Old Friends

Last night I had a trip down memory lane. It was surreal.

My dear friends Charissa and Janine are in town – coincidently at the same time. We all went to Murdoch University together, meeting up in an Introductory Film class in 1996.  In case you don’t know, my name is Janine also.  And funnily enough, the conversation we all bonded over initially was the fact that Charissa was also going to be named Janine when she was born (but escaped!). Thus we became ‘Triple J’, just like the alternative radio station we loved to listen too (well – the two real Janine’s did.  Charissa’s tastes were more eclectic.  She is responsible for introducing me to SADE, the Buena Vista Social Club, and the Backstreet Boys…).

We graduated way back in 1998, and have kept in touch off an on ever since. Janine now lives near Byron Bay in the Eastern States of Australia.  Charissa ended up moving back to Singapore, as she was here to study and had to go home.  I still live in Perth…although I have escaped on many occasions to explore some of the world. None of us have embarked on a career in film, but our creative urges still drive us – even more so at the moment, as we all seemed to have denied it for so long – but now find ourselves on the same path to realisation that it is really what we should be chasing in life.

A lot has certainly changed between the good (and bad) old uni days, and now…except Murdoch University.

Last night, Charissa arranged a catch-up of some of the old uni buddies at the uni tavern. Pulling up in the old car park, all that had changed there was the addition of a lock-up cage for bicycles (and the fact that I now have a better car that actually works).

Embarking from the car, we set off to the uni tav via the old Humanities area, where we spent many a day and night sitting, talking, reading, studying, filming, editing – and rolling office chairs down the hilly paths due to the insanity of late-night editing sessions and the sugar rush of the vending machine hot chocolates. It was still the same.

Heading through to the ‘bush court’, the heart of the uni, the trees and bushes even looked the same. Charissa joked that there could still even be fliers on the pin-up boards from 1998 – as there were loads!

Onwards we walked, remembering now how vast the actual campus was, heading into the heart of where the lecture theatres were – beloved Lecture Theatre 1 (ahhh the memories!), down the stairs, more stairs, and more stairs, heading towards the tav. Passing the bottle brush bushes and the Student Guild building, we discovered that the tav wasn’t there anymore! Noooooo. Now we knew the uni still had one – but had kind of neglected to check it was still in the same place. Luckily we saw a person, who kindly advised us that there hadn’t been a tavern here for years, and that it was now at the front of the uni.

Okay – now this is logical. Our memories of the old uni tav were this – the tav was situated right at the back of the uni campus, and you had to walk a few stairs and a fair way to get there, kind of down hill. By the time you go there, the beers went down REALLY well, and they tasted especially god whilst lounging on the most funkiest, brightest coloured lounge chairs, listening to John Butler, before he was famous, singing to us about saving the trees.  After that – who seriously would want to go to class!

So, the powers that be at the university realised what was going on, as I know we weren’t the only ones who got stuck there, thus moving the tav to the front of the uni near the bush court.

In the end we found the ‘new’ tavern, after passing some current uni students talking in ‘uni speak’ (does anyone really use the word ‘inherently’ in their everyday conversations?). Our first impressions were that it was so much more fancy that the one we used to go to. Janine commented that she felt too bright wearing colours there…but thinking back I don’t think we wore colour at uni – it was black, brown, black, brown…and maybe some grey.

Either way, the tav still had beer. It even had champers! And we proceeded to catch up on about 10 years of our lives, which was absolutely entertaining and enjoyable. Deep down, none of us has really changed that much, which is beautiful to see. I believe that we still all have our essences that drew us together in the first place, and we are all still genuine people, who still love being stupid and laughing REALLY loud (or could it be cackling?). Yes, we have all put on a few kilos, and yes we have all had some not-so-nice experiences in life, but I am happy to say none of us have become bitter and twisted by life, and we all still have – now more than ever – big dreams and big hearts.


Why does Top Gear fascinate me so?

I have this strange infatuation with Top Gear….not the Aussie version.  I’m yet to be convinced by that ‘version’.  The English version – well! I can just sit there and watch middle-aged, English men drive fast cars and talk a whole load of shite till the cows come home!  Why is it so?

I mean, I’m not a huge car fanatic – even though I grew up surrounded by relics and car bodies, in which Dad insisted he would be able to ‘do up’, or that they would be really valuable one day.

Dad LOVED Fords.  And so did Mum.  She fell in love with a black V8 Ford Fairlane Sedan we owned in the 1980’s.  THAT was her prized possession at the time!  Mum used to make the 7-10 hour drive from Kalgoorlie to Mount Helena to visit our Grandparents in that beast of a machine – with the 3 kids and 3 dogs, plus everything you needed to entertain 3 dog and 3 kids on a 7-10 hour drive.  I don’t know how we did it, as there’s nothing much to see except one long road, one really long water pipeline, and a whole lot of gum trees, red dirt, and scrub. I do remember curling up to sleep on the floor in the back of the car (you know – where you put your feet when you sit in the back seat) – I’m pretty sure I was like 9 or 10.  I wasn’t a small child. That must have been one HUGE car!

I started out with an inherited love for Ford too.  My first car was a 1977 V6 Ford Cortina sedan.  It was metallic blue, glistened in the sun, was full of rust, had no heating or air con – which makes for many fabulous experiences in Perth – and sounded like a V8.  Boys used to like to try to drag me off at the lights because of the sound of my car…Oh one of the previous owners had fitted an extractor to the exhaust – so that explains the sounds (plus the inevitable hole in the exhaust that just made it louder!).

Now, my brother went against the grain as a teenager – he was Holden all the way.  Or started out that way, until the Holden died and Mum convinced him to get a Ford Cortina (it was yellow!).

Anyway – I digress.  Top Gear.  Why is it so compelling?

It could be due to my deep-seated obsession with English boys.  I don’t know why I find them so appealing.  Maybe it’s that boyish, cheeky, Hugh Grant or Colin Firth (Oh Mr Darcy!) appeal…Funnily enough Hugh Grant is the guest driver on Top Gear tonight (yes I watch as I write…it’s that bad).

Or it’s the accents.  I love English accents.  I love the quirky diversity of them – the cringe-worthiness of the scouser accent, the poshness of those from London, or the memories that come to mind when I hear the accent of someone from the Midlands or the very North of England…memories of my Nan, my Aunty Melba, of living in the UK for a bit.

Or it could be that secretly I want to be a rev-head.  I’ve always wanted to know how to fix cars myself, and had entertained taking a mechanics ‘course’ at one stage. I love the smell of oily parts, and want to feel independent enough to show up at a car yard and not feel like a dim-witted female idiot.

No.  I think it’s actually a mixture of the gorgeous, out-of-my-league cars, the humour – seriously those boys make me almost pee my pants sometimes – and the scenery…whether it be the English countryside, European mountains, the North Pole (that episode was insane!), or the streets of London.  It IS pure fantasy!

My nemesis, Fatigue

Fatigue has been my ‘nemesis’ since I graduated uni.  That was in 1998.

I was a film student, studying full-time, whilst also working part-time – as many hours I could physically do.  Filming, late night editing sessions, studying, attending classes, working and partying physically wrecked me.

I’ve tried to tackle my ‘foe’ in many ways over the years (time surely does fly!?).  But it always manages to sneak up on me unawares, just like those pesky Bananas in pajamas.  We then begin our battle once again.

I know, it’s not as debilitating as chronic fatigue.  I can actually still get up for work in the morning (just). I once knew someone who would work one day, and then be bed ridden for weeks, her body wracked with aches and pains. I’m lucky…but it’s still a pain in the ass.

I’ve tried treatments, specialists, ‘work-life balance…I’ve tried more sleep, less sleep, going to bed at the same time, getting up early (and really late!).  I’ve seen physiotherapists, chiropractors, naturopaths, had all types of massages.  I’ve done Pilates, yoga, mediation, weight training, cardio, walking…and doing nothing.  I’ve eliminated foods, given up alcohol, tried drinking 2 litres of water a day, all types of tea, coffee, no coffee, alcohol, a vegetarian diet, a protein diet, and all types of supplements.  I’ve had blood tests, heart tests, hormone tests, stomach tests.  I’ve even given sleeping tablets and antidepressants a shot.  I’ve changed jobs, taken promotions and demotions, taken holidays – for a holiday, and holidays just to ‘rest’.  I’ve taken up hobbies, volunteered, socialised and not socialised.  The only thing I haven’t tried is to stop working.  That’s not an option.  Due to my upbringing and family heritage I’m cursed with an insane work ethic.

Which brings me to today.  I’m annoyed.  I’m annoyed because yet again it’s here with me, and it’s come around at a time when I was just sinking my teeth into things that are satisfying to my soul. So – I’ve grounded myself for the weekend – although I did sneak out to do the grocery shopping – in the hope that after this weekend it will be gone from my life for good.  That is a wee bit optimistic though.

If anyone has any tips I’d be grateful!  I guess I could start by not being so harsh on myself.  I mean, it’s not like I’m a superhero – damn it!  Or I could just move to Mexico so I can have siestas every day! Yes?!

First Reflections of Paris

The greenery and the lushness of the countryside prevent my lids from closing.  Thoughts that I may never see this again are enough to battle the immensity of twenty hours without sleep, and almost a month of nights in strange places, surrounded by unusual people, being munched upon by bed bugs in Italy.

I don’t want to sleep.  I want to take it all in now as there is not much time left.  But the dream of sleep is beckoning to me…dangling the carrot in front of my eyes, tempting me to enter into a blissful lapse of unconsciousness.

The man diagonally from me is in his mid 40’s.  I would say he has a Sting-esque look about him.  The eccentric lady directly across from me keeps signalling to her friend.  I think she fancies him…

The clouds swirl like candy floss over the fields as the train passes through, which form seemingly perfect rectangles of green and brown.  Crops of trees poke up here and there, and as we move on it is pleasant to see that they take the rightful place that they should over the land.

The eccentric lady describes the countryside as ‘magnifique’, as she feigns tears.  It is truly ‘belle’.  I am in love with the world and all it has to give.  There is so much beauty out there.  At times like this I think of Grandad – he would be happy for me.  If only he could feel again what I am feeling…

On arrival in Paris I am stunned. I adore it.  Paris is amazing, beautiful, logical and friendly.  Such a difference from Italy!  There is something magical about this place, with the abundance of grass, trees, benches to sit on, real food, people who smile, couples that walk arm in arm with each other.  The streets are clean! Everyone seems to have respect for all that is around them.

Later as I sit under the Eiffel tower, I note that it is smaller than I had expected. It is pretty, and surrounded by gorgeous parkland.  The only thing that puts a dampener on it are those pesky people selling tacky tourist souvenirs.  As we walked to the tower a hoard of them had just been unleashed onto unsuspecting tourists.

I like it here – I really do.  We have walked the streets, strolled along the River Seine from the Notre Dame cathedral, all the way down to the Eiffel Tower.  We passed the Musee des Orsay, taking in the people and the streets.  France has this sense of style about it.  Not the over the top ‘I am hot’ kind.  Just classy, casual – ‘I know who I am’ – I like it.

Notre Dame was also smaller than I had expected.  We had crept up on it from behind, crossing the River Seine and entering a park behind it.  There was a lady peacefully reading a book and I could just picture myself doing it.  It was a quaint little park, with benches, manicured green grass, lines of trees, and of course a few tourists.  From that point it appeared that one could not enter thus we did the photo thing and moved on to the entrance.

Notre Dame is a gothic cathedral.  I have a fascination with gothic architecture – the grotesque images, the curvatures, eccentricity and darkness of the style stirs something inside of me.  On entering the cathedral, the main source of light is from candles.  It is very dark. The walls and roof are aged and grimy.  I feel the urge to pray, even though I am not religious.  I had finally found the right place.  I purchased and lit a candle and finally said goodbye, ‘I love you and miss you Grandad’.  I cried.  He would have loved this, and I know he would be happy for me.  Life goes on, and we all find our place if we go out and look for it.

Italy was amazing.  It blew my mind away.  France crept in and stole my heart.