Wednesday, December 31, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 01:25 is going to set this god damn horse fucking story on fire when she's done with it. #
  • 01:25 then she's going to piss on it. #
  • 01:25 and then set it on fire again. #
  • 01:28 @snarkattack I WILL MAKE IT FLAMMABLE. #
  • 01:35 @snarkattack I forbid myself sleep until it is slain. I might be up a while longer, and waaaaah I don't want to be awake. #
  • 02:09 The story is dead. Long live the story. Pfft. Scratch that. Rot in hell, you embarrassing piece of narrative. Bedtime in 3...2...1- #
  • 12:20 @miiru merely an expletive. alas. now i know where i went wrong. #
  • 12:45 @deepeight you are feeling veeeeeerry sleeeeeepy.... #
  • 12:46 @deepeight veeeeerryyyy sleeeeepyyyy... #
  • 12:46 @deepeight sleeeeepyyyyyyy.... #
  • 12:46 @deepeight ....................................and now I steal your wallet and run. #
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Monday, December 29, 2008

TUESDAY IS SOYLENT GREEN DAY!

I see bats out my window, there are (still) ants in my kettle, and I owe people email.
Instead, I give you bebe aardvark.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

When I left home, the sun was behind me and my shadow before me.

I took myself to the movies, some small act of spontaneity I haven't committed since _____. In the dark, with these quiet strangers, I found some space I'd forgotten existed, and when the movie ended and the lights came on, I took it with me.

When I walked home, the sun was behind me and my shadow before me.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Presents!


SATAY. You see? Looks like vomit. And shit. Smells like fabulous, tastes like fucking fabulous ON A STICK. Dad, who was born in Malaysia and thus has a well-trained palate in this area, made a lot of grunting noises when eating, and ended up with the largest pile of sticks on his plate at the end, ergo, recipe is now tested and certified fabulous.


Mum made up skewers of apricots, prunes, and chicken liver wrapped in bacon, which I admit when she first mentioned, I was highly dubious of. But then we popped them on the barbie, and they smelt great, and then I ate one and it tasted even better. Seriously unexpectedly amazing, and did not look like vomit as I had nothing to do with the creation.

Dad also taught me a neat trick for reviving cucumber that's gone a little soft; soak it in a little vinegar for a while. Makes it crunchy again. 'cause you can't have satay without cucumber.

I took some pictures of the trifle, but the trifle was such a monster, such a behemoth, such a blasphemy against the order of the universe that even Lovecraft would pause and say, come on now, that's getting a bit silly, and the pictures didn't really do it justice and it's probably for the best that such an unholy creation remain unrecorded.

It looked like vomit AND snot AND blood clots. Tasted like miracle vunderbar! I won't use shop bought custard again though. It was too runny, and didn't set like a trifle is supposed to.


Poor Sam got a grass seed stuck in his paw a couple of days ago. Very minor, but it did require taking him to the vets and having them knock him out in order to remove it. IT IS ENORMOUS. The vet gave it to us, for some reason, it's sitting by the fruit bowl. We've taken to calling it the Demon Seed. Sam isn't allowed to lick his paw, hence the collar. We alternate between calling him Bucket, Satellite Dish and Space Dog. Well, I call him Space Dog. Mum doesn't like it, as it makes her think of Laika. He's not a victim of human science, however, he's a Space Dog like a cool frood, taking your messages from Mars, hullo, you've reached Planet Tessa, Canine Branch, How May I Help Ewe? SO CUTE.

As the subject line indicates, I have a present for you, should you wish to have one. Namely, recipe for Fabulous Satay, as given to Mum by one Audrey Wong more than twenty years ago. Thank you, Audrey, whoever and whereever you are!

Printed on type-writer, copied on thermal paper, and to continue the tradition, photographed and uploaded, for your nomming pleasure. Click for the larger picture.



Wednesday, December 24, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 11:34 is the twenty-second reindeer of the apocalypse. #
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Monday, December 22, 2008

Use Once Then Destroy - Conrad Williams


buy - author

It's a totally different book with its clothes on. I take the dust jacket off when reading. Now it's all dressed up and I've lost my train of thought. Who's the mould spectre on the front? Shark Puppet approves whole-heartedly.

I was so hooked on The Unblemished that I picked this up almost right away, in direct contravention of my normal reading rules. In order to let a book stand or fall on its on merits (or lack of) I make a practice of following up with books that are entirely different, so I'm not sucked into drawing comparisons between them. Which is, inevitably, what happened in this case.

UOTD showcases a sample of Williams' short fiction over the last 15 years, ample evidence that he's been an amazing and horrible writer for a Very Long Time. There's some nasty stuff in here. I came out of "Nest of Salt" while riding the train, and had to close the book and make a conscious effort not to sit with my nose scrunched up, because...ow. It was an intriguing story, Egan's obsession being all too easy for the reader to take on, until the end, where...ow.

I'm partial to the use of streets in Williams' fiction; Egan, for example, spends too much time and money traipsing about London, looking for one elusive street, and in doing so seems to walk down every other street. I suppose it's something that resonates with me, being a foot and train person. Walking is how I learn an area. I'm there, in it, as are his characters. (His characters die horribly. I don't. I'm good like that.) It's a method of city-saturation he uses not just for London, but Venice as well, as in the highly unsettling story "City in Aspic". You've never known a single discarded glove to be so menacing.

Methinks that single author collections should not be read cover to cover, as I do. Ah, I'm just lazy. I don't like having several books on the go at any one time. I prefer to give a book my undivided attention, because I'm considerate and sensitive like that. It works against me, regarding collections. Short stories are suppose to stand alone, but reading a bunch all in one go, you can't help but draw comparisons between them, nor can you help but develop a feel for the writer's...signature? Style? Touch? I found myself coming to know the shape of these stories before they had a chance to unfold, and anticipating the rhythm and beats that the story telling unfolds to. In this case, the struggle against and final acceptance of fate (usually grisly) and an intense relief coupled with that final submission. As a result, a lot of superb and ghastly stories blended into each other, into one big block of OMG THIS IS HORRIBLE I LOVE IT. Life Lessons Extracted from UOTD: England is miserable and depressing, London is out to get you, all couples are unhappy and breaking up and only ever got together for the sake of having someone, anyone, and when they're falling apart they try to salvage their relationship by driving out to small villages on the weekend, where they die horribly and/or kill each other.

I'm never going to England.

Stories that didn't follow those rhythms stood out. "The Night Before" is not horror, or unsettling, and when I finished it I had to wonder what it was doing among such company. It's a softer piece, set in Australia, an environment markedly different from any other offered in the collection, and the story smells different accordingly. It sat with me longer than any other.

Hidden up the back of the collection is a trifecta of Genius with a capital Hot Damn. "The Suicide Pit" is the train story (there's always trains, I love it), with reality gently unraveling around Fullbrook, who has the most depressing job in the world - photographing rail accidents. "Excuse The Unusual Approach" follows the fight/accept fate path, but is wearing a whole new suit, making it fresh and delicious.

The crown jewel, "Nearly People", skulks about the very back of the book. It's shoots off in a different direction from everything that precedes it, venturing more into the realm of furious and filthy post-apocalyptic fiction, taking only the nastiest and best bits of horror with it. I adored it. I dipped into it at work when the supervisors weren't looking, caught myself in that trap of wanting to know what was going on NOW but not wanting to finish too soon, and being quite bereft when the final line was read. There's a second Howling Mile novella out there, The Scalding Rooms, which I'm much a-twitch to get my paws on. Good thing PS is sold out, 'cause I shouldn't be spending that money right now. Bad thing PS is sold out, 'cause...you know. Le sigh.

Another collection, PENETRALIA, is slated for 2010 from PS. Fingers crossed.

Ultimately, this wasn't the "again! again!" I wanted after The Unblemished - there's a fine layered tension that can only be constructed in the story arc of a long work, like being slow run through with a whaling harpoon. UOTD was less like a harpoon than a gun stuck on automatic fire; just as relentless, but fucking you up in a different way.

Verdict: I suspect Mr Williams has become one of those authors about which there's no point in listening to me - you know I really, really, really dig the stories, now go decided if you do to. YOU DO. OF COURSE. DON'T EVEN QUESTION THAT.

Round 2: writaaaaaaaaaaar!

The novel grew quite a bit this year. I'm not a good writer, I don't track my daily word count at all, so I have no idea by how much it grew, only that it grew. But then 7wishes kicked off, and a whole lot of shit hit the fan, and it ground to a halt again. Poor novel. Soon, baby, soon.

As stated earlier, due to 7wishes I wrote 42 short stories this year. I don't think it can be said enough that such an undertaking is INSANE and I will not be repeating it, even if I didn't exactly do it deliberately this time around. I don't know what the word count is, I'd guess around 40k.

It became pretty obvious from this that I am incapable of working on more than one project at a time.

My one proper print story featured in ASIM #34, and I admit I totally failed to pay any attention and read any reviews, so I've no idea how it was greeted.

Ann invited me across the threshold (I'm like a vampire, you know, you only need ask and THEN YOU NEVER GET RID OF ME) and I'm now an editorial assistant for Weird Tales, something which continues to surprise me. I also critiqued four and a half novels this year; two of them are on the shelves, one will be on the shelves in a year, and the other I expect on the shelves at some point.

Behind the scenes, it was an even better year for learning about my own writing mechanics. The novel took off because I found myself entirely incapable of distracting myself; living in the city with no TV, internet, not even a desk to put the Decepticon on in order to play games, what's a girl to do with herself? gussy up and hit the bars! STAY INSIDE. WRITE. That brief stretch was all it took to teach myself how to block, really block, distractions, and more importantly, the urge to be distracted, out.

It was a process I'd half started a couple of years ago, when I bought Eddie. Having two computers seems overkill, but keeping writing to one and play on the other works perfectly for me. Eddie is the writing machine. The Decepticon is the slackassery machine. And never the two shall meet. I even bought this particular desk because it was long enough to fit the two on without the spaces overlapping, and without loosing the ability to look out the window. I've found my ideal set up. It took 27 years, but a secret once learned is never unlearned.

7wishes was a veeeeeeery interesting ride. Something that started as a personal exercise in distraction of another kind turned into something else, I don't know what. It never stopped being personal, but in my mind, the idea as a whole came to belong to you readers as much as it did to me. That, perhaps, was a half-taste of what it is to be an established, lauded and much-stalked author. Have my stories ever been as read? They were well chopped up at Clarion South by at least 17 other people, but there's a different mentality involved between submitting a rough draft for critique and essentially self-publishing a finished piece for anyone passing by to read. These aren't the traditional paths of waiting for circulation, reading, and reviewing. What reactions there were, were posted here - feedback was pretty much instantaneous. I didn't have time to fall out of love with the story. Given the long time lines involved in the publishing industry, it's a turnaround I don't think many have the chance to experience.

Some of you I know, but a lot of you I don't know, and you have no investment in any sort of relationship and thus no need to pander to my ego. You've stuck around and read and read a bit more, and that alone says more than any positive comment.

I had an enormous tanty a couple of years back. I was all "AAARUGH I suck at writing I am a failure I will never be a proper writer ARRRRUGH writing sucks I don't care any more AAAARUGH" etc etc etc. This was triggered partly due to post-Clarion South stress and a prolonged period of unemployment and depression. For a while there it was quite confronting. If I wasn't a writer, if writing was no longer the point of my life, then what was? That's a void I'd never experienced before. It's not all that pleasant. Still, I'm not a writer, and writing is not the point of my life, and I think I've made my peace with that, at last, and now I write because I want to. I'm not pushing myself to do it because It Is My Goal In Life. The onus of my future has been kicked into a gutter. I'm not a writer. But I write anyway.

I still can't tell you why. I don't know.

Probably because I don't know how to do anything else.

Now that my head knows what it's doing, and I know what I'm doing...I'm having a right fucking godddamn bugger of a time doing it. Ben Peek wrote about some of the less than stella aspects of the writing life, in that he chose time to write, and thus isn't in a great financial position. I'm the opposite; I have money fine, but no time to write. My job is a set 40 hours a week, there is never any over time or staying back an extra hour or so to finish a job, so I have more time than most full time workers. I can squeeze in a good few hours or so of writing on some days, no writing at all on others, and it only takes a couple of engagements to slaughter a week's output. Christmas has kicked my progress in the nuts. My word count is curled up in a fetal position, red-faced and crying as Christmas gears up for another kick and New Years is cracking its knuckles in the background.

I hope (five million fingers crossed) that having a 9-5 mon-fri job will at least let me develop a set routine, something shiftwork never allowed. Six months of that will be an adequate trial and if it hasn't made a significant difference to my output, well, we'll have some thinking to do.

If you really want to be a writer, then go get yourself an understanding partner and live with them. Shared costs makes a difference, and shared household living errands makes a difference. Plus, if they're really nice, they'll make you cups of tea.

Or you could just not be a writer.

Actually, if you really want to be a writer you have to die in obscurity. That's doing it properly. To make this easier, I'm going to establish my own nation within Australia. It will be called Obscurity, where all writers come to rest, not unlike an elephant's graveyard. Tortured artists will be lining up and sending me inflammatory letters, demanding to know who I am to choose who does and does not get to die in Obscurity, after all, I'm not even a writer.

Pretty good year for someone who isn't trying.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Seize the day, they say.  So I seize the damn day, I say.  By the damn throat.  And while I have this miserable little Saturday in my hands, I tear its damn throat out with my damn teeth.  I chew its damn head off until I can wear its damn tonsils as a damn bracelet.  Bits of Sunday fall out in soggy lumps all over the floor and my jeans.
Sunday looks just like Saturday.

Carpe Diem, fucker.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dear Body,

We are very tired. When the alarm went off, we were not 'already' awake, we were 'still' awake. We have now been awake for over 24 hours.

We are not amused.

In the words of Miiru, 'die in a fire'.

No love,
Your Head.

Round 1: blaaaaargh!

January: I walk along the tram tracks on Flinders Street, because I can.

February: FIRST: Deb will be in Melbourne this weekend, just in case you missed it and wanted to make the most of this rare opportunity to observe her in the wild.

March: Herr Bear

April: When I raise the blinds, I see jellyfish.

May: Here's the deal: instead of 7wishes, you get MS Paint doodles.

June: Somewhere, there is a committee, and that committee decided that security was paramount, and while Britain’s emulation of Orwell’s 1984 is a sterling effort, it isn’t enough.

July: never say yes to garlic sauce. even when it's free.

August: I’ve been thinking about vengeance.

September: Philip Glass will be performing at the Melbourne International Arts Festival in October.

October: “I beg your pardon,” the ButlerBot says.

November: What a pleasant day!

December: Come closer, I have something to tell you.

Methinks I need to exercise my wit around the first of the month more often, or pointless summations such as this fail to even be passingly amusing. Got caught by less nightshift exercises than I thought. I'm very partial to November, there.

Maybe I should declare themes for each month of 2009? "This month is the month of Vegemite Sandwiches!" and the like. See how I totally fail to live up to a month of vegemite sandwiches.

Well, a month of vegemite sandwiches is just not sensible. BUT! This the perfect excuse to go out and buy more finger puppets, one for each month. WHAT MY LIFE NEEDS IS MORE FINGER PUPPETS. YOUR LIFE NEEDS MORE FINGER PUPPETS. SO DOES THE INTRAWEBZ. Clearly, this is my destiny.



"NEVAAAR! THIS IS MY BLAAARGH! MIIINE!"

Shut up, shark puppet. You look like a right twat with a finger up your cloaca.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 14:35 NICK CAVE IS STANDING NEXT TO ME WAITING FOR THE LIGHTS. #
  • 14:37 Or, his doppelganger. #
  • 14:37 Regardless: AUGH. #
  • 14:59 NO. I HAVE CONFIRMED IT. IT WAS HIM AND FAMILY. IT WAS TOTALLY HIM. AUUUUUGH. #
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Monday, December 15, 2008

More Advice For Writaarghs

Don't wear heels higher and narrower than you're used to.
Don't wear heels if there is going to be alcohol involved.
Don't wear heels if there is going to be alcohol involved and you know you have to climb your crazy ass stairs to get to your front door.
Don't wear heels if there is going to be alcohol involved and you know you have to climb your crazy ass stairs to get to you front door and you've forgotten to leave the outside light on.

And by 'writer', I do of course mean 'women and cross-dressers'.

Good night.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Advice To Writers

If you're going to scribble comments in the margin of your manuscript, make an effort to be legible. I'm sure whatever I've written here is a stroke of pure raw undiluted genius, but I can't read my own handwriting.

Let's try that again, but this time, without all the yucky stuff.

Last New Year's Eve I finished work at 9 o'clock at night. I wandered along the river and watched the fireworks set off for kids so's they didn't miss out before bed time, and then walked home. It was fiercely hot. The majority of the main roads were blocked off, so I indulged in the trivial novelty of walking down the middle of tram tracks. Swanston Street was so ridiculously utterly packed with people it was even hotter. I fought my way to my apartment, poured myself a cold drink, and wrote for the next two hours. Half an hour before midnight I ventured out again, equipped with a bottle of water. I let the crowd pull me up Swanston and across the Princess Bridge to Alexandra Gardens, where I found a retaining wall to lean against. It was magma hot. The fireworks went off. It was centre of the earth hot. I finished my water, and followed the crowd back up to the Princess Bridge, and the first cold sweat hit me. I'd already fainted two and a half times that year, recognised the warnings and knew what I needed to do; sit down and have a long cold drink. I could do neither. Police officers allowed no one to stop the flow of the crowd. I was out of water and there was nowhere to refill. I was two blocks from home, but the speed at which traffic moved it would take me half an hour to get there. Still, I did the best I could, staying close to the railing and stopping to lean on it whenever my vision started to go black. This happened every ten metres or so. Five metres. It took me twenty minutes to cross the bridge. I wasn't going to make it. A group of police were gathered around a man handcuffed and sitting on the ground, waiting for more members before escorting him away. I paused by them. One member told me to move on. I asked if I could sit down for a bit. She shook her head. I said, "okay", and went to rest my head on the rail, just for a moment before setting off again. There is a minute or so missing from my life, in which I finally fainted, hit the paving hard, and was hauled out of the way by the cops. They gave me water, when I came back, and asked me if I'd taken anything. No, I haven't even been drinking. Just dehydrated and too hot. They had work to do, and after a minute left with their offender. Fainting is a bit like vomiting; once you've got it over with, you have a window of reprieve to feel okay. I chugged the water they'd given me and bolted home, where I lay on the floor with another large cold drink and thought about nothing.

Summary: I spent the night alone, surrounded by strangers, watching overhead wonders, falling apart, distraught and unable to get home.

I'm not usually one to subscribe to suburban superstition - reading old horoscopes is bad luck, 11:11 on the clock is good luck, how you spend New Years is how you'll spend the rest of the year - but it kinda set the tone for 2008, and the following months didn't deviate from it.

This NYE, I'll be working again. Actually, I'm working every single public holiday this season, which...okay, I can't complain. I need the money, and I don't have such a huge social life to warrant any significant days off. But. But. Anyway, let's carry on.

I finish at 11 o'clock at night. I considered repeating the activities from last year (minus fainting), as I generally don't mind traipsing about on my own. The idea of wading through the crowds isn't sold to me, though, and the fireworks aren't all that, and doing things on your own is a hell of a lot less enjoyable when you're surrounded by groups having an awesome time being groupish. Not really anticipating having anyone to make my own group with, as I'm not a part of any group of friends. My lovely people tend to dissipate into their own social circles come party time.

So, what to do? Maybe catch the train out to Northcote. I imagine the crowds will be less there. Should be some bars open where I can get a drink, then take up position on the hill and watch the city from there, followed by a nice amble home. I quite like the walk from Northcote.

Or maybe just go home. Pick up a drink from the kitchen, go back to the station and watch the city from the railway overpass.

Or just go to bed, and shut the door on both the year leaving and the year arriving.

It won't matter what I do. There's nothing any of us can do to shape 2009. The world will keep spinning and life will keep unfolding regardless of ritual or superstition. Whatever happens, happens.

(But I haven't yet accepted that.)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Dear World, My Dearest World

It's not all rose-tinted. I know what streets not to walk down, I even know which side of the street not to walk on. I know what people to give a wide berth, without making it obvious I'm giving them I wide berth. I know how to be invisible in plain sight. I chose this suburb over other suburbs precisely because I knew I could walk through it at night without it being an exercise in stupidity. I do not go out of my way to put myself in harm's way - that's not my way.

When I went to leave, there were cries of no, don't be silly, just wait, someone will give you a lift. People were having fun with karaoke and the amazing dessert spread, and in truth, I wanted the walk. I told them to stay put and carry on.

They kept at it, far beyond the point of courtesy. It was as if the idea of walking as anathema to them, and I laughed and told them they were allergic to it.

Instead, they pulled out the safety card.

The people who tell me that walking alone at night is unsafe, that traveling on the trains is unsafe, are the people who don't, who never have.

I want to tell them that they have no idea what they are missing out on, but they wouldn't understand if I did, because they really have no idea, cannot even grasp the edge of it.

It was a perfect evening for walking. The air was cool, the late afternoon rain having washed the heat and dust from it, filling the world with that too-rare smell of water. It was that quiet in-between hour, the sun having set without the night moving in, people sitting and still in their dining rooms. The sky was a thousand shades of pearl and down and mist. The crickets were out. I was out. It was a perfect evening for walking.

I can't tell you the moments I've stumbled upon while walking alone or sitting on the train by myself. Little pieces of...something. I could read meaning into them, I suppose, but they don't require it. They're not love, peace, beauty, or anything so easy to label. They're not secret. They're not hidden. They're just little moments. Some of them are sad, some are confronting, some of them are joyous; all of them are amazing.

I suppose putting myself in a position to encounter such things is my way of worship, if such a word could ever be applied to me, and in doing so I strengthen my faith, for I know of no other word to use. There will always be something else, something that isn't new or brilliant or shocking, just something that you can only find in this place at this time with this air, and once you've gone by you'll never be able to get into that moment again. These instances make life worth living, and the world worth living in.

And so, to those who cast me dubious, dismissive, scornful and worried looks, I understand you. I do. I would love the convenience of a car. One day I will get jumped, mugged and/or raped, and at that time I'll wish I had the security of a locked door and the control a steering wheel and pedal offer.

One of the things that makes the streets a scary place to walk is that people are scared to walk in them. If you are afraid, then there will be something for you to be afraid of. You could be attacked by strangers. You could have your phone stolen. You could be beaten and left bleeding under the street lights. These are real things. If you like, you can be afraid of them.

You could very well see a giant smiley face in the stars. You could find genius graffiti amid the real estate signs. You could smell honeysuckle in the twilight. You could catch a glimpse through an open door of someone playing the piano. You could meet someone worth meeting. You could find peace of mind walking down the middle of an empty road in the twilight. These are real things too, and for me there was never, has never been any choice to make.

It was never about safety.

You'll miss these things if you're moving too fast. I suppose, if you live without these things, you won't be looking for them, you may not even need them in your life. That in itself is a sad moment, because I can't help but want to share these little discoveries. They are important, not even that, they're precious, and for this reason alone - not convenience safety environment money health - I will never own a car. I don't pass through the world; the world passes through me, and I'm a better person for it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

It's good to be me!

Remember that talk we had about a balanced diet?



Fairy bread for dinner is not a balanced diet.

Monday, December 01, 2008

"Psssssst!"

Come closer, I have something to tell you.

Closer.



If you're on the Eastern Seaboard of Australia and you look towards the west, Jupiter, Venus and the Moon are giving you a smile that spans so many degrees, you'll never receive a bigger smile in all your life.

We also need to talk about...you know, Hot Fuzz. You've watched it 10 times in 10 days. C'mon now. I know it's funny, very funny, tailor made to your particular sense of humour, but seriously now. A balanced diet contains variety. The way you're going, you'll end up with a vocabulary that consists solely of quotes from Star Wars, Red vs Blue, Roald Dahl and now Hot Fuzz. Stop it.

Okay?

Okay.

Well, your dinner date cancelled. You have the evening free. What you thinkin'?











Right. Stupid question, really. At least go and make tomorrow's lunch before pressing play.

Also, you look like a right twat with a shark in your ear.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Too old to have imaginary friends, too young to live without 'em.

That was my last nightshift for the year, and that was the last 7wishes.

It was in its death throes in IV, but I wanted to complete the set, so to speak. One round of madness for every madness inducing shift of the year. I could go on - no shortage of ideas here - but they're getting same-same, and I'm twatty enough, and in love with the dream enough, to not want stagnation to go any deeper.

Also...That's 36 short stories written and posted, 39 if you count the ones I discarded, 41 if you count the CYOAs, 42 if you count that sleep story. 42 short stories written in less than a year.

Pardon me, but that's fucking insane. Not a "wow, look at me, I'm on fiiiire!" insanity either. That's a purely "that's just plain ridiculous," insanity. And I'm daft enough to wonder why I didn't finish my novel this year. I'm giving over the writing room in my brain to the novel now. I need to finish it before I get eaten by a shark or thrown in front of a train, because if I die without finishing this thing, I will come back as a very irate ghost. Which, you know, I'd rather avoid.

But mostly I have to let them go as I'm letting a lot of the year go.

The first stories hatched on a very bad night. They were a feverish exercise in distraction, something to fixate on, to calm down and come down and give me enough space to remember how to breathe. Some of them I told to amuse myself, some of them to say things I didn't know how to say, but all of them were created because I didn't know how else to deal with grief, rage, fury, despair and horror.

I don't think they belong to me any more. Posting them turned them into something else, as defined by you. I think you turned them into something better than their origins.

I couldn't see any wonder in the world or myself, so I wrote wonder into all the places I needed it to be. I don't need to anymore. It doesn't matter how much I enjoy writing them, or how much I enjoy having you read them - these stories came from a terrible place, and I can't get there any more, and I hope I never have to again.



Thank you Russell, Chris, Mike, Jaime, Colin, Jeff, Terry, Nadine, Matt, Yunyu, Kirsten, Ben, Sander, Laurie, Scott, the Mysterious ~, Larry, Gillian, Barry, Stuart, Falkman, Timblynod, (holy moly there are a lot of you), Cory, Gareth, Libbette, Matthew, Gigi, Nautiloid, Ross, Selena, DS, Arthur Miller, Steve, Dave, and any one else I missed for all your wonderful comments, special thanks to Andy for saying "please don't delete them", and thanks to everyone and anyone who spent some minutes of their lives in reading.

I hope you all found something worth finding.

I did.

<3

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

/end nightshift



Arthur Miller's hilarious CYOA has come to a conclusion, alas, alack, and woe. More misery to you if you weren't following it as it unfolded, but not all is lost! You can go and peruse the posts and enjoy the accordian music at your leisure. <3

Mike has engaged in chinese whispers with the current batch of 7wishes, and is putting his own spin on my titles. It's trés nifty, and he's developed a coherent story line which has brought out several "hey, cool!" moments. Looking forward to the last two, indeedy. <3

Jaime drew Florence;



Aww! Lookit da snuffly bear! Isn't she pretty? I love the eyelashes. And don't I look like a cranky bitch? TOO RIGHT I DO. EXCELLENT CAPTURE THAR. <3

Saturday, November 22, 2008

for it to be bleeding obvious

They trial the Chronoemotive Emphasis Field Generator in Melbourne over the space of a week. With society more and more saturated in entertainment media, the younger generations knowing almost nothing else and showing escalating signs of a fundamental inability to deal with life as it is, some bright spark came up with the idea of enforcing dramatic timing on the universe at large. Wouldn’t everything be more meaningful and exhilarating if the world fell into slow motion just as you were turning around, and you know for certain the reason it is doing that is something momentus is coming up on your shoulder – your ex-boyfriend, the most beautiful woman in the world, a speeding bus, just to name some examples.

It’s a stupid idea. Despite huge protests and intense lobbying, the generator is switched on.

My life is condensed into a brief montage of getting read for work, going to work, sitting at work, going home, sitting at home, going to bed, on repeat. All the curious quirks of my routine dismissed and the trivial but important details of my unseen life cut out from the timeline.

When the generator is turned off, I stumble off balance, and dare not move for the disorientation of my time sloshing about and making me nauseous. I’m half way to the train station. I don’t remember walking this far. I don’t even remember leaving my flat. Those were irrelevant details cut and edited from my week as being boring and unnecessary.

It isn’t the nicest realisation I’ve come to.

Crap, what day is it? Am I even going to work? Maybe I’m not going to the station, maybe I’m going to the shops for- what? I don’t know. I wasn’t present for all the meals I ate during the week. I don’t know what’s in my fridge.

At work they’re all atwitter. From one I hear of a near-miss in the car, how her vision became close and jerky with claustrophobia, until suddenly everything pulled out and she knew, from the sudden wind up and how swiftly everything about her moved, what was going to happen, and slammed on her brakes. The motorcycle sliced through the intersection without a sideways glance.

From another I hear of stress and pressure, how everything zipped about like bees on cocaine, and she couldn’t keep up or understand what they were saying and nothing was in her control, until a friend walked over with a cup of coffee and a smile, and the chaos was reeled in and the world resumed its normal pace.

Everyone has a story. I zip my mouth shut.

They’re quick to announce the results of the trial – that the field operates only as the person affected allows it to. That is; if you live firm in the assumption, that you and anything that happens to you is important, centre of the bloody universe important, then the scale of chronoemotive emphasis operates at a high ratio, working its way into smaller and smaller details and thus giving fine and dramatic highlights to your daily life.

If you don’t consider yourself, your actions, your impact on the world to be relevant, then the generator tends to overlook the minutiae and condense the narrative of your life down to the larger earthquakes, with one cramped montage filling the time between such occurrences.

Clearly not designed to benefit the insecure and introverted.

We give your life meaning, the ads on TV and the posters in the stations pronounce.

No, you took away the ability to give myself meaning, I counter, but no one is listening.

The next trial is a month long. Even my visits back home, catch up with friends and violent invisible emotional meltdowns are relegated to the montage, the long, drawn-out, painful montage showcasing my pointlessness.

I am granted one moment of ‘meaning’, and find myself standing on the corner of Spencer Street, waiting for the lights and watching a tram swing around the tracks. Half a glimpse of a blurred face in the window, and a jolt of recognition. The lights change, the crowds around me walk and I stay on the corner, watching the tram pull away, already doubting my eyes. Then I’m gone again, back in the montage.

This time, when they turn it off, I’m standing in front of my own door, keys in the lock. I don’t know if I’m coming or going. The sudden snap of true time returned to me is like off milk and rotten eggs and sledgehammers. I fall over, dizzy to the point of vomiting, and so pathetically grateful to be going through every horrible second of every agonising minute, in order of appearance.

Instead of changing my opinion of my life and role in the world, the generator cements it. Here is proof of my irrelevance. Can’t argue with that.

Later that day I receive a rare phone call. Where are you, she asks, curt.

I’m suppose to be somewhere? I’m lying on the floor, still recovering, marvelling at the seconds filing by neatly.

Yes, we’re going on the ferris wheel, remember? We organised it last week over dinner? You know, when everything went slow-mo at dessert and Chau came over and introduced himself. You do remember Chau, right?

I don’t remember Chau. I don’t remember dinner at all, but I don’t tell her that. I don’t feel well, I say, and it isn’t a lie. She’s hangs up, shrugging my condition off with indifference. Apparently Chau is with her.

Then that dinner, whatever it was, was deemed meaningless too? By who? I wouldn’t have thought so, but then again-

After some further fine tuning, they announce the trials a success. While there are some people adversely affected by the field, response has been overwhelmingly positive, especially regarding the number of soulmates discovered due to slow motion cues kicking in. The date for permanent activation is set.

The day before the generator is to be turned on for the last time, I pack my bags.

“I can’t live like this,” I say.

“What will you do?”

“I don’t know.” I don’t want to leave Melbourne. My friends are here, my family is here, and I love this city, but they will mean nothing if I cannot reach the through that enforced montage of pointlessness.

“Where will you go?”

“Somewhere where I can find meaning, I suppose.”

“Where’s that?”

The generator is turned on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One Toothbrush, One Set of Keys, and Undies Drying in the Lounge

You know, I wanted to write a thoughtful, in depth post on all the teething problems involved in learning to live alone, but that isn't to be. The year being as it is, there's too much interference from the rest of my life for me to tease out that which is relevant.

Did living alone make it harder to deal with everything? Would I have coped better if I'd been back home and putting on a brave face? I can only ever fool myself if I'm fooling someone else in the process.

Did living alone keep me from falling apart any further? Maybe being able to collapse as soon as the door locked behind me and just be a fucking wreck without fear of discovery was the only way I could retain any ability to carry on.

I don't know, and I suspect it doesn't matter.

Learning to pass through each day without acknowledgement was hardest, and something I've only just mastered. I don't think I need much attention, but I'm insecure enough to need my existence validated in some form or other. All these little things that go on within my walls, my private earthquakes and rainbows, my mundane little accomplishments and failures, they're all unseen. When I get home, there's no one about so that I can debrief and offload the day. There's nothing in any of these things that is important, meaningful or lasting, and yet the fact that no one knows of them but me raises some faint moth flutter of panic, that if no one knows of them it is because they are not worth knowing (and they're not), and it's only a short skip, hop and jump on a bad day without the strength to fight off bad habits and I've reached the conclusion that this is because I don't matter.

This was hardest living in the city, without any sign of life to be seen out my window, and no means of contacting anyone, anywhen. Having a window with a view, here, has given me more peace of mind that I would have credited. It's better than TV. Any time of day I can look out, and yep, the world is still there, carrying on just fine without me.

Finally getting an internet connection killed off the tear gas blanket of isolation in one night. Marvelous thing, the intrawebz. Made for introverts who're more comfortable with the written word, made for people who keep very strange hours. All I need do is check my email in the morning and hey presto! My existence is validated. I can carry on with the rest of the day.

And as a result, loneliness billowed like a mushroom cloud. It isn't that surprising, really. It's always easier to be alone when you are alone. The internet is not being alone; it's a niggling itch that there are all these other people with whom you have contact, but they're not here. To lift wholesale from this article on the pitfalls of twitter (and the internet as a social medium);
…I think it's worth a critical look as opposed to an automatic connected-is-always-implicitly-good response. UCSF neurobiologist Thomas Lewis claims that if we're not careful, we can trick a part of our brain into thinking that we're having a real social interaction--something crucial and ancient for human survival--when we actually aren't. This leads to a stressful (but subconscious) cognitive dissonance, where we're getting some of what the brain thinks it needs, but not enough to fill that whatever-ineffable-thing-is-scientists-still-haven't-completely-nailed-but-might-be-smell. He didn't make this claim about Twitter... I attended his talk at The Conference on World Affairs, and he was addressing e-mail, chat, and even television (brain recognizes it's looking at "people", and feels it must be having a social connection (GOOD), but yet it knows something's missing (BAD).

Dr. Lewis cited a ton of studies which I didn't write down, so you can take this with a grain of salt. Plus, I'm extending his issues from e-mail and chat to Twitter. But part of the reasons he talks about are that our brain has evolved an innate ability to interpret body language, facial expression, tone of voice, etc. so the brain expects these channels of information and becomes distressed when the social interaction appears to be there, but these innate, legacy-brain pieces are missing.

Again, this doesn't mean that it's not worth it and highly valuable for people TO stay connected to far-flung family and friends, I'm just saying that it's worth a look at whether that might be lulling some folks into a false sense of "I'm connected" at the expense of real-life connections.

It felt like eating a chips to slake my thirst; didn't matter how much I consumed, I was still thirsty, and getting more so by the day.

I can't say I've increased my actual face-to-face socialness much – for all I talk of needing other people (I do), I still have no social stamina to speak of. It doesn't matter how much I enjoy a person's company, there's nothing in the world that gives as much relief as saying "goodbye". I'm not made to be company. I'm no good at being me.

If I've learned anything, it hasn't been new lessons at all. I've merely rediscovered that I am at my best, my most calm and happiest when in pure solitude. Turn off the computer so the internet can't reach me. Turn off my phone. Stop looking for something that can't be found online. Sit and look out my window at the birds, the loading truck, the passing trains, and not be myself at all. When there is nothing present that requires the entity of "Tessa" to manifest, I can almost taste love.

In hindsight, perhaps I should have bet on my weaknesses when it came to choosing between living alone and going into a share house. Being good at being alone just means that when I do need company, I need company so intensely I'm afraid to ask for it, because the denial will be too much. I can manufacture the Great Wall of Tessa when I’m surrounded by friends and family, I can make my own space in my mind, I can find solitude in all situations.

I can't make company to save my life. Not being able to wander into the kitchen for an inane two minute chat about milk has caused me more trouble than you can imagine.

It's been a year now. I don't know if living alone is good for me, but I’m good at it, and more importantly, I love it.

Here's to being a grown up hermit crab.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

A shooting star!






Or a drunk and very lost firefly.










Or I'm drunk and seeing dancing lights.

In any case, it was a partial second of delight.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's raining, and everything is beautiful.

Presents!



Jeff sent me a couple of spare copies of his tie-in novel Predator: South China Sea. It has pirates in it. And giant crocodiles (fuck yeah!). Plus rockstars and russian spies and bears (who aren't bears). And did I mention the giant crocodile? (Fuck yeah!)

I read the first draft and things have been shuffled about since then, so it's quite possible there is a snake in the book now. Somewhere. Probably not being as badass and suicidal as the snake on the cover is being, but you know, being a snake in a Predator book nonetheless. There's also a giant crocodile (fuck yeah!) in it, did I mention that?

For a first draft it was already a good tight action story. I know tie-ins are generally poo-pooed as being less than great reading (which, in my experience, is a reputation well earned), but Jeff hasn't used that as an excuse to slack off. The original Predator film is excellent (if you disagree, well, we can't be BFF), and this novel follows in that fine most oarsum tradition of 80s action flicks, heeeeeeeeell yes. I had great fun with it, cheesy action and all.

Also, it's totally my biography. Word for word. Y'all thought I was in Japan for a few weeks last year, when actually I was off being tough and scary and stuff. That's the power of names; let the wrong one in, and it will take over the book, kickin' butt and takin' names (but not giant crocodile(fuck yeah!)'s name (or butt)).

Same game as last time; give me a compelling reason to give you a copy, and I'm still not allergic to international postage. I'll leave this up till next Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

There are thirteen (13) bees in my bathroom. I counted.

And I just realised that I've sprayed my toothbrush with insecticide.

for history! for science!

I feel pretty today. It's bloody fantastic. Why don't I do this every day? Have to make a record of it while it is still true.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

CYOA infection spread

Arthur Miller is mad and is going ahead with his own choose your own adventure, kicking off tomorrow. Wheeeeeeeee! Cannae wait to be on the other side of the writing. Good luck with your exam, sir.

Now I'm to bed before I look at the clock and find 4 hours missing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 11:12 this whole waking up tired thing is getting pretty old. #
  • 11:13 muttergrumblerhubarbrhubarbrhubarb... #
  • 11:13 suppose i should put some pants on and get going... #
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legume

When I started talking to people, they'd nod, look up, and their whole face would change. Whatever I was saying was overridden with "are you alright?"

Yes. Actually, I am.

I've felt pretty good the last couple of weeks. Solid. Not unraveling. Not crazy. Good enough to make a statement about being good and not fear that the World probably has my blog on an RSS feed and will take that revelation as a challenge and do its best to render that very statement invalid.

Which triggers this reaction in people, this sudden and sincere concern, followed by a second question as clearly I'm giving off some horrible vibe that cannot be reassured away with a simple "yeah".

Very few people actually asked that when I wasn't alright. I'm pretty sure I'm not horrendously ugly right now. Methinks I'm so good at camouflaging my state of mind that I broadcast that which is not; ergo, now I'm okay, people are convinced I'm SERIOUSLY NOT WELL.

Maybe I should start wearing make up or something. Maybe that'd help.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 11:54 @tmofee nope, just walking home at midnight. (Orion is the saucepan down here.) #
  • 13:48 @serifs gogogogogo #
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I thought that one might make it to the window frame, but the sky twisted and wrenched and tore it and breathed it in. Are you seeing the violence in this sunny day? This last big one isn't going to make it either. The sky is ravenous.

I'm going outside.
There are three more, sailing by. The sky inhales them before they cross the first window pane. As I type I'm watching one, two, disappear.
There's one tiny scrap of cloud up in the big clear sky. It's small and lonely and fat, like a cloud drawn in a child's picture. The wind carries it fast, and it stretches, and it isn't fat at all, but bunched up, now reaching out like an animal in gallop, and even as I watch the sky breathes it in and it's gone.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 23:40 There's Orion, falling head first to the horizon. #
  • 23:43 I spooked a black cat, and it ran across my path. Doomed, right? #
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Friday, November 07, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 13:20 @goblindegook you can't reveal such things without then posting said artwork and allowing the internet to for its own opinion on the matter. #
  • 14:17 Wild and woolly day, 17 minutes till the train comes. #
  • 23:51 This room is my room no longer. #
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BAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWW

Thursday, November 06, 2008

flotsam

Dave inserted some line breaks and made exquisite poetry of my noodle cooking instructions. As far as instructions went, they didn't really work, which is clearly because they were a poem in disguise. Only a highly-tuned poet whisperer could tame the beast.

The WWF sent me a postcard that was so excited about the pledge to protect and preserve the forests in Sumatra there were more exclamation marks than full stops. It's my favourite piece of charity mail I've received. It just reeks of glee. "If you pass a tree today, give it a hug, and tell it that its cousins in Sumatra are safe, at last."

(I didn't hug a tree, but I did tell the big gum out the front of my building the good news.)



Someone at work gave me a giant jelly frog (safely contained from overtaking the world in a plastic wrapper) and an old school lollypop of strawberry and yoghurt, wrapped in wax paper. I'm quite taken with the sort of 'lolly classification' on the side there. I has a masticable!

I could hold out no more, and bought the Lonely Planet Tibet Guide. I can't not go. Managed to find a tour that does what I want and goes to (most of) the places I want to go and is listed in Australia dollars and thus won't suddenly get expensive the next time the economy has a hissy fit. Those of you with keen eyes may note a couple of sections have been taped up - they're the areas I'm not going. I don't want to know what I'm missing.

Is anyone else's heart just breaking over the Phoenix Mars Lander being swallowed by a martian winter and loosing the sun and turning its heaters off and freezing up and barely whispering to the passing trackers and dying all alone in the dark on another planet? I love those tweets, such a happy little robot, so excited to be scooping dirt around! The lander is guest-blogging on Gizmodo. Momento mori.

Also; I hate sleep.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 17:26 @sorola heh, that's standard dream fare for me. #
  • 17:54 Don't fuck with me, washing machine. I've only had three hours sleep, and I have a hammer. #
  • 18:18 Thank you, washing machine. I'm glad we see eye to eye on this matter. #
  • 18:21 Ice cream, banana and strawberries for dinner second night in a row. Internet has exploded. Winding up the hermit engine shutting down comp- #
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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 12:32 @hellofeast I lol'd that tweet and stuck a star on it. #
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lustrous, bright, soft and nutrient

I was after soba noodles, but my local supermarket had none, so I picked these up instead, hoping they were a rought equvalent (they're not, they're for soup, not cold and dry). When I was prepping them I read the instructions on the back, and thought I would share them with you. 'cause they're pretty special.



I'm not sure what 'souted' is, and just cooked them the normal way I cook every and any sort of noodle. I particularly like the 'specialty' ribbon wrapped around each bunch. Could easily replace the word with 'caution', or 'toxic material'.

They're really nice noodles, by the way.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Aight, after this I promise not to blog again tonight.*

I subscribe to a daily cartoon at Harold's Planet, and I must share this one with you.


*unless something important comes up. Like a spider, or chocolate ice cream, or something.

The Atrocity Archives - Charles Stross


buy - author site

I picked this up at worldcon in LA when I was pilfering the Golden Gryphon table for Fords and Macleods and Vandermeers and this got thrown in my bootay pile as an afterthought. What with the books I'd actually sought out, I figured if it was keeping such fine company in the press, then it'd be to my taste too. Had vague memories of it being recommended.

Three years later, got around to picking it up from the shelf, discovered that, like One Hundred Years of Solitude, I had no idea what it was about or what I was getting myself into.

I actually kinda like that.

At any rate, sys admin versus elder god wasn't quite what I was anticipating. Nor was the prose style. In fact, it shat me to goddamn tears. Bob, being Mr Protagonist, has a singularly irritating voice that raised in me the urge to innocently ask him stupid tech support questions just to see if I could make a vein throb in his forehead. Then feed him decaf. It's a tone that never abated. I know a writer shouldn't assume the reader has knowledge of the subject at hand, but then going on to assume the reader is therefore a dumbass and needs to be spoken to in patronisingly small words isn't cool. I dun like being talked down to, and man, Bob talks a lot. Actually, he explains a lot. It isn't so much a story as a big series of explanations and recaps and summaries, whether it be of some techo-magic gadget's functions or what is going on, right now, on this page. OR NOT ON THIS PAGE, as kept occurring, all the stuff happened off page and the reader only learns everything after the fact in Bob's many debriefing sessions, and augh! Frustrating!

And yet utterly addictive to the point where I was making quick dips into the book at work, between reports. So, irritating in that just can't leave you alone and am kinda in love with you way.

Bob is an agent for a super duper secret government department which exists to prevent the world from being over run by Bad Horrible Things From Other Places as well as keep the public in the dark about these Bad Horrible Things and in turn clean up any instances of accidental Bad Horrible Things that spring up from this enforced ignorance. It's a familiar set up, so I won't go into details about the particulars in The Atrocity Archive or The Concrete Jungle, as that would just smudge the joy of wading through all of Bob's oh-my-god-i'm-so-hard-done-by-and-everyone-is-stupid narration, which is, yes, a joy. Really.

I don't know if I'd venture into any of Stross's other work, as this wasn't quite to my taste, but I'd be lying if I said I'd avoid any further Bobish stories.

Verdict: Light-hearted tongue-in-cheek fun, with a side order of frustrating. Entertaining stuff at the least.

The Unblemished - Conrad Williams


buy - author site

AAAAARGGGGGHHHHHH.

No, wait-

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKkkkkk-ew omg wtf AAAAAAAARRRGGGGGHHHHH sf;klajweoijas;i;asejf;lksdajkl.

THAT WAS SCARY. THAT WAS GROSS. THAT WAS VERY UNSETTLING. All served on a 'this story is exceptionally well written and you can't stop reading it' platter. Williams is a stylist, and shows this off with careful and precise control. He does Very Bad Things and isn't the slightest bit coy about it. It's very clear what is happening, here on this page, just as it's very clear what is in my fridge - these things just are. When he throws away lines full of gore and bodies, it is not left to my imagination, I know exactly what he means, and he's made sure of it.

Eeeee.

This is an end of the world due to uprising of unknown and hidden monster population. In the afterword Williams mentions that The Unblemished had to "be a London tale", and not something that starts in some small rural town somewhere, and he's right. There's no other way and no other setting this story could have unfolded in and still retained that sharp edge of authenticity. That a major city wouldn't notice the butchery going on within its confines until it was far, far too late is something I don't just believe, I know. Melbourne isn't even a smidgeon of London's size, but from my job I'm well aware how much can go on before any one notices something out of the ordinary. Monster apocalypse, if the monsters are on the sly and quick to learn how to camouflage themselves? Piece of cake. Probably already happening. DON'T AGREE WITH ME ON THAT LAST POINT. Which adds a huge chunk of latent fear to the whole book.

The book isn't without its hitches. While it is well balanced, there are moments of 'erm, I dunno what just happened' which never cleared themselves up. I'm still not sure exactly what occurred between Manser and Gyorsi and the fire, or how Gyorsi became Ray (actually, I just figured that out, but then why keep that face? Sarah recognised him later). And I might be touching on a cliché hiccough, but all the random females encountered were young and descriptions dwelled on how delectable they were more than any other type of person. The older asian woman with the headphones got two sentences of acknowledgment, the girl on the same train a couple of paragraphs. NPC guys didn't fare much better.

Towards the end the narrative seemed in danger of unraveling, just as the fabric of society had already done, but never actually fell apart. It ended the only way the world can end, and I was so relieved to have lived through it and be able to close the damn cover and get away from the fug of fear and horror and desperation. Yes, this book actually scared the shit out of me. I read it on the train, which was a mistake (I actually did that with London Revenant as well, which is an even worse book to read on the train late at night). I read it when I couldn't sleep, home alone after midnight, which was an enORmous mistake, as it scared the sleep right out of me, and couldn't keep from opening my eyes every few seconds because I had to be sure, you know, really sure that there was no one else in the room. About to eat me.

Eeeeeee.

AGAIN! AGAIN!

Verdict: I loved this book. I was addicted to this book. I was terrified of this book. Fuckin' OARSUM. Coming at the end of the world from a very unique angle. You read this. Yes.

One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez


buy - author site

I don't remember when I first heard of this book, back in university I think. It's been recommended so many times over the years, it has always existed in my sphere of knowledge. It's lived on my bookshelves for about a year, and yet, when I selected it and opened to the first page, I discovered that I had no idea what the book was about and absolutely no expectations of my own, other than it be extraordinary.

Expectation met and exceeded.

If like me, you intend to read the book but like me have no idea what it is about and want to keep it that way, stop reading this, go out and read the book. Yes? Yes. Now be gone with you.

It documents the rise and fall of one family, and in doing so the rise and fall of the town of Macondo, and in doing so the passage of history, and in doing so the tricks of memory, and in doing so we end up where we started. It's full of strange and strong characters, and strange and ordinary miracles, little mysteries, big mysteries, and in truth, the wonders never cease. I read on, and on, wondering how the Buendía family would cope with this new hardship, this tragedy, this scandal, this surprise, as the narrative unfolds the way every day life unfolds; without reason, logic or neatness. There is no respite, because there never is, and while all things change, nothing really changes.

I did have some trouble with the names, as the family follows that fine tradition of naming their children after their forebears, and I lost track of all the José Arcadios and Aurelianos as more and more turned up with each generation, and tramped over the history of the last. Eventually, I gave up trying to keep them in order, which seemed appropriate as they barely kept themselves in order.

While the men dominate the world, it was the affairs of the women and the women themselves I loved the most. Although the family ends when the story ends, for me the true end came about with the death of Ursula. As Matriarch, she was the centre of the family for over a century, and thus the centre of the world. While her husband and sons and grandsons and great-grandsons fight wars, fall in and out of marriage, and closet themselves away in an attempt to unravel the secret of the gypsy's manuscript, she holds the universe together with all the strength and determination and thoroughness you'd expect of such a pioneer. In the last years of her life, with her sight gone and her touch with reality tenuous, she is granted perhaps the most clarity of them all. The insights she gains are those that come only from living so long, and through so much.

And, ah, Amaranta. I love you most of all.

I would comment on the theme of solitude, as it weaves in and out of the narrative, between characters, but I think the book has already said it all, and elegantly.

It is apparent, as the final sentence takes the family from existence and the town from the map that the manuscript that ensnared various men over the century is the very same book we are reading. Having read it, having taken on the knowledge it contains, we cannot unread it. The family is ended, the town gone, I cannot undo that.

Such is fiction.

Verdict: classics become classics because they earn the title, and continue to earn the title even as new stories are hatched every day. This is wonderful, and full of wonder.

Quickies



The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon
It's beautifully written, with absolutely lush characters and some balance issues. It isn't really "the amazing adventures of kavalier and clay" so much as "the self-absorbed wanderings of kavalier with a guest appearances by clay", which grated my nerves. I sympathised and admired and occasionally envied Kavalier; I liked Clay. I don't believe there is much to be gained from writing up a report on a book it took me 8 months to read, regardless of exactly why it took 8 months. It isn't the book's fault I had "issues", but it remains the book I put down and didn't enjoy enough to pick up again for more than half a year.

Vampire Hunter D: Mysterious Journey to the North Sea (Part 2) - Hideyuki Kikuchi (trans. Kevin Leahy)
I don't even remember when I read part one, but it was a looong time ago. The intervening months were no obstacle to picking the story up again. I've a feel for these narratives now, it might look like a huge and complicated cast of characters, but the actual events unfolding are straight forward. This volume in the series has the distinction of containing the first real female character. While she is seventeen (THERE IS NO OTHER AGE FOR YOUNG WOMEN), she isn't staggeringly beautiful, or depressingly in-your-face tough but weak in all the wrong cliches, not constantly throwing herself at D, not ridiculously helpess, not a mere cardboard cut out to be The Girl. And not, thank all writing deities, just a sex thang being raped or under constant threat of rape. Su-In is possibly the first real character in the whole series, and I really liked her. It bodes well for future volumes.

D is, as always, D. Without personality. Kickin' butt and takin' names and making everyone hot in the pants.

Animal Farm - George Orwell
I'd never read this before. No idea why. Just because? I wanted to, but it didn't seem right, going out and buying a new one and Mum and Dad's copy was who knows where in all the books in the house. I pounced on this twenty-something year old copy that Paul was getting rid of, and the book-fetishist in me had a tizzy fit because it's the same design as my version of 1984. They match! They can hold hands and get the same hair cut and look good together!

At any rate, I almost didn't need to read it, having absorbed the story and its lessons via osmosis over the years. I don't feel I've much to add to the discussion regarding the story, so I shall refrain. It's a classic, hefty but tight little book, and utterly depressing. I took great delight in stirring Mum up by reminding her that BOXER DIIIIIIIIIIES.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

But only because I want

By the way, I'm sober now. And I still love you.

<3

Saturday, November 01, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 23:09 5 sodding minutes to extract archive. #
  • 23:09 50 sodding minutes to install patch. #
  • 23:10 Think I'll go eat worms. #
  • 23:21 @MattStaggs YES (for a given definition of 'yes'). #
  • 23:34 askldjf;laskdjfa;lskdjf;alsfui;awoijva;isjfasd curses! foiled again! *escapes with a flashy whirl of cape* #
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Today is not my birthday. Again.

I don't have any cake, or any candles for that matter, with which to repeat the Flaming Lamington Fortress of last year, so I've made do with a couple of bits of bread and nutella.



Nom nom nom.

I'm split 50/50 on whether or not to acknowledge the date. Keeping mum is an admission that events some eleven years ago still affect me, and remarking on it here is the same, only public. But, well, any excuse to eat nutella, I say. Which is the whole motivation behind the exercise.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Free issue of Weird Tales

While I remember, for a limited time you can download the last issue of Weird Tales as PDF for free. It will set you back 13MB bandwidth and a couple of hours of your life to read it, which is a pretty good deal if you ask me.

Not as good as the real dead-tree object, though, I love the way the magazine is floppy, and falls open on the desk without a fight so I need not touch it to read it, and my fingers are always too dry and I have trouble gripping and turning the pages.

But you're not downloading it for floppiness. You're downloading it for stories.

Insects, Water, And

There's a honey bee in the bath tub.

Just one.

I look around, but can't find any others. I've no idea how it got in. The window is shut. The walls lack gaping holes. Mysterious.

It's trapped in a drop of water the size of my thumbnail. It's the only trace of water in the bath, and here it is, mired fast. I guess it was thirsty. Too thirsty not to fall in face first. It lies on its side, and as I watch, struggles to pull its wings free of the water tension. It spins. It fails.

First ants die in my kettle, now bees in the bathtub.

For a couple of weeks back there, I was good. And I mean good; not 'okay', not 'fine', I was seriously feeling good and great and peppy. I half thought that maybe feeling 'okay', the likes of which I haven't been for a long time, that simply not being in a clear-cut negative frame of mind was so unfamiliar that just 'okay' felt fucking awesome. But no, I was good. I felt cheerful, I felt hopeful. Who knows what brought it on, I don't know, I don't care, I only know that it was wonderful and I wish it was my default setting, I wish I had more days like that than I do.

I said to myself, walking through the carpark with a bag of bananas, that something good was going to happen.

That wasn't hope. I knew it as I know the ridges of my teeth. It was a truth. I went looking at people passing me, opening cupboards at home, because this good thing could be anywhere. I was certain of it.

Which should have triggered some alarms, because my certainty is generally fucked up.

Nothing good happened. That sunshine in my blood went away.

I'm okay.

Maybe it's this sleepfuck I'm going through, maybe it's this thing I read, that thing I discovered, these words I didn't hear, but water is rising. Maybe it has already risen, and I'm already under, and all I'm doing is watching ice form over the surface. As Kirsten said, it's coming up from below. I feel it tugging around the edges and that alone sends me into a panic, twists my gut, leadens my joins, I blaspheme, I don't want to go back.

I know these things come in cycles, nothing will last forever, everything passes, and I don't want to whinge...but after a year or so of poisonmind I was hoping for more than a couple of weeks of 'okay'.

I leave the bee where it is. It isn't strong enough. It's drowning in nothing.

Friday, October 24, 2008

don't you wish you'd never met her

It's like I'm at some party. I don't really know anyone here, and have managed to find niche and nook in the peripheral of groups, but I'm not engaging in any conversation and am drinking too fast. I'm nervous. Sleep is here. I caught a glimpse when I first arrived, and that was all it took. That one hard thump in my chest, and that shrinkage in my longer bones, and the party was doomed. At once devastated and ecstatic knowing I breathed the same air, inhabited the same space. Julius Caesar could have been present and I wouldn't have noticed. I've eyes only for Sleep.

Sleep doesn't even know I'm here. I force myself to remain, in this room, with this conversation about who knows what I'm not listening, because as much as I want to follow Sleep from room to room, I don't want to be some sad puppy dog chasing coat tails. It's enough to acknowledge the wreckage the sight of Sleep has done to me.

I watch as Sleep passes by the door, moving down the corridor, arms linked with some other man.

Another hard thump in my chest, further shrinkage in my bones. I can taste my jealousy, and wash my mouth with the last of my drink.

Someone else following Sleep pauses at the door, their gaze lingering and yearning. They turn and enter the room.

Oshitoshitoshit it's Insomnia. And there's an empty seat next to me.

Fuck.

I angle my body away, towards the group I'm not a part of, which helps not a bit. Insomnia makes a bee line for me, flops down heavily and too close and starts sounding off right away. Awkward sentences. Observations intended to be witty and clever but come off as try hard. Nervous laughter.

I feel like a toad, but I can't be seen with Insomnia, oh gods, imagine if Sleep saw me with Insomnia, it'd be a death sentence, a lifetime rejection. Not that it matters, Sleep is off somewhere sleeping with that man, but I can't, I really can't. I mutter something and get up, striding away with purpose and the illusion of direction.

I catch a glimpse of Sleep, lounging against a banister, one hand on a girl's arm. Thump. Shrink. Fuck. Keep moving.

There's a spare bench on the patio, and I slide on, giving those others at the table a nod. They read my posture, the jumpy dart of my eyes. One of them obliges and sits up, hiding me further.

Insomnia is not so green a hunter, and barrels out of the house with too much self-conscious bluster. A chair is snagged, steel legs screeching over the ground, and pulled up again much too close. Again, the prattle, the chatter, the inane comments that have no malice behind them but are so thoughtless as to be war-starting offensive. I give the others an apologetic shrug. Insomnia's embarrassing and embarrassed miasma chokes the patio. The group says something about it getting cold, and head inside. I follow.

There is Sleep, disappearing into a bathroom, pulling someone by the hand.

And this way, I destroy the entire party. With every passing encounter with Sleep, seeing that who I desire making out with every single other person present, bitterness hardens my joints and sets the line of my mouth. I sit myself at still other groups, knowing full well I bring about their doom as Insomnia, the one person I actively dislike, follows in my wake. The atmosphere is destroyed. People are leaving. I'm running out of cover. I run out of cover.

I sit on the couch where I started, staring at the carpet, and Insomnia talks to me. That voice is wearing away at my core, chiseling away the veneer of civilisation and polished manners, and fury raises its head to make a fitting companion of bitterness.

I tell myself this is fine. This entire situation is just fine. Sleep can go sleep with all the strays in the world. I don't care. Really. This is my choice.

I don't go as far as to make eye contact with Insomnia.

I'm fine. Really. I like it this way. I mean, I'm used to it. This is the way parties like this usually pan out, you know, I have a pathetic awkward loser magnet. People seem to think I want to listen. They just want to hear themselves talk, and need a cover. And Sleep, I mean, pfft. Who'd want that? Town bicycle, you know.

Insomnia never shuts up.

Five hours later, I'm in tears, but I can't leave, and Insomnia never shuts up. I'm on the verge, no, I am going to scream, the intent is there, the air is there, and Sleep walks into the room, nods at Insomnia, and holds out a hand.

I hate Sleep. I need Sleep. I'm starved and desperate and I take that hand without even the pretense of reluctance and let Sleep do away with me.

A couple of hours later, my alarm goes off. The bed is empty. Sleep is gone.

LOLarts

This is what happens when you only get three hours of sleep every night for a week; events pass you by. I mean to blog this earlier.

LOLarts just took place in San Francisco, an art exhibition celebrating LOLcats, something that started as an internet macro and has become something of an arts movement, generating it's own language, cultural gravitas, internal logic and a whole lot of laughter.

Andrew Macrae was one of the artists exhibited, putting his typewriter to work once again. He has uploaded the pieces on his art blog acid head war. His typewriter art has been featured twice by BoingBoing. Also, he rocketh muchly.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 17:56 Internal logic engine is churning nothing but contradictions. The mindscape is at war. #
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 12:50 @ronji i see that every other night; i'm guessing there's scheduled downtime which lands in the australian evening. #
  • 22:05 I have escaped work with one (1) sausage in my bag. Although only a one off occurrence, this is a fine development. #
  • 22:44 Honeysuckle is a fine compensation for having to walk home late at night. #
  • 22:46 @MattStaggs This cheese kransky was born of the best sausage-makers in Melbourne, and it is MINE, PRECIOUS, MINE, IT CAME TO ME. #
  • 23:09 @ciabatta *petpetpet* #
  • 23:10 At the tone it will be 12:09am...dit...dit..dit...beeeeeep. BAKING TIME. #
  • 00:02 @MattStaggs I hope your fresh and virginal Wednesday includes dinosaur biscuits. Mmmm. With little piggies. And fishies. #
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