrist. The stretch of highway beneath him. The traffic lights to one side. 

Aah, the glory of the civilised. Look how far we've come indeed.

It was this cover that came to mind this morning as I walked past a creek with two ducks swimming in it. They paid me no mind as I stopped to admire them quietly going about their breakfast forage. 

All of a sudden I found myself crying, begging forgiveness of these two creatures for what we have done to the Earth, for how far we have strayed from what's most vital. I am not an animist or a pantheist, I am just acutely aware of how entangled we have become inside our civilised praxis: like a duck with its neck caught in a plastic bag.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

National Costume

Several weekends ago, I went to a friend's 40th birthday party. Half way through the afternoon, a whole lot of boxes full of clothes were brought out that she and some of her friends no longer wanted. All the women at the party swarmed around them. It was very interesting to watch everybody's behaviour.

Some people snatched and grabbed garments for themselves, while others gave things to people who they thought the items would suit. Someone handed me the dress I am wearing today for the very first time - a dark green woollen dress with a zip up the front. I am happy to tell you, it is super comfy and super warm and had it not been given to me, I never would have given it a second thought.

Big thanks to Tashland for the footless stockings, to Emily B-Sides for pointing out the shoes at Camberwell Market, and to Redbeard for providing the wireless and the coffee that have enabled me to post this today.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

The Taste of Blood

I am still thinking about the Paskowitz family I wrote about yesterday. All eleven of them living in a camper van. They quarreled, but ultimately they got along because they had to get along.

I live in a small town, and exist within a close family unit, both which feel like enclosed camper vans sometimes. I need to learn from the Paskowitzes. I need to learn to put differences aside for the sake of community and kin.

This is not an easy task! I guess I need to get used to the taste of blood in my mouth, from continually having to bite my tongue. 

Monday, 2 June 2008


Today my choices feel inspired.

As I walked in the early morning's mist through the bush, I listened to a podcast interview with John Paskowitz, one of the nine Paskowitz siblings who grew up with their parents in a camper van in the US. All the kids were home schooled, they weren't allowed to eat sugar or salt, and spent the majority of their time surfing. Now they are all grown up and are the subject of a documentary called Surfwise.

On the movie's website it says:
Together, they lived a life that would be unfathomable to most, but enviable to anyone who ever relinquished their dreams to a straight job. The Paskowitz Family proved that America may be running out of frontiers, but it hasn’t run out of frontiersmen.
Being anchored by a mortgage is a frustrating pastime. I may not be a frontierswoman discovering new terrains, but at least I get to practice my happiness every day in the land that's known as Meg.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Love = Space

This morning my loved ones left me. 

They jumped into a canoe and drifted away as I stood on the shore; PJ, Z and a friend of Z's. The adult in the middle, the boys at either end with the paddles.

There was no room for me, and I didn't want to go. But still I had the feeling of being left, while they headed out into the unknown.

We received an email yesterday from the principal of Z's school, a just and kind man. He said Z had stolen a butter knife from the kitchen and had threatened some of the other kids, and when he was asked about it, he had lied and said he didn't know where the knife was.

Both these stories are about letting go, about learning how to relinquish unnecessary anxieties, how to be OK with loved ones going out into the world over which I have no control, trusting that I have done my best as a person and a parent.

As John Cage said, "Love = space around loved one."