Confessions of a part-timer, chapter IV, Friday 28 September 2018

Lobsters might be my new favourite animal.

I love elephants because their society is run by matriarchs, their emotions are deep-etched and fill the shallow-trenches of their skin, and in times of drought they dig with their tusks into the cracking ground, which means other animals on the plain can drink, too. When I think of elephants, I think of my mummykins. She’s excellent.

But lobsters, I mean, every man for himself. And you’ve got to respect that because lobsters were around before the dinosaurs. They’ve been here for 350 million years. They’ve seen it all. Well, they’ve seen it all on their patches of detritus. Very territorial, old man Lobster – knows every nook in his crack of the ocean floor.

If I were a wide-boy lobster and some scientist dropped me a few streets down underwater town and I needed to find myself a new crib, I’d be scurrying around – frantic – looking for the flashiest hole where the sexiest lady lobsters shimmy by and the best food swims around my stoop and the most succulent molluscs squelch about – the Toorak road of the deep blue sea, let’s say.  Then, by G-D’s good graces I happen on just the place to lay my hat – I’ve got my pincers clacking, my antennae shaking like Bez with his maracas at the Hacienda.

Then BAM! Old man Luther Lobster gets back from brunch.

From where I’m reclining in my new hole, I don’t know Luther from Bruiser, so I need to clack at him a bit, then release my sensor fog (don’t know what it’s called exactly but I seem to have it ready to spray from under my eyes which I find handy), and once released, my fog chemical tells me how big this bloke is, whether he’s been eating his crustacean and two veg, the cut of his jib. In short, how likely he is to deck me. Like I said, handy.

Now I’m a wideboy, remember, and I was number 3 in my previous ends so I’m cocky and I’m new here so I’m thinking even though he’s a bit bigger, he’s healthier, he’s clearly the governor around here, I’ll give it a good stab. And this is a really nice house—I’ll be honest,  I’m reluctant to let it go.

So, after a bit of running at each other, I put my dukes up and I’m clacking now like bloody murder. I’m on the verge of cramp or even repetitive strain injury in my claws; I’ve got my tail in play, I’m launching at him. Basically, he’s done for.

Crab! I got a pincer in my fleshy bit. Oh G-D it stings. Jeez, he’s coming at me good. Oh yes, the food around here must definitely be the best, he’s got some gas in him. OK, that’s it, you’ve hurt me good and proper. I’ve seen red. I’m furious. That’s it, Luther, you’ve had it mate.

In the sand cloud I can see only blur and thrashing, and the swoshing of the water is messing with my balance but oh! Pop! Something. Is it mine? Have my eyes popped out? Not sure. The resistance on the other side has started to sag, though.

I’m holding one of his joints. I’m not sure which. Ha! He’s run away! Yeah, mate. Don’t let the doorless cave slap you on the arse on the way out.

Poor bugger. I feel bad for him. His brain’s going to dissolve before he even finds himself a new place to live. Honest to G-D. Us lobster folk, we cannot live with ourselves if someone of lower status beats us. We need to recreate a more subservient brain.

Those be the facts. Innit? Lobsters love a good hierarchy, they do.

Confessions of a part-timer, Chapter III, Sunday 9 September 2018

‘Don’t be a mard arse.’

It’s what my Mum and Dad and Aunty used to say to me when I was whining about being left behind on Holme Avenue by my cousins, during a game of man hunt, because I couldn’t run fast enough from Old Man Tanner (real name withheld even though he can’t get me in Australia). Or whinging because of the perceived slight served by Ben who’d cheated at kerby (or won fair and square), and/or crying because of the femur-length friction burn resultant of Michael driving me down the stairs on his toy quad bike to get me to stop with the incessant bossiness.

I was reading a post from a very talented artist last night who talked about the overwhelming social pressure to find your passion and that finding purpose is messing people’s heads up. Don’t get me wrong, I like the sentiment – the intent is kind and reassuring. I hearted the post, even. But on the other hand, I now question whether I liked it because I feel pressured to dedicate significant amounts of my time to the thing I’ve publicly declared my passion, and I sometimes resent that pressure because it’d just be easier to do nothing at the weekend.

Months ago now, I got really angry when Chris told me how it was. I was being a mard arse. Actually, I was being lazy and then whining about the creative struggle and how hard it is to split my time up between making money and my art and blah, blah, blah. Like I said already, I got proper angry. Because lazy is something I dislike in people because I dislike it (and ignore it) in myself. And then I got upset because I couldn’t ignore it and I needed to get back up off my arse and back to it.

We can be too soft with one another sometimes. We’re basically giving the people we care about most – all with their own things they love to do – an excuse to do something easier instead. Making them feel like there’s no expectation, when there is.

Setting a standard to push towards isn’t a bad thing, is it? It seems to me that the creative process only comes alive for me when there’s some form of accountability. So, are social pressure and accountability the same thing? Without that creative tension, maybe the words I come out with would be liked stewed sprouts (no butter, no salt, no bacon). Maybe they’re still sprouts but more on the al dente side.

Social pressure is where my creativity lives, I think. Maybe. Where the ideas come from. Social pressure gets me to think more, ask questions. Dig a bit, think a bit, ruminate.

I liked the post. I thought ‘hear, hear!’ Then it got me thinking about what was wrong with it. When I write, I think about opposites, arguments, the parts in characters that are completely contradictory. And I might not get there if I didn’t have something to reel against.

But it can be toxic – no doubt about it. And that’s what the artist was really talking about, I reckon. Pressure in a social context – the non-toxic kind, though, might be central to the artistic endeavour.  Without doubt, I’ve taken the post literally. And it serves my purpose, of course. But I’m saying that pressure itself isn’t a bad thing. It’s a catalyst or something, I don’t know…

As my husband, I want Chris to want me to do the best I can. When I’m going through actual turmoil, he’ll just listen. But also, he’ll call me out on being a mard arse when I’m whining because the thing I love to do is hard.

Don’t be a mard arse, Aimee Coleman.

 

Confessions of a part-timer, Wednesday 22 August 2018

 I’m trying to be professional about this part-timing. On Tuesday night – two Tuesdays in a row now – I write myself a to-do list so I don’t wake up, get stage fright and end up back at my desk volunteering for the day.  Today’s list bulleted a number of activities: listen to Nelson Mandela’s autobiography (audio book), write five hundred words, watch   a tiny desk concert  , go to the gym, write blog, prepare dinner for Rosie coming around  First things first, you understand.  I’m ritualistic about my porridge. From the pantry to the worktop, I fold my arms around the ingredients clustered together for the morning sweep: oats of course, peanut butter, pepitas, sunflower seeds, chia seeds. I grab the bananas from the shelf next to the window where they’re perched freestyle outside the constraints of a fruit bowl. The blueberries go in at the last minute. A dusting of cinnamon. What can I say, porridge sets me up for the day.  Fed and watered, I sat down to write in this notebook – I like to start with a pen and paper because I read somewhere that writing manually triggers the bits in the brain in charge of creativity and memory. Science and that. Plus, this notebook is my talisman, my lucky charm, it has every idea I’ve had in the last four years sprayed on its pages (and they wouldn’t let me insure it with the rest of our home contents).  Anyway, when I opened my notebook, it wasn’t at the nice crisp blank page, it was an already soiled one – soiled with a couple of half-arsed verses I must have felt compelled to write down some months ago but lost the gusto for it and just let it be.  Started talking to me, didn’t it? Preaching actually.  I didn’t even want to write a poem and I really didn’t want to be messing with a broken old rust-riddled frame of one. Plus it wasn't on the list I don’t know how to go about explaining the process without sounding totally bat-shit, but fuck-it, if you don’t know by now, there’s no hope for either of us.  Sometimes these things just jump out. Poems, phrases, stories, I mean. This one had the start of a beat. One thick-skinned drum but certainly no percussion. Sometimes I dump ideas down and I can see even as the ink is rising from the paper that it has no life in it but I finish out the line and I leave it. Sometimes I write down sentences I’ve carried with me from the morning commute or the image I’ve recalled from a dream. It’s the latter that are the ones worth revisiting like an old street you strolled through when the sky was piercing blue and blossom blew balletic across the concrete.  I didn’t want to write a poem. I wanted to write five hundred words of my novel – a flashback to a ghost story. That’s what I had planned on Tuesday night’s post-it note. But it just wouldn’t let me get on. It’s like when you used to go past the kitchen to look in the fridge before you had to do a project and your little brother goes: ‘Please can you help me with this? I don’t know what this means. I can’t do it and I’m going to get done,’ or he just wants you to play. He’s a pain in the arse but you just can’t say no and you know it’s going to be fun.  So, what happened was: I listened to the bang… tap, tap, tap… bang… tap, tap, tap; and I faffed around with it for a couple of hours and now I have a poem that’s much better. I made it for you. It's called   The sun of a preacher

I’m trying to be professional about this part-timing. On Tuesday night – two Tuesdays in a row now – I write myself a to-do list so I don’t wake up, get stage fright and end up back at my desk volunteering for the day.

Today’s list bulleted a number of activities: listen to Nelson Mandela’s autobiography (audio book), write five hundred words, watch a tiny desk concert, go to the gym, write blog, prepare dinner for Rosie coming around

First things first, you understand.

I’m ritualistic about my porridge. From the pantry to the worktop, I fold my arms around the ingredients clustered together for the morning sweep: oats of course, peanut butter, pepitas, sunflower seeds, chia seeds. I grab the bananas from the shelf next to the window where they’re perched freestyle outside the constraints of a fruit bowl. The blueberries go in at the last minute. A dusting of cinnamon. What can I say, porridge sets me up for the day.

Fed and watered, I sat down to write in this notebook – I like to start with a pen and paper because I read somewhere that writing manually triggers the bits in the brain in charge of creativity and memory. Science and that. Plus, this notebook is my talisman, my lucky charm, it has every idea I’ve had in the last four years sprayed on its pages (and they wouldn’t let me insure it with the rest of our home contents).

Anyway, when I opened my notebook, it wasn’t at the nice crisp blank page, it was an already soiled one – soiled with a couple of half-arsed verses I must have felt compelled to write down some months ago but lost the gusto for it and just let it be.

Started talking to me, didn’t it? Preaching actually.

I didn’t even want to write a poem and I really didn’t want to be messing with a broken old rust-riddled frame of one. Plus it wasn't on the list I don’t know how to go about explaining the process without sounding totally bat-shit, but fuck-it, if you don’t know by now, there’s no hope for either of us.

Sometimes these things just jump out. Poems, phrases, stories, I mean. This one had the start of a beat. One thick-skinned drum but certainly no percussion. Sometimes I dump ideas down and I can see even as the ink is rising from the paper that it has no life in it but I finish out the line and I leave it. Sometimes I write down sentences I’ve carried with me from the morning commute or the image I’ve recalled from a dream. It’s the latter that are the ones worth revisiting like an old street you strolled through when the sky was piercing blue and blossom blew balletic across the concrete.

I didn’t want to write a poem. I wanted to write five hundred words of my novel – a flashback to a ghost story. That’s what I had planned on Tuesday night’s post-it note. But it just wouldn’t let me get on. It’s like when you used to go past the kitchen to look in the fridge before you had to do a project and your little brother goes: ‘Please can you help me with this? I don’t know what this means. I can’t do it and I’m going to get done,’ or he just wants you to play. He’s a pain in the arse but you just can’t say no and you know it’s going to be fun.

So, what happened was: I listened to the bang… tap, tap, tap… bang… tap, tap, tap; and I faffed around with it for a couple of hours and now I have a poem that’s much better. I made it for you. It's called The sun of a preacher

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Confessions of a part-timer, Wednesday 15 August 2018

‘Aren’t you a writer now?’ She asks brightly.

‘Yes, yes I am,’ I say, and at the same time, I clip myself around my own ear-hole for not being folded over my phone on my commute to the esplanade. It was the sun you see, it was just watching as the clouds fled like a pack of colourful runners bunched up at the front and thinning out towards the end where the pace peeled off. They distracted me, and she seized.

‘Changed your mind, did you then?’ The way she says ‘then’ makes me drag a breath from my feet. She’s rolled a little curiosity grenade at me and it’s metamorphosed; it sits licking my boot like a teeny tiny kitten at a military themed fancy dress party. This kitty’s come as a little hand grenade purse and I can just make out a slogan beneath the serial number: curiosity killed me.

‘No, I just—' I’m confused because I think I know what she’s getting at, but I need her to clarify before I line out my defence. She’s done this dance before; she sees it: my enquiry.

‘’Cause I thought you said you were going to do it full-time and then Sam said she saw you at her meeting the other day.’

‘Yeah, Sam, that’s right, I did, yeah. That was really weird. She’s my friend’s direct report, bizarrely.’ I think I’m effervescent now.

‘Your post on Insta was great by the way, really inspiring! Thought about doing something else myself. But…’ There is a head tilt. It’s not my imagination. Or neuroses.

‘Yeah… It’s just… errr… well it’s my long-term plan. I’ll get there.’ I’m not sure what I’m trying to achieve here but I’m definitely looking up at the cracking sound – the man flicking out his towel on the balcony up there.

‘Ha! Yeah, it’s difficult making money from your hobby, isn’t it?’

Hobby. I fucking hate that word. When she says it, the other version of me in the infinity continuum (with all the Shakespeare monkeys and infinite iterations of plant-based curry) – catches the fallen towel with my ham-fist as it glides from its rail and now I’m chewing on the chalky corner of it. I probably look like I’m disguising a yawn.

‘I mean it’s not just—’ Why does my voice sound so mousy?

‘Mmmm. Good luck anyways, we should catch up for coffee soon. I’d love to hear all about it.’ Her eyes steer the rest of her body away from me.

‘Oh fuck off.’

Confessions of a part-timer, Wednesday 15 August 2018.

You know I’m a nutter, right? You know I make all this shit up in my head, don’t you? This dialogue didn’t really happen. Well it did. But just in my head. I made it. I’m dead creative, me.

This is the next chapter of my blog. It’s the confessions of a part-timer. It’s just about me part-timing. Doing a bit of work. Doing a bit of writing.

If you saw my Adventures of a part-timer Instagram post, you’ll already know that in my family, part-timing is synonymous with being a workshy little bleeder. Like I said, nasty business: the part-timer part-timing. It’s time to confess.