A bright and shiny New Year to you

pumped up kicksPumped Up Kicks. December 3rd, 2017.

 “This may not be much, but it is something. Tomorrow we die; but at least we danced in silver shoes.”
— Stella Gibbons, Nightingale Wood

2018 already looks like it’s going to be a challenging year for me.

Still no news from Kris (it’s been 3 months and a bit since I last heard from him). He’s a few weeks behind schedule.

The local art scene has been rocked by a few blows…we lost one contemporary art space, another has been moved to less accessible premises, yet another finds itself at the centre of scandal and uproar (again! LOL) It’s hard to tell what will be left to all the artists in Darwin who aren’t the right skin colour (i.e. indigenous, Aboriginal) Well, I’m sure something will rise from the ashes—where there’s demand someone will step up to supply, and we have some capable, go-getting, clear-headed artists in this town—but right now Darwin isn’t looking like a great place to be an artist or maker.

Also, I could be looking for another livelihood next year…my hours at the art shop are getting chopped down to less than half what they were.

Beggars, they say, can’t be choosy, and when I was younger I might have timidly accepted this manhandling of my time as a necessary evil, but squandering that sort of time seems sacrilegious to me now that I’m in my forties. On the other hand, I don’t want to go looking for another casual 8-hour job as a cleaner or kitchen hand…I probably wouldn’t get accepted, anyway.

I’m determined to come up with something that is entirely my own. 2018 could be a blessing in disguise…the ‘push’ out of my comfort zone that might be what I need to finally do my own thing and stop working for any firm or boss. I’m going to choose to look at it that way, anyhow. Still, it’s scary.

This last handful of days in 2017, however, are going to be lovely and I am going to enjoy them.

I’m house-sitting a friend’s place while she visits family in the South. There’s a little bubbling spa in the palm-shaded garden, an etching press in the corner, art on the walls and books on the shelves (and no television); a well-equipped kitchen, an ice cube maker, air-conditioning (effing marvelous in the humidity and heat of Darwin’s summer), and it’s a few minutes to wide sandy beaches (there are no beaches on my side of Darwin…we have mud and mangroves). Asian groceries, farmer’s markets, parks and cafés are all short bike rides away.

It’s going to be a welcome break from sweating in the baking-hot steel walls of the boat, from agonising over Kris’s whereabouts and feeling so unspeakably alone, from being under house arrest because of the tides, from the sandflies (that are the official tormentors of my personal hell), from the solar electricity that conks out after a succession of grey days, from rumours of a 4-metre (13-foot) crocodile in the creek, from the low spirits that I have been carrying around for a year—the plodding through, the putting up with, and the slowly drowning under.

My friend left yesterday afternoon. At midnight I walked blindly through the garden, toward the sound of the spa bubbling away in the dark, shedding clothes as I went. I slipped into the cold water and watched the stars peek through the gaps in the palm fronds for half an hour. Shivered at first, and then cried a little. It did me a world of good.

May you find a little parcel of time this New Year’s to dream, to recharge, to examine, to reflect. Best wishes for 2018. It may not be much, but it is something.


9 thoughts on “A bright and shiny New Year to you

  1. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you to enjoy the oasis which is your friend’s house. You’re going through a lot right now and time is going to be your best friend. Use it to relax, cry and think of ways to live more freely from the confines of working for someone. I’d love to recommend a couple f books that may support you in the journey. The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss and Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jim Goins. Also, The Alchemist is an extraordinary book for everyone, especially people seeking to live their dreams. Marie Forleo is one of the best life and business coaches I know of. You’ll be online watching her videos all night. I can’t offer much, but I hope it helps to inspire you through this rocky time.

    Being an artist is a gift to the world and I know that you can find new ways to share it. The both of you have many people rooting for you!


    1. A ha ha, call the pizza guy! ❤ Thank you, I hug you back, life is good. People are *mostly* good. "And whether or not it is clear to [us], No doubt, the universe is unfolding as it should…"


  2. I wish you all the best for 2018, too, and hope that Kris sails into port somewhere soon. It is not a good time of year to be sailing the South Pacific, not just for the risk of cyclones, but also because the tradewinds can get very light, so probably that is why he is behind schedule. I have been busy sailing south out of the cyclone season myself in my little junk-rigged yacht but will now continue working on my article about Kehaar, which is due to be published in the June edition of the Junk Rig Association magazine. I’ll send you a digital copy once it is published. I also wish you the sort of opportunities you deserve. We need our artists to inspire our dreams and help us transcend the mundane. All the best, Graham, (aboard Arion in Mooloolaba).



    1. Thanks Graham, I figured it was due to being stuck in the doldrums that he’s not been in touch yet…I had a good look at the sat pictures of the area and all seems very quiet. I wasn’t going to REALLY panic until February-March.
      Great, looking forward to reading th article! Stay safe and thanks for dropping a line.


  3. Hi Nat. Today I too am in an empty house Except for Me. I turn with my arms outstretched in a slow pavane and sing “only me, only me” in a measured beat across the empty space of my living room, the space where Phil’s hospice bed used to be. A feeling…ah , English words are inadequate for that…is there a Filipino word for both release and sorrow? Even the air feels desolate, yet clear of Phil’s presence, illness (fuck cancer) and open. My friends, Aaron and KayLynn,who, thankfully, stayed in my basement apartment for two months after Phil died; never interfering or “coming up” unless I called, or I went down with a bottle of wine and chips to talk or watch a movie….. left this morning to start their new lives after cleaning the apartment top to bottom in preparation for my new long term renter….who is a lovely wholesome boy of 22 who doesn’t drink, smoke (unlike moi) and is thoroughly vetted by his employer Horizon Air to have good credit and is not an axe murderer. And, money that will give me the means to stay in a community I love. You speak of your plans to step out into the universe of chance and mold a new life. Without pompoms and a cheering crowd, I say plunge in! (or out.) I was 52 when I did, and by the dint of working my tush off, I was offered a huge job, struck lucky, and I am somehow sure that you, with your true gifts and intelligence and focus on your work, will be there soon. With the absence of Kris, and not hearing from him, I know it is an aching sorrow. Not knowing…and worrying in spite of yourself. That you will carry like a bad toothache, and it a grief. Even if (sort of) you know that you signed up for it because Kris is worth it. Beam your art eyes on distant constellations, stay loose, and leap on the next big comet. I’ll be watching to see your star grow into a nova that sticks around!.


    1. I cannot even imagine your solitude, Jennifer, at least Kris is supposed to be alive and I will insist on that until proven wrong! Someday he and i will know that more irrevocable loss, but I will face that when it happens. Friends, I know, will help me pull through all this as well.I am glad that you have found someone to share the place with and allow you to work your way through the coming adjustments without major upheaval. No, there is no Tagalog word that I know of…nothing succinct. Bittersweet comes to mind, in English. Roland Barthes mentions Pothos, and its more intense brother, Himeros, but that’s not it at all…just came to mind with your question.
      I had a crazy idea in bed last night. So crazy, it might work. We shall see. There is a lot of work, to get back into the hustle of an ETSY shop, I must cast around for a phone and figure out how to get y hands on a laptop…everything I have is obsolete and broken, I let the regular job lull me into too complacent a sense of security. I will get started today. Much love to you, don’t spend all of the holidays alone (though I do love a solitary New Year’s Eve, with my journal). N.


  4. It must be so hard to go for such a long stretch without any communication from Kris. I have lived apart from my husband for a few months a couple of times but we were always able to communicate. I can only imagine how anxious and frustrated you are with the silence. I hope he is able to get in contact with you soon. Your break at your friend’s house sounds like just the tonic, a real oasis from stressful times. As for the work situation, having your hours chopped so much is harsh. I am assuming it is an economic necessity on the part of the shop owner but that pragmatism is no comfort for you. I hope another opportunity presents itself to you soon. As you note, it might just give you the impetus to create your own opportunity. Whatever 2018 holds for you, I look forward to reading about it.

    PS Your painting reminds me of attending High School art lessons with a teacher who kept a massive box of old and interesting shoes for us to draw if we needed a warm up or needed to fill in some time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “A change, they say, is as good as a holiday.” The work situation is happening to everyone I know who is an employee. Time to take things into my own hands, do something quirky and counter-intuitive and beautiful that I don’t mind doing lots and lots of! We have never needed much, we are so basic and almost primitive in our needs. It would nice to be able to travel, though, instead of stay tied to one place because of work. Thanks for your lovely comments, Laura!

      Liked by 1 person

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