Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Every Christmas I make a mix CD. It’s a list of what’s been keeping my head above water all year, as music is my life blood. I try and include a handful of classics and a strong showing of new releases. I also try and include quite a few Australian artists, especially given that I send the yearly effort to quite a few people overseas. (I don’t know why that is so important to me, but it’s the policy of my favourite radio station to play 40% Australian music. We can get kind of parochial here.)

There are some rules. I can’t use artists or bands I have used previously, but side and solo projects are OK. And I try and add some new people to the list of those receiving it every year. That’s basically it. But it’s a list that I start compiling in January. I’m not saying I write anything down but it’s something I think about a lot. Usually at work while doing something mindless or on a long train trip. (I take a lot of long train trips, I’ll be talking about that at some point. Oh, you say, I can’t wait for that effort.) I get excited about a song that helps me get through the day and I derive pleasure from the idea that someone else will hear it because I sent it to them. And maybe it will help them get through a bad day too.

These are the two lists I think about, every now and again, all year:  what’s on the CD and who’ll be getting it. Most people write lists for the store, for what they want to get done over the weekend, for what they’re packing to take on vacation. I don’t do that. I work from memory 99% of the time. The only reason I have a calendar is to keep track of the weddings for which I am booked and nothing else. I swear this doesn’t mean that I forget social or work commitments or neglect to do things – I don’t. I just find it works for me.

I’ve always had a fantastically good memory and most of the time it’s great because it has allowed me to skate academically and get away with stuff at various jobs. But it creeps people out sometimes, that I remember personal plans and details; occasionally I have to pretend to forget stuff, particularly early on in friendships or other relationships. It’s as though we are wary of anyone actually paying attention to what we are saying and remembering it.

This is a time of year when a lot of people make lists. And certainly several of my favourite bloggers have talked about lists a lot this year. Some of them embrace them wholeheartedly and others reject them as being frightening and limiting. I don’t have a life list and I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions. I’m the sort of person who wants to start over almost every day so making a list once a year doesn’t really suit me.

But I’ve talked already about this coming year and what it means to me. This is the year I want to find out what I can do intellectually and I want to develop a work ethic where my studies are concerned. It doesn’t help that the academic year here is the same as the calendar year, there are bigger and yet fewer chances for us to talk ourselves into things at which we will fail a couple of weeks into January. I am dreaming big for myself for the first time in a very long time.

So if I was making a list, it would be a very short one. I want to work harder and I want to be more adventurous. It’s as simple as that.

I’m not very good at venturing outside my comfort zone. I’m someone who gets attached to places and people and even to just ordering the same thing off the menu at my favourite couple of places. You’d think that someone who clearly loves ‘the same’ would have a better work routine when it comes to study but I am an appalling procrastinator of the worst variety. I will leave it as late as I possibly can and then put it off some more. The problem is that this is a really terrible thing when combined with my illness and my anxiety, an untenable situation for me when taking on such a confronting and difficult study schedule. And I want to rise to the challenge.  

I am finding that if I work a few hours every day I can keep the panic at bay, or mostly at bay. This probably comes as no surprise to just about anybody else the world over but it comes as one to me. Work consistently and the rewards will follow. The excitement I feel at researching and writing this incredible project is still there, and I hope it stays with me until October, I’m going to need it. I guess what I’m saying is that this year is a balance of being adventurous and being a hard worker. Just two things on the (mental) list for what comes next.

Lists. I guess I haz them after all.

P. S. - The Phoenix song from which this post derives its name. It's also on the 2009 CD, the best one I think I've ever put together. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

This song has no title (or, how this blog came by its name)

Apparently when you're in the army you nickname everything. (At least, this is as I understand it from both M*A*S*H and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.) My sister and I have a habit of doing this too, also with everything. My electric fan is named Maxine, the fan before her was called Max. My lamp is called Karen, my laptop called Ernest and my (current) toothbrush called Harold. And the BBQ is called Laurie (after St Laurence on a grid-iron. You can tell we're Catholics....). 

And so it came to pass that my sister and I felt compelled to nickname my thesis. Strong contenders included Guillermo, Rudi, Morris and Rico. But I wanted something less Spanish and more Italian, given the subject matter of my research.*

So the sister, in a stroke of genius, decides we should call it Frankie. Short for Frankenstein, as it will be '[my] little monster for the next year'.

Nicely played, Clarence.** This is why I keep her around.

And that is how the thesis, and this blog, came by their name. 

P.S. - You need to see this video immediately. I laughed until I cried. Happy Christmas!

*I'm writing a thesis in Italian history. I will be telling a little more as I go along. 

**My sister's nickname. You really didn't think she was the one thing that wouldn't be nicknamed, did you?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Speak Because I Can

I've been reading blogs for a long time now but I've never written one myself, not even a guest post. Most, if not all of you, know me as Moz in the comment sections of your own blogs, or maybe from twitter. 

The above sentence clearly belies the assumption that there actually are people reading this first post. Yes, I'm that presumptuous. Maybe it's the history student in me that believes it's better to assume people will notice this than not. Then again, the history student in me also knows that many texts disappear without a trace for generations and that some stories are never found again, as hard as people might look. And I'm not sure that anyone will be looking terribly hard to find out who I am, even if I have been commenting on their blog for years. 

But anyway! The point is that the overwhelming majority of you know me only by my username, or possibly maybe from my generic updates in 140 characters or less. 

I've mostly held off from starting a blog because I didn't feel I had anything to say that was especially original or meaningful. It was also because for a long time I was so miserable that writing a regularly updated blog would have been a bad thing for everyone concerned, not least because I would have had tangible evidence of some of the worst times of my life. (And there's that historian talking again. I'm all about the documentation.)

There are two reasons that I now feel differently, at least enough to carefully dip my toes into the blogging deep end before jumping in wholeheartedly and embracing the cold. Firstly, my life is a lot better than it was, and that is something I intend to spend some time talking about. I suffer from a chronic illness that consumed a considerably large part of my life so far and I couldn't really talk about my life with any honesty if I was to pretend I don't have it. Oh, that I wish that I didn't.

Secondly, I am embarking upon a journey about which I feel compelled to write. I have started research for my 20 000 word thesis (in history, surprise, surprise) which is due sometime in the second week of October 2012. I believe this gives me a frame of reference within which to write for the next 10 months, although rest assured I don't just want to bitch about how stressful my Honours year is. My year will include much, much more than the research for my major project and the two seminar classes I am taking between March and late June next year. 

You see, this next year isn't just about my writing a thesis in history. I am trying to re-write my own history. I am tired of being that girl with the chronic illness, that girl who has had bad things happen to her. I see this next year as a chance to become the woman I hope to be, to try and move on from the horrors that have held me hostage for so long. Some of these horrors are things I will talk about, some of them I won't, but I am hoping that by talking about them a little bit I might make at least one of you feel a little less alone, a little less helpless. And yes, maybe I can start feeling a little less of those things too. 

Here are some things to expect from my blog:

*Some bad language. I tend to get a bit mouthy when I am especially tired, angry or incredulous. So be prepared for that sometimes as I often feel all three of those things. Cursing really does help. You should try it.

*Not a huge number of pictures, especially personal ones. I don't actually own a digital camera and while I do shoot film, I don't scan the results. I really am hopeless with technology, a Luddite from way back - this is the girl who was told to stop handing in handwritten assignments lest her teachers give her zero. I will try and get better at this over time. 

*Lots of talk about music, books, film and TV that I love. These things kept me alive for a long time and sometimes they are all I have. Music especially is my first love and I sing at weddings to supplement my meagre income from other sources so there'll be a bit of that along the way. 

*Really bad jokes. No, I mean it. Lame jokes are a particular specialty of mine. I am extra partial to puns. You have been warned.

*A certain level of anonymity. Although this blog is part of an effort to be more honest, there are people I will talk about who actually exist and who don't know about this blog. So it is less about protecting my own dignity and more about protecting theirs. But there's nothing I will write here that I wouldn't say to anyone's face. And that's the truth and a promise. My idea of gossip is saying lovely things about people I care about, so I don't think I'll get into trouble here. We'll see if this is just naivety.

So that's me, slinking quietly into the blogosphere. There's a lot of explaining to come, starting with the name of the blog which has a good story. Well, I think it's a good story so I'll be telling it to you, probably tomorrow. It will probably become apparent that I don't generally slink nor am I, as a rule, quiet, so cherish the subtlety while it lasts. 

Speak to you soon,


P.S. - How many of you are just here to find out what 'Moz' stands for?

P.P.S. - I swear I wrote this entry about moving on before seeing this post on A Practical Wedding. But it's scary how applicable Jamaica's story is to my starting this blog and life chapter. Which, by the way, is not some early New Year's resolution. 

P.P.P.S. - The song from which this post derives its title is exquisite - my favourite word, for the record. Please see here, for a live recording.