Wednesday, January 30, 2008


He & his parents have been in & out for the last few weeks. At his best, he strums and wisecracks. At worse moments, he falters, picks, can't spell, can't think. But smiles, and reminds me of my brother.

Yesterday, he fitted for an hour. We put lines in his arms, gave him drugs. The monitor alarmed as we all frantically tried. I stood at his head, holding his jaw, put a tube down his throat. He didn't stop.

His parents latch on, asking, asking...
If only I had something to reassure them.
If only I could stop it.
If only I had an answer.
If only I could tell them, it'll be alright...

And I try to find something to reassure me.
To stop it.
An answer.
That it'll be alright.

Because he reminds me of my brother.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Temperature rising on New Year's Eve

1995/6: Dad's. Due to a miscommunication between us, I stayed in & watched videos. Dad went out to party. I quietly grumbled.

1998/9: Manila. First trip overseas, arrived on New Year's Day to the humid city of 11 million. There a full day before the rest of my group, I'd got all the travel warnings & read all about the perils of travel in foreign cities. Got water from the shop & sat wearing my moneybelt in my bare hotel room in the heat. Gunshots cracked out across the suburbs all night. Tried to sleep.

Realised the next day they were fireworks.

June 1999: World's First Millenium Party. Still think of New Years on hearing Greatest American Hero.

Dec 1999: Penthouse, Queen St highrise. Formal 21st that had been 21 years in planning. We held our breath as the clock & computers ticked over, then drank litres of champagne as the city kept humming below us.

2001/2: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Spent the whole day white-water rafting and collapsed, exhausted and sunburnt, at 8pm. The racous backpackers outside our window convinced us to go out for one drink. The barman insisted we wear sunglasses before squirting the vodka-filled supersoaker into our mouths. Swam after midnight. Met fire-twirling Irish Zimbabweans who offered to sell me into slavery. Chose not to go for a walk with them and watched the sun come up.

2006: Inadvertantly stuck on the Yarra bridge in the midst of the fireworks. Kissed. Watched the city surge with people and hold its breath.

2007/8: Another sticky hot start to the year. Drive slowly home from camping and wallowing in the river. Melbourne hangs out of cars & shouts greetings. We visit a halal kebab shop for dinner, my bare shoulders goosebumpy in their airconditioning as the cook, in hijab, chops. The party is pumping but all I want to do is sit with my feet in their wading pool. We wander home across radiating concrete and retreat to the fan. The first day of 2008 brings sun and eventually freshness.

Welcome, new year.