When you move to a new city you begin to notice absences from your life. Family. Friends. Money. The ability to operate as a functional adult. In the 16 months since I moved from Perth to Melbourne, perhaps one of the most notable of these has been my car – more specifically, the incidental time spent listening to the radio. The end of 2013 marked a year where I listened to less music and saw fewer live shows than any of my preceding “adult” years. When it came to voting in the Hottest 100, this proved itself a difficult task – not due to an overwhelmingly impressive shortlist, but through a genuine struggle to think of 10 songs played on Triple J in 2013 that I’d taken the time to appreciate.
So, here it is. My Hottest 100 votes, based on nothing more than purely selfish and context-relevant justifications, with very little, if anything, to do with technical merit. Because if reviewing music has taught me anything, it’s that I have no idea what I’m talking about and my opinion is definitely wrong.
Subject: The Important Thing Is To Get Eaten and Die
It’s been more than a year. Things get hectic and time doesn’t stop and life happens and it’s easier to step away from a computer screen than put your fist through it. But this is it – this is the last year in words.
There’s a book by Alex Garland called The Beach. They turned it into a mediocre film. You know, the one with baby Leo and Tilda Swinton (arguably my favourite mythical creature, second only to Bowie) and a killer soundtrack. Yeah, The Beach.
So it kicks off with your standard, twenty-something idealist – determined to escape monotony for fear of becoming complacent with mundanity, determined to take a risk. And so you journey and then you jump. You jump and you land and you stumble and you find your feet. You find a semblance of paradise. An isolated beach. A studio in Melbourne.
And suddenly you’re part of something. You’re surrounded by truly fucking excellent people who share your same interests, passions, ideas, creativity. People who teach you, who learn from you, who laugh with and at you. You’re a team, a community, a family – because when you’re aching with homesickness, they’re pretty much all you’ve got. And for seven months, you wake up every morning, happy, knowing you’re part of something.
I guess “semblance” is the important word here because sometimes reality augments itself. Things happen. Politics, shark attacks, restructure, food poisoning, changes in direction. Richard fucks Sal. Sal belongs to Bugs. It’s all very complicated. But what it comes down to is that you’re no longer welcome to be part of that something. So you isolate yourself. You hide out in the jungle, isolated and paranoid, unsure of who to trust, unsure how that “semblance” corrected itself so quickly. Biding time until your inevitable departure. Four weeks.
It’s exhausting. You hurt and you get angry and you begin to resent the place you poured yourself into. All you see is the negativity and systemic flaws. The anxiety is crippling. And whether you find yourself in hallucinogenic video-game scenarios, or just spending a lot of time listening to CHVRCHES’ “Gun” and trying not to punch things, none of it really makes sense except the knowledge that your spirit is slowly splintering.
And then you leave. Escape, even. And you find that all you’ve really got left is a grainy image, downloaded at dial-up speed in a late-90s Internet café and a hell of a lot of nostalgia. You’re not bitter or angry anymore, just exhausted. But you’re still you, and that’s how you know you’re gonna be alright.
That’s how it feels to be made redundant by a workplace you love.
"It’s not where you go, it’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re part of something."
Subject:Don’t Trust Ideas Men, They Will Break Your Heart
Do you know what’s hard? This. This whole writing to you thing. It’s actually really difficult. You will read this, possibly smile, and think, “Gee, that was a nice thing to read. Time to go back to doing significant things with my life.” and then go back to doing significant things with your life. Like traveling Europe. And embracing different cultures. And boys. So, really, it all seems very easy.
But from this side of things, it’s a little different.
First I have to think of something to write about and that’s arguably the most difficult part, which surprises most people because most people are Ideas Men. “You can write about anything! Just pick a topic and write and it will be great! You’re great!”. So, here’s a message from the Action Man: Ideas Men will break your heart. They will be funny and charming and suggest all of the right subjects. They may even hold your hand in public. But ask them to help you throw some words together? Outta there. And they definitely won’t call you because Ideas Men hate commitment. And, believe me, writing to you is a commitment.
Once I’ve actually made the painful decision of what to write about, I have to write about it. What takes you a matter of minutes to read can take me anywhere between 30 minutes and 30 hours to write. I’m not exaggerating. Before I actually get to the fingers on keyboard part I have to trudge through all the procrastination. First there is the whole cleaning my room thing (because I can’t possibly write in an untidy environment), and then I have to distract myself from cleaning my room with a two-hour One Man Dance Party. I’m usually hungry by the time that finishes and will stop for a snack break, which I obviously have to post on Instagram. So there’s another half hour I’ll spend taking a flattering photo of my muesli bar and choosing exactly which arty filter does it wanky justice. Then I’ll probably get engrossed in a really highbrow TV show like Geordie Shore and spend some time thinking about how I can make my life better by making a dinosaur costume for my dog. And then I’ll probably start writing.
See? It’s a process.
And here I am. At the writing bit. And I’ve been here for the last three hours, trying to craft words into sentences that form paragraphs that maybe, just maybe, someone will be interested in reading before going back to doing significant things with their life. And once I’ve sent this, not before proofing it five or six times of course, I’ll fall into a mini existential crisis and wonder why I spent a large chunk of my Saturday putting this together, when there is every chance that no one will read it.
So until you’ve spent a number of hours trying to make the most ridiculously mundane topics sound even remotely interesting, I guess you might struggle to understand exactly how difficult this writing thing is.
Subject: Three Reasons Why I Felt Guilty For Having A Mutant Head Cold
When you’re imprisoned in your bed for an entire week with only a cocktail of sickness, boredom and pseudoephedrine to keep you company, you get a lot of time to think. The problem with thinking is that it inevitably leads to “feelings” and, in this instance, the Feeling Family breadwinner was Guilt, closely followed by its weird younger sibling Irrational. You know, the one who makes questionable life decisions. Like wearing a fedora in public.
So, here’s what I spent the week feeling guilty about:
1. Taking a week off work. I have never taken more than two consecutive days off work due to illness. There was that one time I caught the “travel bug” and took a month off to go to Europe though! HohochucklechuckleDadjoke. But seriously, not only did I feel guilty for the amount of work building up but also, possibly even more so, for denying my colleagues the daily privilege of my presence. By Day Three I was on the verge of ordering a bunch of apology flowers to be sent to the office. That was until I realised I’d already spent all my money on ASOS and my manager probably wasn’t in need of some super kuwaii (^_^) knee-high socks.
2. Killing all of the trees. When your body decides to convert itself into a production line for phlegm and various other bacteria-rich bodily fluids, you tend to use a lot of tissues. Boxes of tissues, as it turns out. In fact, it’s fair to say the number of tissues in my bin rivaled that of my 14-year-old brother’s, which is odd because I’m pretty sure he hasn’t had a cold. Weird. Regardless, as my mind ventured in and out of delirium, I realised I was single-handedly destroying the environment via tissue consumption. Not only did this pose a problem for the future of the human race but all I could do was lay in bed, terrified that Al Gore was going to turn up and tell me all of the inconvenient truths.
3. I am the reason Dumbledore is dead. Because I’m a super hardxcore gam3r, I decided to play Harry Potter Lego (Years 5-7) on Wii. While I probably shouldn’t have chosen to do so while monging out on cold and flu meds, that was only my second biggest mistake. Instead, as I finished the final stage of Half Blood Prince, whimpering quietly into my panda hoodie as the Big Dumbledino plummeted to the Hogwarts’ grounds, a thought occurred to me. If I hadn’t finished this level, Dumbledore would still be alive.I am practically a Death Eater. And oh the tears I shed.
Don’t get sick. It’s not worth the heartache and anguish.
Subject: An Introduction to Using My Friends’ Life Experiences For My Own Personal Gain
Well, you’ve left. You’ve actually left. You’re now on some life-changing 10-month European journey of cheap beer and pastries. Whatever. I’m not even sad yet. Mostly because I’m shamefully jealous but I’m also filled with too much self-pity and snot to share any of my valuable sadness with you. The doctor said I’m not allowed to leave bed because I have some sort of mutant head cold. I’ve been here for five days, I’m allowed to be selfish.
I’m also incredibly bored.
I’ve already exhausted my DVD collection and sorted my CDs into alphabetical order (clearly my life is two-dimensional), so I thought I’d write to you. I’m going to write to you a lot. I imagine this will inevitably descend into a Looking For Alibrandi thing, where I tell you all about how my journey to self-discovery is largely shaped by being Italian, awesome 90s outfits and dating a sweet and tender bogan… but let’s not be hasty.
The thing is, Lans, you’re kind of a pseudonym for everyone who has left Perth this year in search of better things. I just chose your name for its alliterative convenience. Life Without Mark/Harry/Sash/Emily/Annoying Blonde Girl/Everyone Ever didn’t sound anywhere near as catchy. And I’m pretty sure Life Without Andy is already a thing.
So, congratulations! You just became a cheap marketing ploy!
But I guess you’re also doing me a favour. Now that you’ve abandoned me and I don’t really have any friends anymore* I can immerse myself in my laptop and live vicariously through the internet (just kidding - I started doing that about eight years ago). But I haven’t actually enjoyed writing for a long time. So there’s that. And since finishing uni and failing to land the miraculous journalism “dream job”, everyone has been like, “Ermehgerd, Cerrrt. Stert a[nother] blerrrg!”.
So here’s hoping.
*exaggerated for creative purposes. Stop getting offended. Stop it right now.