There’s something about a slow slide guitar, cold-wind open plains on a sunny day, a warm house with heavy glass windows, dust ecstatic as you drop down solid on an old bed, the corner catching the afternoon sun.

There’s something about a slow slide guitar that sounds like the heavy silence of an empty house. 

O to attract by more than attraction!

How it is I know not—yet behold! the something which

obeys none of the rest,

It is offensive, never defensive—yet how magnetic it draws.

O to struggle against great odds, to meet enemies

undaunted!

To be entirely alone with them, to find how much one can

stand!

To look strife, torture, prison, popular odium, face to face!

To mount the scaffold, to advance to the muzzles of guns

with perfect nonchalance!

To be indeed a God!

O to sail to sea in a ship!

To leave this steady unendurable land,

To leave the tiresome sameness of the streets, the sidewalks

and the houses,

To leave you O solid motionless land, and entering a

ship,

To sail and sail and sail



     - Excerpted from “A Song of Joys”, by Walt Whitman, lines 147-159.

The Flying Trapeze


Sometimes, I feel my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments, I’m hurtling across space between the trapeze bars.
Mostly, I spend my time hanging on for dear life, to the trapeze bar of the moment. It carries me along a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I am in control. I know most of the right questions, and even some of the right answers. But once in a while, as I’m merrily, or not so merrily, swinging along, I look ahead of me into the distance, and what do I see?

I see another trapeze bar looking at me. It’s empty; and I know that this new bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart-of-hearts I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present well-known bar, to move to the new one.

Each time it happens, I hope - no, I pray - that I won’t have to grab the new one. But deep down I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar, and for some moments in time I must hurtle across space before I can grab the new bar. Each time I am filled with terror. It doesn’t even matter that in all my previous hurtles I’ve always made it.

Each time, I am afraid I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless basin between the bars. But I do it anyway. I must.

Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call faith. No guarantees, no net, no insurance, but I do it anyway because somehow, to keep hanging on to that old bar is no longer an option. And so for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of “the past is over, the future is not yet here”. It’s called a transition. I’ve come to believe that it is the only place that real change occurs.

I’ve noticed that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as a “no-thing”, a no-place between places. Sure, the old trapeze-bar was real, and the new one coming towards me, I hope that’s real too. But the void in between? That’s just a scary, confusing, disorienting “no-where” that must be broken through as fast and as unconsciously as possible. What a shame!

I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and the bars are illusions we dream up to not notice the void. Yes, with all the fear of being out-of-control that can accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, growth-filled, passionate moments in our lives.

And so, transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away, but rather with giving ourselves permission to “hang-out” in the transition zone between trapeze bars. Allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens. It can be terrifying. But, it can also be enlightening. Hurtling through the void, we just may learn to fly.

From the book Warriors of the Heart by Danaan Parry.

The anxiety I’ve been feeling before moving to London has been overwhelming. It’s probably something I should have expected, knowing what I know of my own neuroses, but the extent of it was really surprising. I’ve never been one to control myself or my world through food, but that’s what ended up happening. It’s mostly back on track - or at least the theory behind it is, and the rest will probably follow - but it was a scary couple of months seeing behind the curtain into the vortex of that kind of disorder. 

I’m trying to focus on what my 15 year old self would say to me, how disappointed I would be that my adult self is fighting what I dreamed of for all those angry high school years. London was the goal, but then I never did anything about it. 

My pre-moving to-do list is considerably shorter now. I’m out of my room, my old furniture and years of collected shit has been removed, my job is mostly done with, visas and money sorted. Now I need to focus on real things: eat again, sleep again, stop being timid, remember how to be fun.

Despite being so staunchly in favour of owning every last thing you enjoy, I am still a little embarrassed by how much certain songs off Red mean to me. State of Grace, in particular, has a lot of moments that just kind of floor me more than a pop song should - I feel like while I’m so on board with how pop services the listener, actually being lyrically moved isn’t really that high up on the list. But. 

I never saw you coming
and I’ll never be the same again

It’s just. That is the beating heart, to me, of what it means to be alive. I never saw you coming. You never know when it’s going to be the last minute before you meet someone new who changes everything about your life - in any of a thousand ways.

I think about that a lot, have since high school, since Pulp’s Something’s Changed reallytripped me out, thinking about how you cannot really know something until it changes, until it goes from nothing to something:

I wrote the song two hours before we met.
I didn’t know your name or what you looked like yet.
Oh I could have stayed at home and gone to bed.
I could have gone to see a film instead.
You might have changed your mind and seen your friends.
Life could have been very different but then,
something changed.

I try and think about the minutes before I met the most important people in my life, sometimes, and find that my memory bleeds everything together, and I cannot. 

We Are Graveyards

I took a trip to America again this year. I go every year, it’s cheaper and closer and more deserted than Europe, I can indulge my pulse that has always run toward the empty roads, an excuse to disappear that is culturally putative. The road trip as an icon of freedom, of independence. No one talks about the road trip as suicide, testing the waters of your own absence. I believe every car on every highway that I have ever passed has always been driven by desperate people, soft of tooth, their desires parallax. A silent code we back roads transients self-consciously share. We are not a community as much as we are graveyards. I read through my diaries written in between trips and I speak so longingly of the autonomy of it all, never admitting it’s my resistance to the spaces I have hollowed out at home that leads me there over and over, useless and weak, a politician fucking a rentboy in desperate silence or an adolescent, staggering fit of rage about growing up.

***

September 4, 2012

You know that feeling, when you’re driving through a country and it’s boring, beautiful and boring in the way of unknowable, unbreachable things, but you reach a place - perhaps it’s the time of day, perhaps the cooler breeze on a warm day, perhaps it’s shadowed streets, perhaps it’s the cut bones of a desert town - and you want to pull over, stop the beating of the engine, invent yourself once more, right there. You find the endpoint, and it’s such a transgression in the rhetoric of a road trip, it should be all lazy giant circles and running from your own shadow until you wind up where you started, slightly sadder and older. That feeling, it’s like a dare from the great blue sky. And you sprint, in the time it takes to play the name of the place with your tongue, silently, against the back of your teeth, you sprint through the ways you could construct this, the hundred impossible ways you could have this thing.

But there is no way. At most, you dawdle through it, archiving the dapple of the afternoon sun through woody branches, the way you could have been a gardener here, an author. Smile your best smile in a cafe, in love with the laminate of the counter, the stiff swivel of your stool. Fetishising an inanimate life. But no, you can never know the stories, the histories of a youth spent magnetised to the view north, the view out. You can never have it, you’ll toss out your snickers wrapper and takeaway coffee, clamber wordlessly back into your rental and drive toward the sun, in a gaol of your own domestic fantasies, your parallel, beautiful insignificance.

***

A lot of people live their lives as authors, apply the rules of narrative arcs to their own problems, esoteric subplots edging in as they drift off at night, cheek to a cool pillow and hand clenched firmly in defiance of the nothingness they are carefully shaping into stories. I do this, I feel, much more than most. Being so baseless, so homeless as I am within my own skin leads one to create more effectively than others, others whose skeletons fit within the muscle and sinew provided, whose organs sit babied and ripe in their respective slots. I, for a great many reasons that are only just dawning on me, thick and aching and sour, am not one of those people, and so in the past I have had my narrative decisions and my blind eye turned to all else.

Sun baking in gas masks, the last Spring I’ll spend in Sydney submerged under bushfire insurgence, I woke to apocolypse, to a stunning disconnect, staring straight at the tangerine sun, coughing up my lungs, imagining the things I’ll say under the London grim, go in guns blazing in a city I can’t win, the fascists and my fake eyelashes, a new name for the same old girl - you’re right to question me, the sequestered and bested girl, the let-it-down, burn-it-to-the-ground girl, disappear-and-leave-it-all-behind girl who cannot say her name or or stay the same.

I was flicking through my work diary form 2013 the other day, and seeing how full and organised the first half of my year was - compared to the barren wasteland of the third quarter, and the gradual recovery in the final quarter - made me think about how the old idea that you spend your year doing what you were doing on New Years borders on dangerous.

There’s never been anything more vitally important to who I am than the freedom and ability to change what I’m doing and how I look at something.

Oscar Key Sung is DEFINITELY going to be the death of me. 


Oscar Key Sung is going to be the death of me.

I could never talk in riddles like I could with him.

Last night there was a boy I used to know in an alley, a gallery thing, performance artists in glad wrap and my first DJ set in 18 months looming inside, sickly pink, yellow and blue neon lights hanging, and the night was clear and warm. A gentle Sydney summer night, rhomboid patches of sky through the jigsaw skyline of Chippendale.

He and I have always been particularly attuned to performance, to what will sound and look the best when we tell it back, but I sought him out after hearing his name, needing to see his face move after a year of blinding rage at the thought of it. The conversation was not as cautious as it should have been, probably, but with no objective I suppose that’s harder to gauge. 

There was no rage last night, just a calm sort of care, a need to reset the meter. We were close in another life, endless weekends curled on Sebastian’s couch watching documentaries while he was at work, but that was so long ago I suppose it barely counts toward this story. It won’t ever be that again, I suppose. I was never good at showing mercy, and there’s no real reason for him to unlearn that now that I am.

I just keep thinking that when we met we had to navigate each other cunningly, both growing, as we were, like vines around Sebastian. Doing the maths on the other one, how much give there was, how much was left to take. We’re both difficult people. It’s been a few months of needing to see the relentlessness of his personality up close again. I could never talk in riddles like I could with him.

Existential Angst Corporate Edition is special. 

It was always secretly about Feeling.

My bedroom at 13 was a literal shrine to the kind of culture of which I secretly knew I didn’t understand the intricacies, but appreciated the veneer of, lusted after what it seemed like as much as my best friend lusted after understanding what it all meant. Posters from Musee D’Orsay exhibitions, photographs by Saul Leitman, Rolling Stone photo essays, bus tickets, poems, photographs of my room in morning light, photos of Important Book covers, maps of the London Underground. In that way, I’ve been a secret idiot for  most of my life, drawn to high culture for many reasons, mostly aesthetic, mostly adjacent. It was synesthetic, really, the heady kind of half-lidded first love over the way a song sounded like falling asleep felt, or the way a film looked like how a warm, sunny afternoon waiting in the car while your mother ran into the shops sounded, that specific muffled quiet, and that prickle of heat that starts off comforting and just gets woollier and woolier. It was secretly about feeling, and there was something so suspect about that to me. If you didn’t have words for it, if you couldn’t explain it, you didn’t have shit, so you’d better learn to fake it pretty quickly.

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Whatever else you say about me, I sure know how to clear a Design awards after-party dance floor…

Whatever else you say about me, I sure know how to clear a Design awards after-party dance floor…

she had a messy bedroom on the edge of town.

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