Yesterday I helped paint a friend’s bike and was reminded of just how differently I see bikes and how much difficulty I have riding them.
The wheels spun sucking her gaze in further and further till it tangled. Her vision was hazy and her thoughts were twisted in the spokes as she tried to mount the machine. It carried her down the hill precariously, threatening to throw her off if she slowed down. She felt she was being kidnapped. When she arrived at her destination, she squeezed the brakes. To her surprise she managed to get off fairly smoothly. As her thoughts untangled and her vision stopped spinning she could see the little metal machine waiting for her patiently as she went inside. Perhaps they could be friends.
Big news! I am doing a TEDx talk for TEDxQUT on the 2nd of August about my project. I’m really excited but I find public speaking very difficult, as I’m sure many people do. On day 78 I did a story on my fear of speeches and my propensity for violent blushing. This is going to be a big ordeal for me- I’ll be filmed, there will be an audience and I dare say there will be blushing. So I’ve written today’s story inspired by public speaking difficulties.
Words stick in her throat and dribble from her lips in a muddy indistinguishable syrup. People watch horrified as the newborn words flop about on the floor unable to find their feet. Some words begin to climb back into her throat, quivering with nerves. Her voice shakes from the quivering and then the words clog it all together. She scoops up the remaining words from the floor and carries them home. They’re not bad words, she thinks as she bathes them. If only she could give them a proper send off, let them loose in the wild. If only she could throw them into the wind and let them float effortlessly around the audience touching those nearby. Next time she’d be stronger, next time they’d be alright.
“What’s olive oil?”
“I think if you crush olives and it makes oil. You can do it with coconuts, vegetables, peanuts…”
“How do they make baby oil, do they crush babies?”
The two children sit in terror. The first turns to their baby sister, June.
“June, there’s no such thing as Bananas in pajamas, they’re just men in suits.”
“What are you doing!?”
“I’m crushing her dreams, I want to see if you get baby dream oil.”
June begins to cry.
“Quickly, collect the tears. We’re going to be rich!”
Yesterday at work, Ian was having philosophical difficulties with this question: “If olive oil is made from crushing olives… how do they make baby oil?”
Chloe told me she found making friends difficult. I totally agree- it can be intimidating and awkward. This morning I decided to challenge myself to make proper friends with the guys in the warehouse. I like talking to them during work, but at lunch I usually sit back with the office people because they’re too loud and intimidating. Today I sat on the outskirts of their big circle. I felt like the quiet kid at school again. The following story is my experience:
On the edge of conversation. I step out briefly on to the centre of its loud shifting surface. But I can’t see my next step, it’s already moved so fast that I can’t find a foothold. So jump back to the edge, clinging to the still quiet comfort of the edge. I’ve got a better view from here. I can really take it all in. The edge isn’t always a bad place to be.
Andrew’s been pondering the question, what is a “vegetarian zombie”? So I’ve explored some Zombie philosophy.
Urge for brains constant. Irresistible. But also urge to help others. So make diet, more earth friendly, like human vegetarians do. Choose what brains. Brains that not contribute much. Never eat scientist brains. Some politicians okay. Best brain from Murdoch man. He spread his brain though everywhere through paper. His brain very renewable.
Terry Whidborne (find out more at his site) is a stupidly talented person especially with a pen/pencil/paint or really anything- I imagine he could even carve an amazing sculpture with a pin if he wanted to. Every Sunday he does a sketch and sends it hurtling into the chirping land of tweeters. I got excited and couldn’t wait for today’s so I used last week’s as today’s prompt:
Fairies are hairy. I always thought they were smooth delicate creatures with impeccable dress sense and perfect figures. I locked myself away in libraries and even lived in the woods for a month in search of these perfect beauties. But when I finally tracked them down, I found a group of tubby hairy artists buzzing about. They’d been drawing themselves into books for decades as gorgeous creatures. My disappointment was quickly replaced with relief. No one is perfect. Everyone is insecure.
Erin sent me her favourite piece “The Last Forest” by Max Ernst:
The moon is a forest. If you slip under a crater, you’ll see it. Giant blue luminous plants thriving and giving off eerie green light. When the Earth was used up, we moved here. It had been under our noses all along. Not everyone survived the trip. Which is just as well, the moon is small and cramped. Some complain about the strange damp smell of the forest or the dark blue mud that cakes our boots. I am just glad there is a forest left in the universe that will take us.
I asked my doctor if he had any favourite artists. He said Margaret Preston.
Grace has very distinct boundaries. Don’t hug her, don’t look her directly in the eye and definitely don’t take her to anything loud. Everything must be clear and repetitive. At first it seems restrictive, sad even. But the closer you get to Grace, the more intriguing the boundaries become. She’s different, beautiful and bold.
I got a suggestion from Julia while ago. Something I’ve been finding difficult is keeping track of the different submissions and fitting them into my themes. But your suggestion has not been forgotten Julia! Today is the day. The submission was: “Conchita Consuela Poiter – the alter ego of a bank payroll officer Leonie. Leading the life she always wanted to through Conchita. Can you write about Conchita?”
Yes, yes I can.
Leonie’s eyes glazed
The new payroll software was a maze
All she could think of was tonight
Tonight she was Conchita, glamorous and bright
Tonight she’d be strutting down the aisles
No more boring files
She’d be working the floor
She’d be someone others adore
One day she’d stopped and taken stock
Realising her dream wasn’t something to mock
It was not for sale
Like homebrand ginger ale
People would admire her rack
For the shelves at Coles she did stack
It was a job she loved dearly
But her parents thought it merely
Unrespectable and dreary
So by day Leonie suffered at her respectable screen
And by night Conchita reorganised the beans.
A while ago I was in a library and the girl next to me got out a pair of scissors and began cutting her hair. I was so curious as to why, but I didn’t want to ask. I haven’t been able to get the image out of my head, so I decided to write a story about it today.
Plain. The word had been planted in her mind years ago. It had taken root and spread through every cell of her brain. She’d grown her hair to hide her face. But hiding was lonely. Sitting in the library she imagined her bad thoughts being pushed out of her skull like one of those toys you push playdough out of. Terrible insulting words pouring out of her mind and spilling onto her shoulders. The scissors in her bag whispered to her. They could fix this. She could get rid of the thoughts. Snip. Her mind lightened. Snip. The words fell to the floor. For the first time she bared her naked face. Looking around the library, she could feel eyes on her from every direction. They peeped from shelves and computer booths, inquisitive and confused. Goodbye plain.
Kate gave me something she calls “EARWORMS!”
Now I must convert the structure, the tone, the notes into words (not the words- just the feeling of the music).
I’d never heard it before, but to me fast repetitive piano reminded me of things that rise and fall (waves, chests etc). Then, the singing patterns she uses such as singing “are” and “I” twice reminded me of the way you do two steps on the same foot when skipping. (I’m a big fan of skipping- why don’t adults skip?). I’ve tried to get all this into the format, the story and the words.
Still, I fall over
people call us now
Still she skips
still I fall
Only my heart skips
Only for her.
head on my chest
“Never stop skipping”
Jason gave me cows with guns.
Now this really was difficult because it already has such a strong structure/story built into it. I tried to describe the tone of it in my head- I came up with two words “silly” and “epic”. So I came up with something silly and epic that built on the original story (I really don’t want to tamper with that masterpiece).
There was hardly any skerrik of humans left when we started the fight. It was hard to convince people to throw away their robotic enhancements. They thought then enhancements would help us fight the bots, but instead our enemy could read exactly how we were going to fight.
I was at a loss, the resistance was losing. Finally I found a song on a usb and uploaded it to our network. We didn’t speak english then, only binary. I didn’t know what they were saying, but it sounded rousing and people liked it. It reminded them of their human history.
They ripped out their enhancements and began to fight. The bots couldn’t anticipate us anymore, we smashed them.
When the war was over, there was a big language revival. Linguists started piecing back together old languages like English. They translated our battle song, it was a comedy song about cows with guns. Most people were outraged that they fought for such silliness, but I was happy. That was the most gloriously human mistake I’d ever heard.
Heidi told me she’d been humming songs from Rocky Horror. So I’ve used Sweet Transvestite for today’s musical prompt. The task is to interpret the mood and the tune not the lyrics (although I’ve used them for inspiration too today). I noticed the stunted nature of the song and the theme of anticipation. So here we go…
“What are those stockings Darryl?”
“I wanted to tell you sooner Dad… it’s mine.”
“I wear them. I know you won’t like it.”
“I can move out if you want.”
“I know you’ll want me to change. I’ve tried. But I can’t”
“Darryl! Shut up!”
“You’re not leaving. I don’t want you to change. I just wanted to ask what denier they are. Mine always get holes in them. I’ve known since you were little.”
“Do you think you can write stories inspired by music? On one level you could listen to something and let the mood stimulate your thoughts and set the tone for a story. Taking it deeper, could you correlate the flow of words in a story to a piece of music. Take the beat and the (I can’t talk music!) but say how it starts mellow then it gets deeper and darker and faster and then breaks into a happy harmony. Make it so the song (or part of a song) and the story can be understood in the same way. Tone, mood, pace, structure, meaning. This takes the emphasis away from subject matter. It challenges you more in the way of poetry, I suppose. If you do choose to attempt this it would probably take more time for thought and analysis than the average story. And I would recommend you try with at least 3 different bits of music.”
Challenge accepted Welly. Sounds difficult! Today I thought I’d warm up. I use this song as my writing soundtrack all the time. Next time I’m taking requests! All this week- please send me songs!
As I was listening to this, I noticed something I hadn’t before. I thought about how fast the melody hand was playing and how slow and steady the chords sounded.
Her mind whirred like a spinning top. When she spoke, I could see her tongue struggling to keep up with what was going on in her head. I’d rest my head against her chest just to listen to the beating of hummingbird wings. She made me feel dizzy. I’d watch her spin, a blur of colour, and when she wore herself out I’d carry her. But she never rested for long.
Toward the end, she was frantic. It was as if she was timing every second of her life, trying to fit everything in. When she finally slowed, it was like listening to a music box winding down. It was definitely her, but she was distorted. I knew I’d never be able to wind her up as fast as she needed. I carried her the last leg hoping she’d enjoy my pace. But it didn’t last long, all melodies must end.
I’m told today to go to a casual meeting for social media research students. I walk into the room and see people in suits, a presentation and a ‘confidential’ discussion. I am not supposed to be here. But I’ve sat down. Oh no. The room is oppressively serious, I feel claustrophobic, the most inappropriate thing I could do now is laugh. But it’s escaping out of me in short bursts, a snort here, a smile there.I have to look at the floor, bite my cheeks and think about dead puppies. I’m stuck in there for half an hour (till it ends and I run free from the room), stuck in a battle with my body trying not to let a shriek escape.
I have always found keeping in laughter incredibly difficult. The more I shouldn’t laugh, the funnier it becomes. I remember when I had my appendix out I laughed for an hour because it hurt so much to laugh, the more it hurt, the more I laughed.
The boy laughed. He laughed when he was happy, when he broke his arm, when he was crying. He even laughed at his bullies who hit him because he was the village idiot.
It wasn’t a snide sneer, a constructed cackle or a greedy guffaw. People in the village used laughter to make others feel bad or to broadcast how much fun they were having. But the boy’s laugh was a snorting, unashamed, uncontrollable explosion of amusement. Life was funny to the boy, and that made most people suspicious.
Perhaps he knew something they didn’t, or perhaps he really was an idiot. It didn’t matter to the old woman. She walked right up to him one day as he sat laughing in the market square. At first she just listened and then she began to laugh with him. They laughed until they couldn’t breath. Before she left he said “no-ones ever understood my joke before, most people are idiots.” She came back at the same time everyday after that. And they would laugh because it made them happy, because life was funny, because people thought they were idiots.
Kate just told me she “hid in a cupboard at work so I could eat a giant piece of cream-covered cake in total silence.” I assume she finds getting alone time with cake difficult.
Cake is sweet.
Cake doesn’t care about calories.
Cake see’s the beauty of my insides.
Cake always remembers my birthday.
Cake and I go way back.
But lately I get the feeling Cake is avoiding me.
All I want to do is sit quietly with Cake.
Gaze upon Cake’s voluptuous form.
Inhale Cake’s sweet scent.
Taste Cake’s delicate flavour.
But I always have to share Cake.
I try to steal Cake away, pulling Cake into the stationary cupboard.
Someone see’s us though, and our moment is cut short.
I watch the people stare lovingly at Cake, and I realise…
Cake is too to beautiful, too popular, too charming,
I will never have Cake to my own.
Lucy tells me she finds it hard to go to sleep and not watch that next episode of TV…
The two children observe each other. The girl holds her buzzing pixels like a shield.
“Why are you filming me?” he asks.
“I’m not it’s a monitor.”
“What does it monitor?”
“Nothing, it’s just a screen. I watch my life on it.”
“Isn’t that what eyes are for?”
“Maybe. The doctor says I won’t need it much longer.” She gives him a brief moment of eye contact. “I can even sleep without the TV sometimes.”
“Why do you need it now?”
“It helps me feel safe.”
“Stop asking questions.”
“Why? I’m just being friendly.”
He goes to touch her, she withdraws.
“You’re not real.”
“Of course I’m real!”
“You can’t hurt me, you’re just pixels.”
I needed a pinch and punch on the 1st day of the month- I forgot to announce this month’s theme! “Difficult” what do you find hard? I’ll try it.
To start the ball rolling I’ll tell you one thing I find stupidly hard- catching it again. (See what I did there?) Seriously I find catching balls (or anything thrown to me) really hard and incredibly nerve wracking (because I can’t catch).
I look out at the sea of waist-height blue people. Their floppy hats hide their tiny faces as they throw the ball to one another. Which one is she? The ball cuts through through the air hard and fast hitting one with skinny little stick legs square in the face. That’s my girl.
She’s eye height now, I watch her and her skinny legs tottering to the car in heels. She’s not my girl anymore. I throw her the keys. She fumbles and they land an inch away from the storm drain. As I watch her drive off I know, that’s my girl.