I’m at a workshop today learning how to code. We were taught how to generate haikus. I didn’t really understand what I was doing, but I began entering words for my haiku. I went to the abc news page and began entering words and phrases in order to make a topical poem about Australia. I then started coding- I couldn’t get a full Haiku – all I managed was to generate one random phrase. Here it is:
Tony Abbott… it was depressing and short, but I guess it got the job done.
I considered posting this as my story for today. But even though these two words had taken me an hour of coding- it seemed like cheating. This highlighted something for me. This project has only been hard because of my expectations. When I get a suggestion, the ones I find hardest are often the ones which really dictate the major plot points. This is because don’t like posting anything that won’t surprise either my readers or myself. It’s just in my coding I guess… so here’s my story (Warning- interactive):
One of the places that always forces me to reflect is a crowded room full of strangers. Earlier this month I found myself at the Opening Night do for the Brisbane Writers Festival. It was very intimidating- the room was buzzing with experienced writers who all knew each other.
I stood at the side willing myself to go and talk to someone. Hadn’t I learnt my lesson by now? This project had been all about interacting with strangers- yet I was terrified of just walking up to one in real life and introducing myself. Thankfully, after a few minutes that seemed to stretch forever, a man (who also stretched forever) came and stood next to me. I looked up at his tall figure and suddenly we were having a conversation. His name was Tom and he didn’t know anyone either. He was from Melbourne and making video games was his thing- but he’d written a book just recently (read here). It was a lovely chat and we bonded talking about games. He recommended I play Journey, which I did just the other day and now I never want the game to stop. In Journey- almost everything is your friend- but it’s a very quiet game.
This has confirmed something in my mind: That I’ll never be a loud person who is the centre of the party, but if I can continue push myself to talk to strangers and befriend people in my own quiet way- I will get so much more out of things.
The other day I emailed Tom to ask for a story idea- he said:
“an introvert is playing a Space Invaders arcade cabinet by herself at a fish and chip shop, extrovert comes over and talks to her and they make a connection over aliens, fish and/or chips”
Forests are nice places to reflect, and sometimes you find weird things too- like this log. I realised, before this challenge I would have seen this log and thought it would make a good story “one day” and “one day” would never come. But now, I take a photo immediately without even thinking and start planning how I am going to write about it.
It’s a very nice city, I’m lucky to have made it here. But there are no street sleepers, like me. A man walking his dog tells me to go the money tree. I assume it’s just a cruel joke given the state of me but I go there anyway. The park is nice. It’s a huge attraction. People come from all over the world to stick their own coin into it, hoping it will ensure they have a rich life. I don’t even have a coin to stick in it.
I see a dad hand his kid a coin.
“Now go get me that new car,” he jokes.
I decide to join the line. Perhaps just touching it will give me some luck. The boy in front of me looks at me, screwing up his nose at my smell.
When I get to the front they don’t turn me away. So I pretend to put in a coin. But as I do I feel coins dropping into my hand.
I’ve lived in the city 5 years now and even have my own house. There are no street sleepers because of that money tree. I found out later it is a real money tree. Only those who truly need it can pull the coins from its bark. The government is terrified people will find out so they disguise it as a tourist attraction.
Here’s a confession – I am often sucked into quizzes and the like. I rarely agree with them but I find them to be a pretty good way to reflect on things. I started this challenge in order to become a writer. I’ve always been hesitant to use that word in relation to myself (even after being occasionally paid for it). I didn’t feel I could call myself one if I didn’t write everyday. So I looked at this Buzzfeed “24 Signs You’re a Writer” to see if I could say it yet. At first I panicked, I’ve never wanted or owned a typewriter, I don’t want to live in New York and I really don’t like coffee.
But then I came to my senses… my writing does not depend on my implements, country or tastebuds. I think I’m finally comfortable to say I am a writer.
Lee didn’t have nikes or a trademark victory move. He asked his mother if one day he could ever be a runner.
“A runner is someone who runs. You run everyday, I see you outside the house.”
Because I did a sad “memory” story yesterday Adrian told me I should really do a happy one too. Especially since I have now PASSED THE 300 STORY MARK GUYS! (not that I’m excited or anything)
So, I’ve taken inspiration from another thing I learnt from the memory episode of radiolab about a man with amnesia who couldn’t recognise his wifes face if she walked by, but still recognises her by her embrace.
I’ve been listening to radiolab (listen here) and they were talking about memory and how scientists have determined that the more you recall a memory the further the memory gets from what actually happened (because each time you remember something you change it a bit).
I thought about him everyday. He left when I was 7. I remembered everything, him pushing me on the swings, buying me ice cream, taking me to the movies. It hurt to remember but I couldn’t stop. He’d been so good to me. I was constantly wondering why he left and trying to track him down. I could only assume I’d done something wrong, been a bad child. Why else would he leave?
After years of searching for him, I heard that the more you remembered something the less true that memory was. I felt cheated, I must have thought of those memories millions of times. I didn’t want to lose what little I had of him.
I wanted to press reset on my memories, so I decided that I would reconstruct them while I waited to find him. I tracked down all the people that I remembered were there, at the swing, the ice cream shop, the movies. Their memories would be clearer. I was going to press reset.
But when I found them, it wasn’t what I was expecting. My childhood friend from the park told me he only remembered me falling off the swing and my dad telling me to get back on despite my tears. The corner shop owner told me she gave us the ice creams for free because he’d spend our money on cigarettes, and the ticket checker said she only remembered us because he left me alone in the cinema to go the pub.
I am in the process of polishing my honours thesis which means I am infinitely reflecting on everything…
In a room of mirrors, she reflected. Was each reflection identical? Or did they lose something of her with each reflection? There were 10 versions of herself she could see in the mirrors currently, each getting smaller and further away.
Meanwhile an even bigger version of herself behind her was watching her in the mirror and wondering the exact same thing.