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Stories from inside life's big top.

Posts from the “Personal Essay” Category

Requiem for Hugh

Posted on June 21, 2017

I’ve been putting off writing this. Since last Friday. The day Hugh Waller left our world for another.   Hugh Walter John Waller. Born October 23, 1959. Died June 16, 2017.   Hugh was a friend from Bendigo, the regional centre in Australia where I lived before coming to Berlin.   I’d not long been in town. I’d seen Hugh around at art shows but we first ‘properly’ met at a group exhibition at Dudley House, a fundraiser Hugh had organised for the catastrophic floods that had recently swept through the region. (I soon learned such generosity was typical of his nature.)   We took to each other straight away, the professional turning social pretty quick – with Oliver too, my husband. Not long…

Musca Volitans

Posted on June 8, 2017

Grief makes you sick Grief makes you sad Grief makes you so filled with sorrow that there’s no room to breathe.   Grief makes you yearn Grief makes you bewildered Grief makes you different –   Grief makes you difficult to be around.   Grief makes you kinder Grief makes you forgiving Grief makes you understand that there is life And nothing but.   Grief makes you listen Grief makes you see Grief makes you feel Everything, all at once, all the time.   Grief makes you laugh Grief makes you cry Grief makes you cry     Grief makes you cry     Cry     Grief makes you cry like there’s no tomorrow.     Grief makes you wiser Grief makes you…

Land of Balconia

Posted on July 6, 2016

Berlin balconies are spectacular – especially in summer. Look up and you’ll witness some of the city’s most creative spaces. You don’t have to be a poet or painter to live here: being a keen home gardener will do just fine.   Balconia: part-urban balcony, part-Narnia – a fantasy land just outside your window (instead of down the back of the wardrobe). A magical space to cheer you up on grey days (and there are many in Berlin), and on long, hot summer nights a paradise where you can find a cool breeze, a grill going and friends over for a feast. In all likelihood Berliners like dogs more than they do people, but they dig their balconies, taking great pride in both their…

Notes from a Wicked Woman

Posted on June 29, 2016

Radio has been my first love FOREVER.   I made my very first program in the mid-1980s. It was the time of gargantuan shoulder pads, John Hughes movies and elbow dancing. Thankfully by then I’d discovered ska music, black Levis and brothel creepers.   In my second year of university, one lunch time I stumbled upon an “extra curricular” workshop paid for by my Student Union fees. The good folk at the Union had kindly put it on for misfits like me, desperate for distraction from what I was finding to be less-than-fulfilling paramedical “yoonee” studies. Radio production and reel-to-reel tape decks it was!   Run by a guy called “Paul” (veteran radio trainer Paul Vadasz as I later found out), he was recruiting…

Hearts Wide Open

Posted on June 20, 2016

This is my music video tribute to ‘the present moment’, in all it’s authenticity, goofiness, love, humanity, beauty and ragged wonder…

‘Salted’ by Cooperblack stars “Cooperblack” (then Jeremy Conlon, Simon Kormendy & Oliver Budack), and a rag-tag group of Darwin friends with playfulness and courage in their hearts. Recorded in 2009, before I even knew what mindfulness was – and meditation for that matter (I now study and teach both) –  I also layed claim to inventing a new genre: Music Video Diary.

 

It even got played on rage.

 

Inspired 1000% by Jeremy‘s exceptionally beautiful song – such an exceptionally talented musician and composer! – footage for ‘Salted’ was (mostly) recorded on one infamous Darwin balcony, in the heaving, sweaty climes of Northern Australia. Channelling Warhol (one of my biggest documentary inspirations), I asked my willing ‘non-actors’ to sit together, listen to the song “and kiss when you feel like it.”

 

Furthermore, “I’ll leave the room once I hit record. Just be yourselves. The rest is up to you!” Such was my sparing yet golden direction…

 

The biggest challenge was getting the song playback to work and not tipping over the wee camera! (I’d bought a very cheap, crap tripod.) Some months later, one afternoon, my talented, kind filmmaker friend Tom Salisbury drove several hours to edit it on my kitchen table. For nix.

 

Looking back at ‘Salted’, I still find it such a funny, intimate, moving clip. A series of moments unfolding in real time of people just being: being playful, being thoughtful, being authentic in ‘the now’… And trusting the music to support them in front of the camera and me ‘behind’ it (well, in the other room), whatever the hell they thought I was doing! Some people have moved on from Darwin; some from each other… The beautiful dog Chio is no longer with us. Jack the galah flew off into the bush. Yet there they all are, perfect – and perfectly themselves – embedded in a sweet, living, present moment experience, together.

 

It’s a tribute to love, actually. While it might be difficult for some to watch now, I feel so grateful to have been allowed to submerge this moment (and song) in the river of time (and video) with such a bunch of bighearted people, to one of whom I’m now married.

 

I’m also reminded that impermanence is a constant and vulnerability only a kiss away. And while a great physical distance now cleaves us, I  love that we’re all still in each others’ lives, somehow. This funny little clip unites us us together, forever. Much love and thanks to Jeremy, Oliver, Simon, Jess, Mega-Jess, Deb, Karen, Lauren, Aaron, Amy, Erin, Jack the galah, and vale Chio the dog.

 

Travelers, it is late.
Life’s sun is going to set.
During these brief days that you have strength,
be quick and spare no effort of your wings.

(Jalal ad-Din Rumi)

  • Words + video: Megan Spencer
  • Poem: Rumi

Sorrow

Posted on January 26, 2016

  David Bowie was my first major music crush – obsession, truth be told.   I spent an inordinate amount of time listening to his music, researching it, travelling to obscure suburban record stores to track down titles absent from my collection, taping friends’ records when I was too poor to buy them, and reading about him, voraciously.   It wasn’t always like that.   After years of persistence by my friend Lisa, the penny finally dropped. It was November 1983; we were in our final year of high school. I was at her place and we were listening to ‘Hunky Dory’.   “Can you tape that for me?” I asked, my interest in his 1971 album finally piquing after what had been the…