A notepad for a mind

Peruse at your own discretion.

Monday, July 8, 2013

John Green's The Fault in Our Stars
(a short review)

It is indeed a feat when an author writes a narrative whose complication is cancer, but manages to not write a typical "cancer book". The Fault in Our Stars weaves reality with fiction, and therefore, both is and isn't about cancer. Nor is it specifically a love-story, despite frequent references to Shakespeare and somewhat hackneyed crossed stars. There is something so inexorably human in Green's narrative, itself an exploration of transcience and significance of nihilistic human existence. Green's prose manages to be eloquent and beautiful, but not overbearingly so; his use of metaphor is not forced, but subtle and poignant, and is inarguably crucial to the text, forming the spine on which the muscles of the narrative are built. His characters read as authentic and honest (for the most part, though the character of Kaitlyn was hard to grasp; but she is not an overly important character so it's passable), and it is illuminating to read about teenagers who possess intellect. Green's own wit is evident in the quips of his characters, and the book overall is a moving and enlightening read.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I am an individual. I am myself.

I am the smiles people give me and the things that make me
laugh. I am the pen in my grip. I am the smooth piano keys
beneath my fingertips and the music in my flesh and bones.
I am passion and I am reason. I am fighting for a cause. I am
love and heartbreak and hope and knowing that of the
seven billion people on this planet, there are still so many
I want to share myself with.
I am skepticism and irritation at misinformation. I am
knowledge, I am fair use of power. I am sunlight in the afternoon
staining old buildings golden hues.
I am the sound of rain outside the window and the smell of it
on the soil. I am warming cold legs in puddled pants
by the heater of my childhood home.
I am my mother’s daughter. I am my sister’s secret protégé.
I am stardust. I am the universe. I am batman.
I am lost, so lost. I’m searching. I am hurting and alone. But
I will be found. I will always be found. I am right here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cracked Polystyrene

It is becoming increasingly apparent to me just how easy it is to lose oneself - no, for the sake of avoiding cliche - to sacrifice intrinsic aspects of one's sense of identity for the sake of another human being.

There is a draft sitting in my blogger posts folder that I believe I began writing early last year, just after I moved out of home. I have no recollection of its conception. I bear no resemblance to the girl who wrote it. I have changed drastically in the past eight months, and that little bit of reason left in me is starting to hint that it wasn't for the better.

Back then, I wrote with more eloquence and clarity than I currently possess (and admittedly, some odd metaphors).

Mr. Potato Head in the 1970s.
Sometimes I just wish I were more like Mr Potato head. No, not because he was the first toy to be on TV, or because he's acted in film and been spokespotato for many different causes. Not even his removable moustache lies at the core of my wish for a plastic existence. It's because he has no confused face; he may wind up a bit all over the place at times, but he's designed to be used and thrown aside so he's okay with it.

I, on the other hand, am not. Like any other human being, I consider myself more than a play thing or a temporary method of amusement.

The relationship I have been in for the past few months has left me feeling like I can't stake a claim to those words. It's the type people tell you you'll be in if you marry the wrong man; the type you wind up in if you think you can change the person you want to share your life with. No-one ever told me that trying to help someone get out of a bad place and be a better person was the same as trying to change them, and, naive as I am, I realised it far too late.

Don't get me wrong - so much good has come from this relationship too. I learn how to love with my body and a spirit that I don't believe I have; how to forgive, how to communicate, how to work with someone. I learnt the difficulties of living with someone you're in a relationship with, that I just don't give up when I should, and I finally understand what my mother meant when she told me she stayed with my father just because she loved him.

But I don't think I can learn any more. It's almost at an end and everyone involved knows it. My potato features are worn from rough use and I can't complete my uni work because my mind is always elsewhere. My father lives alone now, and because I compromised crucial aspects of my identity due to the fact that they didn't align with those of the man I loved, I can't write. We all write who we are, create from the elements of our identities that can reflect something back into the world. And I just can't. I honestly don't have the ability to express just how much the drivel that travels from my brain to my fingertips and onto each page saddens me.

And I really don't know what to do.  I've spoken to friends who blame lack of practice, and others who tell me I'm too stressed. But I've tried, and I'm not stressed. I changed for this man (don't let anyone ever tell you you can't change anyone; it's just rarely a good thing) and I don't want my love for him to end, but I know it has to if I want to find myself again. I can write more, which I plan on doing here (in the hope few will read it till my skills return). But neither of those things are a guaranteed cure.

In all honesty, I'm scared shitless that I've lost the one thing I've been doing, been aspiring to do, since I was eight years old and scribbled a horrible rhyming poem about my family and a cat in a journal I was gifted for my birthday. I'm twenty-two now, and I've grown into my skin almost completely - I can talk freely to people without fear that they think I'm stupid, I hate my body far less than I used to, and my teenage obsessions are all but gone. But the ideals and things I fought for so fervently and was so passionate about when I was a year younger have fallen by the wayside. Can I just reassemble myself, grab all my pieces and slap them in place like the brave face I've become so good at? I think I might have grown into the wrong person, and I'm terrified that it's too late to go back.

Image from the Mr. Potato Head 1970s Advertisement.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Growing Up

Am I?

A phenomenal amount of things have changed since I last posted here, and I chose my words in that last clause very carefully.

I now live out of home, with an awesome person who feels like some sort of friend/quasi-sister hybrid. I work at least thirty hours a week. I don't have enough energy to write much any more, though I suspect that is just an excuse for my laziness and uncertainty and I hope I will write more soon. The last beginning of a thing I did write was something not even I thought I was capable of; though, true to the feelings of a younger me, I feel like a better writer than I should pick it up and continue writing it.

I call myself a writer now.

Perhaps it is my lethargy affecting my ability to accept that fact (you know that level of tiredness where, if you say a simple word too many times in a row, the reality of its structural, linguistic and phonetic freakin' weirdness beats itself on the forefront of your poor mind like an impatient yuppie's fist on locked brass-knobbed wooden door? Yeah, me neither), but it was never a title I felt worthy to claim until recently. I think a lot of it may be due to the acquisition of a particular curly-haired intellectual writing friend, who is more than willing and able to share and reflect on ideas belonging respectively to the both of us. His presence and kindness in helping me alter my approach to my work is something I consider invaluable and am very grateful for.

I think I'm starting to let go of the things that happened a year ago, the people I flew away from and haven't yet mustered up the courage, self-confidence, or money to return to. I think some of those people might see me again and meet someone they weren't expecting.

I still have a lot of things to learn (I dread the day I don't), a lot of bad habits and choices to let go of, and a lot of protective walls to let down. Though, I suspect quite a few that have been in place since the worst month of my life might come down soon with the aid of another. In slow motion, crashing. If there's any strength in the person I'm growing into, I'll leave them down there.

And I promise my next post will be less cryptic. At least, a little.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An Intertextual Rant of Exam Period Insanity
(A symphony of revalations in three movements)

You'd think the first few times I had no motivation to study for a philosophy exam and consequently nearly failed the subject would have taught me something. I can't work out if I'm a slow learner, or just a victim of my own stubbornness (or Melbourne University's newfound love of terminating subjects the year I wish to study them, forcing the study of crappy lesser alternatives to contribute to my minor. Oh, Melby; you used to be cool). Once I'm through tomorrow, I'm going to try harder to pretend I give a damn about stuff that will never have any relevence to my life ever again. At least until the end of my degree. That's what most of these educated academic derelicts who know shit seem to be doing.

Given my current mental state, I shouldn't let the disheartening realisation that Andrew Lloyd Webber ripped the Phantom's "Oveture" off Pink Floyd's track "Echoes" make me love his work or the world any less. Right? But it's 5 am, I can't sleep, and I have to be up in two hours to trek to uni to study for an exam I have the following day for which there is little hope. Taking my frustration out on a composer I'm never going to meet who made a sequel to a musical that should never have a sequel makes me feel a lot better. ("Love Never Dies"? "Love Never Dies"?  Would you like some fries with your cliche, Webber? I'm sorry, but in the novel your musical's based on your protagonist wasted away and died of freakin' heartbreak. Art is not for money. Way to trivialise.)

I have a habit of writing lengthy blog posts or notes or poorly articulated ideas when exhausted and frustrated and then never posting them, or deleting them a day or so later. An unrivalled need to have something to say followed by the realisation that I'm really the only one who cares and the only one who has anything to say about it. God forbid I become one of those people for whom writing is an outlet for their own misery with no provision of food for thought... But hell, at least it's honest. Unlike my exam responses will be on Friday. Maybe I can put my needs to better use if I'm smarter, or if I find more things to write about that I actually care about -  which, in a world seemily composed primarily of bigots and indifference and misguidedly 'tragic' martyrdom ("hypocrite!" the hatemonger cries), are increasingly hard to come by. Eh, what can you do.

"The Heavens" photo by Javier Evertz.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not 'til I Can Read by the Moon

I am a time-waster. A procrastinator. There is absolutely no use denying it. It's been, what, five months since my last blog post? And this is due not to the fact that I've been too busy to write, but rather, I've been too busy wasting time; and hence, haven't had anything to write about. Funny, that.

This year has been a fairly uneventful one. One would think that the year of 19 would be the most exciting year of one's youth; the last year, the year to expend the final drops of teenage irresponsibility before the big two oh creeps up and smacks you in the proverbial face with its, "What are you going to do with your life?" and, "What, haven't you got your license yet?" and, "Aren't you dying to move out?"

I don't know, no, and I haven't the money.

I suppose that's the crux of the issue at hand; life needs money. It's alright for someone to use the justification, "I can't, I'm broke," for their inability to buy pricey concert tickets or airfares to exotic places, but how many people buy a cocktail dress and a pair of shorts and have to go without lunch for the following week? I don't know, but I can empathise with them.

I'm not looking for any pity; I deserve none. I quit my waitressing job a few months ago because I was underpaid, the owner didn't speak English, management was lax and they were going broke. I have been "between jobs" ever since, and I'm surviving. I have it easy compared to some; there are people on the very streets of this beautiful city who have nothing. Indifference and the self-importance of your average middle-class individual have allowed them to become almost part of the Melbourne scenery: the beggar outside Melbourne Central; the drunkies and junkies at the Flinders/Swanston McDonalds in the early hours of the morning; the bracelet-weavers and footpath-chalkers who use the only tools they have to stay alive. It's a heartbreakingly hopeless existence - or so it would seem.

Upon my return to uni, I noticed a little coffee cart labelled "STREAT" on the first floor at Melbourne Central station. I've not had the opportunity to buy coffee there yet, but I most definitely will.  STREAT, it turns out, is "stopping homelessness the delicious way"; it is a new "social enterprise providing homeless youth with a supported pathway to long-term careers in the hospitality industry." This little coffee cart and the food cart at Fedaration square are staffed by the homeless, and used to provide them with hospitality training and certification so they may have a future in the job market. Every 10th meal and organic fair trade coffee of a loyalty card holder goes to a homeless or disadvantaged person. These carts are just the beginnings of one of the best attempts to combat homelessness in Melbourne I've come accross. It feels good to know we're not all rich thoughtless arseholes.

Perhaps, with the beginning of such grand things, this year hasn't been such a "nothing year" after all. The illness that plagued me like a blowfly trapped in a bedroom for a few months of this year is all but gone, and I seem to be slowly and sloppily overcoming my writers' block. I may not have the money for my piano lessons, but by scrimping and scrounging I've saved up three quarters of the dosh I need for the piano/keyboard I've craved for over a decade.

To be honest, the last couple of months of my existence were probably the best I've ever had.  I saw the incredible Tim Burton exhibition, was part of the crowd that sang Underground leaving Megan Washington amazed, gave up meat (and convinced myself I have to eat mushrooms), had my mind blown by indie noir cabaret, and somehow became very, very close to people who are so very far away. Thanks to the beautiful human beings in my life, I'm bridging the gaps that money made around me; in December, I'll even fly for the first time. On a plane, but you get the cheesy metaphor.

"Seals" photo by Alex Williamson;
edited by Hannah Tricker.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Time with Tim Minchin: the Transcript

I certainly think it's time to put this up, and I suspect ninety per cent of you folks who read this do too. The other ten per cent are probably getting quite sick of him being the topic of so many blogs, but at least it's got me writing more frequently. I thank all of you for your patience.

Prompted by patient reminders from the ever-lovely Jacqui, who conducted the interview with me and did half the related work, I'm getting my prosterior into gear and putting the transcript up (it will also be on Jacqui's, so click her name to have a look). Before I do so, I'd like to direct you to my former post here, containing a photo of the full page feature article I wrote of the interview for my uni magazine, Farrago, which was published earlier in April. Farrago magazine have just launched their new website. They've still got a few things to tweak, but there's already some great content on there, as well as artsy pictures, and alluringly big colourful buttons.

As predicted, there's now an e-mag of edition 3 on the site, and you can read it by clicking the link below:
Farrago Edition 3, 2010 e-mag

Tickets for Matilda the Musical, which is discussed below, are now on on sale. You can find out more here.

The interview was conducted on the 15th of February at the Cambridge Cafe in Collingwood, Melbourne, Australia; and went something like this.