Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Middle Third

I recently entered a competition to develop a podcast. I bought a microphone and all. This was part of my submission. The working title is called 'The Middle Third'

The middle third

When you’re supposed to be on your path already –
When you’re supposed to know if you like Thai food or not-
When you’re supposed to know how to change a flat tyre-

I’m in the middle third of my life, most likely. I have been to University; I have held full time jobs, even progressed up the ladder within a company.
I remember being at high school and during that one-on-one with the careers counsellor saying that I never really want a career. I just want to earn enough to do what I want to do.
Thirty years on, I guess that’s where I am. I do what I want to do. I’ve worked hard to get where I am financially and now I’m more or less doing what I want.
It has been said that on any given project, the first third goes by pretty quickly and easily due to enthusiasm and excitement. The last third is motivated by seeing the end in sight. It’s the middle third where people have a look around. 
This is my middle third.

Story ideas
I don’t live your  ’up at 7am, at work by 9am, knock off at 5pm’ work life but it doesn’t make me any less of a productive part of society. Not out of bed til 10am, I write, I make art, I read.

I’ve been seduced by seaweed at times. Scrap booking for times gone by. Amateur scientists, average Joe experimenting with science, research, collating of specimens. Collecting in a socially acceptable manner but not perceived as hard science, but with an aesthetic value

How artists see the world differently? Colours, movement (interview photographer Uri, Alexander Horowitz book,) kinaesthesia

Ghosts – more than just us here – dreaming of my ex father in law short story. My view of the world. GOD= combined spirits.

Rabid feminist as I wonder if things are getting better for women. The feminist icons I read are ageing. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Gloria Steinem. Are there new women to take the reins?
Different roles/demands of marriage/parenthood. Diane Goldie.

My friends are leaving their male partners, for themselves not other men. To explore their desires not even sexual but mental, emotional needs. To study, to travel, to read, to do nothing, to meditate, to lead a healthier more balanced lifestyle. What’s the future of relationships? What’s their expiry date?

Friendship – how it changes. Forgiveness and understanding that we can approach things differently and that’s ok. Needs nurturing but not suffocating. They take on a different aspect when one has an intimate partner. More diversity in friends as I’ve aged – wider ages and backgrounds, differing occupations but fundamentally shared core values. Reconnection from the past. Face time over Facebook.

How far can you dismantle a marriage/partnership til it no longer is a marriage? Open relationships? Long term apart r/ships. Living side by side I think might be my ideal. Time alone to pursue painting, writing and thinking space but also time to miss you.  This idea tickles me pink. Honestly I can see positives in this. Surely there are worse things in this world.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


‘Thanks. Just here at the corner will do.’ She thanked the Uber driver. She turned to walk up the cobbled one way street. She was fairly sure that she remembered which house was his. The moon was hiding this evening and the street lights weren’t helping but as she got closer she heard the primal beats of his electronica music. She messaged him, ‘I’m here.’
He opened the door and stood to the side to let her in ‘Hey. Long time no see.’ His gravelly voice and soft smile put her immediately at ease.  
Following him up the stairs into familiar scents, she stared at his hips, her mind imagining them rocking against hers.  She ran her hand along the large piece of street art that he had commissioned for his staircase wall. Its orange and yellow swirls almost seemed to loop in time to the music. She could feel the bass beat in her chest, filling her from inside. The gas fire glowing in the corner and the cream shag pile rug in front of it added to the porn set feel of his bachelor pad.
 He resumed his position perched on the edge of a dining chair, its white plastic seat cold on his naked thighs though he didn’t feel it. All his concentration was on his hands, shaking as they rubbed the bud between his fingers sprinkling the herb evenly across the tobacco. Talking at her, she could only just distinguish his voice from the glitch electronica samples that permeated the room. A door and window were both open trying to help ventilate the smoke from the room. The gas fire kept igniting trying to keep the room at an even comfortable temperature.
 She sat unmoving, contained on her chair inches away from the table. The wine she’d brought still in its crumpled brown paper bag on the edge of the concrete table. His special plastic container had its illegal contents spewed upon the surface; small plastic bags and paper parcels with varying chemicals and substances. She didn’t know exactly what they were or how they were ingested and she was content to remain uninformed.
He’d had a tough week and was looking for a distraction. She was happy to be that distraction. Without asking, she poured them both a glass of the French rosé she had picked up from the shop on the corner. She knew he didn’t drink much but she needed a prop to help things along. He lit up and steadily drew the smoke in. It was as though she’d caught him mid-conversation.
I can’t believe some people can do this. What makes anyone think they’ve got the right to hurt another human being?’ He was choosing his words carefully. He knew that he couldn’t talk case specifics. He could be in trouble for a simple stray word. She could see the pressure of the knowledge he held inside. He had no strategy for containment and the pot wasn’t helping. She kept repeating, ‘I hear you.
 She knew she couldn’t say that she understood because she knew that she didn’t. The bottom of the wine glass showed itself so she grabbed the bottle to remedy the situation.
‘This dj, he splices samples of Austrailiana into the tracks. Listen . . .hear that bit. It’s “Skippy”.’ He cocks his head to the side a wry smile slowly growing on is face. Tapping her glass, the ambient layers of rhythm build and swirl with the heady smoke, the room crushing in on her. She breathes deliberately and deeply anchoring herself in the chair.
‘You don’t know what it’s like to hold the fate of another human being in your hands. You can’t even imagine what it’s like. I have to do this thing. It’s my duty as a member of this free and democratic society. We all have to do this thing. It’s hard and it’s exhausting but we can’t just walk away.
Not knowing whether to distract or allow him to ramble, she nodded and ventured, ‘I’ve always been kind of fascinated by the process and felt that I’d like to do jury duty.’ Shaking his head slowly, ‘You don’t want to be on this case. It’s violent and it’s bloody. It’s just awful. We got taken out to the crime scene yesterday. It’s a whole other world out there.‘  He licks his lips, leans forward and swigs some wine to assuage his dry mouth.
His head hangs forward as he takes another drag. ‘Six weeks. Six weeks we have to be there. And they made me the fucking jury foreman.’ Through the pungent smoke his red, creased eyes betray his anguish. He coughs, straightens up and forces a smile her way.
‘Did I ever tell you about when I renovated the bathroom? I thought that between work and the public toilet opposite, it would be fine. One morning though it wasn’t fine, was it? One morning I really needed to go. I grabbed whatever clothes were on the floor, launched myself out the front door and crossed the road. Approaching the loo from behind, everything looked okay. I only saw the ‘out of order’ sign after I’d pressed the button a few times. What now?
I looked around the park. What now?  Then I saw it. The council had just installed a dog litter removal point. I grabbed one of those small plastic bags and found a bush big enough to provide some camouflage. Bag spread as wide as I could, I pulled down my trackie pants and assumed the position. Oddly, the council hadn’t provided any paper product to finish the job so I sacrificed a sock to the greater good. As I exited from behind said bush, an older couple walking their dachshund passed.
‘“Nice morning for it,” we said as we passed each other.’
She laughs, drains the wine from her glass. More coughing as he sinks back into his chair. ‘I think it’s time for some coke.’

Saturday, April 9, 2016

more short fiction

Samantha, I just want you to know that this time last year, I considered you a good friend, and potentially someone who could become a close friend. I considered it an honour to turn up at your birthday party to help you celebrate. I was willing to engage, support, brainstorm creative ideas, talk out relationship concerns, have coffee catch-ups, see exhibitions, whatever, to develop our friendship. I would have been there for you with anything. Then I broke up with my boyfriend. The job I thought I had didn't come thru. I was so broke I couldn't feed myself some weeks. I went through a prolonged shock / identity crisis because I had been living a lifestyle that never really suited me. I was understandably sad, and sometimes vulnerable. I tried reaching out to you as a friend many times. After that one (very kind) visit you made, I don't ever recall you actually reaching out to ask how I was. I'd try and talk to you. You seemed OK about it, but you never followed up, never checked in. I've been a fucking mess, and I needed my girlfriends. Not just someone who would randomly, casually engage on FB when the mood or the subject took her. I thought we had more of a friendship than that. I really did. I kept waiting, understanding everyone has busy periods in their life. But you know - I feel like a friend who cared would call a person occasionally, suggest to meet up. That's what I'd certainly do. By the time your birthday came around this year, I pretty much had had no real personal contact with you for at least 8 months. 8 months. You were one of the few people who had any idea what an incredibly tough time I was going through. Yet no coffee invite, no invite to your new place, no phone call to see how I was faring. Just group invites, when I'd told you how bad my social anxiety was. This is the behaviour of an acquaintance, and not even a particularly caring one, not a friend. Just because there's a green dot on your screen next to a person's name, does not mean all is necessarily OK. I really thought more of you as a person. I really did... So when your birthday came around this year, and you proved yourself perfectly capable of sending me a text msg (the first in about 10 months), I did get it. But by then, I was hurt, and actually under the impression our connection had moved from a real life friendship to an online acquaintanceship. I didn't feel like being the equivalent of people poly-filler for your birthday do, when you couldn't just ask me as a friend just ONCE in 6 months - "Hey, how are you? Let alone 'let's catch up." When we first met, you seemed very keen for us to be friends. So, I guess I disappointed you somewhere along the line for your enthusiasm to wane so. Sorry for whatever it was I did- but I can't stay silent about how hurt I am anymore, Samantha. And now, I lose my bike - and what do I get from you - "good luck". Seriously ... do you have any idea how your behaviour looks like from the outside? I risk you unfriending me from sending this - but I'm tired of actually being hurt by your nonchalance. If you can't take this on board, and see that you've really hurt someone who considered you a friend, then yeah - I don't know where to next. Love, a sad and hurt friend. Xo

wow. I'm sorry that you're hurt. I could launch into an explanation of my life these last 12 months but you're probably not interested, so I won't. I'll back out. I often can't find the words I want. I wish you all the best and I'm sorry that you feel I've let you down.

So, you are backing out of an opportunity for honesty to make a friendship more real, more authentic? Do you think I risked saying these raw, hard things because I wanted to end our connection? No - I wanted you to have some chance to know how I felt and some chance for you to give me your truth - your perspective... In my pain and my moving away from you because in the months of non-communication, I had given up trying to start a conversation with you. Of course I was aware that stuff might be going on for you - why do you think I waited so long to say something? I'm not asking anyone to fix my issues, I just hoped for some companionship through it -some lightness. If I didn't value you, I would have just stayed silent, continuing to have these feelings, and have less and less contact with you. If you want to talk through stuff, I'd be happy to listen. But I think it would be better to do it at least in a phone conversation - if not face to face. However, if you really feel that our connection doesn't deserve that, then I will sadly accept that, too. You surely must have been wondering why I was distant, and not making personal contact? As that is honestly where I felt our friendship was going anyway - but against my preference. In my opinion, it was worth pointing out what has been puzzling me, and hurting me - at least I've stopped pretending nothing was wrong.

I’m sorry that your version of our relationship didn’t tally with my version. People participate differently within friendships and for different periods of time.
To receive such a message from you feels like an assault. Did you stand back and aim your arrow high?  I know you are an accomplished writer. I like to read what you write usually. Your stories entertain and delight me – usually. Your version of our interactions is your version. I’m not sure I even have the energy to put up my side.
A year ago (your time construct not mine), I felt that we were starting to move from acquaintance to friend. Close friends don’t come easily to me.
I’m sorry that you feel that I disappointed you. Last year, for the first time in my life I experienced anxiety and depression. Yes, I’ve said the D-word. It was a draining and confusing time. I sought out a quiet nest far from the too noisy world. The whole experience was over-whelming and far more reaching than I could ever have projected. I’m sorry that you feel I let you down. I felt let down by life.

You are one of those people who stuff just happens to

You were supposed to be here. It is 1pm already and where are you? You always have an excuse of why you’re not on time, like it’s something the world has done to you. It’s never your fault. It’s the woman who stumbled getting on to the tram and the ambulance had to be called. It was the dog that you found without a collar or lead and what were you supposed to do, just walk away and leave it to wander off and get run over. What was it this time? Was it your friend who always happens to lose his wallet and just needs a few bucks for the train fare? Do you really think it is money for the train he wants? How do you know he’s not ducking into the Bottle-O for a long neck?

You are one of those people who stuff just happens to. Your car is always in at the mechanic. The phone company somehow didn’t get its last payment and they cut off your service. How is it that you get through life?

Remember the time your bathroom at home was being renovated. You said you’re a man and that between work and the playground opposite your house that it would be fine. One morning though it wasn’t fine, was it? One morning you really needed to go. You grabbed whatever clothes were on the floor, threw them on, launched yourself out the front door without locking it and crossed the road. No need for keys, you were only going to be a few minutes. Approaching the modern automated public restroom from behind, everything looked okay. You only saw the ‘out of order’ sign after you’d pressed the open button urgently a few times. What now?

You look around the park and the dew on the play equipment sparkles in the early morning sun. Shifting weight from left to right, time was running out. What now? If you go home, there’s nothing there to make this situation resolve itself. Then you see it. The council recently installed a dog litter removal point. Above the bin is a roll of small black plastic bags. You roughly grab one and find a bush big enough to provide some camouflage. Bag spread as wide as you can, you pull down your trackie pants and assume the position. Oddly the council hasn’t provided any paper product so you sacrifice a sock to the greater good. As you exit from behind said bush, an older couple walking their dachshund pass.

 ‘Nice morning for it,’ they chorus as you pass one another.