Five signs you’re in the wrong timezone


Chicago calls you in the middle of the night.

‘Why aren’t you awake?’ she blurts down the line. It’s crackly and tin-canny and her voice sounds distant.

‘It’s three AM, gimme a break,’ you rub your eyes, pushing sleep from your body. There’s a tree outside your window and you can hear it scratching against the glass.

The wind. That Canberra gust of cold that wooshes through you like a memory.

Like getting a call at three AM.

You try and hang up, but it’s no use. Your phone won’t turn off. It always does this when Chicago calls. You changed your number four times in the past month but there she is, every week. She won’t let up.

‘Why aren’t you awake?’ She’s a persistent bitch. It’s all she ever asks.


You’re stuck in an elevator, in-between the ground floor and Level Two.

There is no Level One.


You build a bicycle with greasy, determined hands.

It took you a week, but by the end, you learned all the names for lever and wrench and cassette; the difference between a crankset and a chainstay; how to twiddle the brakes so the tyres have enough room to spin.

Isn’t it interesting, a stranger had once told you when you were sitting outside a cafe in Amsterdam, watching cyclists pass by, how each bike makes a different clicking sound?

That morning, you had closed your eyes, and listened.

Close your eyes, and listen. Listen to the click clack of the trundling mountain bike; the gentle tickclick of a road bike; the clangclingclang of the fixie.


It’s hard to imagine
death exists
walking down
Gundaroo Drive,
by the shopping mall
and gum trees
and eyes full of sleep.


One of these days,
you’ll pick up a piece of paper,
write fuck you in the margins,
fold it into an envelope,
and forget to buy a stamp.

One of these days
you’ll learn the other six ways
to say ‘love’ in Arabic.
Walah, hiyam, garam.

One of these days
you’ll come up with a better insult than ‘dipshit’.

One of these days
You’ll finally figure out
a use for this law degree,
other than a filibuster
or false analogy.

One of these days
you’ll walk up Mt. Tennant,
take a photo of the
kangaroos and the view,
hashtag, nofilter

One of these days
you’ll jump out of the car
at the lights, turn to the squeegee man,
press your hands to his eyes and say:
What do you see?
One of the these days
you’ll do stand-up comedy
To your bedroom mirror.

One of these days
you’ll ask your mother why
her sister fled
to Finland on a student visa,
but why the only thing she learnt
was how to raise a child on her own.

One of these days
you’ll have a child of your own.

No, one of these days
you’ll forego having a child of your own
for three cats and a yoga book collection,
Sunday nights with Miss Marple and
Dalziel. Hell,
you already do that.

These days,
there’s less to worry about,
but more on your mind –
a hills hoist of recurring thoughts.

Those days – those
in-the-not-too-distant days, those
don’t-worry-I’ll-get-onto-it-tomorrow days
sit, like undiscovered fruit at the bottom of a bowl,
like unwritten lies of a eulogy,
like a TV remote stuck in that corner
of the couch you can’t quite reach.

One of these days,
it won’t be like one of those days.


Image: Alan Sharp

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