WHY I CHANGED MY NAME, SISTERS

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I’ve just finished reading Cath Deveny’s essay collection ‘Say When’, and thought it was great. Who else in the Australian media is as grumpy, post-feminist, bogan and bleeding heart lefty at the same time?
I do take issue with one of her complaints though, and I feel the need to get all defensive and back-archey about it. *hair bristle*
CHANGING YOUR NAME TO YOUR HUSBAND”S NAME IS NOT F

EEDING THE PATRIARCHY.
There, I said it. But I still feel the need to explain myself. …ahem….I’ve always wanted a different name. As I’ve said to my mum “Jayne Harris?’  You could have called me Jane Doe and it would be more memorable.’ Jayne Harris is a completely and utterly , white-bread forgettable name. I had always thought the rule of thumb with names was – if you’ve got a flowery or complicated surname, yeah, go with something simple for the first. Amy Winehouse.  Kate Miller-Heidke. Kim Kardashian (whoever she is.) It works.
If you’re a euro mutt like me and have inherited an incredibly bland surname, you can afford to be a bit more adventurous. Balthazar Getty. Geraldine Halliwell. Paris Hilton. See the balance?
As I see it, people who change their name for no real reason honestly seem like, well, tools. Exceptions would be if you were in the witness protection program, or if your surname was Hitler (and there must have been some, you’re telling me he had NO relatives at all?)
Now had my fiance’s surname been, say, Schmitt or Cockburn or Hore, hey, I might have stuck with Harris. It’s not actively bad. (Apologies to any Schmitts, Cockburns or Hores who might read this.) But – Jayne Lamb? For real? I loved the sound of it, and you’re going to remember it, just like in the song, eh?
I mean, for me, it sounds like it should ring a bell. Jayne Lamb. Was she that Romantic poet who had simultaneous affairs with both Byron and Shelley and then drowned in Lake Geneva after taking too much laudanum?
Is she that reclusive, scary-eyed rock star who hasn’t released an album since her grungemaster husband hung himself back in the twilight of the eighties?
Is she the mild mannered alter ego of some kickarse girl superhero, or better yet, the mild mannered but psychologically shaky employee who just COULDN”T TAKE IT  ANY MORE and became one of Batman’s arch enemies? You know,  Anna Crusis? Or Amanita Versa?
Hell, maybe she was just your grade two teacher, the one with the centre part and braces, who wore dangly earring and a kaftan. Whatever. It generates something. And when you put it with my middle name, it sounds like something off a Chinese menu. You want rice or noodles with your Jein Lin Lamb?
So, Cath, I come to disagree with you. Changing my name (NB I don’t refer to it as ‘taking my husband’s name’ – he’s still in possession of his) does not make me a beige cardigan wearing, never says a thing ‘Mrs’ ala Janette Howard. But it sounds great. And I haven’t had to join the witness protection program to do it.

ON WEDDINGS AND WHY EVERYBODY SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO CHOOSE THEM

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Four years ago today -almost exactly – I woke up with the weirdest feeling. Something massive was happening today, something I was actually going to have to wear stockings and heels for. I am not a morning person (not quite to the point of having a novelty t-shirt that says “I’m-up-and-dressed-what-more-do-you-wan

t”, but almost) and I had to search around my blurry consciousness for what was going on. Job interview? My birthday? Oh, that’s right, my wedding. Our wedding. Nat and I are getting married today.
I’m not going to go into huge details about the day – but I can remember the nerves, the excitement, and the fact that *this is actually happening*.
We had a small civil ceremony at my in-law’s lovely house, with maybe fifty guests; close friends and family. It went without a hitch (except for the literal ‘hitching’ I suppose) and we even managed to get the kiss right. (Yes, you do have to practice kissing in the rehearsal. One of us kept tilting our head the wrong way. Possibly me.)
My nieces/ flowergirls looked adorable (Mikayla’s sequinned pink converse almost stole the show) and my nephew did manage to drop the rings, but all said and done it was amazing/ nerve-wracking/ and joyous all at once.) I was very aware that it wasn’t about the day itself, but the kickstarting of a new way of living for both of us. Which is why it was a fairly short, intimate and casual affair; I wasn’t going to wear a long white dress and pretend I was a virgin (at 35, that ship had long since sailed); we didn’t have any formal photographs; the food was casual and buffet-served. When I hear that today the average wedding costs well into five figures, I’m kind of aghast. Wouldn’t that money be better spent on a  house deposit or something? My little black semi-goth-lolita dress was $75. Apparently some women spend almost ten times that! It makes no sense to me at all.
Anyway, my point is, my life changed for the better that day. Having Nat as my side-kick/ best friend/ husband has literally saved my life. That’s an option that should be availble to any couple, regardless of gender, because it kicks arse; that’s why I’m so enthusiastic about legalising gay marriage. Because it’s awesome.

HIS MOTHER WEARS COMBAT BOOTS

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I’ve been neglecting you, TTGTSU, and I’m sorry. Partially due to logistics (spending seven weeks in  hell at my in-law’s lovely and grand house in Kew, where internet usage had to be kept to a minimum because of cost, and my FIL constantly needing it and reasons.) But also because I am in a new frame-of-archetype?-reference? As in;
I am a mother now. Stops. Takes deep breath. Yes, I gave birth to an adorable baby boy on March 25th at ten minutes to one in the morning…after a fifty hour give-or-take labour. I’m not including the ‘oohh, that might have been a contraction, oh, wait, it’s gone’ part of labour either. This was every five minutes, grabbing Nat’s hand and saying “gasp..huff…are you..timing..them?” (Just to put that in perspective, the average labour is somewhere between eight and 18 hours.)
My parents, and his parents, were there. Nat and my MIL drove me in to the…well, let’s just call it ‘the hospital’ for now. An extremely brusque English-nanny type gave me two fingers up and said, No, you’re nowhere near far along enough, come back later. Later?
Every five minutes, everything between my ribs and my thighs felt like it was being squeeeeezed by the giant anaconda from the film of the same name. The one that spits up and then re-eats a partially disgested Jon Voight.
Back to Kew. Watched Mean Girls, as the contractions started to get closer together and more and more painful. I could barely smile at Amanda Seyfried’s dumbest-of-the-mean-girl jokes! It was captial P Painful! Then came a less widely known symptom but one that pregnacious women are all made aware of – losing your lunch, your dinner and quite possibly your breakfast. I think I ate some cheese on crackers at one point but it didn’t really seem to make much difference when you know in the next five minutes that the anaconda’s stopped chasing J-Lo and is after you instead. Cue; BLLEERGHGHGHHG. Calls are made. ‘A hot shower can provide some relief’, said or read someone or something. Dashing Nat put a chair in his parents’ shower and washed my back. I had been very contemptuous of the whole hot water as pain relief thing, but, ladies’ and G’s, there was a little comfort there. And…now it’s time for the anaconda.
After the second voluptuous vomiting session, my MIL makes the executive decision that we need to be back at the hospital. (My parents having already left after I was first taken off.) My FIL drives and I am in the passenger seat, feeling every speed bump and hoping that his question; “Is Jayne not wearing a bra?” is something I’ve misheard because of the anaconda.
And I have to admit, it does start to get just a little foggy here. I remember standing behind a row of chairs in triage and stretching my arms over them, and that seemed to dissuade the anaconda just a little. Then I was transferred up to a room, then to another room, and it all gets a bit confusing.
“Could I have some pethidine, please?” I ask and receive a blessed two-or-three hour nap in the arms of Morpheus (anacondas seemingly not allowed.) But, as with all good things, it wears off. Oh but there is a wonderful, magical thing in store for me – the glittering amazement of NITROUS OXIDE.
“You just suck on the mouthpiece here..oh, you’re doing that, good, yes – good deep breaths there, and you can scale up the gas and lower the oxygen proportion with this..oh, you’ve found that too.” Maybe-Mummas, there is relief in the hellish dregs of long, long labour and it looks like this; O2/N2O. That’s also probably what my face looked like when I was on it.
Simultaneously, a little nurse offered to put me in the bath. I had been very skeptical about how this could possibly work, but with nitrous oxide, anything seemed possible. The baths are really more like teeny swimming pools, and your partner is allowed in with you, but – because this was getting towards the 24th hour awake – Nat was occasionally falling asleep sitting up, so we thought it safer for him to act as a lifeguard. So I got my stoned arse and baby belly into the water and, well, it was a revelation. I wanted to love that bath, write poems for it, sing it odes of praise. I’m guessing the technical effect is the way it takes all the weight off your body, but the pain seemed to float away. I was a mermaid brooding on a rock, held gently in a tropical warmth. The anaconda was still there, but he just..didn’t seem all the important anymore. I was talking at this point and all I can remember of the conversation was something about how you couldn’t find good eyebrow pencils, and I wanted some gold L’Oreal eyeshadow. It was only after an hour, when I had started to fall asleep and submerge, that someone came and I had to be dragged out.
Honestly, this part is a bit hazy. I remember someone saying, ‘This is going on too long, you’ll be too exhausted, you need an epidural’ and me saying okay, but isn’t there a specific time window for that? Oh no, she promised, you can have an epidural at any time. (WRONG.)
More anaconda.
More gas.
The sun has set on this labour for the third time. A couple of times, Nat has had to go out to get something to eat but mainly subsisted on Sour Gummi Worms. (I think I had a few too.) I knew a long time had passed just from his weary face and posture, but I wasn’t sure how much. I went to ask if I could get back in the bath again (O My Bath, My Beauty, My Muse!) but was told I was too far along for that.
“So – do I get the epidural now?” I (naively) asked. Oh no, I was far too gone for that, there’s a very specific time window. Ohh. Kay. And this, my lovelies, is where it starts to get a bit darker, literally and figuratively. “Good” labour has set in. (Surely only a man could have called this ‘entrails-going-over-railway-tracks’ bit, “good”. The room was suddenly? Gradually? quite dark, and the only people present were me, Nat, a sweet Asian midwife who looked very experienced and a …work-experience?…midwife of about 12, who seemed a little freaked out by it all. And of course, the baby. And the anaconda.
Now I was in a fairly small, dim room, and I was getting the impression that we were at the business end of things. A couple of clues bothered me though – as my water hadn’t broken on it’s own, they called in an, I guess, Water-breakerer to get that out of the way. If there is any difference between the instrument she used to tear a hole up inside me and an everyday crochet hook, I don’t know what it is. Well, SPLASH.
That’s good, right? Something’s happening – right? Everybody whose watched any TV shows AT ALL is familiar with the next bit. It’s where they say “Don’t Push.” This is…delicately put..MUCH easier said than done. That anaconda has you in it’s coils, you are not in control of anything lower than your chest, it is SQUEEZING, SQUEEEEZING, SQEEEEEEZING, and..’don’t push’?
Interesting sidebar, here; Nat swears I made almost no noise throughout the whole debacle. (I did sing “We Are Family” when they injected sterilised water into my back, because I was told the pain would be a ‘ten out of ten’. When it was over, I couldn’t believe it – a ten?! Four quick touches of a tattoo needle would have hurt more! Oh, but, I was about to find out about what a ‘ten out of ten’ was. My body, my baby and the emergency doctors would spinal tap me all the way up to 11.)
“NOW PUSH! PUSH! PUSH!” The last remaining coherent thoughts I had were jeez, make up your minds. So I pushed. And Pushed. And PUSHED.
Nothing was happening. Nothing was moving down there. I was still in pain, but the anaconda’s outgoing squeeeeze seem to have deserted me. “PUSH AGAIN! PUSH! PUSH WITH EVERY MUSCLE IN YOUR BODY!” (Nat’s thoughts here, obviously more coherent than mine, were ‘why the f**k did they give Jayne her valium and her anti-anxiety meds…those one that make your muscles, gee, I don’t know, RELAX?’ Too late to worry. I was pushing for the world. At one stage I mentally called on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and imagined I was using her Slayer strength to push that little guy out of my body. I could even see a Pulp Ficton-esque light shining out with the effort. But I might have well have been trying to knock over the Statue of Liberty with my bare hands. It felt like concrete.
Nat was gripping my shoulders and yelling at me to PUSH (he later discovered he’d sprained all the muscles in my neck and felt really guilty. Like that was the pain I was worried about!) ‘None of this fifty per cent effort! Push with EVERYTHING!’ I felt like Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby for a second (NB, Nat apologised for saying that later, it was all he could think of to do to help.)
I’m not quite sure when it became obvious that the situation had gone to Defcon 1 in a matter of seconds. Nat saw the older midwife pick up a red phone, and seconds later the room was aflood with fluorescent light and seven doctors in full scrubs and gloves. The emergency obstetrician was quite young and good-looking and I was vaguely embarassed that me, a fully paid up riot grrrl and feminist, had ended up in the most patriarchal of birth positions…on my back, with my feet many feet apart, and in stirrups.

McDreamy spoke to me kindly but firmly. ‘Jayne, the baby is stuck and we need to get him out very, very quickly. [Google ‘shoulder distocia’ if you’re a fan of gory details.] I’ll try the vanteuse first.’ (This is a vacuum doodad they stick to the baby’s head and pull it out like a carrot out of the ground.) ‘You’re going to feel some pressure.’ Even in my sky-high, WTF is happening state, I knew that ‘pressure’ was a euphimism for ‘extreme pain.’ McDreamy tried the vanteuse. It felt as though someone was trying to put a dinner plate inside me, front on. “Forceps, here,” were McDreamy’s next words and I went into a grey world then, seeing the size of this thing, something like an eyelash curler big enough to hold a gigantic roast turkey, and ‘NOW!’ said McDreamy and all five of the doctors closest to me jumped and put all their weight onto my torso. (Nat still swears I did not make a sound. Perhaps it was heard only by the goddesses of childbirth, who it seemed had FINALLY heard my pleas. ) I felt my consciousness begin to lift, to head ceilingward,  and it seemed that I was looking down at a black and white tiled floor that was covered in blood. I had been torn apart, surely, and my internal organs must have fallen out. “ON THREE!” I KNOW I made a noise then, something like ”uhh”, a sound you might make if you tripped and hit your head against a door frame.
Something was in the eyelashcurler of torture, a little bloody person who was dumped onto my chest amongst more blood, and I put up a hand and tried to touch him and say “Hello” because tiny, bloody angels don’t often fall out of the sky onto me. Despite the amount of ‘Supernatural’ I watch.
He was just as suddenly snatched away and the next bit was the worst so I’m going to gloss over that. It was all touch-and-go, and I heard Nat say “Maintain your rage!” and then the most beautiful, sweetest voice I’ve ever heard said..something. Not in English. Just something to say, “I’m here and I’m breathing and I’m okay.”

I was partially distracted by the guy who was sewing what seemed to be a complicated macrame pattern onto my lady parts, and the nurses who were topping up my blood like I was a champagne glass; well, I certainly felt fragile. Three months later I still haven’t really been able to connect that excruciating experience with the beautiful baby boy who now lives with us. Like his namesake, it really was like an angel had chosen to fall on me. His name is Malachai, but sometimes I’ll whisper to him that he’s Lucky, and we’re lucky too, to have him.

mummyandmalachai010

ha ha ha. But no.

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I'd LOVE to know what he'd just been asked.


I know, I know, I shouldn't be such a bitch BUT sometimes the shenanningans on FB are JUST TOO MUCH. Don't we all have an aquaintance who posts albums full of photos of themselves purely to garner a flurry of comments from their sychophants – er, friends – oh Agatha you're so cool and sexy and I wish I was like you etc etc and Agatha herself is *totally* into it, saying things like, yes, I totally agree I should have been born in a different time frame, my beauty is just so classic and doesn't fit in with the Gossip Girl mode….oh please, someone tell that girl/guy to shut up. I'm probably just jealous. ;)

TV Goes to Hell: An Unofficial Road Map of Supernatural

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As a natural heir to the hit television series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Supernatural” has risen to prominence with a strong cult following, and this series of essays from contributors around the globe investigates the genre-bending series’ cultural footprint both in the United States and abroad. The writings explore topics such as folklore, religion, gender and sexuality, comedy, music, and much more, and a brief guide to all the episodes is also included. “Supernatural” follows brothers Dean and Sam Winchester as they encounter and battle evil beings such as vampires, shapeshifters, ghouls, and ghosts from a multitude of genres including folklore, urban legends, and religious history.

via TV Goes to Hell: An Unofficial Road Map of Supernatural. From Fishpond.com.au

 

How excited does this make me? It makes me want to bang my head against a brick wall for not noticing the time-frame in which you could enter essays! Guess I’m going to have to write my own goddamm book . Also, who want to be in a band with me called TV Goes To Hell – I need A) a drummer B) a lead guitarist and C) either a rhythm guitarist or a bass player, I ‘ll do whichever you don’t want. Imma also do keyboards and anyone can do as much or as little vocals as they want. Aight.

HEROINE ADDICT IV

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Edge Of The Moon from Night Of Hunters, 2011


I don’t really listen to classical music – okay, that’s a lie, I never listen to classical music, I just sometimes accidentally hear it. So in trying to get my head around Tori Amos’ new album, Night Of Hunters, I listened to the corresponding pieces that the NOH songs are ‘variations’ on. It’s something I would only do once,out of curiousity (which makes me sound like someone about to develop a devastating ice habit.) I can’t really deny that I understand rock more than anything else – although I do have a soft spot for some musical theatre which is an inevitable result of attending drama school. All I really discovered from this was that I can’t write with any great clarity about the album, because as strange as it sounds, it really does seem to be something you have to experience as a whole. (“Song Cycle” is the technical term, which makes me think of washing mahines.) To describe any one song would be a little like reviewing Star Wars but only the Cantina scene. I don’t think I will drink it up the way I did American Doll Posse, even though it’s kind of that albums elegant, British older sister. But I am still utterly enamoured of Tori. I can’t think of a musician who is less concerned with being cool. And who has put out a rock epic, a MOR album, a Xmas album ALL THE WHILE touring and then a double concept album based on 19th century classical music and Irish mythology – in the space of four years. Even if you can’t stand a single one of her songs you’ve got to admire her work ethic.

HEROINE ADDICT III

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"Bullet With Butterfly Wings" from the Smashing Pumpkins album, 'Melon Collie & The Infinite Sadness", 1995. lyrics Billy Corgan©

What can I say about the amazing Ms Buffy Summers that hasn’t already been said? Her creator, Joss Whedon,  purposely set out to make an icon, a heroine, a superhero who could hold her own alongside Superman and Wonder Woman; “Barbie with a Kung Fu Grip.” To say he succeeded is like saying the Pope follows some Catholic practices. But unlike so many of her (mostly male) predecessors, Buffy also had to cope with the horrors of the real world, and not just the hell dimensions that were constantly leaking or leaping out of the conveniently-located Sunnydale Hellmouth. And it wasn’t always easy – she was betrayed, tortured, lied to…forced to make choices a more average female character wouldn’t have to make. Hell, she even died (twice) – saving the world – something she did, a lot. She’s an archetypal Aries too (like Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played her for seven years) in that she’s a warrior first and a thinker second. But when it comes to blood, love and loyalty, Buffy’s side is the one you want to be on. (But don’t be too lovable – Whedon will kill you off in an undead heartbeat.)

HEROINE CHIC II

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So I had decided my zine was going to based on eight women who I admire and respect – eight heroines. They didn’t have to be real, or living, or even human. But so far they have been. So – at the  heights of the sixties, who gets to enchant, seduce and marry the smartest, most talented (and best-looking) Beatle?

Konichiwa, Ms Yoko Ono!

Yoko Ono in 2006

What is there not to love about this woman? Like Vivienne Westwood, she also came from a poor background, and you have to remember World World II was part of that childhood. She’s gone beyond the stereotype of the bohmemian artist to it’s avatar, it’s archetype. Remember in the Simpsons when her (very thinly veiled) counterpart ask for ‘a single plum, floating in perfume, served in a man’s hat’? I’m sure most people, myself included, are more aware of the ‘performance art’ and ‘art films’ she was famous than we are to have actually SEEN them. I have one CD where a load of hipster bands have remixed the vocal part of some of her songs, and it’s amazing.

And even after all the pain she’s been through, (losing her husband to utterly senseless violence the most well-known), she remains passionately, relentlessly, unstoppably in the favour of peace , disarmament, and positivity. Everyone knows that she and Lennon met at one of her exhibitions, specifically at a display where one had to climb a step-ladder and use a magnifying glass to read a tiny word that had been written on the ceiling. <insert scouse accent here> “I thought, this is going to say ‘no’ or ‘fuck off’ or something smartarse’ (and I’m paraphrasing here) “but when I looked, I saw it was just one word [one of the most beautiful words in the English language, surely]…”Yes.” That was all; just ‘yes’. Thus a great 20th century love story was born; but there’s much more to Yoko than being Mrs Lennon. Public opinion was racist, sexist and ageist in ways we can hardly imagine now (“Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey” wasn’t symbolic; a newspaper actually referred to Oko as Lennon’s capering simian pet.) Against those odds, she’s still making art, still a loving mother, still putting her name to peaceful causes for the sake of humanity. And my personal favourite – she has a pair of lungs that rival the volume and breadth of Kurt Cobain and Kate Bush put together. Thus she is famous for making the most intriguing and unlikely noises and singing sounds that the roman alphabet cannot do justice. Ai-yi-yii -yi- Yarrrrgh!
Yoko Ono performing at MoMa, 2010

And if that’s too avant-garde, just skip to the coda of girlrock legends L7 song, “Wargasm”.

L7 \”Wargasm\” – listen at 1:27 to 1:40 and the last few seconds.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?