I’m on the back of his motorcycle, holding him tight, sucking in the cool Perth air on this winter morning. I remember when we met. It was my ex-husband who introduced us.

“Just a warning S, he’s really, really straight,” D said.

D and I were Goths so anyone who didn’t listen to the Cure and Jane’s Addiction couldn’t possibly understand us. Yeah, we were really on the fringe – spending time at the Loft, where those that didn’t fit in could go and feel some sort of cohesive agreement that they were okay, and perhaps that they mattered.

So I met him and I thought him a nice chap. The kind you did take home to mum and dad. The boy next door. Not for me at all.

Years later, here I am. With him. My husband. Number 2. And I wonder when I grew up and realised it wasn’t about how much Alternative music you were into or how hard-core you could debate about Aleister Crowley.

D was angry at first but then almost complacent, as if he knew all along. Anyway, I think he was excited about that whole lot of Asian he was going to get with me gone. We were overseas in an Asian country at the time of the Break-up.

So I’m on the back of a motorcycle with this straight-laced man who finds quantum physics exciting. At first I thought it a most unlikely partnership. He plays WoW as much as a heroin addict fires up their spoon. I like to run. His idea of a holiday is sitting by the pool with a good book. I like to scale mountains in Nepal. He smokes. I detest cigarettes. Worse still, he likes Bruce Springsteen. I don’t know how I got over that one.

And yet, I hold on to my man with his honey-tinged fingers, yellowed from rolling too many cigarettes. His freckles dance out over his face giving him a boyish look even though he’s well on his way to 40.

“It’s like shit that’s been thrown at me through a fly screen door,” is how he describes them. I laugh. He tells me how he likes my breasts. It’s real. It’s more real than all the poetry and love letters I’ve ever received. I want this kind of love because I can touch it and it’s not in his head. It’s not in my head.

And we ride through the streets of Perth, watching the soft tones of the river move up and down, wondering where it’s all leading.

I ask him what he’s thinking.

“Folding space,” he replies.

I smile. No sentimentality. It’s nice.

“Your breasts look really good in that too.”

We laugh, he revs the bike, I squeeze my thighs into him and we move off into this small town of ours.

© running with the beagle 2010


In the suburbs

It’s real here.  Inner city.  Urban and gritty.  In-your-face.  Not like where you grew up where the green lawns were mowed every four weeks and glassy-eyed mums and dads with their automatic smiles waved as you rode your bike up the street.  The family home was once so untouchable and innocent.  Now you drive past the street and it looks sinister and lonely.  The trees that used to frame the sky have been knocked down to make way for extensions and subdivisions.  There’s too much sky.  It’s trying to open up the worlds hidden in the houses beneath.  Except the doors stay firmly shut.  There’s one house nearby that you knew well.  The parents that once lived there are divorced.  Never saw it coming you say.  They were such a close family.  The kids, grown-up and in their thirties, are just as fucked up as you.  Except they see psychologists.  You just sucked it up.  That’s the X generation, you say.  Fucked up and over it.

And another house you pass – you knew the daughters.  Went to your high school.  And then their Dad took a shotgun to two of the daughters and himself.  The youngest one hid in the closest.  She heard it all.  The screams, the shots ring out, and then, the silence.  You wonder what she’s doing now.  She has a right to be fucked up.  The neighbours all cried shock, of course.  Not here.  Not in this pristine place. It’s the suburbs.  The suburbs are safe.  But it was there all along.  Hidden by the green lawns and coloured streamers trailing in the wind as kids rode their bikes.

So you live where it’s real.  There’s the chance of a stabbing.  Wheelie bin murder if you live in the right (or wrong) street.  On the edge but you can see and feel the crime. And you feel safe.

© running with the beagle 2010

Have you watched Mad Men?  If not, I’d say get on to it.  It’s one of the best scripts ever written for television (aside from The Wire).  Here are few of my favourite quotes from the seductive and illusive Don Draper.  Unapologetic, untouchable and uninvolved in anything he does. He is the ultimate existential nihilist.

The reason you haven’t felt it is because it doesn’t exist. What you call love was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons. You’re born alone and you die alone and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts. But I never forget. I’m living like there’s no tomorrow, because there isn’t one.

I hate to break it to you, but there is no big lie, there is no system, the universe is indifferent.

It’s your life. You don’t know how long it’s gonna last, but you know it doesn’t end well. You’ve gotta move forward… as soon as you can figure out what that means.

If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.

I have a life. And it only goes in one direction. Forward.

Now that I can finally understand you, I am less impressed with what you have to say.

“Roger: What else is there?
Don: I don’t know. Life being lived? I’d like to stop talking about it and get back to it.”

and my favourite – when he recites Frank O’Hara:

Galt goes down

Apparently lightning does strike twice in the same place.  At Alvin’s home, tucked away in the Burmese jungle, hidden by the large leaf tropical plants, marinating in the humidity, there was a tree that sat just outside the window to Alvin’s bedroom.  He’d bought the house because the locals said it was auspicious.  He believed it gave him a special pass that no harm would come to the place, or his family – afterall, it had already been struck twice.

The Texan kicked the clay earth with his cowboy boots.  Sounds barked from around him.  Monkeys, bears and his tiger could be heard pacing, yawning and hooting, at various intervals.  He heard the monkey rattling its cage, wanting his attention.  She’d just have to wait, he had things to think about today.  He wasn’t sure when things became so complicated.

It was that girl. Patrick’s wife.  She’d made him feel almost…what was that? Exposed maybe?  She’d laughed at him when he said John Galt was a hero.

“But John Galt got off the world – he gave up.  He’s sanctimonious and never changes,” she said.

“He stood up for something he believed in,” Alvin replied.

She just shook her head, as if she understood the bigger picture and he was holding on to an idealistic notion that would never be realised. She saw right through him and laughed out loud when he summed up who he was.

“At the end of the day kiddo, I’m just a good old-fashioned Texas cowboy.”

“I guess Burma is one way to get off the world,” was her reply.

© running with the beagle 2010

There are too many books on my ‘to read’ list.  I’ve actually banned myself from buying any new books.  That doesn’t preclude friends from loaning you books (which one friend did today).  My focus at the moment is on Jonathan Franzen’s Strong Motion.  So far, it hasn’t taken my breath away.  I found The Corrections a startling and moving account of life so it’s a little disappointing in comparison but I’ve a way to go yet.  After that, I’m into the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jeffrey Eugenides called Middlesex.  It’s taken me a while to get to this book and often, I don’t always enjoy books that win literary awards.  We’ll see.  I also recently saw a documentary on Walt Whitman so I’ve been reading some of his poetry.  We never studied Walt at uni.  It’s a shame really as some of his work is amazing.  So, here’s the intimidating pile and actually, that’s only half of it! How big is yours?

This is a writer’s blog. Don’t mistake it for anything else. If you happen to find words of wisdom, think yourself lucky and hold them close. There may be occasional words that fall on the page in the right order but mostly not. I’ll try not to write too much on the woes of writing. It’s a bad habit of writers and nobody understands but other writers. That’s not to say I won’t talk about great writing or other writers but I’ll leave the complaints for my dog’s ears. It’s a journey and I’m hoping it ends with a novel but it may be nothing but eloquent graffiti on a blog. So I’m flicking on the switch. Please adjust your eyes, the light is a bit dim.