Bibelots

a place for the curious

This has heart

One day, many years ago, I walked into a little bookshop in Glebe. It’s a beautiful place; full of culture, cafes, bookshops and all sorts of people. I bought a keyring with the words:

Glebe: somewhere on the East coast of Australia

You can tell a place has a sense of humour and confidence in itself, with vague and ridiculous words like these. The keyring’s broken now. But being the emotional hoarder that I am, I’ve still got it tucked away somewhere.

I fell in love with Glebe. The place and it’s people. It is, as Lonely Planet puts it, ‘quietly Bohemian’. A couple of years later, true love moved me to NSW, and I ended up working in Glebe. Just a roll of the dice, but a good one.

The place had its own unique charm. And it was built up by the people that chose to live there. Glebe, at that time, had a vibrant gay & lesbian culture. It wasn’t my culture or my community, but they were welcoming and amazing. The openness and kindness that was at the core – that’s what made it so wonderful. I doubt I’ll ever have the right words to describe it. Not for that place, at that time.

In another bookshop in Newtown, I found a beautiful book. Not in any special fiction area, just on a shelf. The guy’s name was Armistead Maupin. And his little family of Tales in the City won my heart. Won it, broke it, stormed it. These stories aren’t mine, but Armistead’s storytelling made me feel welcome in the Tales. Just as Mrs Madrigal would have made me feel welcome at 28 Barbary Lane. Armistead’s Tales have a fascinating history, but this isn’t about that. And others have written about it better before, and by people who can call this story their own.

These words are about what’s at the heart of a place, or a story. About how understanding each other doesn’t stop when we point out the differences, but allow them to be seen and shared. And, that’s painful. Sometimes it’s hard to hear or read, sure. But the heart it takes to share who you are, how much you’ve suffered only to be you, that’s something incredible. I had a chance to hear a moment like this again more recently, thanks to a beautiful podcast episode about Remembering Stonewall, from the gentle folk at 99PI. This episode left me speechless. People like this – and their stories – are everywhere. They change you. They open your heart, and your mind.

I suppose what this is, is my way of saying thank you. Thank you to the brave, to the beautiful. Thank you to the open, the honest, the kind. This is for you, the storyteller. The one with the story to tell.

My words won’t ever be enough. Instead, I’ll give last words to the grand lady herself:

“You don’t have to keep up dear. You just have to keep open.”
– Mrs Madrigal

Podlike: rumblings in here

lots of little green lights

Shining some mindful insight

I am in here

This week’s podlike is a bit of a wild card entry. It’s been another magnificent week in podcast land, with too many ear pleasures to describe. But out of the storm of inspiring stories I stumbled on this stunning piece of audio from Rumble Strip Vermont. I hadn’t listened to their show before this week and this ep was my intro to them. And with it I’m hooked.

I am in here is a journey inside the thoughts of Mark Nutter. Mark’s form of autism meant he wasn’t able to speak for the first 30 years of his life. He could only listen. In this remarkable episode, we get to hear from Mark. In his own words.

I know love goes, but I am really into love’s arrival. I am aware that I felt deeply aware of love for a long time. […] I felt love and I saw love between real people, and between the movie/TV folks too, but I was not a participant, though I found I felt it in me.

Mark’s story – a story told with deft and beautiful human insight – left me breathless. I feel honoured to have been given the gift of hearing it.

This is the potential beauty of podcasts everywhere. This sudden light into the heart of someone else’s life. Someone who lives life in a way you can never experience for yourself. You can’t experience it, but possibly you can, for a moment, try to understand it.


 

Podlike: scrutiny in the house

bank of lights, tinted green

The harsh light of scrutiny

Housekeeping #4: scrutiny

I love a lot of what the folks at the Wheeler Centre do. While one of my unwritten rules for these articles is ‘one review per podcast show’, I’m going to let myself off the hook here. They just make too many types of shows. But the vastness of their work is what brings about gems like their latest mini-series, ‘Housekeeping’.

The Scrutiny episode of Housekeeping scratches at the surface of something that at first feels like it might be papery and dry.  Yet it somehow ends up in the middle of the digital era and leaves us surrounded by questions of privacy, individuality and public scrutiny. Like many of the best podcasts, it sets up our expectations and rapidly strips them away. With fascinating and beautiful speed.

Once you step out into the wilds of the internet, there’s no telling what’s going to happen.

I love it when any broadcaster or podcast show does a 3 or 5 parter, like Jarni Blakkarly & the Wheeler Centre have done. It’s a sweet, tangible serving to look forward to and it almost always leaves you wanting more.


 

Of fire and will: a letter for Lyra

'letters to myself' old faded cover of a magazine

Letters to myself and other words I’ve never set free, image via British Library

Dear Mr Phillip Pullman

I’m a bit angry. You see, I only recently started to read Northern Lights. The world is full of books and somehow I missed this/you/the boat. I’m halfway through and I’ve had to stop and put it down. It’s not that I’m not enjoying it. I’m loving it.

Oh, yes. It’s exactly my cup of tea. No question there. And it’s not that I don’t like Lyra. I madly, deeply love her. I don’t want to be like her, I want to be her. Lyra is a thousand million types of wonderful. She’s wilful. She’s fierce. She’s a firebrand. She’s on fire. She is luminescent and wild. She runs across rooftops and breaks my heart with every bound. Because it’s all a little late.

She’s who I wanted to be when I was a young girl. Only I didn’t know her. You hadn’t written her yet. I can’t say she didn’t exist, because she did. In my mind and, no doubt, in the minds of countless others.

So, yep. I’m angry. But only with your timing. You’re only a few decades too late. What’s that between friends? Everything, I tell you. Everything. What wouldn’t I have given to have her as my companion. But it’s okay. I think I did. It feels like I did. Did you know? Where you inside my head? Could you hear me? But, no. You couldn’t have. It all came too late.

I’ve put her aside, because when next there’s a day that I want to steal boats and set fires, I can pick up the book and be there again. I’ve done this with books before; there’s one book on my shelf with 3 pages unread. Its story will never end. I know it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t need to. My younger self – my version of Lyra – she’d understand. If a treasure is good enough, you should bury it deep.

So, Mr Pullman, I’ll forgive you and your rotten sense of timing. If you’ll forgive mine.

Yours

 

A fellow firebrand, aka Pirate Rose

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