22 April, 2010


Clearing out drawers is very therapeutic. It's official – my friend's therapist told her so. And I was very pleased to hear it, because I love occasionally tackling a drawer full of old clutter, and sorting it out. Sometimes I end up putting it all back in, exactly as it was, but I still always feel better afterwards.

The other day, I sorted through a drawer full of old cards and letters. Here are some things I found, which made me sad in different ways.

Thing 1
This is the letter Byron sent with the first bunch of birthday presents he gave me, back when we were still living in different states. It was an achingly romantic time – longing for each other across the miles, sending constant texts and pictures, spending all our time at work sneakily chatting online. In the letter, he describes me as his "perfect man", and signs off "Yours always". Thing 1 made me the kind of sad where you sigh, and sit for a moment thinking to yourself.

Thing 2
When I was in Year 10, I was in a school production of Much Ado About Nothing. I made excellent friends with a couple of Year 12 girls who were clever and funny and downright lovely. Not long after the production ended, I wrote a letter to one of them – Anna – about how sad I was that the show was over. Thing 2 is the letter she wrote back. It included a separate page with this quote:

"You carried everything that mattered inside yourself, nobody could help you from outside.
Not to be at war with yourself in affection and trust – that was the thing. Then you could do anything. Then you could not only walk a tightrope but fly"
from Klingsor's Last Summer
Hermann Hesse

Thing 2 made me sad because I failed to maintain my friendship with Anna. She was one of the best people I have ever met, and due to my own stupid laziness – and, to some extent, my own stupid insecurity – I lost her from my life. This has been a recurring theme for me. Reading her letter made me the kind of sad where you curse yourself for fucking things up.

Thing 3
The last birthday card my mum ever wrote me. I was twenty-four. She, my dad and sister were travelling overseas – something Mum had always wanted to do. They were doing it then, in the first half of 2004, because she knew she was running out of time. I was at home, alone, desperately sad, and dealing with a mouse infestation in our family house. My mum wasn't a wordsmith. Her card is simple. She wishes me a happy birthday, makes a jovial reference to the mouse problem, and signs off with twenty-four kisses. Thing 3 made me the kind of sad where you sit on the floor, sobbing.


27 February, 2010

recreational habits of the common couch potato

I grew up with David Attenborough documentaries. As a youngster, I remember watching The Living Planet and The First Eden with my parents, and leafing through their big beautiful photo book of Life On Earth. In Year 12 biology class, our crotchety and wonderful teacher showed us all of The Trials of Life over several weeks; for most of my classmates this was bludge time, but I was glued to the screen.

For a long time, I've wanted to own some of Attenborough's work on DVD, as I've always been able to watch them no matter what mood I'm in – whether I'm switched on and absorbing every detail, or just letting the sights and sounds wash over me, I find them extremely engaging and oddly comforting. So recently I bought the complete box set of the BBC series Planet Earth. I was a bit torn as, though it's narrated by Attenborough, it's not written by him. But everyone I know who's seen it told me it was astonishing.

And, of course, it is just as astonishing as promised. But as I make my way through the episodes, one thought keeps pervading my viewing experience. It isn't 'This cinematography is extraordinary!' (Although it is.) It's not 'Our planet is an amazing place, full of unimaginable wonders!' (Although it most certainly is.) It's, 'This show would make for a fantastic drinking game!'

Clearly this says more about me than it does about the series itself. At any rate, here are the rules I've come up with:

1 DRINK every time something is described as biggest, smallest, highest, driest, etc. in the world
(e.g. 'these are the most densely populated reefs on the planet'; 'this is the smallest deer on earth')
1 DRINK every time something is expressed as a fraction or percentage
(e.g. 'this rainforest produces 10% of all the planet's oxygen'; 'grasslands make up one third of all the land on earth')
1 DRINK every time footage is shown in ultra slow motion, or ultra fast motion
(e.g. vision of a great white shark chomping a fur seal, slowed down forty times; baobab buds bursting into flower before your eyes)
1 GULP every time something is described as being the size of a country
(e.g. 'this glacier is the size of Wales'; 'this desert is the size of the United States')
1 GULP every time you're told something can be seen from space/the moon
(and an extra big gulp if you're actually shown the footage of said thing, as viewed from space/the moon)
1 GULP when Attenborough pronounces a place or animal name in an adorable foreign accent
(as if his ordinary accent wasn't adorable enough!)
FINISH YOUR DRINK if you see a human being

Perhaps there should be more rules, but even with these few you would be very pleasantly trashed by the end of an episode.

I suspect I may be the only person ever to think up a drinking game for a nature documentary series. I'm not sure if I should be proud or ashamed.

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19 January, 2010

bert loses his ernie

Life's funny, isn't it?

One minute you're celebrating recent professional successes, looking forward to Christmas and a promising New Year with your dear friends, family, and the love of your life. A month later, your relationship is over. The man you thought was the love of your life has fallen out of love with you and, before he's had the guts to properly end things with you, has started a new romance with a guy he met on Twitter.

Well, that's the short version anyway.

The long version is very long. It's a lot fairer to him, and a lot more honest about me. He didn't ditch me for a better prospect – it's much more complicated than that. And I wasn't the perfect boyfriend – but who is? Anyway, Byron and I are over. None of this was my choice, and I feel he went about ending it in a way that hurt me far more than was necessary. He was going through a lot, that led him to make the choices he did. He's still going through a lot now. But none of that is my story to tell. I can only offer my perspective, and that is to say that I don't think I was treated the way I deserve to be, and I'm incredibly fucking sad and angry about it.

Nothing can take away how important he's been in my life. Byron has made me happier and sadder, angrier and prouder than any single person in my life before. We are going to stay friends, even if there are moments when that isn't easy.

So now I'm trying to retrain my head, and my heart. I need to accept that all our conversations now will have shadows hanging over them, accept that (although I hope the entire world hears him sing some day) I'll never hear him sing for me the way he once did, accept that we're not going to hang out or kiss or fuck or watch TV or stupidly repeat nonsense words at the top of our lungs while laughing 'til we cry, in the way that we used to, anymore. And I need to accept that while I'm reminiscing about doing those things with him, he's probably already imagining doing them with someone else.

And that's hard. Because right now, even after being hurt so badly, I still miss what we had. I miss it like crazy.

So this, as it turns out, is the shape of my life in the final stretch to age thirty. Single (and, for my mental health, likely to remain that way for some time). Overweight (but ten kilos less than I was three months ago). Kicking goals for my career (most of the time). And surrounded by the most wonderful family and friends I could possibly hope for.

I'll be okay. Like I always am. I'm feeling pretty positive about the future, even if it isn't going to be the one I expected, or hoped for.

Onward and upward.


30 July, 2009

once more into the breach

Do people even read blogs anymore? I have no idea. I'm quite sure nobody visits this one these days. But after a year of radio silence, here I am again. Whether this will last, I have no idea. I'll do my best.

Just before I disappeared from the blogosphere, I took a massive leap into a new career path... and then kind of freaked out. Actually, scratch "kind of". I completely freaked out.

I am very pleased to say I've pulled myself together and am still toiling away in the script department of Australia's longest-running serial drama. For a few months I was clinging on by the skin of my fingernails' teeth. But now I am quite comfortable in the world of television storylining; I feel like I know what I'm doing, and the people in charge seem to agree. (For now, touch wood.)

When people ask me what I've been doing for the last year, I usually give a boring account of the day-to-day ins and outs of plotting episodic television. But basically, I get to sit/stand/dance around all day talking and writing about characters and their stories. I am part of a massive machine that makes TV. Copious amounts of TV. The equivalent of a feature film every week, more than forty weeks a year.

And I'm inspired by, learning from and working with an astonishingly talented and hard-working group of people, many of whom I now count among my very dear friends.

Regrets? I had a few... But they didn't last for long. Doing something creative with my life was a long time coming (and required the forceful prodding of my nearest and dearest, SnazzieD in particular). I have no intention of looking back.

There are many more musings tumbling about in my mind - about life in general, stuff going on in the world, and the reasons why I'm back here throwing words at my blog again at all. But if I intend to maintain this with any sort of regularity (and hopefully I do), I'd better save something for next time.



04 June, 2008

me in pictures

As I nibble an Iced Vo-Vo and sip apple-juice, let's splash out on a quick meme before I get on with my work. This is pilfered from my lovely Lili.

And here's how it's done...

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's mosaic maker.

The Questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name

I had to cheat on the last one, as my flickr name gave me no results whatsoever. I was forced to spell "monkey" properly. What an outrage!


30 May, 2008

on the other side...

...the Queen kept crying 'Faster! Faster!' but Alice felt she could not go faster, though she had no breath to say so...

The most curious part of the thing was, that the trees and the other things around them never changed their places at all: however fast they went, they never seemed to pass anything...

'Now! Now!' cried the Queen. 'Faster! Faster!' And they went so fast that at last they seemed to skim through the air, hardly touching the ground with their feet...

Alice looked around her in great surprise. 'Why, I do believe we've been under this tree the whole time! Everything's just as it was!'

'Of course it is,' said the Queen. 'What would you have it?'

'Well, in
our country,' said Alice, still panting a little, 'you'd generally get somewhere else - if you ran very fast for a long time as we've been doing.'

'A slow sort of country!' said the Queen. 'Now,
here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!'
I knew this would be hard. And it's so fucking hard. I just have to keep reminding myself that this is good for me. And repeating a re-discovered mantra: When one must, one can. And hoping it's true.

I spent two days this week writing something that didn't even remotely come up to scratch. I'm spending this evening with a bottle of cheap wine, trying to put all thoughts of Erinsborough from my mind. Tomorrow, I shall regroup, before I spend my weekend re-writing.

So, how are you?


30 April, 2008


Apparently blogging once a month is about all I can manage at the moment. Kind of pathetic, I know. However, with events that are about to unfold in munkey-world, this situation may become even more dire. I honestly don't know whether it's going to be possible to continue this here blog at all, but I'll try.

Where were we...?

On Monday of this week, I officially gave two weeks' notice at my place of employment. Yes, I am leaving the admin role I've been working in for the last seven years, taking a great leap into the unknown. I have a (probably) six week traineeship at my new place of work, which will be intense, stressful, chaotic, creative and - hopefully - at least a little bit fun. And, bottom line, it should be a hundred times more fulfilling than what I have been doing. So what am I going to be doing with myself? What is this marvellous new place I'm heading into? I'm not really sure how much I should say. Basically, I will be working in the story-lining department of a very long-running nightly television serial drama (and, given that I live in Melbourne, if you can't figure out what show I'm talking about, then frankly I don't know what to do with you). But don't come looking for goss and scandal or inside info on this blog, because I really can't go there.

So yes, I have six weeks maximum to prove I can cut the mustard. And if I don't... who knows? Temp work? Call centre? I'll figure something out, I guess. This is the kind of uncertainty that sends my blood pressure through the ceiling even in theory. So now that it's actually happening, my head is kind of spinning, but I'm holding it all together.

Just to make things even more calm and relaxing, my car decided to die on the weekend. It's all far too boring and ridiculous to go into, but basically it's overheating pretty much constantly, and all signs are pointing to something head-gaskety, which (in case you don't know) basically translates as "horrendously expensive". Quite possibly so expensive that, in my case, it's not even worth fixing. The car is getting looked at by my trusty local mechanics today, so I guess I'll know just how bad the situation is before too long.

Meanwhile the book I was telling you about, to which I contributed a story, is now real and tangible. The compilation is simply called "short". I don't think it's out on the shelves yet, but you can read about it here at the publisher's website. All the royalties are benefiting the Big Brothers Big Sisters charity, so it's a good cause. Check it out, y'all!

And yet again this blog proves itself the very model of well-structured, carefully-considered writing. What a farce. I'm about to try and become a professional writing-type person, and I can't even string a coherent blog-post together. Lord, help me!


28 March, 2008

err... blogging. yes. um...

Whoops! So, it's been a while. I wonder if anyone even bothers to look at this place anymore. Oh well, let's not dwell on it.

Many things have been happening!

I am, at long last, in the process of trying to obtain for myself a new means of employment. And it's looking positive. Obviously I'm not going to go into too much detail here but, yes, fingers are indeed crossed. It would mean a (possibly substantial) reduction in income, but it would also mean working in a creative industry for the first time in my supposedly creative life. I would no longer sense the acrid tang of stagnancy upon waking every work-day. I would no longer feel the dull ache of shame every time someone asked me what I do for a living...

ME: Oh, I'm still at the same place.
THEM: But haven't you been there for, like... ?
ME: Seven years. Yes.
THEM: But wasn't that meant to be, like... ?
ME: A temporary job between getting back from overseas and finding something I actually liked. Yes.
THEM: And now you've been there for...?
ME: Seven years. Yes.
THEM: That's longer than you were in high-school !
ME: Yes.
THEM: Doesn't that make you feel...?
ME: Like a pathetic failure whose life is leading nowhere. Why, yes. Yes it does. Thanks for mentioning it!

(Please note that the "them" in the above exchange merely represents the voices in my head. No-one I know in real life would be so rudely honest.)

In similar munkey-finally-getting-off-his-arse-and-doing-something-useful tidings, I am about to have a short story published in an anthology for young readers. I am but one contributor among many (deservedly) much better-known names, but still... my name in a book! A story I wrote being read by kids! Kids I've never even met! It makes me smile to think of it.

Some other, far more important news is that two of my loveliest, most wonderfullest friends have recently become parents for the first time. It's not my story to tell, of course, so I won't go into any of the gruesome details, but let's just say that my beloved friend had a particularly drawn-out and arduous journey through childbirth. If there really is an Intelligent Designer, I think she'd gladly give Him an enthusiastic kick in the head as thanks for His oh-so-clever ideas about how to get babies out of their mothers' bodies.

For my part, I am simply in awe. In awe that someone I've known literally all my adult life is now a mother. In awe of the fact that she and her husband have created this amazing, beautiful little girl (yes, it was a girl!) who, for a while, will be completely dependent on them. And I know that, as challenging as it will be, they are going to do brilliantly - are already doing brilliantly. I will get to watch as - under their care - this tiny, fragile life slowly grows and learns and reveals the wonderful new person who has come into the world. A new person, who never existed before! A new person who actually grew inside my friend and then came out !

It happens every day, all over the planet, but I don't think I'll ever really get my head around the idea of reproduction. I'm not about to write in to Oprah's Remembering Your Spirit segment, or cover my car with holographic purple stickers, but it really does seem to be almost a kind of miracle - a kind of magic.

On that note, I must drag my feet down to earth. By the way, isn't it lovely to be rugging up under umbrellas again!? I do love the change of the seasons. I find it most irksome when they all blend in together.

Sincere apologies to anyone who may have stumbled upon this here blog in search of structure or reason. How disappointed you must be. Fools!


01 February, 2008

ocean of noise

Murky, garish, slightly overexposed - television footage of a shrill televangelist is projected onto the painted backdrop of enormous, dark red organ pipes. It's hard to make out the woman's words, but her tone is overpowering: raucous, impassioned, bordering on comically histrionic. A sign of things to come. As their Neon Bible symbol is illuminated high above the Forum Theatre's stage (which contains - among other things - more than fifteen different guitars waiting in racks, keyboards and synths, a xylophone, a black double bass, a piano accordion, a hurdy-gurdy and two megaphones mounted on mic-stands) Arcade Fire stride into view, unleashing a skin-tight rendition of "Black Mirror", and launching this particular atheist into the closest thing to a sacred epiphany he is ever likely to experience.

This is the third performance by a live band I've seen in less than a month. Both previous shows were brilliant (Kings of Leon and Sufjan Stevens, for anyone wondering). But - to labour the religious awakening metaphor just a little longer - if those concerts were like witnessing key sermons from two of the best preachers in the land, Arcade Fire's gig was like being present at the Sermon on the Mount.

Arcade Fire are seven permanent members and three touring musicians, centred around Win Butler (droll and physically imposing, he is a pillar of barely-contained intensity; he seems constantly on the verge of hurling his instrument or himself off the stage, as if he wants to physically destroy the invisible wall between himself and the audience), his wife Régine Chassagne (a mischievous pixie from another world, intrigued and exhilarated to find herself in a human rock-band; she sings at the top of her lungs even when not at a mic, and breaks out some awesome interpretive dance moves), and his brother Will (a force of nature who is drenched with sweat by the second number; he bangs cymbals literally until the drumsticks shatter, and hurls himself around the stage with an explosive energy that recalls the Tasmanian devil character in old Warner Bros cartoons).

I have quite simply never seen a group of people give so much of themselves in a performance. But the band-mates' constant instrument-swapping, manic movement and unbridled, almost cathartic ardour, all belie the precision and discipline with which the songs from Funeral and Neon Bible (as well as a few obscurities) are rendered. Although the activity on stage has been accurately described as organised chaos, the music Arcade Fire create live is no cacophony. And while they are clearly having a ball, this is by no means a bunch of people making noise for their own amusement. Their passion is utterly contagious; the audience are part of the chaos, and they love it.

The main set comes to an end with "Rebellion (Lies)". As the crowd throws the chorus's "Lies! Lies!" refrain back at the band, Chassagne grins from ear to ear as if this is exactly her desired reaction to the song. During the coda, the entire audience takes up the wordless backing vocal part, and continues singing it as the band make their farewells and disappear backstage. The applause and cheering mount, and the communal melody only gets stronger. The frenzied converts are calling Arcade Fire back to the stage with their own mantra. Suddenly, something strange happens to me. My breathing fits and starts. There are tears on my face. I am weeping. Sobbing! Why? I have no idea. Realising I am surrounded by strangers, I pull myself together in time for the band to retake the stage and bring us home. The crowd are still singing the final strains of "Lies" as Arcade Fire begin their encore.

During "Wake Up", the grand finalé, Win Butler breaks free of the stage at last, and steps out onto the security fence that separates band from crowd. He teeters there, held up by the hands of his followers. He screams the final line: "You'd better look out below!" and lets himself fall into their adoring arms.

As the masses slowly filter out of the Forum, the most common word I hear is "amazing". Oft overused, it's genuinely applicable this evening. I also hear a lot of "That was...", "They were just...", people trailing off, unable to express what they have been made to feel. For my part, even after seven paragraphs, all I can really say is: Arcade Fire are without a doubt the best live band I've ever seen. I now wish I hadn't foolishly bought only one ticket and come by myself. I wish I had dragged along every friend I have, every person I love, so we could have all shared this together.

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16 January, 2008

...but boys grown tall

Others will no doubt have more interesting and in-depth things to say about this non-story, but there are a couple of points I feel compelled to make.

1. If you treat a 16-year-old boy like a rock-star, he will behave like a rock-star.

2. You cannot aggressively reward a 16-year-old boy's behaviour with the exact response it was hoping to garner (i.e. bucketloads of attention), and simultaneously condemn that boy for continuing said behaviour. That is a contemptibly exploitative form of hypocrisy.

3. A 16-year-old boy is a minor. Surely any situation involving a minor - particularly when that minor's adult guardians are absent - needs to be handled by the media with utmost sensitivity? Apparently the media of this country abide by no such ethics. (Incidentally, this minor now appears to have, for all intents and purposes, run away from home; I hope his parents realise they have the media exclusively to thank for this development.)

4. The media seem to love drumming up furore along the tediously familiar "what's gone wrong with today's youth?" line. Perhaps we should consider that what's going "wrong" with today's youth has a lot to do with the fact that every time they turn on the television or open a newspaper, their minds are filled with repugnant mindless drivel.

5. Sometimes, the media make me feel physically sick.