Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dream Drool

The last two nights I have had such cruel dreams. Because my dreams are so far from the norm they are always semi-lucid, I am never unaware that this is a dream even though I never quite gain full control over events. Probably the writer in me has too much respect or expectations of the narrative. A wasted faith. The narrative of a dream is shoddy at best.

There was such abuse, cruelty. It was bullying, a word which will always bring to mind, first, the school yard. This is a dangerous distraction. Worse bullying happens much, much later. I was the victim, and I watched the victim, and so experienced simultaneously the terror of being targeted, hunted and toyed with, and the helpless empathy of the audience unable to intervene. I don't want to remember the details. Only that when I woke, even I found the dream to be out of character for my treacherous sleeping mind.

Today I had the fate of all souls. Some green vials, for the pure. Blue for the good. Red for the mean. And there was so much red. I had to decide how to disperse these colours over the course of history. The first, simplest model was to release them one at a time: green first, then blue, and then red over took all the lights in the cube. There was no way to recover from this. We'd distract ourselves, hiding in folded pockets in buildings for which there was no physical space, while the people whose souls we were determining went about their primary school graduation parties. I tried mixing the colours, all at once, but there was too much red. There just wasn't a way. The cube of light always ended red.

Helpless. I had the power to decide the fate of the world, but was unable to change a thing. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

City Unknown

There's something in the Moreton Bay and Port Jackson fig trees which line the streets and parks of Sydney, some shuttered tension which, while still, is not waiting. A motion that is unaware of its stasis. As though these trees, with a sprawl of roots and shapes that can only be described as tendons and sinew were frozen mid-pour. All thick dark leaves, waxen and lush.

When I think of Malaysia I always recall the threat of the green. There is no stopping the growth, it overflows and erupts and encroaches and yet, the whole country carries on living perfectly functional ordinary lives as though no one has noticed the floral occupation. Sydney emulates this luscious creeping.

Then there are the frangipanis, which don't seem to know how to stop blooming. I can't relate to these flowers. They are, to me, sugar and marzipan, perfect replicas on the pages of a Woman's Day birthday cake cookbook. Yet here they are, lying crushed on the footpath, as if it is not an atrocity. The air is always thick with their joy, and it limns that sublime salt crush with rich smiles.

Magpies. They're half dressed here, having started the day wearing only their white hoods and not the accompanying cape. Other than this there is no difference in their carriage or attitude, yet this one, small, irrelevant thing unsettles me each time.

The streets twist and turn. Melbourne is a wonderfully forgiving grid, with main thoroughfares clearly marked by the presence of trams. Sydney, Sydney is, I think Sydney sneezed and ruined the topography, geography, cartography. I've never had a sense of direction, not in either side of the equator, but straight lines and landmarks have always served me well. Not here.

Melbourne now should be lovely crisp days, fog sneaking around in the mornings, cool evenings and turning leaves. My body expects this, and is flummoxed by the wet season. This is not the time of year for rain, and yet.

It isn't yet two weeks. I will learn to swim with these new currents. Eventually.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Too Much Men

Last night we watched Noah, a film that fails spectacularly in all aspects. I've never made any sort of religious study so I can't comment much on the liberties it took with the source material, but I'm sensitive to storytelling, and it was a spectacular pile of confused asshattery. I'm honestly not sure what point they were trying to make, and harbour the horrible suspicion that the whole shitfest was in fact an exhibition of the Nobility and Tragedy of Manpain. That while making Noah a complete shitstain they were putting his manpain up on a pedestal and asking the audience to bow before it because there is seriously nothing greater in the world than manpain. Not all the explicit violence against women. Fuck no. It's about men, specifically cast as white men, and their manpain.

They could have written the story so many different ways, but this is what they chose. And I've had it up to hear with the Tragic Hero's Manpain.

This morning, it was men being oblivious and privilege-ignorant online. As it always is. That's not new. That's never new. It's never absent either. I can't even be bothered highlighting the specific incidents because it'd be like picking out grains of sand on the beach. Most of the time I can ignore it, because all who haven't lived the heteronormative male life learn to ignore it. That or drown. But I can't do it all the time. Sometimes, I just need to get away from it, the same way I try to get away from sand before I get worn down by sandblasting.

The book I'm currently reading, The Savage Detectives by Robert Bolaño, is wonderful. I really enjoy his writing even if I do pop out the end of his books somewhat bemused. This book hasn't disappointed me thus far. Yet, when had my cup of tea and settled on the couch, opened to the bookmark and started reading, all I saw were men. For a couple of chapters, nothing but men. Not even a waitress. They weren't engaged in any overt misdemeanours of privilege, other than the fact that they were there, not a single woman anywhere, because only men and what men do are worth of attention.

Constantly consciously deciding not to be bothered by the fucking patriarchy is exhausting. It really is. Those times I decide I shall be bothered require admitting and giving voice to my anger, which is also exhausting.

This so called progressive Western culture is exhausting.

And guys, I don't hate you.

I hate what you've internalised and are unwilling to even consider critiquing. I hate that your instant reaction is to say, "Yeah, but what about men-". I hate that you talk over the top of me. I hate that you hear me, but don't listen, and barely even consider.

I know what's internalised can be addressed and amended, because I have had to do it with myself, and am still doing it, and will never, in fact, get to a point at which I can say I'm 'done' and it's all fixed.

I know if I can do this, you can too.

It's your callous refusal to try that I hate.

Sunday, April 06, 2014


My unconscious plagiarised both Pacific Rim and Halo, and there was-

Wait, remember that other dream? That dream in which I was part of some massive intergalactic military fleet and there was a massive intergalactic and interspecies war going on – pretty much just riffing off Halo – and I was an officer on some grand battleship somewhere in the outer rings, with some special fancy dignitaries needing pampering while on board and me being the last person to piss the captain off so getting that duty, and running around trying to do I don't even know what when a massive alien battleship dropped into space right next to us. Massive. Standing by a window watching it glide past, taking whole minutes, and my ship wasn't exactly wee. This was deep shit. We had to get a message to fleet command or Earth or whatever, and warn them that the aliens were here, and being the last person to piss the captain off for some reason this rather important task was my responsibility and...and why the fuck, this far in the future, is Microsoft Outlook being used? For intergalactic communication? Are you fucking kidding me? Do you think I could find the appropriate position-based email account to send a message to? Was I 100% certain that most of these accounts were monitored? Captain shouted someone's name at me, to email them, and sudden onset dyslexia screwed that up. Also my first message was something like "omg we're fucked" which when I told the captain just got me in more trouble as it wasn't useful and I had to send another email.

And then there was that dream that was riffing Pacific Rim, with kaiju coming up out of somewhere and being shit, being utterly shit. Some people were special super soldier x-men type people with special powers made for dealing with the kaiju, and I was one of them, although I don't remember what my power was, just that it's hard to look after a wetlands exhibit with all the animals AND slay kaiju at the same time. I remember being underwater. I remember being pretty awesome. I remember that it was established there was one giant kaiju which, if eliminated, would solve all our problems. I was sent to slay this kaiju. The kaiju in question was the sun. The fucking sun. It was a blue network of nodes, with a small gold segment in the middle. My ship was a special shipperson designed just to trump gravity and, you know, the sun being the sun, so I could get inside an just...turn off the gold bit. Which extinguished the sun. Completely. And me and the shipperson, we just turned around and started on our merry way back to Earth, patting ourselves on the back for a job well done because we'd totally just saved the world, while the other me, the me that can't help but critique the fucking narratives of my dreams even as they're unfolding, is stomping and yelling all what the fucking hell did you just do? You extinguished the sun? THE SUN? Just killed all life in the solar system?

And then there was this morning's dream which was totally just copying Game of Thrones with the five bazillion various parties involved in machinations and manipulations in order to gain more power, land, resources, kingdoms, etc, treehouses and magic trains and women with poisons and kings who are really fucking dumb, I mean really. I'm some sort of conscientious objector, or some other faction which has no interest in gaining power, nor do I appear to be championing any party over the others. My sole purpose appears to be to sabotage the lot of them. All of them. I'm some nazgul banshee made of quicksilver and smoke. I kidnap kings. I foil queens. Eventually, everyone becomes aware of me, and that none are able to outwit me, and thus they all give up their silly games and just settle down and let people get on with things. For a while. They meet behind my back, in someone's mother's house. Quietly. They think it is a secret, but it isn't. I waltz in as they're discussing how to displace me, usurp me. It never works. All this, and I have a sick budgie. I can control kingdoms, but the store attendant won't listen to me when I tell them I have a sick budgie.  I'm not elegant dealing with the crime lord because I don't have time to make the story perfect, I have a sick budgie. 

Unconscious is writing shit fanfiction, clearly. 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Evolving Idea of Home

A year after J & I staggered in the front door after our vagabond days and all our stuff, items, things have been loaded on the back of a truck and are headed north, to the new nest.

The family home has never changed. My whole life, the family has lived in this square house of wood painted white and a corrugated tin roof which gives wonderful voice to the rain. This room, which catches the afternoon sun and is just horrendous in summer, has always been my room, even when I haven't been in it. Chances are, it always will be. 

We've never moved. Not once. It's only recently that I've come to realise this isn't the norm. Most people move at least once as a family unit, then move out and don't boomerang back quite as often as I have. These lovely old gum trees and the soft rush of the wind through them is such an anchor. The way the floorboards creak is an old familiar voice. My idea of home is rooted hard into this one place, this kitchen where for over thirty years we have eaten so many meals. 

I made a good nest in Fairfield. Scotland let me make a marvellous nest, to the point where I do consider some idea of home to have permanently come to rest there. Something about understanding the currents of an ordinary life in what was once an unknown place. Something about feeling comfortable, about being allowed to be comfortable.

Ideas change, however, and while this house will always be 'Home', the day that J moved to Sydney it became a temporary abode until I joined him. 

Places can be home, can be sanctuaries from which the world is shut out and you are safe. People can be homes as well. 

I'm really, really, really excited about my new home. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Quick Book Verdicts

I thought I'd about finished packing my books away (this time I haven't been counting, because I really don't want to know), and just found a swathe I'd put aside because, having read them, I intended to post my impressions of them. Oh, intentions. You mean so little. Most of these books I read last year. I won't be able to do any of them justice now. Nevertheless.

Crandolin - Anna Tambour

buy :: author

Tambour is an exceptionally luscious, rich, textured, decadent, and enchanting writer, and this book is no exception. It is the story of a monster, which takes the form of a stain found on a page in an ancient cook book, and for which time is not linear, or acknowledged. It spans ages, this story, myriad lives in myriad cultures and walks of life. It is a thick, sumptuous affair that I found incredibly hard to withdraw from, much like treacle. Beyond this, I honestly don't know how to explain this book to you. Like a spell, it affects without letting you understand how. So very incredibly recommended.

Under the Glacier - Halldór Laxness

buy :: author

Purchased in Reykjavík after experiencing how very exalted he is in this City of Literature. He's a Nobel Prize winner, and widely translated with English copies of his works available in nearly all bookshops there. This I selected as it is blurbed by Susan Sontag as being "one of the funniest books ever written." And it is, although a very precise sort of funny which comes from being an outsider of a culture's geographical and religious history, and having only a passing understanding of how this history shapes a nation and such a people. It is one surreal and absurd event after another, with structured religion befuddled by the organic beliefs of those who live under the Glacier. Curious characters, a landscape that didn't require my own memories to be evocative, a bemusing tale. Worth reading.

A Wrinkle in the Skin - John Christopher

buy :: author

I've already established a gobsmacked love of Christopher, and this book met those expectations. Brutally. Here, a massive shift in the continental plates changes the world, the shapes of the land, moving the seas and so completely destroying all infrastructure and civilisation. Following Cotter, who lived on in of the Channel Islands at the time, this book explores the various ways in we (well, the English) adapt to or fall apart when presented with the end of civilisation. It's harrowing, brutally honest and never looks away. Refreshingly minimal in sexism as well. Left it wide-eyed with horror and so excited at having read something so incredibly perfectly well crafted. Worth reading for the sake of it, also as an example of sparse and effective story telling for writers.

The Kraken Wakes - John Wyndham

buy :: author

Okay, my advice to you is don't read these two books back to back. In fact, don't read apocalypse books by older English writers back to back. Ever. At all. Your world view will cop a beating and you'll be left wandering around asking what the point is, we're all going to die horribly anyway, humanity is doomed, etc, etc, etc. In this one, something seems to take up residence at the bottom of the oceans, and from there, shit goes from bad to incredibly fucked up to someone is going to be extinct by the end of this. Just like Christopher, is powerful, sparse, and doesn't ever avert its eyes. I loved it, and I won't be reading anything by either Christopher or Wyndham for a long while yet. That's quite enough.

Rant - Chuck Palahnuik

buy :: author

I've always loved Palahniuk's work, so didn't fight too hard when J insisted insisted insisted I read this. As much as I feel that Palahniuk is something of a one-trick pony in that I know exactly what I'm getting in any story of his, he's an incredibly talented pony, and that trick is fucking amazing, and even so, even so, this, this, is WOW. HOLY FUCKING SHIT DID YOU SEE THAT. It is a masterpiece in which he subverts the narrative and the reader over, and over. I just. You know, with all the reading, writing, and editing I've done I think I have some qualifications backing me up when I say this is a work of genius. The ways it can be read, interpreted, are manifold. It left me open-mouthed with astonishment and J going "You see!? You see?!" I just. Wow. WOW. No, I can't actually tell you anything else about the book. Much like Crandolin above, it defies easy summation. Read it. READ IT.

The Honey Month - Amal El-Mohtar

buy :: author (Ebooks, ey?)

Full disclosure, I am friends with and love this woman to bits. The concept behind this book is simple; she sampled a different honey every day for a month, and wrote a piece based on that. That she managed to sustain production every day for a month is amazing. That all her pieces remain fresh, individual and plump is incredible. There are fables, poems, vignettes, heart-break, joy, sadness, homes found and lost. She walks through these narratives. Her prose is wonderful and breath-taking, which is what happens when poets write stories. A rich, wonderful and warm collection. Just like honey.

Decay Inevitable - Conrad Williams

buy :: author

Full disclosure: I am friends with and love this man to bits, and have a long history of babbling delighted about his writing. This book is sneaky, in that it begins quietly, ordinarily, to the point that I forgot I was reading horror and expected crime, but the horror creeps in softly, and then, not so fucking softly. Amid all the "Oh shit oh shit oh shit-" is a truly warm and loving relationship, which I've rarely encountered in horror. The apocalypse plays second fiddle to the personal.

I really hope I don't find any more books just lying around. Oh, what do you mean I can't have that many tags? GRRRRR.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Text is Saturated

The original plan was to wait until I had work before joining J up in Sydney, but, well. I really like him. And it's been three months. And fuck that noise.

This whole expedition has not been as organised as anyone would have liked. Winging it. It has been completely wung. To the point where I didn't know how much notice I had to give work, checked the HR policy and discovered that if I wanted to be in Sydney by the end of the month I'd have to give my notice that very day. Big step like that, I like to be psychologically prepared. I wasn't. It was a rather wide-eyed day.

Post like this should be about beginnings. About everything I'm looking forward to, and anticipating, and the new shape my future seems to be taking on. But, there's that word. "Should."

I've worked for the Victoria Police for over eight years. Although I've changed roles and positions, I have always worked with the crime reports themselves. I read the narratives of what happened, I read the dossiers of people in regular contact with police, I read detailed statements, I read charge summaries, I listen to 000 calls, I watch interviews, I look at photos of crime scenes and photos of injuries.

Every day.

I remember, all the way back in 2005, when I first started, how incredibly confronting this was. A deluge of trauma, fear, hurt and pain. All of it laid out in objective, unbiased terms. Date, time and location. Realising how easy it is to enter a home. Processing my first rape report. My first child incest report.

This was, is, paper. It's just information. No contact with the persons involved, not even the police members.

That wasn't distance enough. I'm a reader and a writer. A life time of training has my mind honed to extrapolate the lasting impact of every crime, and I couldn't stop it getting under my skin. You can't, I couldn't, pretend it was fiction. Empathy can be a right arsehole at times.

But a job is a job. I got used to it. There were always reports that would sink into me, sit in my gut like churlish poison, but when years go by it all becomes familiar furniture. I learned how to turn the volume down.

Last night, talking with mum about I don't remember what and I don't remember how it came around, but she said she'd never understood how I could tolerate the work I did. Sometimes I can't, I said. Sometimes the anger that is simmering rises up and I'm furious, unable to speak from the fury.

Maybe it's a good thing you're resigning, she said.

And that sunk into me to sit with the anger.

This morning I read an interview transcript that made me sick. Then I read a collection of statements that forced to get up, walk away, lock myself in a toilet cubicle and do nothing for a while. The subconscious knows it doesn't have to be resilient to this siege of trauma anymore, and the walls have come down.

Sitting here in my last week working for VicPol, my growing impatience and refusal to compromise on social justice issues, on issues of sexism, gender discrimination, homophobia, racism, misogyny, ableism, classism, all the fucking know I've never been quite sure where that comes from. A lot comes from my own experience, being as I tick various oppression boxes, but I've never...I'm not...these personal things don't feel as though they're equal in balance to the anger.

When I think about all that I've read over the course of 8 years I understand where the anger comes from.

And it's time to leave.

Maybe, after this, I'll have the space in my heart to

I don't even know how to finish that sentence.