Comments Off on What I Think About When I Can’t Sleep
1:47 am – Should I get up and have an icy pole? Or maybe some Ribena. But that might make it harder to fall asleep later.
1:50 am – Who else is awake right now?
1:57 am – Should I go wake someone up to keep me company? Not Mum because she has work the next day. Maybe Michelle. I could get her to cuddle me.
2:09 am – Should I start an aesthetic Instagram where I write these sleepless thoughts down? Mix of Rupi Kaur meets minimalist chic. Colour palette – to be determined.
2:23 am – You should watch your lecture tomorrow morning. First thing. Aditya will not be impressed in Friday’s tutorial if not.
2:29 am – If I watch another episode of New Girl will that make me more awake? Doesn’t something happen to your brain when you look at a screen? Maybe one episode will get me tired. Or two. If I drink the Ribena I can watch three.
2:35 am – Goes downstairs to make a glass of Ribena and grabs an icy pole. Watches three episodes of New Girl.
3:41 am – I need one of those weighted blankets. Everyone in Architectural Digest’s Open Door series has one. They’re probably really expensive. Am I just one of those plebs who celebrities can sell just about anything to?
3:56 am – Wow, these thoughts are really deep. You’re a genius. You should write this all down and turn it into a series of essays. You can be the next Anne Boyer.
4:02 am – If you write your thoughts down with a nice pen, does that make you feel more confident in their quality?
4:08 am – Why do we get lost in the aesthetics of writing?
4:15 am – Hey this would make a really good Woroni article.
4:17 am – Finally falls asleep.
Think your name would look good in print? Woroni is always open for submissions. Email email@example.com with a pitch or draft. You can find more info on submitting here.
Comments Off on Breaking News! Miracle Drug Cures Insomnia
In breaking medical news, a cure for insomnia has finally been discovered. Shockingly, it comes in the form of the common flower, chamomile (chamaemelum nobile), and is most effective when the dosage is delivered to the patient in the form of a herbal tea. This medicine can already be bought with no prescription at most local supermarkets alongside instant coffee and green tea.
The discovery was made by Canberra GP, Doctor McAdiot, who suggested the warm beverage to his patient, Celia Sleepless, at her appointment just the other morning. Sleepless had come to the doctor on Thursday before work, complaining that she had been awake for two days in a row and was not sure if the neon pink shapes she was seeing in the air were real.
McAdiot at first suggested “minimising stress” and “exercising a couple of times a week” but then brought out the tea in a final, drastic attempt to help his patient. A bold move in the eyes of his colleagues at the practice, but one that really paid off.
“I mean I’ve been on pretty serious sleeping medication for a few years,” said Sleepless. “It’s a bit of a chronic issue for me. I’ve tried low doses of antipsychotics and am regularly on valium, but it hasn’t really been working for the last couple of weeks. I’ve done so many sleep studies that I’ve lost count. When McAdiot suggested the herbal tea I just thought wow, why haven’t I tried this before? I’m so stupid! Chamomile tea has changed my life. I now have no sleeping issues whatsoever. It’s honestly a miracle.”
McAdiot had some sage advice when asked what he would tell Woroni’s readers who had issues with sleep. “Look,” he said. “You’re not going to actually die if you don’t get enough sleep. Sure, you’ll feel really ill and like you’re losing your mind, but eventually you will just pass out and things will be fine. If you can’t handle it, head to your local GP so they can undermine your health concerns and leave you in tears.”
McAdiot said he is now looking into other cures for insomnia, notably crystals and yoga, and is just waiting on the funding before the research project can begin in earnest.
Pesky little eavesdroppers, their red bulbous heads nosing out of the dirt. Pompously round, suspiciously still. Like a snob with a secret.
I want to know the secret. So I’m crushing dried caps into my banana-berry smoothie.
Fly agaric, amanita muscaria, or the fairy toadstool if you don’t know your shrooms. Look for the big red hats with white freckles popping out under pine trees. Even an amateur like me can’t get it wrong.
Now they’re shrivelled and flaky in my fingers. The rotting odour digs down to my stomach, hurling my guts around. I gag and slam on the Nutri Ninja lid. Any second thoughts drown in the whirr of the blender.
“The girl treks, unabashed, over the mountain summit,” I murmur like a literary David Attenborough, “empty cup hanging limp in her hand, having slurped her way into imminent abandon.”
My guilty pleasure when I’m alone is self-narration. What else am I supposed to do, while I’m waiting for the yawning to begin: the tell-tale sign of the mushies taking hold. Nausea inches up from my stomach, which shoots me a suspicious glare: This, again?
I stumble along a walking track that is only just visible in the dead leaves. The Canberra bush is a smudge of thick eucalypts. A sign stands by the path: “Warning Poison Baits”. My bowels squirm. Why are these plants so difficult to digest? Mother Nature gifted us with psychedelics, only to chuck in the drawback of neurotic nausea. It’s no coincidence that the poison in fly agaric is the psychoactive component: you’ve got to work for your fun. Cheap thrills, huh? When Centrelink can’t afford you real drugs…
“She focuses only on the next footstep.” I’m breathing hard. Why did I do this? Don’t look back. My head hangs and my eyes droop down my face like a Dali painting. I yawn.
A yawn! Praise the Lord! My body is processing. Another yawn: I march on in victory and gulp down a retch, knowing it will subside soon. The aftertaste of fungi still clings to my tongue.
“She staggers like a public drunk, leaning on scribbly gums for support.” I chuckle at what I must look like. The landscape is coated in an ugly winter grey and it swamps me with its uniformity. The path shivers and shakes into a blur, then disappears into my huge yawn.
Voices crackle ahead of me and my eyelids fly open. People. “She was wholly unprepared to come across her own species,” I whisper.
Two young mothers appear through the trees sporting puffer jackets and leggings. They look disproportionately gigantic on the path, but that’s probably the pelopsia. One woman has a proud baby bump swelling through her lycra. I wipe at my ruffled hair and clutch the jumper trailing off my limbs, my mouth ajar in panicked paranoia.
“Hi.” The expecting woman nods at me on approach. She narrows her eyes. What are you on? She glances at her friend and purses her lips: Is she alright?
I blush. Pity is infinitely worse than disapproval. My facial muscles push into a smile.
“You doing ok?” the other woman says.
I gape and flap my hands. They’re doubting me; I need a reply. Good. Or, good, how about you? Maybe a I’m fine, thanks. How are you going? Enjoy your walk! The possibilities are insurmountable.
“Goo–” I gurgle and look up to face nobody. I whip around and see their ponytails bobbing down the path.
I take a sharp left and bolt from the path. Enough of that civilisation shit. I canter through dry bush, the bumpy ride matching my internal mayhem. It was only two small caps, I shouldn’t be at hallucination level. Nothing pretty, nope, just my vision hopping before my eyes like a game of jump rope. England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales. The top chunk of my visual field flicks to random images from memory: just now, a flash to a tree trunk I stopped at earlier.
Panting and scrunching my nose, I claw through leafless shrubbery, branches clipping at my dress. Perhaps the running was too much. My organs stir: my brain, my eyeballs, my stomach. Something is shooting from my centre up my throat.
I halt and heave. Berry smoothie spurts from my mouth. I hobble over the earth, eyes shut, a puppet to internal reflexes. I purge up another round of purple water, and another, returning the mushies to the dirt. Each hurl washes me with the relief that it only gets better from here. The tide subsides on my empty tummy.
I open my eyes. Eucalypts encircle me, all muscle and height, warning of their surveillance. “Sorry about the spew,” I cough.
“You’re sorry?” a voice crackles.
I stumble backwards and whip my neck around, but no one is there.
“Down here, halfwit! I didn’t die on my feet only to be puked on by an inebriated human.”
I squint at my vomit between my feet. A white lump lies in the dirt, beneath the puddle of berry water. I nudge it with my boot and dead leaves fall away from the chalky cranium.
“Bones?” I murmur. The skull glares up at me from its eye sockets, grinning from its jaw of neat teeth. Purple sludge drips off the crusty horns. Vertebrae are scattered like stars around it.
“Bones!” the voice screeches. “Is that all you think I am? And who do you think you are, staggering around desecrating graves?”
My eyes boggle. Maybe my self-narration was getting meta, but this didn’t sound like Sir David. The scene shifts a few centimetres and my vision flickers to an image of mushrooms for a millisecond – where did I see that? I push harder to concentrate but my perception is all out of whack.
“At this stage,” I exhale wearily, “the hallucinations are beyond psychedelic. The poison is hijacking the central nervous system.”
The skull lets out a throaty cackle. “Don’t talk poison to me, little girl. You know nothing of poison.”
My knees wobble as I squat at the grave site, glancing around me to check if anyone is watching. “I’d rather think I do,” I hiss as my vision strobes.
“Ha!” it grunts, a purple droplet rolling down its snout. “You don’t know of the piercing pain, the convulsions, the final breath. You don’t know of the agony of having your carcass torn apart by wild dogs. Nor the terror of rats scrabbling and gnawing your bones.” The skull gnashes its brown teeth. “Then to finally rest in peace, only for some tripper to vomit purple grot over your corpse.”
I stare at the decomposing carcass. Hair, blacker and thicker than mine, balloons beneath the bones like a dark cloud. The shadow of the animal that once was: a sheep or goat or deer. The air smells of rot.
It glares at me with its scraped out eyes. “You’re the one I feel sorry for. Don’t you know anything? Look closer, little girl.”
I grab a stick to poke at the matted hair. My face looms over the microcosm as I lean in and unstitch a piece from the dirt. Underneath, a tiny white nub is nosing its way out of the leaf litter. A faint bloom of rouge paints its skin.
“A baby fly agaric,” I say. A fleeting vision comes to me: colonies of baby mushrooms, silky white heads squirming up out of the earth. Their spores sprinkle, their tiny ears open, listening for rain.
I wait for a reply, but the skull is still and silent, smiling wide.
Think your name would look good in print? Woroni is always open for submissions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with a pitch or draft. You can find more info on submitting here.
I was trying to work out what was different about the day. It had been gnawing at me you know – you know that feeling like something’s twitching just outside of your peripherals, twitching on the ground but you can’t quite turn around to see what, or where, or how it started twitching in the first place? Yeah, that feeling had been gnawing at me all day as I walked around, dropping off some stuff at Genevieve’s and stopping by the café. Genevieve and I called it quits about a week ago. It was her idea, mind you, but I still felt bad about it, as if I’d run over her cat or something and had to go up to her front door and tell her about it myself. I still felt bad, even though it was like she had run over my cat. Anyway, maybe that’s the feeling I had that day, although it wasn’t quite so sombre as a dead cat. The twitching felt blunt and grating in the kind of way that melancholia wasn’t.
As I was passing through the city on my way back from Genevieve’s to drop off her things, I was feeling the twitching so strongly that I even turned and looked over my shoulder a couple of times. I know I looked ridiculous, looking around behind me like that. Usually I try to be cool about things, especially in places like the city where there are so many people watching. Anyway, as I was walking, I was trying to figure out where it had come from. There had been nothing unusual about this week, except that it had started with Genevieve and ended without her. I wasn’t all that bothered by it, except for the fact that I felt bad about it.
She wasn’t the sort of person you could write about. She was too unassuming, I suppose. I got a story published once, you know. That almost makes me a writer and a writer can’t be with someone that they can’t write about. I made that rule up, but it just makes sense, I guess. Anyway, by the time I’d started thinking about Genevieve again, I was halfway across George St and on my way to the train station. I walk with quite a determined stride, and I was so caught up in Genevieve and the fact that the twitching hadn’t stopped that I was walking rather too determinedly, and people started looking up from the ground and watching me as I crossed the street, except that I didn’t even notice until I’d finished crossing and then I remembered to slow down and look cool again. People are watchers in the city. They watch and watch until you start to feel your own goddam skin burning up. That was the good thing about Genevieve, I guess. You never felt watched when she was looking at you.
I was halfway down the stairs to Platform 3 by this point, and my hand was twitching against the railings. I wasn’t even thinking really, wasn’t thinking about where I was going or the fact that it was towards the train that led out west, back out towards Genevieve’s place. The linoleum was ripping up underneath my feet as I walked onto the train. That’s what it felt like anyway. It felt like my body was ripping at the train. Like it could tear the whole thing apart. Across the carriage a man kept folding and unfolding his newspaper, folding and unfolding like he was looking for something to distract himself. His suit was pinstriped, but in a sort of obnoxious way, as if he really wanted everyone to know that he was wearing a suit. I was looking real hard at it. I was looking too hard and two seconds too late I realised that I was staring. The man looked at me strangely, like he knew I was the sort to not watch people, but who slipped up every now and again and to kick themselves over it.
The train ride was too long, and by the halfway point I think the man had given up. He hung his newspaper hung limply over his knee. By this point, I was really starting to get into my own head. I kept telling myself, over and over: she won’t be home, she’ll be at work still. Over and over. Because even though I was on the train on the way to her house, I knew that if I saw her I’d start to feel bad about everything. It’s not like I didn’t already feel bad. She’ll be at work. At least that’s what I told myself, over and over. She won’t be home. She’ll be at work. Like watching her move around behind her curtained windows would be like seeing my cat being run over, and then again in reverse. Just to make certain that it was dead. She’ll be at work.
I was sort of tense by then, because the sun was starting to set which meant that maybe she would be home. She wouldn’t be at work. I tried not to think about her as I walked off the platform and onto the street. It’s funny, considering the fact that I’m nearly a writer and all and could hardly bring myself to write about her, I sure did think about her a lot. Her. Genevieve. It’s funny to write her name. It almost shouldn’t exist on paper. She’s too unassuming, I guess.
Anyway, by this point I was so caught up in not thinking about her that I barely even noticed that I was outside her apartment, across the street and to the left a bit. We always used to say goodbye here. She was the sort of girl to walk you to the door when you had to leave, and then walk you down the stairs and all the way across the street. Just to make sure you didn’t have to do it alone. The twitching had eased up. The twitching had eased up although I didn’t notice that until afterwards, because I was too busy noticing that her lights were on, and that they were framing two silhouettes in the window. I recognised Genevieve’s right away. I guess you start knowing people like that once you’ve been around them for long enough. The other silhouette wouldn’t detach itself from Genevieve’s, so I couldn’t make it out. I was really kicking myself now, telling myself that I shouldn’t have come, because I’d known that I’d feel bad if I did, and yet I still had to come and check up on her. As I turned away, I thought I saw her tilt her head towards the street. Maybe I’d imagined it. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Either way, I don’t even own a cat.
This poem begins with Tycho Brahe (known long previously)
Who owned a rather strange animal that acted deviously
This pet chiefly being Alces alces (also known as a moose)
Had a slight little issue of overindulging when set loose
This odd configuration of a moose and man
Became famous in Denmark for the way they ran
So one day a nobleman wrote to Tycho and said
‘Do you have something faster than a deer on a sled?’
Tycho responded with great satisfaction, ‘Indeed, I do!
I’d be perfectly happy to lend my fastest moose to you!
But you will have to wait until after Christmas Day
If my moose (who enjoys Yuletide) is to have his say.’
The truth was that the moose was rather partial to
The festive smörgåsbord that was now to ensue:
Pickled herrings, Lucia’s lussekatter, Christmas ham with mustard,
Gravadlax salmon, Jansson’s Temptation, different sorts of custard!
But of all Nordic delicacies that day
It was Uncle Jørgen’s mead which made him bray
Oh, it was lovely! So dark and thick and sweet!
So much better than their bread or cheese or meat!
The moose would admit that he had indulged a bit too much
(To the point that for dinner the company had none such)
And Uncle Jørgen took him by his antlers and said,
‘You bloody moose! You’ve drunk all our ale and ate our spread!’
So Tycho ordered his pet back to stable
The moose bowed his head, feeling quite unable
And began to meander down the stairs
Swishing and swashing, having passed all cares
Then he stumbled: bumbling, falling and tumbling quite far down
Children laughed at the clown while women did begin to frown
Uncle Jørgen shook his head, ‘No more mead for that goose of a moose!’
A chill ran through Tycho’s synthetic nose and he cried, ‘What the deuce!’
As it was, the moose knocked his head against a cannister
And crumbled to the floor beside the wooden bannister
Two days later he died of haemorrhage and was mourned
By his owner Tycho who sobbed, ‘Poor dear, you were warned.’
A fortnight passed and he took up his quill (dipping it in ink)
And he wrote to the nobleman saying he was in a kink
‘My best moose (for whom you recently asked) has suddenly passed
And now there is no one to beat a deer on a sled going fast
‘However, I have one comfort to suggest
(Don’t think badly of the moose—he was no pest.)
But I do now have this ever-slightest hunch
That I can send you the remaining moose munch.’
Might I remind you
Of a hurtful gravitational tug you
Once placed on us.
You told me
Take your sorries to the gavel hot boy,
Because I had eaten all the ripe plums. No,
In fact I pleaded for help for my grimly steep
Actions, I had – under wills of divinity,
Laundered from the overflowing green pocketssssss of
You… you enforced,
If the money is the root of all evil,
Why would you wilfully swallow the corrosion.
Are you idle or stupid.
Does the Trust Fund know
You can’t be trusted with funds: you added solemnly.
I said yes and cried because
The entire sail struck stiff in the squall
Until your head got in the way of a collapsing mast
Some nights we have no inhibition.
Away from sterile rooms with book-lined walls
The slow drumming of deadlines
Breaths of scholastic agony
Away from our mothers and our fathers
The blanket of reason burnt
Mischief in place of calm
When the sun shuts her eyes
When the quiet starts to shake
It is time for us to go
Our weekly wake
Evening skin is beautiful.
Tiny skirts, lashes and perfume
Tall shoes, lipstick and jewels
Livers filled with nectar
Lungs tickled by vapour
Screaming over music and jumping up to the ceiling
Laughing in the mirror and stumbling on carpet
Blood dancing in our veins
Oh, to feel this alive everyday
The kingdom outside lures us onward.
A palace to be together and alone
Loud and sickly and warm and cosy
For heartache and worry
Faces twist and gleam
We all fall in love
If just for a second
With strangers and with each other
The world spins
And we rush to mend it
Then we fade away.
Floating back as the hours grow
To the beds in our own private taverns
Heads swimming and mouths dry
Dreams we won’t remember
Versions of ourselves veiled before daylight
Eyes shut and bodies sink
And with that goes the freedom
So rich and so ethereal
Here for a moment
And gone the next.
rubber on corrugated cobble.
Spokes up against the stars.
Smoky aphorisms, phantasms of friend and lamplight
and trees shot through with thin red fruit.
Conversations drift away like a cold shower.
and out again.
Garema Place is
a thing sharp and lucid.
Sitting lizard-like upon the base of my spine
draped across my ribs
in acid nostalgia.
and washing away.
Garema Place is
at least for a while.
Three bikes on cobble.
I feel a centring of myself
like planets coming into orbit.
Winter crawls in
as past crawls into present
and things, once done, never to be undone
are merely framed
Fruits, accepted and eaten, not for tomorrow
but for the day after that
and after that again.
Things once simple
are now entangled beyond belief.
But I’ve seen enough to know that
is just over the next hill.