Writer's Group Exercise 31/03/2014
We begin with the basic twitch:
Slow, slow, quick, quick.
Slow, slow, quick, quick.
Index , index, ring, ring.
The left hand of Demi Sargis has been performing the foxtrot ever since it was run over by a red Ford Festiva back in the summer of ‘08. She remembers perching on a PVC covered gurney, doctor pointing out the obvious, variations on darkness and shadow, bones splintered and frayed like wet matchsticks.
Her, thinking, “those aren’t marriageable fingers”.
Thinking, “no man going to wanna put a Harry Winston on that”.
Thinking, “that’s another goddamn flaw Imma have to learn to disguise”.
Along with untannable legs.
Along with the absence of thigh gap.
Along with being 3 inches shorter than the shortest supermodel.
The ******* burden of being female.
The doctor says, “you should regain the majority of the dexterity you had prior to the accident, over time, with a good physiotherapist.”
“…You don’t play an instrument do you?”
The physiotherapist is a fundamentalist optimist.
“It’s not until you injure your body that you truly appreciate how it works. We are all miracles.”
“Yes. Absolutely. A miracle.”
“Don’t get Jesus on me. There is no miracle here, just metacarrot - metacootie - metacaramel damage – check the referral.”
“That’s what I said.”
Regis Square. 9pm. Bathed in a waterfall of KFC neon…
At the crossroads of the nightclub district.
Demi Sargis. Shiny, black patent three-inch pumps, now the same height as the shortest supermodel. Flanked by Sal (single) and Terri (attached, but open to negotiation). All eyes on the divining hand.
Slow, slow, quick, quick.
Slow, slow, quick, quick.
Index, index, ring, ring.
YOLO Bar or Club Isis. Left or right. Which finger ending the cycle of the twitch, sealing their night’s destination. Standing undefeated at a one-hundred percent hit rate. Follow the hand, find a man (see Fig.1):
Fig. 1 'Navigating Attraction within Mundane Scenarios to Avoid Missed Connections'
Yes. Just follow the hand, to find a man.
Tonight it’s Mission Sal.
Suppressing a smirk and raising an eyebrow towards YOLO, she concedes…
Turns out, some of us are miracles.
Manicure Image from:
Writer's group exercise 08/03/2014.
I am lying in an empty bathtub blanketed in the shadow of a man standing at the opposite end in top coat and tails. His pleated gabardine slacks not so much frayed but hacked at the knees, ragged, like he has wandered from the perimeter a bomb blast.
Bagdad Route Irish chic.
But a glance to his wild west handlebar, pomaded into precise fronds and the Kerouac quote just visible in the raised topography of his left foot tell me he’s too hipster to have attempted a tête-à-tête in the Persian sandbox.
His expression is both intense and unreadable; therefore, unsettling. And he is staring at me with such force, I feel myself instinctively flatten my spine against the rigid L-curve of the tub, in a bid to put an extra centimeter between us.
I feel the chill of steel enamel through the thin membrane of my dress. It travels like an up-flowing river to the top of my neck. I shiver, over-sized earrings chiming like timpani’s against copper faucets that bookend my head.
His body triggered into motion by the sound, he gracefully collapses to a low crouch, heels flat in the style of a Korean adjoshi. And I wonder if I was wrong about him.
Perhaps he is well travelled. Seen things. Things other than the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury or the Quinoa section at Whole Foods.
He’s one of those people; those people that play with the fabric of your reality because they don’t obey the role you assigned them.
“Ready?” he asks.
South Korea leads the world in themed cafes (cat cafes, board game cafes, design a doll cafes etc...) . I don't understand why this hasn't caught on in the West to the same extent. Probably because South Korea actually has a dating culture where people go out and spend time getting to know one another, in contrast to New Zealand at least, where for most, it involves lubricating your esophagus in half a pint of 42 Below, in a bar where your feet stick to the floor, before you can talk to someone (if, by that point, you can remember who it was you wanted to talk to in the first place and if in fact you can hear each other over the Britney-Pitbull remix).
Anyway, if you find yourself in Seoul, I have a themed cafe recommendation for those who like a little weird with their side of Hot Chocolate.
Princess Diary Cafe
Location: Take Exit 3 from Ewha's Women's University Subway Stop (Line 2/Green line), walk until you spot Starbucks, turn right and look up!
Weddings are a huge thing in Korea. The culture really expects you to get married. In New Zealand, a lot of my friends are married by my age (29) but a lot also aren't, and our society doesn't judge you for it. It's not "mandatory" and we are very open to different ways people want to live their lives, there is no "one way".
Not to say that Korea is intolerant, but that the norm is to get married between 28-35. It is highly unusual not to get married and the pressure to get married is keenly felt by those approaching and within that age bracket. There are a number of reasons for this but that is another blog post entirely.
With an incredibly high percentage of marriages happening here, you can imagine the Wedding business is booming. Hair, make-up, dresses, event halls, cars, caterers, photographers, flowers etc...
But for those that aren't quite ready to walk down the isle, why not visit the Princess Diary Cafe? Here you can try on a Wedding Dress (or a Hanbok - traditional Korean dress), choose short or long, strap-less or high-necked. Prices generally range from about 10,000 (low end) - 40,000 (high end) Korean won (about $9.50-$37.60US/$11.50-$45NZ)
It is mandatory to buy a drink but that is a fairly cheap affair (5,000-7,000won).
There are various props you can pose around with until your heart's content (including cowboy hats, a rocking horse, a piano, tiger ears, tiaras etc...).
It's a great girly day out. But you will also see Korean guys there from time to time with their girlfriends.
One hundred day anniversaries are really popular in South Korea and sometimes boyfriend and girlfriend will dress up in Wedding attire and get a photo to celebrate reaching 100 days in their relationship, 200 days, 300 days etc...
Here are some of my photos of me being my own bride, or as I said at the time "I married myself because I'm so awesome...".
Keep in mind I did purposefully choose the poofiest dress I could find for comedy's sake and this is not what I would choose to wear if I did end up getting married at some point.
Will I get married? The future is wide open. I'm open to it happening, I'm open to it not happening. If it's right, it's right, if it's not, it's not. I'm ok with whatever journey I take. I have a good life.
And let's be honest I have some quirks that make it a pretty hard task to achieve...
1. I have a resting bitch face.
2. I'm not the most social person so guys don't really get much of a chance to meet me, or me to meet them. (ie. I avoid clubs, pubs and most parties like the plague and yes, this resulted in me being unofficially labeled the "weird girl" through high-school and college - thanks...).
3. I'm quite a difficult person to get to know past any superficial level.
4. I'm shy.
5. I'm travelling.
Put those all together and you get: HELLO SOLO! : |
So at least I got to wear the poofy dress once, thanks South Korea. x
P.S. special thanks to my friend Kirsty who was my long suffering photographer on the day!
I have a small apartment. When I say small, imagine a room the size of your lounge with a bathroom attached. That's it, this is where I live.
Small apartments don't allow the person that lives in them the luxury of collecting things - the mainstay of capitalism. Buy, buy, buy.
I like this because I actually don't like to have a lot of stuff. I don't like clutter. (Note: that doesn't mean my apartment is tidy). A lot of stuff is a lot of stuff you have to get rid of when you're travelling. So instead of buy, buy, buy - every few months you shed, shed, shed.
I'm currently spring cleaning notebooks. Compiling together ideas, getting rid of indecipherable scribblings and post-its I can't read or that no longer have relevance.
One of my notebooks was a designated "writing exercise" notebook. The exercise was, choose three words at random (from this box which you can buy here) and write them into a super short story.
Here are the ones I thought worth recording somewhere before throwing out the notebook...
1. The King had become so enamored with his own image that he ordered his bust be embossed not just on all coins, notes and royal stationary, but on all children's kites as well. So, when they looked up, they would see his face in the heavens and remember, he was a King ordained by God.
(Words: King, kite, God)
2. He was a strange lad they said. A strange lad indeed. An interior designer by trade, but his current fixation with the hue of nude severely limited his client base. Before, his inbox had been jammed with requests for his expertise, now, it was christened only by lottery scams and automated newsletters for products he didn't own. But, he was not worried. Like all things, history would repeat itself, fashion was circular. He bided his time. Nude would have it's day.
(Words: lad, nude, time)
3. Show me hell. I'll show you a bee pollinating with poison: ruined roses, pathological pansies, deformed daises.
(Words: show, hell, bee)
4. In the time it had taken to pop off for a quick slash, the sun had decided to dip below the horizon. It was dark and Don had forgotten his torch. The only way he could now find his way back to the tent was to follow the irritating, tone deaf hum of his third wife Belinda
(Words: hum, torch, tent)
5. In Cydian mythology, each human soul is thought to reside in the heart of a 100-year rose. Evidence of this garden of "stone roses" has never been found but scientists suggest certain volcanic or geo-thermal activity could have resulted in phenomena, giving flora and fauna a rigid appearance - much like what occurred half-way around the world in Pompeii at the time.
(Words: rose, soul, time).
6. The furry-tipped spay is a tiny Scottish bat that likes to live in small dark places. In 2003, it was recorded that a mischievous colony of splays, that had been evicted from a recently demolished council flat, had taken up residence in the hide bags of the Royal Dragoon's bagpipes.
(Words: furry, bat, flat)
Creating Character Quirks...
in which I found a collection of weird sketches of characters I made up...
1. Soshanna always matched her nail varnish to the color of her boyfriend's credit card, so whenever he saw it in her hands, it was if she was made to spend his money.
2. Basalt always pulled his belt in one notch too tight. It was uncomfortable, and after a big meal, even painful, but this was his punishment. A physical reminder of losing something important to him, so he could never forget and never let it happen again.
Various ramblings from characters I have yet to write into anything...
"I only miss you as much as I allow myself to"
"I miss my imagined version of you"
Crown image from:
Nails image from:
I'm glad I'm me. I'm not going to lie, like everyone else, my life has it's own set of challenges, for one, I probably over-think and live in my head too much, but my life is always interesting and most of the time, pretty damn amusing.
On the note of my imagination (which doesn't appear to have much of a discernible filter), I've been generating ideas for activities that I can do with my elementary students for Summer Camp. For some reason started thinking about Jackson Pollock and the way he paints.
About two minutes later, trying to think of unusual ways to create paintings, my brain put together the concept of watercolours with waterpistols.
I road tested it today and this is what happened.
I call this one: "Postcards from Another Planet [my brain]"
I call that a success.
BRING ON SUMMER CAMP. Can't wait to see what the students come up with!
Who wants to read some rough-as-guts-writing? Me, me, me! You, you, you? GREAT. I'm a founding member of a local Write Night (writer's group) and I need to choose one of my past exercises to re-write and/or extend.
If someone is incredibly bored and doesn't mind reading some unedited work, then check out the below and tell me which one to re-write, in other words, the one you'd like to read more of, because I'm torn between the three.
The Regular (Format: For the page)
Punts is a pub just down from the Nandos on the corner of Windsor and Kitts. It’s the red, white and blue affair, a palette that belongs as much to the heyday of the British Commonwealth as it does to the Land of the Free.
The owner, Leeds born Dagesse, bought the joint six years ago after finalising a divorce to a lady I know only as “the blazing inferno”. Whether that nickname has something to with hair colour, temperament or menopausal flushes, I’m not brave enough to ask- there is a permanent happy hour discount at stake and, more importantly, Dagesse is descended from Rhonda Valley mining stock, those men are as hard as the rock they grafted.
As far as I’m aware, the only woman in his life these days is Mary Bennett, a fox terrier whom whenever I see her, imbues me with a sudden sense of nostalgia and desire to dig out my late Grandfather’s HMV vinyl collection (a record label whose logo features a dog of the same breed).
Last Christmas I gifted Dagesse a 1962 Gene Pitney record from that collection so he could share in the reference. I’ve since seen he has thoroughly embraced it.
He’s framed the record and hung it over the dog bowl.
Unfortunately it’s at jowl level; so a mixture of coagulated spit and fragments of Hill’s Canine Ultra-Allergen Free have escaped digestion and partially obliterated the song title. What was once “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” has evolved into the gender flip, “a…ho…shot…bert…”.
Sometimes when it’s quiet Dagesse will join me for a Fosters, we’ll talk about José Mourinho's return to Chelsea, the shitty exchange rate and Cameron’s “millionaire’s tax cuts”- which (if we’re honest) we’d probably embrace, if we were in fact millionaires.
But we’re just two men drinking cheap beer, entertaining dreams of grandeur, in shoes we’d rather scuff than polish, in a pub called Punts.
Three Years to Go
Monologue: Character - Lisbeth, 32.
By the time I’m 35 I’ll either be dead or married.
Dead because what happens is that each time I get my heart broken, I leave.
And when I say leave…
I mean, I leave the country.
I leave everything behind.
Dead because I cast myself deeper and deeper into unknown lands and inhospitable landscapes; in the hope that Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Need’ will kick in and I’ll be so busy just trying to survive, that eventually I’ll never have to deal with anything. In between navigating unsealed roads on a 6th-hand Uralmoto to filtering water through the remains of a checkered keffiyeh, there’d be no time to process the petty. No time to wonder what went wrong, why they did what they did, why I did what I did and why I still do it.
Some questions are too difficult to ask.
Or perhaps it’s more, that the answers are too difficult to hear.
the Wadi Rum
Dead because my passport is a collage of stamps from countries people forbade me to visit, from my Mother to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But I never listened to them before, and can't see myself changing now.
Dead because, that'll eventually catch up with me.
In my absence, in the layer of silence I wear like a qiviut, I leave those I left behind with little but mystery, confusion, and a few megabytes of photos displaying a past they now question the authenticity of.
Ade, Leon, Vin, perhaps Daamin, they will monitor my social networks for the post of a song of shared significance or some subtle cry of despair that I can’t function in life without them.
The truth is I don’t. My lovers follow me like ghosts. Our histories, arguments and sweet words, knitted together, dragging behind me like a Bride’s train. From time to time, taking unexpected form, stealing my breath when I perform an archived e-mail search, or stumble across someone with a similar arch in their brows or slouch in their walk.
My disappointment when I register it's not one of them only serves to remind me there is another life out there. One I am simultaneously drawn to and run from.
And married, well...
Married because, it's always the unexpected which happens. Married because, it's so ridiculous it just might work. Married because, someone might finally convince me life is about more than just myself.
The Sale of Central Park (Format: For the page)
Everything is for sale. At the right price, in the right climate; especially in times of panic or greed. Where farcical suggestions, that on a normal day, would be dismissed on the scrap heap of incomprehension, suddenly become the beacon of hope - not because we think they are good ones, but because no one else proposes a solution.
Rising crime rates.
People are desperate. And if yours is the only voice speaking, then that is the one we will follow.
And so it came, that on this day Molly and I stood and watched the sun rise over the last hours of a national landmark. We were to witness history made by history lost.
Nothing lasts forever.
Not the things you grew up with.
Not the things you grow to care about.
Certainly not the things you love.
Molly has pockets stuffed with tulips and daffodils. She made a $50 donation to the Conservancy three years ago, she said she was only taking back what was hers.
I have a pry bar in my left hand, and my right, my right is protectively wrapped around an iron florette. It is attached to the arm of a bench I’ve “salvaged”. I think I can up-cycle the piece, and sell it on to a collector – once I re-stain the wood and remove the rusted donor plaque: “"C'est Lui Pour Moi, Moi Pour Lui, Dans La Vie" (in life, there is only him for me, and me for him).
She runs her finger over the brass inscription, with a longing I’ve come to recognise but learnt to ignore. That’s Molly. She thinks that somehow, as if, just by touching, she can transfer the passion of a past long gone and inject it into a hopeless present.
I wish I was a more willing subject.
I don’t know what happened.
I wonder if our relationship will endure much longer than the flowers suffocating in the depths of her polyester blazer. It seems a cruel and drawn out death.
A man behind me touts the virtues of the site’s future plans to a confused tourist with an old city map. I silently refute each point:
“…the proposed construction will create jobs” (temporarily)
“…and include a set of residential buildings” (for the rich)
“…plus, without a central meeting point, it will decrease crime in the inner city” (pushing it out to the suburbs)
But the tourist nods, believing him to be true. Most would. He has a voice of a politician, steady and even. He has conviction. Me? I say nothing, as is my way.
The man examines the out-dated map and points the tourist in the direction of the Museum of Modern Art.
Molly takes ten paces to the left and tilts her head towards the growl of diesel motors, her dark eyes searching.
“This is it” she says needlessly, as if I can’t see what’s right in front of me.
Who are you if you walk away from everything you know? The daily rituals you've come to depend on, the rungs on the ladder you've climbed, the day-to-day social network(s) you've acquired over a number of years, with no idea when or if you'll be back, and if not, where to from here.
For me it was the only way I was really going to see what I was made of.
Would there be anything left?
No knowledge of past achievements or past glories.
Just another face on the street.
And I knew I would only really find out if I did it alone.
Everyone should have an opportunity at some point to draw on themselves as their only emotional support. Yourself as your back-up, your best friend, your life coach, your Zen Master General. On the point of solitude though I am well qualified, as I have done most reckless things in my life on my own.
It is a dishonest life, in my opinion, when you do not push yourself, when you do not test and challenge your boundaries. Because, in what other life are you planning to take risks?
In some way or another I've been running towards fear for a number of years. If it scares me, I'm going to go over and pat it on the head, shake hands with it, sit down and talk to it.
Fear and I. We are good friends.
A lot can happen in 24 hours.
Last weekend I took part in a playwriting competition. The rules were:
> You have 24 hours
> Write a one act play: 5 - 30 minutes
> Include all of the four random criteria you are given.
> The 4 scripts with the highest scores as determined by a panel of judges will be performed in March.
My criteria were:
Location: A hoarder's home.
Character: The Bordin Twins
Line: Where can I get one of those?
The first thing I did was NOT write because I wanted to see what would happen if I let the ideas float for a while. Then it was all systems go.
We were also told to take photos from the front line as we worked on our scripts, so I set the timer on my camera, unfortunately most were blurry but here are a couple:
Finally I came up with an idea about two cleaners who have the task of dealing with a deceased hoarder's apartment in which everything they find appears in two's apart from one object, a mirror.
During their cleaning they discover why it's the only object without a pair.
But that's all I'll say in terms of plot because I don't want to spoil it for anyone that comes to the show in March.
Yes, that's right - my play got chosen! I'm really stoked about this. I wasn't expecting to get any writing up on stage in Korea and never this quickly. I love how organic and immediate the process has been. So refreshing.
So in a month 'Eye Level' (title of my script) will be performed at Changwon's Nobi Theatre. We can choose if we'd like to be involved so I put myself forward as a potential script prompt or actress.
Although I told them to go easy on me because I'm not an actor. Though I have been a tree once.
Yes. I have been a tree. The situation people often joke about, but it actually happened to me.
And there goes my last shred of dignity this week.
I was once a tree. I wish I looked half as cool as this guy in the movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but the trees were not where they put the resources for costumes.
As the story begins, I think I was about seven or eight and our class was putting together something for the end of year concert. Everyone had a role.
What I really wanted to be was one of the birds. They had the beautiful colourful costumes with individual paper feathers and they got to dance.
I was not chosen to be a bird.
The girls that got chosen to be birds had studied ballet or gymnastics and were pretty.
I had studied Grade Three Musical Theory and read 72 books during the school holidays, but that doesn't qualify you for being one of the birds.
Also, by this time my blonde hair had been subject to the Spanish blood somewhere distant on my Welsh Grandfather's side that meant gradually from about four onwards it started to naturally get darker. So I had long, straggly brunette hair which would have been fine, but paired with how pale my skin was, always made me look ill.
I remember people asking me: 'Are you ok?' 'Are you feeling ok?'
It was at this age too that I had a really terrible bout of whooping cough and lost so much weight that I looked like I'd escaped from a Stalinist camp. So when I was told I was to be part of the scenery - a tree, it was kind of like - 'quick, put the sick looking kid in the back'.
This is one of a number events I somehow internalised because I went through many years under the impression that I was just hideously ugly, to the point that in highschool I would often take the longer route home if it meant less people would see me. Even if it was one of those days I had to carry my guitar amp and Fender Strat, as well as my backpack full of books.
Ah, childhood memories, they are hard to shake. And it surprises me how often I still feel like that kid. I've come this far and am rock solid in who I am, my personality and moral code but for some reason, from time to time I still feel like that ugly kid whilst everyone else gets to be birds.
I'd like to introduce you to Kate "Smurf Shoes" Morris. This version of Kate appears when I forget to bring my indoors shoes to work.
In Korea, most public elementary schools require you to change from outdoor shoes to indoor shoes. I no longer leave my indoor shoes in a cubby outside my school because my last pair got stolen, so I bring them with me each day. Today I forgot.
If you forget, then you have to cover your outdoor shoes in light blue tissue paper hair nets, the same as you might find worn in a food preparation service. Fortunately mine had working elastic in them today, because this is not the first time I have forgotten my indoor shoes and if you get hair nets with no elastic/snapped elastic, they come off every three steps. This is very annoying.
Here is a photo of Kate "Smurf Shoes" Morris:
(Un)Fortunately as school was out and I am desk-warming, only one other person got to see me in my fantastic blue shoe covers.
I mean, if you are going to make me wear shoe covers, at least make them out of fabric that is good for sliding across floors in and I could have spent my day pseudo-skating up and down the halls to keep warm.
When I was little, birthdays used to be a thing.
SNAPSHOT EIGHT YEARS OLD:
- Dunedin, New Zealand.
- Invitations and RSVPs
- Pretty dress, patent shoes
- Hair tied back with a ribbon
- Infamous birthday cake (one year I had a swimming pool, the next a horse's head)
- Orange wedge jelly boats and fairy bread
- 10 other little girls running up and the down the hallway screeching and popping balloons.
- Pass-the-Parcel and Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey
SNAPSHOT FOURTEEN YEARS OLD:
- Dunedin, New Zealand.
- I'm too cool for birthdays and have decided it's something other people celebrate but not me.
- My friends throw me a surprise sleepover birthday party anyway.
SNAPSHOT 29 YEARS OLD:
- Gwangju, South Korea.
- I slipped over in my apartment and have bruises all down my left arm.
- Almost forgot my birthday.
- I buy a candle from Paris Baguette.
- A slice of cake from Starbucks.
- Light the candle, eat the cake, by myself, in my apartment.
- I watch five episodes of The Office (US) on my laptop (which sounds like a lawnmover because the fans are broken).
- Then write my favourite Great Gatsby quotes over all my dinner ware.
At some point during my life I lost the point of celebrating my birthday. My question became: Yes, it's my birthday - but why are we celebrating it? All I've done is complete another revolution around the sun, a feat which I'm definitely not alone in.
I am also extremely uncomfortable with days which have social expectation and celebration attached to them or me as the focus. Think Birthdays, Christmas, Graduations, Weddings, Valentines etc... there is an expectation they are supposed to be happy-happy-dance-around-the-maypole type gigs. I spend the entire day holding my breath waiting for the one thing to go wrong and break the illusion, because in my experience 99% of the time it always happens. In many ways it's easier to not participate in the illusion at all than have it fail and disappoint.
Back to birthdays: So I decided to downplay my birthday as much as possible and my rule became I'll only REALLY celebrate when something cool happens. 'Cool' usually meant I won a writing award or something like that. But when that happened I didn't celebrate properly then either because I thought, I'll celebrate next time - when I climb another rung up the ladder.
And now? I haven't written anything of note in a while. So if that was my rule for celebrating then my life has become one unbroken nothingness devoid of celebration.
Maybe I need my birthday celebrations back again just to break up the nothingness.
These days when my birthday rolls around I make a goal - something concrete I can achieve which doesn't rely on anyone else (otherwise the goal is potentially impossible).
In 2012 my goal was to be in a different country by the time I turned 29. GOAL: ACHIEVED. I am in South Korea and although from time to time it can be isolating and has the expected frustrations of living in a non-English speaking country, I genuinely like my life here.
But 2014... I think my goal might simply be to celebrate my birthday again. Properly. As much as that idea makes me feel uncomfortable, it's probably time to bite the bullet and get over myself.