Category Archives: sip a daily zine

in 2018, am setting aside time to blog a zine review and drink something delish

midsummer productivity pride

This blog post, and entire website, has been produced on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. I pay my respect to elders past, present and future.  

Peak humidity in outer north Melbourne at the moment. I’ve accidentally slept through most of the afternoon after reading the first half of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication on the Rights of Man, and woken up in time to head to a fab spoken word workshop that Benjamin Solah and Melbourne Spoken Word run in Brunswick called ‘We Work This Shop’. I’m not happy with the draft of a poem I wanted to bring, so decide not to read – till I realise I’ve got my script from last night’s Quippings ‘Not Normcore’ show in my bag (fluke!). I try to replicate as best as I can last night’s rendition of ‘Stain, guilt‘ and am completely ignoring that it’s a page poem, not a spoken word/performance one. Ack. I also don’t have any of my props, and forget to mimic the Psycho murder theme violin glissando screeching.

Danny, one of the regular workshop attendees, is facilitating and reads out four lines from Robert Frost’s poem ‘Birches’ as a prompt. We then get to ‘free write’ anything inspired by the lines he’s read out. I totally cheat and have one really, really, reeeeeeeeeeeally long line scribbled out in my trusty Field Notes notebook. We all seem to rush home – either because of the heat, or to keep carving away at works-in-progress after all the generous feedback?

I make a stop at my fave sort-of local bottleshop (Audacious Monk Cellars, the staff are lovely generally, and lovely to me <3) and pick up two more cans of Stomping Ground’s Pridelweiss. I’ve left my weekly zine review till the very end of this week, and decide that tonight I’ll finish reading Rabbit Poetry Journal’s issue 21, subtitled ‘Indigenous’.

Anyone with a quarter of a functioning heart in Australia understands the need for dialogue surrounding change of Australia Day (a day that is understandably traumatic to its first peoples). In Melbourne (Naarm), people gathered to make this known on the 26th. I’m a five-foot-nothing female-identifying sack of a human, and for mental health reasons, am pretty awful with marching in crowds. It isn’t that I don’t want to, it’s just depression-draining and social-anxiety-central for me.

So I read. I wish there was a way I could unite others by gathering to read and learn more about indigenous literature (there’s a lot of mind-blowingly good examples about too – am thinking of compiling a list specifically of poets and writers) as a form of silent protest. Rabbit’s ‘Indigenous’ issue is an excellent hop as an intro – though there are a few international authors.

Halfway through and poets whose work has really stood out have been Evelyn Araluen, Hannah Donnelly’s ‘black ducks’, Matthew Walsh’s ‘What they wore at the races today’, Paul Collis’ poem inspired by a street fight, Mitch Tomas Cave’s ‘skin’, and Craig Santos Perez’s gently didactic poems of ‘chamorros‘ which I found oddly echoed some of my feelings as a Filipino mestiza. Damien Chen’s artwork is breathtakingly detailed and nuanced – these blog posts were always supposed to be about paying tribute for no gain whatsoever to the named creatives, and I feel like that too means I can get away with revealing more about the emotional impact the works I encounter have on me. Looking at his sketches…there’s a familial warmth, and a tempered rage regarding the xenophobia people of colour unfortunately do experience living here under Anglo-Australian ‘majority’.

I haven’t yet finished this mag – I’ve been savouring it when I have uninterrupted blocks of quiet time. I chose to drink Stomping Ground’s ‘Pridelweiss’ as I wrote this because, it’s Midsumma in Melbourne, and back to the workshop I attended just before – I have the beginnings of a poem, in which I ask, question, explore in a very roundabout, swirly-path way the gradual and sometimes curved meanderings of what a queer image or queer identity might be. I’d like to think that it always has a space for me – even if that space is as small as a sub-atomic particle! – it exists there if I want it, and it means nothing to others, but not out of exclusion – merely out of uniqueness. Sometimes it’s lonely belonging to pockets of different communities, but it’s also really cool. Our identities don’t have to be fixed, unless we want them to be.

I’ve finished my tinnie, and my cat beckons. Time to snuggle and keep reading beautiful, world-expanding literature from the hundreds of nations that make up Australia. The interviews and poems that follow are excellent, and will provoke thought long after you’ve read them. And of course, my list of books to read has ever multiplied…oh well, life is short. Read hard, read often.

 

if failure were a colour

I’m pretty mad at myself today (well, technically it’s no longer ‘today’ but Friday just after midnight). I was supposed to be in the city for Midsumma to play Bartók folk songs on my melodica as a ‘temptation’ for a performance/reading I’ll be doing later in the month.

The problem with afflictions like heatstroke, is they can’t be reasoned or argued with. I’d driven down from outside Castlemaine, and thought it was air pressure changes that caused me to momentarily get dizzy. I’d deliberately not practised too much on the melodica so that I wouldn’t be puffed out. I’m physically fit enough for that to not happen. Halfway into the city from my parents’ place, I turned back, told my father what happened and went to bed for a few hours. We’re both migraine-prone, so I rested on his advice, had dinner, and I feel oddly naked without any of the books I’m in the midst of reading.

Zine reading time. Tonight’s zine is ‘Tenderness Journal’, a largely visual art-based project from 2015 that Clara Bradley curated. It turned out we had a friend in common – I didn’t know this till attending the exhibition/launch at Grey Gardens Project that year. I submitted a sonnet – imaginings on longing and grieving the loss of love, both offline and online. It’s weird to think that that has become something to define, document, experience, in my lifetime.

The post title – I was thinking about how much of a failure I felt at not making it into the city to play my instrument, and how if failure were a colour, it would definitely not be a pastel anything! I love pastel colours, and was also reminding myself of how slow I was to pick that the cover of ‘Tenderness’ has bare breasts. It wasn’t till quite some after that I noticed that?!

What am I drinking? I’m deliberately avoiding alcohol because at the beginning of my week, my mood dipped a bit, and it’s usually not a good idea to console oneself with central nervous system depressant anything, so I’ve just been gulping down strong yet milky mugs of T2 French Earl Grey, which is…okay. The leaves are far too dry, and the supermarket spoils me by having a fresher British organic one which I do plough through.

It’s not a pleasant reminder to read ‘Tenderness’ because I was unwell, but functional, and everything felt stained with the ache of surviving. At times, I remember looking okay – fine, even, but struggling desperately to stay mentally afloat. It was probably harder because I wasn’t doing it for my sole benefit. An ex-housemate knew that occasionally I muffled my bawling to sleep with my pillow. My partner at the time knew I drank too much to help me sleep, but didn’t realise that his default belief in entitlement to existing made it near-impossible to contemplate getting well. Living for him…it was automatic, easy, it happened so effortlessly. I had disparate areas of life that were all so spectacular in how awful I was in them. I tried so hard too, and barely did anything well.

Perhaps that’s not how it seemed, or was, but that was how it was experienced. At outsider ‘presenting’ an inauthentic life but somehow not being caught out. ‘Tenderness’ seems to encroach in these spaces, where the vulnerabilities of honesty and adoration exist, admit themselves to exist, and – if tenderness were music, it would be a cadence that threatens to resolve its dissonance, but doesn’t. It just – leaves you hanging, longing for its resolution.

The visual art captures this in its recording of textures – cotton long johns, where the shape of male genitalia is discernible and alluring because it is not able to be seen, we only get hints. Writings on what falling in love is like and how it differs from loving – it only ever seems clear that we’ve fallen in love once it is not reflected back at us.

My cat has come back and is now sleeping on my bed. When I think of tenderness and its sort of love, I think a lot about my cat – how when I first met her, she belonged to someone else. We were both emotional orphans of a sort! She touches her paw to my hand, often. I brush the tip of my nose against the velvet of her ears. I feel loved in a way I no longer expect from another human. Perhaps true tenderness is safety and sanctuary.

you got your health, kiddo…

It’s early in the week, the month, the year. I’m nearly forty and still classify myself as a loser (not by choice). My parents are about to retire, and I’m living with them after being bumped out of a shit sharehouse situation (woah, alliteration much?!?!). My job network provider doesn’t think I’m a total burnout* because he sounded remotely interested in the notion of my freelance writing. The person before him – my actual consultant – was a deeply empathic human. I’m guessing this is why he’s no longer in that…’role’.

I’ll always have booze, words and cats, right? I put on  the soundtrack to Miss Sloane, by Max Richter, after having caught Richter’s name in the credits. Watching TV is not a habit that feels comfortable anymore, not while there’s so much daylight.

My folks are out wishing my gorgeous younger nephew a happy birthday, I’m here getting ready for a housesitting gig, and doing a bit of reading, and writing. These posts aren’t for personal or professional gain – it’s to remind me that other creatives exist and to pay tribute. My song might be very, very, very quiet or barely audible, but that’s okay for now.

zine: ‘Top Secret Burger’ & ‘Space Out‘ by Link Raptor Art

drink: Sailors’ Grave BrewingDown She Gose

I got two zines recently from a Brisbane-based distro because I wanted to read Shastra Deo‘s contribution in The Tundish Review #4. It’s pretty exciting to see a Fijian-Indian Brisbane-based poet having a collection published (fuck yeah!) and Junky Comics had some other fabbo offerings. I loaded up my e-cart like a good sad consumer drowning her sorrows with two teeny zines by Linkraptor because: 1. mental health, and 2. who doesn’t love burgers?!?!

You all know I’m all about the mental health crapping on (I have major depressive disorder and NO, YOGA WILL NOT FUCKING CURE IT). You may also appreciate the gentle irony that for most of my life, I struggled with very disordered eating. Hated food. This dramatically changed once my psychiatrist put me on antipsychotics. One in particular stands out as really encouraging me to love food, and that one is called quetiapine (brand name is usually ‘Seroquel’ or variations thereof. I refer to chemical names because that is the constant name they share). As someone who has never taken recreational drugs, the ‘marijuana munchies’ started to make some sort of sense once quetiapine was prescribed for me (for PTSD-type symptoms; no! yoga did not cure it so stop thinking about it!). Holy fuck. GIVE ME ALL THE CHEESEBURGERS. WITH ALL THE BEEF PATTIES. NOW. NOW. NOW.

The last page of ‘Top Secret Burger’ has the words ‘the mission of the secret burger is to give the best burger for whatever you enjoy…’ and it’s a damn pure sentiment. Everyone being entitled to the burger of their dreams – yep, vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free folks…it sounds like a dream, huh?

My cat is lying out of the sun, to my right. There is something supremely comforting, knowing that she’s alive and relaxed, and feeling safe. When I first met her, she was an anxious cat – being a rescue, and belonging to someone else. Watching her gradually ‘undo’ her nervous habits has helped me undo some of mine.

‘Space Out’ has some sentiments that remind me, or help me feel okay about not having all of my long-term memories intact (I explain a bit about that here, but please be mindful that it contains reference to medical procedures some may find disturbing). That we’re fallible because we’re human, and that is okay (well, as long as we’re not doing it on purpose).

Both the zines are like reading a hug from a stranger who is somehow familiar. Isn’t that why we choose to create, and keep on creating? Most of our economies don’t value creatives the way they should – unless they’re able to be profitable (which is totally crap, by the by – please do NOT confuse me for one of those who thinks this is a good way to be). One of the things I like about my depression is that due to seeing the lows the mind can fall to, sometimes a stranger being kind – or being themselves has this ability to make you feel like…you could be a nobody to yourself but someone who doesn’t even know you thinks you’re worth something, and they don’t look to gain from it.

That’s also what this series of posts will hopefully be about. Revelling in multidimensional living when you’ve spent twenty or so years with…the volume turned down, or not up to speed. Rejoicing in half-price boxes of choc-coated matcha ice cream confection-whatsits. Rejoicing in having a clean, dry, warm bed to sleep in. Not worrying about how much you get paid, and when that will be.

Soooo, guess who’s the dumbarse who totes picked a tinnie based on its purty label! Was expecting a watermelony gose like the one I’d tried at Bar SK but accidentally got one that tastes like seaweed and a bitter lager – which is actually the pilsner influence! And no, the seaweed isn’t gross, and – bear with me – isn’t awful! Goses are supposed to be salty anyway, and this had that savoury, clean Mex-lagerish thing happening that went well with my matcha ice cream splurge. It’s sort of sad that just as I was really digging ‘Down She Gose’, it finished!

Just as it was starting to warm up and get less lager-pilsnerish, it was GONE. Having said that, in terms of gose-country, it’s not that salty or sour, but that might make it an entry-level beer into that style (protip: now you know what to get for your beer-nerdy family member/friend/colleague etc.).

If you have a perv on their website, they have quite a few fab tinnies (the grapefruit and marigold saison sounds divine?!). Anyway, keep an open mind and palate! Seaweed-salty low-booze beer is way better than you think it’d sound. Besides, this is Melbourne, we’re used to assaulting newfangled sensations!

In acknowledging that not everyone wants to drink alcohol, a great non-alcoholic alternative might be genmaicha (Japanese roasted rice green tea). Of course it goes well with sushi, and light, subtle flavours. Hit me up with hiyayakko right now, please!

*sings* it’s gonna be alright…with Gigiiiiiiii…

*worth watching the whole thing, but from 4’24” is why I’ve hotlinked it!