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


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


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, ' 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.


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

  • 14:37 Or, his doppelganger. #
  • 14:37 Regardless: AUGH. #
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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


Come closer, I have something to tell you.


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 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.



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.