NNZDD

When I work, I tend to go “off-grid” for days—almost a week—at a time. My work pattern consists of 12-hour shifts from seven until seven. These times are for both the night shifts (7pm until 7am) and the day shifts (7am until 7pm) on a 10-day repeating cycle:

night, night, (24 hour break/zombie day), day, day, off, off, off, off, off – repeat

An example roster for February, the pink moon symbols denote night shift, the blue suns denote day shift and the green star is an additional day we need to do once every five weeks to make sure we work the right number of hours in a 10-week cycle.
An example roster for February

While I am off, I can be called for overtime, at any time, for any of the day or night shifts that I’m not already rostered. Our resourcing has been cut to a minimum over the years and with people getting covid or taking summer recreation leave, there is a lot of overtime. I am called for multiple shifts during my break. But I try to only accept one.

I’ve often described what I do as 95% routine and 5% panic but with the plant and equipment now ageing into its 50s, that ratio has changed. It’s more like 80% routine and 20% panic.

To be fair, panic isn’t a great way to describe it, either. In those moments when things are going wrong, or you need to respond to certain plant conditions quickly, or safely shut down a unit, the last thing you must be doing is panicking. But it does require extreme concentration and urgency in decision-making. It’s one of the things I like about the job. Situations that require analysis and reflexive responses under pressure are my catnip. Perhaps it is that I enjoy that low-level of anxious arousal, the flutter of my nervous system, and the adrenaline that’s generated when something happens.

All shift long, I make megawatts of electricity. When I finish, I go home, eat a simple meal, and sleep. Between night shifts, I sleep until approximately 4pm. Then I have about an hour and forty-five minutes before I need to leave for work. On zombie day, I sleep til noon-ish; wash work laundry in the afternoon and finish any other small jobs that need doing. After day shift, I do much of the same, only I try to sleep until 5am. If I’m not working overtime, the first day off after my round is decompression day and I don’t like to do anything. But tomorrow I have scheduled some appointments—a medical screening, a beauty salon appointment, and lunch with a friend. The rest of my time off will be spent decluttering the house, discovering what art supplies I have hidden away in storage boxes under beds, and preparing for my mother to visit. It’s been four years since I’ve seen her, and this will be her first trip to our home since I moved here in 2014. Somehow, despite my best efforts to have everything stored in its place, labelled, and easy to access, entropy always wins. It seems that nothing is where I left it.

I have been searching for days for a mantra I listened to relentlessly in 2020 and still cannot find it. YouTube seems to store history. But not all history. I don’t know why. Did I mention my mother is coming to visit?

The day G was anaesthetised and had his brain biopsy, it was almost 9pm. I put on my noise cancelling headphones, played some music at a supposedly calming frequency and went to visit him. I found him in a dark room that was not, in fact, a room, it was more like the centre of a galaxy. Though it was mostly dark. I grabbed his hand, told him he was safe, and asked him where he wanted to go. Everest, he said, and in milliseconds we were rugged up and standing on the top of the world. At which point, I turned to him and said “What are we doing here? You don’t even like the cold!”

It wasn’t the first time I’d had an out of body experience; the first was when I was 12. I was riding my cousin’s pony and jumping a gate, and on my fourth jump, the saddle slipped around as the pony leapt. I know this because I watched it. The girl slid with the saddle off to the left and I watched from behind. I bounced back into my body at the same time I hit the ground, winded, and gasping for breath.

I think of these things when I’m at work. I think about energy. Enthalpy. Entropy.

Did I mention my mother is coming to visit?

I do not understand any of it.

The generator is a magic box. I rotate a turbine using steam power and at the other end of it, electrons are forced down wires through substations into homes to power televisions. Or computers. Or phones.

Did I mention my mother is coming to visit?

I will not get a decompression day this week. So instead, I’m going to try to play some other music–Grae Moore makes music for ADHD brains. I’m not diagnosed. I don’t think I quite meet the criteria. Nor do I quite meet the criteria for autism. Though the main complaints people have made about me tend to sound like some complaints about autistic traits. There is a family history there. Perhaps my masking is just that good. Or perhaps it’s not, hence the complaints.

Did I mention my mother is coming to visit?

Music Monday | Hands – Jewel

Today is decompression day; I’ve worked my normal round (4×12 hour shifts on a night night day day roster) plus an additional day of overtime this last week–for a total of 60 hours from 7pm Tuesday night to 7pm Sunday night. On my first day off after work, I can barely summon the energy to read, much less write. So today’s Music Monday is short and I’ll be back tomorrow.

Because in the end, only kindness matters.

2023

This is not a diary.

And also, it is.

I barely write in my actual diary; it sits on my side table untouched—because to write would require I feel. And to feel is overwhelming.

Instead, I stare at twelve screens for twelve hours at a time. That is my job.

I do more than stare. The screens are filled with trends and graphs, and pictorial representations of mechanical systems and items of plant. I monitor this plant, operate this plant—pumps, valves, mills, conveyors, a steam-driven turbine, and most importantly, the generator attached to the end of it that makes megawatts of electricity.

And I try not to think about the pandemic.

At work and across the country, people are going about their normal business. The pandemic, which once caused the complete lockdown of Melbourne for many months, has been largely forgotten. People are getting sick, yes. It’s inconvenient, yes. But it’s not stopping most of society from expanding their lives and activities to pre-pandemic levels.

There are only a few, now, for whom life has not returned to normal. And some of those, for whom, a small bubble was their previous life.

I sit at my control panel wearing two N95 masks because we’ve been told that one mask may not offer complete protection. And now that they’re no longer mandatory, I’m the only one wearing one. Two.

Although these may seem like extreme precautions and it would be easier to stay home unless absolutely necessary, I regularly say yes to overtime because I have no other life. I pretend that working so much is why I do not write. I do not write, though, because to write would require I think, and all I can think about is the pandemic.

Editors don’t want stories of the pandemic, anymore. (Did they ever?) We are over them. We do not want to be reminded of all we lost. We are post-pandemic, now, haven’t you heard? But my husband and I are not post-pandemic.

In the most recent edition of my writer’s centre magazine, the non-fiction entry that was runner-up in their competition was a pandemic story. So, I ask myself, are we really over them? Because stories of the pandemic are almost always stories of grief. The pandemic has not ended. And grief won’t end, either.

At the end of this month, it will be two years since my husband completed treatment for a rare and aggressive blood cancer. But then, it seems as if they almost all are. There are over 80 different types of lymphoma alone, one of which—primary central nervous system lymphoma—was his diagnosis. His still severely immunocompromised condition does not allow us to return to normal.

The details, though, are finally beginning to fade. The immediacy with which I can recall specific blood counts, dates of treatment, chemotherapy regimens, and the resulting complications has dissipated. Now, I must look at my calendar to remember everything except the most traumatic of events. Many of the events have blurred. Specifics have evaporated.

During his care, I emptied I don’t know how many bottles of urine in the months he couldn’t walk. I learned how to take obs, administer medication, give injections, connect and disconnect IV bags of fluid to his PICC line/port and other things I thought you needed a nursing education for. I kept meticulous records to provide to the doctors on each hospital admission.

Once, at a late-night emergency admission, after I relayed all the details of his latest treatment, the new symptoms, and the recent blood work results, the on-call haematologist asked me if I was a doctor. I shook my head. I’m not, of course. I just have a background in chemistry, and I sought safety and certainty in the data.

Before his diagnosis, cancer seemed an unlikely intruder. While it would be realistic to describe both of us as middle-aged, we were in general good health, ate a balanced diet, and exercised regularly. And although his mother had experienced breast cancer in her mid-life, she is still with us now, in her late seventies.

For months I blamed myself for giving him cancer. (It doesn’t work like that.) I had asked him to get the tooth implant. (At the beginning of his treatment, someone told me that oral health is linked to your immune system and his cancer is a cancer of the immune system.) Or, I must have given him HIV. (PCNSL is more prevalent in people with HIV—so I made my doctor give me a request for a blood test for HIV serology and was tested. Again. Found negative, again.) I was sure that something I’d done, or not done, had made him sick.

At two years, with no recurrence of the cancer, his chances of long-term survival increase a little. But with cancer, long-term survival is defined as five years. Five years. That’s the amount of time between the birth of a child and their entry into kindergarten. And while that time may seem interminable to new parents, it passes in mere moments. We are now almost halfway there. Relapse occurs in fifty percent of cases within two years. Only thirty percent of affected individuals survive more than five years post-diagnosis. As for anything longer than that? Fifteen to twenty percent of fortunate patients have no recurrence. The average survival after a diagnosis of primary central nervous system lymphoma is three years and eight months. Even my cat is eleven.

Until recently, the fear of his illness returning was safely stored away; buried somewhere in my body while I got on with the business of caring and working. I’ve been able to ignore the thoughts. The feelings. The overwhelm of loss. But the anxiety is starting to pop out in unmanageable ways. I find myself gasping for breath in hallways through blurred vision. Formerly suppressed sobs are forcing my shoulders to shudder, even as I swallow them back down. The constant pain in my chest is not a heart attack. Nor indigestion. Because it gets worse when I think about hospitals.

And so, in 2023 (because there is no time left this year), I have to do the only thing I know that will save me.

I have to think. I have to feel. And, I have to write.

Once Upon A Time

I used to write here almost daily–until, I didn’t; for oh so many reasons.

I became aware that certain people were reading. I became more interested in writing for publication. I became conscious of and conditioned to not write for free.

And yet.

Writing here is, and always was, about more than just me. It was, in so many ways, a conversation.

Blogs are not really the same thing they were in 2010 when I first started. And yes, at some point, I will probably promote my Substack.

But until I commit myself to writing consistently enough to have a Substack, this will have to do. And anyway, it’s the conversation I miss the most. I don’t know if people will comment anymore. I don’t know if that’s the done thing. But I’m back to find out.

Today, a poem appeared in my feed.

WATCHING MY FRIEND PRETEND HER HEART ISN’T BREAKING
by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

On Earth, just a teaspoon of neutron star
would weigh six billion tons. Six billion tons.
The equivalent weight of how much railway
it would take to get a third of the way to the sun.
It’s the collective weight of every animal
on earth. Times three.

Six billion tons sounds impossible
until I consider how it is to swallow grief—
just a teaspoon and one might as well have consumed
a neutron star. How dense it is,
how it carries inside it the memory of collapse.
How difficult it is to move then.
How impossible to believe that anything
could lift that weight.

There are many reasons to treat each other
with great tenderness. One is
the sheer miracle that we are here together
on a planet surrounded by dying stars.
One is that we cannot see what
anyone else has swallowed.

This is the original version but it seems, edits have been made. And the below circulates in existence, too.

This is almost the version that Rosemerry reads here…

And, to whomever is reading now: Hello, and welcome.

Richell Prize for Emerging Writers 2021 Longlist

Each year–and every year since 2015–the Emerging Writers Festival has launched the Richell Prize for Emerging Writers, in partnership with Hachette Australia and the Richell family. Last year, mid-pandemic and G’s cancer treatment, I abandoned my intention to enter, and this year, between caring duties and work (and still, a global pandemic), I still almost didn’t. But with five minutes to go before the deadline, I uploaded my documents and hit submit on my entry.

The Richell Prize was established in memory of Hachette Australia’s CEO, Matt Richell, who died suddenly in 2014. The Prize is also supported by Simpson Solicitors in Matt’s memory. It is an incredible opportunity for emerging writers, with a monetary component to the prize ($10,000) and more significantly, for me, a year of mentoring with one of Hachette Australia’s publishers.

I am thrilled to be selected on the longlist this year, and even if this is as far as I go, I am hopeful that my book will one day (soon!) find a home somewhere. Perhaps, even in your home.

Congratulations to all the longlistees/writers/entrants and thank you, to the Emerging Writers Festival, Hachette Australia and the Richell family for this opportunity!

The complete longlist can be found at the link below:-

2021 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers Longlist

Fate

Fate, Federal Court, Moon
by Anne Carson

The fate of the earth. The fate of me. The fate of you. The fate of Faisal. The fate of the court where Faisal will plead his case. The fate of the court’s bias. Every court has a bias. It sifts to the surface gradually. The fate of whomever we drink to after court. The fate of that branch of mathematics that deals with ‘dead-end depth’. The fate of Yemen where Faisal will probably never return. The fate of the engineering job Faisal had in Yemen before the events in question. The fate of the ‘simple random walk’ and its difference from the ‘homesick random walk’, concepts from a mathematics textbook I read once about dead-end depth. The fate of Montreal where Faisal lives now. The fate of his family, the ones still alive, back in Yemen and the fate of the bridal couple, still alive, whose wedding was the target of the drone pilot (a mistake). The fate of the others, not still alive (a mistake). The fate of the moon that rose over us as we drove through the mountains of Pennsylvania to be present at Faisal’s day in court. The fate of the silveriness of the moon that no words can ever describe. The fate of the bright sleepless night. The fate of our phones, which we decide to take to the courthouse at 9 a.m. and relinquish at the door. The fate of two guys doing a job interview in the cafeteria where we stop for coffee on the way to courtroom 31. Been around the block, says one guy. Army does the billing, says the other guy. The fate of so many men in suits and ties. The fate of being lost in marble corridors. The fate of being much too early at courtroom 31. The fate of the knot of lawyers who surround Faisal as he enters in a new suit. The fate of congratulating him on his new suit. The fate of his smile. His smile is great. The fate of the numerous clerks who pour glasses of water for the judges and generally fuss around. The fate of the appellant whose case precedes Faisal’s, which concerns a warrant ‘so lacking in probable cause’ that [something to do with ‘Garcia’] [something to do with gangs and ‘a constitutional path’]. The fate of the pearls worn by Judge Dillard, who sits on the far right of the bench, which curve like teeth below her actual teeth. The fate of straining to hear what Faisal’s lawyer, with his back to us, says to the judges. The fate of him perhaps saying that the government is asking the court to refrain from judging, asking the court to step back without knowing what it is stepping back from. The fate of proportionality, a matter of context. The fate of what is or is not a political question. The fate of the precedent called ‘al Shifa’, with which everyone seems familiar. The fate of a publicly acknowledged programme of targeting people who might be a danger to us. The fate of inscrutable acronyms. The fate of me totally losing the thread of the argument as we distinguish ‘merits’ from ‘standing’. The fate of what Faisal is seeking, which is now given as ‘declaratory relief’ (new phrase to me). The fate of ‘plaintiffs who have no chance of being harmed in the future due to being deceased’, a wording that gives pause. The fate of how all this may depend on her pearls, her teeth. The fate of the sentence, ‘We are really sorry, we made a mistake,’ which Judge Dillard utters in a hypothetical context but still it’s good to hear. The fate of the government lawyer who is blonde and talks too fast, using ‘jurisdictional’ many times and adding ‘as the relief sought is unavailable’. The fate of wondering why it is unavailable to say, ‘Sorry’. The fate of Judge Dillard’s invitation to the government lawyer to tell the plaintiff how he might ‘exhaust all administrative avenues of redress’, as the government claims he should have done before bringing this case. ‘Where would he go?’ Judge Dillard asks with apparent honest curiosity. ‘If you were he, where would you go?’ The fate of our bewildered conversation afterwards about why she said this, whose side she is on, what she expects Faisal’s lawyers to do with it now. The fate of the tuna sandwiches eaten with Faisal while debating this. The fate of his quietness while others talk. The fate of his smile, which seems to invite the soul, centuries ago. Serving tea, let’s say, to guests. The moon above them. Joy. The fate of disinterestedness, of joy, of what would Kant say, of not understanding what kind of thing the law is anyway, for example in its similarity to mathematics, for they both pretend to perfect objectivity but objectivity is a matter of wording and words can be, well, a mistake. The fate of the many thoughts that go on in Faisal when he is quiet, or the few thoughts, how would I know? The fate of the deep sea diver that he resembles, isolated, adrift. The fate of him back in his kitchen in Montreal next week or next year, sitting on a chair or standing at the window, the moon by then perhaps a thin cry, perhaps gone. The fate of simplicity, of randomness, of homesickness, of dead ends, of souls. Who can say how silvery it was? Where would he go? Sorry?

Published in the London Review of Books
Vol. 39 No. 6 · 16 March 2017

I was once given this poem as the introduction to a writing exercise. Write or re-write a paragraph of your work-in-progress beginning every sentence with the fate, our tutor said. Notice how commencing with these words changes the way you shape your story. Notice what impact fate has on your narrative.

I do not like fate. I refuse fate. I want to scream at fate to fuck off.

I do not want to think about the fate of the earth, the fate of me. I especially do not want to think about the fate of you.

I do not like fate having an impact on my narrative.

And yet. Here we are.

The fate of me. The fate of you. The fate of the hospital where you are having your chemo. The fate of the doctors. The fate of the nurses. The fate of the specialists who are administering your treatment. The fate of the apartment in our COVID capital. The fate of the foundation that’s provided our accommodation. The fate of my psychologist who keeps asking “are you eating?” but how could I be eating? The fate of the words intensive protocol, neurotoxicity, and treatment related complications. The fate of having to learn another medical language in the middle of a pandemic after already learning the language of the pandemic. The fate of how all of this depends on limited evidence.

And so, I say.

Fuck fate. Fate will not shape my story. Or yours.

Giraffes and The Mystery of Happiness

Many years ago, I took my then-boyfriend to the zoo for his birthday. It wasn’t just the zoo though. It was Roar and Snore, an overnight behind-the-scenes zoo experience. The Sydney skyline twinkled on the other side of the bay. Our evening began with crocodiles and crudites, as we shared a few drinks with the rest of the group who’d also committed their night to glamping in the middle of winter, while zookeepers paraded a series of small reptiles around us.

There was a night safari tour of the nocturnal animals including the big cats but my favourite part of the weekend was the private giraffe feeding, early the next morning before the zoo opened. I lined up, took the carrot the zookeeper gave me, and waited my turn.

I was so excited it was all I could do not to squeal. I have loved giraffes for as long as I can remember; when I was seven, I wrote a story about having a pet giraffe named Joe. As I approached the stall, the giraffe stretched his neck down to where I stood and wound his long purple tongue around the carrot I was holding.

Wait, what? Purple?!

Well, blue-ish purple.

I was 32 when I learned that giraffes have purple tongues (and no-one really knows why), a fact which still brings me exquisite joy today.

And so when a friend shared this poem with me a few years ago, it went immediately into my list of favourites. Bryony Littlefair uses the imagery of a giraffe beautifully and beguilingly as a euphemism for happiness but I also know that true happiness is feeding a giraffe.

GIRAFFE
by Bryony Littlefair

When you feel better from this — and you will — it will be quiet and unremarkable, like walking into the next room. It might sting a little, like warmth leaking into cold-numbed hands. When you feel better, it will be the slow clearing of static from the radio. It will be a film set when the director yells cut! When you feel better, you will take: a plastic spoon for your coffee foam, free chocolates from the gleaming oak reception desk, the bus on sunny days, your own sweet time. When you feel better, it will be like walking barefoot on cool, smooth planks of wood, still damp from last night’s rain. It will be the holy silence when the tap stops dripping. The moment a map finally starts to make sense. When you feel better, you will still suffer, but your sadness will be graspable, roadworthy, have handlebars. When you feel better, you will not always be happy, but when happiness does come, it will be long-legged, sun-dappled: a giraffe.

Published by Popshot and in Bryony Littlefair’s winning entry in the Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet Competition, also titled Giraffe

Music Monday | Girl – SYML

Sometimes our bodies will hurt for some time
And the beauty in that can be hard to find

Songwriter: Brian Fennell

In February of 2010, without any background in writing — other than a Year 10 Creative Writing elective which the teacher generally slept through — I hesitantly began to turn a blinking cursor on a blank page into keystrokes that created sentences.

I was writing to save my life; I was sick, I was sad, and I was trying to make meaning out of the madness I’d found myself in.

Margaret Atwood says a word after a word after a word is power. And as I continued to write, I began to figure out what it was that I thought and felt. I began to find my own power.

Over the last ten years, I’ve written personal stories publicly about my experiences with mental health, body image, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, meditation, mindfulness, yoga and relationships. I’ve also written privately. Even occasionally had work published, at times under a pseudonym due to the content.

But I’ve kept writing. And the beauty I have found through that process has healed me in unexpected ways.

A few weeks ago, I entered an essay titled Sexy Nails, about my struggle with OCD during the COVID-19 restrictions, into the Writers Victoria Grace Marion Wilson Emerging Writers competition for creative non-fiction. Last Friday, the winners were announced.

I wouldn’t even know how to go about judging personal stories and experiences and I’m glad it was not my job. But I’m also thrilled with the judge’s comments on my entry: Sexy Nails’ weaves past and present together seamlessly, telling both the writer’s story and her grandfather’s, and shines a light on a specific chapter of history that is not often explored. By grounding the work in the physicality of her fingernails, Agafonoff takes a risky writing bet that pays off, resulting in a piece that is haunting and visceral.

The piece will be published in the October/November edition of The Victorian Writer.

https://writersvictoria.org.au/writing-life/news/announcing-the-winners-the-2020-grace-marion-wilson-emerging-writers-competition

I will keep writing — about my life, my body, my mental health and anything else I am trying to figure out. And I will find the beauty in all of it.

WIP (Work in Progress)

A few years ago, I sat down to write a book. And I did it. I wrote “the end” and everything. Now, I am editing that manuscript, my WIP. Which sounds like I’m close to finished. But a terrible truth in writing is that you can finish a draft (or several) and never be finished editing. I could probably drag it out for several more years if I wanted to.

The reason I’m not finished, though, is because the story has changed since I started. As it does. With understanding. Acceptance. Experience. Perspective.

But I’ve set my intentions for 2020. And while I won’t reveal all of them, one of them is to finish finish the book. Finish amending. Finish editing. Finish changing the story. Not because my memory of it won’t continue to shift but because it no longer belongs to me.

As we approach the end of the decade the customary comparisons are surfacing. The way I live my life is completely different. So is the way I love. But the deeper shadow parts of myself still lurk in dark corners, waiting for an opportunity. In 2010, my eating disorder had such a hold over me, the doctors didn’t think I’d see the end of the year, much less the decade. Yet here I am.

I once thought that if I wasn’t different at the end of all this, I wouldn’t be better. And while much has changed in the last ten years, plenty hasn’t. Who I am at my essence is entirely the same. Some days, I’m not sure what that makes me.

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It’s impossible to tell by looking at someone how they are feeling. The picture on the left was taken in 2010, eight months into recovery. I had been re-feeding and gained quite a lot of weight, almost 25 pounds. The picture on the right…? March 2019. I weighed quite a bit more than I did in 2010 and had been back in treatment for three months. I’m still in treatment now. Perhaps this fight will always be a work in progress.

But the story of the last ten years no longer lives in me. And next year, ten years after I almost died, I will let it go entirely.

Music Monday | Norman Fucking Rockwell – Lana Del Rey

“And it ought to make us feel ashamed when we talk like we know what we’re talking about when we talk about love.”

Curled on the couch of my airbnb eating olives, I strip the marinated flesh from the pits and spit them onto a plate. I’m in town for the Melbourne Writers Festival and arrived the previous afternoon but sitting here, having a snack, is the first time I notice the giant clock on the wall is broken. It isn’t that the time is wrong. Worse. The two hands are missing.

“The light was draining out of the room, going back through the window where it had come from.”

I am here, an impostor, having not written anything that’s offered traction for the past year. My brain has been broken.

“My heart is broken,” she goes. “It’s turned to a piece of stone. I’m no good. That’s what’s as bad as anything, that I’m no good anymore.”

Brain.
Heart.
Both.

In November last year, a colleague was killed in a workplace accident. While not on my shift, he’d been a mentor when I first finished my training. The task he was performing was routine. Something I did in the course of my duties. Had it been four hours later, it could have been me standing in front of the thing that exploded. After that, I spiraled quickly into the same dark place I’ve pulled myself out of so many times before. By December, there was a succession of bad news; coming from work, family, home. And I continued to sink.

“Things change,” he says. “I don’t know how they do. But they do without your realizing it or wanting them to.”

My first event at the 2019 festival was Lee Kofman and Fiona Wright’s talk session. Released several months ago, Kofman curated and edited an anthology of essays called Split to which both she and Wright contributed. Together, they discussed life, love, loss and the writing of their essays.

The theme for MWF 2019 is “When We Talk About Love” taken from Raymond Carver’s collection of short stories What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (from which all the above quotes are taken) and the session was called Museum of Broken Relationships: Split.

The talk was held in the No Vacancy gallery, amongst a borrowed collection from the Museum of Broken Relationships.

From the Museum website:
Museum of Broken Relationships is a physical and virtual public space created with the sole purpose of treasuring and sharing your heartbreak stories and symbolic possessions. It is a museum about you, about us, about the ways we love and lose.

At its core, the Museum is an ever-growing collection of items, each a memento of a relationship past, accompanied by a personal, yet anonymous story of its contributor. Unlike ‘destructive’ self-help instructions for recovery from grief and loss, the Museum offers the chance to overcome an emotional collapse through creativity – by contributing to its universal collection.

Museum of Broken Relationships is an original creative art project conceived by Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić in 2006. It has since taken thousands of people on an empathetic journey around the world, challenging our ideas about heritage. Its original permanent location was founded in Zagreb. In 2010 it won the EMYA Kenneth Hudson Award as the most innovative and daring museum project in Europe.

Stories of lost relationships covered the gamut; romantic partners, parents, friends, children. But the grief was palpable, no matter which type of relationship.

This week, Music Monday isn’t a song. It’s an album. It’s no secret that I adore Lana Del Rey and, on repeat, as I work overtime shift after overtime shift, is Norman Fucking Rockwell.

Lana is the Queen of languid love songs. And of writing about broken relationships.

I’ve finished my olives and need to get to another session. The microwave in the kitchenette says 4:30 but that clock can’t tell me the time either. It’s twelve hours out; I noticed this morning as I ran out the door for breakfast at 20:43.

Perhaps, it’s time to make my own time. It’s time to rediscover my love. It’s time to write.