A large side-effect of the brain fuckery is that of intense tiredness most of the time. Mostly I forget it as I have upped my caffeine intake, already at a fairly high level, to the point where my body literally cannot get tired – it’s not allowed to do so; I’ve had so many coffees. However, it still does, setting me on the path that’ll eventually turn me into a real life hermit crab, locked inside my room and caught in a sinking whirlpool of perpetual tired, unable to stand up, open my eyes or go out (for coffee, of course).
I suppose this ultimate lethargy made some sort of biological sense eight months ago – I’d just been hit by a car, had my brain thrown around like a cheating ex-lover’s favourite snow globe, had a few of the tendrils that snake from your brain proper out to the furthest recesses of the skull snapped in two and never to return – but nearly a year on? I’d like to feel properly awake, thanks. I suppose this all links back to the favourite exclamation of my neurologist: “oh, it’s still early days yet!” This leads me to wonder: when the fuck will it not be early days?
Despite my brain losing the ULTIMATE FIGHT NIGHT: PRIZE FIGHT TIREDNESS ROUND, I still – or at least, used to – wake up like clockwork at 7.30 AM every morning. And not a peaceful, Disney-style wake-up, either: the clock hits 7.30 and I jolt up, bolt-straight like a brain-injured Frankenstein’s monster, my body violently awake (for the next two hours ‘till the tiredness sets in, anyway). Part of me thinks that somewhere deep in my subconscious are a cluster of cells and thoughts and electrical currents that experienced a momentary death when the accident occurred: Real Life Big Scary Death, and that collectively they spend the night trying to wake me up again lest I slip fully into it this time.
Now, of course, it seems my brain’s calmed down a little too much, as all it wants to do is sleep.
At some point my brain and life totally one hundred percent accepted its current situation – indeed, welcomed it with open arms and said: “Hey! Hey, buddy – let’s do this living in Melbourne thing, together!” It did this perfectly in time for me to get ready to jet off back to Sydney again, albeit for a much shorter time period than the first (and hopefully with a lot less car crash).
Maybe that’s the key to a successful life: just keep moving cities every few months. Keep your brain totally on edge and never bask in any level of comfort: trick it into always working, always being ready for a new group of people, new surroundings, new situations, new people, new, new, new. Never get attached or comfortable, because attachment and comfort are the start of laziness and futility.
Or, y’know. Not.
I always think of these “communication puff pieces” with a sense of comfort: oh, good, I’ll think. I’ll just patchwork together a bunch of random thoughts and occurrences from life, recently. I’ll try and de-scatter myself. That’ll work. That’ll be easy.
Except that it never is, and inevitably I’ll be sitting at a table, staring hatefully at a blank Word document and trying to think about things and wishing my life was more interesting, or at least more dramatic. Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be easier if I hadn’t quit drinking; if I’d held pitifully on to a dramatic, imprudent school-yard crush and spent my days (weeks, months) pining and whining and whining and pining. But then, no: all of my entries then would be thinly veiled (so thinly veiled) excuses to bring any of it up; else I’d be too drunk to care, and nobody wants that. Least of all me.
Zero interest puff pieces lifted from social media, 3:
“Happy birthday, wishing you a lifetime of perfect eyebrows. Xx”
“Tonight we ARE on TV … YOUR Queens …”
“created with www.facebook.com/celebratepride”
“Earlier today I said ‘nummies’ to a guy on Grindr when he sent me pics and he blocked me”
“‘my ideal first date’ is leaving the window open so that you can sneak in and I can pretend you’re a raccoon”
Whether I’ve finally reached “that” age (either way ahead of time or embarrassingly late) or I have the brain injury to thank (I considered referring to it as “BI”, my little damaged friend, but realised it’d just sound like I had an emphatic bisexual cripple stuck within the confines of my skull) but I no longer feel the need to fulfil the obligations of false friendship. This has meant twofold: much less time spend on coffee “dates” with people I don’t really get along with, and that when I do spend time with people, I try and make sure they know it is without a doubt because I want to be there.
“The thing is,” my friend Ali once said after I lamented the sadness that comes with realising some of the people you love and respect don’t love or respect you back. “Is that you need to start treating people the way that they treat you. If someone goes above and beyond for you, you do the same for them. I have friends that’re lazy or shit, sure. But I don’t let it hurt me, because I expect them to be shit – so, I’ll smile and nod and say ‘sure, let’s catch up!’ but then I’m not at all disappointed or surprised when it doesn’t happen.”
I’ve already noticed my friendships shifting, changing. Become more valuable for myself, and, hopefully, for the other person involved. I’m interested to see how it’ll go applying it to my interstate friendships in person.
Facebook again. My cover photo is a photograph of a billboard that reads: “I LIKE YOU VERY MUCH.” It’s a note to myself: soz, but chances are I probably don’t like you very much.
I’ve started yoga. Thrice weekly, on my living room floor – heater on at a poor attempt at Bikram – and listening to my own music (usually something traditionally described as ‘painfully indie’.) Although it lacks the glamorousness of gym yoga – classes taught by a woman with snow white skin and a nondescript accent that may be Transylvanian or may be Bangladeshi or may be a lisp from extensive Botox, and rows of primped and primed women officiously looking left to right as they downward dog and cobra; correcting the mistakes of those in hearing distance – it is approximately ten times more relaxing and calming (and ten times closer), and there’s a quaint and pleasing self-possession to stretching out luxurious on the cream carpet of my living room floor, in front of a television that could fall and crush me if I lose my balance. Living life on the edge.
“And the winner is… Stephen Carleton!”
The announcement is made. The night is done. The readings are over. My two month-long panic attack has come to an end, and I couldn’t be happier.
And now I can post that video of Tracy Flick, I think to myself, irrationally pleased that in losing I now have an excuse to post the 30 second clip from the 1999 film Election I’d uploaded to YouTube a week earlier in preparation should I not win:
The camera zooms in as Tracy’s eyes turn into slits and she cocks her head, chewing on her lips in a play at modest concern and excitement. Her voiceover: “Walk slowly to the podium… be modest. Thank them for this incredible honour.”
Matthew Broderick, now: “it is my pleasure to announce the next president of Washington Carver high school…” Tracy stands, curls akimbo as her eyes light up in greed, a gargantuan smile adorning her face. “Paul Metzler!”
For a split second she is left standing alone, her irises seeming to crack with the shattering of her hasty grandeur. Then Paul Metzler pushes past her on his way to the podium, and she slowly sits; her dreams crushed.
Perhaps it’s not a good sign that my immediate reaction was one of relief, but from that moment on, all I felt was a brilliant sense of calm and composure and, yes, pleasure at the fact I’d even been nominated.
I sometimes wish I could respond to (or otherwise review) reviews – in particular, a bewildering review of my work that seems entirely to be excreted with levels of previously unseen hatred.
Said reviewer didn’t like the play, that much is evident. She also believes I should never direct again, my dramaturge’s work was “invisible” (which, I know that few people understand what dramaturgy honestly is, but this is a new level of ridiculousness) and somehow managed to get a great number of poorly researched facts about the piece and the incidents that inspire said piece, wrong. Also that I have no right to write about anything not set in or about Australia, the home that’s girt by sea (ignoring the complexities of writing and the suggestion that just because something is set in America doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s about America). I’m bewildered not that she didn’t like the play – each to their own – but more that she apparently hates me and wishes me dead; that she’s so intensely consumed by her own hatred, and that she didn’t have the tools to express what or why she didn’t like it, only that she didn’t.
Recent conversations with respected artists have made me realise that, though there’s no right or wrong answer, mostly? People don’t read their own reviews (the general consensus being “what can someone with a blog tell me in 500 words that I don’t already know about the work?”).
Nicola Gunn (shockingly paraphrased): “I know the moment I open my mouth in the foyer afterwards whether something’s good or not. I’ll just suddenly realise: oh, wow, that was… that was shit. I’m sorry. Or else it’ll be a really positive reception from the audience. It’s about inviting the people you respect to come see your work, and seeking out their opinions.”
This reviewer didn’t like the play, but Griffin do, the people I respect do, and hell, I do, so that’s okay.
Five text messages selected at random:
“I’m still making brinner”
“Hope you as Jeremy are as well as we are. So fucking nice to be back in melb x”
“.. flaccid dick in a wig. haha!!”
“COLD HORSE SOUL”
Couldn’t have put it better myself.
“And that, I guess, is the kicker
How I can see
I can SEE, right, that this is all logical
How you don’t owe me anything
How I’m a man in his mid twenties acting like a spoiled child
A complete brat
But still I am stuck here,
Waiting and pining and pining and waiting,
The pitying looks of my friends closing in around me in slow motion
The constant wondering
You liked my picture on Instagram of me in my sky-blue American Apparel underwear with my head freshly shaved – “Manson girl realness”, heart-eyes emoji, exclamation mark, exclamation mark, exclamation mark – what does that even mean? or
Why don’t you like my profile pic, I mean, I look good in it, I can tell ‘cos 39 other people not you did like it, so, what’s the fucking deal?”
Re-editing and re-writing Intoxication has become so much easier, when the mood changes from the way it was written: from oh god this is life now I need to deal with this shit and get it out to oh, wow… I sure was fucked and crazy. How can I make this more interesting? More fucked?
Sometimes there’s too much, like some sort of life-based scattershot, and it’s easier to break it down into small pieces and take each one out, one by one.