Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Moth

I haven't been writing on this blog because every spare moment I have to write I have been working on Blue. I wonder what it will be like one day to be no longer working on Blue and to write something else, or even, to do something else, like make a collage or something. Or write a blog post, like this. Perhaps many. Perhaps I will finally start writing short stories and send them off to journals and stuff, and have them published and feel better about myself. Maybe I'll win a prize and feel exceptionally good about myself. Perhaps I will never ever want to write again and choose instead to do cartwheels out the back in these moments of unclutter, when I have my mind to myself, and can choose what I want to do with it.

I made a pact, a decade ago, to not allow myself to do anything else until this book was finished. I always ignore my own pacts, but this one has remained stiff, give or take a few blog posts and even a few applications for grants i'll never get. You're not supposed to say things like that - don't block yourself from receiving things like that - but I know I won't get them and I know that's right because I don't deserve them. But that doesn't make my book wrong, perhaps that even makes it right. I am blabbering. You should never read this.

Last night I had a dream that I was on this short beach and there was a murderer inside this building in which I was, and I was a waitress who kept leaving mess everywhere. The murderer was coming. There is always a murderer coming in my dreams. Outside on the short beach the tide went way out leaving giant octupuses - octopi - stranded on the sand. There was also a shark, who was the murderer, and he was coming, and we were all doomed. But being stranded amongst the octopi the shark had no way of getting to us. I struggled to identify him amongst the heaving piles rubbery flesh and tentacles, but I knew he was there. Eventually the octopi disappeared, as did the shark, and inside, in our waiter suits, there was a very big mess. But who is going to clean up the beach? I cried. Who is going to clean up the beach?

I am going to finish this book, I promise (myself). The Moth keeps coming back into it, though i try to flick it away. Why does a Moth insist on being part of this book? I am obsessed with Moths now, yesterday I almost missed my train stop for being engrossed in a book of entomology. Did you know Nabokov was an entomologist? Obsessed with moths and butterflies?

Not many people believe in the 'moon' theory - that moths fly into lightbulbs because their self-tracking toward the moon becomes disoriented. Most entomologists believe they simply find the light irresistible - they can't pull themselves away. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Figuring it out

One thing that’s come up for me in the last week is this idea of knowing nothing, and figuring it out. there is this paragraph in the new knaussgard book i can’t stop thinking about:

Red and green.
They mean nothing to you, but to me those two colours contain so much, something within them exerts a powerful pull, and i think this is one of the reasons why I have become a writer, for a feel that pull so strongly, and i know that it’s important, but i lack the words to express it, and therefore I don’t know what it is. I have tried, and i have capitulated. My capitulation is the books i have published.

Something about the not knowing. In the blue book story, i have always struggled with not knowing why the frenchman went psycho, what changed, what changed in me, what was going on during that whole period. and i have thought i needed to know, to write the book. but that is why i write, to try to understand. same with the accident. why did it i happen? did i do it? how did i survive? and this question the other day from that interesting artist woman georgie: did the lift actually stop? there is a whole book in just trying to figure that out. there is a whole book in blue trying to figure out what happened to mum, and why my path took the shape it did. i don’t know what white is trying to figure out but that’s ok.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Let it be shit, and die

Let it be shit

I can’t stand it any more.
It has to be out of me.
And it’s going to be shit and everyone I know is going to hate it and know just how very shit I am
And I don’t even give a shit
I don’t give a shit any more
I don’t care any more that I don’t know enough, haven’t read enough am so much shittier than all the rest and will contribute to the larger canon of shit that will die and be forgotten like all the other shit
And it will reek and I will be despised and everyone will say – how could you do that, and not even make it good – not at least cover yourself by making it good – YOU CALL THAT ART? I am the worst writer that ever lived and it is an awful shame, such a shame, all those lost years for that great big pile of shit
I will revel in the shitness of it and add to the pile of it until the shit-mound becomes so great the whole world will know how shit I am and come to shit on the pile with their own shit (which will be so much better than mine)
Shit, come on, shit arrive, shit get here – I want you more than I want to not be shit – now, please, just let me be shit, and let it not just be inside myself (selfish shit).

Shit be gone. Shit be me. Shit be every day for the rest of my life. Shit be enjoyed.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


When you're feeling like you're moving at a glacial pace in life and creation it's important to watch David Attenborough with your kid and remember the zillions of years it took for the continents to form, the gazillions of people that have been before, the willions that will go thereafter (we hope) and thus your speck-of-dustness in the context of things. This is helping. Because as I watch myself grow older, my hair turn grey, my fingers cramping I - Have - Still - Not - Finished - My - Book. There are the days like today that I think I never will and the only thing that saves me is the stories of the Ages, the generations and the shifts, the nothingness that is my speck of dust, the pleasure I should take in simply breathing. I should watch Fantasia now with her for the 80th time, remember the dinosaurs and the bacteria, the mutations. And from there, the speck, not a pinprick on the face of anything, sit down and write. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Adversary

A very particular kind of melancholy has consumed me since returning this time from Paris.

The lonely, spoilt kind of melancholy that comes from actually having time to be alone with yourself, because it's still summer in France and no work is coming through, allowing you the time and space to work on your book.

The type that gives you sundays alone while your husband has taken your kid out to a school working bee to leave you time to work on your book, and you, in a depressed fervour in grey dressing gown sit on the couch and proceed to read Emmanuel Carrère's The Adversary from cover to cover.

Raking the leaves just now and smelling whatever it is that died behind the back fence does not help. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Time when Lucas Died

A little boy in Kiki's school died on the weekend. He was in an older class but there are only 40 kids in the school, so they all knew him well. It was an asthma attack. A total shock.

The Biggest Morning Tea was planned, and the whole school was filled with cakes when we arrived on Monday morning. A strange man ushered the kids outside, the parents into a small room. Faces were grim, I didn't know what was going on and my assumption was that we were being briefed on how to behave at the morning tea or something, that there was to be some sort of protocol. But he told us that he had sad news, that a little boy, Lucas, had passed away last night. We were stunned at first, attempting to register. I kept looking at the man, consciousness slowly pricking over my face. Then I looked around the room. Why did we look around the room at each other? To check on other faces if it was real? To see what faces they were making? I turned my self-conscious gaze back to the man. What?

Other parents were coming in to the room with the same curious faces we had and there were too many of us so the man asked the ones who knew to leave, and we formed a sort of progression past each other, eyes down, the newcomers heads bobbing around with what?

In the foyer my husband got annoyed. We can't just go on like nothing has happened! The grim man, who was a psychologist from the Department, said the procedure would be to continue with the morning tea as arranged, and the kids would be told after. We stood against the wall in shock. The young principal's face trembled. They say that's the best way to handle it. My husband shook his head. No! That's so wrong. The kids will know something's up. They're not stupid.

I agreed. What was wrong with our culture? Were we going to sweep this aside? Eat cake, sing songs, talk about curriculum? I thought back to when Gran died, how mum had gone and bought piles of cakes and got out the Whiskey bottle though we were underage. There are all these cakes. It's all set up for us to talk and eat and cry together. Are we seriously going to just ignore it?

We did. We talked and ate and tried not to meet each other's glances. There were red eyes and grey faces, but the kids didn't suspect a thing. And as time went on we found ourselves grateful for the time between the news and the telling - the shock had started to subside, we were less volatile, less shaky, more able to see things clearly. The choir sang. The cakes were eaten. And once the two hours were over, the kids were told. At first they said he'd passed away, then a teacher stepped in and said he'd died, so the kids understood. Maddie burst into sobs. He's my buddy! The little ones all had an older kid in the school as their 'buddy', to look out for them. Teachers cried. Principal cried. Kids looked around, wriggled. The little kids' teacher suggested they all go and sit around the circular desks and make cards for Lucas and his family about a happy memory they had of Lucas. I sat with them and listened to their conversation.

Lucas DIED. He's DEAD.

Maddie's sad. It was her buddy. (Maddie sniffles, she is sitting right next to the girl.)

Maddie's sad. She's crying.

Can you help me spell this? THE. TIME. WHEN. LUCAS. DIED.

The girl cuts out a picture of Lucas and paints a glitter necklace around his neck. He looks like a mayor or a hiphop king. She is pleased.

When you die your body goes and you turn into a ghost.

No, you don't turn into a ghost, your body stays here and you turn into an angel.

You go to heaven.

My Nanna's in heaven.

My dog's in heaven. He's dead too.

The kid next to Maddie wants to tell me a secret. My mum said Santa's not real. It's a game, and it's not true. But I still get presents. She told me not to tell the other kids.

No, please don't tell the other kids.

I won't.

Some kids at the other table are laughing about Lucas. They're teasing Lucas says one of the kids at my table.

That's not nice. Lucas is dead.

Yeah you shouldn't tease people that are died.

Maddie's sad. She's crying.

Yes, she might be sad for a bit. We all might be. We need to give Maddie lots of cuddles. And all of us - or any of us that are sad.

Was he a nice buddy Maddie?

Maddie nods, sniffs, draws a football.

They all keep cutting, pasting, drawing, smearing glitter glue. There is a Buddy Book with photos of all the little kids and their buddies in the middle of the table and the teacher has photocopied the page of Lucas and Maddie for the kids to cut out for their cards. Maddie is sitting with Lucas on a striped bean bag. Lucas is smiling wide, he is a sweet, chubby boy. Underneath the picture are the words.


Kiki has drawn a picture of herself holding hands with Lucas. Above his head is a shimmery line that goes up towards the top of the page. She goes over and over and over the line, giving it dynamic.

Is that Lucas?

Yep. He's going up to the sky.

I've drawn a red elephant, says Cara.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Christine Baskets My Hero

Christine Baskets is saving me right now, as my hope at women's uprising around the world bangs up against the cold hard feeling that nothing at all has changed and is in fact worse than ever.

A pussy-grabbing President. Girls Series 6, Episode 3. A story in the paper I can't shake about a 14 year-old gang-raped girl who felt forced to drop her case against the three men or ruin her life even further by proceeding with the trial (which would include being cruelly cross-examined).  

Christine Baskets is a giant pillow to cosy up on right now. That she's played by male comedian Louie Anderson only makes her womanliness more powerful and moving. How he melds himself so perfectly with this being is beyond me. She is superb. I could watch her shop at Costco, or do water aerobics forever. She makes the world brighter at at time when femininity couldn't feel more trampled on. 

In Girls Season 6, Episode 3, a young female writer has, upon reading another young female writer's account of a prominent male writer's coming-on to her, written an angry opinion piece about his behaviour in a small-readership magazine. The male writer invites the second female writer up to his apartment to discuss her piece - it has pissed him off. How could she write an opinion story based on someone else's account of something? It is bad writing, and she, according to the male writer, is an excellent writer. Our girl tries to hide she is flattered. The male writer is attractive, contemplative, celebrated, high-bookshelved. He is one of her favourite all-time writers. He reads the young writer a piece he wrote himself about the night in question - how the girl who wrote the initial piece had thrown herself at him, and when he tried to get to know her, offered nothing of her true self, only her body. We empathise. He is sensitive, broken - a father, an isolated soul. Our girl opens up to him about the advances of a creepy school teacher. Our man feels for her.

He asks if they can lie on the bed together. She is unsure, but does it. We are with him. The poor guy. So alone on his beautiful sunlit bed. So misunderstood.

Suddenly his dick is there. On her. In broad daylight.

Mechanically she holds it for a moment. Then jolts. EW! She jumps up and shouts at him, disgusted, appalled.

A smile spreads across his face.

It dawns on us, on her: he has fucked her over. The entire afternoon has been nothing but a game, won by his final masterstroke.

She leaves the apartment in a daze. Women pass her one after the other on the street, each entering the man's building. Are they real? It seems far-fetched. But also, not really.

Such a sickening reaffirmation of the state of things. We are playing, but not really. She does manage to reject the dick. But his card has been played: and it trumps (!) them all. See how easy it was? To get you - who this morning hated my guts, to lie on the bed with me?

I shudder.

Men will put dicks on us in broad daylight.

Trump will grab pussies and be President.

Guys will rape girls in parks, and get away with it.

But, thank God, Louie Anderson will play Christine Baskets. Thank heavens for Christine Baskets.