Saturday, February 14, 2009

just sorting through some stuff

I have been sifting through boxes of stuff - mainly my high school letters, early writing, some incredibly earnest (and incoherent) poetry, photos, postcards. On and on. Sometimes I think that -like Iona from Pretty in Pink - I just might overdose on nostalgia.

My reasons for not throwing things out are faintly ludicrous. I worry that someone might find them, though I'm not sure what scavenger would care that I once collected quotes from Sartre, and lists of wieldy words and their meanings.

I think they could be good for research - but then what can be gleaned from the 'speach' (sic) my friends wrote about me for my 21st: "she has always been a great friend - elaborate." ?

Someone might want to do their phd on me some day (!) - but I don't think they'll miss Cesar and Glory - my 1994 love story about a prostitute and a thief:(First line: 'Dear Cesar you've got a movie star smile and the devil in your trousers') NB: Do prostitutes say 'trousers'?!!

But the letters! My friends and I used to write to each other daily - in class - after school - on holidays and the letters are detailed and self-absorbed and funny. If there's anyone school age reading this, I want to know - do you write letters? Or has technology wiped away the need for putting pen to paper? How's your handwriting? The thing about that age was that we fully explored every humiliation - as you get older your mask tightens, I guess.

I was thinking about Sonya Hartnett's new book Butterfly. I finished it last night and then couldn't get to sleep. It reminded me of those letters - I knew those big Catholic families, I went to parties in draughty houses near Wattle Park. I knew girls with older brothers like that. Mothers who bought up big in the Boxing Day sales so they'd always have a present on hand. The story is like Mallory Towers meets True Confessions. The language is fruity - plummy! - and the feel so familiar ... I flew back to intense conversations on trampolines, the night the babysitter talked us through Puberty Blues (she said: see that hotdog? It looks like a dick!); hot nights with nothing to do but wonder about the neighbours. And the incredible discomfort of school uniforms. She writes so beautifully about ugly things. Ordinary things. Things that end up in the Herald Sun. So, maybe don't read it if you're feeling tender.

But regarding my stuff: I have decided I can throw away my old tax statements - (my first year of working after school I earned $13,400); I can throw away my rejection letters from publishers ("the good news is you can write, the bad news is your material does you a disservice"); I can throw away bad fiction and poetry and cards from people whose faces I no longer remember. But I can't throw away the letters - and I'll never throw away my Hooters postcards!


  1. as we discovered at your launch, i am not a teenager! however i felt compelled to reply:
    when i was a teenager in school [*cough cough all of a few years ago!*] we didn't write letters - msn, sms, all take over. however we did write notes in class, and pass them between tables. as are yours, they are self absorbed and about very trivial stuff, but at the time it wasn't! it is funny to look back now and wonder what the hell were we thinking! our school dairies were also great sources of amusements - rarely did any actual homework go in them - more song lyrics, photos, doodles, and more notes between friends.
    i once spent my year 11 chemistry exam cutting up song lyrics and quote from magazines to glue in my diary [i had already dropped the subject but had to sit the exam, needless to say i failed it!]
    it was a lot of hard work to get a good looking diary!
    and of course there are the pages and pages of attempted forged notes from your parents, ones where you write over and over to get it "just right". and there's always the girl with the espically "grown up" handwriting who you'd do anything to get her to write it for you!
    and if your wondering, thanks to the tech age, my handwriting is shocking! no-one can read it but me :P

    hope your well Simmone!

    ps i am a hoarder, long live uselss crap you'll never look at again! :D


  2. Actually what I like about SMS is it reminds me of passing notes in school.

    Congrats on The Age. See you Sunday. I gave away my copy of Everything Beautiful to someone whose house burned down, I'll let you know what she thinks of it.