Hollywood’s great kookaburra con

Vivid lights on Sydney Harbour Bridge, blurred24 May 2018 [journal excerpts]
In the latest Jurassic Park, in the first establishing shot of the jungle, there’s the sound of a kookaburra call. We’re supposed to think it’s monkeys. I’ve noticed this in other US films as well. So I finally looked it up online and yes, this a Hollywood trope, the kookaburra call used for jungle scene setting. At some point, some Hollywood sound tech decided that kookaburras sounded more like monkeys than monkeys themselves do, and I was part of a generation raised with that lie.

Steve and I were sitting on the balcony discussing this today when a kookaburra flew right past, laughing! I’ve never seen a kookaburra fly that close to our apartment; usually they’re across the valley at least. But also, the timing.     

1 June 2018
Quite confident the bus driver this morning had never driven a bus before. Or any other vehicle. At one point before the last stop, he looked back, as if to check that everyone had gotten off. He gave me a really heavy look, then turned forward and continued with the route, as if my presence had foiled his plan to abscond with the bus.

4 June 2018
I feel down today. Not fatigued, just disengaged. I don’t know why. Self-doubt, maybe. Phoniness. So many useless feelings. Also there were weevils in my breakfast.

20 June 2018
I hate socks. Does anyone like them? Who wants cloth tubes twisting around their feet and crushing their ankles?

26 June 2018
Conversations about chronic fatigue
Me: It’s hard because I used to be very social and active.
Woman at social gathering: And that’s why you’ve got chronic fatigue.
Me: Uh …

At the pool, Steve swimming, me sitting on the edge.
Neighbour: What’s wrong?
Me: I can’t exercise, I’m sick.
Neighbour: Oh, I thought you’d broken your ankle or something.
Me: I wish.

Me: I’m not at the office much these days because I have chronic fatigue.
Man: Are you a vegetarian? Because I was a vegetarian for ten years and then I got chronic fatigue because I wasn’t getting the right balance of amino acids.
Me: Ah, no, my diet’s fine.
Man: So you’re not getting enough sleep?

I feel compelled to tell people I have a chronic illness because I need to justify to myself my dereliction of life. But it leaves me open to conversations like that. I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve, but now it seems like everything else is pinned there as well. My pancreas, my liver, my endocrine system. Everything. 


The bear likes ice cream

A stack of journals, a writing project
April 24, 2018
Walking home on Saturday, I passed ten guys all dressed as Luigi. They had identical Luigi hats and big black moustaches, but also shorts and loafers without socks. They were trying to find a pub, and though it was only three pm, I got the impression that they’d just left a pub. I hope they were going to meet ten Marios, and perhaps get in a brawl with at least one guy dressed as Bowser.

April 26, 2018
Steve nominated me for Employee of the Month at Home!

April 27, 2018
The latest house names: Wiltshire and Elvira. Elvira! It seems one of the naming conventions is old-fashioned human names (Elvira, Elton, Shirley, Valerie, the two Ednas). I wish there was more imagination put into these things. Why should people, dogs and houses all have the same name? As if there’s a finite supply.

There’s a new shop called Cheer Tea. Their slogan is “the best cheese cake foam tea drinks”. Perhaps the world record for longest series of nouns strung together into a beverage? Still, I’m curious.

May 7, 2018
Are we drawn to confident people because we are awkward and hopeless, and we think these confident people have figured out how not to be awkward and hopeless, and perhaps we can learn from them?

May 9, 2018
In the park yesterday, an older man – fifties, balding, pot-bellied – shouting to a jack russell: “Heidi, get back here. Mate! Maa-aaaaate!”

May 11, 2018
A zookeeper in Alberta took a black bear from its enclosure, drove it to Dairy Queen, and bought it an ice cream for its birthday. The zoo was later fined, I guess for either endangering the welfare of the bear, or the welfare of the public. Maybe both. The bear reportedly enjoyed its ice cream though.


In other news
My Name Is Revenge has received a couple of new reviews. Monique Mulligan writes, “Reading Ashley’s tightly written narrative, and the following essays, opened my eyes to pages of history I was blind to. What I experienced was a compassionate but balanced re-imagining of real-life events in Sydney, and an education (or at least the beginning of one). Ashley’s writing is taut and assured – there’s an enviable economy of words that says so much. At the end, I was left to ponder questions of my own (why don’t we learn about this?) as well as those raised indirectly throughout this short collection.” Read her full review here.

Elaine Mead’s review for Feminartsy describes the book as “an exceptionally moving and informative collection of writing. More than its historical emphasis, it is a story of family, community, and the importance of telling the stories of those who have, and continue to be, denied a voice.”

And I shared some writing advice in a guest post for Louise Allan, and my first-ever Melbourne event was officially announced. If you’re in Melbourne, I’d love to see you there!