The Upshot Radio Show

On Day 12 of my Iso calendar, also known as Wednesday March 25, 2020 in the now nonsensical Gregorian calendar, I heard an interview I’d recorded on January 26, 2020 BC (Before Covid) with Lucy Armstrong on The Upshot. It aired on MainFM, my local community radio station. If you didn’t catch it, you can stream it anytime on Mixcloud.

The premise of the show (also hosted by Kya) is a casual chat with locals to Castlemaine and surrounds, asking the same handful of questions, culminating in the biggie— the meaning of life. The interviewee chooses music that holds special or significant memories. For one of the questions, I went on a bit of a musical rabbit hole to pin point the Ethiopian music I used to hear as a child far from my first home, music played by my mother that filled me with a longing I couldn’t place, and strangely, feelings of joy and sadness simultaneously. Even as time eroded my grasp of Amharic and I could no longer understand the lyrics, those songs struck at something deep inside me. After failing to find just the song that did it, I looked into the word ‘tezeta’ which popped up from some rarely visited nook in my mind. Bingo! Tezeta is not only the style of music I was thinking of, but the title of many songs in that style by a range of musicians. Continue reading

Fifth Birthday Launch

5th birthday party invitation featuring boy in astronaut space suit floating in space with party details
Image: Richard Baxter, Invitation: Mek

I’m late in posting this, partly due to the same reason that this birthday has stood out a little from the rest. In addition to the invite that brings out the inner graphic designer in me, months of space-themed crafting, days of number 5 cookie baking and careful imagining of a cake that took till the early hours of party day to execute, this year we also had a separate celebration on the Queen’s birthday holiday for our little prince—a Yarra River cruise with his grandparents, and not long after, a second celebration of his 5th voyage around the sun with 20 of his closest friends, followed by a slightly more terrestrial event that shifted the focus from star gazing and cake eating, with commencement of our new living arrangements. Knowing this was going to be the case, I tried to savour every single moment leading up to his day even more than I normally would. I was squeezing him a little tighter, telling him I love him far more frequently, and making a greater effort to be present, even in unremarkable moments (how special it has become to yet again be asked to close my eyes as he hides underneath the dining table and I feign surprise at his disappearance). Moments that from now on will happen only for half his week and half of mine, with what will feel for my heart like an eternity between cuddles.  Continue reading

V/Line Vignette 5

Traveller 27.05.19

The walk across the elevated platform then down the escalators was messy. Rob and Elaine had been playing tag on the phone all morning so when he rang again, despite the awkwardness, she cradled her phone on her shoulder and pressed her left ear against it while tackling a pillow under that arm and with her right, dragged her two-wheeled cabin luggage and tried to not spill a freshly pressed juice that was filled to the brim with a week’s recommended dosage of sugar, no more wholesome for the antioxidants and ‘super’ ingredients optimistically touted on the colourful disposable cup. Her cabin luggage was the cheapest option at the Reject Shop that morning after her heavy rucksack’s flimsy stitches unravelled at the straps before she made it to the station. Continue reading

V/Line Vignette 3

Cloakroom 6.5.19

She adjusted her cloak then pushed open the heavy arched door. Of course, the cloak wasn’t real, but neither was the door, yet when her phone lit up and ‘mum’ flashed on the muted receiver, it was what she did. Her parents were of an age now where L dared not risk ignoring The call. The one she’d imagined all her life. As a child, she’d pictured herself living in a large, echoey house, all timber and marble with generous servings of sweets in crystal bowls and lots of room to pace while having long conversations with friends on the phone, or if she was done pacing, she’d sprawl out on a soft shag pile carpet that would be used solely for late night talks that required the phone to be dragged on its extra long cable, the curly cord draped beside the round of carpet like the tail of a poodle, but longer. Continue reading

Dino-roar Four

Birthday boy with giant dinosaur egg pinata on a nest
Birthday eve

My boy recently marked his fourth whirl around the sun, giving me reason to channel my creative energy into party planning (with barely any energy for this or that). With months of build-up, the anticipation resulted in the full spectrum of almost-four year old behaviour, from the excited-yet-gentle questioning ‘is it my birthday yet?’ to the frustrated, foot-stomping, lego-throwing, angry exclamation that ‘MY BIRTHDAY is NEVER COMING!!!’ Continue reading

Impartiality

Photo of three people riding horses through the bush in an Australian cattle station. Used as a prompt for microfiction.
Photo by Tobias Keller on Unsplash

In the unseen timelines of the mortal trio, that day was marked as the occasion of the light dimming in each of their hearts forevermore, disconnected as they were from the source.

They’d slunk out of the forest triumphant, leaving behind an unrecongnisable world: sacrifices made in the name of gods they didn’t believe in, although flashbacks were tinged with fear of the wrath of those same dieties.

Meanwhile, the sun continued to rise and set, bearing witness to daylight thievery and acts of grace with the same silent intensity.

 

Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales Week 95.

Storyteller Series

I was lucky enough to be featured on Nadine Tomlinson’s Storyteller Series. Nadine, a friend, fellow blogger and speculative fiction writer asked great questions on creativity and life — are there any other topics worth discussing? If you want to read my thoughts on those topics, head over to Nadine’s blog where you’ll also find posts in which Nadine shares insights on the creative process and writing inspiration. Thanks Nadine, it was a real pleasure!


Welcome to Storyteller Series, where I highlight writers, authors, and those who tell, publish, and promote stories. This month, I’m featuring Mek. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and emigrated to Sydney, Australia at the age of six. After taking the safe route of a chemical engineering degree rather than exploring her love of art,+…

via Mek: An Artistic Storyteller — Nadine Tomlinson • Speculative Fiction Writer

Excess Baggage

Photo of a pile of dirty dishes in a small sink with a single tap, used as a micro fiction prompt
Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

We stopped at Novosibirsk and waited on the  platform; as with all other stops, there were locals selling soda, peanuts, pickled fish, two-minute noodles, and the powdered mash potato that had been my staple; I’d get hot water from the surly samovar attendant and with a little stirring, giving me that sense of having cooked a meal, I turned out a delicious starchy mush that paired nicely with whatever vodka was going. Continue reading

Parenting Haibun

Watercolour and ink illustration of a helicopter rescuing a heart. Used to illustrate a haibun on parenting.

We have a little ritual most evenings where at some point of cuddles on the couch while reading before bedtime, my son will call out for his dad’s ‘rescue helicopter’, giggling and asking:

‘can you rescue me daddy?’

From the other room, dad’s chopper blades can be heard to the growing squeals of my boy as he anticipates the helicopter ride once he’s free from mamma’s arms. They fly around the room and ‘land’ on impossible surfaces— the keys of the piano, the dining table, the top of the child proof fence separating the lounge room from the art studio. All fun, light and laughter no matter how many times we play out this rescue, but the symbolism of his request for a ‘rescue’ from my embrace doesn’t escape me. Continue reading

The Final March

Sketch of boots and ant to illustrate a microfiction story

The golden days of summer picnics with sweetly scented jam, crusty bread, cold slices and chilled fruit platters live only in our memories – a clear line in our collective consciousness separating time before and after the incident we refer to as The Final March.

The chemical weaponry disoriented many of us, sending the synchronised beat of our hearts off kilter, heady toxins muting all our sensory navigational cues. Only some made it back to the nest where we now reminisce about the old days and remind our young to give the big house a wide berth as we continue what our ancestors have done for millenia.

We hush and tread softly when within sight of the place of carnage, paying our respects to generations wiped out at the callous hands of the then new owner. Marching in single file, we lift far more than our weight.

“No such thing as a free lunch” he’d huffed, but the cost of that meal was an exorbitant act of insecticide.

 

This story has lived in my phone’s memo app for months. It was time to release it. I may add an illustration at a later date.

First published July 19, 2017. Illustration added August 8, 2017.