Swinging And Swirling

Swinging And Swirling


I get a rejection email from a writing competition that I entered 4 months ago. I really hoped to make the long list.

My phone has not been working for three days. I cannot type in my security code as all but the 2 and 5 are useless. It is nice to leave the apartment without it. I day dream more and watch things around me.

Walking home from the shops I see a soft toy bunny head on the damp foot path. No sign of the body and limbs any where. It looks macabre and I smile.

At home I write on my lap top  and share a little of it. I am working on a bigger project but cannot resist sharing these three paragraphs in a short blog post.

It gets some good reactions from people who understand what I am trying to explain and articulate. There is only one bad reaction. I ignore that bad. I am not writing for them.



I resent having to go into the city on a new phone mission. I would rather be writing. The huge Telstra building on the corner of Bourke and Swanston is ultra modern a woman standing at the entrance greets me and directs me up the escalator. There is top 40 pop music blaring and lots of neon lights. My customer service rep is a young guy called Nathan. He is unable to help me get into my old phone. I finally have to say goodbye to my beloved 4s with the Japanese depressed egg (Gutatama) phone cover. ‘I have not seen one of these phones for 10 months.’ Nathan tells me. Then I see two in the space of two days.”

I decide on the iphone 7.  Nathan goes to get one for me. I am asked if i want tea or coffee 4  times. My keep cup is on clear display, placed next to my bag and coat. Nathan returns and starts to help me set the phone up. ”What are your plans for the rest of the day?’ Nathan asks me.

”I am going to poetry book club. Because I am a big nerd.’ I reply. I am relieved to have something concrete to say. I hate it when customer service people ask me that question.

”Cool. Cool.” Nathan says amicably. ”What do you do with yourself?” He asks.

‘I am a writer.” I say. ”I am quite useless as a member of functioning society.’  Is my pithy response.

It is a relief to finally exit the large space age building armed with a new device.

A baby came to poetry book club. I am impressed that his mother managed to come all the way from the suburbs. I watched everyone coo and fuss and i tried to measure up the same enthusiasm.

When the question arose did anyone want a hold,  I stayed silent.

It was only 3 months old. I do not find infants all that enthralling. They cannot talk or ask interesting philosophical questions.  This feeling could be due to the fact that my own father was always quite vocal as to his disinterest in new borns. Even his own kids were weird looking untill 10 month old. ”You looked like ET when you were a baby.” My father told me numerous times.

My gosh, a baby could have the capacity exhaust me so much i may have less time to be depressed. I know on an intellectual level that this is a terrible reason to have a baby.  Also, I don’t want one. I just feel like I am supposed to want to have one and this makes me feel guilty. When Im depressed I feel this exponentially more than usual. It is not your fault, small human. I think as I half heartedly touch the infants tiny left foot as my friend holds it and looks like a natural Dad while doing so. He is genuine in his joy at this infant’s presence at poetry book club.



At poetry book club we discuss the book of poems by Tanya Thaweeskulchai, called A Salivating Monstrous Plant. I had read the poems out loud to my empty apartment with the hum of the fridge as a backing track. I love the poems. The rhythm and flow of the language as it comes out through the voice is so much more powerfully experienced than when simply reading them silently. The poet originally created a performance using these works and that really becomes apparent if you read them aloud. It is the thick meaty imagery that I enjoy the most in this collection. There is acknowledgement of the strange and surreal. In these poems you are invited in at your own risk. There is a half boy half crow, a house being swallowed up, plants and earth seen from the inside.  These poems gave language and description to my own body and the weird and wonderful shapes that inhabit it from day to day and year to year.

I am a salivating monstrous plant and there are times that I feel completely out of control inside of it. This collection of poetry encapsulates what it feels like to be swallowed up by forces outside of yourself yet also, deep inside of you. There is description of peeling back a cornea that almost has the power to make you put the book down and gather your wits again before continuing.  It is a book of Avant-Garde poetry that could be a bit too much for some. I found it comforting. It gave voice to the unspeakable and indescribable qualities that encompase my own body.



I lay awake in bed listening to the rain falling heavily. I used to love the sound of rain, I still do. It is just that the prospect of going out in it and making the two train trips to West Footscray, in the rain and wind, in order to discuss my ever recalcitrant head and heart.

The 8 minute walk from West Footscray train station to my appointment, is cold and windy but, no rain is falling. When I walk into the warmth and comfort of the reception area, I am greeted with a smile and an offer of hot herbal tea. Today the tea is called Yummy Tummy. I sit on one of the worn mismatched couches and sip my tea as I wait to be called.

My psych session did not leave me feeling any better. I got frustrated and inpatient with her reasoning. She thinks proactive thinking and logic will fix things. It won’t.
I get so my chest and heart actually hurts. Like sudden heart ache for no reason. She tells me that that is anxiety. When the hour is up, I feel like I have wasted it talking about stupid things that cannot be changed. I cannot be changed.



It is astounding what a good phone conversation with a good friend can accomplish . My friend who relocated to Sydney for a film job that fell through is coming back in a week.
She calls me from her bungalow in Sydney. She puts me on speaker phone and original feeds to bake a cake as we chat. It is soul replenishing and before I know it aver an hour has passed. She has made me laugh and we have gotten mutually outraged about sexist idiots. To feel seen really seen and understood is such a rare and wonderful
 thing. She already has a job lined up working on the show Underbelly when she gets back to Melbourne. Talking to her inspires me. I look out the window as I chat with her and notice the sky in blue.

It is because of her that I decide to actually have a shower and get dressed to go to the shops. I will pick up some things that I always forget. L has been morning the loss of his bag of salt from the moving expedition. I will get a bag of salt.
It is sunny and cold outside. I breath in the crispness and exhale.

There is a father and his 5 year old son on their bikes at the corner. The father is guiding the child around a smashed beer bottle. “Let’s avoid the broken glass” the father says. “Someone’s been a bit silly with a beer bottle.”

The last of the winter  afternoon sun sinks down as I am in the supermarket.

When I step into the empty apartment it is after 5pm. I start putting away things in the low cupboards. I am too short to reach the cupboards above the sink. They are higher than my head. I should have left the bag of cooking salt on the bench.

I see some space in the top shelf of the top cupboard. It is the shelf with all the glass bottles  of delicious balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

Reaching up on tip toes with the bag of salt and try to half throw it that few inches so it lands on the shelf. It does land there. Then the entire shelf falls and there is a cacophony of smashing glass and something falls heavily on my for head, I think it is the large glass bottle of fancy olive oil. There is black sticky stuff that looks like tar in a puddle with glass shards everywhere. The tiles are slick with oil. The smell is overpowering. My vision gets a bit blurry and my knees go weak. What a huge mess.

A few sobs of despair burst out before removing my wet with oil socks and start trying to clean up. I guess it is a good thing there are no kids around to worry about their little hands and feet getting sliced with glass shards, I think.  It is not until after I have nearly finished cleaning that I wipe at my head with a clean hand. Upon looking I  see thick streaks of red and my fringe is sticky with blood. There is more to worry about than a simple concussion. I also fear that I have done some permanent damage to my frontal lobe. I touch gingerly at the wound. It hurts.

I check my emails. Another literary rejection. There is a big sigh let out of me and I check my head wound again.


I finish a collection of essays called You Cant Touch My Hair. And Other Things I Still Have To Explain.  The author is American comedian and one half of the pod cast called Two Dope Queens: Pheobe Robinson.

 There is a lot to love about this book from an intersectional feminist perspective. Pheobe writes candidly about the trials and tribulations of being a black woman in America. She writes about being an actor of colour and the  racism and sexism she has encountered while trying to carve out a career in comedy.
There is an essay entitled How To Avoid Being The Black Friend and maps out the ways to spot if you are the tokan black friend. This stuff is important to understand even if you are not the tokan black friend, because white people need to know how to avoid putting their friends of colour in awkward situations even accidentally.
When Pheobe writes about the experience of being on a set for a television show and calmly calling the director out on his careless racist comment about her being ”uppity” because she asked nicely for five minutes to quickly go over her lines, You learn something.  That no matter how nice you are as a black woman, the stereotype of the angry black woman follows you around like a rain cloud of micro-aggressions. Instead of graciously accepting he has made a mistake, saying sorry and moving forward. The director makes it all about how he is a good guy and has a wife and kids. It is a story all to familiar to any minority when talking truth to power. Phoebe handles it well and this makes the immaturity and childishness of the director stand out even more.
Phoebe is funny. She writes about the members of U2 and puts them in order of who she would like to sleep with the most to the least. She makes sure to be clear that if you expected her to be into rap more than music loved by mums, than that is a form of racist thinking.
My favourite essay would have to be A Brief History Of Black Hair in Film, TV, Music and Media. Phoebe discusses the pixie cut worn by Halle Berry in 1994 as ”the ‘Rachel’ cut for black women.”
There is even a photo of one of my favourite film actresses Janelle Monet whose hair is described as ”So on point that I would pay to live inside it,,,its bigger than my NYC apartment, so this is a win win.”
The freedom that comes from having well behaved white girl hair should not be overlooked. For black women hair is far more politically loaded and that is thanks to generations of white supremacy.
The collection of essays closes with some words of loving advice for Phoebe’s biracial niece Olivia, in the form of a collection of letters. One of these letters is called Use Your Vagina For Good. Which is obviously for Olivia to read when she is older ( not 3 years old at time of book being written).
 This book is fun and informative as well as filled with comedic gold. Ms Robinson’s wit is obvious from page to page.  You should buy this book and read her weekly musings on her blog Blaria.com (aka Black Daria).