Wednesday, October 9, 2013


The days pass quickly when I listen to Кино́. I listen to songs repeatedly, carefully attempting to familiarise myself with Viktor Tsoi's growling Russian diphthongs. I get caught up in those prickly guitar lines and those melodic hooks which seem to always centre upon a B minor arpeggio. The production is shabby, the sound inexplicably panning from one speaker to another. There are noticeable mistakes, wrong notes and poor timing, but with each repeated listen I seem to love it more and more. I don't think of the mistakes, I think of other things. I think about Tsoi. I think about Leningrad in 1984. I think about a place where I can be alone.

I present Кино́ to others, but it is purely out of naive habit. I never seriously expect to get a glowing response, a requited sense of awe when I send over Последний Герой or Красно-желтые Дни. It never particularly disappoints me to hear their dismissal, but it only serves to reinforce the isolation in this practice. It's the same as my beloved night time isolation, that time when hours were vague and my existence was entirely unaccountable. Back then, I didn't care about what anyone else thought, but now, it's different. Approval culture is everywhere. From Likes to Followers, boyfriends and jobs, during the day, it's impossible to escape that desire to demonstrate personal value.

I listen to Восьмиклассница and I think of those ridiculous attempts to impress others during adolescence: You say you got a C in Geography and I don't give a damn, You tell me somebody got bruised over you, I say nothing and we walk on... It forces me to recall a time when I naively presumed that my elderly crush would be impressed with my happenings. It's all so laughable in retrospect, because such mindless gloating only really highlighted how young I was (and how inappropriate it was to be even interacting in such a way). I'm sure my news couldn't have impressed him, but then he allowed me to operate under this impression that I was ultimately worth something.

Now, I present to others, I present without thinking. I present without any genuine desire to connect. Yet I cannot help but get consumed by the purported regard of others. I am continuously preparing for that possibility that fondness could morph into annoyance, in much the same way love invariably morphs into indifference. Such thoughts leave me feeling so tired and wretched that nothing, not creative success, not tens of thousands of Likes, not even the assurance of family and friends can ever make me feel truly "liked". I cannot stop, so I try to make the days pass quickly, I listen to lots and lots of Кино́. I try to escape to a place where I cannot be found.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


It was still daylight when we emerged from dinner and we stood at the corner of Little Bourke and Russell Street. I said, "I'll be happy to think that I'll associate all these places with you, when you're gone..." He didn't really respond, in fact he said comparatively very little on that walk back. I suppose we both knew it would be the last few minutes we would ever see each other, but I remained largely unsentimental. I filled the silence, recounting various hauntings of those narrow streets. We walked past Ding Dong and I told him of the friend who carelessly volunteered her heart to someone she shouldn't have. I told him of her heartbreak and how a mutual friend ruthlessly dismissed her grief. He sarcastically summed up the story I just told, highlighting the similarities to us and I playfully smacked his chest. "That was completely different."

We returned to talking about music in those remaining moments, about Parlophone and Steve Osborne and that other movement we thought we had played a part in. We kept walking until we came upon a street sign, a lane bearing his name. We stopped and looked up: "That's so strange..."

I once hated Melbourne for its hauntings. I would emerge from the house knowing that almost every street and intersection would bring up some unwelcomed association, some memory of a loss or mistake. I've never been able to shake that habit and I'm beginning to think that it's not even possible. I'm always attaching a memory to a locality and it was only recently that I learned that this mental process is called Method of Loci. It's a device which relies upon memorised spatial relationships to recall "memorial content". Even as I sit here now, I'm randomly generating geographical associations, namely the east side of Little Lonsdale and Russell Street, for no other reason than I want to remember what it is to be writing this.

Each morning, I take the train and between Flinders Street Station and Southern Cross I survey many places I associate with him. His hauntings don't bother me so much, in fact, I'm happy to think that he's somehow attached to the physicality of this place. I think about Little Collins Street and his thoughts on quantum physics. Through some ridiculous theory, he suggested that it somehow meant that we could have already lived out every path, every choice and possibility together. I said it was completely absurd and without even thinking, I pointed out the half-demolished building on the diametrically opposite corner with its crumbling Art Deco façade. "I don't understand why it needs to be destroyed." As the green man flashed at us and I instinctively stretched out my hand towards his, a thoughtless gesture to ensure we crossed safely.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I had this dream last night, where we were in the dimly lit carpark of my local supermarket and you asked me whether I read those essays you wrote, those essays where you described the extent of my influence. I let out this momentary huff of scepticism: "No, I guess not."

If I sleep for long enough, I eventually see these people I've lost. I recently had another dream, this time involving someone else, where we decided to make a break for it. When you were caught, you held me and said: "There will be silence, but I'll remember all you said."

I wake up startled and disoriented, but surprisingly reassured in my blurry-eyed state. It's remarkable how the subconscious can manufacture these consequential moments. It can depict these vivid encounters and these words that, on some level, I want to hear.

When I am awake and lucid, I see there's no real desire to experience these consequential moments. There's nothing particularly unresolved in my heart or head, but I suppose I want a legacy, as stupid and selfish as that sounds. I want to know that I am remembered.

I know that it's never particularly congenial to be included in the official records. More often than not, I feel like an indiscretion that needs to be covered up. I always marvel at how well it is covered up, though. It's much easier to construct a life where I never actually existed.

Brian Cook

Saturday, July 27, 2013


I cannot help but think that my tendency to mourn for conversations developed when I first started writing a diary. I was nine and it was around this time that my best friend left the country and I'd secretly write about how much I missed her and our conversations. She would write me letters with fat wads of pages, telling me about her new life in Texas. With her broad, bombastic print (with large circles over her i's), she'd always complain that I never wrote to her enough. It was true, she was always more vigilant with her letter-writing. However, when I was alone, I thought about the things we had talked about and the things we could have talked about, if only she had been here.

No one really understood the value I placed on that communication. I tried to explain it, that desire I had just to walk around the school oval and talk endlessly about everything and anything, but it didn't make sense in that era of four square and kiss chasey. I thought I was doomed to be the serious misfit until I saw her re-appear in the door way of our class room: She was back! With an American accent! I was thrilled and I shrieked, reacting in a way that again seemed disproportionate and inappropriate but I didn't really care what anyone else thought. I figured things would get back to the way they were, but for whatever reason, it just wasn't the same.

I guess she didn't really care anymore.

I feel that in my heart, I've harboured that same desire to walk around that oval for nearly two decades, laughing and shrieking and carrying on. I had never really thought about the significance of that desire until I acknowledged the sheer amount of time I spent alone: thinking, writing diaries and practising musical instruments. When I was ten, my parents finally took some preventative action, installing brass door locks for my room and the study. The lock to my room is now worn, badly scratched and dinted, from my brother's repeated attempts to break in with a screw driver. To me, those locks are worth more than anything in this whole house.

I had always advertised the abuse, unashamedly. I presented the facts, never considering how anyone else felt. I never understood my friends' stuttering speechlessness. I never understood my parents' desperate willingness to protect his reputation. I never understood my teachers' desire to delegate any kind of investigation. I presented everything, hoping this mythical conversation would come to pass. I never knew what I wanted anyone to say exactly, but I was so disappointed by their failure to say anything, to do anything. I was so disappointed by that suggestion that just hearing about it was so fucking hard.

I was twenty when it finally happened. I heard what I wanted to hear, after hours of sitting in my then-boyfriend's car outside my house. He had intended to leave many times over the course of those few hours, turning on the engine and nudging forward in two metre increments towards his 40km journey home. We had this habit of talking all night, we shared this same breed of passion, wit and musical taste. I loved him in a way that I knew I would never love anyone else more. He'll continue to own that part of me, in the same way he owns this particular time of the morning, where the world is shrouded in a momentary hue of slate grey. It's that time of day he always fled.

What he said was quite incidental to a break up which, in that instance, didn't take: "Whatever it is, wherever you are, whatever happens to us, call me and I'll save you." I cried hard (partly in relief, but mostly in irony). My yearning to connect hinged on that one idea, that I was worthy of protection. It's kind of stunning that someone like him could have stumbled upon that jackpot sentiment, but then perhaps that just adds to the mythic nature of it all. Thankfully, I never did call him under such circumstances. We do get in touch extremely infrequently though, with whimsical recommendations such as a themed-Tumblr of Morrissey posing with cats. It can't go much deeper than that because any actual detail of his life tends to make me go hysterical.

Today, I am happy and grateful. The vast majority of my conversations are full of revelation or hilarity. I spend my time with the most wonderful, kind and loving friends. I adore my family, who are among the funniest and most intelligent people I know. I haven't seen or spoken to my abusive brother in over three years. I don't intend to see him again. I don't think I would have been able to convince that lonely nine year old that it would ever be this good. Saying that, I still harbour that tendency to mourn for those conversations. There are so many people I wish I could talk to. I think about it constantly, remembering expressions like: "It makes me angry to think he was so careless with your heart." I wonder if I could have made it up. I wonder how much of that love ever existed outside of me.

gab on deviantart

Thursday, July 4, 2013


I've recently developed this exercise to combat creative self-doubt. It's only a small act that takes place in my tatty magenta-coloured Claire Fontaine A6 cahier. I sit there and with Winston Churchill's Parker pen, I write the heading: What's the Nishi? It's Japanese Cockney rhyming slang my friends and I had made up: Nishinagahori / Story / What's the Nishi? We say it to each other all the time now as a kind of nifty in-joke salutation and in this context, I use it to drain out every fret and anxiety.

It's been hard, embarking on the Consequential Lyrics project on my own. I haven't had any sort of creative consultant on hand, someone to shriek and shake my arm enthusiastically during late night conversations. I've struggled in those moments when I've been compelled to pitch what it encompasses exactly. The premise is simple and intimate, it's both personal and universal. It's been hard but I've risen to the challenge of doing what the project actually requires: faithfully describing the consequence of these songs, sensitively describing the meanings I've assigned to them (without embarrassing anyone too much or getting sued).

In my practice of writing What's the Nishi?, I feel as if I'm sitting down to talk to a hysterical seven-year-old, one that has been throwing a tantrum for no discernible reason. It's important to to listen that raging child, to address them, to allow them to safely express their every angst and plague. At some point, there comes a moment when the anger recedes and the tears stop and there's no longer any rational basis for that anxiety. It's plain to see, in the matching magneta-coloured cursive print, that each of these anxieties can be broken down and addressed in a perfectly rational way.

There's another heading that comes after What's the Nishi?, I write in big letters: How to Progress? Under that heading, I try to combat those anxieties by being kind to myself. I try to think up practical solutions as to how to get over it, whether it be a practical obstacle or an emotional concern. I consider everything one at a time and I break it all down, thinking about what can I do today, this hour, this minute. I congratulate myself on how far I've come, the great amount of work I've already done and I acknowledge how good it will feel once it's actually completed.

I realised some time ago how much I've relied on other people for that creative confidence, how much I drew upon those shrieks and arm shakes. I thought compliments could fill me. I thought if I had enough of them, I would suddenly believe that my work had value. The problem was that I'd neither accept compliments or if I did, they would fade quickly. I never had enough to combat the self-doubt I harboured, but at the same time, I never wanted to quit. I just thought I was doomed to anguish: never believing, never accepting, always doubting.

I wrote a note for my desk:
Consequential Lyrics is worthy of your time and concentration. It is unique and it will encourage others to share something beautiful and important. A compliment won't make you feel better. Completion will.
I realised that's what I need to do to feel better, to calm the hysterics. I need to follow through, I need to complete this. I have forever dreamt of a creative compatriot, a Marr to my Morrissey (or even the other way around) and I wish I could have pulled this off with someone by my side, but I just can't. I just have to sit and push on through alone. I need to consistently convince myself that there is value in this. Whenever I begin to feel that hysterical child pipe up, I know that it's alright. I'll always have time for her, I'll always stop, listen and ask: What's the Nishi?

Monday, June 17, 2013


It was a cold brisk night and Noreen and I had just walked past the cemetery. She said: "Just because they don't write essays about it doesn't mean they don't care. It doesn't mean that they don't remember everything..." I could only laugh a little, what with my wheezing and shortness of breath. I responded quite flippantly in that trade mark sardonic tone. "What are you talking about, no one remembers anything! I'd be an idiot to convince myself otherwise."

I don't know when I started believing this, but at some point, I thought that comfort comes from invention. It comes from that ability to convince yourself that they do care or they do remember or they do regret. There's always that scope to do that, if you spend enough time alone with your thoughts. In the silence, you can construct an alternative reality, one that need not be true necessarily, but one that is not quite so painful to live with on a day-by-day basis.

Lately, I've been sceptical of this practice. That's not to say I don't think it's worthwhile, I believe it encourages the imagination to provide solace at a time when it is so inclined to do quite the opposite. Saying that, I've started to resent the idea of measuring requitedness. Trying to figure out what they think, what they feel. You can stand in front of a person and they can insist that they love you and you can insist that you love them, but ultimately, it means nothing if they go on to remorselessly squash your heart.

Are those moments meaningless? Are they void of sincerity if you can't reconcile words with actions? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps I've had too many conversations to know how easy it is for other people to shelve such incidents in the mind. They don't need to invent imaginary regret or regard, they just distract themselves and move on. There's no desire to glorify passing moments or conversations, they don't even need to wonder if I care because I advertise that I do, in the most vulgar way imaginable. I advertise that I care on here.

I've been experimenting with damnatio memoriae, the Roman practice of completely wiping out a person's image and memory. It's just like carrying on as if that person never existed. It's strange and it's powerful and it's completely at odds with who I am. Yet, I've taken to it, not because it is easy to do, but because it is much easier than having to understand why. No comfort can be derived from that old practice of invention, there's no way to imagine their care or regret because it is impossible. It just doesn't make any sense.

The irony of all this is that I've started to see value in the meanings I create. I've started to see beauty in my own inventions. What they think is almost irrelevant at this point, I create consequence. I will always create consequence. I love how empowering that notion is, how it is not at all reliant upon detecting any semblance of truth or sincerity. It's all about establishing a kind of ownership: it's not meaningful because they care, it's meaningful because I care... and I express it all in a way that other people might care too.

Viktor Tsoi in Igla: get stabbed, light cigarette, walk away...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

White Belt

It recently occurred to me that the day might come when I'll have to retire my white belt. After nine years, the canvas is beginning to fray a little and those various grey lines which correlate with the varying girth of my hips have faded. The white has gone a kind of polluted grey now, I can only assume from wearing it with skinny black jeans for so long. It's funny because the truth is I never even really wanted a white belt when Madam marched me off to NEXT in Hull to get one. The design was not exactly what I wanted, the buckle being two silver metal rings instead of a solid alligator-like claw contraption. After buying it, we stood in a busy arcade in the middle of Hull city centre, looking at my lower belly, attempting to work out how to thread up my belt. I'm sure it must've been a curious scene for anyone who was there to witness it.

I'm sure to anyone else, that greyed, frayed thing around my hips is hardly becoming but I suppose it's a relic of something that I once thought was quite sexy. Much like handling a black canvas rucksack, it wasn't a style that other girls appropriated and I appreciated that act of solidarity. It was a masculine token, in keeping with the stylish men I once associated with. Gav remarked upon the belt too, how it attracted him as he spied me dancing from across the room. I never had the tenacity to say: "You like it because it's you, it's your style." But saying that, I occasionally have daydreams of going back in time and mocking his breathtaking vanity, while at the same time congratulating myself for successfully appealing to the one thing he would find attractive: himself.

I look for new white belts from time to time, but nothing replicates the one I have. Not in style or in feeling. I suppose I will replace it when the time is right and this belt will become emblematic of another era in my life, as silly as that may sound. I was thinking the other day that in spite of all that has passed in the last nine years, I will always attribute its existence to Madam. The fact that we haven't seen each other in that time makes that loop around my hips so much more consequential. It's as if he's always here, clinging to me. I can hardly shake it and I don't really want to, either. Because although he doesn't remember venturing out to buy these things that I've kept for far too long now, I don't care to forget much. I don't care to forget his legacy and how, in spite of his absence, he's helped me to shape the person I am now.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Missy Laur said something curious to me the other day. Compliments are like advice, we only tend to accept them from people who don't know us very well. It was a timely bit of insight and so thought-provoking, too. At that point, I had been contemplating the nature and the function of compliments. How desperately they are craved and how difficult they are to accept.

I once thought I was simply echoing the values of my family. On the face of it, I would consider humility to be of paramount importance to us, but then I would think of my brother and his sickening bouts of narcissism. He thought he was absolutely amazing at everything, so smart, so handsome and talented to boot. Yet he would follow me from room to room, begging me for a compliment. Any compliment at all.

My instinctive response to a compliment is to swear. I've never thought to rationalise why I'm compelled to react like that. Do I feel like they're lying to me? Do I feel like they're attempting to combat my self-loathing tendencies? Perhaps I simply never learned how to gracefully accept kind words. I never learned how to use them, to rely upon them in moments of doubt.

I've slowly trained myself to respond in a more congenial way, to smile and say thank you very much. I often tell myself out loud to respond gracefully. It is a purposeful cue, knowing how inclined I am to aggressively argue them down. Most kind words get lost that way, after all, it takes such energy to act appropriately, to act in such a way that would suggest that I agree (even when I don't).

I'm uncertain how it happened, but things have moved on a little. I suspect I must have been subjected to thousands of these things and they snap back at me occasionally: a friend saying I cannot wait until you write a novel, another describing my designer freckles, a lover referring to my touch. Do I believe in those words now? Does it make me a narcissist? An egotist?

You sat across from me, not too long ago, at a table at China Bar. I'm going to give you some advice. You said. I was alarmed. Am I not going to like this? You smirked a little. That depends. Don't doubt yourself so much. You elaborated a little, referring in part to my shyness, referring in part to my detailed disclosure of my desire to exist solely as a brain in a jar.

It's just as Missy Laur said. Compliments are like advice, we only tend to accept them from people who don't know us very well. It takes me a couple of moments to recall your compliment, maybe even longer than that. I deliberately try to get used to the prickly awkwardness of its sentiment. This is what it must feel like to believe you're alright.

Friday, April 19, 2013


It was some years ago when he decided he would call me Ophelia. He was delighted at the re-christening, shouting its significance over the loud music to our mutual friends: It's cockney-rhyming slang, you see: Eleanor, Elisnore, Hamlet, Ophelia. Little did he know I had chosen my own nickname for him, not that he ever knew it. For the purposes of my head and my phone he was John Lennon Guy and it was a name so committed that even now, I need to momentarily concentrate before I say his real name out loud.

There are little fragments of that friendship that sometimes return to me. How he would purposefully (yet secretly) request the Kinks so we could dance together or send me a text from across the room: Sorry Ophelia, I didn't recognise you with your new haircut. Wow, you look beautiful... There's a lot to be said for those youthful escapades when the most mild-mannered flirtation would be enough. Nights when you would spend the whole car ride home thinking of what it felt like when he kissed you goodbye on your eyelashes.

The modern-day encounter would be rare, but no less enjoyable. I'd order a mocha and listen, captivated as he'd teach me how psychiatrists establish credibility with their patients or else, how to land a Tigermoth aircraft. It would be rare that I would be able to teach him anything, however there was one occasion when I taught him about lenticular lenses and the meaning of the word, threnody. I also told him the story of Pennies, at which point he handed over a threepence from 1921, a coin I've now pinned to my wall in the traditional Plague style.

I most recently came across an email where I described our first meeting to a friend. I was thrilled that I had somehow managed to forget the drama that transpired. You had a brother?! I texted to him, alarmed. He remembered how it all went down and again, I marvelled in how incredibly unusual it was, to forget that what someone else had remembered. There is always a possibility that more moments have been lost, but I don't believe there is much more to recall that I can't recall already.

I suppose that I just like the innocence of those times. I like the idea of that Ophelia girl, especially now I don't think I'll ever be her again.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


I'll admit, I harbour this unattractive tendency to remember everything. If that wasn't unattractive enough, I strive to remember everything more accurately than you do. I prefer to have that sort of information on hand, for if I'm ever challenged about the nature of a glance, gesture or suggestion, I can trump you and I will win. Because I can remember and you can't.

There would have been a time when I would have been upset by this notion. I would have been harpooned by the thought that it wasn't important enough for you to remember, whatever it was exactly. While I had endlessly rhapsodised about various plagues, you'd struggle to recall the scarcest detail of my existence. Once I would have been offended, now I don't particularly care.

It would have been fine except I recently realised that I'd convinced myself of personal truths that were fraught with factual defects. I don't know how but lust and intent became whitewashed with years of coffee-drinking, journal-writing and story-telling. I only realised when you admitted to remembering something: "Come on Elle, you know it was never like that!"

I've never had to account for the veracity of those personal truths, my stories on the Plague or otherwise. Even as I attempt to craft and create and honour those moments of consequence, even as I faithfully recall any number of phantom glances and gestures, the moral of any given memory is diluted by the fact that I refuse to face the truth. I refuse to admit what it was and why it hurt so much when I lost it.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


My Dad has this fear about Studley Park Road. Whether it be turning right into it or simply walking across it to reach the bus stop, the threat of getting rumbled by traffic gives my Dad the heebee-jeebees. It's gotten to the point where I'm challenged about it whenever I leave the house and it's always the same conversation. Don't run across Studley Park Road. Walk down to the lights. You're wearing black. Because I'm always wearing black, I always ask why wearing black is even relevant. Cars can't see you if you're wearing black. I always insist that black is not a cloak of invisibility. He claims it is... and then I leave the house, walk up the street and run across Studley Park Road.

On this recent occasion, as much as I wanted to, I could not run across Studley Park Road. It was peak hour. I stood tentatively by the gutter, waiting for a gap in traffic that could only be described as gapless. It just wasn't happening. After a couple of moments, I followed my Dad's advice and walked down to the lights, activating my RunKeeper app to ensure no distance went unrecorded. It was warm and I was happy, having spent the afternoon laughing with my writing friends. I wore a pink and cream dress and marvelled at my punctuality, it never used to be like me to make good time. It was half the reason I always chose to run for the bus.

Halfway down to the lights, I stopped, having spotted something in the concrete. It was neither a name or a paw print but a fragment of a poem by W.B. Yeats, recorded in slashed capital letters in the wet concrete:

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart's grown brutal from the fare - W.B. Yeats.

At risk of missing my bus entirely, I felt compelled to read the faint markings over and over. I quickly decided to get out my phone to take a photograph of it, to later examine on my sunset ride to the city. I couldn't help but smile when I marvelled at its surreal relevance, how it seemed to touch upon the debilitating of side-effects of fantasy, of possibility and hope. It's strange when you realise that the chasm between what you want and what you can have is not really all that great. The prospect of having all you ever imagined becomes intoxicating. Dreaming of how it could all fall apart becomes exhausting.

I forwarded the image to my writing friends that night. My friend Anne replied with the full 1922 poem, The Stare's Nest by my Window. She wrote, I wondered what Yeats was about, thought it could have something to do with the occupation of Ireland by the English, but it seems that it was about the civil war in 1922, after Michael Collins signed a treaty with England for home rule, which ended up with the provence of Ulster staying in English hands... It all started coming back, Michael Collins and Éamon de Valera. It all seemed so bitter, bloody and brutal and so totally removed from Studley Park.

I wonder who wrote it. I wonder what they could have meant by it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I don't abandon much, but when I was young, I abandoned your songs. It was an unusual situation, in that there was a time when I'd loved those songs more than anything else. I only ever had access to early demo versions and live rips, much to the exclusion of those later, official incarnations. I just stopped. I stopped listening. I stopped reinforcing ideas of a fondly-held consequence. It was easier to convince myself that you'd produced nothing else and there was, quite simply, nothing to go back to.

I was relieved that I never had to describe the circumstances surrounding that musical abandonment. I never thought I would have to, until I actually had to explain it to you. "But there's that prospect of finding a new connection, I think you might even like some of the new b-sides," you'd implore to my better judgement. I'd stutter, unable to offer a coherent explanation as to why I just can't. "People will wonder why, they'll wonder what has changed." He'd retort derisively, "But it's not about them."

I could listen now. I could listen and become casually acquainted with how it all went down. There's even that strange viability that I could embrace the life I was once compelled to reject. It's much easier not to listen, though. It's much easier to live unaware and unmoved, preserving that unacknowledged consequence, now held fast in amber. Yet, I can't help but neg you when you challenge me to give it a chance, "Maybe if you write something that exactly replicates your first demo, I might consider it. I might consider going back and doing it all over again."


Monday, February 25, 2013


I was so alarmed when he said it to me, I was convinced that it was a mistranslation from the Dutch: "It takes a real man to hurt a woman." It was such a curious expression that I rushed to write it down, not wanting to forget it. When I asked what he meant by that, he went on to explain that it takes courage for a man to take responsibility for the pain he's caused. I said I agree absolutely, although he probably could have expressed it in a slightly different way.

I like to think of myself as an honourary man. I insist that the men around me treat me as such. I encourage them to confide, discuss and describe the way they treat women. I do not take particular offence when they generate an endless stream of seemingly sexist synonyms, ranging from the fat and the stupid to the needy and hysterical. I do not feel particular disappointment when they detail the hollow physicality of their latest conquest. It is a compliment that I know, it is a compliment that they tell me.

A friend often pleads with me to be careful with such confidences, she tries to convince me that knowing such truths will ultimately damage the way I perceive men. I always laugh, because there's no other way to react to such a suggestion. For me, it seems counter-intuitive to fly the flag for feminism when I'm privy to such discussions. Instead, I listen. I try to understand their motivations and justifications. I try to find the source of their cruelty and thoughtlessness.

When I was younger, my brother predicted that I would marry a wife-beater. I never asked why, I had always assumed it had something to do with his obsessive compulsion to punish, bully and control myself and my mother. For this reason, I'm unsure how we ever became friends, but we did for a short time. I was 15 and we would talk for hours and hours, all while listening to early Depeche Mode on our all-night drives to Nunawading. I once asked him if he ever regretted how he treated us: "I've never hurt either of you. I've never done anything wrong..."

Whenever I recall his brutality, I'm reminded of that moment. I'm reminded of that flippant, completely remorseless sense of entitlement. For whatever reason, he felt like he needed to do what he did.

He and I have not spoken in three years, although I find myself silently counting the years over and over again, as if I've made some huge mistake. I don't recall any words during that last interaction, I just recall the ferociousness with which he spat on me. I'm filled with curious feelings of disgust and self-satisfaction when he tells my mother that he misses my emails. He tells her that he thinks I write better than anyone else in the family. I know that I'll never speak to him again, in the same way that I know that I'll never forgive him.

Perhaps it makes sense then, that I should look for that illusive assumption of responsibility in the uncensored accounts of male friends and heartbreakers. Sure, I will always yearn for a sincere statement of remorse, I will always long for an explanation. The thing is that I know how they speak about us. I know how they think about us. It is a compliment that I know, it is a compliment that they tell me.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


There's this moment that keeps winding itself round my head and throat. A moment that occurred during that last conversation, where I had described the terms of disengagement. For a moment that keeps returning to me, I can't remember exactly what I said. Something like that he'd go back to her and our existence would be wiped. "And what are you supposed to do?" He'd ask me. "Accept it. What else can I do?"

I wonder if I ever could have exploited the luxury of persuasion, as she did. His question makes me wonder if I could have fought, if I could have won. Is it possible to make someone love you again? Is it really possible to win someone back in some grand cinematic gesture? It's a scenario I'd never really imagined for myself, but then I don't believe that I can convince anyone to love me.

I keep seeing all those successful romantic appeals, not in life but in art. There are painted murals, long-haul flights, declarations over the PA and grand-stand karaoke. It indulges that impossible fantasy that you can do something. It's another world where words have this peculiar currency. You can say something heartfelt and persuasive and it'd change the course of your entire life.

There is this hopelessness, living in the knowledge that there was nothing I could have said or done. I imagine that in this flippant question, there was this unexplored possibility and I could have had the life that I was promised. I tend to forget the persuasiveness of the words I had used. I tend to forget how it became apparent that he had never bothered to read any of those carefully crafted appeals.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Andrew would always say that if you stood at Piccadilly Circus for long enough, you would eventually run into everybody. I imagine it from time to time, standing among the crowds, vying for a space among those steps, looking up at the flashing lights above. After waiting years (potentially), you would eventually see them.

If I could lead a dozen lives at once, I'd spend one life waiting at Piccadilly Circus, sitting by the statue of Eros. There would be that phantom prospect of a glance or even a weak smile from a friend, now long lost. There would be some kind of acknowledgement that something once existed, in one life or another.


Thursday, January 10, 2013


There are times when I get terribly caught up with Tumblr and I spend ages, scrolling further and further down the page to see more and more images. I marvel at the cohesiveness, when it comes to sites especially devoted to art, fashion and design. I marvel at the obscurity, when it comes to rare photographs of musicians I've loved for too long. For some reason, I carry this presumption that I've seen every photograph of Freddie Mercury ever shot and to see something new still enlivens the fangirl in me. It thrills me to think there is still more to see.

I came across a Tumblr called My Fangirl Problems, a depository where fangirls create faux memes to articulate the habits and anxieties arising from their musical obsession. Although much of it relates to the tastes of the next generation (think, Bieber or One Direction), I have to smile when I read it. I love to relate to the problematic problem of loving them far too much. When I read those posts, I'm back there, in Year 8, with a locker full of Queen clippings, thinking: Why did I have to choose the most popular band in the world to fall in love with?

What's fascinating is the varying tones of their frustration: ... when you see them kiss fans in photos, ... when you try to convince everyone that age is just a number, ... when your favourite fanfic never gets updated. Sure, some of it relates to the impossibility of a genuine romantic interaction, but much of it relates to time, money or technological restraints. I saved the JPG of the problem that stung me most: ... when you can't find anyone to talk to about them because no one you know likes them as much as you do.

I want to assure them. One day, you will have the money to go see them in concert. One day, you won't have school on their birthday. One day, you will find someone who totally gets you. But even then, I possess that very knowing pomposity that would irk any phantom fangirl. I never would have accepted such assurances, because much like everyone else, no matter what conversations I had or connections I made, no one else seemed to understand what it meant to harbour that intense breed of love that was both very real and very made-up.

I still feel it. I derive all kinds of lessons from his music and character and in this, my twentieth year of fangirlism. I can say with a high degree of certainty that I'll love him forever. For now, however, the frustrations of the hormonal fangirl have lessened and I no longer have to think of that loneliness that one stung me. It's more than a serendipitous sequence of chance connections, having conversations that send the heart racing and the mind reeling. It's that odd understanding that no matter what the group or musician, when it comes to that intense breed of musical love, the feelings are vastly synonymous.

I see now that the legacy and the frustration of my fangirlism does not necessarily exist in that search for connection. It's that endless process of working out the parameters of my passion, analysing it and trying to work out how they managed to secure such an unbelievably high degree of loyalty and fascination.
100 Holland Road

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I brought in the new year alone. I didn't intend it to be that way, but it felt appropriate somehow. As I stood by the upstairs window and watched the fireworks over Northcote, I don't think I could have had anyone else there.

With any other year, I'd take myself aside moments after midnight to read a letter I'd written a year before. There'd be lengthy summaries, paired with annoyingly simple and familiar moral overtures.

As I sat alone, I recalled those instances where I was forced to reveal the contents of my yearly letter, to Gav in a gutter in China Town and to Min in a kitchen in South Yarra. In both instances, I warned of its intensity but they insisted I proceed.

They were both disgusted, but for very different reasons. Gav came up with the infamously ironic (and the fucking stupid) statement: "you have ephemeral attitude towards love". Min, predictably, dismissed my candour and depressive tendencies.

I realised it quickly, after I managed to pull the pages apart that were stuck fast together with silver sealing wax. A year ago, I wrote with the same idiotic naïveté that I displayed in revealing my words to those I had loved so much.

I don't think I'd have ever realised, in my ten years of doing this, that perhaps these letters weren't about resolutions for the new year. They were about an ideal: someone interested enough to excuse themselves from a party, to follow me out to calmly listen to private thoughts.

Everything is different now, everything is more different than I could've ever imagined. I no longer hope for connection, I no longer hold that desire to glorify passing moments. I hope for nothing, except for the ability to quash that pathetic propensity to talk and to trust.

Disappointments Diary 2013