Sydney is asleep, but the clouds are awake- busy scattering pearls of water below them. My Aunty moved to Auckland yesterday and gave me things I've tried to house in my home, including a cracked Tibetan painting that she bought a long time ago because she liked to think about whoever sat there and manually painted every single intricate detail, and for no other reason.
I acquired a chair with a deep dip in the middle too, it is the colour of blue fairy floss and is too low for my table, making sitting on it a fun, yet impractical, game.
A clay sculpture of a round lady now rests by my sink. Her head looks up and every time my eyes scan over her, she leads my head upwards as well. What is she looking at? I like to think she sees tiny bluebirds dancing in circles above, and even tinier bluebirds dancing in even tinier circles above them as well.
I have now also added many a thing to my bathroom drawer of mismatched bits and pieces- of metal things and jewels and precious stones and solo earrings, clasps, brooches and other miscellaneous things that I'm attached to and feel like will have a purpose in the future
It was 9pm, and a vegan quiche accompanied by a green salad founds its way on to my plate at a cafe. I looked down and saw movement amongst the green and a large, dark, flat bug wriggled out. I gulped- bugs don’t scare me and never have, but it was riding the waves of my lettuce and that was not okay. But there were too many customers at the counter and I didn’t want to embarrass the staff by pointing out the critter, so with a little bit of resilience and tact I shook the plate until the bug jumped off, landing on the wooden floor and scuttling away under the bench.
Shift in Comfort
The bus flew over the Harbour Bridge, lanes of cars and red and green lights and steel and the flaring sun dancing atop it all.
We slowed to a stop at the depot. And then something happened. The engine of the bus had been turned off as the drivers swapped. This great whirring machine was now just a box. A long box, filled with chairs and lots of people, forced to sit aside someone they had never met. I marvelled at the people around me, who carried on as they had before. Was I the only one that noticed the shift in comfort?
A bus ride and 10 minutes walk later, I found the building. It was getting dark but the streets are so filled with people around here that safety takes permanent form in an invisible blanket wrapping me always. Or invisibility cloak, if you’re into that kind of thing. Which I definitely am.
The meeting was being held in the Masonic club, on the 7th floor. I stepped through the ornate doors and onto a floor so shiny I almost felt the need to cling to the walls to avoid a slippery accident. The bulb above the elevator lit up and a ‘ting’ sounded the imminent arrival of the box on strings, coming to carry me upwards. I stepped aboard and pressed the little cursive 7 on the wall, and the doors closed. Elevators. What a strange concept that came to realisation. I would love to see the initial mind-map of that idea.
The gathering crowd outside the function room were welcomed in by smiling, middle-aged people in matching purple polo shirts. I felt like I was part of something, something strange and unfamiliar, and the only thing I can liken it to is a herd of sheep, being rounded up by a cattle dog. Which is something I had never experienced, since I am not a sheep and I am not evil (those ones on Babe really ruin the film)(and Babe’s whole life in general. Go away sheep!) The only difference was these sheep around me were all overly enthusiastic, smiling and waving and greeting me like I was something special, instead of running in a scatter, confused and stressed. And they had no fluffy white woollen jackets on, or hooves, and spoke English. They were the strangest sheep ever.
If you’ve seen Yes Man, I had unknowingly stepped on to the set of the film in that particular scene that you all know of, only this was real life, and these people in this conference weren’t being paid to look and act happy. They just WERE happy. It was confronting but I enjoyed it, and wondered where they all came from, and then wondered what they had each eaten for dinner. It’s an interesting thing to think about from time to time. And it’s completely irrelevant to my story.
Two and a half hours, after my ears, mind and notebook at been filled with useful, interesting and logical knowledge about public speaking, relating to audiences, sharing your ‘inner message’ and living your love later, I had also made a new friend who sat to my left in the rows of chairs filled with non-sheep. Her name was Ruth and she taught yoga in a tiny studio near my home. Her hair was long and dark and covered in a thin wisp of frizz, making her seem even more free-spirited and somewhat elusive than otherwise. She was inspired like no other and we spoke for a time after the tidal wave of grateful applause for the power-speaker/presenter/happy/very calm looking man who had guided the evening, finally finished his lecture.
So on that warm evening, I re-remembered that doing things on impulse almost always turns out for the better. That sign you just walked past- free yoga, book club, whatever it is, at 8pm on a Tuesday evening? Go there and do that, because maybe, if you’re lucky, there will be smiling middle-aged people in matching purple polo shirts waiting to welcome you in.
The wind tugged my umbrella, and my boots splashed in the small puddles as I walked the stretch to church. I consciously chose to walk right through them rather than step to the side.
They call the place Summer Hill? I smiled to myself at the name, because the reality did not match the pleasantry of the suburb title, not today anyway.
By Day & By Night
My life is different in the day to what it is at night. By day, I am a uni student: swiping my student card through the machine on Level 2 of D block to print an 11 cent black and white sheet of notes on Marina Abramovic's Imponderabilia, or some other bizarre (and brilliant) artwork I am prompted to analyse. A studio manager: lining up at the parcel collection counter outside Strawberry Hills post office, making friends with a giant Labrador owned by the parcel-collector behind me. A 'photographer': sneaking around with my not-so-sneaky but mostly-really-large camera, stealing the souls of innocent, interesting-looking bystanders and smiling gratefully at them if they hear my thundering shutter. By day I am also a forager of flora: pulling vines from fences and flowers (more likely to be noxious weeds) from shrubs in the parks I pass as I walk home. And last but not least, and whether or not it's even a thing is completely irrelevant- a light watcher: periodically observing the same spot of the world just to see how the light has changed its shape and colour, transforming it from something to something else completely different.
But by night, by night I am someone else. My brain runs a thousand times faster. I work at double the pace, with triple the passion. My typing fingers catch fire, ignited by sparks in my brain. I type and type and write and type and write some more, in Word documents and emails to myself and wherever else words will go. Words about happenings and observances and people and things. Just words. Thousands of words, hundreds of paragraphs, too many to count, now lie in the depths of my computer and some in cyberspace. School would have been far more effective for me had it been held by night.
By night I am also a re-arranger: couches, tables, lamps and whatever else surrounds me, aren't safe. By night I am a roamer: roaming the streets just because it's interesting and people are strange, and I enjoy silently observing them. By night I am a sponge, soaking up weird and wonderful music both Live and through headphones, and movies in languages I will never be able to understand. And sometimes, I get so near to combustion that my brain stops and I can't do anything else and I think that's what they call 'time to sleep'. Who needs that anyway?
It was too warm in the uni common room, so I wound the lever that lurched the window open by a stiff chain, letting the night air float through. I slipped my boots off and tucked my knees up, tied my hair back and braced myself for the onslaught of unfamiliar terminology and regret for not starting sooner. All expectations were met- after 20 minutes of trying to understand things I will probably never understand or care about, I gave up and begun the online exam. I felt unprepared and overwhelmed, but slightly exhilarated by the 20-minute timeframe we had been given to complete the whole paper. I did badly, but left the empty common room in a cloud of relief because it was over.
A Memory Bank, Anchor & Tie
Sound is a beautiful thing. It has the power to articulate much which would otherwise be left as a passing thought, to turn a space into a place and to fill a soul with deeper feelings, more complex than any other. Sound can warm and sound can heal, it can threaten, frighten and shatter. Sound is a memory bank, an anchor, a tie to connect one to another. It is functional and enjoyable, thoughtful but sometimes tactless, calming and occasionally abrupt. And sound is everywhere, and everything has a sound, and things that you think don’t- well they do to, as the absence of sound is really the sound of silence.
Simon & Garfunkel have been far overplayed on my iPod.
A magnetic pull forces me to gravitate towards darkness and depth, richness and warmth. I appreciate pastels but I would never colour my world with them. If I had a world to colour.
Rainbow Films & A Green-Eyed Boy
The ocean looked like tie-dye. Deep, dark and navy, with rings of cloudy white scattered throughout. The beach pool alongside was closed, but a big white wooden fence didn’t stop the eager. One by one they climbed along to the non-existent wall (no wall, just the ocean, 10m below), clung to the final picket on the stretch, leaned back and swung their bodies to the other side. It was both terrifying and exhilarating to watch. I was too scared to even try, so instead just stood and observed about 30 people go through this motion. They then walked down the slippery steps and out along the thin strip of pavement surrounding the pool, before stopping at intervals on the fence of rope that separated the beach from the ocean. Holding firmly to the rope, they gazed out at the waves as they rumbled closer, hoping one would be big enough to knock them down and into the pool. Or knock down their friends, and leave them standing- the winner of the game that nobody spoke about, but everyone knew they were playing. There were no rules and there were no prizes, just smiles on faces and shrieks of laughter as knocked-down people rose up from the water they had just been pushed into, their heads bobbing above and their hair plastered flat.
Later, the fence opened, and the children and their parents streamed in. They weren’t game to swing off the fence to enter prior to- a wise decision, I think.
I, too, passed through the fence, but exceeded the pool and climbed the steep ascent instead- to the cliffs above. I saw a little cave and with haste scaled the rocks, to sit inside and watch the world from there. A little too hastily, really. After a while, I realised I’m really (reeeeally) scared of heights and even more scared of climbing downwards... so that was an unexpected thrill… Fortunately an old man wearing a baseball cap and a pair of sunglasses was a few metres from me, further from the ground than I, and I watched him climb (okay let’s be honest, there wasn’t a lot of climbing, just walking carefully…) straight along the rocks and down to the ground. So I copied his many steps moments after he took them, and it was easier and less significant than I had imagined. I thanked him at the bottom, for showing me the way (unbeknown to him), and he shrugged it off, saying he did it every day and it was no big deal. But it was a big deal to me. Relativity. That’s what they call it.
But the waves crashed on, and I still wanted to watch them, so I stood on the pavement and leaned on the fence, in awe. In awe at the world. Just in general. A dark boy with green eyes and a towel around his neck came and stood near me, leaning on the fence too, watching the waves. Also in awe. At the world, just in general. I think. He turned to me with a little smile, and said something about the waves. I couldn’t really hear him, so I just muttered a response I am both ashamed and proud of: ‘yeah. They’re amazing!’. Later I wish I’d pointed out the tiny films of rainbow that kept reappearing as the spraying waves hit the cliffs, colliding with the light and sparking the phenomenon, but I’m sure he noticed anyway. I still wanted to acknowledge it out loud, but the moment had passed and that lingering silence was too sensitive to squish.
4am is the strangest of all times. It's this special time, a crossover of sorts, when the nightlife meets the day. When drunken tomfoolers (I definitely made that word up) stagger around between the fitness freaks and the white-collar class early birds headed to work in their shiny leather shoes. Having made my mind up to witness the Anzac Dawn Service first hand, I found myself caught in the middle of this crossover, and I loved the oxymorons... and just the morons.. that were present all around.
A sea of darkness swam through the audience, as the lights were dimmed for the last post. A sacred mist settled over the crowd and in that minutes silence I was so thankful.
It was a dark day in Sydney. The coldest Spring day I can remember. I caught the train to the airport, my toes turning blue as they froze in my sandals, while standing at the station in the pouring rain and ice-cold wind. I was dressed for tropical Northern Queensland, and the people standing around me gawked at my inappropriate attire, as they themselves shivered in their overcoats and boots.
The airport, bag-drop, check-in, security check, and boarding are all a bit of a blur now, I get so anxious with transport that my mind has decided to leave that section out, and I am glad, because it was probably boring anyway.
And onto the plane I went. Flying is one of the things I enjoy most, of all the things I have done in my life so far. I love the speed and the sound, just before the plane is airborne. I love the conversations between all the people around me, and the hum of the seatbelt bell. I love the few moments between landing and the seatbelt light turning off, before everyone scurries to get their bags, like they will miss their favourite TV show if they aren’t off the plane first. I love looking out the window, at both the natural and man-made world, and all its organised glory. Parallel valleys, and snaking rivers. twisting around the bends of hills. I love that clouds have a shadow, casting mini, darkened replicas of themselves onto the Australian ground. I love flicking through the overpriced on-board menu, and wondering where the food advertised inside comes from. I just love flying.
The skies were no longer the deepest shade of grey before black, but instead white fluffy clouds lined the air, as the plane peeked through it. They cleared, and the sky was vibrant blue, the water below it too. And then the descent, towards seas of teal, glowing in the way I had anticipated. This is the image I had in my head as I froze at the train station, a heater in my mind, now becoming a reality.
Multitudes of bronzed-skin beings greeted me at the sunniest airport I had ever seen, and I couldn’t help but think of the Scooby Doo movie, where all of the visitors to the island get brainwashed and leave as boring humans. I promised myself I wouldn’t leave the island as a boring person.
I love to lean towards the people sitting by me on all forms of public transport, to hear what they're hearing.
Today I couldn't pick the musician, but decadent brass was playing and she couldn't control her fingers, which danced atop the bus seat in front of ours.
Back To The Future
Do you think about the future? I try my hardest not to, because the present we are in now, was the future not so long ago. And I would like to appreciate that. When I was younger I would imagine the future- and that future is happening, well, as aforementioned, now! I’m sure I thought about what it would be like when I was 20, a full-time uni student, working every other day in a ‘real job’, cooking meals and doing the grocery shopping, all on my own. I think I used to wonder what my voice would sound like ‘when I was older’, or what kind of music there would be waiting for me ‘in the future’. Well the future is now, and we are all living it.
Despite this, I am, and I’m sure everyone else is too, guilty of thinking of the future from the present, or as younger me in the past would know it as, the future of the future. It gets a little interwoven after a point, and that point is no longer something to come across in the future, as it is in the present. Right now. So much weave.
Two things I have considered for a long time, that will be a part of my home and family. In the future:
A family emblem. I’m not sure why, but a visual attachment to a name and a history, is something I admire. My Great-Grandmother’s chin is decorated with a Maori moko, an ancient design that has bled through my ancestral line for hundreds of years. And I love it and I want it and everything else about my family to be continued forever more.
A music room. In the incredibly old home I grew up in, with its many mismatched rooms and peculiar floor plan, we had 2 rooms short of a full house. Meaning, we had two spare rooms, one of which was the ‘music room’. Mostly this was where my brother played computer games, with sessions of smashing his drum kit interspersed between tournaments. Snare solos and creative fills were conjured up there, bouncing off the floorboards and out the open window- drifting into the game of Barbies me and my sister would be playing at the time. I don’t remember doing much else as a child besides playing Barbies. And getting angry at my sister for taking the good Barbies and dominating the game. This then led to me throwing Barbies at her head and running out crying, before giving in and writing 'sorry' notes and leaving them on her pillow, begging her to forgive me so we could play Barbies again.
That's all we really did when I was little. And climbed the shelves of the pantry because it was scary, and thrills of this sort for a 4-year old were the best kind.
The list goes on but the rest is still unwritten.
Words That Fit
Lightning in a bottle. I don't know what this means but I love it.
Clover clusters. Clusters of clover. Clovers. Assonance at its peak.
I assembled myself on the green chairs of the Mountains train, 15 minutes before its imminent departure. I knew it would fill up, peak-hour and infrequent trains make it an inevitable occurrence. I watched everyone getting on the train, wondering about their lives. And then a girl in a hooded grey sweater stepped aboard, carrying with her a cage of twittering birds under a tea towel, transforming the carriage into a Mediterranean rainforest.'
My sister bought a large set of ancient-looking children's encyclopedias from the local markets one Saturday morning. They went from the car to the garage and moved further from the front into the depths of the back, as the weeks passed on. But neglect didn't suit them all too well. So I decided to claim them as my own.
Outdated and often politically incorrect, the way the entries are worded are a little bit bizarre and I honestly haven't enjoyed reading books as much as these since the Baby-Sitters Club days. Which reminds me, really need to revisit those books, I miss Stacey and Mallory and Claudia..
The pictures in the encyclopedias, too, are beautiful and simple and strange, so I cut them up and did a whole heap of collaging one Sunday afternoon. I ended up with pictures of siamese kittens wearing butterfly wings, and dinosaurs with the Eiffel tower on their backs. And lots of different-shaped cumulus clouds flying over pyramids in Ancient Egypt. Messing with the world and its' 'correct' state is fun, even if it is only achieved with a small pair of scissors and some double-sided tape.