2019 Newsletter

Hello dear friends,

Thank you all for giving me your email address recently. For quite a while I have been busy travelling and working and out of touch, radio silence over here, and everybody is asking me what’s up at the same time. So I thought I would check in with a long-ish email.

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Short Story: Don’t Fence Me In

This was meant to be book-length, but let’s face it: I am not going to ever develop this as much as I hope I one day think I might become interested in wanting to develop…

Also, fuck hometowns.

With the fourth swing of the axe, the last of the locks gave way, and the door swung open. And I saw the stars.

The stars were rotating quickly around my field of view. I gaped in astonishment and curiosity, but soon felt nauseated and had to look away and close my eyes for a moment.

When I looked back, the stars were still rotating quickly. It took my mind a little while to catch up to my eyes and figure out why this was so weird.

The stars were not overhead. The stars were directly in front of me. It was as if I had opened a door to the universe.

As my eyes adjusted to the strange lighting, I took in more of the surroundings through this, the last locked door down corridor 18. And without hearing him approach, suddenly Steve was at my elbow.

“You alright, Andrew?” I nodded, still utterly bewildered, and he continued: “Hey, you aren’t supposed to be down here, you know. None of the cargo are supposed to figure out the crew exit. I have to turn you around right now.”

The steam in the dark and noisy corridor blasted my face, and then was sucked into the roof vent – if indeed that was the roof. I was beginning to feel detached from the three dimensions I had come to know and love.

“What’s happening down here, Steve?” I lobbed the question at him with as much weight as I could. Things were not right, and I was worried. And he was my friend. But he wasn’t going to budge. “Let’s just get back to town and we’ll talk about it later” he said kindly but dismissively, and suited action to the words by leading me by my shoulder back toward the other cramped corridor we had sprung out of. But I made him stop.

“No. No, I need you to tell me what’s happening. Why are the stars moving like that? Is it a video screen? Why is this right here behind an ordinary door?” I was perplexed, and disoriented, and I needed more information before I could even figure out what my questions were.

But he didn’t answer me. He tried to pull me along by my shoulder a little further, but when he found he couldn’t, he simply gave up his little pretence that everything was still okey-dokey, and looked me full in the eye.

“I’d better take you to see the captain.”

“Captain?…” Nothing made sense.

“Listen, mate, this town isn’t what you think. If you start to bust out and we can’t keep you in anymore, I am allowed to tell you a little bit so that you’ll calm down. We’re on a generational ship.” I had no idea what he meant. Our town was landlocked, with no ocean for thousands and thousands of miles in any direction. The ocean was so far away I had never even seen it. I would need to ride a horse for weeks to see it. Why would ships or boats or their captains have anything to do with this bizarre doorway to a starfield in the middle of town?

“Just…trust me. I’ll take you to the Cap and he’ll tell you everything you need to know. Come on, now.”

Steve is my friend, and I trusted him. I shut my mouth and walked with him out of the corridors and back to our town, glancing back at the rotating starfield as we left. It just kept on spinning at its constant speed around its fixed point. 

Meditation Struggles #1

“One, one, one, one, one…” I count the number slowly to myself as my first inhale fills my chest.

My ear itches.

“Perfect!” I think, remembering immediately to abandon all thoughts, and feeling guilty and like a failure. “An itchy ear during meditation is a great way to test my concentration!”

“One, one, one, one…” I continue counting as the inhale reverses and becomes an exhale, feeling great that my ear is itching badly but I haven’t yet moved or reacted to it. “I am a fucking wiinnnnneeerrrr at this concentration thing!”

I rest in between breaths, and begin the second slow inhale. “Two, two, two, two…” throbs the count in time with my slow heartbeats. Everything is fine. This is fine.

My ear really, really itches.

“No worries,” I think, remembering again not to think anything, “I already made it like twenty seconds without it bothering me much. It’ll be cool just to observe the itch without reacting to it. I wonder what that will tell me about my concentration and willpower?”

The second slow inhale turns into the second slow exhale. “Two, two, two, two, two….”.

Again internally and sinfully thinking: “Gosh this has been like a full forty-five seconds without even bothering about this annoying itch. It’s getting worse but I can totally hang on and prove this to myself. I am going to be a fucking transcendent being if I can get to slow breath number one-hundred without itching this thing. Bring it onnnnn!”

“Three, three, thre–”

Fuck it.

I itch the hell out of my ear like a dog going crazy on a flea.

Enlightenment tomorrow.

Short Story: “Hell”

A old woman sat down next to me on the bus. “Oh great,” I thought, “smelly-old-lady smell all the way back to Dunedin. I hope she doesn’t talk to me.”

I conceded a wan smile and slight nod in her direction to acknowledge her presence, and I shuffled my bags around to clear leg room for her, at the expense of some of my own. She was smiling at me, but I was careful not to make eye contact, fearing a conversation. I didn’t want her to sit down next to me; who wants a stranger sitting next to them on a six-hour bus trip? Nobody. It’s awkward having to make pleasant conversation for a prolonged length time with someone who, thanks to that law-maker Murphy, is inevitably racist, religious, or reeking of body odour. Furthermore, the whole exercise is pointless, because you will never see this stranger again, and you will not benefit from the new acquaintance in any way at all.

So, overall, I wasn’t too chuffed that this old lady was squashed in next to me.

The bus had a small screen which was playing one of my favourite movies, and I was glad to have some distraction. Some time passed in awkward silence between us, however when my legs started cramping and I felt it had been long enough to check the time on my wicked 2009 flip-phone, it had only been fifteen minutes. God! This was going to be hell. Read more of this post

Red Rope Liquorice

The year 2000 arrived. I attended the local bonfire celebration and danced in a big circle of 300 neighbours holding hands, who were all red in the face and acting very strangely and stumbling. And a few weeks later, the holidays were over and I went back to school.

I was 11 years old this year. In New Zealand, the school curriculum for 11 year old kids begins to include technology subjects like woodwork and metalwork, cooking, and sewing; all those hands-on life skills that young adults need to become aware of as they enter adolescence and self-sufficiency. The time had come for me to graduate from child to young adult. Read more of this post