Tag Archives: reading

why be happy when you could just practise

A few weeks ago, I spent money I should be saving on book-and-tea subscription thing called Bookishly for three months. So far two of the packages have arrived (from England!) with everything sealed within a millimetre of its not-customs-breaking life with unusual older book imprints.

I’ve been saving the two teas for something special, and after an admittedly rough week (by which I mean, I’m glad my antidepressants are working because if they didn’t, I’d probably be crying everyday, but now am too numb and stressed to have the time to).

Just managed to sneak in a tea-and-zine review post…I feel like I should be more prepared for weekly blogging but it’s harder to make time for doing it when not feeling chirpy so a lot of the posts this year have been written when feeling pretty deflated, but isn’t this part of the problem with ‘high-functioning’ when you have a chronic mood disorder? Functioning highly in what? At sadness? Anxiety cooking bolognaise sauce from scratch, mid-week?*** This week’s tea and zine of choice…read below: http://eatdrinkstagger.com/why-be-happy-when-you-could-just-practise/ (short review: both were excellent) ***I anxiety cook and clean a lot! if you’re going to make bolognaise sauce from scratch, use a bottle of good red and simmer for eons.

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I still can’t find my most recent passport (it’s not lost, it’s just packed away out of my reach at the moment), which means I can’t get a full police check, and hair started growing over my bald spot. While looking through my phone’s camera roll for Bloody Mary/Virgin Mary cocktail photos for one project I have to finish this year, I came across a photo of me with long, slightly wavy brown hair down to my waist. I’d like it to get that thick and wavy again but it’s weird…I feel like looking so…’regular’ would delete all evidence of how difficult the last three years have been mood-wise. It’s so much easier to hide how you feel with a thick curtain of hair, on both sides of your face. In three more months, it will have been a year since my last hospitalisation.

Anyway, this weekend, the sads meant drinking tea, impulse buying a (neon grass green?!) book (Carmen Maria Machado’s The Body and Other Parties) on my wishlist, and reading a very, very cute zine to end the week and squeeze in a review post.

zine: the adventures of Ruby & Mags II by Lilly Piri

drink: Jenier grenadine vanilla black tea

OH WOW. The loose leaf tea comes in those mesh pyramid teabag things which means you can compost them, and the tea is heavenly! Really subtle and smooth. You keep sipping, thinking the flavour will intensify, and then your mug is empty. It’s glorious.

Ruby & Mags II has come in a plastic sleeve with holographic gold heart and iridescent pink star confetti. Ruby and Mags seem to be a pink fawn and an tawny orange-brown cat who are besties? They’re illustrated enjoying painting, doughnuts, tea, pancakes, strawberries, and Pocky. There’s an unrelated centrefold with four-leaf clovers, a puppy, and unicorns with rainbow-coloured manes and tails. I don’t know if this is because Ruby and Mags hallucinated this after eating hash-baked goods? Dropping acid tabs? It might’ve been their Pocky? I feel like this is what drug-taking acquaintances would tell me, but I’m too sad-straight to have any personal experiences to confirm this. Naïve me thinks it’s probably just their other cute and colourful pals? I’m not debating the above to be funny – the zine is ridiculously adorable. It’s like someone just dropped the zine equivalent of a gorgeously decorated cupcake in my lap! What was R&M I like? Are there more?

Anyway, they cavort playfully with the two unicorns, and then the last panel is the fluffy kitty with strawberry Pocky. A brief online search has pulled up this website – you can see the unicorns! They remind me a bit of this one windowsill where I grew up in London, where a girl – clearly a few years older than me, judging by the size and display of her My Little Pony collection on her bedroom sill made me wish that one day, if I were patient, I’d get ones with wings, and horns! I didn’t treat mine as well as she did hers and also liked playing with my brother’s Masters of the Universe figures too. Mantenna’s pop-out eyes were pretty cool! My bro loved those toys, so it was pretty nice of him to let me play with them too.

Hopefully the coming week will be a bit better…I think my mood funk will finish up once I’ve finished reading this very underwhelming novel I’ve struggled with for a week…initially, I wanted to read it because it’s about a young Englishman who ends up growing up in Holland, and becomes a luthier, but starts to believe he’s a werewolf (he isn’t: he gets into a violent brawl and acquired head injury sets off frontal lobe epilepsy). I’m not starting to read any new novels till finishing it – it’s called Quicksilver by Christie Dickason. It’s like a very, very bad version of the very, very wonderful Music and Silence by Rose Tremain. How does anyone make a historical novel about werewolves, the Netherlands, lutes, and early modern medicine boring?! That should teach me to stay away from remaindered books for…the rest of my life.

more book and beer pr0n

A snippet from a recent conversation, not quite verbatim, but as much as I can recall:

person: everyone thinks (artists and writers) just go around drinking heaps doing drugs, having wild sex and parties all night long…
me: …
person: they don’t know that there’s actually quite a lot of work involved…
me: (thinks about rage associated with Paul Muldoon Oxford lecture collection) uh, yeah, it really isn’t, but I like the research except when my brain won’t switch off and read for fun.

In no way am I:

  • suggesting I’m a writer
  • admitting to believing or dismissing the particular stereotypes described above
  • (unprofessionally) mad at Paul Muldoon, the famous Irish poet
  • going to wax lyrical about whatever the hell it is that writers do
  • going to avoid the blissful topic of alcohol consumption. Best for last, chums!


It’s actually really hard to read and drink because the ‘aspiring writerly’ brain is always looking to pinch, pilfer and transform better people’s words into their own (not referring to outright plagiarism and/or not citing sources – that shit is clearly not on. Some decent wordsmiths actually put effort into their craft, yo!).

A somewhat awkward slide to introduce Paul Muldoon’s The End of the Poem – a collection of lectures about individual poems for Oxford lectures. Muldoon is supposed to close read each poem, that is, analyse and beat it within an inch of its life for intent and meaning and whatever the hell it is litwank nerds do (disclosure: I do it but badly – they’re mainly just boring rants focussed on the possible reasons for the placement of a comma in one spot, etc.).

With close reading, you look for ways in which the poet has jampacked as much potential meanings and readings into as short a space as possible. So when Muldoon’s lecture about ‘poem X’ turned out to be ‘everything possibly related to the genesis of poem X and not really a reading of said poem, it got me into passionate Collingwood supporter mode (note: I do not follow AFL. Never been to a game but kind knowledgeable folks have offered to take me to my first game ever…next year.

It’ll be a good space to get my argh-Muldoon-why-so-info-overload-cant-drink-beer-while-reading rage. Basically, reading one of these lecture transcripts means (if you haven’t already) you’ll need to read five other poets, maybe a biography or two, and a bajillion other poems by the author of the poem allegedly being close read.

Stubbornly, I refused to let my Muldoon rage transfer to impressions of the beer. Reading non-fun stuff and drinking even funner stuff didn’t work – but just in this instance. Above, the beer is one of last month’s TruBru #bearclub selections – Sixpoint’s Spice of Life Citra IPA. Bring on the hop times. Hop times = fun flavour times. Screw autodidacticism. Link is back to full health – for now.

Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma is, reading-wise, easier to devour though its information…not so much. Throughout the first part, I began to understand why Children of the Corn is a horror flick. It didn’t stop me from testing this new fear by buying a quesadilla a few days later. It also helps to know I’m not reading it blindly. Corn and its (natural) growth process still sounds like science-fiction. If we eat enough of it, will it conquer us the way the Adipose did in that episode of Doctor Who? Shudder.


It seemed like a good time to try out Mikkeller’s ‘Show Me’ Cuvee – a wild/sour beer (another TruBru #bearclub selection). My palate generally is doing funky things and has decided that things I previously thought were nice or okay, are ‘ooh-er, this is really good’ – enjoyed it more than expected.

Finally! I did get fun drinking and reading in! Woo hoo!


Snatching up some sun, my official mascot/overlord (cat) is resting against my back as I take a photo of The Paris Review summer 2014 issue (Northern Hemisphere summer – just imagine my lit journal reading backlog is the size of a slab) and 2 Brothers ‘Kung Foo’ rice lager. Both were very, very moreish. Ideally, enjoy both in a beautiful patch of public park not crawling with people who may follow you home singing Katy Perry or Britney Spears at the top of their lungs, or the equally intimidating crew who illegally light fireworks near a place I fondly call ‘Mill Park-South Morang Carcossa’. It makes trips to the postbox more…interesting than usual.

PS. The Muldoon lectures are amazing, just hard-going as it’s not the type of thing one can skim-read; I’m merely related to a Collingwood AFL supporter so their zeal is, to my mind, the stuff of mere legend; and lastly, po-mo dictates that you can appropriate others’ work but you better cite and acknowledge the shit out of your sources, k?

PPS. The other book supporting Muldoon-rage-o-rama is Mark Strand & Eavan Boland’s (eds.) The Making Of A Poem – highly recommended if you want to impress someone by memorising or learning to write poems in established forms (it has examples!)