In a way it feels like I haven’t been writing anything this year because I haven’t published a single essay or article since last November, but I have somehow accrued 75 pages of a novel. It’s not a lot, but it’s something. I’ll feel better when I have twice that number. I’ll feel even better than that when I’m done.
Once I had a conversation with a professional blogger about writing books and she said she didn’t know if she would like giving up the instant gratification of publishing regularly, and I told her writing a book was like having your own special secret. But I don’t even know if people like to have secrets these days. Is it considered a thing of value? Do people even know how to have secrets anymore? Do I?
I also have four essays coming out this year, including one this weekend, so I am being a little bit industrious even if to the outside world I am just a massive slug. It’s probably true anyway. I can’t tell you how many naps I’ve taken this spring. Although I can tell you there have been more than a few two-nap days. It used to be it took one day to recover from anything that happened to me and now, apparently, it takes months. All fall and winter I thought: I’ll sleep later. Well, I sure am sleeping now.
My friend Ayad won the Pulitzer for drama yesterday. He is the most focused person I have ever met. A true artistic and intellectual overachiever. I am an underachieving overachiever, which means I have so much potential if I’d only try. I started therapy last week and my therapist told me I was an overachiever and I thought: Ah ha ha, I have you fooled. Do you know how many naps I take? But once I sat next to Ayad on a plane to Texas and he took a nap. I saw it with my own two eyes.
Across the street they are building a new apartment building. I was really angry about it for a while because my view will be gone or altered anyway, and I will mostly just see this fancy apartment building instead. And inside that building will be people with my view. But New York City pushes you out sometimes. I had to remind myself of that. I had to accept my fate. I had to shrug at gentrification, because it’s my fault this neighborhood is this way as much as anyone else’s.
But this morning I feel like I’m dealing with change pretty well. This morning I did not look out and curse the construction site. (Although I have plenty of times, believe me.) Instead I just looked up at the sky. I am treasuring the moments, the quiet mornings in bed, where all I can see is an epic sky.
Just love this lady, need more of my friends to love her too so we can talk about how wonderful she is over cups of tea.
I forgot to link to my piece that went up on The Billfold back in February.It’s here now and that’s what matters, right?
I thought I had lost all of my writing, and a couple of years of uni work, when my laptop went splodey recently. I had not backed up. There are fragments of my work here and there, but all of my latest drafts, and some rough ideas that are yet to be anything much, were on my laptop. And my laptop was dead. Kaput. Gawn.
Luckily for me an extremely clever and wonderful friend was able to retrieve my words and also my photos.
To celebrate, here is an old story of mine that I never found a home for. I have read this story at a couple of events including ‘The Pageant of the Trans-Mundane’ hosted by my old collective, Small Room. It was also my piece in the Spoken event ‘A Midsummer’s Eve’ held at the Queensland State Library last year.
I am in Paris when I discover I’m pregnant. My period delayed one too many months to keep blaming travel stress. My oscillating emotions not just the result of homesickness. When I suddenly stop drinking on our long awaited champagne tour of France, Lisa is suspicious. When I start crying when we walk past a fromagerie she grabs my arm, sits me down.
‘Then there’s no use crying over soft cheese.’
‘Maybe I am a little bit pregnant.’
I think. My life is ruined; no soft cheese, no champagne, no sexy shoes.
I think. In two years, with a different man, after Europe and independence and wasting money on frivolous things, this would have been good news.
I think that my travel insurance does not cover this.
Lisa asks ‘Who?’
I look steadily into the middle distance, ‘I don’t know. I haven’t met it yet. In fact I only just found out it’s in there.’
She directs my face to her, cool fingers on my chin. ‘Is it him?’
‘There hasn’t been anyone else.’
We walk back to our overpriced apartment. My new hat, in its hatbox, knocking gently against my left leg. A stupid purchase so early in the trip.
In our flat Lisa says ‘You have options you know…’
The statement hangs, she looks at the floor. I sit cross legged on the rug, slump forward, crawl over to where she sits, rest my head on her knee and weep fat, Estee Lauder tears until I am sick. She smooths my hair, rubs her hand in flat circles on my back. I miss my mother.
‘When are you going back?’
It is later now, I am just out of the shower, the towel wrapped around my head, a maroon turban. I am eating bread and butter; Lisa sips her pinot noir and eats soft, blue vein cheese on sourdough. I know it’s not deliberate but I hate her for it.
I say this and know I cannot go to Turkey. I cannot go on to the UK. I will not get my grown up overseas job, make trendy London friends or buy a flattering red winter coat that nips in at the waist.
I book a flight home in two and a half weeks’ time, when Lisa will move on to Istanbul. My dream city. Paris was her dream.
I call my Mum, ‘I’m coming back.’
She says ‘Are you pregnant?’ and Lisa eases the phone from my hand and all I hear is soft shushing nothingness while I am discussed. I decide that I will see every beautiful thing I can in two weeks and I will keep these visions inside me and I will go home, be happy, have a baby.
I spend much of each day at the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. I avoid Jim Morrison’s grave. I pack my bags. I say goodbye to my best friend.
When I touch down in Australia I retrieve my hat box from the overhead compartment. It has been crushed by someone shoving their duty free into the already full storage space. When I open it the hat is still beautiful, untouched. I know I will never wear it.
Using as her source material a segment of 1970s European softcore pornography, Naomi Uman created this derived piece by painstakingly removing the female from each frame using bleach and nail polish remover, thus presenting the viewer with a bizarre, ghostly effect of a figure; a blank void of a woman.
This. This is a thing I am intrigued by.
The Vampire Test
The Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuși refused to hang out with Pablo Picasso because he thought Picasso sucked all the energy and ideas out of the people around him. (Brâncuși hailed from the Carpathian Mountains, and he knew a vampire when he saw one.)
Brâncuși practiced what I call “The Vampire Test.” It’s is a simple way to know who you should let in and out of your life:
If after a night of hanging out with someone you feel full of energy and ideas, that person is not a vampire.
If after a night of hanging out with someone you feel exhausted and depleted, that persion is a vampire.
The vampires in your life can’t be cured. Your best bet is to stay away from them. As Lynda Barry said, “You cannot fix Dracula by trying to convince him to just party in the sun with you.“
I have been known to associate with a few vampires in my time.