Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I could see his face flush with panic whenever he saw me. It was only a subtle sign, but I could see it, behind his thick-rimmed glasses, behind his tar-coloured eyes. He knew my after-hours appearance at the front desk typically indicated that something was wrong and it so happened that every other hour, something was wrong. My door key had been deactivated.

However, on this occasion, I had to insist that nothing was actually wrong. I had been sitting across the room, curled up on a beanbag. I was concentrating upon writing about the potency of particularly perfect pop songs, the subtle but ever-relentless snobbery of once-trusted friends and Sydney's ever-irritating influx of one-way-streets and prams.

I had just started writing in my new, navy-blue Semikolon notebook that I received for Valentine's Day. My Parker pen was bleeding stolen red ink everywhere... and even now, I cannot remove its ink from my fingers. It's as if my fingers and palms were wounded by Cadbury's great stationery cull of 2011. But I have to remind myself, they were going to throw away that ink anyway.

When the requisite pages were filled, I approached the desk and started a conversation with the handsome doorman. He spoke of his double life. Long days, wearing suits and carrying himself with the utmost formality. Taking on the work of his superiors and receiving absolutely no credit. He told me of lonely nights behind the desk of the hostel, struggling to stay awake.

I suppose if we were talking strictly in the terms of pick-up parlance, I responded with a DLV. I said I struggled with notions of professionalism. I gush and I flirt and I laugh and carry on. I refuse to pin my fringe back and I always wear drainpipe jeans. Yet, I feel as if the quality of my work is excellent and I have (the arguably misguided) faith my employers will see that.

Ever since that night, I've been thinking about how he managed to articulate his attraction to professionalism. He spoke of his unequivocal desire to be a part of that corporate environment. Just as I once had faith that volunteering would lead to a paid job in broadcasting or even the music industry, he believes that being a corporate lackey will lead him somewhere... and that with professionalism, comes respect.

"You don't seem like a lawyer..." He said, I never even caught his name. "Well, it happened." I muttered apologetically. I told him about C&CM, about the music essays and the podcasts and the documentary I had been working on... but I couldn't help but feel a little embarrassed that I couldn't share his enthusiasm to step up, to change and adapt to meet the expectations of the rat-race.

The conversation halted suddenly when a dishevelled Dutch back-packer stepped in off the streets. I didn't think to wait, I didn't even think to appear distracted until he was free again. He was lovely and pristine and together. I don't see how he could have understood my inability to do as he does. To save face, I thanked him and said goodbye.

By friend, Norbi

Weeks later, I found myself with a film crew in the back alleys of Melbourne. Hands still ink-stained, legs still in drain pipes. It seemed like an accident to me, but after months of discussing, planning and writing we were finally filming this thing, this fashion segment I had once imagined. At no point did I hesitate, neither in my direction or guidance to cameraman, presenter or contributor... and much like in my days of producing radio, I had the utmost clarity about what I wanted this to become.

"I've just never seen you like that!" My Louise gushed after the shoot. "It was crazy for me to see you take control of everything..." She paused a moment. "You were just so professional!" I couldn't help but recoil slightly at the mention of that word. Yet I felt a some kind of unearthly gratitude that although I have no burning desire to become a corporate lawyer, I won't always be a complete shambolic mess. Quite incidentally, and quite accidentally, I still have that capacity to possess a quality I never thought I'd have.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


My hair was short when we were last friends. It was so short that the hairdresser had to shave the back of my head to mend the botchjob I had done to myself, one night when I had been left alone with the scissors.

It was a chic style, a 1920s bob, not unlike Louise Brooks or Edita Vilkevičiūtė as Chanel for Lagerfield. It was the closest I could ever get to shaving my head, the true cultural signifier of being hopelessly depressed.

As I was complimented for the boldness of the cut by strangers at parties, I could only think: "You don't know..." When I left his Jolimont apartment at 4 o'clock in the morning, I could only think: "You don't want to know..."

My dark hair now reaches far, far down my back, in thick cascades of incidental waves. I describe its length as cinematic and I revel in how it somehow illustrates that time has passed and things have changed.

But when he glances at me vacantly, with his new frames and unfamiliar beard, I know nothing of what he thinks. To ease the threat of self-reproach, I imagine he is looking at my hair.

I imagine he is looking, not only to survey its excessive length, but to recall its similarity to a style I once had. The style I had when we would hang out together and laugh endlessly... and I would actually be happy.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I have an attachment to the night. I love its stillness, how time becomes vague. There is a comfort in being alone with the thoughts and notebooks, it's as if I am lost and unaccounted for. There's no threat of aggression or confrontation and the possibility of ever having to defend myself is removed. I can be alone.

I've used my love of the night to my benefit, my job is at night. I can do what I do when the office is empty. I'm not subjected to the silliness typically associated with office politics. That, and my tendency to flirt and argue can be quashed. Instead, I sit alone and listen to my documentaries, plays and ripped episodes of Heartbreak High.

I emerge when it becomes light, when men in suits walk purposefully down Bourke Street, nursing their take-away soy lattes. I love the sunrise too, even though it signals the end of another wasted evening. The horizon glows with ever-changing pinks and flossy yellows, there are creamy clouds and unfamiliar hues.

Stephen Fry says that people who stay up to see dawn perceive it differently from those who awake early to hear birds frantically chirping. He described the phenomenon in some degree of detail, however, I'm not sure if I quite believe him.

Alexandre Cabanel's Phèdre

When I get home, I go to bed after many hours of distraction. It's mid-morning and I sleep deeply, for too many hours. My dreams are highly involved, typically including detailed scenes of fantastical foreign cities I'm yet to visit. There is often kindness and redemption as I meet the people I so keenly miss and admire. All is calm and blissful.

Dreams are interrupted by the vibration of my phone. Another call, another text. In that moment of disorientation, I fool myself in thinking it had all really happened. It all passed as I dreamt it, with Johnny Marr in that Indian marketplace. I see the daytime dreams as another aspect of that addictive attachment I have to the night, my conscious imagination could never be as compelling as the subconscious.

As much as I love it, I have decided to give up the night for the month of March, the month of my birthday. While I feel safe and autonomous in the indefinite hours of darkness, I know that I forgo the possibility of a real existence. That is, doing things that I really want to do in the hours of daylight.

Perhaps if my hood had a 24 hour gym or even a coffee house, perhaps if I produced more essays or podcasts, I could have kept this up forever. The truth is that I'm just too curious to see what life could be like on the other side of dawn.