those overuse blues

I’ve been in pain the last few weeks after pulling a muscle before a poetry reading. It didn’t seem like a big deal, but driving seems to have made it worse, and it eventually became full-blown overuse pain, which I haven’t had to deal with for the last near-twenty years?!

Anti-inflammatory pain meds help (admittedly I’m pretty stubborn about taking them because I’m used to actually having a pain threshold), but it’s made eating, sleeping and working difficult. Hot showers haven’t helped much and I’ve spent the entire weekend wincing and feverishly sleeping in an old blue nightshift that used to belong to my mother.

I hate my body a lot less than when overuse (in the right side of my body, not left like now) was an issue, and having left my zine-drink review post till so late in the week again feels like cheating. I’ve made myself a strong, bitter hot chocolate sweetened with maple syrup and can’t really blog about the beer I got to drink over the week, because it’s all review beer for next month’s Froth, glee!

Admittedly, I have been doing a lot more things than usual…as ‘overuse’ implies, it tends to flare up when some part of the body is used too much – the lesser version of repetitive strain injury. It’s been a mindfuck listening to my left shoulder trot out an opera libretto-length version of ‘The Ballad of the Crunchy Shoulder’!

Anyway, I’m reading ‘A Sharp Knife x FOUND’ from 2015, which has ‘short, sharp poetry by women’. There’ll be a bunch of folks to tag when I post the photograph on Instagram, and I love how unapologetically hot pink the cover is. It’s put together by Alice Belle.

 


This zine is volume 6, and subtitled ‘ Positive Protest’. There’s a myriad of ways women or female-identifying voices can protest that doesn’t involve violence, and this zine offers so many paths into those possibilities…the selection does have common threads – blood, heart, stone and digging into ground, skies, what the body is made of, emancipation or extrication from stifling sources. I honestly couldn’t pick a favourite poem!

I did think ‘Terra Nullius’ by Polly Glamorous was especially noteworthy because it talks about who was on this land, Australia, before white colonisation, and it’s short and sharp, just like the zine brief states. This zine was part of an event that occurred in Melbourne called ‘Found Festival’ at Testing Grounds, where many of us also read work by other female-identifying writers – I still fondly remember audience reactions to my reading out Anne Sexton’s ‘The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator’!

It’s also interesting to look back at how terrified I was then of occupying creative space…I still didn’t feel like I deserved to be there, even though the people that asked me to take part were so supportive and encouraging. Most of the year after did start to fix a lot of that; I’d never really realised how much my mood disorder contributed to my outlook and self-worth.

Anyway, contents, in order of appearance:

‘untitled’ by Alice Belle; ‘Together’ by Laura Bibby-Bell; ‘Terra Nullius’ by Polly Glamorous; ‘The Caddisfly’ by Ad Hoc; ‘Starry’ by Tilly Houghton (poetry ed of Concrete Queers fame, yea!; ‘Red’ by me (shh!); ‘Letting Go’ by Bianca Martin; and ‘Alien Girl’ by Tegan Webb.

I kind of like the idea that all these folks have been slowly and steadily creating lots of things, and since this zine volume, have been really lucky to get to learn more about their work in visual art, music, and of course writing. I tried to track down as many of the contributors without being too stalky, so if you like their work, let them know and find more!

It’s started to rain again, which totally aggravates my overuse pain, but bless that ibuprofen tablet’s magic! The pain’s become easily bearable again.

what are the days like?

I went to bed early, took my nighttime antidepressant before 10.30pm, and still couldn’t wake up early as planned. Last week, I pulled a neck muscle, and the pain wouldn’t bother me except that it’s not going away despite stretching, exercising and correcting body posture. It’s because I’m not able to sleep on my lovely futon mattress in a house with double beds aplenty, but none of the ones that are actually good for one’s back and overuse injuries.

It reminds me why I kept moving so much, last year. I never really mind when my mood disorder is chronic, because at least it isn’t like the physical pain that accompanies overuse injuries. In one shit sharehouse, my room pretty much only had space for my bed. My bad shoulder rarely complained.

At present, every morning, is pain. My bad dreams are slowly returning, and my head is struggling more now to block out noise, of others living, and self-hatred generally. That’s what life is like with a chronic mood disorder. It’s late afternoon now, and my (non-injured) left shoulder is still complaining, but I’ve read one zine while chugging down a beetroot latte.

‘a list of (some) things that trigger my PTSD’ doesn’t have a specific creator named, but on the back, it says ‘Nope Club ’16. The last page also says words that although are hard to reconcile, are comforting to those of us who have ever suffered any kind of trauma:

‘Sometimes your monsters look exraordinarily ordinary.’ (I’m not correcting the spelling error).

It’s hard to talk about or even admit PTSD-type triggers because they do often seem so silly, but terrifying to a particular person. I went a few years of not being able to watch Breaking Bad and still can’t watch Game of Thrones because my mind will bomb me with nightmares and guilt for months. When I first started watching Gilmore Girls, I had to stop because it upset me so much that I didn’t have anyone in my life, the way Rory has her mum Lorelai.

It took, and takes, more than a few years to develop opposite habits of consumption that end up acting as antidotes to PTSD triggers. As someone who has struggled with sleep for as long as I can remember, I find even now that thinking of my old cat Wolfie, or my current gorgeous rescue Fance as ‘guards’ on my bed helps me feel safer, warmer, happier, then eventually, safe enough to fall asleep.

Mel Stringer’s zine ‘Every Morning’ has a person looking happily asleep, while a cat sleeps nearby on the quilt, on its cover. A joyous image, squee! A lot of the folks profiled in the zine about their morning routines did indeed involve loving cats, and loving humans/partners, negotiating bathroom time and makeup/outfits. The zine is from 2015, and I totally just realised that in limiting computer use last week, I have also not reviewed any zines just before Festival of the Photocopier, sigh. Anyway, I’m trying not to beat myself up about these things!

My beetroot latte is finished and now it’s officially early evening, so off I jetset into another hot drink, and more reading material.

(PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder – normies, please stop using it as joke to say you’re wounded by shit, btw)

screaming white into the void

This post does discuss mental health/illness in detail that folks may find distressing (regarding self-injury in particular), and reader discretion is advised.

Despite the nihilist-sounding post title, it’s been a good, though exhausting week. I managed to visit Preston Market when it was…not quite fast-and-furious-bargains-shouted-from-all-corners, but may as well have been. I went to get myself a chicken quesadilla (one of my fave ‘treat’ lunches) after picking up PO box mail but had forgotten my key (theatrical groan!), and also had to get to Brunswick to review Bent Bollywood on a very nearly empty petrol tank…

I thought I’d have more time to generally read and write, and have found myself not making regular appointments with my psychiatrist – this is not good. I’m doing pretty well lately (it’s officially over a year now since last ECT sesh, squee!) and that has meant more energy for work-related activities, but emotional labour (yeah yeah, go on, laugh about how wanky it sounds till you realise you’re the one being drained by it) is taking up more of my time than it should…some of my anxieties have even made it into my dreams (again, not a good sign).

Anyway, it was fab to see my friend Maria and have an epic cackle session about modern romance and its…’challenges’, and you’ll soon be able to read my review on BB for Peril. Liminal sent me a copy of their zine because I couldn’t make it to their do, and it’s gorgeous! That PO box key was worth the extra trek!

Oh! Absolutely decimated the aubergine/courgette / eggplant/zucchini stash from my dad’s garden…

Almost nearly forgot to wish my eldest nephew a happy birthday, but thankfully his new bike and hanging out with his mates mean that he’s not thinking too much of his daggy aunt (it’s true, I can’t deny it)! Happy birthday Leon, me and Fance love you!

***

Last year, I went to a zine thing and spent all my spare change (nice one noob!). One of the zines I went home with was called ‘white whine’ by illustrator Sarah Catherine Firth. As the name suggests, a bunch of very first-world whines from first-world women are drawn and coloured in. Given my booze consumption yesterday (went to a beer tasting at Bar SK, then drank a Korean beverage that reminded me of dry sake afterwards at a dumpling-smashing dinner), I decided to stick to brewing up pints of white tea, with elderflower and apricot. I guess if the British are going to do white tea, they have to Englishfy it somehow. The dried apricot pieces are also quite yummy. Such a classy tea-totaller!

Seriously, one of my fave deadline-smashing/writing hardcore things to do is brew mugs of tea, or brew white or green tea weaker than its suggested strength, then let cool down, and add more cold water. Not bad for a $4 organic Brit tea – you stretch out that four buckaroonies! Freelancers/creatives, I see you nodding.

It’s hard to pick a fave panel from the zine, but I’d have to go with the lady saying “My brie is too hard.” because when you’re craving soft cheese and waiting for it to reach that magical temperature, it does feel like forever! Readers of this blog may recall I looooooove cheese, too. Seriously, I chose voluntary electroconvulsive therapy over lithium and refused to take any of the tricyclic antidepressants based on their anti-cheese thang. My life was depressing enough with cheese, how much worse would it be after?! That was a horror I did NOT want to contemplate.

In case you were wondering that my opinion was biased, it turns out that Sarah has been nominated for the Good Stuff people’s choice award over at Frankie, if you want to check out more of Sarah’s work and vote etc., then click on here.

I’ve had a couple of litmag triumphs too – Concrete Queers continue to like the poetry I lovingly fling at them, and accepted a poem of mine called ‘stationary objects’. I’ve been submitting regularly to CQ, and they’ve helped me develop a habit where I write from an emotionally and mentally healthy space, and can edit and rewrite and it doesn’t have to mean my health deteriorating (though please do note that when the poem does appear in their ‘milestones’ issue, it does discuss self-injury – a practice I can honestly say is now in the distant past).

A particular right-wing smegma stain was extremely mean to one of the CQ founders, grrrrr, probably because they won People’s Choice at Vic Premier’s Literary Awards for 2018 – how awesome is that?! Ida was one of the few books I saved for fun reading before bedtime last year, and I remember once finished that it could’ve kept going! Young adult lit is kicking mega-arse these days, and you can still read it as an older adult! No, really – do.

The second triumph is that Rabbit Poetry Journal accepted a poem that genuinely began as a joke-romantic conversation to former lover – it’s now called ‘Coimetrophilia’ and it will appear in the Queer issue 25. Chuffed doesn’t begin to cover how I feel! I hugged my cat/coworker a LOT. A lot of its acceptance is thanks to the Quippings crew who again helped me develop more confidence about being a performer and a writer.

I recently read and discussed Rabbit’s ‘Indigenous’ issue here, for last week’s post. It’s been great to read older issues of litmags lately. When I was really unwell, the sheer amount of talent of the people getting published used to make me feel guilty for not trying harder to write more, submit more, and not be producing better work. I know – it’s not a useful mindset…but depression and anxiety don’t listen to reason? It’s been great that this they have been listening more to me when I say, “no, hang on, it’s bedtime now” or “hey, if you’re feeling crap, drinking booze is not going to help – go cuddle Fance or something.” It’s also been ace that those strategies have been working too.