SPONTANEITY IS DEAD by Natalie Macken

The content of my head is filled with grape vines waltzing up hills to vanishing point while low blue skies pull down like a diorama curtain.

In reality, this tiny microcosm of incognito backwater remains just a brain-dance with one huge roadblock. Substantial actuality.

We thirty-something’s are mourning the loss of spontaneity. The freedom to roam without following an over enthusiastic guide with a branded umbrella, headset and an unexplained utility vest.

‘Back in the day’ she writes with a side-grin memory of journaling with sticky-tape and pen… people didn’t plan (I know. Somewhere, someone has just e-chocked before OD’ing on a multitude of open tabs, sending them into a dull oblivion of choice).

Ambling through a country, eating when you’re hungry at an open, affordable place of consumption. Sleeping at a ‘look what we found round the corner’ with attentive, effusive, story-yarning hosts. Visiting any piece of cultural significance or even seeing the corner of it from 3 miles away through the tiny line-of-sight under a bearded man’s armpit. 

These notions are the road-kill of the super highway.

Wanderlust is still alive but without following some kind of www-dot, you will end up sight-seeing on the back of a concertina pamphlet while seriously considering the purchase of a saint made of shells.

In the space where the web has been weaving its reach to gather in a smaller world, bureaucracy has become a Big. Fat. Cat. This hungry beast takes the leftovers, preying on the non-prepared pilgrim, seeking the romantics and herding the naïve meanders into a package deal.

The logistics labyrinth has become an infographic where every variable leads to an abrupt ‘no.’ If the answer lies anywhere sideways of north, south, east or west, it doesn’t exist. The train is always full and gone is the stow-away mentality. The beds are always taken and gone is the bunking inclination.

For every encounter of such rigidity, ironically - there’s an impromptu effect. Without malfunction we’d never have experienced Lyon in the midst of a thick recession as a side effect of being ousted from a mechanically stubborn train. Having asphyxiated in a full carriage with fainting elderly, pacing claustrophobes and raging alpha types, we found ourselves eating aged fried rice in a region celebrated for its wine and cheese. As it turned out, separating spam from hard peas is much more memorable than discerning lavender overtones in Shiraz.

We also have rigidity to thank as we clutch ticket number #806 at midnight in Chambery. Deep in a line where a red-faced information officer simultaneously hampers his crushed dreams and burns a hole in punter #45’s forehead with the force of a millennium of suppressed vendetta.

When our third train came to a grinding halt, a distressed cat in carry-on let out the cry of indignation and desperation that gave voice to our inner rage. Here was the turning point. Focusing on the destination is dangerous. The loud meowing gave us a decibel-underlined reminder that the journey is not an inconvenience but where the story is.

 Maybe we’ve hit the puberty blues of wandering, teetering on the edge of travel maturity. Without a matched luggage ensemble, in full possession of will and curiosity, we’ve come to the notion – Spontaneity is dead. Is there a halfway point between spur-of-the-moment and schedule?

TOMORROW by Natalie Macken

The unrealised skill behind procrastination may lie in getting the wrong stuff done.

I’ve had a book about procrastination on my bedside table for over four months now. I haven’t gotten around to finishing it. I have however, planned a hypothetical menu for a dinner party where all the food is served on skewers and chosen an outfit for the launch of the novel I fully intend to write.          

Deadline looming, I pause momentarily to tap out the rhythm to ‘Wipe Out’ on the keyboard. Pleased with my excellent groove, it occurs to me that there may be more to procrastination than a crippling inability to finish anything. Ever. Watching the kettle boil for my sixth cup of tea, I become certain that it is in fact, a kind of creative evolution.

It’s just semantics. Maybe when I desperately need to finish something, I should instead set about alphabetising and facing all my CD’s spine out, controversially creating a separate section for bands beginning with ‘The’. Inevitably, somewhere around ‘The Killers’ or ‘The Kooks’, I will stray from this task and end up finishing that other thing. Effectively procrastinating, but really, just genius.

I shouldn’t even own CD’s.

Procrastination Blog

So, how do you know if you’re a procrastinator? More than likely you’re surrounded by a disproportionate number of post-it notes all containing one word clues to potential deliverance from poverty. You fear crossing the road in heavy traffic because you may actually die having produced little more than fourteen pencil-scrawled first verses to lame country songs, five-eighths of a teal scarf and the intention to master contemporary hip hop. Also, you really wish you hadn’t told 85 of your closest friends about that screenplay you’re writing, having established only a title and the protagonist’s first name.

It’s not finished yet but I’m putting together a list of possible manifestations of procrastination to aid in self-diagnosis. These include:

  • Attempting to break sticky tape off in exact one-centimetre squares.
  • Finding the silhouette of ‘Charlie’s Angels’ in the desk wood grain.
  • Hypothetically translating the word ‘Rake’ into Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Korean, Spanish, Russian and Portuguese.
  • Drawing symmetrical raindrops over and over and over and over again.
  • Calculating exactly how much money will be required to become the patron of the three-day-weekend party.
  • Plucking your eyebrows with your non-dominant hand.
  • Building farmyard animals out of bluetak
  • Repeating points 1 through 7

Don’t be alarmed if you recognise yourself here, you are in good company. Imagine if we collectively evolved into a breed devoid of procrastination - we may be self-sustainable, disease free and spending every other weekend on Mars, but who would genre-sectionalise the spice-rack?

Procrastination Blog

Beware of those who ‘get things done’ - don’t be fooled by the smug list keepers and the busy people. Busy people procrastinate too, they just get fitter doing it.

Procrastination is just momentum in disguise. An innate Darwinian mechanism designed to draw out the Steinbecks from the Steels, the probability of sifting countless unfinished, half-witted and diabolical ideas through time, eventually leaving the nugget of gold. Its existence may be the only thing stopping us doing a good thing too soon: nature’s keeper of the story in three acts. Genius cannot be hurried, in fact, Da Vinci was such a noted procrastinator that it was said his contractors had to threaten to cut off his hand before he would advance his work.

Procrastination Blog

So, the next time you find yourself bleaching all your shoelaces, designing an alternative to ‘Where’s Wally?’ called ‘Where’s Steve?’ or sharpening every lead pencil in the house. Don’t get all Vinci and call your closest friend to co-ordinate a time for them to partly remove one of your extremities, don’t chant ‘he who hesitates is last (Mae West). Think instead: maybe, we’re saving the best…

Geez, there’s a lot of fur on this chair, I think I need to vacuum the cat… immediately.

LEAF IT ALONE by Natalie Macken

Spinach leaf is wilted like my will to live.

Carrot is smarting with misguided eagerness; smug and crisp like my taste buds who cannot conceive of their immanent disappointment.

Cucumber sits in mocking splendor knowing full well that it is essentially just water. 

Olive contrasts the disappointingly raw collective like Charlize Theron on an 8am train. It knows it’s got the goods, it knows.

Cheese cubes peep out of the unprocessed monotony like tiny beacons of hope.

And I’ve used up all my calories just typing the word ‘lettuce.’

This salad is antisocial; it’s devoid of a sense of humour. It reads Nicholas Sparks novels and cries on public transport. It takes - ‘how are you?’ literally, telling strangers at length about its sore knee. Even its mother doesn’t like it. It goes on package holidays and doesn’t ‘get’ animals. It wears textured turtlenecks.

This salad listens to Maroon Five and thinks Pauline Hanson’s just ‘misunderstood.’ It updates its phone too often and knows way too much about interest rates. This salad has no patience, doesn’t engage in subtleties and says ‘winning’ a lot.

Friends - this salad is dangerous. It is an insidious force of banal. It will reduce you to a hungry, sallow and submissive puppet. This salad does not have your best interests at heart.

 

            

TUESDAY TRAVEL THREAD by Natalie Macken

Pony and Bear Travel Blog

This is a Tuesday Travel Thread test entry. Because it has been CATEGORISED as a Tuesday Travel Thread article, it will appear in both the main BLOG and the Tuesday Travel Thread subsection.

A VERY HELPFUL LIST OF RANDOM EXCUSES by Natalie Macken

Pony and Bear Blog | Random Excuses
  • I won’t be coming to work today because I love Keanu Reaves.

  • I won't be coming to work today because my fortune cookie said not to.

  • I won't be coming to work today because I have eyebrow hairs that won't go the right way.

  • I won't be coming to work today because I’m locked inside my house.

  • I won’t be coming to work today because I have dandruff.

  • I can’t go out with you because my teeth hurt.

  • I can’t go out with you because there’s an uneven number of steps between my front door and my car.

  • I can’t go out with you because fluorescent lighting makes me itch.

  • I can’t go out with you because my horoscope said not to hang around people who wear velvet.

  • I can’t go out with you because my dog is fat.

  • I didn’t finish it because my neighbour is learning to play the violin.

  • I didn’t finish it because I have vertigo.

  • I didn’t finish it because Katy Perry stole my car in my dream.

  • I didn’t finish it because I have an ingrown hair complex.

  • I didn’t finish it because I was on a really long Easter Egg hunt.