Recent Work By Zoe Brock

When I was five or six years old my mother allowed me to adopt a kitten. For months I had been kicking up a juvenile stink, shedding precocious tears and wailing mournfully while beating my head against the floor and lamenting my lack of a pet to play with. I had fallen in love with a neighbor’s cat and was devastated when I couldn’t keep it as my own. I think it was quite late in the evening when my mother finally relented. My tantrums finally became too much to bear and we set off on a kitten procuring adventure. It didn’t take long. A quick browse through the paper, a short drive, a litter and Bingo! I was a young mother.

She was a soft little thing, tabby and sweet, and when I held her against my cheek I could hear her tiny heart beating out a swift tempo. Her minuscule claws tickled my skin like feathers. She was perfect. I loved her. I loved her with such force and desperation that I was overcome with a strange new sensation. I wanted to squeeze her until her head popped off.

And that was a pretty weird feeling to try and come to terms with at such a young age.


I’ve been having a lot of discussions about these feelings lately, and it turns out I’m not the only person who suffers this kind of reaction in the face of extreme cuteness or intense love. Friends, family, adults, children… all have fallen victim to the strangest of compulsions—to hurt the thing they love.

Last year I took my girlfriend and her two-year old daughter, Chili, to visit five-year old Sophie. Sophie, an earnest young thing with a fire-cracker personality (destined to to turn her parents gray before she reaches adolescence), was enamored with Chili. They played together quite peacefully until, after a couple of hours, Sophie turned to me with a half-crazed expression and fearsomely gritted teeth. “What’s wrong Soph?” I inquired of my little friend. Her manic expression didn’t lesson, she appeared to be in the throes of some deep and confusing inner turmoil. Her little fists were cuffed, her knuckles white, and, from between gritted, gnashing teeth, came the following words “She’s just so cute. I want to hurt her.”

I understood completely. Chili’s mother did not.

As a child I felt this way towards fluffy little things with tails but these days I feel it most towards my boyfriend. Sometimes I just want to devour him. It’s a freaky feeling but I know I’m not alone. I’m sure we can all remember being manhandled during childhood by an exuberant grandparent. I’m sure many of us can tell tales of painful cheek-pinching and lung-collapsing embraces from older relatives who wanted, quite literally, to love us to death.

But what is this thing? And why do we not have a name for it?

In the last week or so I’ve searched high and low for a name for this syndrome and, despite learning that the word passion stems from the Latin verb patior, meaning to suffer or endure, the closest I have come to an answer is what is described in this blog as Nervio, a nuanced meaning of the Spanish word for nerves.

While the Philippines has the word Gi-gil, which roughly translates as a type of “affectionate frenzy”, there doesn’t appear to be an English word for the desire to maim or squash the thing you love the most, and indeed there are many people who have never felt the desire at all. A few nights ago I tried to explain all this madness to my mother only to have her insist I go and see a psychiatrist. I feel very misunderstood.

The very point of Nervio is that no action is taken. It’s a weird and fleeting desire that passes without incident. Perhaps the two things that most separate Nervio sufferers from common psychopaths are:

A.) common sense and
B.) a conscience.

For example, you’ll no doubt be happy to read that my kitten became a cat who, years later, died of old age and that sweet Chili is now three years old and as fit as a fiddle.

Me, on the other hand…well, I might be in trouble.

Several nights ago, while snuggled in bed with my beautiful boyfriend, he grimaced at me with clenched teeth and narrowed eyes. “I’m having that thing!” he said. “Nervio!”

Excited, I inquired how the syndrome was manifesting.

“Aargh!” he replied, “I want to turn you to goo! I want to turn you into jam and rub you all over me!”

I leave you now with the following scene from Punch Drunk Love—an example of Nervio at it’s most potent and (cough, cough) romantic.

PUNCH DRUNK LOVE

Do you know the true definition for this syndrome? Do you feel like sharing some personal experiences of it? If so please tell us about it in the comment boards below and/or on www.nervio.us, a site that has been set up for exactly that purpose. I’ve also entered the definitions of Nervio and Nervious into the annuls of Urban Dictionary and would like to send my gratitude out to Keren and Roger for pointing me in the direction of Roberto and Lizette Greco—who started it all off in the first place.

Have a beautiful day.


Dad? Are you high?

By Zoe Brock

Essay

Not so long ago, on a rare San Francisco day of surprising warmth and humidity, I was sitting at my nice orderly desk when an email appeared in my nice orderly inbox.

“Ping,” said my Google Notifier.

“Ooo,” said I. “Somebody loves me.”

The Google Notifier said nothing in response and I took it’s silence to mean that it was brimming over, like a fat and happy porcelain Buddha, with benign agreement.

I was right.

Somebody did love me…… and I am grateful.


That morning an almost sickly-sweet jasmine-scented breeze was blowing through my curtains and threatening to destroy my newest art-work. Like randy teenagers at an unchaperoned party the fine threads of my mobile danced together, much too closely, libidinous and teasing, flirting, tantalizing, making promises and whispering secrets. The  ancient photographic paper, like the very fabric of my small, cloistered reality, was in danger of ripping…

… so I got up and, with one last, grateful inhale of flowery air, I prudishly closed the window on breezy San Francisco, locking her outside to play with her other friends.

I wasn’t worried, she has many.

Once those windows were closed all sound abated. I was in a vacuum and all became still, muted…. and yet somehow quite dense. On this day my very white room felt more like a sanctuary than a sanatorium, a lucky occurrence that has as much to do with my mood as it does with the weather. On this day I was Home, and I was Happy. It was the perfect environment to be in when I opened my email and discovered these pictures-

The man-child in these photos is my father.

I had never seen these images, nor any of the ones that follow.

I was stunned.

There he is, my daddy, in all his youthful splendor, not quite a man and yet no longer a child.

Playing, preening, posing, entertaining, acting the fool – a rock-star artist lunatic.

He looks high.

If he isn’t high then he sure knows how to pretend to be.

My father died in 2001. I never knew this version of him. I knew the later incarnations, the older, more jaded, disappointed and infinitely wiser and wearier versions of this creature I now found before me. The person in these photos is an innocent- a naughty, cheeky, confident kid- full of swagger and sex and adventure.

I was, and am, completely taken aback by these photographs. They do not make me sad but they do intrigue and confuse me. The guy in these photos is My Father, but his obvious youth and the striking physical resemblances we share trick me into thinking he is, despite my being an only child, my brother. I recognize him as much as I see a total stranger. These pictures overwhelm me. I cannot ask him where they were taken, or even who by. I cannot ask him what he was thinking, hoping, dreaming… or what happened in the years between this recorded day and the year of my birth to temper his innocence. I cannot ask him anything.

He’s dead.

I stare at these pictures, here in my clean, white space and feel certain of only one thing….

The guy in these pictures is one of Us. That guy is someone I’d like to hang out with. Get drunk with. Talk shit with. He looks like any one of a bunch of San Francisco neo-hipsters that loiter in the cafe’s along Valencia, or lean against warehouse walls with paint on their fingers and smirks on their lips.

He was a special creature. And, much to my amazement, a better, more daring artist than he ever let on. Maybe he forgot? Maybe he lost that part of himself? Maybe he just got bored and moved on… but I know for certain that, despite his dabblings in ceramics and the totem poles he was carving when he died, he never painted anything in my lifetime like the canvas he is working on here.

It’s fascinating to me that I can find a new facet to my dad so many years after his passing.

I’m so proud and impressed. I feel bigger and greater and more powerful knowing I have his blood and passion inside me. He could play, inspire, create, amuse, reprimand, take no shit and always encourage.

In his honor I will continue to play, preen, pose, entertain, be a fool and a goddess and a rock-star-artist-lunatic… although something ever so unsubtle is telling me that I probably have no choice.

The proof is in the pictures.

This one’s for you, dad. x


Comment by Bruce King 2009-02-17 03:51:41


Zoe,
It is with considerable delight and interest that I “accidentally” discovered your wonderful chronicles by searching Google for snippets relating to my old mate, Warwick. Your Dad was one of my closest friends in Christchurch back in the early to mid 1960’s. We partied wildly and sang together heaps; in fact we often performed together at some of the great folk venues around town in those halcyon days—before Brock & Eggs, before Lyttelton, before the wheel . . . if you know what I mean. Could I have met you in your early childhood at that wonderful house overlooking the Port of Lyttelton? Recently I (amazingly, through a common interest in woodworking) met the German woodcrafter who currently lives there. Just the other day, I unearthed a poster I had done for the occasion of the Wellington Folk Festival several years ago (I am a retired graphic designer—a career choice in no small way inspired by your Dad). This visual chronology, in the form of a photomontage, has many pictures of Warwick, along with his old friend Bruce King, alias yours truly. If you would like a copy I’ll email a pdf to you, just say the word. The last time (literally) I saw your Dad was in Newtown, about 10 or 12 years ago. He and Cath lived a couple of streets away from Owen Street where my Mum used to live. I have never before seen the photos you have shared on this site—marvellous. I do miss his indomitable spirit and wicked laughter! Go well, Zoe, Bruce
PS: My wife Jessica and I live in Golden Bay where we are currently applying the final touches to our new adobe hacienda. What a joy!

It’s Wednesday, August 20, 2008.

The Man burns in ten days.

In three hours one of your best friends will arrive from Australia. You have not seen him in two months.

In fourteen hours the person who your heart and mind and body desires most will arrive from Israel. You have not seen him in four months. He will be followed shortly thereafter by his father, who will arrive from North Carolina. You have never met him at all.

In three days you will all leave together, in convoy, for eight days in the searing, brutal and unpredictable Nevada desert, driving through the night to take part in an event so wild, so beautiful, so bizarre and so life-changing that your brain cannot yet begin to fathom the most basic aspects of it, let alone it’s myriad intricacies.

And you haven’t even packed.

Yes. You may vomit now.


Dano, your brother from another mother, arrives on Qantas flight whatever. Your excitement at seeing him is immense. Spastic jerking happy dances ensue at the airport. Once at home Dano carefully hands you the three precious containers of smuggled contraband you requested from the Motherland. You sniff the inky contents, dip a finger in the viscous tar, lick aforementioned sticky finger to ensure the purity of your prized black goo and, once assured, whisper with tremulous glee… “Ah. Vegemite. I love your work, son.”

Dano’s suitcase, when opened, looks like this….

It is an orgy of cuteness, a heaping of duty-free idiocy, a mess of koalas *.

* Made In China.

The fact that you have not yet packed or readied yourself at all is some bother to you. It is counter intuitive to your organized and somewhat busy nature. You like to be prepared. Fortunately, so does Dano, and thus you have both come up with The List.

Culled from websites and friends suggestions The List is a basic recipe for all of the ingredients you will need to keep you comfortable at Burning Man. It does not include foodstuffs (except for the most essential of all foodstuffs – something I assure you that you will crave if you don’t have it, even if you are vegan).

Without further ado… I give you….

ZOE AND DANO’S BURNING MAN LIST 2008

Essentials- DO NOT FORGET!!

BACON! (And none of that turkey bacon or vegetarian bacon, either. Bacon bacon only).
tent (unless you are a pussy and/or can afford an RV)
three-foot lengths of bent re-bar to hold tent in place (it’s a tad windy sometimes)
inflatable mattress and pump
sleeping bag/duvet
bike
camel pack (or a camel)
3 gallons of water per day
earplugs (no explanation necessary)
dust masks (again, no explanation necessary)
goggles and sunglasses x2
Ziploc bags (for everything, and I mean everything. If there were Ziploc bags with air holes you would want one for yourself, even though Ziploc bags with air holes would totally defeat their purpose.)
more bacon!!!

Basic stuff- TRY NOT TO FORGET!!!

umbrella/parasol
Leatherman/tools
plate/cutlery
toilet paper
blanket
pillow
towel
batteries
airtight plastic containers for clothes etc
garbage bags
lighter/matches
camera
extra camera bits
sun shower
coolers
WD40
bike repair kit
torch, personal and bike
head lamp
shade structure (it’s bright and hot out there)

Medical/Skin care-

sunscreen (STRONG)
unscented baby wipes (in lieu of showering. You will need plenty)
moisturizer
paw paw ointment
leave-in conditioner
foot cream
hand cream
first aid kit
electrolytes
mouthwash
toothpaste
toothbrush
sleeping pills
vitamins (5HTP)
painkillers
Dano’s anti-inflammatory pills
Something in case you get a rash on your botty

Clothing- (optional)

hats
boots
socks!!
beanie
gloves
scarves
coat
pants w lots of pockets
fluffy legwarmers
full body fish net- crotchless, of course
holsters
leather things
head-dresses
tutus
sulu/sarong
prom dress
tool belt
stilts
fluffy muff
frilly apron
lacy things
corset
anything that makes you feel beautiful, adventurous, free, comfortable, sexy, silly, regal, hard-core or just downright kinky.

The above portion of The List is fairly self-explanatory. The final section includes items that won’t necessarily aid in your comfort, but might certainly aid in your enjoyment.

Fun Stuff-

totems
flag
roo stamp and ink
kite
bike
stubbie holders (beer can coolers)
easel
whip
roll of paper and crayons
fake lawn

face paint
guitar
blinky things
journal
texta (sharpie) on a string
periscope
telescope
cow prodder
wig
pogo stick

And now you are ready. This is all you need and more. Feel free to take none of it and I’m sure you will be looked after. Remember that absolutely everything that you take in to Black Rock City must be taken out again. You can leave no trace. Remember that there is only one phone out there (not including the direct line to God) so chances are you will be out of contact with your Loved Ones for the duration of your stay. If this upsets you I suggest bringing your Loved Ones. If your Loved Ones are on the smallish side there is a camp called Kidsville where families congregate. Kidsville is Utopia for small humans.

Fall in love, find yourself, lose yourself, find yourself all over again just in time to lose your friends and make new ones. Confront your fears and insecurities. Give them away. Blow your mind and heart and soul wide open. Dance. Get dust in your eyes and nose and ears and bits. Discover Playa Boogers. Look after people, just as others look after you. Serve. Explore. Be stimulated. Be tested. Survive. Grow. This is Burningman. Before I experienced it I would roll my eyes at the people who claimed that it was indescribable. It IS indescribable. In the most wonderful way.

Perhaps you’ll know what I mean some day. I really hope you do.

BLACK ROCK CITY, NV-

Your boots are white with dust as fine as talc. Insidious stuff. Your legs, your arms, your face, whatever clothing you have decorated your body with – all are white, silty and dry. Your skin reacts to the alkaline, shrinking, drying, withering, trying to escape it. But there is no escape. The dust is everywhere – in your eyes, your lungs, your ears, in every nook of your body, in every cranny, in every fold of fabric that adorns you, everywhere you look… your world is white. And so you trudge across this white world, this wide expanse of nothingness, bracing yourself against the whirling-dervish winds, staring blindly into the invisibility that surrounds you. You are cocooned in the nothing, strangely safe and yet completely assailable.

You have never felt more alone, more surrounded by love, or more alive. Your vulnerability is your greatest strength.

This post-apocalyptic landscape strengthens your resolve and buffers your sense of self.

You are at The End of the Earth.

Welcome Home.


You catch a glimpse of moving structures and beings through the whiteness. A creature looms, a fluffy rabbit drives by helmed by a renegade cast of characters, a half-naked hula-hooper spins into view and vanishes again, a goggled and masked humanoid passes on a feathered bicycle and disappears into the cloud, something indescribably weird happens and you can only shake your head in wonder. There is much that is indescribable here. Indecipherable, unimaginable… you know that you will have a hard time convincing others of the perfection of this very imperfect place and you shrug. You are not, nor will you ever be, a missionary.

Noises abound. The wind howls over whoops and yells. There is music everywhere. Guitar screams, thumping bass, a violin…. a violin? Nothing you expect and everything you could ever imagine – if you were insane. For this is madness. Barely organized chaos. Insanity. The bizarre, the beautiful, the grotesque, the amazing.

Onward you move.

As the light fades so does the wind. The roar and force abates but the madness doesn’t. The power of nature is replaced by the power of humanity and technology as a whole new world reveals itself to your eyes.

The white-out is over.

You remove your dust-mask, your goggles, your methods of protection. You look around and, in the fading desert sunset, in the dusky twilight of the Nevada gloaming, this is what you see-

Magic.

All around you are lights of every color. Red and blue and gold and green. Static, flashing. The lights belong to structures that pump sound out into your environment. You are far from these lights but they surround you completely. You are in a womb of blinking neon.

A pirate ship on wheels passes by. A silver Sphinx crosses its path in a near collision. The fluffy rabbit returns. Someone waves and smiles. You return the greeting.

A rocket approaches and the feeling you are having of being a traveler to another planet intensifies. Perhaps you are on the set of a science-fiction epic? Perhaps you are a warrior on the barren plains of another world? Perhaps you are a god or goddess, a king or a queen, a survivor of the apocalypse… one of The Last?

Or maybe you are just you and you feel different? Bigger, stronger, more alive…. more capable and inspired. Your reality is altered.

The possibilities are endless.

In the distance you see your destination. Your bunny-ears twitch and a smile illuminates the twilight.

Look!

Your feet skip a dance to a tall Moroccan tent filled with laughing people. Cocktails are poured, trays of food pass under your nose. You partake, feasting, drinking, soaking it up.

The person you love is grinning. He/she looks beautiful, radiant, alive and very, very dusty. You have never loved more deeply or with more detachment to an outcome.

Your heart is full.

Your friends are happy.

Small worries fade away.

A new perspective emerges.

Your life seems suddenly complete.

You have evolved somehow and a strange new sentiment is birthed within you.

“All is as it should be.”

You know you will remind yourself of these words in the near future whenever a cab is late, a drama unfolding, a person pushing your buttons or things not going your way. You know you may temporarily forget these words, but that they will come back to you more and more, and that from this moment on you are changed.

You have become lighter and happier and less touchable by Stuff.

You have survived the storms, transcended yourself and walked through fire.

You are at Burning Man and your world will never seem the same again.

If you would like to see a video of our time at Black Rock City, Nevada then please click the following link. The movie was made by Ron Kurti and stars himself, his father, our friend Udi (who took all of these beautiful pictures) and yours truly.

BURNING MAN 2008

It is a perfect memory made into a whimsical and beautiful little film. Please enjoy and feel free to leave a comment on either of our pages. Hearing stories of your own experiences on the Playa would be wonderful and if you have any questions which might inspire you to go then I’d love to help answer them. xx

I’m going to Burning Man this year.

Ten days in the dust and the wind and the heat and the cold and the chaos. Ten days of thumping base and lunacy and love. Ten days of…. I have no idea what.

Many conflicting words and feelings spring to mind- solitude, isolation, adventure, companionship, evolution, degeneration, transcendence, freedom, inhibition, self-consciousness, self-expression… the list goes on.

I’m a Burning man virgin and (due to a recent compulsion to drive myself completely mad) over the last few weeks my excitement levels have waxed, waned, teetered, tottered, disappeared entirely into a pit of anxious fear and then returned, tentatively, dressed up as clowns and hookers.

Perhaps I need to explain…


Several years ago I had a depression that almost beat me. It’s a long and arduous tale and something I try to make light of as much as possible even if the residue is sometimes sticky and dark. The illness changed me. When the hopelessness receded I was a nicer, more empathetic and gentle person, but I was also more timid, I had become frightened of putting myself in situations that I would once have embraced without caution. Now I sometimes have The Fear. Adventures that I would never have thought twice about have become things I have to consider. Plans have to be made, things have to be clear and understood and there is little room for spontaneity in case I am ill-equipped to cope.

Or so I imagine.

So I let myself believe.

At some point in the last few months my Burning Man adventure turned dark. The Fear crept into me and the over-thinking began. I rationalized my over-thinking as ‘being responsible’ and, as a consequence, thought longer and harder about the myriad possibilities for disaster and became more and more tormented. Should I go? Could I go? Where will I camp? What about this? What about that? But, but, but……..

A few days ago I decided to put a stop to it.

Enough already.

A wise woman I know gave me the gift of a beautiful and clear metaphor “…If you were planning a trip to, say… Thailand… would you spend the whole time worrying about getting home safe? Or would you just go and enjoy the adventure?”

The answer was easy and it applies to everything in my life. My love, my work, my creativity, my soul.

In the last year, despite my worried efforts, locks and bolts (or perhaps because of them) The Fear has crept with insidious stealth through the bedroom window of my heart and left a big steamy poo on the fluffy white flokati rug of my soul.

It’s time to clean it up.

How do you clean up a metaphorical dump on an imaginary carpet?

Why that’s simple, boys and girls, you just… relax.

And so I went to Shmoo’s house.

And together we went hiking up Mount Tam in Marin County… in our Burning Man outfits.

What follows is a pictorial of our adventures. I hope you enjoy.

THE DAY SHMOO AND LADY BANDIT CLIMBED A MOUNTAIN AND LET IT ALL HANG OUT. A NINE STEP PROGRAM WITH GUARANTEED RESULTS-

STEP ONE. Find the perfect hiking outfit. Take your time. Be adventurous.

STEP TWO. Get in the car and put on some thumping beats.

STEP THREE. Get thee to a place with really big trees….

… and beautiful trails.

STEP FOUR. Look at the magic that surrounds you.

Soak it up.

STEP FIVE. After an hour of happy meandering reach the bottom of the trail. Think “that was easy!” and sit down for a minute….

… then start to climb back up.

STEP SIX. Stop a lot to catch your breath. Feel free to use the excuse ‘I’m just looking at the view’, it is, after all, a really nice view. It’s hard to see views if you’re always climbing up and puffing a lot.

STEP SEVEN. Admire yourself along the way. You’re doing good!

(Even if you are feeling like an old lady with lungs the size of pine nuts).

STEP EIGHT. Get to the top. Realize that for all your huffing and puffing and sweating and wondering if you were going to make it…. that you actually did. Celebrate it.

STEP NINE. Keep on walking. One foot in front of the other. Alone or together. On different paths or shared tracks. In bare legs or crotchless fishnet stockings…. just keep on walking.

It’s good for you.

But always remember this cautionary word from your sponsor.

When trees attack…

… just hug them.

THE END. x

I’ve just moved.

Not just houses, but cities and entire lives. It’s exciting and new, a bit like the theme song from the Love Boat, but with no Gopher, no dancing girls and no stopover in Rio.

Bummer!

For posterity’s sake I kept a bit of a journal of my first week in San Francisco and have decided to share it as a peek into the inner sanctum of my life. I’d call you all voyeurs for reading, but in actuality I’m just a hideous narcissist who wants to show you photos of my closet.

Tuesday, July 1st- DAY ONE

Arrive from Sydney, Australia to new home found and rented on Craigslist. A home I have never actually seen yet in person, with room-mates I’ve never actually met. Feel a tad apprehensive but filled with hope.

Arrive at house with five suitcases, tired from an exhaustive flight spent trying to ignore the surreptitious hand jobs being given (and received) in the seats next to me (by two randy college-age fucktards from Arizona who obviously felt the need to join the mile-high club and were too lazy/ignorant/selfish to do so in the bathroom like normal people) only to discover that the keys left out for me do not work in the key hole provided.

Have moment of extreme near-meltdown and decide to sit in the driveway in the sun and relax until a solution presents itself. Discover the word “peace” written into the concrete of said driveway and realize everything will be fine.

Wednesday, July 2nd- DAY TWO

Work. Jet lagged. Fall over a lot. Laugh. Walk home from work jingling keys in pocket and feel really peaceful and a bit like someone has given me a Roofie.

Go pick up gift of beautiful old electric guitar. Stare at it a lot and wonder what the fuck to do with it. Shrug and smile.

Thursday, July 3rd- DAY THREE

Try to do stuff. Jet lag bites ass and bed prevails. Unpack clothes into walk-in closet(s) and feel conflicting emotions of joy and disgust at how many useless dresses I own. Love closet. Hate self for loving closet.



Friday, July 4th- DAY FOUR

Cognizant at last.

Spend the evening of July 4th rearranging my kitchen and nesting (insert chicken noise) (lay egg) (peck at floor) (eat bug) (ruffle feathers) (shit) (squawk).

Cook my favorite pasta- see recipe below- leaving enough for my lovely environmental lawyer room-mate to eat when she comes back from work (because if you’re looking after Mother Nature’s business someone else has to look after you).

Open the doors to the freezing Summer night and let the recently relocated New York City cats out onto the balcony. With wide eyes they sniff the strange fresh air. I sit with them and mutter and coo “reassuring” noises but they pay me no heed.

Put some Bob Dylan on and folk around in the kitchen cupboards for a bit.

The sound of the fireworks echoing between the hills in the deep fog sounds like the wild west. I feel like I’ve been transported back to the Civil War. I’ve never actually heard any canon fire before, but a big fucking boom is a big fucking boom, right?

Saturday, July 5th- DAY FIVE

Get kidnapped in Vanigan and transported to Point Reyes for fresh oysters on the beach. Learn three chords on an acoustic guitar and arrive home happy. Stand outside my pretty house and stare at it a bit before going inside and passing out.

Sunday, July 6th- DAY SIX

HEAT WAVE! Discover concrete slides. Yes, I said CONCRETE SLIDES. Take friend up to top of park at end of street and force her to sit on a raggedy piece of cardboard and project herself down the steep incline. She screams really loudly. Success! Pick plums from the overhang and discuss plans for potential bourgeois-neighborhood anarchy. Pick flowers from other peoples yards as a build-up to said anarchy. Lie in sun and get sunburned ass. Spend evening itching ass in front of people and enjoying their reaction.

Monday, July 7th- DAY SEVEN

Go and pick up key for share car, tune guitar and wonder exactly how many more chords there actually are. Laugh at self. Play with cats. Hang hummingbird feeder. Curse rude hummingbird that ignores feeder. Pick some plums and go to work.

Realize, on way to work, that I have never felt more at home in any city anywhere, despite the fact that I know few people at all.

Grin.

x

Recipe for Zoe’s favorite summer pasta- (for her mom who needs to learn how to make it again)

About 8-10 Green olives, marinated in plain oil NOT vinegar. diced
1 tbsp Capers, in salt not vinegar either. Yuk. squished
1 clove garlic. finely chopped
2 fresh chili’s. finely chopped
juice of 2 lemons
3 zucchinis sliced very thin lengthwise. potato peeler works well.
a couple of big handfuls of arugula
1 large tuna steak, sliced thinly OR 1 can of ITALIAN or AUSTRALIAN* tuna in olive oil, drained.
*This is important. American tuna is revolting. Italian will cost you, but it’s worth it, it tastes like fresh tuna steak not cat-food.
sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
a dollop of butter
a splash of olive oil
1 chunk of imported parmigiana – grated
1 packet thin spaghetti
lots of red wine to drink while you’re cooking.

Lightly saute the strips of zucchini in a small bit of olive oil and remove from pan.

Throw the olives, capers, chili and garlic in a small frying pan, on low heat, in enough olive oil to have them simmer but not swim. You’ll figure it out. I believe in you.

While they are slooooooowly infusing the oil with their tasty goodness put a large pot of water on to boil. Throw salt in to pot. Do not waste your olive oil in the water (common misconception). When it boils put in pasta.

Add the tuna and lemon juice. Let it sizzle for a few minutes.

Add butter, zucchini and arugula. stir long enough for the arugula to wilt a little. Salt and pepper the fucker.

When pasta al dente remove from stove, drain and throw over the fishy stuff. Stir it all together. The pasta should be coated in oil lightly, not drenched in it. Add extra lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parmigiana all over it.

Eat.

Later on you will poop it out, but don’t let this occurrence freak you out, it’s perfectly natural.



Hello, my name is Zoë Brock and I am a hopelessly hopeful romantic.

Love and I have a long and sordid relationship. We’re stuck to each other with that cheap, tacky glue that never dries properly and gets hairs and other bits of icky dirt and effluvia stuck in it and ends up looking like a coughed up owl pellet, minus the skeletal bits. It’s horrible, trust me.

Sometimes I feel as if I live my life adhered to the cheap pulpy paper bound between the flowery covers of a Harlequin romance novel.

Sometimes I wonder if some sticky-fingered house-wife isn’t pouring over the sordid details of my love-life, swooning, moaning and gasping at the more elaborately descriptive paragraphs as she takes a break between episodes of ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ and ‘Days of Our Lives’.

Sometimes I feel like I’m getting paper cuts on my fingers as I try to escape from my papery jail.

It’s useless trying to escape, of course. There is no way out of yourself. I am what I am.

And I just love the Love.

For example- The other day, while standing at a downtown street corner waiting for the lights to change, I started fantasizing about the moment when I will see My Person again after a long absence. I think about this scenario a lot. We’ve been apart a few months, and still have several weeks to go before we can look at each other and assess the changes and evolutions we have both gone through on our own. My mind wanders to that moment and I drift off into completely fantastical scenes, replete with soaring movie music and zoom shots into locked lips before wide pans up into blue sky.

I gross myself out a lot.

Sometimes these thoughts involve hurried needful sex or desperate kisses. Sometimes they involve me fainting, weak knees giving way, eyes rolling back in head, tall girl dissolving into a pile of floppy limbs and crumpled emotions.

No one has ever accused me of having no sense of melodrama.

Anyway, back to that corner- I’m standing there, weak kneed and gooey, envisioning him as he walks across the street/room/playa- tanned, athletic, half naked, like some stud from a bad Arabian Nights illustration (vomit, I know) and I realize the lights have changed and that I’ve missed my chance to cross. More than this I realize they have changed several times and that I have been standing on the corner of Market and Geary with a stupid look on my face long enough to attract the attention of the nearby flower vendor. He inquires about my well being and I nod, flush, and scurry away in a pink cloud of girlie embarrassment.

Ugh.

Yesterday, while walking home from an adventure at the gay hardware store (a whole other story) I was stupid enough to fall victim to my romantic impulses again. This time my mind was co-erced into dangerous idiocy by the melodic strains of KD Lang singing ‘Hallelujah’ on my iPod.

Oh dear.

Did I listen to it once? Did I listen to it twice? Or did I listen to it three times and send myself into a spasm of mind-fucking that involved such details as sordid spontaneous sex, declarations of eternal love and devotion and, most shamefully, full-blown confetti-strewn matrimony? You guess.

Yep.

And I almost got run over as a consequence.

I should have my own sitcom. We could call it Zoe loves Chachi.

(Did you know that Cha-Chi is the Mongolian term for penis? [Actually I made that up {but it’s funny, right?}])

Of course not all of my romantic moments are light and fluffy. Some of them are downright dark and brooding, morose and gloomy. More of a “Jane Eyre” than a “When Harry Shtupped Sally”. More “Donnie Darko” than “The Notebook”.


Sometimes my romantic reality is heavy and smothering and desperate and tragic. My need for someone can be overwhelming to them and to myself.

(Excuse me, a cat needs some attention).

I’m back. Where was I? Romance. Dreams. Vomitous imaginings wrapped in pink lace and scented tissue.

If the adage “have dick, be dickhead” is true then surely the same must be said for women. “Have vagina, be a giant bloody pussy”. Sorry, Nana, I know you’re reading this.

But after much agonizing and mental self-flagellation I’ve come to the conclusion that being a romantic isn’t so bad after all. Sure, it’s a bit embarrassing. Sure, I cry in commercials and stupid fluffy movies. Sure, I’ve been known to stare at people kissing in the street with a big goofy grin on my head until they think I’m a pervert, but it also means I’m open to the whole damn thing, despite more than a few disappointments and broken-hearted escapades (see archives for further reading material), escapades that could have made me bitter and twisted and far too scared to indulge in this type of thinking.

And, this way, if I’m not getting romanced, cuddled and loved-up in reality, I can always escape to the Fabiolicious fantasies inside my own mind, right?

Cor! Look at him! If you knew where my finger was while that picture was being taken you’d be shaking my hand, children.

Or not.


*ALL PHOTOSHOPPING WITHIN THIS STORY WAS MAGIC PERFORMED BY JOSH ‘DR CHOP’ FLECHTNER. MANY THANKS FOR HIS WIZARDRY, MAY OUR COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS BE LONG-LIVED, COMPLETELY DERANGED AND INCREDIBLY SILLY.

The Bus

By Zoe Brock

Writing

It’s rush hour.

The bus is crowded and sweet-salty-humid with the airborne sweat of human secretions. The blood in my veins feels lethargic and viscous, greasy and sticky like spilled motor oil. It’s going nowhere. My heart beats dangerously slow but with tremendous force, a slow, throbbing, near-cardiac arrest as it tries to pump hot-wet-red stuff through the million minuscule tubes of my body. Boom. Boom. Boom. I feel obvious and naked. I am bruised, raw and bloodied.

And I am not alone.

I face someone. A man. Taller than me, lean and long and lanky. A three day beard shadows a strong jaw. Kind green eyes watch me, seeing past my inane, protective facades, melting me. He is beautiful, and he is no stranger.

The bus swerves. We collide into each other, pressing close to avoid contact with other humans. People Who Are Not Us.

The driver accelerates sharply to avoid a parked car and I stumble forwards, crashing into him. A shot of electricity charges through my chest, my face, between my legs. I flush. A sharp intake of breath gives me away.

“Shh”. He consoles me. “I have you.”

It is a truthful statement, in every way. He had me then, and he has me still.

When we boarded the bus there already existed a heightened sense of emotion between us. Longing, loss, love… all compounded with that other L word.

Lust.

It’d been a month since we’d ended our relationship, a month since we’d been intimate, and not a day had passed without me yearning for his touch or missing his nearness.

The bus brakes again, jamming his body closer to mine.

He holds me close, keeping me safe, preventing me from falling. Preventing me from falling physically, but, with every second we touch, sending me plummeting further into the abyss of love and want and confusion and sorrow.

With every sudden lurch and every violent braking we are jammed against each other and pulled apart. I feel as if I am drowning. The people around us are a blur, a tide of humanity that washes around us like a foaming, undulating ocean.

I close my eyes and imagine a huge neon sign above our heads that reads “THESE TWO PEOPLE WANT TO FUCK EACH OTHER”, alerting the entire, crowded vehicle to our plight.

In retrospect I don’t think a sign was necessary.

In the moment I’m convinced our energy is infecting the passengers around us. Deep desire oozes along the aisle and seeps up trousers and skirts, soaking fabric, into the souls of the commuters, causing each and every one of them to debark in a flustered hurry, to rush home to furiously masturbate, grind their pelvises against their walls and make urgent, frenetic love to their partners.

Brake. Lurch. Rev. Brake. Jolt.

I whimper. He draws me closer, pulling my head into the space between his neck and shoulder, that place I know so well and fit so perfectly. I rest there, allowing myself to drown a little, but not enough.

And then the ride is over. Suddenly, too soon, we step out into the world, still apart, still sad, still hurting.

It was a bittersweet ride, from beginning to end, and my only regret is not thanking that heavy footed bus driver for the best almost-sex I’ve ever had in my life.

Dude? If you’re reading? I fucking love the way you drive.

“Tis not the amount of stress one copes with, but the grace with which one handles it, that is the measure of a persons strength.”

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I said that!

“Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you even know you’re falling.”

I said that too!

I’m wicked fucking smart sometimes, but it’s a crying shame that I’m terrible at following my own advice.

I need a t-shirt made up with “I’m a hypocrite” on the front and “No I’m not” on the back.

In the last year I’ve felt some stress. I’ve been ripped off and lied to, manipulated and used. I’ve been broke and scared and confused and felt horribly violated. I’ve also felt loved and creative and proud and hopeful– but those are completely irrelevant and much too happy feelings at this point in the story. It’s the throbbing muck and boiling gore that we’re wallowing in here today, not fluffy bunny tails and creme caramel niceties. Today we focus on…. the shit.

Yay.

Lately I’ve been feeling stressed. Over the past few months my life somehow evolved, despite many truly beautiful things happening to me, into a threatening, malevolent entity, fangs bared, hairy arms extended, flailing and reaching for my throat.

The daunting experience of moving to a strange city with no emotional backup and no circle of friends made me feel small and frightened. Limited finances and a seemingly enormous set of insurmountable barriers made my soul shrink and my bravery vanish. Everything seemed so damn big, except for me, who became tiny and useless.

As a consequence I became vulnerable. Actually that’s a complete understatement. As a consequence I became PATHETIC. My coping mechanisms shut down and I turned into a needy, codependent, emotionally autistic, simpering twit. I turned into these things because, for the first time in ages, I could. Why? Because I had someone there to pick up my slack.

I had a lover to help carry my weight.

I had a boyfriend with broad shoulders.

I had a man to fall back on.

Sherpa

I tried to turn my Love into my Sherpa.

Sir Edmund Hillary would be appalled. So would Tenzing Norgay.

Actually Tenzing might think it was kinky in a twisted Nepalese way.

But I digress. What is it about people that makes us lean on each other when we are more than capable of leaning on ourselves?

Laziness? Luxury? Madness?

Whatever it is, it’s got to stop. The people we love the most should never get the worst of us. The people who love us the most deserve the sweetest sides and most gentle touches.

Receiving love is not an excuse to get weak, but a reason to feel stronger.

Why does this shit always seem easier in retrospect? Is Apple going to design us an iCrystalBall soon?

Personally I feel that a therapist, tender and passionate sex, lots of forgiveness, patience, talking, time and space can conquer anything if the love is great enough and the desire shared. But that’s just me. Not many people are as stupidly romantic and emotionally autistic as I am. Some people are more practical.

Zoeinthesun

Me? Not so much.

I tend to think that practicalities can be taught and learned, but that love cannot. To me love is the foundation of everything, practicalities are just a layer to keep the soft stuff from oozing out and staining the sheets.

It turns out that, while my lover had broad enough shoulders, he didn’t have the inclination to use them, and the weight of my load caused him to leave me on the mountain to carry my own shit. It was a good call on his behalf. That much weight isn’t good for anyone, and it wasn’t his job to carry it. In the end I decided to leave it all at base camp and carry on climbing with nothing but some extra oxygen, a warm pair of socks and this fucking flag thing that I aim to stick in the ground when I get to the top.

Climbing is fun. This mountain is huge and daunting but I’m determined. It’s sad that I have to keep climbing alone, for now…

Chinamteverest

… because, man, this view deserves to be shared.


Dear Life,

I hope this letter finds you well, happy, and infinitely less confusing and melodramatic than you were when I was writing it. Just to be on the safe side I think I’ll wait a few hours before sending this just to give you a chance to mellow out, you highly strung weirdo.

Yours, with infinite respect,

Zoë.

Dear People Who Keep Coming Into This Internet Cafe And Leaving The Door Open,

Are you, by any chance, made of some new kind of Nasa-manufactured, cold-resistant super-flesh? Does your meat not freeze? Can I get some? No? Well fuck you all over again then.

Later today, when you go back to your tent (for surely that is what you live in) and try to shower, I hope the hot water runs out. Standing there in the frigid water you will quickly realize that you have no towel to dry yourself with. In an ideal world a desperate and clever thief will take this opportunity to sneak into your tent (hey, you left the flaps open, you were clearly asking for it) and steal all your clothes and food, leaving nothing but a bag of frozen peas that you will be forced to hug close to your naked chest to defrost before you can ingest them, sobbing all the while and wondering what on earth you did to deserve this misery.

Sincerely, and with contented revenge,

The Shivering Girl In The Cornër.

Dear Black Tea,

Tea1

Wow! You really know how to get the party started in my heart, right!? Weeee!! My aorta is about to leap out of my chest and do the Lambada on the counter!! Exclamation point!! How strong are you, tea?! What do you mean FOUR CUPS IS TOO MUCH?! What do you mean DON’T ADD SO MUCH SUGAR???!! Are you crazy?!! What are you trying to say anyway?! Are you saying I have a problem?! Are you calling me a wimp?! Lets take this outside.

Bitch.

Yours, with jitters, Zoë.

Dear Internal Organs,

The next time I try to overload you with tea please feel free to speak up and say something about my complete and utter lack of self-control.

Don’t be afraid. I can only punish you further by changing my intake of liquids to something stronger like, say, tequila.

Love,

Zoë.

Dear Craigslist,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for providing me with a solid eight hours of alternating boredom and fun today. You’ve inspired me, broken my heart, annoyed me, uplifted me and generally made me want to smash my laptop into the innocent face of the next person who comes in here and leaves the fucking door open. You’ve also given me three job leads, five potential apartments and a damn good laugh.

All in all I’d say our relationship is on the up and up.

So…. when do we get to have sex?

*Saucy wink*,

Zoë.

Craigslist


Dear Boyfriend,

I’m really sorry you don’t like the word c**t. I’m also really sorry that I occasionally use it. If you knew how often I wanted to say it and didn’t then you’d be really proud of me. I am trying really hard to be the delicate little flower you have somehow convinced yourself into believing I am. I have been meaning to ask you, are you on crack? Anyway, I’m sorry, but you were absolutely right when you said that I should not bow to your Republican censorship. Especially considering you are not a Republican, which is one of the reasons why we get on so well. You’re quite conservative for a hippie.

Yum, Z

P.S. That green t-shirt gives me the flutters.

Dear Hello Darkness My Old Friend,

Where did the fecking day go????

“Craigslist”?

Oh.

Cheers for clearing that up, Z.

Dear Guy Behind The Counter,

Is it too late for another tea?

Maniacally, Your Biggest Fan.

Mum

By Zoe Brock

Memoir

The greatest gift my mother ever gave me was the gift of knowing I was loved.
In a cruel and often scary world this one fact gives me peace.

Perhaps I am biased, but I think my mama is beautiful, even in a plastic garbage bag.

Bb_old_enough_to_kn13747b

My family was not dysfunctional in the most literal sense of the word, but we were never “normal” either. Instead we were an artistic, eccentric lot. My mother was glamorous and beautiful, and my father was… an interesting and rebellious cat. I used to dream of a mother who stayed home and baked scones instead of being in the pages of magazines, and a father who did just about anything rather than wear pigtails and glitter nail polish.

Zb_wb_7_yrs

But they are what I got, and I am grateful for them.

Parents.

Such funny creatures.

There was a time when they must have been happy, for they were together seven years before I was born.

Brigidwarwick

In those early days they looked wonderful together.

But times change, and so do we.

By the time I came along things were different.

There was divorce, physical separation, financial worries and solutions, arguments between adults, forced smiles, dashed dreams, survival and the ever present over-imaginative childish fears of sinister Bogeymen such as “The Goat Man”, a skull headed, cloven-footed half-man who roamed the hills behind my house eating the heads of little children who stayed out after dark; a ghoul known only to me as “Ronald Reagan” and his nuclear-face-melting-button-of-destruction;”The Terrible Terrifying Toilet Monster“, a creature so sinister and stealthy that I was forced to come up with something I refer to as “the flush and run” (I suppose it was less a “run” than a sprint for dear life, but that’s just nitpicking).

Oh the horrors.

In my fantastical and often fearsome world there was one absolute constant, the love of my mum.

There was never a morning before I turned five and went off to school that I didn’t wake up to a special note left beside my bed, in cryptic code or abstract silliness, a poem, a song, a scribble. Small expressions of love and humor and creativity that doubled as a bribe to keep myself occupied and allow her an extra hour or two of precious sleep.

There was never a birthday party thrown that wasn’t ludicrous, over the top, mad and explosive.

Miss_patriotic

Yet somehow, sometimes, I doubted being loved.

When I was very little I frequently ran away to the cherry tree at the bottom of the driveway. I packed a tiny suitcase and filled it with essentials.

1zb_21_months

Inside the case went Owlie, some clean undies and a book, which I would march down the pathway with curious focus and hoist up into the gnarled, misshapen tree, where I would perch my strange, stubborn self and eat it’s cherries, pouting, acting all the while like a miniature diva in purple overalls and red rubber boots. After a few hours I would stomp back to the house and demand to know if the reason why my mum hadn’t called the police was because she didn’t love me. My mother would suppress a smile and very seriously tell me that she was about to call the police but that she had seen me in the tree and figured I was just playing.

Ah, the wicked, weird and wily ways of an only child.

And still, there was never a time when my mama traveled, and she traveled often,
that I did not receive a postcard, letter or parcel on every day that
she was gone, including the day she left and those shortly thereafter.

For years I thought postboxes were magical things for which rational scientific theories did not apply – if a human put a postcard in a mailbox in Tokyo it simply popped out five minutes later in Christchurch, New Zealand. Easy. Did my mother know how to circumvent time and space? Was her mailbox the Tardis? Of course not. She simply mailed her missives before she left so that I would never imagine that I wasn’t being thought of or missed.

When I think of the care and love that went into that sort of planning I cry.

I cry because I am lucky. I cry because I wish that every child could feel so special. I cry because I took it for granted. I cry because for many years I showed my mother a sub-par love. I cry because I think I have made her unhappy and pushed her away. I cry because my mother deserves the world. I cry because today is her birthday and I cannot wrap my arms around her. I cry because I inherited her damn emo gene and it makes me fucking cry at everything. Even this, although perhaps in this case the tears are a bit different. I cry because I wish I was little again and that we could do it all over and I could really appreciate how beautiful my childhood was, while it was happening, and how very much I was loved.

Zb_7_mths

I cry because I’m not sure if my mother knows how grateful I am for all the ways she has saved me, adored me and inspired me, in my childhood and as a woman.

Perhaps this little blog will help her understand.

Thank you mama. I love you.

Bb_18_yrs

Happy Birthday.

It’s noon and I’m lying on my bed listening to the lilting voices of the neighbors waver with abandonment, teetering on the verge of happy hysteria. They are intoxicated, summer, weekend voices. BBQ gathering voices.

Excitable voices.

Gay.


Literally.

Under the purple rain of the flowering jacaranda tree next door lies a picnic blanket rife with fabulous cliché.

I mean no condescension, no judgment, no malice- but there is a collection of screamingly fey voices drifting over the back fence that have infiltrated my thoughts and invited themselves into my bedroom to rearrange the furniture and borrow my shoes.

I am eavesdropping on West Hollywood gossip. The highs and lows and ins and outs of the botoxed and be-muscled set. Offers of cocktails and declarations of “Ooooooo, yes!”

I smile.

The boys club is having a ball today.

The high pitched conversation makes my mind wander.

Growing up I had a lot of male “Aunties”. Gay couples were normal in my world. Two men together never once seemed strange or perverted. It saddens me that for some people it is such an issue. It glaaddens me that so much progress has been made.

My mother and I were so inured to homosexuality that it wasn’t even something we thought about much. Or discussed.

My nanny was a tranny and we didn’t even notice.

Her name was Ngaire (a Maori name traditionally pronounced “Niery” but which my stubborn, cross-dressing babysitter insisted was “Na-Gair”).

My mother hired Ngaire in all her 1920’s glamor when I was about ten years old. I loved her from the outset. I loved her eccentricities and elegance, her regal stature, her doting, grandmotherly love for me, her ability to lose at backgammon and never draw attention to the fact that I’d changed the rules.

I remember that she was in her late fifties, maybe.

She wore white satin gloves pushed in silky ripples up past her elbows.

She wore drop waisted dresses and curled, bobbed wigs.

She asked me to design outfits for her- purple hooded capes and fancy, beaded frocks with lace sashes. Then she had them made.

She wore strings and strings of low-hanging pearls.

She was an Agatha Christie character come to life.

She was my tranny, granny, nanny.

I remember the scandal we went through when we realized we’d been fooled.

It lasted about thirty seconds.

One day my mother had several guests over for drinks before heading out to a party, and one drunken lout saw through the (probably quite obvious) ruse and announced it to us when Ngaire was out of earshot. My mothers beautiful face took on an air of shock and bewilderment, her brain tick-tocked and did the math as she turned to me with a quizzical face.

The wigs. The costumes. The deeper voice. The bashful demeanor. The white satin gloves… worn to hide the mans hands!

Im00068

We looked at each other.

It made sense.

We smiled.

We laughed and shrugged.

Then the party left and Ngaire and I sat down to play backgammon.

I won.

Rules are made to be broken.

Humor Blogs - Blog Top Sites


Hello.

My name is Zoe Brock and I am a MySpace addict.

Wow. That’s embarrassing.

If you’d like to run me over with a train right now I’d be more than happy to lay down and oblige.

Sarday_193

Like most addictions my MySpace dependency took time for me to notice, acknowledge or declare.

It was not an addiction I anticipated.

Most addictions are so anticipated that they’re downright boring by the time they kick in.

Weed?
Yawn.

Various psychedelics, uppers, downers and sidewinders?
*whistles innocently and looks towards the heavens*

Cigarettes?
Fuckity fuck fuck.

Booze?
Hello? I’m Australian.

Sex, drugs and rock n roll?
Hello? I’m human.

Strip clubs with performing dwarfs?
Hello? I’m twisted.

Expensive shoes, raunchy lingerie and designer jeans?
Hello? I’m a big titted female with a shoe fetish and an ass made for Marc Jacobs.

Social networking on the Internet????
Ummmmmm……

NO.

It all began last year when a complete stranger, some author by the name of Listi, preyed upon me when I was bored, incapacitated, and unable to walk for three months, and encouraged me to
join MySpace in order to read his blog. Listi lured me with promises that I might potentially write for him on his new writers website “thenervousbreakdowndotcom”. At this stage I was ignorant, I didn’t know what a blog was and nor did I care. But, like an absolute twat, I reluctantly followed instructions… and now look at me. This Listi character must pay for his evil ways! He is nothing short of an enabler! HE MUST BE STOPPED!!!!!!!

The symptoms of my dependency kicked in shortly after my first attempt at a blog. The immediate responses and instant gratification fueled me to write more, to spend more time on the site, soaking up the praise and, while the knee injury I suffered from kept me inert, my fingers tapping on the keys were my only form of physical activity. Hours spent blogging and commenting quickly grew and began to usurp aspects of my life. At first I was able to brush off this inordinate amount of time as “research for my impending documentary on Internet social-networking”, an idea I conceived of shortly after joining, or “a sociological experiment”. I tried to file my addiction under “work”. But the sad truth is that I was hooked on attention and positive feedback after a life lived with little confidence and a desperate need for creative validation.

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The more I wrote the more people loved it, and the more they told me they loved it, and the more I wrote.

Easy.

Not so much.

The more people read me the more they wrote to me, and the more involved we became in each others lives. There was no symbiotic distance between reader and writer, but an uneasy truce between pseudo-friends and not-quite-strangers. I became enmeshed in relationships that weren’t tangible, were elusive and undefinable, and no matter how hard I tried to justify them as friendships they weren’t REAL to me a lot of the time.

A dangerous path.

It’s hard for me to understand how I could grow to care about so many people I’d never met, because I did care. I still do.

It’s hard for me to understand how my life became public knowledge, at my own behest. Does honesty have it’s limits? At what point will I learn to draw the line?

It’s hard for me to pick up this computer and not check my MySpace account to see how everyone is doing.

It’s hard for me to cancel my account.

It’s especially hard for me to cancel my account because I don’t know the password anymore. In a fit of enlightened pique, I forced my dear friend Sara to change it for me so that I couldn’t log on when I felt compelled to. And I am COMPELLED, kids, I’m jonesing like a common crack whore.

I’m sitting here in the midday sun with a snarl on my face and a twitch in my eye. Furious. Annoyed. Wanting on. Refusing to succumb. Conscious of the seductive power of feeling connected. Missing the people I’ve grown used to communicating with every day. Wondering how they are, if they miss me, what they’re doing, writing, saying, feeling.

But the truth is… life goes on.

Without wanting to diminish my time on there, or negate the several remarkable relationships I have forged, the ones I HOPE will be lasting, the question remains… if I left MySpace tomorrow would I even be missed? I’m unconvinced. Perhaps I’d be noticeably absent for a few weeks, but then I’d slither into the back of people’s consciousness, a gradual subside, before fading to black. Poof. See ya.

Very few people would care. Very few people would be even remotely affected. Why should they be?

Knowing how intermediate most of these connections are could make saying goodbye very easy.

I would never be so bold as to presume that I’ve made an impact on anyone’s life. There will always be fresh slants on humor and culture and news and random idiocy to rise up and entertain, better writers, prettier faces, funnier girls. There is definitely a market for it, a need. People are hungry, bored, unsatisfied, lonely. They are crying out for stimulus and love. They should be, it’s a cruel and crazy world out there, I’ve seen it. Human beings, further disconnected from each other by long roads and longer hours or work and stress, are crying out for companionship.

But so are my friends here in close proximity. And they also need physical contact, hand-holding, attention and love.

They need the thing I was in danger of losing touch with – touch itself.

In the last six weeks I’ve traveled America, eight-thousand grueling, exhausting, uplifting miles of it, meeting a lot of the people from MySpace that I needed to meet in order to begin solidifying those relationships and understand them.

I’ve experienced a journey far above my expectations, and also far below. America is sprawling, spreading, filled with sameness. In the midst of that sameness are a few hundred million individual, all different, all trying to find each other and connect in new, exciting ways. Ways that aren’t physical, ways that are safe and sheltered, ways that are semi-anonymous and easily controlled. I know, I’ve been out there… I’ve talked to hundreds of people on beaches, streets and sidewalks, in cafes, hotels, motels, bars and homes.

I’ve made my intangible friendships real ones. I’ve pulled and dragged and danced my unreal people into my world. They’re real. And they’re wonderful.

And now I can take the friendships that mean something and nurture them without a computer – a truly glorious feeling.

The journey is over and it was a trip.

I’ve come back to my life to find it in substantial disarray. Friends seem distant, I feel disconnected, relationships have taken strange turns. And yet, outside the sun is bright. Hummingbirds do their hummy thing. The beach beckons, friends call, and the world awaits.

And so I’ve taken a small break from all things MySpace. I ponder the likelihood of canceling my account, but am reluctant to commit. I tell myself it’s a great marketing tool for my movie and my writing. I tell myself it’s a great place to practice being a writer, to build an audience, to grow as an artist.

I also tell myself that to stay on MySpace now would be a distraction to life, an excuse to not further my dreams, a time waster.

I’m very confused.

MySpace has given me a great gift, and for that I should thank that Listi sumbitch. I can write happily these days. My readers and their criticisms and praise have given me that ability. I have no excuses, no lack of confidence, no insecurities to hold me back, no dedication to procrastination. I know I can do it. Look. You’re reading this now.

And so I sit here at my laptop. I smile at the screen. I click the application FINAL DRAFT and begin a fresh file. And I type.

SCENE ONE – EXT. NEW YORK APARTMENT BUILDING. A TOO-BRIGHT SPRING AFTERNOON.

And I’m writing a movie, not a blog, and I can see it’s characters move and swell and trip and fall and get back up again. And I laugh as I write my ‘comedy canon’, hoping it will blow people out of their seats.

I’m home. I’m homeless. I’m broker than a smashed plate. I’m jobless and carless but certainly not aimless. I have twenty weeks of post-production ahead of me and a deadline called Sundance. I have no idea what is going to happen, no idea what the future holds.

Life is bittersweet but it’s all I’ve got.

My name is Zoe Brock, and I am a recovering MySpace addict.

Are you?

ANYWHERE, U.S.A.-

The drive is an endless repetition of fun and unfathomable boredom.

We are human curiosities in the small towns where we stop to refresh, revitalize, refuel and retire. People eye our cameras and booms with delight, apprehension, disgust and desire.

Other people are unfazed.

I like those people the most.

ANYWHERE, USA-

The night is still and the purple scent of wisteria fills my nostrils.

I feel heady, dizzy, drunk on smell.

I’m also drunk on sake and celebratory champagne, but it’s the drooping clusters of flowers that make me nauseous.

I feel sick.