Hello, World!

A portrait of the writer as a young clown

I’ve been learning to code for the past 3 months – nothing major, nothing spectacular. But now I know that the utterly simple exclamation of Hello, World! is enough to induct a newbie into the world of programming. I’m saying this now because I realise I’ve never really spoken to any of you directly – ever – but here you are: still and unflinching, dark and mysterious. You fascinate me. I recently started an internship producing radio at the ABC, and my presenter says that word a lot – this is fascinating, it’s great to talk to you.

So, then. Who are you? How are you going? Do you have any pets? A cat or a dog or a gecko?

I’m opening up to you in hopes this rambling display of openness and trust will inspire some back-and-forth. Tonight I spoke to a curator at a museum for the morbid, last week to a woman directing the Future Library art project, the week before that to a neuroscientist. I like talking with people, so it’s probably time I start a conversation on here. Here, where my teenage writing matures. Where the evidence of my evolution sits under glass.

These are the coordinates of my life right now, as it stands: I hurt my ankle a few weeks back tumbling, and I’ve been staying up until 6.00am for the Olympic gymnastics – all the while wishing I could jump again. I still prefer sunsets over sunrises. I’m in the final hour of the audiobook The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. I’ve got the business card of a NASA engineer sitting in front of me on my desk, next to my lapel pins shaped like stars. It’s 1.04am and I have an important email to send in the morning. I’m in my final semester of university. There’s a new This American Life episode waiting for me, but I can’t bring myself to listen to anything titled My Summer Self while I’m still wearing finger-less gloves. I ordered six second-hand Ray Bradbury paperbacks this afternoon. I still don’t know if writing things down is helpful for me or for anyone else. I’m going to sit in the sun tomorrow and listen to Neutral Milk Hotel and the soundtrack to In the Heights. I’m not going to check this for spelling errors.

My reasoning behind all of these sentences of admittance, is an intersection of occurrences. Last night I wrote a poem to my favourite author, who I’ve posthumously adopted as an unwitting mentor. I don’t think it made sense, not unless you’re someone who is well-versed in Fahrenheit 451 trivia or the tales of Dandelion Wine. But when I posted it on here, on my scribbled home, it got half a dozen likes. I wonder too much – too much not to ask – whether anyone actually reads anything on here. I need to know if you have, and I truly want to know what you think.

This is an offering – a short but concise map to my life right now. It’s a gesture. I’m letting you know that you have access to parts of my life, the same as you do my writing. And to let you know that it would be great to talk to you about fascinating things.

 

Journal Series #2

Am I, in actual fact, just a freeloading hippie who only thinks the things I think, does the things I do, because I don’t have a paying job? I feel very much like I don’t have a right to claim hard work. I don’t work in a shop or a bar. I don’t get a paycheck. I’ve never in my life had a work roster or been a part of a tedious schedule. So how can I know if I’m working hard? I’ve got nothing to compare it to.

I keep telling myself, “Oh rad, you made your word count and answered all those emails…now how about you get a job? Huh? Let’s see how your extracurricular hard work goes then!”

Two speeches: Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art and Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking  (their child is gonna be fucking awesome at speech giving). In Amanda’s speech she explains how cutting it was when other people told her to GET A JOB, the shame that came along with it, and that voice in every creators head that AGREES with them.

In Neil’s speech (yes we are on first name basis) he talks about the Fraud Police, and the feeling you get after you make something successful. Because a lot of the time art comes out of nowhere, out of our heads, and getting rewarded for that can be hard to justify in a world so critical of it.

But really, my point is…it’s all well and good for them to feel/have felt/still feel this way, but they’re super-duper famous now. They earn money. How do you fend off the guilt when you don’t?

I tell myself “I’m a student!” but in less than a year I won’t be. I’ll have to start ticking the little unemployed box instead of the sophisticated, student box. I’ll feel sad instead of scholarly. WHERE THE HELL AM I GONNA GO COME SEPTEMBER?

Really, my dream would be to: get a job in a newsroom, leave my teen years behind having never worked in retail/fast-food/groceries, be awesome, rule the world. Can I do that? Or will I need to know how to pour drinks and fold t-shirts? (And I’m not banging those skills, I feel genuinely ill-equipped.) If I bomb out, I don’t even have general skills to fall back on.

“Yes, I sure can interview, write, and edit a news package in a day! Wait, what? The drinks need to go where?”

My life is that bridge scene in the new Star Wars film, and I am Han Solo. Kylo Ren, you are my inadequate resume.

I’m also Daniel Radcliffe that time he worked as a receptionist for a prank. I’m a tiny artistic child who grew up in a wonderful, privileged, magical world – and graduation is around the corner.

Writing is supposed to calm me down, but I can feel my heartbeat in my hands. Cool.

Game plan: offer up my labor for free – whore myself out to anyone who’ll take an intern (I do NOT like using that word. What’s a better one…hand myself out? I’m sorry, I just wanted to be explicit), hope that all the volunteer work WORKS, cross my fingers and toes. Put up one of those motivational posters to keep me out of The Pit of Despair.

 

Commuter Series

#1

The bus pushed forward, lurching the man into a jog – down the runway, up the steps, before he fell into the seat in front of me. He threw his bag of groceries at the quiet Asian man in the window seat. The man fumbled with the plastic bags as they crinkled in his lap.

“Hey,” the new passenger said, breathless as he yanked off his overcoat.

The man in the window seat mumbled with an accent. It was like trying to read long, scrawling handwriting. All I know is he asked a lot of questions. I had the feeling they’d been asked before, and he was just repeating them for the sake of conversation.

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Grey, Black, and Blue

GREY

As I got older, storms got quieter. When I was small the cracks of thunder pierced through my rose-coloured world in a whip of fantastical fear. Now the rain just gets in my socks.

In the middle of my teenage years a friend and I camped at Esperance, on top of a hill. Her dad – a man who shaved his head by choice – drove us in his polished four-wheeler.

The town was tiny. It stretched across the south coast of Western Australia by way of dirt trails, rock pools, and water that reflected the world – and your peering face – in tinges of blue.

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Journal Series #1

Heisenberg says everything is uncertain. Heisenberg, you make me want to cry.

Nothing in front of me feels like it should; like ink and paper. It’s just words staring back and blinking at me like stars. Can we forget the world and just have words and stars, blinking at each other instead of at us? I don’t think the stars like what they see. The words definitely don’t like what we have to say. We’re sandwiched between resentment and it trickles through us – guilt, that tickling drop running down our spines.That comes from the stars. We think we can get rid of it by writing, but the words throw it back at us till it’s tears. The best we can do is cry onto the page and smudge the ink.

The solidarity between us and the words – us and the stars – is that we want us gone too. The burden we are on ourselves is mirrored in potted ink and night skies. We’re poison to anyone who sees us. Our punishment is that we see ourselves too. And the death we bring is slow and self-inflicted.

Everything is uncertain except our future. That’s a prophecy. I can’t believe we go for that bullshit. I can’t believe we’re destroying ourselves the way we were expected to. There’s so much more we could be doing. We could get rid of the clocks and study science. We could learn about melanin, and culture. Appreciation and evolution. Meaninglessness and Schrodinger’s cat. We could learn about the stars that hate us. We could start writing our apology and hope the words don’t turn on us.

A Conversation with Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is one of my all time favourite writers, and he became one of my favourites solely through his writing. For me, living in Internet Land as I do, the writer and the writing aren’t necessarily separate.

Neil Gaiman, Jack Kerouac, John Green, have all been at the top of my imaginary list at some point, and I’m not sure whether I like them more as writers or more as people. As a teenager I grew up on vlogbrothers, and before I even opened one of John’s books I looked up to him enormously. Later in high school I read Gaiman and Kerouac, and I listened to them both. If you’ve ever heard either of them speak, you’ll know they’re great readers. Kerouac’s mythical history, complicated image, and voice like a 1950s heartthrob, gave something extra to all his books and poems. Neil Gaiman’s voice played in my head when I read his books. His narrative voice is bloody great, and he has an online presence that I appreciate. I’ve probably watched more of his interviews, and Conversations with Neil Gaiman’s, than his books (I’m working on it).

On the other hand, I picked up Ray Bradbury when I was 16 and knew nothing about him. Actually, John Green was the one who inadvertently led to the meeting. The vlogbrothers used to do book clubs, and Fahrenheit 451 was the only one I was ever a part of. It was maybe the first classic book I’d voluntarily read. I didn’t even know it was a classic, I just knew the vlogbrothers were talking about it so it must be good. I’ve reread it every year since.

But I hadn’t really looked up Ray Bradbury outside his writing and a few stray quotes. I hadn’t watched interviews or listened to him read. I don’t know, maybe his writing just spoke for itself? I’m not kidding when I say this video, which I watched freaking yesterday, is my first look at what he was like behind the page. This is exactly who I’d expect to be behind The Veldt and Zero Hour. He’s like Santa Claus from Mars.

(Watch John and Hank talk about Fahrenheit 451)