the sense olfactory
of synthetic blueberry
soap suds of mauve and
shadow on pillows
an Elvis thing
old sailor’s ink and
don’t give in
there must be a better way
but what is it?
beating head ‘gainst walls
expecting butterflies to
from the fissure
writing about rebels while
paperclipping plain white pages
of trapped princess
to make it
she’s got an itchy… cee
wants to steal
oh, she notices
your faults and smirks
where you thought
you’d be unseen
picking your nose
holds out a hand
burn life down
Pic: Aeon Flux (snatched from https://formerpeople.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/reflections-on-the-avant-garde-in-pop-culture-aeon-fluxs-tides-and-duchamps-fountain/)
it was pink and curved
it was black thick-pile velvet
it had the tacky floor of a Camden boozer
and it smelled like clothes
in the morning
the smoking ban
to hold in one hand
forearms rest on thighs
an imperfect fleshy sphere
a soggy cosmetic sponge
pink-brown, is that my skintone?
outdated, like a cord-phone
a soaked-in scent of hangovers
fumes of long ago
mine, tongue-smooth, alone…
lazy, comfortable, like home
Soundcloud recording: https://soundcloud.com/user-808707280/heartplace
There’s this episode of Astro Boy that I always remember. There’s an older boy, Matthew Tennyson, who Astro admires because he’s training to become a space pilot and will be made a captain when he turns 18 in a few days. However, on his birthday, it turns out that Matthew is actually also a robot. Unlike Astro Boy’s parents, the boy’s father had just ‘upgraded’ his body once a month so it looked like he was growing. The boy – now Captain Tennyson – is devastated to find he’s not a real human.
“I’m just a mechanical doll!”
He’s also worried that his Captainship will now be in question, since his crew are all humans. It was, naturally, up to Astro to show him that being a robot was actually pretty cool.
For some reason, that horrible moment of disconnect: realising you are not, in fact, what or who you always believed, really resonated with me. I remember it very clearly. The tall, dark and handsome Cap’n Tennyson looking beseechingly into the huge Japaname child-eyes of Astro for help, guidance and the reassurance that he, too could be loved, even if he was not the person he always thought himself to be.
I guess it’s a good analogy for growing up. Or any sort of major change.
I also remember the scene showing the discarded, last-month’s robot body of the ‘growing boy’ being dispatched into space, spinning off, lifeless, into infinity. Quite a visceral image of how we must, perhaps, literally shuck off our former selves in order to grow and change. But then we often get stung by imposter syndrome!
I just re-watched the episode and it was mostly as I remember. The ‘older boy’ was actually 20 was already a captain. He discovered his robot nature when he spied his beloved father sneaking the ‘corpse’ of his former self into the space-waste chute. Once everything had been worked out, there was also a touching moment when the father (wonderfully named Eldritch Tennyson) explained he only did it because he so wanted a child but couldn’t have one any other way, and how much he loved his son no matter whether he was human or not (understandably this resonated more with me now as a parent, than it probably did when I first saw the episode aged 8!)
“Keeping a secret like this is too hard on an old man like me.” –Eldritch Tennyson.
What’s the take home? I guess it pays to remember that, as we move, change, grow, and maybe look back at the corpses of our former selves floating, discarded through space, we nonetheless retain in our core the bits that are worthy of love and deserving of respect. And, hopefully, we will also make friends with pointy-haired robot superheroes along the way!
Watch the episode “Outer Spaceport” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5eQ-TuVFFQ
The way the clouds hang
light in a heavy sky
ragged fragments of white
at midday, bluegrey thunderhead
harsh mountains behind
stippled in snow and ice,
chimney smoke that will never be mine
I fit myself into a crevasse
thinking I’d weather a few more years
tore at the façade
shattered fragments in mud,
sharp so you cut yourself,
will never forget the trails I ran alone
it’s already a dream
of something left behind
Welcome to 2018! I’ve found it was useful to talk about writing goals at various points in the past so this is my housekeeping/ looking forward/ looking back blog for the year. Partly for my own reference but I’ve also got a question for you guys!
Housekeeping: I was really pleased to finish #26Cantons52weeks in the allotted time. I made a snazzy (sort of) homepage for it here: https://clairevetica.wordpress.com/26cantons52weeks/
I’ve also updated my About me page and added a new pic.
Taking stock: according to my submissions document, in 2017 I had 32 rejections and 4 acceptances. They say you should aim for 100 rejections per year so I only got a third of the way there. Partly this is because I only have about 6 hours ‘writing time’ per week but mostly because I really slowed down on sending submissions for various reasons, including making a decision not to pay for any submissions/reading fees/competition entries. Three acceptances were short stories, one is a poem that’s still in the pipeline. I love my poems but I guess in general the lit journals don’t? Or maybe I’m too impatient and I just publish all the best ones here 😉
My writing plans for 2017 were as follows
Writing goals 2018
I’m at a point where I really need a paid job. Both for myself and due to family circumstances. So I’ll be focusing on that for the next couple of months, which will mean less blogging. At this stage, I’ve had to be a bit tough with myself and decide I won’t even think about novel writing, short stories or poems too much while I focus on the job-hunt. It’s make or break time.
I’m sure a few poems will pop out, and maybe some travel stuff, but I need to give myself permission not to feel bad about putting my creativity on hold (sob!) to focus on finding work. And unfortunately, due to some travel in April, I won’t be able to participate in GloPoWriMo global poetry month this year either. 😦
Otherwise from that, I guess my goals remain much as above… I will revisit it all in May.
A few other bits and pieces:
I made this poll a while back and never published it. I was going to ask you, my readers, what you would you like to see in the next, say, six to twelve months, from Clairevetica?
Since this is mostly a place for me to write whatever, I don’t promise I’ll actually follow your advice. But it would be nice to know what some of you think!
Please feel free to pm/ speak / email me with your thoughts as well
Thanks for reading!
I clip the coupons
shop the bargains
for the feel
of cheap shoes
that sweat up my feet
cheat and lie
that it’s working
steal some time
spend some time
new year, new you?
me, me me!
Soundcloud link: https://soundcloud.com/user-808707280/sale
Destination: Zurich (and beyond!)
Interesting thing: You’ll see it spelled Zürich, Zurich and Zuerich, all are correct. Zurich (without the umlaut) is the English/international spelling – easier for the internet and is commonly adopted since it’s a multicultural city with multinational companies as well as institutions such as ETH University that mostly deal in English. Zuerich is the German-non-umlaut way to write it and is often used in web addresses (ü is pronounced ‘ue’). Although a local friend recently mentioned on hearing Nick Cave’s “Hello Zurich” at a concert that I’ve been pronouncing my adopted city name wrong all this time… I guess you can take the girl out of Australia…
Special guests: practically everyone I know here?
I’ve saved the best til last: it’s Zurich!*
What do I say about the canton and city I’ve called my home for nearly four years now? Four years is a long time. Thinking back, while I lived in the cities of Sydney and London for longer, our flat in Zurich is probably the longest house I’ve lived in continuously since becoming an adult. I feel pretty at home here, although various circumstances mean it’s still sometimes hard to feel settled.
Despite hitting an average of one Swiss canton every fortnight throughout the year for #26Cantons52Weeks, the bulk of my time has been spent in good old Zuri. We had a great summer with lovely weather, lots of swimming and what now feels like a regular influx of visitors from abroad – always a pleasure and a great excuse to explore further afield.
I have travelled a fair bit in the canton of Zurich too – discovering new things, visiting friends who live either side of the Zurisee (Lake Zurich) and in the hinterland of Winterthur, Dietlikon etc. But I guess my main focus has been on the canton’s capital city and my small corner of it.
I went in the Limmatschwimmen for the second year in a row. I wrote a Love letter to Zurich in a local publication. And, aside from #26Cantons52Weeks and other writing successes, perhaps my biggest, unexpected personal achievement this year has been that I started running in summer, which has been kind of a revelation and saver-of-my-sanity. For me, this culminated in participating in the annual Zurich Silvesterlauf winter 10km run. From the name, the Silvesterlauf should be today (New Year’s Eve is called ‘Silvester’ in German, lauf = run) but it was actually a few weeks ago, for reasons you can read about on their site.
It was my first-ever official run. The weather was utterly appalling – snow, sleet, rain and -5 through the day. I didn’t have a companion runner and by my start time of 17.30 it was already dark so I told my husband and kids to skip it and stay warm and dry at home. And, I guess maybe that’s what I’ve come to love about Zurich. I know it well enough that I can head into town after dark on a shitty day and run 10km by myself and feel like I’m ‘part’ of something.
Another lone-runner asked me to snap a finishing pic of her so I got her to return the favour. I wished I’d given her a hug, or at least a high-five. But that’s quite Zurich too – people aren’t all up in your shit. There was no participator medal given at the end, just the standard bottle of Swiss fizzy drink Rivella. I slushed home through the city, soaked to the skin and on a huge high.
So here’s to another big year of my life in Switzerland doing and seeing things that surprise and impress me all the time. Love Switzerland. Love Zurich. Roll on 2018!
AND THAT’S A WRAP PEOPLE: I have achieved my self-imposed project of visiting every canton in Switzerland in 2017!! I must be insane. But I feel a huge sense of achievement.
Thanks again to all my Clairevetica readers, whether you came for the poetry or the travelogues (or whatever else) and especially those who commented, encouraged and made suggestions both on and off the blog.
I’m going to take a bit of time in January to take stock of where it all goes next so you’ll be hearing from me again very soon.
Happy new year! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Love, Claire x
Cantons visited in 2017’s #26Cantons52weeks
Destination: Môtiers in the Val-de-Travers (birthplace of absinthe)
Interesting thing: Although the spirit was banned in Europe for most of the 20th century, according to Wikipedia, absinthe was never banned in Australia, which possibly explains why I’ve had a fair bit of it in my time. Loved the look, style and ritual, never enjoyed the taste… until now.
Special guests: A mate who was willing to do this last-minute trip with me!
Oh Neuchâtel, I’m sorry. I should have visited you in summer, when the absinthe trails were green as the green fairy of legend. I could have wandered through the undergrowth, stopping to sip pure-spring-water-infused spirits as we soaked up the atmosphere. Perhaps we would have swum in lake Neuchatel, the largest that’s entirely within Switzerland. Or done a tour of the prehistoric pile dwellings led by state-of-the-art app.
Or I could have visited “the Siberia of Switzerland” back in February – and attended the Fête du Froid (festival of cold). I’ve been to the real Siberia, you know, so it would have made an excellent comparison piece. Is Môtiers the Irkutsk of Switzerland? No ormul to be eaten but still. Even the famous landmark, Neuchâtel’s Tour des Prisons, is currently closed due to fire damage…
Instead, I visited between Xmas and New Years. Most things were closed: it was quiet, it was cold. Very pretty. Rather wet. I visited the tiny town of Môtiers where my friend and I were, I think, today’s sole visitors to the absinthe museum, Maison de L’Absinthe.
On a positive note, the train trip was lovely and I learnt a lot about the spirit of Neuchatel (geddit!) in no small thanks to the high-quality film about the history of absinthe the museum was showing. And, in the end, I also had to revise my opinion of La Fée Verte – it was not as disgusting as I remembered. In fact, not disgusting at all – although I do believe the clear absinthe, which we sampled, is a rather different, less-bitter mistress than her green cousin. Or maybe it’s my age, the moment, legality, who knows.
Back to the original theme: the local absinthe distilleries were also closed. As was the sparkling winery (until 3pm) And at 14.02pm, we missed a bang-up lunch at The Six Communes by 2 minutes and had to make do with a plate of Neuchâtelese saucissons (very tasty) before jumping on the 14.49 train to rescue one locked-out husband who miraculously found his keys 10 minutes later. Ahh! That fairy playing ticks on us again. Oh well, it meant we had a good excuse for a glass of Neuchâtel white wine overlooking the lake before heading back to Zurich.
DONE AND DONE! (Of course, stand by for my Zurich post!)
Additional photos: Shauna Japp