The words! I collected them in all shapes and sizes and hung them like bangles in my mind.

~ Hortense Calisher

Today as I rode the train back from the city, I looked at the late afternoon sun filtering through autumnal leaves. And the silhouette of graffitied brick buildings. And I was aware of the lyrics filling my ears. And I wondered how to articulate the feelings and ideas I have when I pass through the world and see and hear and wonder. 


the mix tape

you may read this and roll your eyes. but you and i both know. you’ve done this. sure you have. no? well perhaps not to the extent that i did the mix tape. i’ll give you that. but, and here it’s me who has to face facts, no one punctuates quite like me. you’d think i’d have grown out of the sudden welling up in tears of sadness, overwhelment (totally a word), frustration, that accentuate my emotional state like an exclamation mark. i should have grown out of this. and yet, no. not a chance. 
and perhaps it’s the fault of the mix tape. all that late 80s and 90s cultivating of melancholy. all the intensity of feeling generated by the lyrics. how did the songwriter know exactly how i was feeling? the drum beat. the minor chord. and the unspoken knowledge that the singers had big hair and, if not actual shoulder pads, they had shoulder pads on the inside.
i would put together a mix tape of angsty tunes just to make myself feel bad after a break up. I believe i even referred to the tape as the break up compilation tape. Or BUCT. actually i never called it BUCT. i just did that now in some kind of wild attempt to distract you from the ludicrousness of what i’m expressing. i remember on one occasion…and actually this is the only occasion i remember, but i am sure it was not an isolated incident given the presence of the aforementioned punctuating to this day which is clearly the product of over-stimulation of the emotions…anyway, on this one occasion i was driving on the open road to join friends for the weekend, mix tape blaring, sinead o’connor belting out nothing compares to you, or perhaps it was the cranberries with some equally plaintive irish lament, tears streaming down my face. and who knows now who the person was who had provoked the whole mix tape scenario. probably no one in particular. i was probably just working those muscles of hyperbolic loss. in case i needed them later.
the mix tape

ho hey. the lumineers
carrying your love with me. George Strait
dream a little dream of me. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
all the world. Brighter later 
kiss me. Sixpence none the richer
when your mind’s made up. Glen Hansard (from the Once soundtrack)
what life could be. Flip Grater
singing in my soul. Fly my pretties. 
little things. Trinity Roots
days are long, nights are longer. Tiny Ruins
la valse d’Amelie, Yann Tierson (from the Amelie Soundtrack)
and a little bit of country. 


The creperie mission. Having been introduced to the creperie by Keith on a lovely Sunday meander through the city, I struck upon the idea of sharing its exquisite frenchiness with my five year old nephew. Excitement was in the air as I arrived at my nephew’s house. A city adventure involving Jo Jo, a train and crepes. Cool.

Semi-success. Train. Tick. Buying $2 keyring in the form of a small shoe. Tick. (and before you ask…I gave Raffi a ‘museum treasure box’…see below…and he became obsessed with the idea of buying something precious as the first thing to go into it. Luckily his initial idea that something from the jewellery shop totally matched the criteria of “small and precious” faded when he saw $2 keyring in the form of a small shoe. Now back to the ticks). Watching crepe be made. Tick. Eating the crepe. Bit dull apparently.

un seul être vous manque et tout est dépeuplé

Lamartine, 1820

I heard this quote a long time ago at university. The French department boasted the French lecturer’s answer to Sean Connery.  We all took papers Pierre Daprini taught. Whenever he wanted to remember something, like an extra photocopy or to look something up later, he would extract his handkerchief from his pocket with a flourish, ceremoniously tie a knot in it, and return it to his pocket saying “comme ça je ne vais pas oublier”, a foolproof way for remembering things apparently. Pierre Daprini introduced me to Modiano’s novels, which made a lasting impression on me. But more notably he used Lamartine’s quote to illustrate some literary point which, having not tied a knot in my handkerchief, has now escaped me. I liked the sound of this quote and the imagery it conjures up, long before I could have ever understood how the feelings expressed through these words might feel from the inside.

Et voilà. I get it.

the competition (aka. I feel it all)

The idea was hatched, as many good ideas are, after a few drinks.

Five films each. Films that the other hadn’t seen. Themed food and drink. Points would be awarded for film enjoyment, quality of food and drink, and appropriateness of the matching of the aforementioned food and drink.

Two competitive people and five weeks of films, dinners and cocktails, whisk(e)y and wine.The prize: the winner gets to choose the restaurant at which they wish to be wined and dined.

Film 1: The Graduate. (1967) Dirty martini. Sushi.
The first martini Keith had ever made and the best martini I have ever tasted. Good film. High score.

Film 2: Amelie. (2001) Kir royale. Goats cheese salad. Pot of mussels. French red wine. Little black dress. Candles. Appreciative audience. High score.

Film 3: The Boondock Saints. (1999) An afternoon screening. Greeted with a shot of Irish whiskey. More Irish whiskey during the screening, pizza. High score. Great film. Perfect food and drink matching. And the evening continued in a slightly skewiff fashion with catching a taxi, being caught in AFL traffic, abandoning the taxi and an irate and BO-fragranced taxi driver for a train to Northcote from a platform that seemed tricky to find. A carriage full of Essendon and St Kilda supporters. A dog in the seat behind us licked me in the mouth. A packed cafe and a French punk band who seemed, for all intents and purposes, to be trying to be a German punk band.

Film 4: In the Cut. (2003) Manhattan (cocktail). Manhattan clam chowder. New York strip (steak) with mushrooms, asparagus and green beans. A risky film to share. Meg Ryan, I think, at her best. Slow story, and not necessarily a story to everyone’s taste, but there are some cinematically beautiful moments. Nevertheless, as impressive and as well received as the Manhattan clam chowder was, high but not-as-high score. Because the film is an acquired taste. I appreciate that.

Film 5: The Quick and the Dead. (1995) Old fashioned. Southern fried chicken and mash with cornbread. Southern food cooked by a southern man. Wow. So good. I can’t say the film was the best I had seen. It’s a film that is good to have seen. A young Leonardo Di Caprio. Legend. High but a little lesser scoring.

Film 6: Drive (2011) ANZAC Day. A little bit after-thoughtish. A stunning day and then a hasty cooking decision. If you have seen Drive, you will understand my difficulty in food and drink matching. I ended up trying for some sort of California-esque meal and served smoked salmon followed by caesar salad. And the drink match… I had nothing. We drank a beautiful rioja. Beautiful but in no way reflective of the film. Good, but not-as-high mark.

Film 7: The Cutting Edge (1992) Champagne. French onion soup. Prawn salad. A shot of tequila. Cheese, dates and sliced apple. I list these elements of the meal and yet, there is so much more to this collection of flavours and to the choice of film, itself. This is a film that is catalogued under ‘Chick Flick’ in the dvd store. I did raise my eyebrows when the guy behind the counter indicated the section of the store. This is a great film. I enjoyed every minute of it. Boy and girl. Poles apart. Rich girl, figure skater. Boy from opposite side of the tracks, ice hockey player. So the champagne, french onion soup which took hours to prepare, the prawn salad and the cheese course were reflective of the fancy girl’s life. The exquisitely timed shot of tequila was the boy’s influence. I loved this film. And what I loved most was the reason for the choice. A film watched with Aunt Rita in Missouri.A phonecall to Aunt Rita. High marks. Churlish removal of half a mark for not taking the cheese out of the fridge early enough.

Film 8: Once (2006) Guinness. Rabbit cooked in Guinness with sweet potato mash. Baileys with ice in a tumbler. Beautiful cooking aromas. Very well received. Half a mark off full marks. Slightly over-cooked rabbit. I agree with the mark.

Film 9: Ne le dis à personne/Tell No one. (2006) Another French film from Jo. Of course. French fizz (highly potent mulched raspberries, dark rum, white rum, topped with champagne). Cooking having consumed aforementioned highly potent cocktail yielded surprisingly good results…scallops, duck with le Puy lentils (or French green lentils as they are known here. I think it is worth mentioning that these lentils come from a place that boasts a large red statue of the Virgin Mary and you can climb up and survey the landscape from her head. They also have a reputation for lace.) Chocolate fondant. High marks.

Film 10: A Time to Kill (1996) Another southern film. Mint julep. Gumbo with prawns, spiced sausage. Banana bread with vanilla ice cream and baileys. We inadvertently watched the film from halfway through then had to watch the beginning. This is henceforth known as the ‘e’ method of watching a film, where, as in the form of the lower case e, you watch the end and then loop back and watch the beginning. A rich, if initially a little confusing, way of appreciating a storyline. The mint julep was delicious and the flavours of the gumbo…so good. If you haven’t seen A Time to Kill, you should see it. And I recommend the e way of viewing. High marks.

And I wish I had taken photos and documented this as we went along. I wish a lot of things. But I wouldn’t change a thing. I was in the moment. Completely. Absolutely. I didn’t take photos. But I have a vast and vivid array of images and feelings and memories. For the last 5 weeks I have lived the life I wanted. And it has been the best five weeks of my life. For five weeks I have had a very worthy opponent in a film competition. I have also had a best friend who I couldn’t wait to see. A beautiful and exquisite lover. A man who is the most thoughtful, caring, intelligent, fun person I have ever met and spent time with. I know more than I knew before.

I feel it all, Feist.

the unpredictable swerve of atoms

Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

Guillaume Apollinaire

The pursuit of happiness or being in the moment or achieving our bliss. These ideas are not new, but they are touted these days by gurus and self-help book authors and advertising strategists and t.shirt designers as though the concept of happiness was a discovery of the 21st century.

Clinamen. The Latin name Lucretius gave to the unpredictable swerve of atoms which occurs at no fixed place or time. Atoms move straight down through the void by their own weight, deflect a bit in space at a quite uncertain time and in uncertain places, just enough so you could say that their motion has changed. But if they didn’t swerve, they would just fall, like rain and there would be no collision. And nature would not have produced anything.

Lucretius would have this indeterminacy as providing the “free will which living things throughout the world have”.

Sometimes, as we fall through life, we collide with a person who alters our motion. The collision may be only brief as you move together for a moment, sharing space and time and food and wine and ideas and hopes.

But better to have swerved and collided than to have never swerved at all.