I wasn’t prepared for winter when it came. I was confused, living with more questions than answers, and didn’t own nearly enough jumpers. I went to the psychic in April. Her office was on King St (a Sydney street that can only be described as alive, all hours of the day), up a set of stairs, warm. I knocked my knees on the low table between us, upsetting the cards, and she apologised. The session was recorded for posterity, and because I knew eventually I’d want to compare notes. It was an expensive half hour, but it got me out of my house, and once I was out of my house, it got me out of the rain.
“There’s nothing light about this energy at all,” she said. “But why does it need to be? I think you’re feeling a lot more deeply than you ever have before… and with that comes an awareness that this is a strange place to inhabit.”
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Art by Siobhan Schmidt
Before I left home, I had to have an x-ray. I have a crick in between my ribs, on my left side. Every time I breathe I feel it there. All I wanted was for it to crack, the same way my spine does when I anchor myself on a doorframe and twist. I had to wear a gown and hug myself. Stare at the wall. Listen for the click. My doctor looks younger than he is, and bulk bills me no matter how many times I turn up in his office with questions. He tells me all my bones are where they should be, just one of those things—sit up straight, do some jumping jacks, maybe it will go away—and in passing notes the size of my heart. Small, he says. That’s a good thing.
This is all in an afternoon. The next time I go to the doctors it’s the width of the country away on Hercules St, which I walk down most days. Every time I pass the bakery right before the traffic lights, I look to my left and spot the donut with pink icing that’s always there, wondering when I’ll finally buy it and why. I’m always walking at a pace by then. No time for donuts. A few steps more and I pass a shop with fresh seafood, another with what I assume is duck hanging in the window. Let’s pretend it’s a weekend. I think I like myself better on weekends, when I belong to myself and not the world. I get to leave my street and forget that I’m seen, stuck in my own loop of thoughts instead: choruses, grocery lists, arguments. Mornings are spent with Nat Geo or the radio, a healthy dose of pretention after sunrise. I don’t have to pay attention to the headlines or Twitter. I get to walk down Hercules St, and from there I can go anywhere I like.
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I sat on my bed watching old videos until the sun went down yesterday, over and over until it was dark. My spine digging into the windowsill above my bed, cross-legged on crumpled doonas, I watched shaky footage from back home. I’m standing on a hill, the sky deep blue, the clouds sparse. The Australian bush is beautiful with perspective—far away and up close, but you have to pay attention to see it. It’s right there, in the dip of the hillside. My home city, so small, with only a few skyscrapers standing out as identifiers.
Home is all skies. There are too many to count, sunrises and sunsets, but also blue skies so deep everything is made better by the colour. I imagine what it will be like to be there again. Sitting here in a different city, scanning through memories, all sorted neatly into 2014… 2015… 2016… now. I’m having a hard time figuring out if I miss those people or if I miss those times, and I’m warning myself against nostalgia—I know I shouldn’t, but against my better judgement, I fall into it anyway.
Almost two-hundred metres beneath the France-Switzerland border, physicists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider have observed a new particle. A charming particle. They’ve been on the look-out for him for some time, and now they’ve got him— Xicc++.
The name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but this guy is more than meets the eye. He’s heavy. He’s charming. He’s a subatomic particle, and he’s a real catch. CERN’s particle smasher— based near Geneva, Switzerland— spotted the fellow during the Large Hadron Collider beauty experiment, or the LHCb experiment for short.
Xicc++ is the elusive brother of the proton, neutron, and of a number of other composite subatomic particles. These particles are all a part of the same family, because they’re all made up of three quarks. What are quarks, you ask? Well, let’s dive in.
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Do you ever have those moments where your breathing mutates? Because it happens to me a lot. My breathing turns from a handy automatic function to a process I’m aware of—instead of just breathing, I’m inhaling and exhaling and inhaling and exhaling. My lungs don’t work on their own. I have to force them. If I don’t I’ll collapse. Fall into a heap. But inhaling and exhaling stretches past my lungs, my intercostal muscles, my ribs, and my diaphragm. Wherever I am: brain, nervous system, eyes, nose, ears, mouth, tongue, hands—and whoever I am: human, girl, idiot—that person, trapped in a tangle of matter and limbs, needs to breathe too. I need to inhale the world around me and exhale my own reality.
Sometimes I can breathe OUT a whole heap of stuff, like art, fun science facts, short stories, and point of views, but other times what I really need is to breathe IN. And something what I need to breathe in, is this: Elle Woods strutting into Harvard, kicking butt, and being herself. What I need to breathe in is Legally Blonde.
At the right time Legally Blonde can be like oxygen to me—where oxygen atoms are made up of protons, electrons, and neutrons, Legally Blonde is made of uncompromised belief, unassailable femininity, and one of the best darn example of onscreen Shine Theory—the “I don’t shine if you don’t shine” approach to female friendship—to come out of the early 2000s. For a human-girl-idiot, it’s life-giving.
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In case you thought Jupiter couldn’t get any cooler, a paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research has laid out evidence that solar storms are causing Jupiter’s auroras (think the Northern Lights, the Southern Lights, or that scene from Brother Bear) to brighten by almost eight times their usual brilliance.
The interaction was spotted by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, a telescope orbiting above the Earth to look for X-ray emissions in that big, old universe of ours.
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IMAGE CREDIT: NASA/CXC/UCL/W.Dunn et al, Optical: NASA/STScI
For a long time I misunderstood the chorus of David Bowie’s song Changes – I misheard the lyric “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strange)” for “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strain)” and went on singing and dancing to it in my bedroom at 1AM, fully dressed and fully awake. And I LOVED that misheard lyric – it was about pushing myself out of my comfort zone, wading through mud to get to a better version of myself.
I noticed my mistake after Bowie died, when I pulled my headphones over my ears and listened to the song at full blast. I heard the “ge” and had a little pity party for my belated understanding. There was a physicality to that lyric that I mourned when I learned it wasn’t the right one. According to Google, strain means “to force (a part of one’s body or oneself) to make an unusually great effort” – that’s the type of motivation my masochistic, overworked brain likes to hear!
Continue reading “I Misheard You”