Monday, October 29, 2012


I've loved Iceland from afar my whole, fell in love with Reykjavík and the tiny bit of the wilderness I managed to see last year, and can confirm that the love remains just as strong. This is being typed in Café Babalu, my favourite little nook for a chai latte, amazing carrot cake and stable wifi, and I'm nearly squirming with contentment.

It began before we'd even left Scotland.

Seats 4F and 4D. Are you sure? Are you...wait, let me see the boarding slip. Yeah. Those are our seat numbers...are you sure?

We were bumped up to first class without anyone telling us until we were forced to conclude that there wasn't anywhere else on the plane that we could sit. The headrests had hygiene cloths named after various gods and their titles. J swapped his from Freya to Thor at the suggestion of a fellow passenger. Free food! Massive seats! USB Power! Pillows! Blankets! Leg room! It was weird and bizarre and we never really relaxed as we were waiting for the stewards to tell us they'd found our real seats.

It's a completely different world without the blanket snow. The supermarket was just as perplexing as last time.

PYLSUSINNEP. Sounds like an Egyptian riff on a Lovecraft monster. The Egyptian Sausage Demon. Not sure if it's mayo, mustard or tomato-based. It looks like a bottle of glue, to be honest.

As far as we can tell, this is just chocolate. Not even with a fancy filling. Just chocolate. Except there's a faux Michael Jackson endorsing this chocolate. Draw your own conclusions.

....BUT WHY?!?!??!?!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Arbitrary Periods of Time

Today marks one year exactly since leaving Australia.
Since leaving home.

(Well, it's past midnight in both countries now, so technically yesterday is the anniversary but I haven't slept yet so it's still today, dammit.)

It snuck up on me, amid all the other passages of time that I mark. Two days til Iceland. One month til rent is due. Two months without a job. Two months as a freelance editor. Two months til next year. Minutes until winter arrives. One year and one month until my visa expires. One year since I left.

Birthdays and calendar years are opportunity enough to reflect on the recent past, are they not? Yet I have never had a year like this. I have never been so long without my family and tribe, and that is a strain so deep and subtle our lives are too short a lesson and we will never understand it. At the beginning I was fraught with my own daring, at once empowered and paralysed by the question what have I done? Now I can state exactly what I've done, yet I still don't know the answer.

It is to go a layer deeper. The difference between knowing you are cursed with a ravenous insatiable heart and that the search will dictate your every decision and deny you lasting contentment, and understanding it. I understand now that cities are not enough. That villages are not enough. That perhaps even mountains are not enough.

Somewhen along the way I tangled myself in a fine knot of threads, held by so many kind hands, hands driven by hearts that stay in time with my passing time, despite, perhaps because, of my restlessness. They have forgiven me my constant absence even has I am continually surprised and blessed by their persistent presence.

The world is endless.

The sun keeps rising, and I keep breathing, and these terrible and wonderful things carry me on.

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

On a double-decker bus between Glasgow and Manchester

A crisp autumnal morning with frost still bright in the early  morning sun, she blinks once, twice, before turning away from the window. It will be their first night apart. She is thinking of warm knot of his limbs and the wool blankets before the sun had risen, and wondering if now that she is used to sleeping in sanctuary she will be afraid of the dark. This seems a legitimate worry, and so she closes her eyes.

When she wakes she is in another country. The paddocks are smaller and the fences meticulously maintained. Turning to look at a sign for the way back as it whizzes past - SCOTLAND - and the signs ahead warning her that the bus is taking her to the SOUTH, the SOUTH shouted as though the traveller did not understand the foolishness of choosing such a destination. Farmland has given way to something that can only be described as 'countryside': a land without urban sprawl but so utterly domesticated there is not even the ghost of rural to be sniffed. The spaniard in the seat in front takes photo after photo of the motorway. Impressions of Preston are endless scenes from The Bill, now years forgotten and the hairdressers and bathroom shops boarded up with greyed wood the sprayed tags of delinquents now long married and mortgaged unseen almost lost in the grain.

She wants to say this is not Scotland, does not feel like Scotland, but she doesn't know Scotland. She wants to say Manchester is the windy-street version of Glasgow but she knows neither city.

Dinner is three boys, the parents, and her. Her second appearance in this household and the boys are no longer locked boxes in her presence. The dialogue that frolics between them is not loud nor boisterous, but full of energy and attention. There is no competition between them, which she marvels at. She thinks of her own brother as distant from her as is physically possible, and the lack of antagonism between them that had been and always would be. She thinks of these three boys who will grow up to be their own people, and thinks of distance, and how irrelevant it can be.

Standing on the floor of the Manchester Arena she puts her hand to her chest where the bass trembles in her lungs and ribs, and beneath her palm she can feel her body shudder as the music moves through it. Here there is no identity. She is no longer an autonomous body but part of the organism that is the audience, the crowd, the consumer of sound. A single cell at the beck and call of invisible energy; she sings, howls, stomps and pumps. Sweat that is not hers. Eyes aching in the strobing lights. Neck craned over shoulders. All these miles and years and this cleanses her still, again, ultimately. It is to cede her boundaries, those intangible ways in which she holds herself apart from how she absorbs the world, and in doing so ceases to be. This happens in Melbourne, Buenos Aires, Berlin, Reykjavík, here. The ideal of her falls back into place with every step from the floor.

Just in time she looks up to see 'Welcome to Scotland' flash by the window. It is a nondescript standard highway sign, more than a little anti-climactic. None around her appear to notice nor care. She strives to identify any difference in the world out the window, but there is none.

It has been 33 hours and when she arrives in Glasgow she is starving, dehydrated and in dire need of a toilet. Priority of wellbeing, her feet take her straight into the pub, to the back, to his arms.

She is thinking of adventures and the exhilaration of solitary jaunts into the world. She is thinking of the home she finds in him. She is thinking of all the things she never expects, including herself.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

"-and it will be alright," he said.

The blank page doesn't frighten me, has not done so for some time. It still doesn't. A blank pages is an invitation to make a mistake, a mess, a miracle. The blank page that breathless pause before the Big Bang and the universe begins.

What gives me pause it what comes after, when there are already words on the page and you have found something that may possibly be a flow, or a ghost, but it is enough of something for you to follow, and your thoughts have brought you this far, to a point at which you realise there is no point and you do not know what you are trying to say.

Blogging used to be such an effective weapon against myself, or the world, or myself. The act of structuring a post in my mind imposed a structure upon a struggle that in its very nature is without definition. An artificial and arbitary imprisonment, but one that gave me some measure of peace regardless. The composition of that post was a natural extension, requiring a further narrowing of focus and definition. The precision of a word was like the puncture of a pin through the hull of a moth, the 'preeeee-' that first prick and pressure before the point breaks the surface and the 'cish' the spearing and parting of organs and secrets as the shaft slides down, and finally the 'on' of the point thrust down into the board. That moth will not fly again.

You can only find such precision when you know your own voice. Second person to speak of the first. I. I do not entirely know this I. I, you, she, this entity, stopped blogging, stopped writing. She begin finding stories in photography, although even these she did not share with abandon. I spoke more, out loud I mean. More for me. People who encountered me still found me recalcitrant, but I knew the difference. Maybe I had nothing to say. Perhaps I didn't want to say anything. What I consider my true voice was left unused. It starved, warped, and eventually became nothing.

There have been, are still, so many hurtles between myself and the act of writing. The physical ones are lesser than they were, although this is due to a change of life circumstances and employment, not any radical healing on my part. I must still be careful with the time I spend both typing and writing by hand. This will be lifelong I imagine. It is not a bad thing. The flat tends to get cleaned when I need to stop. Everyone wins?

On only my second day in town I joined the Glasgow Science Fiction Writers Group. It has been good not just to surround myself with writers once again, but to engage actively in writerly activities. I've dipped my toes into the water of freelance editing, but writing up a report differs vastly from engaging in a face to face discussion on the strength, weaknesses and possible progressions of a story. There are so many ways in which a tale can be read, and it is wonderful and refreshing to be reminded of that. The shared excitement. The giddiness that comes from being with people who care about narrative mechanics as much as you do. These are fine things.

And then there is gentle insistance of loved ones who recognise that this small thing is such an important thing, and although I am not afraid they will hold my hand without asking and believe in me when I am indifferent.

Writing is no longer something to be shied away from, neither the thought of it nor the action. Be proud of me? Tessa, these shifts may be slight but they take such time and exertion, like the push of continental plates. There will always be destruction with change. You cannot see the time lost and strings severed without acknowledging the shift. One does not happen without the other.

Start small and long. A flash fiction competition with months in which to contemplate your inability to produce neat short ideas. Which is actually really fucking frustrating.

I've been gnawing tentatively at the idea of doing another 7wishes type project, which would additionally force me to write some joy into Glasgow. The city and I have had a rocky start, not helped by the fact that I think we just have conflicting personalities. I don't know Glasgow as well as Melbourne, not nearly. Nor do I know myself as well as I did.

I was thinking about that, and this voice, and what has changed. For example; my lover. My normal policy regarding blogging about other people is not to make them identifiable or overly specific in interaction unless that other person had an online presence of their own, somewhere they could return fire, so to speak. He does not. I also want to respect the privacy of others. What ever I share here I am okay with sharing, but I would not make that assumption for anyone else.

These are incidental however, solved by merely talking with him, and I do love talking with him. No, what gives me pause is the line between personal and precious. I cannot blog about my life and excise him from it. To do so would be to lie by omission and deny the incredible and integral part of my life he plays. I am no longer an identity in isolation, not to myself. Yet, because he is so precious I do not wish to share him. These times and glances and moments are treasures immeasurable. Perhaps you have been in love and been loved. Perhaps you do understand. But then, you must understand the greediness and selfishness that comes with delight.

These are lines I have not yet encountered in the sand, lines I suspect I will have to learn to walk as I learn what this different voice has to say.