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Avici Is the hellish area where dead sinners are reborn. 

I get given a writing residency  called And Also Presents in Brunswick for two months and its so exciting.

And Also Presents develops and supports creative and social equity projects led by female, gender non-conforming and non-binary makers and doers. Our curated program includes residencies, events and performances. We are based at Siteworks – 33 Saxon Street, Brunswick. Our space is accessible by wheelchair and has accessible bathrooms.  And Also Presents is based on the unceded land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. This always was and always will be Aboriginal Land.

I have a concrete project to focus on. I have a meeting with my dramaturge mentor Mark about the play I think would make a good play to write. There are giant pieces of butcher paper and sweet smelling markers that we use to write big ideas and concepts onto the paper. We fill two huge pieces of paper with bright orange writing. I think these sorts of things are called mind maps. I only know this now because i posted a pictire of my writing space with the giant paper filled with writing and someone excitedly said how into my use of mind mapping she was.

These mind maps and my lap top get taken to my writing space that has a desk made by hand by someone who has access to a metal works shop. The desl has sharp edges and i love it.  My first day there a dog wandered into my writing room and sat there in the centre of the room looking at me for a few moments. The dog then got on its belly and slid across the carpet as if it was trying to swim. The dog belonged to the person who managed the front desk that I had a door connecting to.  What ore could you want from a writing space? Dog, desk and peace and quiet.

Most days in April I go to this space and start the scary process of trying to write a play based on my own experiences of being sick in hospital for so long. I read plays and become obsessed with the American play write Suzan Lori-Parks. I read her plays and watch her give lectures on youtube.  In one lecture she tells of how in high school she had an english teacher who gave spelling tests every week. Every week Suzan would fail these spelling tests. Just as I would always fail mine.Suzan’s english teacher believed there was a strong correlation between being a great speller and a great thinker.  When this teacher asked Suzan what she hoped to do at the end of her last year in high school, Suzan said shyly she hoped to study writing. This teacher got out her mark book and found Suzan’s over all progress through the year regarding her spelling tests. ”Thats an interesting choice.” This teacher said. ”Since you are such a terrible speller and probably would not make a very good writer.”   Suzan Lori-Parks went on to win the 2002 Pulitzer prize for play writing for her play Top Dog.  She wrote 365 plays in a year and got them performed all over for free to make theatre available to all.

It was fun and hard and scary trying to create a cohesive story for the stage which is something I have never done before. But for the month of April there was a sense of creative routine and process towards something tangible and great. I was happy.

Then I simply wasn’t.

As I sit in a private hospital room with a too big hospital gown on I pick at a loose bit of nail on my right big toes. I pull it free and let it fall to the floor. A nurse brings in a sandwich and a cup of tea and the kindness makes me cry.

Of course I am taken to the kidney ward and get blood tests and urine checked because that is always the first and most salient thing about me here at this hospital. They find nothing wrong with me physically after an overnight stay. When the doctors come in the morning they ask if I feel any better. ”No.” I say. ”Im just so so sad and dont know why.” I am met with blank looks. Telling nephrologist specialists that you are sad or depressed is not within the confines of their expertise. They say I should go see my GP and one of the doctors makes me an appointment for that very day. I feel like the floor is pulling me towards it as I exit the hospital. All I want to do is lay down and never get up. My appointment is in two hours and so i kill time by sitting in a cafe and watching the people pass by the windows as they walk in the sunshine. I hate the sunshine, this is not a result of depression its just one of my general hates. Depression does add some vitriol.

It is May and I think wistfully of my writing space being unused. The guilt crushes me as I sip at my coffee. Im so stupid and weak for fucking this up. How the hell could I fuck this up so brilliantly? Is that all Im good at? Maybe its for the best Im not writing anything. Its not like anyone cares anyway. It only gets me in trouble and alienates me from my family and will probably get me sent to hell. Though thats not a new concept considering my life choices since age 19 or so.

When I see my lovely GP She shows the amount of concern I was hoping for as I am worried I maybe making mountains out of mosquito bites. ”You can barely sit up or crack a smile.” She says. ”I want you to be seen by the CAT team.” She writes me a referral letter and asks me if Im up to going back to emergency. This time to be seen by mental health professionals.

I say I will do it and take the letter with gratitude. She talks about getting me into see a psychatrist but they are expensive and I not wealthy. It almost strikes me as funny that I can get a kidney transplant for free but my mental health seems to be available at a much higher price.

The emergency waiting area is not so crowded. There are a group of young men listening to something on thier phones without ear bids in their ears and it makes me want to do something violent. But that would require effort.  When I call my partner about why I am here I am they are surprised to the point of shock. How can I have been this bad and they not know? I’m the strong one after all.

When I get seen I get taken to a bed and am so relieved that I get to lay down again. There is another bed next to mine separated by a curtain. I can hear the person watching television. Home And Away is on. The nurse tells me that here you can watch TV for free unlike in the wards. This is exciting for a few seconds until I realize how much I hate free to air TV. I check my phone and see how much other people have achieved while I have been being a lazy baby with no prospects. No job and no vocation. No awards or publishing deals. My face is burning but the rest of me is freezing. I snuggle under the blankets of the bed and eaves drop on terrible TV.  Commercial TV sure gives a lot of space to white men, they are almost exclusively what I hear as I lay there.

A psych nurse leads me into a private room where she asks me a bunch of questions about my feelings. Am I suicidal? This is the most important question as it is the difference between seeing the CAT team and being admitted into the psych ward and not. I am not suicidal. I simply hurt and wake up hurting everyday and I have no idea and so many ideas at the same time as to why.  She brings me back to my bed and goes to call my partner. This worries me greatly. What will they say about me? I wont let him come get me in his car. I will get the tram like an independent woman, dammit. Im so tired. I imagine how I would leave. How I would disconnect from him and simply go my own way so Im free to be sad and disgusting without annoying or inconveniencing him. The last time I let my facade slip like this the person didn’t like it. They left.

Then he is there at the foot of my bed.  He kisses my head and I ask if his hands are cold. He says they are and I ask him to press them on my cheeks. He does so and the cold air from outside on my burning cheeks is exquisite.

I am given some numbers to call on a piece of paper if things get worse. Which they will. Before I leave the psych nurse says that it is very good that I am so adept at articulating my emotions. I want to retort with something like ”I have been good at that my whole life and I am still doing it and I am tired  and sick of it I fake a smile in gratitude. She is only doing what the system allows. It is not her fault.

On the drive home PBS plays a sequence of songs so perfect it feels like the woman is sending a mix tape through the air waves just for me. The songs that get played are:  The Divinyls Boys In Town, The Ramones I Wanna Be sedated  and Polly Styrene Identity. As Polly sings about identity I let the cold night air rush around me. It is cold and I know my person is probably freezing but not saying anything as I like the ice cold air. It feels like the song was written for this moment and for me in particular at this moment. Also for anyone who is overlooked by society be they black or any form of person of colour, disabled, transgender, chronically ill, in need of affordable psychiatric help…I could be wrong though. I often am.

When you look in the mirror, do you see yourself?
Do you see yourself on the tv screen?
Do you see yourself in the magazine
When you see yourself, does it make you scream?
Identity is the crisis, can’t you see?
Identity, identity

 

When we finally get home I have a bath with candles lit and no sound but the wind outside and my person getting my meds together for me. This is a rare thing and so decadent to not have to get the stupid things myself. Not stupid important and required.

If there was a zombie apocalypse, I think as I lay in the hot water infused with rose hip oil and epsom salts,  or  Australia turned into the dystopia of The Handmaids Tale I know how long a person like me would last. With my legally blind eyes, important for survival post transplant anti rejection meds and anti depressants ( would you need anti depressants in a zombie apocalypse?)  and inability to have children for rich men and women. I would be considered inconsequential and disposed of early on in the film or book or life.

As I lay in bed all clean and being held tight I realize that its three weeks until I am left alone for six weeks. I was excited about this I had plans of being so prolific in my writing. But all I can think selfishly as I finally fall asleep is Please don’t go and leave me here all by myself. I wont eat right without you around. 

Also before my depression leapt up into my every inch of my heart I wrote fifty pages of my very first rough draft of my play. Not a complete wast?

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Dreams I dream while sleeping beside you

 

In the dream I awake from vivid dreams but do not reach for my notebook to write anything down. The notebook is slightly out of my reach. Instead I lay there on my back staring at the ceiling without really seeing it and contemplate texting my mother. The last time that was done it was done in anger and the guilt crushes me inbetween the anger consuming me. I feel bad. I wish she understood that I don’t need anything from her anymore. She has given so much already. I just want what you cant see. I want to forget what was said as she sat on my hospital bed that day.

”Your father feels like this because of you.”

All I did was try to talk about the book I was reading. A book about a young black woman growing up in Australia and the racism she experienced. My father did not like this conversation topic. ”Im so sorry I’m white,” My father says. I explain thats not what I am saying but it’s too late. ”I don’t need to listen to this.” And he storms out of the hospital room.  When he returns he says he was sitting in the car thinking of killing himself. That is when my mother says what she says to me.  Suicide is not the fault of a child even a grown up one. I was just trying to show that though in hospital again this time my mind is not slow. My intellect is intact. After you both left I was so distraught that two nurses came and one held a clip board as she confirmed my name. The other nurse slipped a needle filled with a small dose of Fentanyl into my thigh. The soft warm wave of calm is instant.

 

There is a young woman in a bright yellow dress fighting with her boyfriend  outside a shop window. It is late at night and the shop is shut. The fight escalates and the boyfriend shoves the young woman’s head through the window.  There is a great deal of blood. The boyfriend is strong so strong that he managed to push the woman’s head all the way through the glass. As she bleeds to death the boyfriend takes of his shirt and tries to start cleaning up the blood. He leans into the dying woman’s face and whispers that he will hide her body where nobody will ever find it.

 

There is a large party full of various famous Melbourne writers. Some are friends.  I am standing around at a loss when a kind friend comes and leads me to a quiet corner of the room to ask if I am alright. I look like I am about to cry after all. I say that I had forgotten what it was like to be in a large group of people again.

It is a bright sunny day and I am walking around a fancy neighbourhood searching for a doctors office. I have an appointment soon and am panicking that I will be late.  It grows dark and still I am walking around in search of this illusive medical professional. What kind of doctor even are they? Why am I searching for a doctor’s office in the middle of the night in a seaside town that feels like it should be a holiday destination?

There is a wedding for a young couple barely out of high school. They are very much in love and there is champagne flowing freely. I am not allowed to drink any of it. I grow so desperate I snatch a glass of champagne from my sister and gulp it all down before handing her the empty glass. She stares at me in outrage and then slaps me in the face in front of everyone. I escape from the party and go to read a novel in the toilets. The novel is about a person who catches a giant shark and cuts it up into perfectly equal parts. The person takes these chopped up parts out on a boat into the centre of the ocean. The pieces are then thrown overboard one piece at a time. It takes ages and pages and pages of description.  The bloody pieces of shark get consumed by other sharks.

 

Young and reckless like I never was in real life. You are a complete fabrication of my sleep imagination. We steal a car together and drive it around with the radio on and up loud. The windows are wound down to let the night air mess up our hair. At 3am a cop pulls us over. Your Dad is a cop so that’s not good for us. This cop knows your name.  This does not faze you. You have a great story to explain everything. We borrowed the car and had every intention of returning it with a full tank of petrol. We are not old enough to have drivers licences.  The policeman rolls his eyes at your story. ”Thanks so much Gregory Basic.” The cop says. ”For that compelling anecdote.”  You nod in mock modesty. ”You’re welcome officer.” You say. The officer wonders out loud what the hell to do with us. My dreamy rebel boyfriend launches into a speech about how he does not want to be sent to the elephant graveyard like the majestic elephants in the zoo. It’s completely unethical to coop up such creatures just as it would be a tragedy to lock up a couple of young people who meant no harm. They just couldn’t be expected to stay home on such a night filled with possibility and hope. We get taken in and the cop calls our parents. As we sit in the police station together the sun starts to rise and you reach for my hand.

I have a zine making afternoon with one of my best friends. She has never made a zine before and I encourage her to do whatever she wants to do. That’s the joy of zine making. We listen to Beyonce and Kate Bush. When her zine is finished and she has folded up 100 she shows me and i find that she has use the word prostitute. My heart sinks. I explain that you can’t use that word anymore as it is unkind and not inclusive to the people in that profession. I explain the word that is preferred is Sex Worker. My friend refuses to change it as the zines are finished and she can’t be bothered. I decide to do it by changing the word in every zine by hand. After all the character in the zine is a hero. On my way home on the tram Prince is there and he sits next to me. I show him the zine and what I plan to do to fix it. He is very encouraging.

The theatre bug has bitten me and I will be playing the role of Puck in a production of A Midsummer Nights Dream. I organize a nightime rehearsal in a park with hundreds of candles lit and fairy lights strung up in the trees. I am nervous about how i will excel at this and all my other commitments. There is a pre rehearsal meeting with all the other actors. They convince me to stay involved.

It is late at night and I am on a roof top bar all alone. A giant robot hovers high in the sky before it starts falling all at once. It is going to crush me and all I do is stand there staring up at it transfixed. Unafraid. Ready.

My mother is chatting with me as I pack to go on tour with my very successful post punk intersectional feminist band. I have no instruments to pack as I am the singer and songwriter. As I fold countless pairs of underwear and expensive t shirts my mother and I chat frankly about stuff like sex and feminist theory. My heart is full of happiness at how connected I feel to my mother. She asks if I have given thought to putting a limit onto how much penis I will suck. I am outraged and throw a pillow at her. I will suck no penis. I declare. The more relevant question is how much oral sex that I receive is too much? I do not want to exploit my status and take advantage of fans. I will party responsibly. In this dream like Janelle Monae I am a queer woman and sexually a ”free ass motherfucker.” This fills my mother with pride.

 

It’s been three nights now of sleeping alone with you across the sea. You are no longer around for now to hear me smirk in my sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Dont Need Them To See through you

”Hey. How blind are you really?”

”I once ate potpourri from a bowl in a cafe because I thought it was mixed nuts.”

This amuses the young man that I am talking to at 2am. He has taken me home and I am trying to explain how bad my eyes are. It is my wearing contacts phase. I am my own example of a post glasses wearing makeover.   I am trying to figure out ( for the hundredth time) how to take them out of my eyes before getting busy with this person who has a pet rat in a cage in his bedroom. The person is cute and I think its quite sweet he has a pet rat. I try to remove the contacts and its so difficult and causes my drunken self so much stress that I start to cry a bit at the futile nature of love and human connection. This lubes my eyes up so that the contact finally pops out and into my hand. It works with the other eye as well. Success! I think. I put them away and turn to the young man sitting on the edge of his unmade bed. He is smiling at me. I wipe my tear stained eyes at the same time smudging my eyeliner. I smile back and pull my t shirt up and off over my head. This is being 25.

 

Back to the here and now in 2018. I have sat on my glasses and now they are bent quite badly.  Placing them on my nose I find the hinges have bent the eye pieces and the lenses so that they are facing my nose instead of in front of my eyes, helping them in the humble everyday mission of making me slightly less vision impaired. There has been numerous close calls over the years where I am about to sit on them but realize seconds before placing all my weight on top of the unsuspecting object. This particular pair of glasses are important to me. I feel good wearing them. They make me feel intelligent and capable and a little bit sexy. Then why were they left on the couch for the thirty thousand and fifth time?   You may ask. If you could see me right now you would see me shrug.

It was not always like this. I have a long history of hating my glasses. They were not always considered a cool accessory worn by intellectual posers or used as a form of fashion.  Please do not wear glasses unless you need to do so. Pretending to be blind or visually challenged is actually really uncool. So is trying on my glasses as though its fun to have warped vision. Your face is usually bigger than mine and you wreck the fit when I get them back. This happened all through school and university. Once my crush in second year uni wore my glasses while pouring a drink of juice. They missed the glass made a mess and then left me to clean it up.

Now that I live in Melbourne and have many writer and creative friends I am surrounded by people who need and wear glasses. It is a magical and wonderful world.

I take my mangled glasses to the place where I first got them and get them fixed. They say that the damage has been done to the overall sturdiness and future longevity. The end is nigh.

My first pair of glasses placed on my nose is when I am four.  They have thin metal frames and  curve over each of my ears tightly so they don’t fall off easily.

”Coke bottle lenses” my father exclaims. He is not wrong.  He makes it clear that my glasses are adorable. Though he and my mother refer to me as their little owl. I grow up hating them.  One day I put them somewhere so safe that I forget where they are and for two weeks I  have to go to school with nothing but my natural amount of vision. Then one morning as I am about to go to school with my backpack on my tiny back. I am looking into my mother’s concerned face as she asks me one more time where was this special place that I had hidden my glasses in. I run into my bedroom and open my underwear drawer. They are there pushed to the bottom and back of the drawer.

”Where are your glasses?” was a question I heard a lot while doing completely normal things like watching television or reading a book.  It was so annoying. I should be able to hold books as close as I want without judgement. I would think  vomit and bile thoughts  as my mother would sing song for the trillionth time ”Vanity thy name is vanity” as I resentfully placed my glasses on my nose and sat a bit further away from the television. It was easy for them to say it was silly and vain they didn’t wear glasses. All four of my siblings have excellent vision. My parents would not need glasses until in their fifties.

The bifocal years didn’t help my resentment. At 13 an ophthalmologist suggested that i wear bifocals for my two tone vision needs so that I could read books while wearing my glasses and also doing everything else with the other part of the bifocal.  Old people wear bifocals my grandparents and other uncool people wear bifocals. The word sounded crusty and decrepit to my young mind.  It was not only super coke bottle bottom lenses to contend with anymore.

When the glasses were ready and I was standing alone in the bathroom with the door closed. I looked at myself in the smudged mirror while wearing my new bifocals. My reflection is not smiling. Because I only had a precious few moments before being found by a younger sibling I had a quick but intense self hating cry before going back out to continue being a big sister. A big sister who does not wear her ugly glasses.

It was at this time I very nearly picked up a giant brown spider from the living room floor as I was picking up toys, picture books and Kraft cheese slice wrappers. It was hiding under a stray sock.  I mistook the unsuspecting spider for a stray toy. The carpet of the lounge room is faded floral. The worst part was that after squealing it scuttled away under the couch and evaded capture and relocation outside. Did I take this as a sign to wear my glasses more often? No.

When I did start wearing them out and about it amazed me the amount of dudes that felt the need to come up to me and tell me that I would be more attractive without my glasses. This freely given without prompting advice enraged me every single time. These young men thought they were giving me a well needed tip in order to be deemed worthy of being sexed up by them.  It happened a lot while I was working as a cleaner of hotels on Hamilton Island. I took the advice of these beach bodied douche bags with a sprinkle of sea water. No, that’s not true. I felt ugly and sad.

Now that I do wear my glasses everywhere my eyes are still not great. Glasses can not fix a total lack of peripheral vision or inoperable cataracts.  I wear my glasses everywhere now because five years ago I managed to get a pair of glasses that I love. Until then I had only ever gotten glasses from the medicare range of frames thus making them affordable because they are free. You had the option of about three or four different frames that ranged from super awful to meh not great but they will do.

This time was different this time I was getting my frames and lenses from a hipster eye place that serves me tea and has antique looking rugs on the floor. There is even an optometrist here that I can see for an eye test. When I get tested the optometrist sits down in her chair and stares at me in wonder. ”How did you get here?” She says. I stare at her in confusion it is not like any of my past eye doctors have asked me such philosophical questions. She must mean literally I finally think. ”By tram.” I say.  ”Your eyes are extremely bad. You should consider applying for disability.” This is news to me and life changing news at that. Perhaps my eyes are the reason I am bad at so many jobs even though I try so hard. I do not heed her advice until three years later. It takes me that long to wrestle with my ingrained ableism.

This is how I find my first true love: after seeing the kind Optometrist I browse the amazing array of glasses the likes and options of which I have never before seen.  The chosen pair are plain black and make me look like Zoe Deschanel as Jessica Day in The New Girl ( ha ha ok feel like) and every ass hat beat poet wannabe.  When I found out how expensive they were it was all over and the dream was dead until a payment plan was sorted out.  They were expensive not just because of the frames but because my prescription is so high and uniquely extreme. Thanks to my pathological desire to be unique and special, this pleases me and financially ruins me. The new glasses even come in a bright red glasses case. No boring glasses house for these babies. They have gotten me through so much over the last five years.

How bad are your eyes?

Bad. Real bad. I once mistook a stranger’s two year old child for a small adorable dog.

Yesterday when I went to look at new glasses and get my eyes tested again at the same place as the last time I was nervous. What if my already legally blind eyes had gotten worse? What if they were going to get incrementally worse at the same rate as other people who got glasses in middle age? If my eyes were already so bad surely it was just a matter of time until my eye sight went completely? Of course I could live a happy life further blind than I am now. I just didn’t really want to. I was already the kind of blind that angered bike riders as they dodged me and my lack of peripheral vision. Sunlight hurt me eyes and it took me a little while to adjust to sudded changes in light.

On arrival I am approached by my fav assistant she wears amazing bright coloured glasses that match her pastel purple skirt and pastel blue blouse with white collar and bow. She makes me a cup of peppermint tea and gives me a biscuit. It is so much nicer than all those poky old windowless examination rooms of my youth in regional Victoria. Also thanks to being an adult and having a bit of foresight I am getting ready to replace my beloved black framed glasses before they have broken completely. There is a crack forming and its only a matter of time before its the end for them and I. This way I can have time to pay for my new pair and not be in a blind bind like the last time I had my glasses break.  Who can afford new and awesome glasses anytime they want without having to live off Mee Goreng and toast? Without getting evicted because they have spent their rent money on much needed new glasses? Not this hard of seeing all extreme emotional feeling babe.

Do I dare go for something in the tortoise shell arena of frames? I ask myself as I am shown an array of this kind. There are over thirty different types. The decision is made for me by the cost difference between getting the same frames again against the cost of my favorite pair of tortoise shell frames. The difference is three hundred dollars. In two months I will be wearing dark blue tortoise shell frames.

The Optometrist that greets me as I sip from my tea cup is not the woman I remember and it proves that I’m more of a feminist now because instead of noticing his handsomeness straight away I simply feel deflated that its not the same nice woman.It would have been nice to tell her that I finally took her advice.

Eye tests don’t take so long when your eye sight goes no stronger than being able to identify the largest letter A on top of  the letters that slowly get smaller and smaller. Anything else and I would be guessing. After he shines a weird  light into each of my eye balls I am told my eyes have not gotten any worse. I explain my concern and fear that if my eyes are this bad now how bad will they be when I’m 50? He explains to me that when someone who has had perfect vision gets glasses they eye sight has gone from 99% perfect to 95% the difference is not that much but enough to need glasses. Since my eyes are barely 50% working they wont actually decline like someone with twenty twenty vision will experience decline. I nod. ”So your saying my eyes are already fucked so I can relax and not worry.”  I smile. ”Thank you for clearing this up. It was stressing me out.”  I put my glasses back on and look at him. Oh my goodness he is handsome I think as I scoop up my tote from the floor and walk out.

 

 

Feature image taken from a facebook community group called SteVe SHARE

Wanted Not wanting

It is ten years ago and I am making my way home on the number 57 West Maribyrnong tram.  I am one of the lucky few who got on early enough to get a seat. There are bodies standing shoulder to shoulder. While sitting there someone slips a piece of scrap paper into my hand. I look up and see a beautiful woman for a split second before she gets off the tram. I look down and read the paper. It has a name and a number scribbled in black pen.  I felt a tingle of something that I hadn’t felt in a while something like possability and excitement. What could this person want I wonder?

When I got to my share house in Kensington I called the number with nervous heart palpitations and sweaty palms. I really wanted this to be something good. It was. Claudia tells me she is a theatre maker from Columbia and is working on a play for her masters. She thinks that I am perfect for the role. Would I be willing to act in her play? I say yes of course. For the next few months I go to her place and we do activities and discuss the nature of childhood and the strange space you inhabit while there. Claudia confesses to me how nervous she was that day on the tram when she first saw me sitting there. ”I had been looking for someone who looked like they existed in both the childhood and adult worlds at the same time.” She explains. ”You looked perfectly and exactly how I wanted and all I had time to do was scribble my details and shyly hand them to you before getting off at my stop. I was so nervous you wouldn’t call.”

She is so warm and kind and over the weeks she mentions the place she and her boyfriend love to go camping in Columbia. ‘You must come one day.” She says and I agree.

The night of the play arrives. it takes place in a car port set up like a child’s bedroom and people are spilling out onto the street to watch the short play that involves me and an 8 year old girl throwing an inflated ball at each other as we tell each other ”I love you” in slowly rising voices.  After the play and the party afterwards I never see her again. I lose her number I move across town. I want to stay in touch but her last name disappears from my memory. There is no social media. Life happens.

At that point in my life I was in my first sexual relationship and feeling empty and sad. Romantic love was not filling out all my dark spaces with light like it was meant to.  Like all the books and movies and media i consumed at that time seem to say it would. The sadness was still there snuggled in deep and leaving me unable to get up from the couch some days.

The night of the play was a warm one. It was nearly the end for my love and I. It wasn’t expressed explicitly that I wanted them to come see me perform. I just knew that if they didn’t come I would be angry.

They do come and it is not until its over that they approach me with a gift ”for being brave.” It is Bikini Kill’s Pussy Whipped on vinyl.  The very album that was playing when we were in Missing Link Records a few weeks ago. The music was blaring as i walked in and my face lit up at the sound of Kathleen Hannah singing Rebel Girl.  I went to the counter to ask who or what I was hearing.

There is a rooftop party after the play and I am almost too nervous to talk to people. I only know Claudia and she knows everyone. I have one conversation with a guy who says he is a screen writer. I excitedly tell him I want to be a writer so badly. Does he find public transport as inspiring as I do? I am told that he does not and that all his dialogue is fiction pure and simple.  I nod stupidly excuse myself and go sit on my partner’s lap while I finish my beer.  Who was I kidding? I think. I’m just a kid from the country too stupid to get into Melbourne Uni or Victorian College Of The Arts.  That guy saw right through me. It is years until I get back into writing.

Two days ago I get a friend request from a woman with whom I have two mutual friends. Creative mutual friends so i accept. The name is not familiar to me untill I get a message seconds after accepting the friend request.  As soon as I started reading I knew exactly who she was and in what context we knew each other. ‘I felt warm inside like glitter was exploding’ to quote Rebecca Bunch from the Netflix series Crazy Ex Girlfriend. That project I was a part of ten years ago has grown heaps and is about to celebrate its tenth birthday. Claudia is in the process of trying to find as many people as possible who are past participants to invite them to the celebration.

Its going to be so great to see her again and be able to share with her just how much that random beautiful moment on the 57 tram changed my life and inspired its trajectory in so many ways that could not be comprehended fully until now.

Since being in her beautiful play that was in a tiny garage. A play about childhood and adulthood.  A play that I didn’t really understand but was happy to be a part of anyway, I have written so much and participated in performances written by my own brain or in collaboration. To tell her that I am now writing a play or trying to write a play for The Malthouse. I wonder if that screen writer guy will be at the ten year celebration? Its a shame i don’t remember what he looks like. I am so much more confident in the face of dudes like him now.

Niw I would respond to his over self important prattle with something about how his idea of individualality his essential and ultimate being is not actually individualality It is merely a manifestation of  his perceived individuality. That his creative mind in itself  knows neither time nor beginning or end… it exists in everyone everywhere.  Thus his pure creative output is not actually only his. At all.

There is no shame in being inspired by the world around you. There is no shame in being inspired by your own life experiences. Unless you are a wealthy cis gendered white man.

I had never felt ”perfect” for anything.  To be told I was perfect for something. Perfect for arty creative stuff like plays was a revelation. I was not wanting I was wanted. Not wanted in the sexual romantic sense. Wanted in a much much more interesting and life affirming way. I was wanted for art.

 

Cold Soft Drink Is Sometimes Free

Monday morning I got up early so I could go get a blood test at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Nothing new or unusual in this. I have to get the blood test the day before my appointment so that the results can be read by my nephrologist as I sit in a hair and watch.  The blood test is virtually painless. The woman who takes my blood so smoothly also has the ability to write beautifully and clearly my name and patient number on each tube of blood. I tell her so. I am pulling sown my sleeve over the cotton bud and tape contemplating what to do with this day spreading long and lovely ahead of me when the brilliant blood taker hands me the familiar plastic bag and urine sample jar. My heart sinks I have completely forgotten about the weeing in a jar part. My bladder is completely empty.  I buy a coffee and sit on one of the couches near the hospital entrance. In the time it takes to get to the point where I need to pee I have finished my book Adult Fantasy by Briohny Doyle. A book exploring the conflicting nature of  being an adult in modern society and feeling like you are not succeeding in the ways so many of those around you are.  When people who come from  educated middle class back rounds are feeling the pinch of financial and career security it pushes me further and further towards intersectional  marxist feminism.  As I read and drink my coffee countless people walk past me. There are doctors, surgeons, Patients. I see a tall skinny barefoot young woman walk past me. She has a hospital bed blanket wrapped around her shoulders there is a man walking with her he looks like a doctor. I want to go home I think angrily. I resent having to be here for so much longer than I was ready to be.  This is perhaps a version of my own adult fantasy: not having to spend extended periods of time in hospital. I finish my coffee and go back to the pathology out patients. I get a cup of water and gulp it down. It works and I hand in the sample with triumph.

 

Tuesday i get up early to go back to the hospital for the appointment. The train and tram are very crowded at 8am and i stand pressed against train carriage doors.  I listen to the new Camp Cope album How To Socialize And Make Friends as buisness people stand pressed up against me. At the waiting area to see my nephrologist a nurse calls my name and she takes my blood pressure and weighs me. She writes the numbers on the back of my appointment slip I will give them to my doctor to save time. When I sit back down to wait i notice a cute young man sitting across from me. This is unusual as the waiting area for kidney doctors is rarely a babe fest and understandably so.  He looks away when i look up from my Zadie Smith collection of essays. Slowly I am collecting personal information about my nephrologist. Today I found out he worked in a bookshop while at uni. He did not appreciate over eager and chatty regular customers. I sit in my chair and watch him read my blood test results. My tacrolimus levels are 2.5 this is a good and excellent level for them to be at. This time I do get to leave the hospital within a couple of hours. Which is good as I have my psych appointment at 2pm.

At flinders st station before getting on a train to West Footscray I decide to treat myself to a bottle of Kirks portello from one of the drink machines. There are two men standing next to an open drinks fridge with a large amount of boxes of carbonated drinks. I try and feed my note into the drink machine and it keeps spitting my money out. It does this three times before I swear under my breath and take my money back defeated. One of the men stops me and gets his magic keys out of his pocket to open the drinks fridge that is not cooperating with my desire. ”You tried enough times” he says.”And you look thirsty.” Oh my god. I think. Is he flirting with me? Was that thirsty remark a double entendre? He asks what I wanted and I tell him. He plucks a bottle from its home and hands it to me. It feels cold and very very free. ”Did you know thats made in Victoria?” He says. I shake my head. ”I thought it was made in South Australia.” I say feeling less sure if this was flirting or simply sharing information.  I thank him again and go catch my train. I listen to Camp Copes new album again as I sit on a Footscray train and cry and cry. The album is that good. How J Maq manages to write and sing about her sexual assault and deceased father with such beauty and pathos takes my ability to stay dry eyed and crushes it with talent and tenderness.

The sun is hot as I walk from the station to my psychologist’s office. I hate it so much and there are no trees on this particular street. An old woman with a walking stick is walking towards me as she gets closer to me she stops. ”Where is your mother today?” She asks. I cheerfully respond with my full adult age.

My psychologist and I talk. We discuss this particular form of therapy in a bit more detail. I tell her my favourite thing about reading up on Schema therapy was reading what disorders it was meant to help with. Disorders like personality disorder, traumatic childhood experiences, anxiety and depression.    My psych suggests a book that might help me make a decision. She warms me about some of the cringe worthy wording but asks that I persevere through it. I take note of the book. I listen to Camp Cope on the train back to my house and cry some more. Its the last song on the album that does it without fail on every listen. There are so many instances where i nearly lost my own Dad but didn’t, instances where I nearly lost my Mum but didn’t and I am filled with relief that I have him still. That I have both my parents.

Wednesday somebody comes to the apartment to pick up my art work and take it to the Counihan Gallery where it will be set up along side other amazing women such asClea Chiller  Rachel Ang and Texta Queen as well as my zine making powerhouse collaborator Miranda Costa aka MC Drawn. The show is called Agency Ink and opens on Thursday the 15 of March.  I am so pleased to not have to pay for a taxi in order to get my art there safely.

Wednesday evening I go to a letter writing night at Noisy Ritual an urban winery on Lygon street. Before I go I take the opportunity to go to Readings and pick up the book i had ordered  The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity And Love by Bell Hooks. I also buy the book my psych recommended Reinventing Your Life by Jeffrey E. Young Ph.D and Janet S. Klosko, Ph.D. I try not to feel mortified as I ask for it and buy it. Why should I feel mortified about trying to feel less heart sick?

The Dead Letter Club is a night where you go and write letters as other people. That is you take on imaginary personas and exchange  letters with another person at the event also pretending to be someone else. It was wonderful. I sat at a table by myself a few minutes before other people arrived and eventually made friends with three other people who sat down at my table. We shared snacks and stories and wrote letters. I was a mentally unstable doctor with an embarrassing and almost career ruining past as well as a son who had saddened and confused their mother by marrying  a woman who would rather go to Milan fashion week than attend their husband’s father’s funeral. I wanted to write a response rich with intrigue as to why the wife chose something as fun and frivolous over attending a funeral of someone who didn’t respect her but i ran out of time. I shared my table with a woman in her fifties who told me she is a interior designer, a career i found to sound very glamorous like Grace and Karen in Will And Grace and heaps of female characters in romantic comedies. The other table mate had come along in place of their partner who had purchased the ticket before getting a job a few hours drive from Melbourne. They enjoyed it so much they decided to come along next time with their partner.

Thursday I received an incredibly angry written in all caps email response from a former friend who now hates me. I had written to enquire about a book i lent her before the falling out a book that didn’t even belong to me. She had blocked me on all social media and my phone number. in the response she internet yelled at me that she had sent the book ages ago and it was not her problem if it hadn’t arrived. She yelled to leave her alone.  It was like being slapped. My heart raced and my eyes pricked but i did not cry.

We had walked hand in hand from my tram stop to my apartment after literary events. She had slept on my couch and I gave her one of my antidepressants as she had none with her and we discovered we both took the same type and dosage. We shared poetry and writing. Then it changed with no warning. I let her down and i could not rectify things. Once again i underestimated how important my friendship is. Another short but intense and beautiful friendship over for me. As i sat there staring at my phone and getting angry and sad my head started buzzing with anxiety. what do I have control over? I thought. Can I change their feelings by sheer will  and constant sorry? No. Is this why I have no girl gang? I ask myself. The book got lost in the mail i guess. I swallow my anger and write back that i would never annoy her on purpose and that i hope she is ok. i suddenly get hot with a sick feeling of paranoia that soon nobody will want to be my friend that she will tell everyone I’m an awful selfish disgusting human and everyone will believe it. Heck, I believe it most days. Just not for the same reason as this person.

 

Friday I awake from a vivid dream that involves an all day party and live music at a pub. I am wanting to be intimate with a friend. Her name is *Temper and she is very beautiful to me. I shyly approach her on the dance floor and tell her that I would very much like to kiss her. For some reason that seems totally normal she is topless. She puts her drink down and hugs me close we are chest to chest. We are heart to heart and her breath is on my neck. It is almost too much. An ex lover is also here *James is playing in his band. Before he plays he laces his fingers through mine and says he will see me later. I do not react. Though I feel deep arousal throb between my legs. I go to dance on my own. My skirt is long and it twirls out pleasingly. Why don’t I wear skirts more often? I think as I dance and spin until I am dizzy. The floor is clean smooth polished wood with no sticky parts from spilt drinks. I lay down on the dance floor. Flat on my back I spend a moment staring at the disco ball above my head and the light spangles falling all over the other figures dancing around me so carefully. They are not annoyed. Their footsteps are graceful and precise. I turn on my side and curl up.  The floor is not hard anymore it is soft.

When I open my eyes it is bright morning and the blind is all the way up showing a perfect bright blue sky.

THAT’S WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU LET YOUR HEART WIN

A PLAY WITH NO DIALOGUE

 

SCENE 1

 

It is an afternoon in the middle of winter. The young woman is in a bright red coat and walking from one side of the stage. She is deep in thought and wearing headphones. The big kind that cover your ears like ear muffs. The audience can hear what song she is listening to. It is a loud and angry song. She does not look angry. She is holding a keep cup and sipping from it as she walks.

 

Coming from the other side of the stage are a young man and young woman. They are holding hands and making love eyes at each other. They stop a moment to kiss quickly but fervently as the woman in the red coate walks past them and glances. She stops and as the couple stop embracing and walk on by the woman in the red coat drops her keep cup and falls to the ground and the lid separates from the cup part. It makes a noise loud enough to get the couple to turn around. The woman in the red coat sighs and starts to pick up her cup and lid and pits them back together. She has tears in her eyes as she does this and starts sniffing a bit.

 

The man is watching the woman in the red coat as she fixes her cup situation. The young woman the young man is with is pulling on his hand to try and get him to continue moving on in their day. When the woman in the red coat gets back up to a standing position she looks up and sees the man looking at her. She looks back at him. Her face looks shocked and sad and confused. Then her expression changes from sad to furious. He smiles at her and hands her a five dollar note to use to replace the spilt coffee perhaps. He then allows himself to be pulled on forward and the couple exit the stage. The woman in the red coat is left standing on the street all by herself with her ear phones on. She stares at the money clutched in her hand with no gratitufe and all the confused rage.

 

The music is still playing. Or maybe it isn’t. Perhaps the scene would work better if she had earphones on but the audience was not able to hear what she was listening to. The scene ends here with the woman alone and still stunned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SCEN 2

 

An art opening full of cool young people holding glasses of wine or bottles of beer. The art is abstract and bright coloured. There is a sculpture of a giant rock resting on a plinth. There are tiny objects around the rock and there is an art lover choosing a tiny object and blue tacking it to the giant rock that has other tiny things blue tacked onto it. It is an interactive art experience. The woman in the red coat is there with a drink in her hand wearing more make up than she was when on the street. Her hair is out and falling around her shoulders. She looks happy and interested in her surrounding. The woman who was pulling the young man in the previous scene e is also at the art opening. She is alone this time. The young man is nowhere to be found.

 

The woman who was with the young man in the previous scene is also holding a drink. It is the same drink as the woman in the red coat. The two woman are in each others eye line but there are too many people around. The woman is still wearing the red coat and the other woman is wearing the same outfit as the previous scene. This way the audiences know that it’s the evening of the same day. The woman in the red coat is looking around the room and so is the other woman. The crowd moves a little and suddenly the two women lock eyes briefly. The woman in the red coat stares as the other woman breaks into a smile of recognition. The woman in the red coat does not smile back and averts her eyes straight away. The woman in the red coat goes to the table where empty glasses are and she places her unfinished drink on the table. She then quickly exits the gallery and exits the stage. The woman who smiled at her is left looking on in confusion embarrassment. Perhaps she thinks that she didn’t actually see the woman from earlier that day.

 

 

SCENE 3

 

The woman in the red coat is in her bedroom and crying quite freely as she sits on her bed with a small box in front of her.   She is not wearing leggings and a over sized jumper her feet are bare.

The young woman is taking letters out of the small box and reading parts of them silently and crying as she scrunches each piece of paper into a tight ball. She does this with exact and pointed movements. She scrunches and scrunches until each ball is as small as it can be. She then tosses each paper ball into the waste paper basket by the bed. She scrunches up about four letters before she stops to wipe her nose with her sleeve and sniff and try to pull herself together. She picks up another letter from the box and instead of reading anything she simply starts scrunching it all up into one ball, all three pages of the one letter. She continues scrunching up all the letters until the box is empty and the small bin is full to over flowing with scrunched up pieces of paper covered in hand writing.

 

Scene 4

 

The woman is outside under a night sky. It is her back yard. She has the waste paper basket full of scrunched up letters under her arm and a box of matches and a stove lighter in her other hand. There is a small fire pit surrounded by stones. There is the sound of an owl. She puts the scrunched up letters in the fire pit and blows on her fingers to warm them up. She lights a match and holds the tiny flame to one of the scrunched up pieces of paper. The flame catches and she smiles as she watches the flames get bigger as more of the paper starts to burn. As the letters burn and the woman watches them it might work to have parts of the letters being read in the voice of the person who wrote them.

 

The parts can be heard as she is remembering them. The memories of what he wrote cannot be burned.

 

 

 

SCENE 5

 

1 year later.

 

The two women are sitting together behind a table filled with zines and post cards. Behind them is a giant banner that shows a picture of the front cover of their zine collaboration, next to the cover is some large writing that says   THAT’S WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU LET YOUR HEART WIN By Tania Pendet and Dania Wu

 

There are other people sitting on either side of them with their own tables filled with hand made zines and badges and works on paper. There is the sound of excited people milling about looking at the stuff on display. The two women are showing each other stuff on their phones and laughing. A group of young women come to their table and pick up the zine. Each of the women purchase a copy of the zine for themselves. The two friends and creative collaborators put their phones away and serve the customers.

 

 

 

 

                                          Curtin fall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music is and you never

 

 

while living over seas

missing somebody who was not and didn’t ever want

like I did

will you be online soon?

this city is so cold

oceans and a time zone difference
misunderstanding intentions and feelings.

 I saw and heard with ears open

and heart gaping bloody and overfilled

 A longing so boring and unproductive
Like staring at nothing and winning imaginary arguments
Boring like flooding your apartment

to distract from the impending death of aspirations

A sad middle age man with a drinking problem

who lives with his mother in Greater Manchester.

He says Im actually quite beautiful

as we take a late night train

there you are again keeping me company via pocket sized magic

your words blurt into my present

funny and sweet sugar needle in the veins

and there is no distance anymore

with a beautiful new friend
Seven years younger
Who makes me tea and pancakes
Eaten on a three mattress high double bed

set up in a living room

so many songs made me think

in rain soaked Wales

Where I Danced and twirled around

in a faithful  jacket that shunned the wind

cloistered by vast self delusion.

thinking about it less
talking about it less
letting it go
dancing with lighter foot fall