Monday, December 1, 2008

in which the fish talks and talks and talks

It’s late, and the evening hanging outside my window is hot and salty.

I have had a lovely, wild, wonderful week. Full of strange coincidences and fabulous things, of terror and bliss, of words, and thoughts, of peach-coloured thunderstorms and clear blue skies.

I wish I could put it all into words, perhaps another time. It has been one of those moments which seem more significant than designated “moments”, or measurings of time and endings and startings, such as New Year, or the end of winter.

But I will tell you this, as a small part of the story.

I woke up having had a hideous nightmare last week: in it, I had found myself having to give a paper, and was reading the program.

A writers’ conference, it was.
I read the list of presenters….Helen Garner, Delia Falconer, Gabrielle Carey….me….

What would I know about writing? What on earth am I doing at a writer’s conference?

I had a sudden vision of Pavlov’s Cat sitting in the audience, shaking her head at my awful grammar. Made note to self: remember to take rusty stapler, That way if I spot Mme Cat in audience, I can shoot myself in the temple and claim lockjaw.

You know the end of this dream: where it goes really well, so well in fact that it really is a lovely dream after all, with fine things said, beautiful friends made. I talk about unknowing, and creative process, and show my lovely film, and watch the faces watching it, and oh, their expressions something to behold.
And still, though it seemed dreamt, I am sure I was awake at some point.

But I digress. I was going to respond to an invitation from this beautiful girl in Maryland, who shows me ponies and hills and woods, and her most charming and fetching little daughter dressed up as a Scottish girl. Her blog is called spruce hill, and she is one of the birds who came to visit from the lovely Alice's place

Ten Honest Things About Me.

I used to hang out with Hugh Jackman.
I started every day with a dose of Hugh after my run and gym class. He worked at the gym, and I would spend almost half an hour chatting and having coffee. He was the sort of person who was so interested in people that he always asked me things, enquiring about work, my art, whatever. He talked little about what he as up to. He was completely adorable.
I hadn’t realised just how little I had poked into HIS business until a few months later I saw his name in some promotion for a blockbuster production, and said:
“That can’t be MY Hugh! He’d never do a thing like that!”
It was my Hugh. And he would have, apparently, and still does.

Sometimes I think I am not real and that I have made myself up.
Actually, that’s not entirely true: I always think that.

Many of the other fish in the sea regard me with suspicion and hostility, because I am not a pure breed of fish.
Firstly, fish are not known for their acceptance and understanding towards fish who might seem different. Secondly, I suspect that they may know I told Roy-the-fisherman where the whiting were hiding because he had not caught anything for six months. Roy is nearly ninety, and I only did it the once, I swear.

I very much dislike those large green caterpillars, the ones which have nasty little horns which shoot out and spray you with stinky stuff. Actually, I hate them. They horrify me.

Often I do not brush my hair for days and have things sticking out of it. One day I am sure to find some family of wildlife taking up residence in it, and will therefore be able to charge rent: I just hope it isn’t those whiting that hang out in the deep hole just past the sandbar. That could be awkward, because everyone knows whitings never honour their debts.

When my cats jump up on the table I pretend I can’t see them.

I have very large feet.

I dream of going to Heron Island, Yorkshire, Broome, Nova Scotia, Norfolk, Rome,
The Blue Mountains to see Mary, The English Coastline, Maryland, Courcheval, Azay-le-Rideau, Scotland….
I am going to Brisbane on Thursday. It’s an Art History conference. I imagine I will be taken many places by the many things I will hear.

Sometimes the best place in the world is my sofa, curled up and looking at the sea, thinking about far places.

I have had the experience of opening a novel and reading all about myself and certain characteristics I display when undertaking certain activities. Very detailed, accurate and unmistakeable. It is a curious thing, to read about a fictionalised self, a peculiar feeling, and one, which I am not sure I can articulate. It was an award-winning book, but thankfully now out of print.
I used to feel very sensitive about this, but now, having recognised that it is only in stories that one can endure, frozen in a moment like that, I am happy enough. At the time I was horrified, but now if I do get my copy out and have a read, I can recognise, between the lines, something a little bit like love. Shining, pale, contained and far away.

All of this is true.

I would like to tag you all to do this. I am going to tag whomsoever feels like telling us things about themselves.


Molly said...

You are SOOO...OO..O qualified to give talks on writing!! This piece alone is proof. And while this is a fascinating thing in the hands of a fish, I think the world would go to sleep if I were to attempt to write 10 things about me...But I'd stay wide awake if you were to write 10 more!

Fusion said...

This was so nice to read fifi. I got a real sense of who you are from it too. And the photos! Wow! I love thunderstorms, I had several during my second stay in Sydney now over a year ago.
I liked Hugh in his latest movie, that of course I saw as soon as it came out ;)

ganching said...

Very impressed that you have been hobnobbing with clebs.

I'm quite tempted to do the ten things.

(people with curly hair should never brush their hair!)

fifi said...

Thanks, Molly, I never sleep in your posts. Please feel free to divulge all your secrets and I promise to stay awake.

Fusion, you may have been the person who prompted the remembering of Hugh, since you mentioned you were going to the film!

Ganching: oh, you must. Please do.
I realised it's not just the lack of brushing, it's the lack of washing and combing which combines to create the enticing nest effect.

fifi said...

Oh, and ganching, none of the celebs were hobnobbing with ME, hard as I tried.

As I put it, in terms of networking, I'm a cul de sac to nowhere, people talk to me for amusement only, which is good.

Sarah S. said...

Oh My I love Hugh! He is just so cute!

I like the one about your cats :) That's funny!

Thanks for playing and writing such nice things about me!

Blue Mountains Mary said...

I know someone who knows Hugh quite well - he remains lovely and interested in what other people are doing.

I sense the day we will meet is drawing nearer all the time!

Jellyhead said...

You and Hugh?
Who knew!

(see i could be a writer... or at least a poet)

I love that you don't brush your hair. I wish I could be more laid-back like that instead of neurotically brushing my hair every damn day!

Hope you have a great time at your conference.

the projectivist said...

i love your writing, fifi!

hmmmm now i've distracted myself - what was i going to say?
oh yes! Thursday, bring a brolly (there might be a bit of rain hanging about) AND
you will be going to GOMA won't you? it's just about one of my most favorite places ever!

ps. cultivating messy hair like that is very clever of you - scares away marauding magpies.

Isabelle said...

I don't know who Hugh Jackman is. This is presumably because I never seem to watch films or tv or whatever.

Of course you're a writer.

I wish I could lie on a sofa and look at the sea. It's sleeting here and it's dark.

fifi said...

Sarah: Yes he is cute, and truly nice besides. Thanks for inviting me, and I realised I forgot to include all the rules and things.

Mary: Yes. It's now weekday or weekend, the choice is all ours. (Rubs hands together)

Jelly, you ARE a poet! And I don't imagine a nest wouold inspire much confidence when worn on the head of the venerable GP . Maybe.

Proj: Why thank you, yes I am going to GOMA on Saturday night so stalk me. I'm the one with the large and smelly nest.

Oh, Isabelle. I don't watch TV at all, but I do go to films, and am going to see this,

Not just because it's got Hugh in it, but because it is a film about the stolen generations, it's about indigenous Australia, but disguised as a blockbuster. It's Baz Luhrmann's secret.

Looks like an absolute potboiler, but heck. I'll go anyway.

Kirti said...

10 more reasons to like you a whole lot more Fifi.

So glad you mentioned Baz's intentions for Australia, I cringed at the shorts thinking Baz had maybe gone total blockbuster...

Anonymous said...

Oh I love the hair thing. One of my sons has thick curly hair and occasionally I make him comb it. One time I found a beetle living there- really it had made a kind of nest for itself with hair and fluff and little bits of this and that.

Big feet are good for swimming. The same son has big feet. When he was born the midwife said they were the biggest feet she had ever seen on a newborn baby!

Maybe I got given the wrong baby. Maybe he is yours?

meggie said...

The 10 things are magic to read.
I am glad you left out the rules.

Wonderful photo of the peach coloured storm.
I am glad Hugh is such a nice real person.

Regulus said...

This was, as always, a lovely post.

I live in Maryland -- or rather, I live in the District of Columbia and go to Maryland every day, so I'm sorta geographically close to your blogger friend Spruce Hill, except I'm not sure where in Maryland she is.

It's kind of interesting to hear someone so far away (you) so matter-of-factly refer to Maryland, a U.S. State that in a place as far away as Australia, I wouldn't have expected many people to know of, as opposed to California, New York, or Florida.

By the way, two questions: (1) for the top picture, is THAT the view from your house?? That's incredible; and (2) WHERE was that picture of the beach (the second one) taken? It's incredible. I may borrow that one for my own blog (credited, of course).

fifi said...

yes, rb, he is definitely mine!

Thank you meggie and kirti.
Kirti I planned to see the film anyway but the word is out to ignore the cringe factor..and that the secret agenda is a good one.

I wrote a short story based on people who were here from maryland. The picture is the view from my house, yes it is pretty cool,
and the second is the beach down below,yes you may use it.

Anonymous said...

I really loved this post, fifi, I feel your honesty in your writings. Thanks so much for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Oh good, I'll send him over. He would have a lot more fun with you actually - he'd love all that swimming in the sea. And I bet you are far less crabby than I am (actually crabby is not a good word to choose is it but I rather like it).

little red hen said...

I loved this Fifi and can relate to the non hair brushing, it helps the pencils, paintbrushes etc stay in so well, and the ignoring of cats bad behaviour well I am prone to do the same for my dog and children at times. Sometimes I think that people will discover that I am not real that I'm not really a teacher or an artist or not really interesting, not really anything...
When things settle down I might just do this list but I'm afriad that the last point I made may be true!!!

Anonymous said...

Um....what do you know about writing? How about you know how to entrance your readers, silly Fish?!

I knew I loved you: I don't brush my hair either.

Regulus said...

Wait a minute ... where is that beach house? And I could use it? I'd visit Australia for a week to go there!

fifi said...

ha ha hen, I had forgotten the storage factor!

ben, i don't believe you about the hair. You look relatively groomed!

reg: tis here, all around me.....

Luhlahh said...

I like the way you combine your many lives, as Fish, Fish Mum, Artist, Academic, and Bohemian.

My friend used to live 'round your part of the world and she would often see Hugh with his kids swimming in the ocean with all the other ordinary peeps. He and his wife seem so down to earth. He's been a fave of mine since he played 'Wolverine' Mmmm

Planning to do the 10 things...

Pod said...

yes i was so silly not to make myself know at jane's opening. i was however rather late, and the whiting had told me prior that you were a bit of a telltale......
i think we looked at each other though, i'm pretty sure i knew which lady was thee (even if you have made yourself up)