Tag Archives: mental health

ode to a bar

Wow. Last week was exhausting but in the best way possible. I ran an intro zine workshop for the Freeplay festival, and then appeared on a panel with another poet, and both of us got to chat like mates on stage/streamed from ACMI! On poetry and video games!

This time last year, I was nursing a moderate heartbreak (the main bits of it had begun at the beginning of the year), and was preparing for a non-ECT hospitalisation. An interstate ex-housemate was trying to bully me into putting a utility bill under my name because she was being hounded by debt collectors. Not my problem. I felt lucky to have the excuse of impending hospital admission as well as rehearsals for Emily Johnson/Catalyst’s SHORE to say that that would not be useful to either herself or the current household.

So this year, my emotional and professional mind landscape is vastly different to last year’s, and definitely for the better!

zine: Backyard: number one by Backyard SK collective (various)

beer: KRUSH! tropical pale (4.7% ABV, 375mL can) by KAIJU (Dandenong, Melb.)

It’s been far too long since I had a KAIJU beer, for whatever silly reason (I didn’t really go to any events for Good Beer Week or GABS, I know, should hand in my membership badge stat), which is stupid as I love their beers (their Cthulhu and Betelgeuse are my kind of flavour country <3) and they’re a staple at Bar SK. As soon as I open my can, the tropical notes waft up, and it gives the beer a subtle, balanced fruit kick. I do tend to ignore drinking this in favour of beers I’ve never tried, and I enjoy it during the heat, but damn! What the hell was this doing, languishing in my bar fridge for so long, so neglected?!

If someone wanted me to recommend beers to someone who didn’t really know where to start with craft beer, I’d definitely name this brewery in a top five list.

To the zine, which I can’t actually flick through right now because my cat has decided to sit on it. I don’t have the heart to push her off! She has been and is a kickarse companion in my countless times of psychological distress which is why I tend to be pretty soft on her loving to sit on my paper-anything. The zine looks like a document to a game that perhaps was part of ‘Delete’ or an unfinished prototype – it’s kind of hard to tell, but I did see a Trello board screenshot photocopied, and a few diagrams with character attributes, possible text responses in certain situations. It looks like it’s set in someone’s bedroom for part of it.

Piecing it together from what I remember gives me an inkling to what reading a poem and trying to record an extended analysis might be like – poems are very rarely literal and it’s not often obvious whose ‘voice’ it’s told/narrated in. I’ve been thinking a lot about poetics after Saturday’s panel, and more so about what poetry and video games do have in common. I’ve also played a shitload of Pokémon GO today, because there’s one special research task that asks you to evolve 20 Pokémon! I had a job network appointment, then went to pick my mail nearby, and trying (unsuccessfully) to be in a raid alone forced me to enjoy the sunshine. A looooot of my electronic buddies fainted, whoops! Autumn has been fantastic in that it’s crisp and cold and bright by day, but you feel justified having the heater on as soon as the sun sets.

I also wanted to use this post as a way to point out others’ work I either forgot to mention, or did not mention enough of during my panel chat. I feel really fortunate that my first ever conference experience was such a welcoming, positive experience – at no time did I ever feel like an annoying not-tech creative: everyone really wanted to learn about video games and their intersections with other creative media.

So anyway, thanks Jini for asking and pronouncing my last name correctly! That shit always means a lot. They do a FUCKTONNE of work, so much so that they wrote in The Saturday Paper about the unpaid labour of arts workers. It’s not an easy read – it’s not meant to be, but it’s commendable to go on the record with a lot of what they’ve said in that piece. Jini is also a member of the PlayReactive collective.

Many a fistbump to my co-panellist Rory whose future Pokémon poems I eagerly await! Would you believe, we’re also Rabbit Journal buddies! If you like either of our work (which I hope you might!), please pick up a copy of this journal, and definitely subscribe to Rory’s Tinyletter. Can’t wait to see what future work my Oulipo comrade comes up with!

Thanks so much to Alex for even giving me the notion that video game ekphrasis is a thing! If he hadn’t asked me to submit something for Bonfire Park, it’s no exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t have pitched Writers Vic at all about that fab WWOC commission. For some odd reason, it sounds too hard (in my head) to write poems honouring visual artworks, but that’s exactly what happened when trying to write them about video games?! A blindspot banished, huzzah!

And oh my goodness, so Ian Maclarty‘s game ‘The Catacombs of Solaris‘ won a freaking award at Freeplay! I’m not sure if you still can, but it was also playable in a space set up in ACMI during the festival and conference. We met properly at the festival, though I think we’d met when All Day Breakfast was still around. I was having a fair bit of ECT when ADB still existed and hadn’t actually remembered we’d met, whoops!

This is much longer than anticipated. My cat has fallen asleep on the zine! <3 I’ve got a good beer to finish drinking. Check out the above creatives’ work and tell your mates about it!

 

 

 

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sip as you play along

beer: Bridge Road Brewers (Beechworth, VIC) ‘Magical Christmas Unicorn’ vanilla ice cream ale (330mL, 7% ABV)

zine: Widget: women in development, games + everything tech! by various contributors

I promised myself this year that I’d get better at self-promotion and to be honest, I’m doing a lot of cool shit, and I’m still struggling a lot with this. My mood disorder doesn’t help with this.

I submitted a proposal to be a speaker at this year’s Freeplay Festival, and as thrilled as I am to be taking part, there is a small voice at the back of everything in my head telling me that it’s a fluke, I’m not worth it, people won’t be interested etc. which is ridiculous because the organisers of the festival certainly wouldn’t feel that way – they’ve chosen the participants for a reason.

It could also be tied up in the fact that I’m not a professional in the games industry – never have been, never will be (unless I get a full-time job writing game narratives or game crit/reviews and such) – my chosen craft is writing, one I’m only starting to feel comfortable in.

I imagine impostor syndrome and its related iterations is one of the reasons zines like Widget exist: on the cover is a (white) woman with a rockabilly-50s-style scarf, holding up what looks like a Nintendo 64 control (what do Playstation controls look like? it’s definitely not an XBox one). The first few pages already – and rightfully – claim trans-inclusivity and the importance of women-only spaces…but so far, there’s nothing about women of colour. I don’t think this is deliberate, but ouch.

That’s pretty much been my life the last fortnight – wincing and second-guessing whether I’ve been oversensitive about the racial identity issues. But! there are the also those moments where meeting up with a mate who gets it at your fave nerd hangout and smashing dumplings next door then venturing to another craft beer hangout to make up intricate backstories for poop on the run emblazoning Omnipollo beer bottles! Chix-‘n’-beer is totally a thing!

Having lamented the lack of persons-of-colour direct rep in Widget, there’s some ace basic, super-useful info about looking after oneself, with or without a mood disorder – some super-compassionate stuff!

Of course it now makes sense why I chose a beer with ‘unicorn’ in the name, which incidentally is mentioned (just the unicorn bit, not the beer! though its consumption is generally perceived as masculine earlier in the zine). At first, there’s no vanilla creaminess at all…am starting to wonder if my seared salmon sushi bowl lunch thing has warped my palate. As the beer warms, it does get those teasing hints of vanilla! I remember when this was out in kegs and I chased a few beer places to try and snaffle a pint, but it was not to be – unicorns of any form don’t linger around long! I even drank it out of a schooner glass, rather than straight out of the bottle. I was briefly seeing a dudebro-in-disguise who tried to buy bottles of this particular beer for me, but they got smashed up in transit. It didn’t occur to him that I might have better supply network intel.

Thankfully, this female-identifying beer nerd is single and in possession of her/their own unicorns – yes, plural. I feel a bit weird drinking a not-dark beer when the nights are getting delightfully chilly, but it’s been a great, subtle dessertish beer.

Oh! Self-promo! If you’re in Melbourne, come on down to Freeplay! I’ll be chatting with Rory Green (like srsly they matched me with another poet who is writing poems to the first 151 glories on the Pokedex! and they’ve got a poem in Rabbit’s ‘Queer’ issue! it’s like I have a Sydney twin?!). We’re going to talk about our creative practice and the role playing games can have on one’s mental health and creativity generally. Teaser: it’s a win-win sitch!

I’ll also be leading a zine workshop a few days before the conference bit of the festival, and will be using boardgames and gamebooks for some inspiration as we get zine-making. I’m stoked because straight after, I get to go to Louis’ workshop on ‘bespoke’ controllers, then head to the Rabbit ‘Queer’ issue launch as part of the inaugural Melbourne Spoken Word and Poetry Festival.

 

***in case you need the reminder, my definition of ‘woman/women’ includes female-identifying humans of all types, colours, creeds. So should yours! <3

 

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life-life balance

It could be PMDD symptoms, or that I haven’t made time to see my psychiatrist in two months, but lately it’s been harder to leave the day’s work behind and properly relax. I’m struggling to finish reading novels (which isn’t usually something that happens?!), and been writing a lot more, and depression symptoms have been more just stop, sit, and NAP, or anxiety symptoms mean it’s harder to fall asleep, and harder to get up because once I’m out of bed, my brain won’t switch off. The nap, thankfully, helped loads.

It’s difficult to reinforce boundaries around being too busy because I haven’t been this functional in nearly two decades. I’ve stayed up late for a bit – on purpose…brew a big mug of tea, read a zine (that doesn’t have pieces of mine!) for sheer enjoyment, but keep making excuses. So while my ‘heart’ is asking why the hell am I so exhausted, what my head is actually saying is the reasons:

  • I submitted a suite of three poems inspired by indie computer games as part of a ‘Women Writers of Colour’ commission on the theme ‘collaboration’ which should appear in the Writers’ Victoria membership mag next month…? Am thinking of working on a few more and compiling them into a separate zine at the end of this year
  • becoming a Women’s Melbourne Network committee member hasn’t felt like work, and in forgetting this, I also neglect that commuting takes up a lot of energy! duh me! Also, Janet Mock knows our bookclub meeting took place and thrilled does not begin to describe <3
  • I pitched and submitted work to a few publications that last year would have been too terrifying to even contemplate reading (no, really, just read that last sentence. Yes, I’m not-normiesplaining)…I feel like no one talks about these sorts of things when you’re reemerging back into life (or emerging into life for the first time with arms wide open)
  • am gathering reading material for some more formal reading/casual teaching arrangements, and can’t find my sodding most recent passport (my older ones are pretty funny!) which is a nightmare for trying to get current police checks (for the record, I’m British and have indefinite permanent residency in Australia)
  • have completed a fifth of a planned chapbook of poems on the private psychiatric ward patient experience (it’ll mainly be funny, honest, or rather, I hope)
  • I’m a reader for an online mag called Syntax and Salt, and their next issue is devoted to poetry so I’m excited because so far, I’ve been reading short fiction!
  • edit 6/6/2018: because the individual named here is anything but a positive experience to deal with, I have actively deleted any involvement with them and do not wish to insinuate any form of association with them. Thanks for understanding

Okay, now I get why I took an extended siesta and missed out on a joint beer collab launch at one of my fave drinking holes (Bar SK, case you’re wondering)! Crying.

Let’s get down to business.

zine: ‘Hook Up’ volume 1 by Anthony Nocera

There’s a few snippets from (gay) hook-up apps, and then narrative from the writer about his interactions and memories of meet-ups. No holds barred, etc. but quite funny and oddly touching – no pun intended! I mean touching in that way sexual contact can make people be intimate towards one another for a short amount of time before they float off into their lives. There’s also a bit from/about Helen Razer on the whole marriage equality sitch. I wish I could remember when I bought this…it was definitely before the above was even on the table in parliament…or was it? The narrator also explains that he/they told the people he/they were hooking up with that he/they were most likely going to be writing about the interactions/meet-ups! It’s got interesting cut-up collage illustrations throughout, and it’s a bright blue, neon pink that makes me think it’s done on a risograph press? It’s also restricted to persons aged 18+.

beverage: Bright Chocolate (choc factory in Bright, Victoria) cacao tea

Nearly a year ago, I froze my arse off in the name of research for Froth, and went home with some sweet goodies from the Bright chocolate factory, which also had this ‘tea’ from the disposed cacao husks. I’m probably not selling it, but it’s divine, and really smooth the same way good chocolate is!

music: ‘Dead Start Program’ by John Tejada

I still buy CDs, and I really want this one. It turns out that I’m still a minimal techno tragic. It has a lot of what I liked about an earlier album of his, ‘Logic Memory Center’, and yes, it does hurt to have to use American English spelling (joke…but I do misspell type them in first go!). I find minimal techno’s repetition comforting and puts me in a frame of mind to better concentrate.

I do feel a lot better and more rested now. My cat having settled nearby on my bed, pretending to sleep but glancing over every so often also helps.

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