The journey continues…

I discovered this while mindlessly trawling blogs for some spark of inspiration. After several years of struggling to keep pace with others on a treadmill I don’t remember getting on, I have begun to listen to my heart and my body. I know I can always rely on my instincts, and my recent experiences have only reinforced this knowledge.

Right now, my true self and I are only new acquaintances nodding to each other from across the room, but I can feel her intense radiance. I am being pulled, slowly; the hollowness in my stomach that used to whistle in the night has begun to yawn and tug.

I don’t know where I am going, but I know that I am on my way.

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Swimming through Storms

One of the things you notice when you move from Cairns to Brisbane is the difference in storms.

In Cairns, storms appear seemingly out of nowhere and turn everything bleak and dreary. If you wait for the rain to end, you’ll never get anything done. It’s the type of rain that sets in for days, swelling drains and gutters with swift-moving water and raising the river levels so rapidly that you all you can do is quietly hope the roads will be flooded so you have an excuse to stay home on the couch, breathing that fresh storm smell.

I used to live in a beach suburb with a single road that would always go under as soon as it rained, and we’d be stranded for a few days. It was the best when the storms set in while we were at school because suddenly we’d be called to the office, all Yorkeys Knob kids, and be told we were being collected immediately since we had to get home before the roads were cut off.

The creek behind our house would swell, and we’d track the water level rising by counting the squares on the chickenwire fence. During cyclones, the squares would disappear under the red mud water and we’d all swear we saw crocodiles swimming past, though I’m not entirely sure anyone ever did. My childhood seems so full of storms, reckless Nature showing us what she could do, while we simply made the most of our time off school.

I remember the preparations for cyclones–checking batteries in torches, taping windows with masking tape spider webs, collecting sandbags and dragging them to line the back of the house. Most vivid is the time we helped the neighbours throw their plastic outdoor furniture into the swimming pool so that it wouldn’t be blown away. My sisters and I jumped in the pool, too, making games of dodging underwater white tables and swimming through curved chair legs while rain drummed distantly on the water’s surface.

I didn’t appreciate the summer storms until I moved away. Brisbane’s storms take all day to roll in, sucking all moisture from the air so that you spend the whole day sweating, waiting for them to arrive. When they finally do, sometimes with that eerie green sky like a strange omen, they hit hard and fast: thunder cracks, rain falls heavily, and everything is intense and chaotic, but then, just as you’re about to cancel your evening plans, it’s suddenly over.

But then there is the smell that rises like steam from the hot bitumen road after rain has fallen. It’s sort of warm and dusty, like a cat’s coat, and it reminds me of those long storms of my hometown, where we’d wait for the creek to overflow and then carry down our black rubber tubes to spend the weekend trusting the current to hold us up. Sometimes it wouldn’t, and we’d go under the red water, so opaque it seemed thick, limbs flailing desperately to keep hold of the tube if nothing else.

Then you’d break the water’s surface, a swamp rat desperate for air, and all you could do was laugh. Everything seemed so shiny and renewed, and the world simply glittered.

(Image is not my own. Can’t seem to find its exact source.)

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting

It’s been a long time since I blogged regularly.

Sometimes I go through phases of asking myself if I actually like to write, if I actually want to be a writer. When I tell people I study (studied) a Writing major at university, they say, “Oh, so you’re a writer?” And I hesitate before answering. I don’t consider myself a “writer” because I rarely make the time to write and when I actually do write, I don’t write fiction. Writing to me is a form of meditation. It’s a way for me to figure out what is going on with me, when my brain is in hyper-drive and berating me into such a state that all I can do is write about it, and find out what the problem actually is.

I remember writing in primary school. I think it began in Year 5 for me, though a love of reading had obviously come a lot earlier. I really liked English class, even though the teacher was a terrifying woman with grey hair and, for some reason, an unidentifiable bird-like quality. (Maybe it was the glasses.) I wrote about my only theme park experience when we learnt about writing “recounts”, and I “recounted” my Dad taking us three girls to Movie World even though he was really sick that day. When we wrote prose poetry, I wrote about sitting in the back of a 4WD driving through creeks and across open plains with a herd of brumbies running beside the car–obviously influenced by my love of Banjo Patterson and, like every young girl, my fascination with horses. When we had to adapt a myth into a poem, I wrote about Tane and Tawhiri, Maori deities of the forest and wind. In Year 6, I remember writing during free time, about dark rainforests and girls with horses. (Seriously, I blame Pony Pals and The Saddle Club.) My teacher once asked what I was doing and read my story while I stood at her desk, waiting nervously. She asked me if I would enter a writing competition, sponsored by a kind old man who would visit us weekly to help with our reading skills. Shyly, I told her I’d think about it and talk to my parents, but I don’t think I ever did. When she asked me again later, I told her that I didn’t want to.

I discovered the world of fan fiction in high school, through two older girls who became some of my closest friends. I read and wrote prolifically, belonging to an enthusiastic, tight-knit community that even had our own forum for sharing and critiquing our stories. Not long ago I trawled my email for all the stories we would swap back and forth, chapter by chapter, and printed the mostly-complete stories I found. One story I found was over 10,000 words long and not even halfway complete, which I’m still in awe of. 14 year old me was crazy creative! But, I guess high school happened. I became more involved with my real life than the fictional world, started to grow anxious about finishing school and going to university, and stopped giving myself the emotional space to sit and enjoy creating. However, I did keep and maintain blogs in my early years of school. I don’t think I allowed many people to know they existed, since it was more of a journalling process for me. Somewhere along the line I stopped updating, and now they simply sit in the dark, cobwebbed corners of the internet, merely bookmarked in my browser.

I have made and re-made blogs over the years. I have attempted to stage-manage this blog into a professional space, a potential portfolio for future employers. But I find it so limiting, so terrifying. What about the less-than-‘professional’ parts of myself, that like watching endless videos of Jimmy Fallon being hilariously adorable, or spills red wine while marathoning The Office (for the third or fourth time)? Those parts of me are so much more alive and vibrant than the part that aches to be the best at everything and is so scared of failing that it doesn’t even want to try. So that’s what this blog is now. I found the silliest, most whimsical blog theme I could so it will remind me that I shouldn’t take myself so seriously and that not every blog post needs to be a perfectly polished piece. (Also, the little snake that drops down on the left-hand side is so freaking cute.)

Over the past four years I have been on an incredible (and incredibly horrible) journey through university and towards myself. I’ve had so many ups and downs, and I haven’t even begun to process it all. I’m not a writer, but I write, I journal, I (attempt to) create poetry, and I blog. I’m constantly inspired by the people I meet and the things I read and hear, and I want to feel free to share those things.

So, here’s my space. I hope you like it here.

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII)

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 – 1950

“We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing–an actor, a writer–I am a person who does things–I write, I act–and I never know what I’m going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.” – Stephen Fry

 

The Great Gatsby – A Review

Cover Image for The Great GatsbyTitle: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published: 1926
Pages: 187
Genre: Fiction, Novel
Part of a Series?: No

Find it here at The Book Depository.

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There is something haunting about The Great Gatsby. Even though I wouldn’t rank the novel amongst my favourites just yet, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.

Before I read Gatsby, I really didn’t know much about it. Basically all I knew was that it was set in the Jazz Age and that a man named Gatsby was supposedly ‘great’. So, I didn’t see the plot twist coming at all. Continue reading

Shifting Focus: Fresh Beginnings

Over the past week or so I’ve been slowly turning my personal blog into a book reviewing site. I like to read regularly, so this blog is a way for me to challenge myself to record my personal responses to the novels and to pass on recommendations to other readers.

My friends often ask me for book suggestions and I always struggle to answer succinctly. Although a book may have touched a certain part of my self, it’s not guaranteed to affect somebody else in the same way. Through my reviews, I hope to share my love of books and to be able to help readers fill their reading lists. I figure that the best I can do is to reflect on my own interaction with the novels I read, and then offer my favourite parts or lingering questions to any passers-by who may find them useful. I like to look for the value in every lesson; so, regardless of whether I feel a strong connection to a book or not, I will attempt to remain rational and find positive aspects within each novel I review.

Because I am new to reviewing, I won’t be observing a word limit just yet. I intend to write honestly and to address the parts of the novels that I feel connected to. I figure that there are a lot of reviewing sites available, so I am simply going to begin by writing the reviews that I would like to read myself.

One of my worst reading habits is to start multiple books at the same time, where I end up with a whole bunch of bookmarked pages and no idea what has happened prior. This means that I haven’t actually read a larger portion of my bookshelf due to wandering interests (and most of these books are now on my Reading List). However, to date, I have only thrown down/tossed aside two books–All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin and American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis—out of two very different kinds of disgust; although, my frustration only made me more determined to finish them. I ended up finishing All These Things I’ve Done, but—100 pages from the end—I had to abandon American Psycho. Bitter determination or not, I just couldn’t handle the graphic violence any longer. I intend to write about my experience with American Psycho soon, and I’m also considering blogging about All These Things I’ve Done.

For now, though, sit tight and wait for my first book review of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald to be posted over the weekend. I’m really looking forward to getting feedback and learning from everybody!