Transition Girl

Why transition girl?... Best answered by a quote from the Iliad....."The soul was not made to dwell in a thing; and when forced to it, there is no part of that soul but suffers violence."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

procrastination moment number ninety nine

I have had a short stretch off work (the day job) and had planned to spend the time editing the drafted second novel to take into account feedback from my test readers. I have done many things during this length of time except adhere to this plan.

My chillaxing staycation (two new words finding their way into the annual Oxford dictionary additions this year...and then folk wonder why I am critical about the dynamic nature of language when words such as this enter into the common vernacular) has been spent in cathartic Spring cleaning, being lectured again by the doctor several times about the need to come to him more regularly when I am experiencing pain rather than being a stubborn stoic blokey girl biting my stiff upper lip, exploring options to deal with a broken oven, printing out a collection of 2010 photographs to offer the traditional "show and tell" to Mater when she comes and spends a few weeks around Christmas with me, catching up with various friends to listen and provide sage thought provoking pearls over food and coffee, and sharing with a good friend some music that coincided with a difficult period in my life which helped me to "process" some seriously raw emotions at that time (and hopefully will provide that friend with similar benefit).

This last offering was a big step for me (to share something so personal) as that time coincided with the ending of my marriage. Among other things, I wrote a short piece at the time called Crossroads reflecting on the emotions, an excerpt of which is provided below:

My trust betrayed, the despair seemed to engulf me. Starting the year suddenly single opened a floodgate. The despair was a festering wound that seemed like it would never heal. There were reminders everywhere serving as tiny prods amplifying the aches.

How far does a person fall when they feel this way? There’s something about drinking a half a bottle of scotch, several cocktails of champagne and rum and (perhaps too many) tablets to help me sleep without which I would not have crystallised the notion that I really did need to recognise and hold on to life.

I did not want to die; I just wanted to learn how to cope better with the pain that ebbed and flowed inside of me. And much as I tried to hide it, sometimes that pain seeped through; sometimes it oozed; sometimes it gushed. The bleeding had fed my fears almost to the point of no return.

Ultimately, a wound that had been reopened by his departure had nothing to do with him at all. While his leaving had been a catalyst, the reminders were not about missing him. I realised that I had spent years holding back - trying my utmost to suppress a range of feelings and it created the background noise that had come to define a marriage built on lust alone.

And because I had spent so long pretending – being something that he wanted me to be - I had lost sense of who I was. I had no choice but to acknowledge those feelings and attempt to understand why I had chosen for so long to ignore the noise. I had not only been sleepwalking, I was doing so without any direction. Little girl lost. I had to find myself.

This was about the time I moved cities for a seachange. Music and writing and my friends helped me through (even though I readily admit I am still covered in scars from that moment in history). I would have remained entirely lost without these things. At least now, I only wander through the fog intermittedly.

It seems I have not spent the last few days relaxing at all and I have filled the time with anything but writing... Truth be known it has been a nine week long procrastination moment. I will go for a walk to clear my head and when I sit back down at this desk, I will be ready to write...

Friday, October 22, 2010


Another rainy Saturday. Another day of writing procrastination... Though I have managed to pen a poem inspired by Mad Men. The writing on that show is sublime - two lines of which I have borrowed to form the basis of this piece below, called Water.

when i am out of sorts
i look at the calendar
and there is usually
something significant
on the horizon
barely enough
to keep me moving

searching for ways
to regain some control
vacantly staring
at my surroundings
even standing at the centre

it is an effort
to get in the water
but when i do
i am weightless
and i don't even sweat
and in the end
i am wrung out
only for a moment

pool water is better than
the rain in the shower
that does not wake me up
that only pokes
my numb skin

and i wish the water
would wash away
the dull ache
that nestles
below the surface

i count the water drops
like the shiny red pills
that float about
in the fog swirling around
inside my weather beaten head

need so many more of them
a cascading cold bloody water fall
to pierce the painted veil

I have to admit that birthdays (one of which I celebrated yesterday) bring out some of my darkest moods and writing. There's something about special occasions that make me feel ordinary and the reason for that is a story best left for another day.

Friday, October 15, 2010

therapeutic forgetting (no 2)

Getting a blast from the past this weekend with wintery weather half way through Spring and I'm not much in the mood to write anything new - so material below is an excerpt from the first novel, Transition Girl. (I confess to editing last few paragraphs to reflect upon recent drivers of my mood)...

It has been a part of modern science for well over 50 years, used sparingly in medicine to treat selected cases. The memory suppression pill only works if it is taken within 24 hours of a severely traumatic event. By the way, you don’t really have the memories erased, just the emotional impact of those memories.

There is no reason to believe the pill could not be used for circumstances that were “unpleasant” but not really traumatic – how many bad days have we all had where a pill might have helped us to forget the embarrassment.

Taken to an extreme, there could be a lot of seriously drugged up people wandering around. Very Brave New World. Self-inflicted dementia for the young and the young at heart.

In reality, there’s a huge difference between having a shitty day and being threatened by a lunatic with a shotgun. While the former can suck the life out of you slowly (death by a thousand cuts), the latter involves seeing your life flash before your eyes with time just meaningless.

Medical experts believe that there is a case for therapeutic forgetting in the latter case and, on some days, I am inclined to agree with them, especially if it means it could prevent a lifetime of destructive behaviour arising from an inability to cope with the damaged emotions generated from the event.

Why give the multi-national drug companies a free kick along when there are far more “socially” acceptable ways of memory suppression - like binge drinking? Sadly, those forms of suppression only provide temporary relief.

Seriously though, are we not the sum of our experiences? To erase part of those experiences would be like making life become an unfinishable puzzle (with several pieces permanently missing). It just seems wrong to me.

Who would want to sleepwalk through their existence? (Actually, there are probably a large number of folk who would say, “I would”, to that question. And, let’s be honest, a serious part of this particular history lesson is strewn with examples of me doing just that.)

What if there was a more extreme choice of memory erasing? Existence erasing? If you have experienced a traumatic event, would you take a pill to forget? If you knew you were going to face a series of traumatic events in your future, would you willingly choose to cease to exist to avoid those events? Disconsolate darkness.

We rarely have the benefit of foresight, only the benefit of hindsight. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like (and may be wish a little) to be a stupid suburban slag that only lived for today – for the moment – who did not obsess about the past and who did not fret about the future.

If I were dumb enough to only exist purely on basic instinct – would life be a whole lot simpler? Does the very process of being capable of reason make life unnecessarily complicated?

I think I might be procrastinating again. I have been contemplating (perhaps bogged down in a quagmire might be a more apt explanation) over the last few weeks what can only be described as a series of philosophical questions about what makes me human and fallible.

If I have a bad day, the reality is I cannot pretend to be happy. For people to ask and expect me to find alternative ways (besides withdrawing, not chatting much, or being more blunt than usual) to “deal with it” so that they can feel better seems a little unfair to me.

No offence guys, but the last thing I need when I am not in a happy place is to face pressure from my peers to be a “shiny happy person”, especially when my peers are perfectly capable of creating a relaxed environment without my involvement. Yet it seems too much to ask those peers to respect my desire to walk away occasionally when I feel my own well being is being detrimentally affected?

I do not want to share. I do not need to share. And the reality is, I cannot share because there is genuinely no one to take my offering in a way that can help me.

A person presenting the “I am here to listen” statement does not even realise that they have not been around to listen for so long because they have been caught up in their own “in the moment” happiness. They have something to do, someone to love, something to hope for. Lost count of the number of days now since I did not feel abandoned.

And they do not even realise how ill equipped they would be to understand such things as the nuances of effects of memory triggers. I have yet to meet any person who actually wants to hear any answer to the question “how are you” other than “fine”. Ignorance really is bliss.

I really need to travel. I’ve been lost in this current fog for a month and a faraway place will hopefully bring some sunshine back into my sight. A break from work in a place on the other side of the world would be an important source of much needed rest, reflection and rejuvenation - a catalyst for clearing my mind of the memories that a too far gone for any relief from a therapeutic forgetting pill. No doubt about it. I need to check out physically for a while. Somewhere out of reach.

I’m not quite at that “fatal error” message stage where the brain is ready to shut down completely (where I do more than just run my eye over that packet of razor blades in the supermarket). But certainly in dire need to run in safe mode for several more weeks before water damage (from the current swirling fog) does irreparable damage.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

mouse pains

Did not write last weekend for a few reasons.

First - my older brother was visiting from interstate to run a marathon. He has taken up running in recent years with a passion, mostly to give him the freedom to eat what ever he likes. Balancing the passions so to speak.

Second - my wrist is aching because I have done so much writing in the last few months, I seem to have acquired a repetitive strain injury from over use of the computer mouse. Damn it. My favourite oesteopath is now treating it but it has meant some curtailing of my writing activity.

Third - after the excitement of creating the ideas for the other parts of the trilogy, I have struggled to get started in writing the first chapter of the next novel. While I eventually wrote an excellent first scene, I found myself wondering how to write the second scene.

I wrote the last book sequentially (i.e. chapters written in the order that they would be read) and suspect that the book I am writing now won't lend itself to that. Generally speaking, I do not usually write sequentially as I prefer to put the pieces of the puzzle together once I have the main ideas on paper.

After several hours of staring at the screen last Saturday (before my brother arrived for his run), I started brain dumping the main ideas. I think I will need to do that some more over the next few weekends while I wait for my hand to recover and my energy to string full sentences together return.

In the interim, I have a job interview to study for and a few parties to fill the next few weekends. Mega birthday bash and Halloween. Dress ups! Woo.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

my name is mud

Whenever I ate mudcake, I always used to say to myself (and often out aloud if I happened to be in the company of others) that cake's name was mud. I open this week's blog with that line for no other reason than the title of the blog reminds me of that quirky cake eating habit.

I have nothing profound to say about cakes today.

Today I want to talk about the procrastination of the weekend past. It actually was not that bad.

Spent Saturday (on and off as it was such a lovely Spring day for a walk) editing the second novel. Would be better to describe it as adding in a few paragraphs, here and there, to firm up a couple of twist plot threads that caught my 'test' readers too much by surprise. The two people who read the draft, who are in my target demographic, both were completely blown away by the ending. Sure, there were clues throughout the story though my 'reveal' was always meant to surprise the reader. I was determined to pack a punch and make the reader go back to read the book again to find the clues. But the clues were far too subtle even for my astute testers. I also edited to improve the links to what will now be a prequel and sequel to the story.

Sunday was far less productive. Six hours to write three paragraphs. Yes, there was another long walk in between the epic procrastination. I was writing the opening scene of the prequel. Spent much of the time thinking about ways to describe mud other than it being a bit smelly and sticky. Turns out there are many ways to describe it. Though I did not think of any of them until just before I dozed off to sleep well into the night. I managed to write another page and a half this morning in less than an hour, fresh from a night's sleep dreaming about mud.

The mind works in mysterious ways.

And my name is no longer mud.