2017

Countries visited: one.

States visited: two.

Plane flights: five.

Photos taken: seventy-one thousand, six hundred and nine (on my two main bodies. Not counting the analogue and miscellaneous side-cameras).

Most-liked photo on Facebook: this one, announcing that I’d been accepted into an MFA at RMIT.

People photographed while they were sleeping: three.

People kissed: one.

Times I cried: forty-two.

Times I really, truly sobbed: six.

Of which, in response to art: four (namely, ‘Singing the Spirit Home’ by Eric Bogle; ‘The Happy Prince’ by Little Ones Theatre, the end of ‘A 24-Decade History of Popular Music’ and ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara).

People who made me cry: two.

People I made cry: two, to the best of my knowledge.

Weight fluctuation: eight kilograms.

Distinct hairstyles: five.

Street lights that went out as I passed under them: forty-four.

Favourite moment that I photographed: Taylor Mac’s smile mid-kiss with Dominic Banfield.

Favourite films: ‘Whiplash’ and ‘Thor: Ragnarok.’

Most-played albums: ‘The Wild Hunt’ by The Tallest Man on Earth and ‘Utopia Defeated’ by DD Dumbo.

Favourite song:Every Time the Sun Comes Up’ by Sharon van Etten.

Song I most often had stuck in my head: ‘Redbone’ by Childish Gambino.

Favourite podcast:S-Town.’

Favourite TV series: ‘Stranger Things, Season 2.’

Number of books read: thirty-six.

Of which, the best: ‘Notes on a Scandal’ by Zoë Heller.

Favourite poems:Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong’ by Ocean Vuong and ‘Submissive’ by Lauren Zuniga.

Best video game: ‘Inside.’

Best gig I saw: ‘The Usefulness of Art’ by the Adam Simmons Creative Ensemble at fortyfivedownstairs.

Best piece of theatre I saw: ‘Nanette’ by Hannah Gadsby.

Show I most enjoyed shooting: the transformative, explosive, glorious experience that was Taylor Mac’s ‘A 24-Decade History of Popular Music.’

Favourite image I shot for work: this promo image for ‘In A Heartbeat’ for Monash Academy Performing Arts, which let me play with digital illustration for the first time.

Favourite things I made: a currently unpublished essay titled ‘Floundering’, my blog about Melbourne Festival and this, for a new series titled ‘Angry Reacts Only’:

Best decision: going to my GP and asking for a mental health care plan.

Decisions I regret: one.

People who told me they wanted to die: two.

People I had sex dreams about: seven.

Best date: all-night sci-fi marathon at the Astor for MIFF.

Favourite new fact learned: the deepest zone of the ocean is known as the Hadal zone, named after Hades, god of the underworld.

Shittiest day: mid-triple antibiotic therapy for a stomach parasite, pulling over on the side of the road to have a panic attack, sitting on the kerb in the aching heat, crying, nauseated, exhausted.

Day that felt most golden: August 27th. Standing among 20,000 people holding hands and waving rainbow flags at an Equal Love rally, going rock climbing with Fleur and Greaney and finding ourselves with a sudden pocket of free time. Walking through the streets of Richmond stained pink with sunset light. Drinking cocktails, Fleur telling me to apply for Masters, and the way forward suddenly becoming clear. And then all three of us swept up in music, swept up in joy at ‘The Usefulness of Art’ concert.

Moments I felt so happy I could burst:
Barbecuing eggplant outside a converted tram carriage with wonderful old friends in Kyneton for Jess’ birthday.
Watching images bloom out of the darkness at a tintype workshop at Gold Street Studios.
The first moment of starting to feel human again after triple therapy, the nausea breaking like a new day.
Arriving at Southern Cross station with Mikey, getting the next train out of Melbourne and riding together down giant hills, half-terrified.
Lying in the back of my car with Greaney in Bonnie Doon, drinking whiskey and reading novels as our breath collected on the windows.
Jumping into Greaney’s arms when he arrived home from America.
The morning my meds kicked in, finally waking up without crushing anxiety.
Standing in an empty house in Thornbury, knowing that we’d be moving in there.
Scrambling over impossibly huge boulders in Joshua Tree as the light burned the sky red.
Seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time.
Patting goats at an organic farm AirBnB with Greaney.
Sophie tattooing my forearm as we watched Ru Paul, surrounded by dogs.
My interview for the MFA at RMIT, Dom saying, ‘I shouldn’t tell you this, but we’re offering you a place. Congratulations.’
At a wedding with Greaney, the singer walking across the dance floor and handing me a microphone so I could sing ‘Valerie’ with a full backing band.
Lucy talking about moving into a place of recovery, of feeling worthwhile and worth celebrating. Feeling so unbearably proud of her.
Playing D&D at Sarah and Han’s, the whole room of people doubled over, laughing.
Sitting in blissful, peaceful silence at Marieke’s house in Daylesford, with a cup of fresh coffee, a heater and thousands of books to choose from.
Pizza and a film in a tiny cinema in a pub in the middle of nowhere with Jordan.
Lying in bed with Mikey curled into the crook of my arm, talking about love.
An email from a publisher, praising my writing.
Dad, helpless with laughter over a Cards Against Humanity answer reading ‘holding down a child and farting all over him.’
Mum, helpless with laughter over a bottle stopper shaped like a man balancing on his penis.

Moment I felt coolest: at the Sydney Road Writer’s Cup, a nervous, blushing man coming up to me holding a napkin, which read: ‘Sarah? Sara? I don’t know spelling. :). You are my favourite writer, by far, from all tonight. It’s great to hear real passion. :). – Ross.’

Wisest thing anyone said to me: ‘The most important sign of maturity is emotional responsiveness, rather than reactiveness.’ – Alexandra Bowring.

Most beautiful thing anyone said to me: Mike Greaney, after months of trying to figure out the perfect way to express his love –
“I’m yours, for as long as you’ll have me.”

Most beautiful thing anyone wrote to me: Jordan Prosser, via text message –
“Thought I’d share a nice moment with you: tonight, I walked Georgie to her netball game in Clifton Hill. Then, as I turned to walk home, I found myself in a large park full of palm trees just as the sun was setting. The kind of light where you can see everything but nothing has a shadow. The sky was every colour of tangerine and blue, like a sorbet, and thousands and thousands of bats were overhead, flying west from Abbotsford Convent. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a pack of half a dozen labradors came bounding past me, hotly pursued by a gang of giggling children. Then another child passed me, this one of its father’s shoulders, and it pointed, and explained: ‘The people who die, you can still see them, it’s just they’re in the sky.’ And the father nodded solemnly and said, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that’s how it worked.’”

Favourite piece of drunk profundity: a man on the NYC subway –
“I’m sorry to disturb you, ladies and gentlemen, but a closed mouth does not speak facts.”

Last year’s new year’s resolutions:

Keep the threads of friendship tight.

Make things with your hands.

This year’s new year’s resolutions:

Put down your phone. 
Spend more time staring into space. 

Titles of lists that I made:
BDAY Qs.
BUKS 2 REED.
DOLLAHS.
New Rates.
GET HUGE.
Ghost Towns.
SPEND CASH.
29 Quotes.
1st Week Back.
BITS OF ART TO DO.
10,000.
Death + photography.
Letters.
YOU SHOULD SPEND LESS MONEY
On getting home.
Ouzo catchup.
To pack.
Poetry podcasts.
MANIFEST-OH.
THE DREAM.
GOALS.
Chopin Liszt.

Things that gave me goosebumps:

Beyonce’s caption for her twins photoshoot – ‘I have three hearts.’

The gorgeous choral harmonies in ‘The Book of Mormon.’

The Welcome to Country at Lukautim Solwara – the woman running it had us repeat her, in language, and said, ‘You’ve just spoken words from across 2000 years of history. And now they have become part of your history.’

Safe in the Harbour‘ by Eric Bogle.

Nickamc’s extraordinary work ‘Every day I get closer to the light from which I came’ for You Are Here, which felt like dying and being reborn.

Stan Rogers, ‘The Field Behind the Plow’, the lyrics ‘And Emmett Pearce the other day / Took a heart attack and died at forty-two / You could see it coming on / ‘Cause he worked as hard as you.’

‘Heavyweight’, Episode 8. Jonathan Goldstein saying, “At first, learning I had an everlasting soul was great. But because of who I am, my fear of death evolved into a new fear – a fear of going on forever. Going on and on, past boredom, past nausea, through millennia upon millennia, and never being able to turn my brain off. That, somehow, felt worse than death.”

Hannah Gadsby in ‘Nanette’: “There is nothing more powerful than a broken woman who has built herself up again.”

Taking a handful of steps across a hot, flat piece of ground, and the Grand Canyon suddenly opening out beneath me. The insane, incomprehensible scale of it, the ripples of colour, the breathless awe of every person there.

Marjorie Eliot’s Parlour Jazz in NYC, ‘When the Saints go Marching In.’ The last song of the afternoon erupting into this cacophony of piano, trumpet, voice, clarinet – this burly sound, full of overwhelming joy. I remembered the hymns of my youth that said, ‘We will make him a joyful noise,’ and I thought, we’re not playing for god, god is the song. We don’t achieve transcendence through some invented holy spirit, we create the transcendence ourselves.

Marjorie Eliot blessing us as the concert ended, holding her hands together and saying, “I wish you love.”

The video of 65,000 Greenday fans singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ while waiting for the band to go onstage.

#1 Dads covering FKA Twigs’ ‘Two Weeks.’

Rockie Stone performing at ‘Glory Box’, hanging from a noose by her neck as ‘Bird Gherl’ by Antony and the Johnsons played.

The extraordinary bursts of unexpected colour in Van Gogh’s renderings of grass at the NGV, and the quote, printed on a wall, ‘I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say, ‘he feels deeply, he feels tenderly.’’

When the laughter kicks in in ‘Bored in the USA’ by Father John Misty.

The description at the Hokusai exhibition of the parlour game known as Kyakumonogatari Kaidankai. 100 lamps are lit, and 100 ghost stories are told. With each story, a single lamp is blown out. When the final lamp is extinguished, a spirit appears.

Will Peterson tearing up while talking about Orlando in the recording for ‘Contact Mic.’

“Mindfulness is the place deep inside you where you’re safe and strong.” – Smiling Mind.

David’s spoken word piece ‘Every Day.’

Mikey, describing the total eclipse in the USA via Messenger – “It was beautiful & terrifying. I saw it with hundreds of people in a park and everyone lost their minds, myself included, like a religious hysteria. For a phenomenon so anticipated and scientifically understandable, it’s absolutely stupefying. Make sure you see one one day.”

Annie Dillard’s essay, ‘Total Eclipse.’

Scientists at Melbourne University talking about developing a bacterium being used to infect mosquitoes to halt the spread of blood-borne illnesses. The scale of the project, the brutality of it, and the terrifying elegance of its functioning.

Joelistics talking about identity and loss in ‘In Between Two.’ Him describing the abiding feeling of being a teenager as one of embarrassment.

Taylor Mac singing ‘Shenandoah.’

Taylor Mac’s imagined monologue from Walt Whitman to a dying Stephen Foster. The image of all those dead boys from the Civil War being buried lips to ear, so that they could whisper to each other forever.

Gideon Obarzanek in ‘Two Jews Walk into a Theatre’, performing as his own father. “We came home, and he’d taken out his mother’s expensive drawing paper and scribbled all over it, totally ruined it. He looked up at me with this pride in his face, and I said, ‘You are the most cold-hearted person I know.”’ An agonising pause. Brian Lipson saying, “I’m sure your son doesn’t remember that.”

From the same show, Brian, as his father, “I remember when Brian was five, he came up and he gave me a kiss. And I said, ‘You’re a bit old for that, aren’t you?’” Another of those terrible, aching pauses. “He never kissed me again after that.”

Taylor Mac performing Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from ‘Ulysses,’ eyes lit up, ecstatic, “I said yes, I said yes.”

Taylor Mac singing ‘O Superman’, accompanied by hundreds of people all breathing out “ha, ha, ha” together. Backlights reaching up, flaring, and finally fading to black as the song ended.

‘Ode to Red Rice & My Mixed Plate Genealogy’ by Craig Santoz Perez in The Lifted Brow.

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S x

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