Vis a vis a Visa

Yellow Brick Road. Part 2.

From the sidelines I have watched many a visa game play out. Seems like a lot of people would like to call Australia home.
I wrote a statutory declaration testifying that the relationship between my sister and her Northern Irish partner was true love and not just a scam to get him into the country.
I have witnessed up close the trials and tribulations of being sponsored by a workplace and the barrel that one can be held over – for when you rely on an employer for your right to remain in a country, they really own you in a significant way. The greatest power that an employee holds – the ace up their sleeve – is the ability to say:

“Take this job and shove it, I ain’t working here no more “ – Jello Biafra

When your right to remain in the country rests  on a company sponsored visa, you just have to cop it sweet.
And I have even known someone whose visa was revoked and they were asked to leave the country. The old fake relationship game requires much trickery – shared leases, shared bank accounts. It is easy to fall apart when the two people don’t actually live together and barely see one another.

And now Mattie and I have signed up for the visa game. It’s the first and most important step in starting a new life in a foreign country. Unfortunately you can’t simply choose which country you want to live in and show up on the metaphorical doorstep. So many refugees have learnt this the hard way. We are in the extremely blessed position of already having the winning numbers in the visa lottery. Australian Citizens with all of the glorious rights that still entails. But now we are tasked with convincing the US Government that they really, really want us to come live with them. It’s a little song and dance routine with all the braggadocio of a Kanye West rap. Which really goes against the grain of the Aussie personality. Bragging about all the good things you’ve achieved in your career is just kind of…embarrassing.
Which is why I have taken on the role of Mattie’s Visa PR Chick. I am harnessing all my powers of the superlative to convince the US Government that he is a man of Extraordinary Ability. Our amazing Immigration Lawyer (first time I have ever mentioned a lawyer with “our” as a pronoun…it’s not like we keep one a retainer or anything) will add a further layer of hyperbole and pull together the entire application on our behalf. The thing is, I do believe that Mattie has Extraordinary Ability and I do believe that America would be lucky to have us (Kayne, pipe down) – but it is a struggle to trumpet all that is usually downplayed.

However, the process of ordering Mattie’s career milestones into a dossier and gathering evidence of his achievements has been a wonderful trip down memory lane and given me renewed respect for his talent. Parallel to our normal life of raising kids, making a living, watching shitloads of TV and occasional partying, Mattie has slowly built his own mini media empire with Unbelievably Bad.
Beginning with nothing more than a hand me down computer in corner of our bedroom, he has breathed life into a concept that is more than just a magazine, or a website or a YouTube channel – it’s a cultural stance, an attitude that is recognised as having a life of its own. That’s extraordinary.

poppy red

A Family Affair

If I had to nominate someone for “Best Aunty In The World”, it would have to be my dear friend, Marina. Throughout our friendship I have had the pleasure of meeting all of her wonderful nieces and nephews and watched with awe and admiration the way she loves and cares for them. Marina is a such an amazing Aunty because she loves her nieces and nephews for the people they truly are and not who she wants them to be. She supports them in the things that they are passionate about. In the case of her nephew, Josh, that’s graffiti. This guy is amazingly talented – I believe he could make a career out of this.
Last Saturday, Marina took Josh to May’s Lane in St Peters and hung out in the alley while he painted. Skating down the alley is Marina’s son, Bo. What a cool dude. Behind the camera is my talented boy, Angus. And me – I edited this video (harking back to video clips from the 80’s and 90’s). Music is by our friend’s band: Hostile Objects.
See – a family affair ; )

The Loss of Lost

I’m making a bold prediction: in the future the word “lost” will be gone forever. Not lost, because there will be no concept of lost.

Ancient explorers risked their everything charting the unknown. They put the shapes on the map – the squiggly edges we know as continents and countries. They set sail into oblivion and returned with new lands. Now we have Google Earth.
GPS tracking is one of the most mind blowing technologies that I have ever wrapped my head around. In effect there is not one millimetre of earth that cannot be accounted for with a couple of co-ordinate points. The most remote and tangled patch of Amazonian forest or stark and uninhabitated square of outback desert. The tip of a mountain that even the goats can’t reach. We may not be able to get there, but we can pinpoint it on a map.
Before the days of Sat Navs, every car had a beat up street directory in the glove box. The ability to arrive at your destination or be completely lost all came down to the competency of the navigator. I still tremble at the thought of sitting in the passenger seat and someone thrusting a Gregory’s into my hand – “Can you look it up?”. Gulp. Do you want to be completely lost?
I have absolutely no sense of direction. Even with iPhone maps I need to experiment walking in a certain direction to see which way the little blue dot is going. Invariably my dot steers off course and I need to back track in the opposite direction. But as frustrated as I am with myself, I still feel safe knowing that I am the blue dot and as long as the phone keeps its wits about itself, I will never be lost.
Setting aside any questions of privacy or ethics, try to imagine what the world would be like if nothing was ever lost again. If every single item and human and thing had a GPS tracking device inside it, imagine the applications.
Starting with the cliched conundrum of the lost sock. The mystery could be solved forever. There you are, folding your washing, and once again you are left with a random assortment of single socks. A little tap tap on your computer or phone and you have your answer. One sock is behind the washing machine (it must have bounced out while you were loading or unloading the machine). Another is half submerged in the flower bed by the clothes line and yet another is in your top drawer, mismatched with a similar black sock that you folded last week.
A more vital and serious application is the end of the Missing Person. They may be living with a  new identity in Brazil, they may be dead in a ditch or wandering the streets with amnesia…but they are not lost. A child who wanders off from a remote campsite can be tracked immediately without the need for search parties.
Of course there are downsides. That wonderful phrase, used in anger and frustration – “Get lost!” – will mean nothing. The concept of anonymity will be compromised and the threat of Big Brother will need to be more closely guarded against.
In George Orwell’s “1984” the Newspeak dictionary is constantly being updated as more and more words are rendered obsolete. One day I believe that the word “lost” as it refers to the dictionary definition “no longer to be found” will be an archaic notion and will only exist as an emotional and poetic concept. While we will still feel loss, nothing will be lost.


When I was around 12 years old, this painting – Lost, by Frederick McCubbin – was my favourite. I bought a postcard print from the Art Gallery and blu-tacked it to my bedroom wall.