It’s not often that I feel calm. I have supernovas going off in my head, squirmy things in my muscles and fingertips. I’m sore all the time because I exercise so much. It’s one of the only ways to expend the energy, wear me down, expend the effort effort effort. And I love the zing in my body afterwards, and the way my chest feels cavernous. There’s so much room in there.

The other relaxations – dancing, alcohol, sex. One of them not so good for you, and messes up your ability to get things done the next day. Dancing, music in general – love to do it when no one is watching. Love to do it when someone might be but I pretend they aren’t. Love when you get so sweaty your fringe sticks to your forhead and you feel like this is what your body was made to do. And sex, well, you know how good that is. Not quite as frequent (or chest-opening) when you’re single though.

But I can’t relax, in general. I can’t watch TV. I get frustrated within minutes at the ads or noise or people. I get frustrated by noise a lot. And smells. I have a really keen sense of smell. I hate public transport. I swear at people in my head. Thank Bob for my bike.

When I read my mind is alive. I take notes. I dog-ear the pages and underline things. I mark passages with stars. Reading, for me, is strenuous, but stimulating. Obviously this is my (second) favourite mental exercise (after writing). In movies, too, my mind runs fast. Again, I enjoy the stimulation. I prefer movies that make me think, make me feel.

When I go to bed at night, body sore, mind usually wasted from work, reviewing, blogging, reading, talking, hearing, engaging, taking note note note, remembering, feeling, do you think my brain gives me peace? No. I barely wake up refreshed. The mind chatters – great flapping jaws going over things over things for hours and hours. Sometimes the brain is worrying, but mostly it’s not. It’s analysing, it’s planning, it’s happy and frustrated and sad and angry and pleased but mostly it’s simply awake.

I’ve been like this for at least 10 years that I can remember, so it is just me. Every few months though, I have a bit of an ‘oh…’ moment. As in, if I don’t have some sort of break, I will be nothing. I will be a collapsed heap, or an empty shell with a work-face on. It’s just so hard for me to ‘blob out’. The people who save me are lovely friends and family who say things like ‘you’re only 24’ (oh yeah…), or ‘who are you doing all this for?’ (I don’t know, the future me I suppose), or that good one ‘stop and smell the flowers’, or as my friend Simon once said ‘look up’. These work – but the flowers stimulate me too, and I want to go and write about them. I have to remember to just be sometimes. Is anyone else like this?

Corny childhood songs are the best to work out/run/dance around one’s room to:

 

Now that’s over with (many of you have said you like the personal stuff, so there you go!), here is a bit of a round-up of lit-goodies for this week:

* The new issue of Mascara Literary Review is now online. I reviewed Kristin Hannaford’s Fragile Context. There is some gorgeous poetry in the issue, so bookmark it for later if you don’t have time now.

* Asian-Australian arts and culture magazine Peril has made a callout for the next issue, to be themed ‘Why are people so unkind?’ Check it out here.

* Do you guys know about Narrative Magazine? I might be a bit slow here. It was pointed out to me in an email by Beatrice Rose. Haven’t had a really good poke around yet but I like what I see. They have fiction comps too.

* Wordnik is a clever idea – a new kind of dictionary (via Beattie).

* Avid Reader bookstore in Brissie have put up a bunch of footage from Philipp Meyer‘s launch. The video isn’t top notch but the audio is great! Stoked to have this as I missed all Meyer’s Aus appearances. Looks like their YouTube channel has a lot of other goodies also. Check it out.

* The Reader’s Feast Crime and Justice Festival is on again at the Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne, July 17 – 19. More info here.

* OzCo have a new ‘Arts content for the digital era’ strategy. It sounds to me like they’re moving in all the right directions. Read the executive summary or full strategy here.

* Next Tuesday is Bloomsday, celebration James Joyce’s Ulysses, which many of you know I am all wrapped up in at the moment, savouring it page by page. It may take me all year but that’s okay. On Tuesday I’ll bring you a special Joycean blog post…

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