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?