The second edition for this year will be themed ‘Freedom of Expression’, so write or draw something suitable and send it our way. Submissions due: Sunday 12th April Submit your writing and/or artwork to email@example.com For information regarding word length, article ideas and artwork specifications head to our facebook page: www.facebook.com/WORDLYmagazine
WORDLY is funded by DUSA.
editors Andrew Roberts Blair Duncan Bonnee Crawford Claudia Sensi Contugi Hayley Elliott-Ryan Jack Kirne Jessica Harvie Katherine Back Lauren Hawkins Luke Peverelle Tom Bensley Paddy Amarant design/layout Dan Watts
Become a member of Deakin Writers... If you like to read other people’s words If you want people to read your words If you want to workshop those words If you want to talk to other people that also like words If you want to get word-ly. Sign up at the DUSA office on your campus.
cover art Chelsea Fox
Deakin and DUSA welcome you
O’Week On Repeat
A Bit of Friendly Advice...
Sugar, Study Tours and Spiritual Epiphanies
The Pros and Cons of a Gap Year
I am a Wolf
3 Iluka Road
Long Macchiatos and Monsters: An Interview With Alison Evans
Read Between the Lines
Retro review: The Blob
Exchange is worth the change
Obvious Child movie review
The Res Life
New Year’s Eve Again
© 2015 Deakin University Student Association Inc. Reg. No. A0040625Y All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
Any questions? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
claudia sensi contugi
welcome to wordly
Deakin and DUSA welcome you!
During O’week two years ago, first year me walked through the stalls on Mutant Way amidst the hordes of people and free pens and eventually stumbled upon the Deakin Writers Club stall, where I meekly accepted a four page newsletter-type thing from the strangers on the other side of the table—the first edition of WORDLY. Now I am both a writer and an editor for WORDLY, I know the entire team, and last year I watched the magazine grow to 32 pages. In the 2014 O’week edition, Editor-in-Chief Hayley Elliott-Ryan wrote in the foreword that she hoped this magazine would start conversations and give new writers a place to find their voice. I think she succeeded in achieving this goal with WORDLY and I am honoured to be carrying on this part of her legacy at Deakin. So read forth and begin the discussion! Read about overly debated issues somewhat featured in Obvious Child (2014) and themes to consider if you ever watch The Blob (1988). First years may find solace upon reading advice for settling in at uni and the often scary process of dealing with change. Find out how to make the most of an arts degree and you time at uni, and indulge in the wisdom of someone with five O’weeks under her belt. Did someone say ‘alternative study modes’? Check out the pieces about cross institutional studies, exchange and study tours. Get an idea of what it’s like to live on-campus and study after a gap year. We have some fantastic fiction and a poetic view on making a New Year’s resolution, and for the first time in WORDLY history we’ve included an interview with an author who tells us about writing and publishing their new e-book.
I am delighted to welcome you to Deakin University—with just over 50,000 students, Deakin is a large and culturally diverse university with a strong values set and an interest in the world in which we must all live and work. You have joined a university with a fast growing international reputation— Deakin ranks in the top 3 per cent of the world’s universities in each of the top three major global rankings. I hope you will soon discover why we have a long-held reputation for being accessible and friendly. Easy access to good food and coffee was high on our list of things to improve, but so was the need for our learning spaces to be media-rich and have fast connectivity—so we have continued to refurbish our campuses to create vibrant spaces where students can connect with each other and with Deakin. We have created engaging and dynamic spaces where students can come together to discuss contemporary issues, share great ideas and learn. This work continues again in 2015 and I hope you will use the facilities and give us feedback on what you think about them. Your Deakin degree is a critical ingredient for the jobs and skills of your future; it is one of the most valuable tickets for the journey to professional life, but a university education is much more than a degree. The ‘complementary curriculum’, the skills you learn outside the classroom, the friends you make and the networks you develop have tangible benefits that go beyond dollars. The work of DUSA and the opportunities to connect with like-minded people through clubs and societies will contribute much to your Deakin experience. I encourage you to take part in all that DUSA and Deakin have to offer, make sure you take the opportunities and never risk wishing you ‘had done something’. Wordly is an excellent magazine with a culture all of its own and a growing place in our university social life. Make sure you read it and use it for views, ideas and comments on the world around you. I wish you the very best for your studies as a Deakin student and I hope you will look back on your time here as amongst the happiest and most fulfilling of your life. With best wishes Professor Jane den Hollander Vice-Chancellor
This year, WORDLY continues to push the boundaries and challenge writers to express themselves with their submissions. So, what do you want to say? Welcome to WORDLY. We hope you enjoy your stay. - Bonnee, on behalf of the WORDLY team.
by lauren hawkins
A bit of friendly advice... rowan girdler prepares first years for life at deakin
You never forget your first O’week. Especially if you try energy drinks for the first time, scream to football players that your mother told you to stay away from, and your sister gets married. In following years it all changes. Instead of the wide-eyed pulsing nerves of hopping between club stands, DUSA, whatever companies are trying to sell phones, short courses and who knows what else, it becomes about dodging first years to try and get those books I’d been meaning to buy for the last month. As I now begin my fifth year at university—having progressed through my undergraduate degree and into a postgraduate one—the importance of O’week becomes more apparent, and with four O’weeks in my past, I’ve seen them all in different lights. I started first year by attempting to go to a party every night. It didn’t go well and, honestly, I’m not sure why I thought that would ever be something I might enjoy. I was completely absent for the second year. At the time, if you lived on Res and weren’t a first year student, you moved in on the weekend between O’week and week one. So I only heard about the escapades of the second year students that had somewhere to stay near Deakin through Facebook. If there’s one piece of advice I can give, it’s to never trust a second or third year during O’week. Especially if they’re buying you drinks. But by my third year, when I was on the other side of two stalls enticing first years to come have a chat and see what we were offering, I saw the real value of O’week. Excuse the cliché, but you can only get a concussion on a party bus so many times before the week-long party binge loses all of its glitter. Instead of partying, I went to St Kilda Market with friends I’d made because of O’week and the activities that so many people shy away from. I never thought I’d bond with one of my closest and dearest friends while racing to pull the pants off someone and put a condom on a banana. I think I’m safe to say that as time passes O’week takes on different meanings for different students of different ages. When I was fresh out of high school it was about making friends and when I was an editor of Verandah it was about trying to promote Verandah on one stall while spending most of my time working on another one. In my fourth year I didn’t even make it to Mutant Way, as it was called in previous years, because I was busy printing ID cards in Deakin Central. But while O’week changes each year, the ritual of returning to or starting a university education remains ever present. Whether you’re the wide-eyed first year, the seasoned second year, or the postgraduate student who has been around the block a few times, everyone prepares for the new year in some way. The parties and events are always popular, so is preparing your supplies, as well as ignoring the start of trimester and saying you’ll do it over the weekend. This year I’ll buy books, catch up with my friends that are still studying, and probably wonder if I’m doing the right thing by juggling the start of a career with further study while the people I started with move into graduate programs, contracted positions or back home. And if all goes well, I’ll stop at six. For now.
first years: ‘wow, uni is awesome!’ second years: ‘yeah yeah, I’ve done all this before.’ third years: ‘i have to do this again? Kill me now.’ fourth years: ‘puny undergraduates, cower before the intellectual might of the post-grad!’
So it’s O’week and you’re just starting at Deakin. Yep, I’m talking to you, the first year who has picked up a copy of Wordly magazine because you thought it looked interesting or because you were too intimidated to say no to the staff handing it out. (Second years and above feel free to move on to the next piece, or keep reading if you think this might be entertaining.) Right now you’re probably sitting down somewhere, taking a break from the insane carnival of cheap activities and people hawking for various clubs and causes that has overwhelmed Mutant Way. Either that or you’ve left already and are finally going through all the crap you got today. You should know that uni is only ever like this once a year. Those over-enthusiastic cheerleaders who waved pom poms in your face disappear for most of the year like flies in winter. Most of the clubs are low-key enough that after this week you won’t know they exist unless you join one. (The exception is the Christian Union, who like to chalk up theological brain teasers all over campus.)
like a jaffy, and nobody sets out to become disillusioned with uni. For most people it’s just what happens. So, first years reading this, be whoever you want to be around campus. If you’re excited to be here, show it. Join as many cheesy clubs as you like (or even join the Writer’s Club, which isn’t cheesy at all). Carry all your books with you just in case you need them. Get lost trying to find your tutorial rooms and rock up late. Actually attempt to do all the set readings—you’ll fall out of that habit very quickly. Soon enough you’ll have your first year behind you, and if you’re like most people you’ll find yourself not caring so much anymore.
First years, I’m going to tell you something about uni. Many people around campus will probably stereotype you as what we call a ‘jaffy’. That’s an acronym for Just Another you-can-probably-figure-outwhat-the-first-F-stands-for First Year. Don’t feel bad about it, it’s just because us older students need someone to look down on so we can feel better about the fact that our coursework is harder and we no longer find uni exciting. The truth is you’re right up there with 9 AM classes and people who interrupt the lecturer to ask questions on the dislikes list of us cynical second-and-higher years, every fiber of our beings saturated with the overpriced coffee we require just to keep us awake through our lectures. My advice to you is this: don’t change a thing. Nobody deliberately tries to act
Rowan Girdler is a third year Creative Writing student who has trouble staying awake in lectures because he doesn’t actually drink coffee.
First years, whatever your background and whatever course you’re doing, you all have one thing in common. You’re probably the only people who really appreciate what a fantastic place university is. So welcome to Deakin, and I hope you enjoy every minute of it. Just don’t ask me to tell you where your tutorial is.
Sugar, Study Tours and Spiritual Epiphanies by kezia lubanszky Going on a study tour is a bit like someone ripping open a bag of mixed lollies and throwing them at your face. Colourful deliciousness is flying towards you. You’re not sure how you’re going to juggle them, and really, you just want to open your mouth and devour them all at once. Let me give you some advice. Just stand there. Let the lollies ricochet off your nose and pick them all up later. See, a Deakin study tour is so much more than you’d expect. You anticipate some of it, but once you get there you’re hit with a myriad of varying experiences you weren’t—and could never be—prepared for. I’m not sure what I expected. As the queen of overthinking, falling so far into an anxiety that it gives birth to anxious babies that won’t stop screaming, I basically expected to make zero friends, get lost in a foreign city by myself and get sold into the slave trade. This didn’t happen. What did, was more than I thought possible from a university education. I travelled to France in October to study art history. As an art enthusiast, I knew I’d love everything on the itinerary. Monet’s Garden, Cezanne’s studio, The Louvre—as nervous as I was, I couldn’t wait to be immersed in one of the world’s artistic havens. And after a few days of being in Paris, I realized that the experience dug much deeper into my soul than anticipated. There are no words to explain the feeling of standing on the same ground as Van Gogh when he painted some of his most famous work. Staring at the same sky as Cezanne, smelling the flowers that Monet loved so much: it triggers something inside you that you didn’t know you had. For me, the tour was a deeply spiritual experience. I remember standing in Cezanne’s studio, thinking about the way the light hit the wood and bounced off the windows, and I realized, Cezanne had done that on this very floor. In that moment something changed. My creativity felt like it was transforming, becoming entwined in a web of shared experiences had by artists before me, and those who are yet to come. It’s impossible to say we know the minds of anyone other than ourselves, let alone artists like Van Gogh or Cezanne. We can read about them, study them, appreciate and love their art, but no more than that. Still, walking across Monet’s bridge I felt that I did know him, that—as artists—we were connected. After this the tour basically became a constant epiphany. As pretentious as it may sound, I was falling deeper and deeper into some kind of understanding that I couldn’t quite grasp. All I knew was that if I could describe it to Monet or Cezanne they would nod, smile and know exactly how I felt. It’s about living through others—the vicarious mirrors that artists and their works create into other people’s lives. We all crave knowledge and experiences, and to become so deeply immersed in the world of art creates a portrait of another time and place that feels so real you can almost touch it. Before the tour, I’d never considered any of this. Now, I’m certain that it’s the most important thing an artist can ever learn. I’m sure that no matter the field, a study tour turns a subject into something rich and inspiring. So here’s my advice to anyone thinking about going on a study tour. Stop thinking. Do. Embrace the bombardment of strange and enlightening experiences (or mixed lollies, whatever). Seriously, you’re anticipating a great time, but you have no idea how strongly it will affect you. A study tour is more than a learning experience. It’s a social, worldly, spiritual phenomenon.
BEGINNINGS by andrew roberts
They say he had three beginnings: first the explosive coalescing of gasses, energy and matter that formed the universe; then the joining of his father’s spermatozoa with his mother’s ovum leading to his birth, and finally when his fingers met the keys of a type-writer and began— Ricardo’s derision at what he’s just read escapes snort-wise out his left nostril. He encompasses the whole-of-the-page in a closed fist, hurling it across the room. The words travelling in that less subtle cousin of the paper aeroplane, the scrunched-up-ball, curved arc trajectory mirroring that of an ideal plot structure, flight interrupted upon reaching its highest point, landing in an ascended waste-paper-basket rechristened ‘rejected submissions’. He recognises the submitter’s name, Ms. Janus Florane, and address, appending it to a generic printout rejection response. Truthfully he’s never read further than a few lines of any of her many submissions before sending them on similar journeys. He imagines a room she might now maintain, wallpapered entirely in just such letters. Though actually a cubicle, the literary journals, style guides and Penguin Classics piled on high in great Doric columns give the air of an office. Of such mighty bricks as these he has built a castle in the Japanese fashion, requiring besieging forces navigate a complex arrangement of walls and paths in a roundabout manner to hassle their lone inhabitant. Ricardo Gerard, Junior Assistant Editor, surveying manuscripts with the myopic gaze of someone who’s realised the truth that the world has nothing more interesting or wondrous to offer further from one’s face than the two-or-so feet of a page or a screen, aims inverted comma eyes upwards towards a new human-shaped interruption. There resides Marian, Actual-Full-Fledged-For-Realsies Editor. One might suspect that both their comparative beard lengths and grey-to-not-grey-hair-colour-palette-scale tilts in the wrong direction for her to be Ricardo’s superior and, furthermore, for him to be ‘Junior Assistant’ anything. Once, on the back of dragging authors kicking and screaming out of mediocrity, he had earned a more respectable perch in the publisher’s hierarchical pecking order. No longer. In a closely balanced decision, Ricardo’s fervent arguments had tilted the company away from making the mistake of publishing an, at the time, unheard of author’s debut novel, unworthy of their time and expense. When released a year later by a competitor, however, it sold remarkably well, with further series entries continuing a trend of transmogrifying sales-charts into formidable upwards slopes. What Ricardo had dismissed as not worth considering was now, following several movie adaptations, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars as one of the most successful entertainment media franchises of all time. You know the one. Firing him outright was his superior’s first thought, having cost them their opportunity to cash-in on what even they now saw as the sinking ship of an industry they had tied themselves to the mast of. Nobody reads books anymore— certainly not the kind printed on paper and sold off shelves. But someone with a penchant for ironic punishment in the vein of Dante devised a harsher fate. Demotion to be surveyor for that unfiltered sewerage hose connected to the least organised parts of the human consciousness that is the unsolicited submissions pile.
As the whale’s baleen, sieving the ocean for the krill of potential, while his colleagues receive the works of more promising talents, his job is to read the beginnings of anything they’re sent, assessing any possible merit and deciding whether to bring it to the attention of an actual editor or to reject it.
the submitter’s name he returns the mass of pages to the desk, leaning backwards in his chair with a sigh. Before him is an 800 page story, by Janus Florane of course, all told in a single run-along sentence.
Harsh, perhaps to base an opinion on the whole of a thing upon just the smallest first part of it, but no less so than actual paying readers. A beginning needed to grab them, demonstrate in the seed what the entire tree could come to grow into. He longed to happen across a new ‘It is a truth universally acknowl edged that ...’ or a ‘Call me Ishmael.’— his own white whale.
He sets forth on the arduous and character testing task before him in tandem with Florane’s own naive protagonist. Ricardo’s own sense of betrayal at only being a third of the way through eclipsing the end of second act twist that the heroines’ brother was working for the enemy all along, mentor figure dying along with any hope Ricardo had for originality. Florane’s prose oozes the imprudent verboseness of a dictionary turned airborne virus, before falling into tenuously convoluted metaphor.
He is largely unconcerned with middles, and endings are the purview of an entirely different department altogether. Resentful at first, he’s come to appreciate the role, catching scattered glimpses into worlds for which the remaining novels in their entirety may fail to live up to the promise of. Is there such a thing as a good ending? More often they splutter out disappointingly, poor imitations of what one’s mind had imagine d the thing might become when it first started.
He feels genuine relief when the villain is struck a final blow, less for the ending of the enslavement of the kingdom than for the sense that his own plight might soon be at an end. But just as it seems the story has nowhere left to go, a further two hundred pages remain; a succession of no-less than nine endings giving complete subsequent biographies of each of the core cast of characters up until their deaths. Then, with a final page turn it is over, the sentence finally reaching its full stop.
Naturally he would do anything and everything to get out of here, feeling the red pen sat collecting dust on his desk twitching, like a phantom-limb-extension of himself, to get back to marking up a page.
He blinks and the inverse negative-image of the letters burn stars into the dark firmament of his closed eyes.
In tiny red X’s he’s corrected the calendar’s date to the second half of Decemb er—that twelfth month masquerading under the identity of the tenth. The New Year’s Party thrown in joint-collaboratio n by the biggest names in publishing fast approaches. Big names who might have better uses for his talents and experience if he can get their attention. Should old acquaintances be forgot? And never brought to mind? Yes, and as soon as possible. Those foul beasts acquaintances. Brutus and Judas in equal parts who have cast this pariahoo d upon him. Acquaintances like Marian. If Ricardo were to pick a single word to describe and encompass the whole of Marian’s being at this moment it would be … frowning. ‘There have been complaints that you haven’t been reading enough of any submission to accurately assess their merit.’ Ricardo counter-claims that he reads far too much of bad submissions. ‘So you’ll have no trouble telling me now,’ she lucky-dip withdraws and un-crumples a wad of pages from the rejection bin, ‘what this one is about’. ‘Not a clue.’ ‘Can you recall the gist of the first sentence?’ ‘Based on the opening few words I decided further reading unnecessary. If you take a first bite of a meal and find it unappetising you don’t continue eating in the hopes it might get better.’ She frowns further. ‘I expect you to re-read at least the first paragraph—’ ‘—sentence,’ he counter-offers. ‘—Fine, sentence of every piece in that rejection pile. And if, when tested, I judge you’ve not done a satisfactory job you’re out of here, you’ll never work in the publishing industry again and you can enjoy correcting the spelling on the McDonald’s value-meal menu. Understood?’
The book is certainly something. ‘Good’ isn’t really on the table of potential descriptors. ‘Intelligible’ may be a stretch. But it’s a thing that a human person put time and effort into and now exists, that Ricardo can’t deny. Pulling up the digitally-stored archive of rejected pieces on his monitor and typing Florane into the search bar, he’s wowed by the sheer volume of entries returned, dating back to when the company switched to an electronic records system. Making the journey down to physical storage, amongst those long unused filing cabinets under Florane, J he digs up just as many again. In the face of others, whose prose passes these halls, the famous, the prodigy, the successful, the perfectionists, who take thirty days to write thirty words, here was someone who’d churned out a greater word count than the complete works of Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov and Agatha Christie combined with no end in sight without anything but rejection and disappointment as fuel or reward. Enthusiasm unbounded by any realistic expectation or evidence of actual competence. Could there be any surer sign of a love of writing? Under the customary printed rejection letter he pens a message that she might contact him personally for some feedback and advice. Then, ignoring the sound of cascading fireworks and drunken singing outside his window, he turns back to the first page of the manuscript, red pen in hand, and begins to make notes. Maybe it isn’t much, and it will probably never go anywhere. But it is, after all, a beginning.
Ricardo understands, quickly doing the arithmetic, that he now has less than a week to reassess what had taken him the previous month to look over, if he wants any chance of making it to that party. The days tick down, one paper pile shrinking while the other two grow steadily, as though continuing on the lives of their past tree-selves. With a day to spare he recognises the last piece, looking it over and returning it to its rightful place. But there is a package he hadn’t noticed before, that must have slipped in
sometime over the last week.
He begins reading, makes it past the first few lines, frowns, eyes darting further down the page, flips to the next, turns another and another, reopens the manuscript at a random chapter in the middle before skipping to the end. Reading
The Pros My gap year was a rollercoaster of the good, the bad and the ugly. For 12 months I worked three jobs, saving until I could afford to move away from my rural hometown and attend university in the city. But, though rewarding, it wasn’t without its challenges:
You will actually appreciate studying 1.
I mean, of course, it’s never going to be amazing to sit chained to your desk for an afternoon flicking through a textbook you hardly understand when you’re already six weeks behind in your readings. But believe me, after spending a gap year working your arse off just so you could eventually go to university, you come to realise that studying actually isn’t so bad (trust me, it’s definitely better than answering phones and opening mail for eight hours, five days a week).
Blair Duncan tells you what you may discover about uni once you return to study after a gap year.
you are just so over con talking about your atar 2.
You’ve already had 12 months to talk about it, to stress, and to cry over it. But now it’s O’week, the following year, and you’re trying to meet new people. It seems like ages since you were in high school worrying about uni offers and exam marks, so those ATAR jitters are way behind you. But it’s only you, because basically everyone else has come to university straight from high school, and they’re still going on and on about it. What did you get? What did you get?
you will never haveto drink goon or Pro eat two minute noodles 3.
Remember all that money you saved? It’s finally come to some good use. While your friends are working double shifts and stressing over next week’s rent, you’re managing easily. While they’re stocking up on goon sacks and passion pop, you’re drinking cider. You never really appreciated saving money until now.
n o c
Yep, it’s true. According to a 2013 study in The Journal of Higher Education, students who take a gap year (usually a working one) are more likely to be successful at university than those jumping straight in after high school. Yup, despite the common assumption that taking a gap year will disrupt your willingness to study afterwards, it actually tends to work the opposite. Taking some time to consider your options during a gap year usually solidifies motivation rather than hinders it. Take that, parents.
When I took my gap year, I had to concede to the fact that my friends and cohorts would probably be younger than me. Although the difference was generally about a year, I didn’t comprehend exactly how old I would feel, especially when O’week is brimming with fresh-faced, vivacious 18-year-olds.
Ultimately a gap year is not always right for everyone. It can impact your social life while all your friends party hard at uni gatherings, it can become a soul-crushing cycle of savings and debt and of course there’s always the danger that you’ll spend that twelve months having various TV marathons and eating Cheezels. At the same time, there’s an undeniable pressure on young people to go to uni immediately after high school. It’s easy enough to feel coerced into making such a momentous decision, even if the courses aren’t right for you and you don’t feel like uni is the best fit. A gap year gives you some much-needed time off after Year 12 and a chance to earn money, learn new skills and, in all likelihood, better prepare you for university.
you'll (probably) get better grades
you really are just a little bit wiser 6.
Whether you spent your gap year travelling, working, or whatever, there’s no denying that a year away from school and study widens your perspective and teaches you some important lessons that, arguably, you couldn’t learn any other way. For example, I learnt that working in an office environment actually crushes my soul; I learnt that money solves most problems, and that I’ll always feel for the receptionist on the other end of the phone.
So give it some thought, and all the best with your year, whether here or elsewhere!
I a m a wo l f by charlotte milkins I was a wolf, hungry to wander and destined to have blood upon my heels. You were a rabbit, eyes wide and innocence in your very name. I left tiny footprints along your spine with my lips and teeth and my eyes always flashed red in photographs. Your voice is small as you murmur into my mouth, ‘Even if you slit my throat with your teeth, I would thank you for touching my skin.’ The biggest mistake a rabbit can make is to forget the wolf is a hunter who kills with the very lips it smiles with.
3 I lu k a Road by jack kirne
To Anju, I’ve moved again; though I suppose you’ve probably figured that out already. Knowing you you’ve flipped the letter, examined the edges, studied the stamp and cursed the nearly illegible scrawl that marks your address and my return one. You’ve probably put the kettle on and settled into one of your camping chairs on the balcony to read this. If you still smoke, well, I guess you’ve got a cigarette too. Then again, perhaps not; maybe you read inside these days, by the circular window that overlooks the lake. Maybe you’ve traded caffeine and nicotine for chia seeds. I can’t imagine it, but then again, it wouldn’t be the first time you’ve surprised me. Anyway—as you’ve probably figured, I’ve moved Laburnum way. It’s a little further out and a great deal greener which suits me fine. The rent is cheap, so I’m no longer stealing groceries from Woolworths (a great relief to you I’m sure) unless I need the rush, which is rare these days. I live with three women, two cats and a chihuahua that doesn’t bark. Our yard is huge and last summer we went out and bought an old picnic bench from St. Vinney’s. It has since rotted in the rain, but I still sit on it when the sun manages to occasionally dry it out. Our lawn is wild and uncut and sometimes when the wind picks up enough for the grass to sway I imagine that I’m in the country. It’s not quite the hills, but for now it will have to do. Beyond that little else has changed. Everyone is older, fatter or dead, which sounds bleak, but it’s true. My mother still asks about you sometimes, which is sweet I suppose. Her memory is poor these days and often when she is speaking and making sense (which is rare) her words are thin. An interjection against the grain is always threatening to tear her into two, scattering her thoughts to the wind. Because of this I hardly see her, but on those rare occasions that I’m there I’ll just sit and listen and more often than not she will talk of you, the forest and the railway. It seems to make her happy so I let her tell me about them over and over, even if she can’t remember my name. I suppose that’s why you’ve been on the brain as of late—well, that and the fact that I finally got around to reading The Kangaroo Communiqué. I suppose it should make it clear why I’ve decided to write to you. I guess like Murakami’s hero, I’ve been led along a series of coincidences,—some real, others not—that have led me to my very own Kangaroo. But in my case, it’s you. Anyway, point being is that I saw you in the waiting room the other day. I was flicking through my newsfeed when I looked up and you were there, hunched over the desk. ‘Which doctor are you seeing today?’ the secretary asked you, her perk breasts and a sickly tone pointed at a sicker face. ‘Dr. Sair.’ ‘You’ve seen the doctor before?’ You nodded. ‘Just take a seat outside room five for me.’ I suppose I should have called out—but I didn’t, and then you were lost to the abyss beyond. I would have chased you, but it was at that point that Carol called me in. If there is one thing that years of FTAs and cancellation fees have taught me it’s to never make a doctor wait. So I let you go. She is a good doctor—caring, professional and very well dressed. I guess I appreciate what she does, too. I like to think of her as my chemist, taking the parts of my life and rearranging them to avoid an explosion. And when the potassium hits water, well, I suppose she cleans up the mess. In the end, it comes down to this. I miss you. Upon occasion, I used to stalk your Facebook. Your profile picture never changed—it was that infamous shot, drink in hand on New Year’s of 2007. You don’t know that the photo is about to be taken and your smile is half drawn, genuine; you’re about to tell Bud Oakley to ‘fuck off ’. You look calm and collected, and the white of your teeth against the dark has only grown more vivid with time. Nobody could have guessed that you’d just thrown up. You’re no longer online. I guess there is so much more that I could say but perhaps it’s best I leave it unsaid. It’s late and I should probably get some sleep. I just needed you to know, I am myself again. Love, Colin.
an interview with Alison Evans
Alison, you’ve recently had an e-book published called Long Macchiatos and Monsters, which was released on Wednesday 28th January this year. In a few sentences, tell us about how you wrote this book. What was your writing process? I started out by creating the characters first. Starting with characters rather than a plot makes writing a lot easier for me; I find that if I know who they are then I can just build a story around them. Dialogue is also way easier to write this way because I barely have to think about it. I usually write everything in order, but that just wasn’t working for this story so I tried something a little different and wrote them a little like puzzle pieces. What was your favourite part of this writing process? It was a little frustrating, because I am used to writing everything in order. But changing it up meant that this story was very different to a lot of other things that I’d written. Writing the dialogue between my main characters, Jalen and P, was also just so much fun. I still laugh when I’m re-reading through certain bits. Could you give us some insight into the plot of your story? There’s not really much of a plot, to be honest! Jalen meets P, they really like each other, they have some issues but there’s a happy ending (spoilers). It’s definitely more character-driven than anything. I guess it’s just a story about communication (or rather, miscommunication) and how we open up to each other in different ways. Jalen sounds like an interesting character, can you tell us about them? Jalen is a huge dork, I love them. They love bad scifi movies, they have questionable personal hygiene, are very good at skipping uni classes and handing in assignments in the wee hours of the morning. They’re also the first main character I’ve written that is genderqueer (for those who don’t know, this means
they don’t identify as a man or a woman) which is nice because I’m genderqueer, too. So they’ll always be a bit special in that way to me. What about P? Tell us about him. He’s very handsome and he knows it. He comes across as a jerk because he is one. But he can also be very tender and thoughtful; he knows when to be serious and really listen to what someone is saying. Without too many spoilers, just briefly, what would you say was your favourite part of the book? There is a scene just over halfway through where Jalen is talking about their gender and it’s apparent that they still have a lot of internalised transphobia in them. Honestly, give me any excuse to write about the gender binary and I am there. I wanted to write about how being genderqueer doesn’t mean you’re “in the middle” between man and woman, it’s outside that. I haven’t seen this explicitly talked about in any piece of media before and so I wanted to do that. And which character was your favourite to write? Was it one of the main characters you just told us about, or somebody else? Jalen’s twin sister, Roslyn is amazing. She’s only in two scenes but she’s hilarious and so fun. She and Jalen really support each other and I’m a sucker for loving siblings in fiction. The title of a book is often the first thing a reader sees. I really love the title that you’ve used, Long Macchiatos and Monsters. Can you tell us about this title, why you chose it, what it means and what you hope readers will think when they see it? Haha, thank you! I was actually really struggling with a title for a long time and when the submission deadline arrived, I realised I still didn’t have a title. Usually when I can’t think of titles, I cheat and use the main character’s name. Although Jalen is the narrator, I do think Jalen
and P are pretty much equally the main characters. So I chose to take two things that represented both of them: long macchiatos for P and monsters for Jalen. A long macchiato is P’s coffee order and the movies Jalen loves are filled with monsters. You chose to have this published as an e-book on Less Than Three Press. Tell us a little bit about these choices. Why an e-book? Why Less Than Three Press? One thing that is really great about e-books is that they can be literally any length. My story is roughly 13,000 words (50 pages) so in a print-only world that can be a bit tricky to find a place for. Less Than Three Press actually had a submissions call for a collection named Geek Out, where they asked for stories about geeky trans people. I’ve been following LT3 for a while now and I know they’ve always been a genuinely inclusive queer press. I knew that if I wrote about trans people, they wouldn’t be gross about it. So I submitted and it was accepted into the collection.
people don’t like my books and I don’t care if I get one star, but to leave a transphobic review is completely disrespectful and disgusting. But the good reviews, let’s talk about those! One review in particular was written by a trans person and they wrote about the favourite scene I touched on before. They said it was refreshing to see these kinds of things discussed in fiction and, quite frankly, that review has made my life. Do you know what you want to write about next? I’m actually writing about Roslyn right now. I loved her too much and now she needs her own book! She’s on a holiday in Europe and she meets this girl called Christie in Berlin and they have all kinds of super fun friendship adventures.
How about the publishing process as you experienced it? Less Than Three have been amazing to work with. I sent my story in and about six weeks later I was offered a contract. I was assigned an editor who was literally perfect (thanks Amanda) and really got what my story was about. We did a couple of rounds of edits and after some proofreading, that was pretty much it on my end! What is the main thing you hope readers will take away from your book after reading? I hope they find it’s fun. There’s a lot of heavy stuff in there, but I think ultimately it’s a fun story. And I, at least, think it’s hilarious. Another thing is for anyone who is struggling with their gender, I hope that seeing these characters talk about what you might be feeling can be comforting. It’s nice to know there are other people who feel the same way you do and it can really be relieving to see yourself reflected in media. Have you had much feedback from readers? Anything you’d like to share with us, whether it was good or bad feedback. I’ve actually found quite a few reviews, which I wasn’t expecting! It’s been really great. So far I’ve only seen one transphobic review. I honestly don’t mind if
You can find Long Macchiatos and Monsters on lessthanthreepress.com and me on twitter as @_budgie.
Read between h. e. ryan, graduate and former editor-in-chief of wordly, talks about student success in creative arts degrees.
My dad—a loner fisherman and closet conspiracy theorist—once told me that the Taj Mahal was definitely designed and most likely built by aliens*. He turned to me, and while brushing a cloud of mosquitoes from his beard he said, ‘Hayley, if you really want to know how the wonders of the world were built**, you’re going to have to do two things. Firstly: read between the lines, and secondly: look to the sky’. Now, because I was stranded*** on an island the length of a light aircraft landing strip at the time, entertaining the possibility that every human-made wonder of the world was actually an extraterrestrial gift, and because I’m in my 20s and therefore am just a giant ego wrapped in a tan, I couldn’t help reflecting on how I got where I am and how his advice was all about me and my time at university (it is, after all, some of the only advice my dad has ever given me). I don’t know if I’d like to believe that aliens could gift me with a debut fiction best seller****, but I do know that by measuring my success as a student by the amount of projects, creative experiments and mistakes I’ve made, as well as the steps I’ve taken to become what I dream of becoming, I’ve achieved far more than good marks, so perhaps there is wisdom in my father’s misguided beliefs about early architecture. It is fair to assume that some of us are better students than others, and that some of us make more art than others, and that these two things—being a good student and making lots of art—don’t necessarily manifest in the same person all the time. I know a lot of people who think uni doesn’t help their art, or that it detracts from the time they could be making art. In his
recent book Funemployed, Justin Heazlewood (aka The Bedroom Philosopher) talks about the value of his time at uni. He says that ‘university is a hotbed of experimentation—if this is used creatively, you can form an artistic identity and gain momentum to carry into the real world.’ This is the part of uni that I think many creative arts students miss. University offers a safe space where you can stumble semi-publically through your early articles and exhibitions. It can be a place where you can find like-minded people who are just as crazy and obsessive as you are, and maybe you will make art, or in my case, make a magazine (this magazine in fact) together. In your degree you will be told to read a lot and know what is being produced in your field, but you might not be told to join DUSA, write for the student magazine, perform or present your work, join a club or start one of your own; use the university as a platform to share your art with as many people as possible. Before you get swept up in the fear and frenzy of willbe-writers who don’t believe they will ever get jobs, let me ask you this: how is believing that you will never get a job or be published in any way helpful or useful? In my experience there are two ways to address this outlook head on. The first is to know what you want and to believe that you will be able to achieve it, and the second is to believe that no one else will help you so you might as well do it by yourself. I consider myself a realist, but I also know that I don’t have any less of a chance at having writing published as anyone else, unless I haven’t written said writing because I am too afraid of it not being published…
the lines ‘You may as well produce something or try something while you are a student, because even if you fail, university is a kind of wellcushioned safe space where you can learn from those failures and then fail better next time.’
As a student you may or may not be supporting yourself or getting government assistance, but chances are you have more free time now than if you were working full time. Dream big and don’t limit yourself to what you think you could achieve. Go for what you want to achieve instead, and learn how to dedicate time to it so that if you do want to become a professional artist, you know how to treat it like a job. You may as well produce something or try something while you are a student, because even if you fail, university is a kind of well-cushioned safe space where you can learn from those failures and then fail better next time. If you don’t imagine what you could be, or what you want to create, you will never create it. You won’t have your own ticket to success in the form of a brilliant idea bestowed on you when you receive your graduation certificate either, so like Heazlewood says, it is your artistic identity, not your university degree, that acts as the momentum that carries you into the ‘real world’.
artwork by hannah o’loughlin
* For a full recount of this conversation see possjenkinsblog.wordpress.com. ** In no way did I imply that I wanted to know how any world wonder was built. ***Here ‘stranded’ means ‘free to leave via air or sea at any time’. **** But there is always a little voice that asks ‘if not the aliens, then who?
Retro Review The Blob
jessica harvie explains how dijon mustard and deakin helped her reach her dreams.
It’s no secret: I like French things. Ask any of my friends about my love for baguettes and croissants, crepes au chocolat, coq au vin. Really, my obsession with Dijon mustard is draining my bank accounts dry. I own Harry Potter in French—and yes, it is tres immature, but ‘Poudlard’ is so much funnier than ‘Hogwarts’ to me. So it was a logical action to then scour the Deakin handbook for any signs of French units. by kyah horrocks
It’s the arse-end of the 1980s and a tiny mystery-meteor is about to crash into a small American ski town harder than the winter everyone says is coming. There’s a sign on a shopfront that advises ‘Think Snow’, which is good advice for Jon who still knows nothing. Alas, this isn’t Westeros, there are no Starks and the greatest threat to the realm is not three tween dragons, no. It’s but a single pulsating gelatinous thing that ends up oozing from the meteor more clumsily than the parallel I just drew between two completely disparate worlds of entertainment. Guess which one I’d rather be reviewing right now? The things I do for love, guys ... So even though it’s only 1988, our opening credits contain some eerie aesthetic foreshadowing of the glorious decade to come. Back then, the 90s were approaching at full speed and a drop-shadowed three-dimensional font backlit in violent blue is really making it obvious. Its harbinger is a lead actress who would soon become a staple in that show Becker. Are you interested in seeing the receptionist from Becker in her teenage-cheerleader-in-a-horror-movie phase? I didn’t think so either, but here she is. She’s actually a little bit of chlorine in an otherwise pretty stagnant talent-pool of actors. I’m trying not to judge too hard—with no swear words or boob-shots and a villain that’s literally a blob, there’s only so much you can do to try to find depth of character in this litany of small-town archetypes. Yes, we’ve got randy teens (don’t even think about making out guys, guys aww great now your girlfriend’s a blob), we’ve got a mild-mannered sheriff (‘I just want a date with the waitress!’), a local homeless guy (with an inexplicable number of teeth) and aww yeah a badass leather-wearing teen who doesn’t follow the rules man, except the rules allowing motorcycles and mullets to function in bad weather. The question we all have is, of course, who will get blobbed first? But Blob’s targets are indiscriminate. It’s an unstoppable blobbing machine! When it attacks the homeless guy, I get the sense our boy Blob might be a little right-wing, and is perhaps trying to solve a social problem by destroying the vulnerable. But then the Blob also blobs all over a nasty footballplaying rapist who tries to take advantage of his passed-out date. Is the Blob a space feminist? Can it be re-purposed into a handheld tool of personal defence? These are the questions me and my once-teenage self truly care about, not where did the Blob come from, and was that really a meteor, and how did both black characters get out alive in an 80s horror movie? Perhaps this film is a little more progressive than we all might expect. Becker receptionist even saves the day and her badass motorcycle love-interest at the same time. After its smashing both the homeless community and the patriarchy, the Blob has gorged on so much delicious one-dimensional character flesh it is now sewer-sized, but apparently no match for a … is that a fire extinguisher? Propaganda! Propaganda for the bloodthirsty fire services! And with that bit of fire to our ski town’s reserve of ice, I am out. I’m also now slightly afraid of all the things the Blob resembled in its ascent to its final form. Placentas, rectal prolapses, dead sheriffs (Bob Marley would be proud), and that jelly stuff between the strawberries on a bakery tart. I don’t know how you feel about all of the above, but watch this one at your own risk.
That night, I went to bed with a heavy heart. There were none. My dreams of taking French units were crushed by Deakin’s lack of them. I opened my internet browser and searched other universities’ handbooks like it was porn; they had French, so why didn’t we?
‘my love for dijon mustard was too strong, and how was i ever going to be able to understand the french on the packaging?’ When I arose the next morning I went to put some mustard on my English muffin, only to find that I was out. Broken and in despair, I decided that there had to be a way for me to take some French units; my love for Dijon mustard was too strong, and how was I ever going to be able to understand the French on the packaging. I decided that Deakin not offering the units wasn’t going to stop me. So I became a Sherlock Holmes, and I investigated, I investigated hard. Lying on my bed with my computer, humming Frère Jacques (badly) and so desperate that I was ready to go out on a limb and ask Yahoo Answers, I found a page on the Deakin site that answered all my hopes and dreams: cross institutional study. Cross institutional study is basically a way in which you can study units from another institution, provided Deakin doesn’t offer any similar units. The application process was gruesome. I talked to a faculty course advisor, I applied, and I was—magically—approved. All the snooping on other universities’ websites finally paid off, as I had to decide where I was going to apply. Long story short, I decided to apply for Monash. Applying for Monash was harder than Deakin. Not only did I have to provide certified transcripts and proof of citizenship, but I had to write a personal statement—I had to tell them in less than 200 words why they should let me in. And when it was all in, I got a call the following week, the faculty advisor at Monash telling me that they couldn’t accept my application, as the copy of my birth certificate wasn’t certified. I remember feeling devastated: they were going to reject me because of one piece of paper? When I asked the person on the phone, they almost laughed at me: no, we just need you to send in a certified copy. So take my advice: just get everything official certified. The submission of my application was followed by weeks of waiting. Waiting for news; eating mustard out of a jar like Nutella. (That’s only half an exaggeration, I admit.) Two weeks had passed; I had heard nothing. Just as I was sure that I was going to be rejected, the magical email appeared in my inbox: I was accepted. In the following year, I conjugated a lot of French verbs. That might not sound like much fun, but it really was. It was fun for me, and that’s all that matters. And ask any of my friends, and they tell you just how much I talk about how fabulous my French lecturer was. My degree was just that: my degree. Deakin has a way to let you expand your horizons, and you should take it. Monash’s atmosphere was different to Deakin, but they both have their merits. Monash has a lot more clubs, but Deakin’s classes feel more personal. Monash’s campus is huge—it makes me appreciate the warmth and personality of Deakin’s campus. I had to commute a lot as there were a few days where I would have class at both Deakin and Monash, and my friends were understanding of that. I had one of the best teachers of my life at Monash, and his affection for helping us learn spilled over into my classes at Deakin. So it was worth it; I may have given countless explanations about how I was going to two universities, but I got beaucoup de français.
Exchange is worth the change claudia sensi contugi looks back on her time during exchange and finds more than a few memories worth holding onto.
Some people may tell you the best time of your life is when you’re a kid and you can play outside all day. For some people it’s being a teenager, when you get to party and hang out with your friends all the time. Others disagree, and may tell you the best thing you can be is a parent, a homeowner, a professional or a lover. For me, one of the best things a person can be is an exchange student. When you fill out an application, the first thing they ask you is why you want to do exchange. Some of the standard answers: to travel to a new place, to learn about other cultures, to get the best out of the uni experience. My experience as an exchange student in Australia was no different. Being from Ecuador, I’d never been in this part of the world and an exchange was an opportunity to get to know it. I wanted to learn about other cultures—not only the Australian one, but the ones of other exchange students. In February, I arrived to the housing complex that would be my home for the next 8 months. After 3 flights, 2 layovers, and a total of 30 hours travelling, I was ready to lie down. The landlord showed me around the common area and then to my room, where a bare bed, a desk, and a closet waited for me. Then he closed the door and left. All the excitement and thrills of being away from home in a new country cracked, broke and fell all over the carpet. Is this what my life would be like for the next eight months? Go to class, go back home, be alone in my room? Eating alone and watching TV shows on my laptop for eight months? What the fuck was I going to do? This is something that scares everyone about exchange—the fear of being alone, away from your friends and family, with nothing familiar to fall back on. You’re exposed, vulnerable. But you need to let that feeling go and dive in. So I shook it off and went out to a common area where I’d seen other students. I let out a soft ‘Hi’, and one of the Dutch girls, Shannon, asked my name and my country. Ten minutes later I had an invitation for lunch and to go to White Night with her and other Dutch people. Even though I was tired (3 flights, 2 layovers, 30 hours), I said ‘Fuck it. I’m in Australia, and I’m going to enjoy every day here, starting now’. Later, on the tram ride home, I ended up falling asleep on some guy’s shoulder, his girlfriend staring from the opposite seat. Worth it. After that day I realised I was going to be okay, but only if I decided to be okay. When people tell you to ‘make the most of your experience’, it means you must consciously decide to make it so. Nobody’s going to pull you to travel or make friends. It’s all about the choices, and your attitude when making those choices. It’s about saying yes. ‘Wanna try crocodile?’ Yes. ‘Go to Tasmania?’ Isn’t that in Africa ... ? Okay. ‘Join the dance club?’ Sure. ‘Go on a Tinder date?’ But what if he’s a rap—Oh, what the hell. I was very lucky to find people like me—I don’t mean people with my same culture and language, as my best friends and travelling partners were two Dutch girls, Meeke and Eva, and Meghan, a girl from USA. I mean people who had also decided they wanted to embrace everything Australia had to offer. And if I ever felt uncertain or scared or nervous, they would pull me to go with them, and when they felt that way, I would pull them. Our adventures took us from Philip Island to Alice Springs, from the Great Ocean Road to Fraser Island—places I’d never even heard of. Amazing places I didn’t even know existed, and wouldn’t have, if I’d decided to stay ‘safely’ in my room.
Exchange gives you lots of opportunities to take chances, and not only travelling. When you’re home, you’re surrounded with variables that have affected you your whole life: your family, your friends, your culture. The ‘way of doing things’ there. On exchange, you’re free of those variables and you can find out if the way you are back home is genuine, or if you only act like that because of the variables you’re exposed to. One of the things I decided when I arrived was to not hold back. If I wanted to talk to someone, I would go up to them and ask them for a coffee after class. If I wanted to hug someone, I would go and hug them. Whatever it was, I would do it. And it was this attitude that made my life as an exchange student one of the happiest versions of myself I’ve ever been. I camped in the desert and hiked mountains. I tried whisky and pickle juice (which was disgusting) and Gin & Raspberry (which was delicious). I learned to make bread and coconut rice. I published three articles and joined the Wordly Production Team. So if you want to do something, don’t make up excuses. Just do it. And if you’re as lucky as I was to find beautiful people who motivate you to want to be more of an explorer, more of an artist, more of a person, your experience will be even better.
‘It’s not so important to remember the jokes, but the fact that you laughed with your friends. It’s okay to forget the details.’ There’s a quote from an Ecuadorian historian who says, ‘You must see your country with the eyes of a tourist’. Coming back, that’s exactly what I felt. But instead of seeing it with the eyes of any tourist, it made me think about the people I met, all these friends from different cultures who have never seen Ecuador. When I’m driving and I see people crossing in the middle of the road I think of how Meghan would freak out, how Laura would think it’s interesting, how Jack might laugh it off. When I eat our traditional food like ceviche, I think of Karttik and how she would starve because of all the meat and dairy, but also that she might like patacones. I think of Jess, who would eat everything on her plate and Jessica, who’d pop one of her dairy pills and just eat, even if it made her sick. When you’re writing something, a common piece of advice is to leave it be for a while, and then come back to it and see it with new eyes. I think the same applies to home. It’s amazing seeing things that have been part of your daily life for so long, in a different way. I remembered the exchange students from my university in Ecuador, gaping at the iguanas on campus, taking pictures of them from every angle. I used to just curse at those lizards and be on my way. But now when I see one, I stop and take a picture, because one of my friends might find it interesting. On my fourth day back in Ecuador, I looked at the bottle of water I’d taken on the plane (living in Melbourne for 8 months, you learn to refill water bottles). ‘Smart Water’ was the brand. And I couldn’t remember if I had bought it in Melbourne or at the L.A. airport. Then I tried to remember which brand of water I used to buy in Melbourne and couldn’t. I tried to remember other details: the kind of trees outside my house, the name of my Writing teacher, the sound of the tram passing. My heart beat faster as I realised that I hadn’t even spent a week back home and was already forgetting. What would I lose next? Would I remember the taste of Melbourne South East Asian food? (God, I miss the food).
What Do We Talk About (And How Do We Talk About It) When We Talk About Abortion? An Would I remember the sound of the fish eating the coral in the Great Barrier Reef?
movie review by tom bensley
Would I remember the shape of the Milky Way that night in Lorne? Would I remember joking with Luke after class, or watching the toy collection in Hayley and Laura’s living room, as we listened to Bon Iver? Would I remember eating Thai with Karttik as she tells me about canoeing in Queensland to blocking coal ports? Would I remember going to the ice bar with Jess, posing with the statues? Or that Jessica hates geese and that going to the Pancake Parlour was ‘our thing’? Would I remember that time Jack took me to the Abbotsford convent and we talked about everything from family to hipster scarves? A week later, I heard the birds. Chirping, dozens of them. And I was transported back to my first day at uni, walking home from my Supernatural Lit class and hearing the chirping of a hundred birds in the middle of the night. Back then, this struck me as strange. But now, it takes me back to that feeling of lying in the grass outside of Deakin on one of the first sunny days in October with Jessica, Jack, Jess and Karttik, looking up at the sky and feeling content in having found a place where I belonged. Of lying in a hammock at Laura, Hayley, Jack and Shona’s living room after a Sunday lunch. Peace. Like I didn’t need anything else. The feeling of home. And I realised it doesn’t matter. Details are just that: details. And they will come back when I see or hear or taste something that reminds me of those moments. The important thing is to remember what the feeling motivated you to do. What it made you realise, learn, live. It’s not so important to remember the jokes, but the fact that you laughed with your friends. It’s okay to forget the details. But keep that feeling and let it envelop you like a warm blanket to comfort you when you’re down and to heal you when you’re hurt. Now I have people I love in more than one part of the world and that in itself is amazing. And when we see each other again, I’ll put my details together with theirs and we’ll weave the memories back together. They will probably be a bit gray, with some holes or loose threads, but for us, they will be complete enough to transport us back to that moment.
Gillian (with a hard “G”) Robespierre’s debut feature Obvious Child (2014) is a candid romantic comedy with a unique spin on a heavily debated issue. The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2014 and it stars Jenny Slate (of Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation) in her first leading role. Slate plays Donna Stern, the vivacious New York comedian who, after a drunken one-night stand, books an abortion for two weeks ahead—on Valentine’s Day. Robespierre’s movie raised controversy for its take on abortion because it doesn’t really use its abortion-centric plot to push an agenda. It’s simply about a 29-year-old comedian who still has some growing up to do. A comedian is a difficult character. The storyteller needs to look beyond the comedian’s on-stage persona and reveal who she is off-stage. For the comedian, everything off-stage has the potential to be funny—a disaster is potentially an on-stage anecdote. It’s a difficult imitation for an actor to make believable.
by refusing to let the unwanted pregnancy become a big deal she makes the statement that, even though it’s a confusing and emotional journey, Donna’s choice is just that: her choice. Thankfully, Jenny Slate is magnificent. The movie opens with Ms Stern on stage, leaning on the mic stand. Her voice comes in a low slur, crackling into the microphone: ‘I used to hide what my vagina did to my underpants’. She reels off more information about her relationship than her boyfriend—who in the next scene breaks up with her for her transparency—is comfortable with. On stage, Donna projects her at the time emotional state as though reading from her (very funny) diary. Slate maintains Donna’s comic perspective like a guard dog, barking witticisms at the dramatic shit-storm that would otherwise consume her. The supporting cast are all terrific. Gaby Hoffman (who plays Donna’s best friend Nellie) proves she doesn’t need much screen time to fully realise her acerbic, outspoken character; Richard Kind as Donna’s father is funny and heart-warming (because Richard Kind always is) and while Donna’s friend Joey is little more than a comic relief stereotype, the actors all do well with the naturalistic dialogue. They clearly enjoyed making the movie and it’s infectious; Obvious Child is made great by its performers. When the doctor confirms her pregnancy, Donna responds with her trademark awkward candour: ‘I would like an abortion, please?’ The film sets up Donna’s abortion as its main plot, though the issue is quickly moved into the background. This is what’s so unique about Robespierre’s story. By refusing to let the unwanted pregnancy become a big deal she makes the statement that, even though it’s a confusing and emotional journey, Donna’s choice is just that: her choice. Arguably the best and most refreshing point a story can make about an over-debated issue is that it happens, and people deal with it. Unfortunately for the movie’s sake, the lack of conflict causes the middle part of the film to lull. Donna waits the two weeks before her abortion date and the film incites the kind of feeling one gets during a waiting period; every event leading up to the thing you’re waiting for feels less significant in comparison. Donna’s relationship with Max lacks chemistry and mostly relies on awkward encounters and the side-story about her job falling apart never complements or really connects to the main plot. Even though it doesn’t feel like she’s making a statement, Robespierre seems to have sacrificed an engaging story to make a good point, perhaps to start a discussion (or to end one) about how we represent abortion in our stories. Donna Stern deflects hardships with humour. She prefers a quip to a long discussion and, as a result, she rarely lets anything affect her. Robespierre’s story pushes her obvious child to deal with something she can’t avoid. Donna can’t punch-line an unwanted pregnancy out of existence; she needs to consider the ramifications of her actions and make an informed decision. Obvious Child is a story that takes a socially controversial issue and examines how it affects the individual person emotionally, physically and morally. It’s not always about what everyone else thinks. And Ms Stern still manages to find humour in it. The night before Valentine’s Day she has a set to perform and Nellie assures her, ‘You are gonna kill it out there tonight.’ ‘No,’ she says, smirking. ‘That’s tomorrow’.
In my first year on res, I arrived at 9AM on check-in day very uncertain of how things were about to go. Was I going to like my housemates in the student village? I had no idea. Was I going to have enough money to get through the year? Probably not. Did I remember to bring sunscreen? No, of course not. They moved all of the first years in on the same day and we had the residency to ourselves for a whole week before any of the returning ressies showed up. That meant we got to know each other pretty well and could form a few friendships. I hope I’ll always be friends with the two girls who moved in to B3 with me that day because, honestly, these women got me through O’week and the rest of the year. Eventually, one of them told me that I was the only reason she stayed on res after the first week. When the second years moved in, they were strangers to us first years, but we warmed to them soon enough. I just wish they’d been there to enjoy all of the cool ressie O’week activities with us. In my second year on res, I arrived around 10AM. It was the first day of check-in week and this time they were letting all of the ressies move on at the same time. Was I going to like my new set of housemates? I had no idea. Was I going to have enough money for the year? This time I had a job, so I was a little less stressed about that. And this time I did remember to bring sunscreen. We all moved in at the same time that year, so there was no awkward segregation between the first years and everyone else. I loved my new housemates and we probably had a better flow of communication and sense of mateship than the people I’d lived with the previous year. While I was personally closer to the two girls I loved so much from B3, the nine others who lived with me in C3 were more like a big family unit than a bunch of students living together; the social groups within the house were better able to come together and mingle rather than there being a constant sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’. That’s not to say there was tension between the groups that comprised the house in my first year—the groups just didn’t overlap as often. In my first year, I didn’t have a job and I was at times unnecessarily stingy. The amount of times I went out with the ressies could be counted on my fingers. I didn’t go on any of the Mystery Bus tours because the tickets were $30, plus whatever drinks I’d buy while I was out. Having said that, the two girls from B3 that I stuck close with didn’t go to these events either and we were happy staying at the unit together doing our own thing. In my second year, I tried not to hold back quite so much. I went out more often and even went on one of the Mystery Bus tours, which was probably one of the best nights out I had on res. I frequented The Palace and The Hawthorn Hotel at least twice as often and joined in at as many of the parties as I could, regardless of whether I chose to drink. When I put myself out there and made the most of my time on res, I felt socially healthier than I had in my first year when I’d limited myself so often. Of course, I still partied in moderation and I made sure I enjoyed myself instead of going somewhere or drinking something because people wanted me to. In my first year, we had an international student from California join the unit at the start of Trimester 2. I tried to be super welcoming and she ended up hanging out with me and the other two girls in B3 that always stuck together. We made quite the awesome foursome and drank too much tequila on her birthday in September—and a little less for my birthday the week after. The day we all moved off res and I realised that seeing her again depending on how soon and how often I could make a trip to California broke my heart a little. I knew it wouldn’t be soon or often. In my second year, a student from Scotland moved in when I was the only person at the unit. Again, I couldn’t help but instantly want to be her friend and we became close and always hung out together. We bonded over our mutual love for writing and shared an obsession with Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, (the latter which several of our other housemates and neighbours were roped into watching with us). And I’m lucky enough to say that although neither of us will be living on res in 2015, she is staying at Deakin for another trimester and I don’t have to say goodbye to her just yet. So why am I telling you all of this? I guess I want you to see that living on res can be a good experience, but that ultimately everyone will experience it differently. But living on res really depends on you and your mind-set and the effort you put in to making the most of it. I made more effort in my second year and had an even better year than my first, which I had already considered to be pretty damn good. So if you’re living on res, treat your housemates like a new family. Love them. Spend time with them. Get to know them and be their friend. You’ll quickly find they’ll do the same for you, if they haven’t already. And no one’s perfect and that’s okay. Living with people sometimes means that you get on each other’s nerves and by the end of the year there might be some people you’ll be happy not to live with anymore and some that you wish you never had to part ways with. As long as you give res your best shot, give your housemates an honest go and let yourself get swept up with the near-constant social life, res can be a home that you’ll love for the time you’re there and you can fill it with memories that you can look back on fondly when your time there is done. by bonnee crawford
New Years Eve Again by luke peverelle
Here we are, again, on the cusp of a new year and I walk the familiar paths that I know I must have taken, and I know this because I told myself I would remember on some distant, splendid day that I would look back and shrug sheepishly and say, ‘Well, we certainly came a long way, didn’t we?’ even if I had not gone a long way or gone anywhere at all, feet planted in supplication on this tiled floor, even if that were the case because this is the time of rebirth, a lovely armageddon complete with fireworks and song, snapshots of faces laughing gaily, fingers pointed to the coruscating sky as if to say ‘Yes, I will go a long way this time, just you wait’ even if it isn’t true or even near the truth, a saucy lie fluttering its way from your mouth all in awe of your flaming purpose. Even if that were the case because this is the time to believe that we can undo all that we have done and fashion great works of our intentions and the dreams that we had when we were young, the freshest start you’ve ever seen and all you need to do is bear witness to this one night of cascading light the dawn of a new age the new year, your year but I tell you this: when all is said and done, and the liquor has settled in your stomach and you weave your way to whatever home you call your own, the sun will rise and the day it heralds will look just the same as the one before but don’t worry, there’s always next year.
Change-a-phobia stephen holmes reflects on the fears he held during major turning points in his life. The thing about life is that when you look back at it you can split it up into simple stages, at least, that aspect of your life that is governed by an institution. For example: there was primary school, the first six years of schooling; high school, the time where you grow from adolescence to adulthood; now there is university, and—as I have yet to discover—whatever lies beyond. If I think back to the periods of transition between these stages I begin to see a recurring pattern: in every single one I was afraid. Fear is a natural part of life, but sometimes it flies in the face of everything you consider rational. When I remember my schooling I see that I was afraid to move away from primary school, from my six years of contentment, to an as-of-yet unknown frontier. In my mind it’s like the American cowboys exploring the Wild West, because in every cowboy story there’s always a gunslinger ready to challenge the hero to a duel, or another big baddie with a name like “Dangerous Dan” waiting to sweep in. From those months between my graduation of Year Six and the beginning of Year Seven I dreaded what was to come. The thing about change is that sometimes you’re tempted to change who you are to fit in with where you are. My primary school persona, to my mind, wouldn’t fit with the big kids in high school, so I thought that everything would have to change if I was to be happy in my next stage of my life. But when I arrived at high school I soon realised that it wasn’t so different after all. The thing is, all my classmates were in the same situation as me, and I soon discovered the single most important lesson that I will ever learn: you should never force yourself to change for somebody else.
‘Instead of letting the fear of change control me, I’m just going to let it wash right through me. I’m going to let it pass me by like cars on the freeway, content in the knowledge that if I just keep plodding along everything will be okay.’ In high school the land was just like I had known in my old home. For the next six years I made myself a new nest, gave up the American cowboy analogies, moving on to birds, and settled myself in nice and snug. But every bird has a natural predator, be they spiders, foxes, or even other birds. I soon found myself finishing school and moving on to University. University. The very word demanded bold lettering, like a name etched on a gravestone, or the sound of a hammer driving nails into a coffin. u thunk ni thunk ver thunk si thunk ty thunk The prospect frightened me. It can be hard when the difference between logical and illogical blurs together like the heat coming off a desert. The thing is, this time it was completely different, even alien to me. I was tumbled completely around into a world where everybody was so adult. The people were nice but it was completely overwhelming. I was lost. But then I realised something. I’d discovered that pattern for the first time. It wasn’t the sudden epiphany that left me free from fear for good: no, I’m afraid of what might happen next week, let alone for the rest of the year. But it did help me. Somehow, in some crazy way, everything would always turn out alright. Sometimes you run into obstacles or get intimidated by where you are or the people around you, but you can’t let this get you down. I remember when I first started university I got completely lost on the way to lecture theatre 1A and missed my first history lecture. But what followed that discouraging start was chatting to a helpful criminology tutor passing by who explained the finer points of traversing the Burwood campus. And you know what? Because of that chat I never got lost again. The thing about fear is that you can’t let it discourage you. So from now on I’ve made a decision. Instead of letting the fear of change control me, I’m just going to let it wash right through me. I’m going to let it pass me by like cars on the freeway, content in the knowledge that if I just keep plodding along everything will be okay. And I think that is a good motto not just for me but for everybody that finds themselves frightened by change. I think that’s a pretty good way to live your life.
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CONTRIBUTORS alison evans andrew roberts blair duncan bonnee crawford charlotte milkins chelsea fox claudia sensi contugi hannah oâ€™loughlin hayley elliott-ryan jack kirne professor jane den hollander jessica harvie kezia lubanszky kyah horrocks lauren hawkins luke peverelle rowan girdler stephen holmes tom bensley