Thursday, March 18, 2010

Just Dance

Rage, but it's not quite rage. All you hear is the beat, pulsing through you, mimicking the sound of your own heart, churning in your soul until your blood runs at the same pace as the music and your feet are moving, underneath your desk, and your head is moving, from side to side, and you want to move all you want to do is move and forget forget forget but you are: Chained To Your Desk.

In my head I'm dancing.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


You allowed yourself to be shackled, and now you have set yourself free.


They do not hold you any longer.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Breaking Up

That exquisite moment of pain as you sit next to each other, holding hands for the last time. Aching at the thought of a separate future even as you hang onto each other and relish the routines of touch that have become so hauntingly familiar.

Whether to prolong the moment and so hold on still to his long fingers, his denim-clad knee, his muscular torso, or to leave quickly and bring the scorching pain of that moment of separation behind you so the healing can begin.

Rip it off, like a bandaid.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New York Moments


I am browsing in Shakespeare & Co Booksellers on Broadway when a woman walks in, unkempt, dishevelled, in what appears to be slippers and a quilted bathrobe, accompanied by a fat cat. A fat black and white cat that walks at her side like a dog, no leash required. A cat so confident of its own superiority that it walks as though it, not she, were leading. I kneel and call to it and it comes to me, and as I stroke its mangy fur, the woman announces to the man behind the counter that she has ordered a script. He nods in recognition and she strides by me towards the back of the store, towards a hole in the wall where another man stands like a dispenser of drugs, the King of Special Orders. The cat turns its back on me with a lazy flick of its tail and ambles after her.


I am walking in the Village when a large metal skip dislodges itself from its stationary position on the sidewalk and rolls loudly into the street where it crashes onto its side with a thud that vibrates through the soles of my feet. In the space where the skip once was lies a homeless man, swaddled in plastic bags and cast-off knits. He struggles to draw himself up to a half-seated position, leaning back on his elbows and swivelling his head towards me as I move past.

“Hey!” He yells in my general direction, with a large toothy grin. “Smile, you’re in New York City! You gotta dream, everyone here dreams big!”


In Times Square I am walking with my face turned up towards the sky, overawed by the sheer height and size of the neon steeples surrounding me.

“Hey! You dropped your bag!”

In a flurry of confusion I am aware all at once of a man pointing behind me and the crowd pushing and tugging around me, and I stop dead in my tracks and turn rapidly but there is nothing, and when I turn back the man is laughing and handing me a pamphlet and asking me if I like stand-up comedy.

I can’t help it, I laugh, and he knows he’s got me.

“Where are you from?” he asks, and we’re off.


I sit in Starbucks off Union Square drinking percolator coffee out of a giant cardboard cup. I am deeply engrossed in my book until I hear a voice from behind me.

“I’m sorry, excuse me. Excuse me!”

I turn and he’s beautiful, moccha like my coffee with dark eyes and strong arms.

I smile. “Yes?”

“Can I ask you a question?”


“Do you sing?”

I laugh. “No. Well, that is to say, I can sing, but not well.”

He nods, and I smile again before returning to my book. But not much time passes before he is back.

“Excuse me, I’m sorry, but can I ask you another question?”

I turn, arching my brow.

“Have you ever tried singing?”


“I’m a songwriter. I’m looking for someone to sing my songs.”

A parallel life flashes before my eyes, dark smoky jazz clubs and me, reclining on a baby grand in a red silk dress while this beautiful man plays my song.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Life, or Something Like It

There comes a moment when, suddenly, you realise life is actually happening. To you, right now, all around you. Some shard of opaque glass falls, all of a sudden, from before your eyes and you blink in surprise, blinded by the brightness of this shock: that the ephemeral concept you have imagined to be life, that you have been chasing since you can remember being able to remember anything - you've had it all this time, in your palms. You've been chasing something you already have.  

You recognise in the flash of a moment, maybe with the jolt of a bus or with a clap of thunder or with the unexpected coldness of a summer downpour, that life is not just something one reads about in books. It is visible, tangible, extant in the collage of your every-day experiences. Its very essence is in the minutiae of the quotidian, exactly where a person used to book-learning might least expect to find it.

I had a moment like this last week. I was out to lunch with two friends. We spoke of novels we liked, plays we had seen, places we had traveled. We deliberated over the variety of dishes on the menu, wondered how fresh was the Barramundi we had ordered, sipped wine from Italy, champagne from France. The glass doors of the restaurant opened onto a deck flooded in sunlight and summer breezes, and as the afternoon wore on the chairs outside gradually filled with young people dressed for evening.

And, sitting there, listening to my friends talk, listening to the chatter from other diners, watching the man across the way follow with his eyes the young blonde waitress while he pretended to listen to his companion, I realised that this, right here, is it.

And it needn't have been a summer day and French champagne. 

I have felt that clarity on other occasions, walking down grey city streets crowded with people weary from the day, or sitting at work looking out at a rain-swept sky: this is it. The only one you get.

Life is happening all around us, to us, all of the time. 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

You sit in a chair that is attached at its root to a row of other chairs, two on the right and three on the left, and that is facing another row of chairs and backs onto yet another identical such row. You are in transit. You hold your book in one hand and your boarding pass and coat in your lap but you are constantly distracted, by the boarding calls that are not for your flight, and by the television that hangs suspended from the ceiling and broadcasts local news stories, the same ones again and again. It grows quiet suddenly, and still, and you realise a rumbling has stopped, a rumbling you were not aware of until it stopped, a rumbling made apparent only in the moment of its absence. It feels, to you, like the eery calm before lightning strikes, and you wonder what storm is about to hit. You are headed for New York City.