a footnote in my autobiography

Vanessa says, “You never seem to remember your dreams in Petersham!”

But this morning, two small dreams stick with me.

In one, my friend Anna emails me a very long story about her life. It’s a convoluted and difficult tale, but I can’t see any reference within it to Petersham. She now lives in Glebe. And then I find it, one tiny sentence, a footnote in an autobiography:
“From age one to nine, I lived in Petersham.”

In the second dream, I bump into Rohan on the street, just outside my gate. “My flatmate found your blog!” he says. “And he wanted to say how much he admires you!” His face is flushed and smooth, rosy cheeks, hairless, like a waxwork model of himself.


A breakfast date with Helen and Barbara at Big Brekkie. We shift the table around in the sun. Both Barbara and I want the feeble autumn light to touch our exposed skin. But Helen needs shade. It’s like having a vampire to breakfast, I joke. (An image comes to mind of Spike, the vampire in Buffy, running through the streets with a blanket over his head, body steaming in the broad daylight).

I can’t remember why, but at a certain point in the conversation Helen declares: “Fifty percent less effort!” – it’s something her Zen teacher has advised. That makes sense, I think. But I forget to follow it up.

While we’re eating, Heather and Polly and Nay, my neighbours from around the corner, show up. I haven’t seen Heather since our frisbee escapade. That seems like weeks ago now. Since the first attempt at a dinner invite fell through, they invite me around once again. “We’ve still got that pumpkin you gave us. We’ll make soup!” says Heather. It occurs to me that if I’d known it was going to take so long to cook up that pumpkin, I could have left it growing in the ground. It’d be twice as big by now…

I walk with Barbara down to Cass Bros Plumbing supplies. She needs a wide PVC pipe to roll up some fragile prints for transport. On the way, a text message comes through from Vanessa:

Made stunning
apple pie
yesterday. If
you are nearby
today, you are
welcome to stop
by + have some.

This is great, I’ve been wanting Barbara and Vanessa to meet. Barbara is about a third of the way through a demanding project in which she must do a webcast, every night, at sunset, for 1001 nights. The text for each online performance is “donated” by a different writer each day. It’s a delicate balancing act for Barbara, co-ordinating all those writers, without whose textual gifts her project would collapse. And I reckon Vanessa, with her prolific (dare I say obsessive) output, would be a perfect contributor.

The apple pie is indeed stunning. It has a delicate balance of spices, and just enough sultanas to make it interesting. Vanessa says she has cold hands, which Barbara notes is a good thing for a pastry chef.

5 thoughts on “a footnote in my autobiography

  1. worthless half-brother

    “..Vanessa says she has cold hands, which Barbara notes is a good thing for a pastry chef”

    I recently saw a japanese cartoon, dedicated to the story of a boy who discovers the joy of Baking bread…

    Kazuma has the magical “Hands of the Sun” whose warmth makes them particularly suited to making bread.

    It’s pretty over the top. I will have to send it to you Luca.

    see pic of Kazuma’s Grandfather who tastes his special bread for the 1st time.

  2. Tully

    Well then.

    Well then well then.

    A bunch of us listened to you on the radio. We waited for the explanation of how this is art. We are still split. We’re going to need slides.

  3. shortleftleg Post author

    invite me round to dinner and ye shall have your slides served up with an explanation!

  4. Vanessa

    That’s you singular, not you plural. As in: Lucas does not remember his dreams.
    I do, however.
    Is reading other people’s dreams interesting? Sometimes I think yes, sometimes no.

    Looking out my window, Petersham had changed into a suburb with square fibro houses surrounded by ramshackle yards. In front of one house a dragon made out of wire and coloured plastic strips rises out of a pile of rusting metal. The only cars parked along the street are taxis. Taxi drivers walk around with their coin holders, negotiating which taxi to choose. From my window the houses across the street appear very close, as if I am looking through binoculars. One man is sitting on the end of his bed and filming himself talking. He turns to me and nods. I feel embarrassed that he has noticed me because I am spying and also because of my strange clothing – red fishnets and a large red checked men’s business shirt.

    Nevertheless, I leave the house in this outfit. The houses on my street are filled with people. One has been made into a makeshift church, in another some kind of working bee is going on inside. At another, people shuffle through large piles of cds. In one of the houses Lucas is sitting with a group of people on plastic chairs (the ones you find in high schools – I call them bucket chairs but don’t know if anyone else does). The light is yellow, like a in photograph taken in low light. Lucas says: “I don’t know that there’s anything more to Parramatta Road” and some other things I can’t remember. I leave and have a fight with a group of Harujuku girls in an alleyway behind my street. They are dressed elaborately, like they’ve just stepped from Fruits magazine. They are winning, but I manage to somehow throw them all over a back fence (where I know there is a swimming pool full of mud!) and escape.

  5. Tully

    Alrighty, working on the dinner invite.

    Meanwhile, want to go take some photos on friday? I’m in the mood for some cross-processing.


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