sick life happens

The plan was to blog like a demon during the initiative known as ‘dry July’ (where people abstain from drinking alcohol to raise money, as well as for personal health reasons), and I was doing it to keep my main squeeze company.

I thought it’d be great and I’d reap health benefits immediately…but after having bronchitis for all of June, most of July was getting first one ear infected, only to have it move to the other.

It’s now August, and after a week and a half of physical wellness, I now have another ear infection in the ear where it all started. You can imagine I’m pretty pissed off, and joked to my psychiatrist that at least I was miserable about being physically ill rather than due to the usual psychological ailments!

I’ve been saving a special zine specifically to match up with tea, and now that I’m home sick and trying to keep warm and drink lots of hot drinks, it seems like a good time to read and review the following.

zine: Life Happening by dangerlam (Kim Lam, 2019)

drink: organic golden latte blend by Zee Tea 

(a super-cool Patreon-only photo appears here of my three-colour cat teapot next to the zine mentioned above)

So…my turmeric latte mix technically has gone past its best before date, which is one reason I’m trying to finish up the packet. I’m also hoping the turmeric will help with some excruciating, stabbing pain I occasionally experience in my left index finger thanks to my fluting past. Recently, the fingertip has started to go numb and the part where the pain stabs happen have become…less stabby and more lingering.

Given that turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, I’ve been remembering to try and drink more of it. The ingredients are pretty yummy. The packet says it’s:

organic turmeric powder blended with ginger, cinnamon, liquorice and coconut

and also recommends that you make it with coconut milk, mmm! I’ve just been using a mix of half a cup of hot water, the rest full cream milk. 

Being a liquorice fiend (as gorging on it after one summer trip to Portsmouth can attest…I threw up a river of liquorice after sitting bolt upright in bed just as me and my brother were retiring for the day after being told not to eat it all or eat it too quickly!), I’m pretty partial to this particular mix, it’s slightly sweet and subtly spicy, though I flavour it with honey (again: using more of for its antibacterial properties) anyway.

The comic zine is dreamy. I’m a fan of Kim’s work, ever since she left me speechless after drawing my 2018 Emerging Writers Festival panel – I really love her linework, and enjoyed her sparse usage of colour in ‘Life Happening’. 

Scroll through my favourite panels in the comic in the IG embed above, for pretty obvious, biased reasons (hint: involves cats, and tea!). One of them, minus me having a dishwasher and kitty litter is SPOT ON.

You can view this in IG as embedded above but I’m posting it because I totally let my hipster turmeric latte get cold whilst writing this blog post, classic me shiz.

The creator invites us to contemplate what makes up ‘living’ or ‘existing’ and how fulfilling or meaningful these rituals and patterns to us. I loved it because it’s a beautiful, artful, melancholy way of expressing these preoccupations; I don’t often feel my mind dwells on these topics in a healthy manner (regular readers would by now know why that is).

It does make me fall in love with the simple little rituals that do define our life. Waking up, being able to get out of bed and make myself tea and breakfast isn’t something I take for granted, and recently it’s been easier, more natural. It sounds like such a mundane thing, but I enjoy that I can do it, that at the moment it doesn’t feel like such a trial. 

Spending time with my cat (who is purring and huddled on half of my lap as I write this post) is another one of those everyday things that grounds me, makes me feel like living isn’t too bad, or that it’s okay to take time to rest. We’re both anxious sorts, and by being physically close to each other, we kind of cancel out our mutual anxiety! For real: adopt, don’t shop.

If I had to sum up why you should get a copy of Life Happening, it’d be because it’s a limited edition print run (mine is 21/100!), it’s a gorgeously plaintive reflection that considers what’s meaningful to us as individuals in a world that tries to get us all to do the same, sometimes harmful things (work, earn money, spend that money, not consider the consequences of that spending), the illustrations are lovely, and you’d be supporting a Melbourne-based creative.

Again, and as always, I pay for the zines and beverages I review, which is why I especially love and appreciate my fantastic Patreon supporters!

My tea collection did grow substantially during Dry July so I’ll try to match up more tea to zines, and throw in an occasional tinnie to clear my fridge shelf of shame!

Will do my best to post sooner rather than later. Hope the Melb winter is not battering you as hard as it has me! Stay warm and dry!

inhabiting pubs with an in-house catfish

zine: Inhabit Journal, issue 2 (Nov 2016), curated by Kiara Lindsay

drink: The Doctor (6.5% ABV, half-pint, draft) brewed by Sawmill Brewery (Auckland, NZ)

venue: The Catfish, Fitzroy, Melbourne

So for the Emerging Writers’ Festival this year, I’m involved in a couple of events and totally not panicking at all, noooo, not me! I know it’s really uncool to admit it, but it’s always going to mean something to me to be programmed in things because…I’m uncool and grateful that way, and part of me doesn’t ever think the working my overachieving Asian arse off will ever translate into actual success.

For research, I ordered Inhabit Journal’s zines, given I’ll be writing (most likely a poem) an ekphrastic response to an exhibition as commissioned by this year’s EWF. Today, I’m working with a poet friend at the Catfish (which I might add, I have a very soft spot for, because the staff NEVER mansplain my beer choices to me, and the Sparrows Philly cheesesteaks are also fucking amazing).

Anyway, the beer: why the hell are there still so many sours around when it’s winter proper in Melbourne? Please (white cishet)mansplain this to me! I went for a dark beer first up. Given how many bloody (quite literally, given the whole premenstrual dysphoric disorder goregrind show) doctor and health specialist appointments I’ve had in the last three months, I guess it’s kind of fitting to drink a beer called ‘The Doctor’?. It tastes like subtly roasted coffee, and isn’t too alcoholic (or hides its ABV well?), and kind of feel I should’ve ordered a pint of it instead. Trying to be a responsible adult is so boring.

Now is probably not the right time to admit that ekphrastic poetry absolutely fucking terrifies me. Perhaps it’s the direct involvement with a videogame that means it’s less terrifying writing a tribute (ie. videogame ekphrastic poetry) to it, but srs visual art? Gulp.

(Patreon beer notes photo appearing here)

Anyway, about the zine. All poems that appear in this zine are inspired by or mention at least one visual artwork by Fergus Binns. Some of the poets do mention more than one of the artworks (‘Erotic Fibers’ by Pauline Rotsaert, and ‘Rescued for Friendly & Honeybird’ by Shona McCarthy).

I feel it fair to mention that the following works I’m quoting from are not necessarily the ones I thought were the ‘best’ because kind of mindset is shit when it comes to art – these are examples of the ones that moved me and made me all excited about being a poet.

Natalie Briggs’ ‘Gigantic Blue’ had some lines that stole my heart:

and we rearranged the furniture, and I’m so careful with my words now.

Hot water asking my skin to give up / what my doesn’t dare to. The hot water knows / I never fought for you.

Or Natalie Gilmartin’s ‘paint gives the appearance of being fixed’:

a clearing is not a landscape, it becomes one

(…)

from something more fluid / with a steady hand and repetition

as if it doesn’t move or change or wilt or die / or carry the scars of colonisation

(…)

to the right music, a subject can confuse / a convention

Kern Mangan-Walker’s ‘being sunburnt but that’s okay i guess’ has lots going on. You should read the whole thing if you have the chance (I liked it as someone who isn’t white who appallingly burns in Australia…where are the benefits of my extra melanin?)

everything has its freckles, scars and blotches / history, geography, institutions, nature, among others / someone once said that these make our world beautiful

Last one! James McNiece’s ‘I USED MY EXPIRED VOUCHER AT SAVERS AND STILL GOT A DISCOUNT’

I live in greyscale

(…)

when I wake up next Spring / I won’t have to colour my own drawings.

I really hope I don’t let down EWF or Inhabit Journal, or the visual artists.

Tim Tams and when people are missing to you

zine: Concrete Queers 10: Milestones by various authors (more info here)

drink: Timothy Tamothy Slam-othy chocolate biscuit milk stout (5.6%, 440mL can) by Moon Dog Craft Brewery (Abbotsford, VIC)

music: before: a lot of late-night Radiohead (Kid A and Amnesiac, and Jonny Greenwood’s Bodysong soundtrack (I’m giving away some serious sleep music playlist secrets here)

It’s 3am and I can’t sleep because I haven’t taken my prazosin. I’m terrified of missing a really important appointment tomorrow (well, technically today), so thought maybe I’d just hope diazepam would knock me out for a few hours. As is common with folks with PTSD symptoms, I’m exhausted, but not tired to sleep without the bloody prazosin. Lesson learnt. It’s also felt like forever since I had one of these late night writing sessions…I miss ’em, but I love my mental health more after sleeping semi-wellish on the newish meds.

There were three zines I could’ve chosen to review as you’ll see below, but they felt too male-dominated. Paper & Ink 13: Tales From The Bar actually has a lot of female contributors but sometimes there’s this drunk Bukowski aesthetic (tautological, perhaps, to mention?) that in P&I that doesn’t always feel inclusive. Yes, I know who Bukowski is, but I don’t always want to read writing inspired by him. Soz.

I was selfish and chose a zine that I do have a poem in, but because it very obliquely relates to Tim Tams: bear with me.

It’s also finally starting to act like dark beer weather, drooooool. Or maybe that’s just 3am loneliness talking. Lately, Melbourne has me a bit down. Don’t get me wrong, I’m used to going to shitloads of events by myself (it’s actually quite weird that when I go to writing events, I often bump into colleagues and friends. Like mega-weird. Haven’t really experienced anything like that since maybe The Con(servatory at Melb Uni)?

Anyway, Melbourne seems to do this thing where people only really become good friends when they spend a lot of time together, in a fairly enclosed space. I’m thinking mainly sharehouses where you can get along with some people in the loveliest way possible, and then as soon as you’re no longer in their proximity, you’re off their radar. No one gets in touch to catch up with you, which makes you look like an epic loser when you get in touch with them to say “hey, it’s been a while, let’s catch up?” I think it’s a Melbourne thing because there’s something about this city that makes you feel like people want to be your friend, but it’s easy to confuse that with them wanting something from you.

That used to get me down enough to have me drink a lot more than I used to. That isn’t an easy thing to admit. I had one ex-housemate who I felt I got along really with really well. We used to talk heaps after work, he taught me I wasn’t completely clueless around plants and gardening, and he actually cared or could tell if I’d had a bad day. Most of my sharehouse time now is spent joking about badly I’m doing, or people not caring enough to notice (that’s actually a good thing). The resentment is noticing stuff about others, and yes, those you live with that you don’t want to see. It doesn’t seem fair that it can’t be shut off.

Anyway, this particular ex-housie fucking loved Tim-Tams. So much so, that I even occasionally bought those limited edition black forest ones (they were pretty bloody amazing). The poem in the zine mentioned above is about my time in that sharehouse (some of my happiest, most prolific writing months too). It was pretty fucking wholesome.

To the beer? Um, it’s scrumptious. I already feel better about being awake at this silly hour, and not so guilty about not taking prazosin because I wanted to be awake in case someone paid me a visit. That was silly of me. It is chocolatey, slightly bitter in the way flavoursome black coffee (of course, the single origin wank, like duh, this is Melb, bitchez) and not one you want to slam down, but gulp and savour those gulps every so often.

Here, there would be pics of my beer tasting notes for Patreons in the appropriate Field Notes notebook which doesn’t have many pages left!

The first contrib in CQ Milestones is ‘Save the Date: Legalise Queer International Poly Marriage’ by Lauren E Mitchell. One part slays me, because it’s all too familiar:

Hot nights, poor sleep. Meds acting up, poor sleep. Worrying about you, poor sleep.

The next two pieces are a poem about being a bipolar bisexual (by Alex Creece), and ‘You’re Smart for a Chick’ by Joni Nelson, a narrative about transitioning, bad 7-Eleven coffee, and the implications of being given tampons and using female toilets. (I never hate my body as much as I do when it menstruates, but I have premenstrual dysphoric disorder, so it tends to fuck me up hardcore whenever I’m bleeding. I can’t wait for the meds I’m on for it to start working, which could take still take months 🙁 )

The next piece is my poem ‘stationary objects’ which I’m obviously not going to review or talk about but will mention that it’s about that wonderful sublet/sharehouse I mentioned earlier, and about knives, pill cutters, and Officeworks no longer being threatening places. Maybe don’t read it unless you’re really sure about being mentally strong. It is a positive poem, but it’s about a practice I still miss in my life very, very much. It reminds me I’m still alive. Without it, there is just numbness.

Daniel Hayek’s piece is about being gay and suffering the various microaggressions that anyone who is not cishet and white has to deal with. My favourite line is the following, towards the end:

…it’s naive and dangerous to think you can love the flaw out of a person. Unless of course that person is you.


‘Ding! Level Thirty’ by Wolfram-J VK is everything I wish I could have thought about my thirties! My thirties weren’t overly horrible, but I was really, really sick and don’t much remember anything about them other than learning about craft beer, and hospitals. A lot of time in hospitals. It wasn’t all bad though…I fell in love with someone who I think might have loved me in a similar way. That had never ever happened before in my life. I still think about her a lot. The one thing I do love about queerness is that you don’t have to be with someone anymore to still want the best for them. I’m sure there are straight people who do this, but it always sounds tinged with regret and failure (FYI, if anyone ever tries to hurt my exgf who has been through a lot of hard stuff in her life, I will fucking do my best to end you…somehow. Our shared boyfriend at the time turned out to be a mega-stalky creep, so this is mainly aimed at him).

My thirties were awful. I hope my forties will be better, though to be honest, they still seem terrifying too. I think my only true ally in any of it will be my beloved cat, who is sleeping next to me as I type, on my phone. She’s finally used to guarding or staying with me when I have nightmares.

Oh yeah, and the title: I’ve said this many times before, but I really like it how in French, “I miss you” would literally translate to us in English as “you are missing to me” (tu me manques), thus privileging the person you miss. As it should be. It sounds less selfish, even though it’s just grammar: direct and indirect objects. There are times when I get really, really anxious, and my brain’s way of dealing with it is to come up with the French of what I’d usually think or say in English. The mind has some really weird-arse ways of protecting itself.

There are people missing to me, and some of them really like Tim Tams. Some drink Melbourne Bitter <3