It’ll Be Back One Day

Every time I walked through that gate, I’d marvel at the pawpaws, bead trees, palms, bromeliads, and magnolias that surrounded me, noting the difference in heat from the street to the carport.

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The Hillarys House

It was set high in the northern coastal suburbs of Perth. The neighbourhood, Hillarys, had been a suburb for less than twenty years; before that, I don’t know.

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What’s It Going To Be, Hon?

My apartment is part of a council housing estate, which means it’s one in a honeycomb of 260 versions of itself.

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Down In The Valley

I’ve returned this year, like I do every Christmas, to my parents’ home on a busy street in Lenah Valley, Tasmania.

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Burning The House

You’re on the decking of our Christmas Hills house, the Yarra Valley stretching out like patchwork between your knees.

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Four Grey Walls

There is nothing uniquely ‘Canberra’ about our apartment. It is a generic yellow block, built in the ’90s, with a manicured yard and a body corporate that sends us letters we never read.

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Urchins

If northern NSW has ever had a ‘type’ of house, it’s a fibro two-storey with seams on the outside and a massive backyard, built high to avoid the floods.

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Living Things

While the city flooded, one of the timber stilts holding up my mother’s house uprooted.

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Antipodean: Rental Application Section B (ii) – Previous Residence

All the cat-rearing guides warn against relocating a feline.

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Triangles: The Holey Trinity of Possible BPD (Part 4)

Part Four: the Holey Trinity of Relieving, Reinforcing and Restarting.

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Lost At Sea: Katowice, Poland

I am standing in the middle of a vast rural expanse in Oświęcim, Poland. I’d travelled by way of a rickety cab from Katowice, where I was staying. You may know Oświęcim as Auschwitz.

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The Grade: Tim ‘The Rig’ Riggins

Reviews of life and stuff.

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Lost At Sea: Contact with toad water

It’s a peculiar thing to know exactly where you are all the time, but not to know if you like or dislike it.

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Meeting Janette Turner Hospital

It’s five minutes past our scheduled interview time and there’s no sign of her.

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Meeting Julian Barnes

I wish I could say that I fell in love with Julian Barnes because of the immaculate quality of his writing, but instead my reasons are shamefully superficial.

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Accidents & Emergencies: Boofhead

My brother got his head glued back together when I was nine.

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Meeting Martin Amis

Back in Manchester, the Americans are swapping stories about their trips and sorting through souvenirs.

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Accidents & Emergencies: Becoming Liam Neeson

Did you know you can buy a kitten off the Internet for $25?

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Meeting Jane Austen

Four years ago, I set out on a pilgrimage in search of Jane Austen.

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Accidents & Emergencies: Fish and Chups

I’ve always imagined my voice to be rich like oak or Bill Gates.

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The Grade: Best Melbourne Eats for Under a Tenner

Although my days as a student are over and I no longer study menus with the same eye for ‘great value’ (or rather, ‘the least for the most’) I still love eating cheap.

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Weather Systems: Storms over Brisbane

There’s a rite of passage every Brisbane resident experiences and comes to cherish: storm season.

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Grow up, stupid: Small mysteries

At the beginning of May my brother called me at work to ask if I’d been entering children’s competitions under false names.

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The Grade: The Real Housewives of Melbourne

For a while I was completely hooked on the Real Housewives of Melbourne.

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Weather Systems: Singapore

My family and I moved to London when I was ten. We spent one day and one night in Singapore on the way.

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Grow up, stupid: Celebration injuries, in reverse order

Important hints and tips on how to be an adult.

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The Grade: Four Winters in Melbourne

This winter will be my fourth in Melbourne. When I first arrived, I didn’t know winter very well, beyond my experience of westerly winds, bright skies, and duffle coats in Toowoomba as a kid.

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Heading North: Long Distance Running

Two weeks seems like not enough time to really miss someone, but really I missed you from the second your mouth left mine.

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Dungeons, Dragons, and Superman

When I was seven I was very shy. In report cards there were always comments like, ‘Michael is a bright boy, but he really needs to speak up more in class.

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The Grade: Karate & Getting Engaged

Last year two things happened that changed life quite a bit.

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Archaeology

I find a Japanese toy from the 70’s when I am digging under my dad’s house. Just three parts of a robot bird. It is called a Micronaught.

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Grow up, stupid: How to eat soup in hotels with your mother

Retire, after spending the day at Soveriegn Hill’s historic Goldrush Town, to your hotel for dinner.

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Curtain Skirt

One of the first things I made was a skirt from my bedroom curtains.

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Three Costumes

When I was young I liked performing on stage. While now I shy away from it at any cost, then I liked it a lot.

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The Invention

Children are pretty dumb and lame, because they can’t even drive cars and are freakishly short.

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Mothers & Fathers: Love is a couch on fire

My mother and father furnished their Queensland home with remarkable thrift.

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Love is like a Ferris wheel

In 1989, 1990 and 1991 I wrote three poems titled ‘Love is like a Ferris wheel’ in my poetry diaries.

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Red Pleather

My parents love to travel. Even now, they’re somewhere in the Gulf of Carpenteria, swiping flies and uploading photos of their campsite.

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Mothers & Fathers: The List

I’ve got this list. Unlike most lists, it wasn’t conceived to restore daily order to my life.  This list is part of a far greater exercise in futility: the quest to arrive at a personality.

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Sparrow & Other Stories

A few months back, on a day where I was at my most doubtful, my most fearful and claustrophobic, an airmail envelope arrived.

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Patch

I have a lazy eye. Normally, when I tell people this, they stare intently at my face. Waiting for it, I guess.

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Ger’s Box

Without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite thing to do during my post-toddler/pre-teen years was to create mini fortresses out of large cardboard boxes.

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The Grade: Legs

Once, I saw a segment on A Current Affair that chastised a middle-aged woman for wearing mini skirts.

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Pitching Machine

My father is shorter than I am, about 5’10”, and muscled the same way I imagine an old sailor to be muscled.

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Grow up, stupid: How to do it (sex)

Like literally everything else in your life, base your initial understanding of sex on FRIENDS.

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The Grade: The 2013 AFL Premiership Season

My footy year wrapped up watching the grand final on a small pub screen in Julatten, a one-street town northwest of Cairns.

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Grow up, stupid: Being poor

First of all, before anything, make sure to grow up not fully understanding the value of hard work.

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Celebrity: Four Encounters

Came runner-up in the Nudgee Junior College poetry competition in year seven.

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Portrait 4: My grandmother at 80

I was raised by women or spent a lot of time with women in my family. I never knew my grandfather, only my grandmother without him.

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Portrait 3: My brother at 24

My younger brother and I spent a long time living together in a house without parents, maybe almost a decade. Maybe this was too long for us to do this.

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Portrait 2: My father at 26

My father had studied photography and thought he’d be a photographer, but then that hadn’t exactly panned out.

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Portrait 1: Myself as a teenager

My father had studied photography and thought he’d be a photographer, but then that hadn’t exactly panned out.

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LADDAAY LIFE

My boss’s dandruff looks exactly like white quinoa flakes. When I am cleaning the shop in the evenings, I think about vacuuming his scalp.

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Okay, Cupid, bring me a dream, Sandman style

Three days ago I finished signing up to OkCupid. I’ve had it with Plenty of Fish. I concede that my friend was right when she said that POF is full of ‘psychopaths and punctuation abuse’.

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How To Wild Card: Befriend Your Crush’s New Boyfriend

Before starting, cultivate your infatuation with this woman over at least six months, or longer.

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Batman, Virgin or Serial Killer

It seems that online dating is not for the faint-hearted. A friend of mine described it nicely as an ‘ever-escalating game of chicken’.

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The FNQ Connection

I am reviewing and deleting my 15 or so matches when I spot a familiar face in a profile picture. His screen name contains the letters FNQ.

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Disturbing Dermot and the Stripper

It’s 9 o’clock on Friday night and we’ve found ourselves outside Club Minx on Elizabeth Street.

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How To: Grow Up (A Beginner’s Guide)

Invest in an array of cookbooks. Include books for vegans and books about low-sugar foods. Share salad recipes via email with friends.

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Things I brought home: In the end I didn’t have them

Six weeks after coming home from India.

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Things I brought home: Two dresses

On Nguyen Duy Hieu, the road that runs right up the middle of Hoi An, there’s a tailor shop called Sun.

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The first poem I wrote was a little book

I can’t really remember when I first wrote a poem that I consciously called a poem, but when I was about three and four I used to make these little books. 

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The first poem I wrote was a haiku

Mum points to the large cardboard box in the corner of the living room. Bulging with papers, folders and ring-binder plastic-sleeves, all of it yellowing and musty.

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The first poem I wrote had three wishes

I remember asking one of my cousins to help me write a poem when I was about 7.

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We have guests: My Mother, the Perfect Guest

My mother packs for trips six weeks in advance.

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We have guests: Playing Host

Senjuuin is a Buddhist temple on top of a mountain between Nara and Osaka in the southern part of Honshu, Japan.

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The First Time Series: Space & dinosaurs

On my first day of school Mum walked me across the grass playground to the pale yellow weatherboard Queenslander sitting on the edge of the teacher’s gravel driveway.

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Tim buys a suit

I bought a suit last week. The suit is burgundy, slim-fit, and its kind was worn by my celebrity crush on the red carpet, once.

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Tim lives at home

I’ve been having thoughts about moving out, lately.

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Tim falls in love

The night before I was due to submit this piece, the guy that I have been dating told me he couldn’t see me anymore.

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The Prophecy Series: Reunion

One Saturday afternoon Nanna was sifting through the cupboard, and came across that set of pictures. They were in a box of stuff from a McDade family reunion Pa had gone to years ago.

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Tim goes to work

It occurred to me recently that I have had eight employers in the last financial year.

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The Sea Series: Crab pots

My uncle pulls the writhing silver fish up from the water and drops it in the bottom of the boat.

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The Sea Series: Fishing rod

My little brother doesn’t like to put his head under the water. My cousins are trying to teach him to duck when the waves grow too tall.

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Sam gives tips on talking about your novel

If you decide to be a writer, you are going to want to tell people.

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Sam hands out assignments for the Class of Regret

As a writer, you have to accept that most things you write will make you cringe like hell about a year down the track.

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Sam shares his recipe for a short story

A writer has to write. Every now and then you are going to have to pull yourself together, draw on all of your shitty experiences and horrible trains of thought, and then you will have to write words and fit them together and call it a story.

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The Recipe Series: Lasagne

I am somewhat familiar with culinary experimentation. After my parents divorced my siblings and I began to stay with Dad on the weekends.

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Sam explains how to play backstory

Writers are a breed apart. We are fuelled on troubles and fun is our Kryptonite.

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The Recipe Series: Rissoles & Gravy

Nanna stands at the laminate bench and cracks an egg into a pyrex bowl full of mince. She removes her rings, and sinks her fingers into the cold meat.

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The Pilgrimage Series: Reunion

There are definitely moments from my school days I could happily forget: woodwork, piss splash, Mr Kollar, the walkathon, the certificate I received on assembly for ‘letting my poetic juices flow’.

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The Brothers & Sisters Series: Favourites?

I sometimes wonder who got the better deal, my brother or sister or me.

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The Summer Series: Oh summer. You are a jerk.

There are always signs that you have come. The middle knuckle of my left hand and the skin behind my right knee inexplicably flare up with dermatitis.

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Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens series: Part III

Growing up in a household of six children with all of us crammed together, my sister playing Alanis Morissette down in the garage, my younger brother sleeping in the walk-in wardrobe, my older brother eating food from the plate in front of me, I’ve grown up with a very relaxed understanding of personal boundaries.

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The Jack’s in Germany series: Part III

When I was fifteen I went to Germany on a school trip for a month with two of my best friends Ellen and Kate, and ten other students.

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The Jack’s in Germany series: Part I

I was born on the second of January. The significance of this day for my brothers, and possibly for my father as well, is that Michael Schumacher was born the day after.

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The Pub Series: Part IV

On the southern bank of the Clarence, corner of Through and Skinner Streets in Grafton, is Walkers Marina Hotel. The pub looks proudly over the big wide river and out to Susan Island.

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Jason Reed tells us what it’s like to be halfway there

In high school, I was super horny. I had lots of friends who were girls, but no girlfriends.

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Tessa Klein finally tells us what ‘gunch’ is

I moved to Brisbane on my mother’s 47th Birthday. I gave her a small, newspaper-wrapped parcel after we unpacked the car. She took off the paper and started to cry.

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Sam Maguire talks writing whilst drunk

Everyone knows great writers are great substance abusers. Drugs and alcohol go hand in hand with writing like cheese goes with tomato sauce on your lazy mother’s packed lunch sandwiches.

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The Brisbane Series: Part IV

I grew up in Mackay, a town where sugar cane ran rampant across hillsides. Brisbane meant waking at 4am, leaving the dogs behind and driving to a servo where I would invariably eat hot chips.

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The Brisbane Series: Part II

That first summer we lived with two photography students in a rickety old Queenslander in the hills of Auchenflower and there was a hills-hoist in the sloping back yard and spiders big as paper plates hanging in curtains from the pistachio tree at the bottom of the hill.

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The Brisbane Series: Part III

We came down the range in a white Commodore. Mum and Dad in the front, and Tom and me in the back eating salad sandwiches with beetroot-stained white bread.

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The Brisbane Series: Part I

When I moved to Brisbane my Nonna pushed a fifty dollar note into my palm and grabbed my face with both her hands.

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