Jonai Journaling

Warning: this may be intensely boring unless you already like TheJonai, and if you’re not a fan of the ‘annual letter’ genre, stop reading now!

2006 in brief:

  • We moved from Malvern to Fairfield – Malvern is a conservative, wealthy, leafy suburb of SUVs and private schools where we either shopped at the Vic Market in the city for fresh produce or else slumped into Coles for ‘necessities’; Fairfield is a ‘gentrifying’ suburb with a strong mix of working class and middle, Greek, Italian and Anglo, and nary an SUV in sight 😉 – we shop at ‘our local Italian’, Cardamones, or the next suburb’s Piedimontes, plus still frequent the markets when we can.
  • Oscar attended Grade One at Fairfield Primary School where he learned to paint in the style of Fred Williams and helped create beautiful mosaics to brighten the schoolyard. Uniforms are optional (he rarely wears his) and the Principal knows all the children by name. He’s one of the few kids who diligently rode his bike every day of the year.
  • Antigone went to 4-year-old Kinder at St Andrew’s Kindergarten. She maintained her disinterest in the whole kinder experience all year, but dutifully rode her bike most days there, back, to pick up Oscar and back, a total of nearly 4kms.
  • Atticus was in a new Suzuki music class for the first half of the year, but opted out in the second half as he seemed to feel that he was too mature for most of the others.
  • Stuart went to Dubai & Germany and no longer wants to live in Dubai. 😀 However, he does want more elegant and delicious ‘work’ dinners in Europe.
  • Tammi visited the Woods fam in California where she got lots of Hayden cuddles, alone time with McKella, Jianna and Maisie, and hours of warm and earnest sisterly confidences with Jodi. It was a week of family bonding with everyone down at the beach house Dad and Ma rented. On the final night, after witnessing Josh’s deep fried extravaganza culminate in deep fried Twinkies, the siblings went out on the town and it snowed in Santa Cruz! She also got to enjoy a beautiful final sibling lunch at Chez Panisse, then stroll across the road to the Cheese Board to buy some bread and smelly washed rind cheese for the flight home. In the interest of national security, she ate the cheese in the waiting area instead of the plane.
  • Stuart moved offices (again) to the lower end of the city with a view of the Yarra. (Tammi’s office has no windows.)
  • Tammi started her PhD in Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne. Her topic is mapping multicultural foods and national identity in Melbourne. If all goes according to plan, you’ll have to call her Dr Jonas sometime in 2010.
  • We all went camping at Tamboon Inlet for Easter and played on sand dunes.
  • Tammi worked for awhile at the School of Graduate Studies, where she was called “UnAustralian” by a colleague, the first time she’d experienced a truly nationalist slur in 15 years in the country.
  • Tammi attended the “UnAustralia” Conference in Canberra 🙂
  • Stuart jetsetted to France where he madly pursued Le Tour de France alongside his generous host, Josh. He has not stopped madly riding about since.
  • Atticus began speaking in sentences. Most of them begin with “Me”, as in “Me not like that very much” or “Me want somefing different.” He is clearly a genius. 🙂
  • Antigone began making books, cards and an endless supply of presents for everyone, especially Mama, who finds them on her pillow most evenings.
  • Oscar became a good reader and devours endless stacks of reference books about aeroplanes, boats, trucks, and spaceships.
  • Oscar perfected the design of a new rocket ship. Watch for his early sketches when he becomes famous (assuming his mother is organised enough to save them all). He and Antigone churn through a sketchbook a month on average.
  • Tammi started a job writing a website for coursework postgraduate students (on academic skills).
  • Stuart went to Dubai again and still doesn’t want to move there.
  • Ianthe was our au pair for two creative and fun months before returning to Holland.
  • Inga was our au pair for two strong and delightful months of friendship before travelling to Darwin and working on a fishing boat. At last report she was in Cairns and we hope for a visit sometime in January.
  • Jade became our au pair and will hopefully remain an integral part of the Jonai for a long time. She brings equal parts warmth and discipline to the children’s world and spends hours doing crafty things with them.
  • All of us began to walk, bike or take public transport everywhere.
  • We bought a Volvo, sold the HQ, bought two new bikes (Antigone & Tammi) and found countless more (Stuart).
  • Tammi went to India and Singapore, delivered her first conference paper, and ate herself silly (see blog entry below).
  • Stuart went to Nanjing and ate many fine banquets. He and Tammi missed each other at the Singapore Airport by three hours.
  • Oscar learned to skateboard, and had tennis lessons where he shows very promising natural talent.
  • Everybody became better cooks, but less frequent ones as Tammi worked too much.
  • We broadened our shopping horizons to the Preston Market, Cardamones, and Piedimontes, but haven’t given up the Vic Market. Must go to Mediterranean Wholesalers to see what all the fuss is about.
  • Stuart and Tammi started systematically working through recommended restaurants around Melbourne (check out the wiki:
  • Antigone learned to write the entire family’s names without copying and can sound out most of the letters of the alphabet.
  • Tammi went to the “Everyday Multiculturalism” conference in Sydney and hung out with Penelope in Sydney’s poor excuse for pubs.
  • We didn’t go to Lorne enough, though the kids did with Ros and Wayne.
  • We camped at the Folk, Rhythm & Life Festival where we danced, swam in a beautiful quarry and played kid stuff.
  • We hosted many dinner parties and celebrated the equinoxes and solstices with dear friends and family.
  • We bought a washing machine – our first white goods purchase ever.
  • We loved, fought, laughed, cried and lived big all year… and that’s just the short list.
  • May 2007 bring us all as much joy and exciting challenges!

Unbalanced approach to the solstice

Balance is not something one should seek too earnestly; equilibrium is statis. Yet in a brief period of equilibrium, one has a moment to feel calm, just before it all shifts again into intense growth, dormancy or some other organic, dynamic response to the world.

Today I am conscious that I am at work, at Melbourne Uni, in front of a screen in a mouse-maze cubicled windowless environment where the air is rife with paint fumes and the horizon is obscured. Only two days ago I felt uncertain whether I was in India, Singapore, Sydney, Canberra, camping in the bush or driving/flying/waiting somewhere between them all. Limbo lurking. The last six weeks have been outrageously unbalanced, even for me. I therefore find myself somewhat unbalanced as well, as in passionately mad. Racing thoughts and viscous verbosity are not helping. Nor is my highly caffeinated state. Thank the goddess the most unbalanced day is only a week away…

So last week I spent some time in UnAustralia. What a maddening, exciting, depressing, horrifying and fun place it is. The dramatically dubbed Melbourne Massive formed a delegation of nine (okay, 11 when Tom & Susanna were around) at the CSAA conference in Canberra, the site of UnAustralia. As per some others’ comments (see Michael, Glen, Mel G, Mel C, and Graham) the papers were a mixed bag of reflexive & un, challenging & not, interesting & dull. John Frow’s final keynote was a definite highlight, which should have been the keynote in Parliament the night before, no offense Professor Ranciere, but John was political and incisive in the most ‘resolutely rational’ ways. Another key moment for me was the panel put on by the Asian Australian Research Network (AARN), who worked on hybridity, identity, politicians, food and art in truly interesting and engaging ways. Hats off to Simon Choo’s work on food and identity in relation to the transnational flow story of the man who just wanted durian ice cream before he died.

I don’t really want to dwell on the conference, but then, nor do I wish to delve into the intense social critique in which the Melbourne Massive engaged for five days running. I think good work was done by all and all our worlds have been usefully complicated just that little bit more. I certainly enjoyed the many pub conversations of the week. May I suggest some optimal follow up reading: Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, Naomi Wolf and Susan Faludi come instantly to mind. 😉

A quick recap then: car politics, rogue emails, grassy knolls & feral possums got my shoe, group membership and mob mentality, OD’d on dismal food, J. Frow’s wine, shiteful Irish pub and sterile Civic, Motel Girls at the Garden of Australian Dreams, abstraction and Australian Parliament, bedbugs, academic engagement and a broken fan. Hit it.

Today is the third of nine end of year/xmas do’s in 13 days. Let madness reign.