The last few months in pictures

Coming from the desert, Melbourne city was a strange landscape.

I looked up a lot and sometimes felt like I was visiting from some other planet.

Melbourne Federation Bells

Melbourne CBD

St Kilda, Melbourne

Melbourne Birrarung Marr

Melbourne city

Melbourne Suburbs

When I left the city I stashed my dress up boxes in my friends garage and put the rest of my life in the boot of my car.

I drove onto a boat and woke up in Tasmania. It was wild and wet and windy and cold and green. I had forgotten about things like frost and fog. I went to a rainforest and looked down a lot at little things.

tasmania mushrooms

rainforest mushrooms

IMG_0381

Ducks

IMG_0276

sunset tasmania

Then I unpacked my books, hung up my hat and stuck up my photos on the walls of rooms in 4 other states and 3 more timezones. I went to the desert and the city and ended up camping on an island where there were turtles and birds.

Sometimes I snorkelled and looked down at the whole other world down there.

Snorkelling, Great Barrier Reef

turtle tracks

Beach sunset great barrier reef

I stared at sunsets until my mind went blank and I had no thoughts.

It’s Good To Get Out Of The House

My very dear but neglected readers,

I’m playing catch up on a few Methods of Meeting Melbourne Men that I investigated before I left to gallivant around this great country of ours. While my travels yielded nary a date to report on I’ll share some pictures soon. Until then, please do accept my sincere apologies for my absence and I hope you enjoy this one about the time I went to a Singles Mingle.

Fond Regards,

-DD

Upon arrival at an inner city Melbourne pretentious cocktail lounge I’m given half a playing card (when I find the man with the other half we both get a free shot at the bar!), shown to the ‘wine tastings’ area (free champagne!), the tarot card reader (good conversation topic!), the ‘icebreaker conversation topics’ on all the bar tables (good for a laugh!) and then left alone in a small room with about 50 men and a handful of women. No entry fee + complimentary drinks + 5 men to every woman = Singles Mingle = most economically sound of all the contrived dating events!

“Do I need to keep doing shit like this?” I ask the tarot card reader. She smiles, “Probably not,’ she replied, ‘but you’re a huntress, you won’t just sit on your laurels. Besides, it’s good to get out of the house.”

I was just about to go get back into my house when in walks a total babe. A teacher. English. Intelligent. Funny. We talk for 45 minutes and I catch him undressing me with his eyes a few times. It’s the blue dress. Works every time.

The Akubra might be a bit much for a first/second date, so I wear a more feminine pale blue hat to meet my Proper English Gentleman (PEG) in the sunny Treasury Gardens the very next day. Delightful date – dappled shade, ducks, Frosty Fruits, the whole shebang. When we part (after two hours!) I go for the lips but the PEG goes for the cheek.

The following week, the PEG texts me drunk and out of town. Those saucy texts make it impossible to concentrate in yoga. I send sauce back, secretly loving being bold again.

On our third date the PEG meets me in a Panama hat (so good!) in Fed Square. How did I not notice his tanned and muscular forearms before? I keep having to resist the urge to touch him. After we leave the art gallery he says “Next time we’ll do this dating thing properly, like at night, with drinks.” That night I scrawl in my journal – WHEN WILL WE PASH?

I start wondering if people are like busses, if you get off one, will another one come along soon enough? Is the concept of soul mates kind of ridic? That there’s just one person meant for you and you’re just meant to stumble into each other somehow, somewhere in the world? Maybe people just settle? Do we just need to do what our parents do, just like each other MOST of the time, the rest- you just make it work? Speaking of parents, do we all just seek out versions of our fathers? This English gentleman is a Springsteen fan, loves cricket and is a teacher.

A week later I go to another Singles Mingle. Despite the fact that I went to pick up men that aren’t him, he comes along when I text him to say I’m out. We have a surprisingly good boogie on a carpeted dance floor. The music turns shit so I share a few of my favourite dance floor tips – pick someone and copy their dance moves without them knowing, if you hate the song then either pretend it’s your favourite song ever and go nuts, or just find the one person who does absolutely love it and dance with them during ‘their’ song. Then the music gets unbearably shit. Fast forward a few minutes to the next scene, which takes place in the Bourke Street Mall outside Telstra, waiting for the 96 Tram.

It is approximately 11.30pm. Our heroine (Me) is pashing on with our soon to be anti-hero (The PEG). It’s not a great pash but at least it’s finally occurring. He breaks it off and leans away.

PEG:            Interesting technique you’ve got there.

Me:            Uhhhh, what?

PEG:            It was just interesting.

Me:            Oh. Ummm…

PEG:            I just mean, like, it wasn’t good or bad, just interesting, but it’s OK we can keep kissing. (He looks at his feet.)

Me:             Well now I’m self-conscious! Are you going to be marking me this time? I didn’t know I was doing it wrong!

PEG:            No, no, it’s fine, really

(No one has ever complained or questioned her pashing prowess before. She leans in. They kiss. He breaks it off. Again.)

PEG:            So I told the girls at work about how we went to that art gallery. I really liked doing that, I felt really balanced. I think you’d be good for me.

(Silence for a beat.)

Me:            Do you… not want to kiss me?

PEG:            No! I mean, yes! Of course, but I just…

Me:             It’s like you’d rather talk than be kissing me.

PEG:            No, I mean, it’s practically our fourth date, we should be having sexual intercourse by now or something.

Me:            C’mon, I AM trying to kiss you here!

(A tram arrives. She gets on it. She never contacts him again. The blue dress is hung up underneath a jacket in her wardrobe. It was starting to feel like a costume. The costume of the huntress. She was starting to feel like a fraud. Dating had become less of a hobby and more of a competitive sport. The following week she goes on no less than 5 dates in seven days with men from OK Cupid. They mostly involve pretentious cocktail bars and are all too boring to blog about. She goes to the Pilbara to work for a month.

Upon her return from the desert she accidentally goes on two dates in one night. If both men were combined, they’d make the perfect man, but alone, they are deficient. One short, fit, blonde, clean shaven, shy, art history/philosophy majoring serious ex-boxer masseuse, and one tall, pot bellied, brown haired, bearded, confident, funny, construction worker. She goes on a second date with the ex-boxer, to which she is 48 minutes late. He doesn’t mind, cooks her a delicious risotto and kisses her. The kiss is OK, but not amazing. She can imagine sleeping with him, but she can’t imagine being his girlfriend. She finds that her laughter isn’t real, it’s only polite. She pictures the confused looks on her friends’ faces if she invited him to a group camping trip. ‘He’s just so not YOU,’ they’d say.

She goes dancing with Tent Guy and another guy she used to fancy and she has a really great time. They’re great guys. Just because they don’t want to date her doesn’t mean they aren’t really fun, interesting, lovely guys.

She starts a part time job and a part time internship. She has less time to trawl OKCupid, and her Melbourne friends have less evenings to spend away from their sports teams, houses, spouses and babies.

She goes to the theatre alone and sits next to a stranger who happens to be a babe. They eat dinner together after the show and she goes around to his house for soup the next week. He’s a bit young, but they have great conversations. She decides she IS in the market for friends after all. She’d previously decreed that she wasn’t interested in having boys as friends. It was boyfriends or nothing. But it’s possible to find friends and look for lovers at the same time.

Towards the latter aim, she signs up for ‘Silent Speed Dating,’ to ‘learn to connect by looking into each others eyes and reading frequencies.’ She wonders what to wear to such an event. She wonders if it would be the last of the contrived dating events she’d be willing to try, if it’s the very last Method of Meeting Men in Melbourne…)

We Are All In This Together

Tonight I saw Ben Lee play live almost ten years after his album ‘Awake Is The New Sleep’ was my best friend for a while.

If

I wanted to write about that year I could write about lugging a backpack and Polish map,

Or about riding a white horse bareback at sunset over a distant desert where there are cathedrals in caves.

I could write about wet cobblestone lanes or walled cities hiding sunlit flag dancers,

About reading books on long bus trips and sleeping on train platforms watching snowflakes fall as big as my palm.

I could write about gyros and gelato and pastries,

About islands and olive farms and death camps and castles and village squares and mountains.

Or

I could write about writing initials in the snow on top of a volcano,

Or about throwing a ring into the ocean off the back of a boat,

Or about softly sobbing to strangers in internet cafes,

Or about meeting by moonlight near a bridge,

Or about the longest night of my life,

Spent huddled in a hallway of a hostel with my headphones jammed in my ears blocking out the dorm room sex and the sound of my own hurting heart and racing brain by playing this song on repeat and writing down every single lyric until the sun came up and tear stained I faced that day until something deep down maybe somewhere in my stomach said ‘NO!’ and I listened.

But

That was all nearly ten years ago.

I’ve told that story many times.

So

Tonight when with nothing more than a man with strings and wood finally washed those songs I knew so well all over me

Wetness welled up in my eyes without rolling down my face

My whole face was smiling and my chest filled up with deep and contented breaths

I sung as loud as I could along with everyone because

We really are all in this together

 

ben lee live

 

 

 

Orchid

Maybe it’s my catholic upbringing or that semester of semiotics at uni,

 

Or maybe

 

That straight run of green lights when I’m running late to the theatre,

The ding in my car when I hit that letterbox being only minor,

Those Tina Arena lyrics seeming very relevant,

That leaf I found that looked just like it was from The Red Tree,

The chorus kicking in on my iPod as the sun bursts through those clouds as I run,

That hail coming down just minutes after I got the sheets off the line,

My shampoo and laundry detergent running out just before I leave this house,

That pimple near my lip disappearing the day just before the bush dance,

That orchid starting to bloom just outside my bedroom window, that I’d never noticed until now, as I sit waiting for a knock on the door from the boy that I like,

Are all signs from the universe

Telling me that everything’s going to be ok

In fact

It’s probably going to be

Fucken

Rad

 

orchid

Strange and Wonderful

I wrote this a few hours ago while eating blowtorched pineapple salad at The Moat, a low lit restaurant with gold on the walls and dark red carpet. (You see what I did there? Setting the scene. #emerging ) It’s underneath the Wheeler Centre, where for the last hour I’d grinned with recognition as Jack Colwell spoke about the narratives we write and the characters we play through online dating apps and sites. The curation and creation of our online selves as we ‘window shop for soul mates.’

In between awkwardly handing out business cards and scouring each venue for #sexydorks, I learnt a lot at the Emerging Writers Festival.

Last week I discovered Scum Magazine, about honest, average or complicated sex, by people who are still figuring it all out, who offer digestible snippets of familiarity. From Editor Sam George-Allen I learnt how to be ethical, respectful and brutally honest when writing about ordinary, real sex with ordinary, real people.

On the weekend I asked a memoir-focused panel how they knew if their stories were worth telling or if they just lived really boring lives. Liam Pieper said “All Proust ever did was eat a biscuit. Just have a point of difference and write well.” Then I tried to awkwardly pick him up by handing him this business card and walking away:

Business Card

From Felix Nobis I learnt to take writing seriously, to find out how I write best and do it- if its waking up early or long train journeys. I learnt that ‘sex romp’ is an actual literary genre from my potential new idol Krissy Kneen. She also taught me to read ‘up’, read books that are good, that are better, that resonate with your own voice without squashing it. I gave her this business card:

Erotic Poetry. totally a thing

From Benjamin Law I learnt that all writing is vomiting and then cleaning it up, to never do the same job for free twice, to always only take jobs if they tick two of these three boxes: Fun, Interesting, Well Paid. He also said to write with the door closed but edit with it open. Krissy Kneen echoed this, saying ‘When you’re at the desk, fuck everyone else, it’s personal. Write for an audience of one.’ From Zoe Norton Lodge I learnt that to write about other people when they’re part of her story, she just makes herself look worse than anyone else, then she can say whatever she likes, aiming for ‘surprise without malice.’

I unintentionally made myself look worse than anyone, when in the final conference panel aimed at getting to know the audience, I got up on the mic. I planned to rep the ‘unemerged emerging writers’, but ended up proclaiming ‘I got aint got nothing to pimp but myself. I’ve never been published but gentlemen, I am single.’ When asked what my festival highlight was I answered ‘Benjamin Law chuckling at my aspirational business card.’

Lena Dunham and Henry Lawson lowbrow literary lovechild

From total #sexydork Justin Wolfers I learnt that it’s OK to not be ‘techy,’ ‘niche’ or ‘cultural’, that traditional or nostalgic forms (like bush poetry) will go down alright online if they’re good. From Oliver Mol I was reassured that good young writers are coming out of my hometown. From Michelle Law I learnt that we laugh at the truth because there is nothing funnier or more ridiculous than human behaviour, and that if I’m doing something, and I think it’s good,

Just

Keep

Doing it.

I learnt that I probably have enough words and enough points of difference for a book. I learnt that all I really need to do first is just write. Write and fail. Write crap but trust my own good taste to know when it’s crap. To keep on writing. So maybe I will. Maybe at the end of the year I’ll book myself on The Ghan…

Someone at some point said ‘All you can write is what’s true for you.’

From Hannah Kent I learnt to be diligent and industrious, that it will always be hard and I’ll never be ready, so

Just

Start

Now

I learnt that life is strange and wonderful and beautiful and that we are each the authors of our own narratives.

I learnt that if you walk into the most boring conference panel ever and sit next to a man who looks good in leather, 48 hours and a few pages later you may find yourself tucking not a business card, but a hand written love letter into his luggage, before he flies north.

I learnt that even if your mind is full of writing and writers and words your mind may wander and you may wonder what this chapter will be called. One day you may wonder how the story ends but for now, you’re happy to bask in the glow of the last couple of pages, because even if you never write about them,

They really happened

And they were fucking wonderful.

#emerged

The Pilbara

I walk to the water for a more poetic place to weep

Drenched in deet my feet still itch from midgie bites I got last week

The moonlit ocean, the stars above, their romance interrupted

Bright lights, long row of mining boats come for men and iron ore

The silence goes, the hum is low of progress creeping forward

Here where the desert meets the sea, the very edge of the land

I come to stand on tip toe, to be as small as a grain of sand

But my horizon’s been hemmed in by boats that block my great expanse,

I sigh I sit but no tears come,

I hug my knees

I see someone

“Evening,” he nods as he passes, “I won’t interrupt your solitude.”

“Nah you right mate,” I answer, “Plenty of room.”

“Existential crisis?” he sits but not too close.

“Speak for yourself,” I say,

“Just admiring Rio Tinto’s Christmas Lights display”

He chuckles, I grin, the moon’s full, tide’s in

I see the shadows we cast in the sand

I see him peel off his shirt and stand

At the water’s edge he stops

He dives in, I follow until my toes no longer reach the ground

We meet in the deep, treadin water, talkin shit, muckin round

Then I take a deep breath, duck dive down

Up for air nearby “Shut your eyes” I say “I’ve got something for you”

Into his held out hands I place my shorts, shirt, bra and undies too.

Then down I dive again,

Slowly

There is water above me below me all around me maybe this is the closest I can get to flying

I swim to where I can stand with sea all over my skin up to my shoulders

I stand still smiling naked waiting and shivering not from cold as

He swims to me, stands so close I can feel his breath and it’s warm

“Thanks,” his face says to my face, “But they’re not really my size.”

“Where’s my Christmas prezzie then?” I tease, he says “Well close your eyes,”

I stand still smiling naked and shivering wet waiting with my eyes closed when

His lips land on my forehead and stay there and they’re warm,

and I breath in and out

I nudge his neck with my nose, he draws back and kisses the corner of one eye and then the other and his lips on my skin is the softest nicest loveliest thing

I stand still and wet and let him kiss my cheek, my ear then our noses nuzzle

Our eyes closed

Our breath going out and in

Finally I say “Well, is that it?” and instantly his hands hold my face his mouth on mine tasting tongues dancing some kind of push pull tango. My hands grip and pull his warm chest to mine til there is no water left between us. He guides my thighs up and around his waist then down so that the place where I can feel my heart pumping blood the most can feel him harden as our tango quickens.

‘Just float,’ he says and lays me on my back and pulls me gently by the ankles to the shallows, cool water lapping between my legs.

His shoulders now under my knees, then his hands now holding my hips, then his neck now between my thighs.

All the blood in my entire body is drawn down now and my heart is beating faster now, with my hair splayed out in the water and my eyes scrunched shut now, my hands clenched in fists now, I lie there for a million years… then

The universe contracts and expands

Warm cool, hard soft, slow fast, frantic, clumsy, graceful, balanced

Gripped caressed, kissed sucked

Opened held, fondled fucked

Breath whimpering held then breath expelled, moaning loud

Then we collapse in a wet sweaty sandy mess, the only sound

Is the water lapping softly at the sand on which we lie

On our backs we look up at that big expanded sky

It seems so much bigger now, with infinitely more stars

We tell made up stories about how they got where they are

I shed everything and nothing in that big ocean that night

I walked home wet wearing his shirt and his hand held tight

 

2013-02-16-205

Dear Readers,

This’ll be the last of the erotic bush poems for a while. The real-life dating stories will return soon though. Tonight I head off to the very last contrived dating event I may ever go on, purely because it’s the only one I haven’t been to yet. Silent Speed Dating. Apparently this entails non-verbal communication, learning how to ‘read frequencies’ and yoga. It’ll either be amazing, weird, hilarious or all three. I’m also going to be signing up for the only dating site I haven’t tried yet – Tinder. I’m guessing it’ll also be amazing, weird and hilarious. 

Thanks for sticking with me through the little literary experiment that is erotic bush poetry.

Hope y’all are gettin’ some,

-DD

Gillen

Dear Readers,

Here’s a little bit of raunch for your Wednesday (hump day, eh?) afternoon. Considering I’m such a prude in ‘real’ life, this is about as explicit as I’m gunna get. So small children and grandmothers (How on earth did you end up here? Welcome! But srsly, go to bed!) perhaps skip this one, or read the slightly censored extended version here

-DD

Mt Gillen, from ANZAC Hill

Mount Gillen

The low growl of the only Harley in town winds its way up Anzac Hill. Teenagers make out in their parents cars. Tourists shuffle out of caravans, their enormous zoom lenses drawn to the sun fading over Mount Gillen.

‘I’m the one in the red dress’ she texts.

‘I’ll be the one with the motorbike helmet’ he replies.

He gives her gold earrings and he looks good in leather. On the other side of the river, the Casino’s only place left open to eat, so over the trill of pokies and under fluoro lights they talk softly of Sufism, books and bikes.

Second date, suburban share house in the shadow of the mountain. From scratch, he cooks her butter chicken. In a conversation lull they kiss. His lips are wet and don’t move much but it’s been nearly two years since anyone touched her naked body so she goes wandering with her hands. To the back of his neck, his shoulders, his chest then moves both her hands slowly up his thighs.

He grabs her hands and leads her to a single mattress on a floor covered in clothes and junk. There’s no music, just him suckling and calling her ‘Sweetie.’ Not her name, not even babe, but sweetie. She pushes pictures of her grannie from her head as she fumbles with the condom on his tiny flaccid prick.

He removes her hands and masturbates, says he can go all night. She gets on her hands and knees, eyes shut. He holds his shame in one hand and her hips in the other. His hips begin to bump against her arse and she says the three little words no man ever wants to hear from any woman he’s trying to fuck: is it in?

The bumping goes on and after a while he says the three little words no woman ever wants to hear from any man she’s already regretting fucking: I love you.

She shuts her eyes and groans and grips the sheets then convulses and collapses as convincingly as possible. She peels him off. She drives home. She sees him for lunch the next day so she doesn’t seem so shallow as to dump a man for being a dud root. She mourns the nice beanie she left at his house then logs back in online, search criteria: must be male, must live within 500 kilometers of Alice Springs.