Loveliness

Dearest Readers,

Tomorrow night I go on a seventh date with a total babe.

It will be the most dates I have been on with the same man for quite a long time.

I have a lot of feelings that are hard to describe. Maybe because I’ve had a cup of camomile tea and am listening to classical music by candlelight in an effort to calm my farm. Some potentially adequate words are: bliss, intrigue, joy, untetheredness? I feel wanted and desired and respected and excited and curious and something akin to nervous. Maybe it’s hard to describe because some of these feelings are unfamiliar. Or maybe the feelings change frequently because it’s all so new. Or maybe it’s just hard to concentrate on anything else at the moment.

I’m venturing into potentially unchartered territory here.

Whatever it is that I’m falling into, it feels precious in its infancy.

Wherever it is that I float to in this bubble of daydreams, it feels almost impossible  to tie down and simplify with words.

However it is that this thing grows, the exploration feels increasingly too intimate to share wholeheartedly and respectfully and honestly.

Perhaps the time for trying to understand and describe this thing has not yet come.

Perhaps now is the time for just falling and floating and feeling the feelings.

I think I might pause a little while in writing this particular story, because I don’t yet know how to tell it and because it just doesn’t feel right to keep telling it. It’s still a draft, a work in progress, and I’m not the only one writing it now.

I hope y’all understand. You’ve been so supportive and so patient, reading through so many terrible dates and now they’re finally good ones and I am being all vague and not divulging the delicious details! Please know that I bloody love this little community and am constantly grateful that I get to share shit with you guys and you say nice things. Please know that I’ll continue to share other stories, re-working old stories for storytelling nights and others I haven’t yet written about and trust me I am writing this story down too and will one day share.

Please also know that I am very happy.

With the very kindest of all the regards,

-DD

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Ambition

 

Dear Readers,

I’m so excited to share this with y’all! Here’s the story I told live at The Moth in Melbourne back in January! The story-slam-winning story is here for your listening pleasure!

Yeah! We’re going all AV up in here! It’s a multimedia extravaganza! Now you don’t even have to READ the words of the story, you can just LISTEN to them! 

If you’re in Melbourne and want to WATCH more stories then click here and come along – I guarantee these storytelling nights will restore your faith in the goodness of humankind! For a very low price! 

If you’re not lucky enough to live in the world’s most liveable city but are a Dear Reader from the UK or the US then click here to find out where you can catch some true stories told live. If you are a Dear Reader from any other brilliant pocket of this big ol’ universe you can listen to stories online right here.

I hope you enjoy listening to this as much as I bloody revelled in the utterly thrilling act of telling it! 

With much joy,

-DD

 

Wildness

Number 16 Beach near Rye Victoria Australia

 

What a thing it is to be in a place that is wild.

To stand in front of an ocean that stretches beyond what you can see.

To hear twittering in the scrub and waves.

The exhilaration of the wind that almost rips you open to blow the cobwebs from your bones.

The contentmentof watching cormorants diving in the shallows. The joy of thinking you might have spotted two fins carve the blue further out and then the sheer bloody delight of witnessing a dolphin lift its body out of the water and leap above a wave.

To see little signals, some familiar kelp or intricate sand pattern or smell of a crushed leaf, memories of other wild places you have loved, little reminders that these will always be places your body needs. Your senses crave them. Your soul finds refuge.

Your heart is lifted and your very core simultaneously dances and rests.

 

Things I’ve been thinking about

I am lying on my bed upstairs in my terrace on the phone to a dear friend. I’m reading her the last paragraphs of a chapter called ‘On Darkness’ in Helen Garner’s (bloody brilliant) book ‘All That I See’…

There is no point roaming around looking for comfort, or so I have found. Comfort is like grace. You can’t earn it, or deserve it. You have to thrash on, bearing things as best you can, and hold yourself receptive for the moments when it comes to you of its own accord.

Towards the end of the second Farquharson trial, during breaks in the proceedings when the court was cleared, I used to walk up and down the great bare Victorian corridors of the old Supreme Court, stretching my legs, trying to get the blood moving.

            One day I heard what sounded like music, very faint and far away. I thought I was hallucinating, and kept walking. But every time I passed the entrance to a certain west-running hallway, the same thing would happen: fragile drifts of notes and slow arpeggios, as if a ghost in a curtain-muffled room were playing a piano. I was too embarrassed to ask if anyone else had heard it; was I starting to crack up? But one day when there was no one else around I went in search of it. I found that an intersection of two corridors had been roofed in glass or Perspex. Two benches had been placed against a wall, and from a tiny speaker, fixed high in a corner, came showering these delicious droplets of sound. It was a resting place that some nameless benefactor had created, for people who thought they couldn’t go on.

            One afternoon in a different hallway a lady came out of an unmarked office carrying a flat dish. She saw me sitting waiting in the corridor on my own, and approached, holding the plate out in front of her. ‘Hello. We’ve just had a little party and we’ve got some cakes left over. Would you like a lamington?’

            These random incidents seem so strange to me now, such unexpected moments of blessing, that I wonder if I dreamt them. Dreams do come: the unconscious works in us and for us, unceasing, with its saving complexity and its deep knowingness.

            Sometimes it seems to me that, in the end, the only thing people have got going for them is imagination. At times of great darkness, everything around us becomes symbolic, poetic, archetypal. Perhaps this is what dreaming, and art, are for.

Maybe love is the same as grace or comfort, I say. Maybe you can’t earn it or grasp at it or bloody manifest it, you just have to be “receptive for the moments when it comes to you of its own accord.”

 

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Some days later I am sitting under a tree on the median strip out the front of my house. A few trees up my housemate is stretched out in the afternoon sun reading a book. Sometimes people picnic out here. Sometimes groups of people sit around on milkcrates and drink beer out here, or spread out blankets with glasses of wine and cheeseboards. People walk their dogs. I like city neighbourhoods. I like that cities have had to put space aside for nature and for people to gather in. The nature is manicured sure, but beautifully so. It’s crowded sure, but communally so. Evenings in the public gardens are full of groups of people gathering under trees.

But it’s afternoon on the median strip. I’m sitting under a palm tree talking to an old friend on the phone and pulling up bits of grass with my fingers and mulling over why I’m feeling flat.

Maybe it’s because I’ve put all my eggs in the dating basket. Maybe I need to diversify my investments there to make it less of an emotional roller-coaster. Maybe it’s just that the excited joy of re-joining the dating world in December has now lost it’s initial shine – it’s just a thing I do now. It might be a thing I do for a bit longer than I wanted to. Maybe I just need to get my head around the fact that just because I’ve moved to a city and changed careers and made the big decisions and made the bold moves, doesn’t mean it’s all gunna fall into place for me quickly. Doesn’t mean it’s gunna fall into place at all really – it’s probably statistically more likely to find love here than out bush but it’s still statistically about half and half y’know? I mean, I could be continuously single for another year, two years, another decade. I need to get back to a place where I’m ok with that.

 

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A week later I’m sitting at Carlton Readings, one of the best bookshops in town. I’m 30 minutes early for a talk entitled ‘The Meaning Of Life’ by Patrick Stokes, philosopher and writer, and Zan Boag, editor of the New Philosopher. I turn to the cute dork behind me and make some comment about the lack of chairs and isn’t it lucky we got here early. He blushes and mumbles a response to my question about what brought him here. People tell you to just do the things you’re interested in and you’ll meet like-minded people there. But it’s more complex than that – you’ve gotta continuously go to the same places or the same events, build up acquaintanceships slowly over time whilst gently prodding for their relationship status and testing compatibility. Same thing with the babe who worked at the CERES nursery or the babe at the Buddhist temple I used to meditate in.

My friend arrives and the talk begins. They talk about the unexamined life, about flourishing, about identity just arising from the thing you spend the most time doing. About there not being any one thing that gives a life purpose, not work, family or art or community, just our own proactive belief that that this one thing (be it work or family or whatever specific thing it happens to be for us) is the purpose, this is what ultimately makes it ok and worthwhile, this “answers to the enormity of my existence.” About death giving meaning to life by adding urgency – that each moment could be your last, or it could be the first in a very long life.

The bit that gets me is this term ‘narrativism,’ which is kinda about choice, agency and control. Does everybody have a story and that story gives us meaning? Or is life just one damned thing after another and we just give it meaning in the telling of it? Do we own our own stories, can we control them? Or is everything pre-determined by whatever it is that you believe in – scientific determinism, random coincidence, serendipity, fate, destiny, the universe, karma, God?

Are we the authors of our own stories? No, says Stokes. “We are at best co-authors.”

Co-authors, eh?

 

Afterwards my friend and I eat ridiculously good Italian food at Tiamo’s bistro.

If all I am is a co-author, then I can chill the fuck out a bit about the whole dating thing. I’m not going to completely drop the ball and be a passenger and leave it up to the universe, but I can’t be solely responsible or capable of controlling every element of my life either. So all I can do is all I can do. I can do everything I possibly can, I can make things happen, but in the end, that may not be enough – it’s out of my hands. All I choose is how I respond – with curiosity, with trust, with hope. That isn’t giving up. I can still be open to whatever else the universe decides to throw my way. I can be receptive to when serendipitous shit is happening. 

Before we left the talk the editor of the magazine invited us to write down what we thought the meaning of life was. The best answer would win a copy of the first ever edition of the New Philosopher. I wrote:

The meaning of life is to each day be a slightly less shit human being than the day before.

This was read out to the audience and selected as the winner. (I am now doubly an award-winning author!) (Also – I mean, come on, I won at the meaning of fucking life!) The above sentence is genuinely my philosophy. I want to see life as a moral adventure story, where we just stumble towards being our best selves, along the way actively struggling against the worst of our natures. If that doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs, it’s like old mate Fairlie said, if we all know that we’re all individually at war with ourselves, we can choose to “go to war like warriors do, with zest, valour and even mirth.”

If this has all been a bit too philosophical for you, let me leave you with some seriously serendipitous shit. After the philosophy talk, a total babe with a chequered shirt and a leather satchel gave me his business card. He asked if I’d consider selling it to him so that his library would be complete. After I’d finished reading it of course. I said I would. I might sell it to him for a cup of tea and a philosophical yarn.

I still have that business card in my wallet.

 

 

 

 

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Dear Readers,

Thanks for bearing with that lengthy and rather narrative-less piece. These are things I’ve been thinking about. I’d love to know what you think. Let’s get philosophical! Let’s have the deep chats we always wish we could have on dates but get stuck in small talk! You can comment below anonymously, send me a reply if you’re an email subscriber, or hit me up on the old Facebook.

Meantime, a lot of these ideas were borrowed from better thinkers, so you can read more of their thoughts here if you’d like:

  • Helen Garner’s full essay ‘On Darkness‘ as it appeared in The Monthly
  • Patrick Stokes’ piece ‘Are you just a story?‘ about narrativism as it appeared in the New Philosopher (His ‘A life worth living‘ aint bad either) (also if you like thinking and stories y’all should try the New Philosopher’s sister magazine ‘Womankind‘)
  • The Fairlie quote is from David Brooks’ ‘The Road to Character‘, which kinda changed my life a little. I bang on about it a lot. It’s not a self help book. It’s a book of stories about real people who’ve been summoned by life rather than tried to create their lives, instead of looking inside themselves for answers, have looked outside and sussed out what life was calling them to do. Some of the ideas are summed up in his article ‘The Moral Bucket List.’ I know he has some questionably conservative ideas about other things but I stand by these specific ones. Can also recommend writing your own eulogy. Srsly. 

I’ve had a few interesting dates – a night at the museum and whisky with an Argentinean cowboy – so I’ll update y’all on those soon. Nothing worthy of high-fiving the universe but the dates themselves were enjoyable. This evening I’m off to a pub date with a young Happn bloke and then going to a gig with a single gal pal, because if neither of us are gunna get laid tonight, we might as well spend time with people who will at least ask us questions in bloody conversation y’know? 

Thoughtfully yours,

-DD

Things I have been doing that are not dating

  • Researching the hell out of teaching critical and creative thinking dispositions and submitting the essay last night at 11.59pm
  • Learning about Communities of Inquiry at a Philosophy for Children course
  • Leading some back up dancers for a mate’s music video, following the brief “get dressed up and do weird shit in a field”
  • Giving my bro and his girlfriend the Condensed Best Of Melbourne Tour
  • Playing tennis and having picnics afterwards eating takeaway Moroccan Soup Bar in Edinburgh Gardens
  • Pondering the meaning of life over dinner or on the phone with old mates
  • Tending my pot plants
  • Putting on a nice vintage frock and these ridiculous shoes from my godmother and listening to music and feeling the sun on my face as I wait for the tram to take me to the theatre for a date with myself
  • Thinking big thoughts about love and reconsidering my approach to dating and looking forward to telling y’all about it soon x

How to weep

Dear Readers,

Some get sad on their birthdays. Some find Christmas hard, or weddings, or long weekends or Father’s Day. I get vulnerable around Valentine’s Day. Maybe it’s just me. That marker, yearly. That day of celebrating something I don’t have. I’m 32. I’ve been single for ten years. I know I need to get ok with the idea that I might be single for another ten years. I know that today is just another day and tomorrow will be infinitely better and that really I have a full life that I love, but sometimes it’s ok to just sit with your sadness a little. 

I’ve written before about ways I’ve spent the day in the past, and ideas for how to spend it in future. Yet yesterday I found myself sitting on the kitchen floor weeping to mournful bush ballads. I didn’t really understand why, but it felt good.

So that’s my only advice if you happen to be finding it hard, today or any day, for any reason really: just stop and weep. You don’t need to get back on the horse every day, and all those other fish in the sea can just keep swimming. Even horse-riding fisherwomen have to get off their horses and put down their rods every now and then.  

With gentle regards,

-DD

 

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Sometimes all you need to do

is cry into the washing up.

 

Then get your favourite tumbler

add a dash of your favourite Tasmanian whisky

take it upstairs and put your dressing gown on.

Get out your laptop and load some songs you know will make you cry onto your phone and put it with some headphones into your pocket.

Put a candle and some matches in your other pocket

and with a nice writing notebook and pen in one hand and your whisky in the other

climb out onto the roof.

Grab a pillow to sit on.

 

Put a song on and if tears don’t come you’ll probably think well this is lame it’s late anyway I should just go to bed and it’s cold up here

 

THAT’S OK!

 

You’ve done everything you could!

You’ve created a moment for melancholy!

Trust that it’ll come!

 

Light the candle and leave it and walk over to the edge of the house,

get comfy on that cushion and lean back.

 

Drink some whisky.

 

Look at the moon.

 

Listen to the music.

 

Trust yourself.

 

The tears will come.

 

Let it wash over you.

 

Don’t try and name the feeling or figure out what it is or where it came from or why,

leave those thoughts for later.

 

For now, just trust yourself.

For now, this is what you need-

to weep silently by candlelight with whisky under the moon.

 

 

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The Shortest Date Ever and the Trashy Singles Party

Dear Readers,

I just went on a date that lasted 29 minutes, narrowly beating that first ever online date with the publican which lasted 34 minutes. A new personal best! Some contextual dot points:

  • I think I gave him my number when I was feeling very “cbf talking online, let’s just date” and hence knew very little about him other than that he had a cute face
  • I find competency really attractive. Seeing someone do the thing they are really good at is totally hot. Conversely, when people are not good at things, it’s a major boner killer (you know what’s coming) (spoiler alert, he’s not good at something and I witnessed it in very spectacular fashion)
  • He was late
  • He said “I’m a bit angry because I overslept and have run out of time to do all the things I need to get done today” when I asked how he was.  
  • He is 42
  • He brought his skateboard

All of those things were totally fine. I am always late so I like being the ‘early one’, being self-aware is a great quality, I’m looking to date older men and I used to crush on skateboarders in high school. 

They were all fine until at the 27 minute mark when he went to pay for my green tea and his coffee and he tripped over his own skateboard. In a super loud way that made everyone look. This was also kind of fine, until he returned and said “I’m getting too old for skateboarding, I keep falling off and grazing my elbows.” 

All the aforementioned dot points then combined to not seem fine anymore. Meantime while he’d been gone I’d turned to the woman next to me who was marking a paper on her own and said “This is potentially the worst or weirdest date I’ve been on. May you never have to online date.” To which she laughed, rolled her eyes and replied “You’re doing so well! I couldn’t help but overhear. That skateboard was really the icing on the cake.” 

The solidarity I feel with other single women is truly a wondrous and uplifting thing. I’ve stumbled across some really great new blogs written by other single women who are dating (who I want to share with y’all soon) and last night I met a truly excellent woman at a trashy singles party and together we made a potentially terrible evening into something pretty wonderful. 

Below is a pretentious slam-style poem I wrote whilst tipsy on the tram home from the aforementioned trashy singles party at 11pm last night, trying to remember moments to tell y’all. Tonight I’m going All Gender Speed Dating in Northcote, which hopefully will be the polar opposite experience. I’m going with friends! For the first time ever I’m going to a singles thing with friends! Already such a vastly different and improved situation! 

Reader, may you never have to online date, and if you do, I hope your bad dates are at least yielding great stories and that you have a receptive and supportive audience for those stories. 

Yours in solidarity,

-DD

_______________________________________________________________________________________

 

feeling v intimidated on the tram there

(last time was all caked on makeup, boobs out, muscle tops, chinos and gelled hair)

(why did i leave all my friends at a nice gig to come south of the river to a trashy singles party? what are my priorities? who even am i rn? whatever it’s happening now)

walk past Messina

(if this turns to shit at least i’ll get ice cream on the way home)

being welcomed by two women in white wings singing girls just wanna have fun and telling me that if i get overwhelmed just come and hang with them outside 

(maybe this will be ok)

the organiser man who turns out to be the most attractive in the venue gives me  a famous face from a famous couple on a slip of paper

this is how i will find my match and get a free shot at the bar

(and a free shot at eternal happiness)

(or at least a bloody date on valentine’s day)

doing a lap of the room asking for my match or just holding up the photograph and pointing to it in my fruitless search for the dr evil to my mini me

sitting down next to Ronda and Jo who have been to these things before but as soon as they entered they made a beeline for the bar and the couches in the back corner without speaking to anyone

there’s no one there they fancy (me either)

“but it’s still early they’re expecting 300” so much hope but so little participation

so many shaved bald heads

nice enough men with friendly enough faces but no babes but what did I expect?

is it because this is chapel street? 

is it the age category?

is this a lame venue and I didn’t get the memo?

are these things always lame and I kinda knew that but I came anyway because a tarot reader once told me it’s good to get outta the house?

 

cute dude is sitting near me but talking to a woman in the red dress so I don’t interrupt

(good on her she’s found someone she looks like she really clicks with) 

motion a long haired dorky looking dude to sit next to me but as soon as he steps closer the magic of ambient lighting wears off and he opens his mouth and speaks

(i’m immediately uninterested) 

 

tight squeeze standing up

low lighting

loud 80’s music

(we are not all of us that old that we wouldn’t appreciate a bit of bass with our synth- some dirty rnb or soul or literally any other genre with our pop)

Red Dress explains the man is her work mate who isn’t single just her wingman 

Red Dress and Ronda and Jo and me we all agree it’s all a very weird situation

Red Dress wants to leave 

let’s do a lap i say sticking my picture of mini me on my forehead with oil and sweat which makes a lot of women smile but most men when I ask them or point to it they just say “you’ve already asked me three times” 

let’s dance i say to my new friend Red Dress

just pretend we’re regular gals having a totally normal night out 

so we do

 

earlier that day we got a text message “what’s up movers and groovers (ugh, I’m 32, I wasn’t alive in the 60’s) a few fun notes about tonight, there’ll be a dance contest at 9.20pm so encourage your drunk mates to join in, and make sure you stand back from the bar once you get your drink to clear space let’s have an awesome night woop”

let’s enter that fucking dance competition says Red Dress we’ve got fifteen minutes to choreograph something

we incorporate the charleston, the horsey, some chest isolations, some interpretive dance and end on the robot we are on fire we are having so much fun there is no way we can lose we’re regular gals having a normal night out

we do our dance and it’s fun but the organiser keeps trying to separate us and tell us it’s a solo competition so when Red Dress has to dance by herself and the organiser asks her what her name is she panics “I don’t want to give you my real name” i tell her to just make it up and thus

janice is born 

janice dances with the gay abandon of someone who didn’t expect to find themselves dancing solo sober in a circle at a singles party in an unknown bar in Windsor but who is just embracing the situation fully and living their best life

 

we don’t win

we don’t care

fuck this shit we say

i divulge my icecream backup plan but janice invites me to come with her and her friend to get tacos

i go with them

the tacos are delicious

janice reckons online dating is thus far inconclusive and unsatisfactory

i reckon those are both good words

we have a good time 

everything is ok in the end

 

i get the tram home 

in bed by 11.50pm

 

winning

 

 

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