Sunday, 29 March 2015

Fiction Project: '101 Blog Post Ideas' #1 Run A Contest

Hello friends! Today I am starting a little project to get me writing frequently. I will be posting short pieces of fiction here, each inspired by an entry from this list of '101 Blog Post Ideas That Will Make Your Blog Hot'. I won't be using every single one of them, but there are plenty there! Let's get started:

#1 Run a contest – The flier made it sound easy enough: run the race, win fifty pounds. You didn't even have to come first; just cross the finish line. ‘Everyone who makes it to the end will win a prize!’ Harry needed the cash to pay off the lay-by on his tv and, he reasoned, he certainly enjoyed a leisurely jog now and then (‘then’ being one of those abstract sort of times that we always think about happening but never seems to arrive). So he called the number and got the address of the race track from the automated voice and turned up at the given time.
The address was for a big building in an industrial part of town, a warehouse-looking structure clad in shiny corrugated steel. Spray-painted on the double doors was a large red spiral. The doors made harsh scraping sounds along the concrete slab as Harry pushed them open. He found himself in front of a row of gates set into a mud brick wall, each with a light above it, some glowing red, some green. Directly before him was something resembling a music stand, bearing a laminated sheet of instructions on top of a pile of forms, and a blue biro tied to the stand with a length of string. The instructions were printed neatly in an Arial font, and at the top of the page was a logo of a red spiral in a black box.
‘Please sign the attached form,’ they read, ‘then take a numbered vest from one of the hooks behind you and enter a gate. Available gates are those with a green light. The race will begin at the sound of the horn. Please keep to your lane and move straight ahead. Thank you for your participation and good luck’.
Harry signed a form without paying too much attention to what it said, then took his vest and entered a gate. The light above the gate’s entrance flicked from green to red, lighting the space with a strange glow. The gate was a crude archway, leading to a poorly lit tunnel which appeared to be made from the same mustard-coloured mud brick as the wall. A door made of metal bars blocked the tunnel entrance.
Harry had just started doing some warm-up stretches when the door swung open and a horn sounded. He had been expecting an air-horn, something loud and startling, but this was different; rumbling, primal, called forth from bone and penetrating him like the call of a predator. He began to run.
 As soon as he had left the gate the concrete floor gave way to roughly paved earth and he stumbled repeatedly, knocking into the wall and grazing his elbows. Flakes of mud brick settled on his t-shirt and mingled with the blood from his cuts, forming a paste. After a few minutes of frantic sprinting Harry slowed, a stitch stabbing painfully in his side. He breathed deeply, clutching his ribs, laughing to himself at his sudden fit of panic but unwilling or unable to stop walking.
He looked up, trying to identify the source of light. The roof of the tunnel was surprisingly high, but he could make out what appeared to be shallow bowls of burning oil hanging from chains. There was no sound in the tunnel save for his own panting, and the air smelled like dust and iron.
Harry wondered about the other participants; there had been at least seven other occupied gates when he had come in. He felt a little proud at how fast he had just run, and thought that for sure he must have gotten a decent head start. He decided to pick up the pace a little, determined not to lose his edge; what if there was a bigger prize for coming first? Harry started jogging, humming gently to himself. He continued on for quite a while, pleased with his stamina, noting absently how the floor seemed to be gradually sloping downwards.
There were gaps at random intervals in the wall, tall archways leading to other tunnels which seemed more or less identical to his, but he paid them no attention. He just kept following the path as best as he could, keeping his eyes on the ground so he didn’t trip on the uneven stones.
Hot wind blew from the archways, occasionally making a shrieking sound as it blew past. And there was a smell that came on the wind, like farm animals and rotting meat. After a while Harry began seeing things through the archways, just out of the corner of his eyes, like glistening red streaks on the ground or the spectre of an outstretched hand. Something ran in front of him, across his tunnel from one side to the other, a scrabbling, stumbling, human-shaped thing that looked at him with one wide, rolling eye before disappearing through an archway.
Harry assumed they were just trying to find a short cut and was miffed that the others were trying to cheat, and resolved to go faster and try and beat them through sheer skill. Surely the race must finish soon? How much further could it be?
After a while he realised there were footsteps behind him, not just the echo of his own but independent, another participant trying to muscle in on his track. He put on a short burst of speed, sprinting a couple of metres around the long curve of the wall. The footsteps behind him kept their pace. Harry was sweating heavily, and could feel a hot wind blowing behind him. It was thick with the rotting animal smell, and he hoped he would soon be past it.
He tripped on something which rolled out from under his foot, putting his hands out to steady himself and landing palms-first on a small pile of bones. The force of his fall splintered them and yellowed shards stuck out of his palms. He swore, struggling to his feet and pulling out the splinters of bone with his teeth as he kept walking. His palms were slick with blood and the footsteps behind him quickened.
Harry’s whole body ached and his breath was wheezing out of his body, and he wondered if he couldn’t cut a deal with the race officials to take the winnings of anyone who didn’t cross the finish line. He’d have to buy antiseptic on the way home and he didn’t want that coming out of his fifty quid.
Whoever was behind him seemed to be gaining, and Harry realised he hadn’t looked over his shoulder once the whole time. Were they close enough to see yet?
The curves of tunnel were beginning to get very tight. He should have read that form more closely. He felt like he’d missed something important. It was in an ancient language, something he didn’t want to read. Why did he sign it?
He must be close to the end now. He hadn’t heard any screams on the wind for a while. Maybe the others had given up. Or maybe they’d all gotten to the end. Maybe he should have tried cheating too.
Why hadn’t he looked over his shoulder? It seemed a perfectly reasonable thing to do. He hadn’t even really thought about going through one of the archways, even though he might have been able to find another participant. They could have chatted. He could have told them about the tv he was paying off. He might have even made a friend. After all, they weren’t really competing. Everyone who made it to the end won a prize.
The footsteps were very close now. Harry could hear their breath, could feel it like a hot wind. What if he just peeked over his shoulder a little bit? He must be very near the end now, and everyone else was dead. Surely that should win him a little something extra.
The smell was terrible. It was all around him.
Harry turned his head, just a little, just enough. And then he started to run.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Feminist Anthems for International Women's Day

Happy International Women's Day! I've put together a collection of girl power songs, some that get me pumped, some that make me laugh, some that are nostalgic and some that are fairly new. Remember, just because we've come a long way, doesn't mean we haven't still got a long way to go. 

Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill: Bikini Kill and much of the riot grrrl movement have some deeply troubling politics re: trans people as well as being a very white movement, but I'm including this song as a riot grrrrl classic. It's good for getting pumped.

Just a Girl by No Doubt: 90's nostalgia. Gwen Stefani is a problematic fave re: her continued appropriation of various cultures but No Doubt were a great band.

Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves by Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox: a classic and a bit of a *wink wink nudge nudge* 

Love is a Battlefield by Pat Benetar: this is the greatest music video of all time and I want to know all your favorite parts. It makes me want to go to bars just to aggressively shimmy at anyone who looks at me the wrong way. When was the last time you aggressively girl power danced out of a bar and down the street into the sunrise?

Sister Suffragette from Mary Poppins: more nostalgia. not the most flattering portrayal of suffragettes but damn satisfying.

Girl In A Country Song by Maddie and Tae: disclaimer: I do not listen to country music, but I don't think you really have to in order to appreciate this gem. 

Just One of the Guys by Jenny Lewis: this video has all my faves and is generally gorgeous, plus a great song about ridiculous expectations.

Q.U.E.E.N. by Janelle Monae: 100% flawless

You Don't Own Me by Lesley Gore: for when you just need people to back the hell off

I Am Woman by Helen Reddy: a feminist classic

and if that's not enough for you, here's the first video in nice long a Beyonce playlist, starting with Single Ladies

Keep fighting!

No One Sounds Like Joy Division

Today I went to the Lady Petrova studio sale with a friend. Some ladies I know from Rookie-related activities were there and we had a look in some other outlets nearby. It's always nice to hang out with people who aren't from my main group of friends, especially people who are generally much cooler and more stylish than me - it makes me feel cool by association. From the sale I bought some gorgeous greyish lace with yellow detail and a bunch of floaty fabric with a digital floral print. I'm not sure what I'll do with the lace but I'm thinking of seeing if I can put the floral fabric on the back of one of the vintage denim jackets I'm upcycling.

I've discovered I get a lot less depressed about not having any money to buy beautiful clothes when I shop somewhere that I know is either a) extremely expensive or b) won't have anything in my size, which is the case with Lady Petrova. Still, there were two beautiful capes and a couple of other things I did lust after, but I'm slowly training myself to get better about object envy I think. Maybe it's just because I'm feeling in a vaguely good place about my current creative output? I have a lot of projects I'm either working on or intending to start, I've been writing poetry again and I've been updating this blog on a semi-regular basis.

I found a copy of The Maltese Falcon in a pile of books next to a bin on the way to the sale. There are so many cool things out there if you have the time and know where to look. Factory outlets are definitely the best thing. Ditto hard rubbish. I keep seeing cte furniture but my apartment is already super full.

I went to a big Salvation Army store on my own after splitting with everyone and made a beeline for the records. A guy came up to me and started on a twenty-minute long rave about how hobbies become trendy and anyone can get famous on the internet and you can't find anything good in thrift shops anymore. He kept talking about 80's post-punk and electronica music and was very taken with Joy Division. He told me that no one else in that scene was as totally 100% honest as Ian Curtis, that everyone else had a 10% veneer they put up while he bared everything. Then he told me to check out AlleyTunes Records as one of the few places left that still has a great variety of barely-seen stuff. Apparently the guy that runs it is French and is perfectly happy for customers to sit there for in silence hours listening to records, but that if you act really enthusiastic he can recommend all sorts of music. So thanks for the recommendation, random Abbotsford Salvo's guy. I'm sorry again to hear about the young man who stole your record collection. I think a lot of what you said was bullshit and I definitely didn't want to stand there for 20 minutes listening to a stranger who kept touching my arm, but you were nice enough and definitely an interesting alternative to the usual creeps and randos that invade my space in public places.  

Tomorrow I have to do job applications* and find the will to clean my apartment. I may end up doing art instead.

*I typed 'wishes' instead of 'job applications' and almost didn't notice. What does that mean?

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Dear Patti Smith (Don't Think About the Wunderkinds)

Just keep reminding myself: Patti Smith didn't make it until she was much older than I am now.

But she also worked a lot harder than I do before then.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Untitled Poem

I will be an Amazon,
I will force my self to take up space.
I will be so
and so Wild
I will take up all your air and
drink your blood.

Just try me.

I will be a warrior,
I will crash my ships into your shore
storm your walls.

I will bring it all down,

burn it all down.

I will conquer

Nothing will stop me nothing will stop me nothing will stop me I will be
so big,
so strong.

With metal moulded,
breasts cupped in steel
and ass
in fresh-forged iron.

I will be a fighter,
and a destroyer,
I will tower over the world and
pick it from my teeth.

no sword necessary.