the tamago report

Eggs benedictated

Tag: 1Q84

15-minute writing

by MDY

My 15 minutes:

I’m never fully aware of what goes on in this house. From time to time I hear mutterings in the eaves, and sometimes a spoon will go missing from the three places I set at the table out of habit, though never from my seat own. There’s no rigour to their thievery, but it comforts me all the same. Otherwise, the rest is silence. Once I woke to find a bee flitting about my pillow, and I lay still until, apian energy expired, it settled down to nap on the bridge of my nose. I tried to watch it awhile – it’s hard to focus on something so close to you – but eventually closed my eyes and when they’d reopened the bee was gone, as though I or it had been dreaming the other into existence.

My routine is strict, mostly. Up with the sun, a breakfast of oats and berries drawn from the forests not two miles East. Open the windows to let the breeze (and occasional bees) filter circulate through the house, only to close them when the moon decides to make its rounds. Write till noon, read till nightfall. It’s not silence when you dissect it with your close attention. It dissolves into clicks and whirs of insects, the occasional outburst of birdsong (though few birds make it out this far), a bee’s whirring on the winds. Bees being insects too, of course – I’m repeating myself. Habits when no-one’s around to defend against one’s missives. Except them, and they’re not really the most exacting of audiences.

Soon, men will return here, with hopes of finding me. But men are not bees, and it’s not just spoons that disappear in these parts.

My response:

It’s intriguing but is that enough? The first paragraph is an interesting one (I came up with it during the hubbub of fractured chatter in my own house this morning), especially the anecdote about the bee, but you could excise the second bit and not lose much except a bit of blatant exposition. “There’s no rigour…”: I like that inversion, it’s an unexpectedly thoughtful approach to loneliness. Hard to tell where this story is going – feels like the alluded drama of the final par is just thrown in for over-effect. I like the last line, though, it plays on the “three plates” set-up at the start in a way that’s more introspective than horrific. Is the bee anecdote a subconscious homage and if so where am I going with that? There’s something going on around words, audiences, writing v. reading, but it’s unformed – like a chrysalis, only time will tell if it spits out a butterfly or an impossibly beautiful Japanese girl.


The task: I set myself 15 minutes to write something, anything. Then I critique what I’ve written and give you a chance to do so as well. This is a compressed variant of one of my old regimes and a useful habit if you’re aiming to improve your writing especially under time pressures. Like weight-lifting (which I abhor), repetition is the key.


No prizes except the ones with price-tags

by MDY

I’M NOT sure what happened. I study hard and got myself a job. I work out, I read Haruki Murakami novels and I have friends. I appear to be a well-rounded, sexy-and-I-know-it member of the workforce. But I’m not. I’m bad at buying things.

It’s not that I don’t like buying stuff. I’m all for consumerism and choice and credit-card debts bigger than my annual tax determination, as long as those debts belong to other people. What I’m not a fan of is the way I feel when I see kids (and, really, we are still kids) exuding the glow of Material Bliss, with more disposable income invested in their blazers than the estimated net worth of financial securities underwritten by members of the Eurozone.

Every week it’s something new being flaunted amongst their social networks, even as they profess themselves to be mere mortals carrying that Herculean burden of too many work-hours and not enough money. They get clothes, they get phones, they get sports cars with insurance premiums bigger than the black-market price of one (and sometimes both) of my kidneys. And while they swagger, preen and bask in their trophies, I pray to feel the same desire for things which they do. They buy books which they’ll never read. I write them.

It’s not that enjoying buying stuff is a bad thing in itself; at least two of the material-obsessed whom I know are rather decent people. And at the end of the day, there’s a certain thrill about buying something new, whether it be from the object’s novelty or the fiscal power exerted in its purchase. Yet what I (Stoic fool that I am) fail to get is, what’s the appeal?

Why is it that we view the things we own as definitive of our social status and standing? Why do all the girls pursue the guy with the Gucci threads and leave the guy with the healthy bank balance marooned in the friend-zone? Why does society, and the so-called Millennial generation in particular, deify the spender and crucify the saver?

I’d like my generation – with particular emphasis on those with parents who worked tirelessly to give their children financial security – to get a grip on reality. I’d like my contemporaries to realise that, in every case, buying things to show off or impress others is going to leave them financially and emotionally destitute in the long run.

I’d like to see the up-and-coming graduate paying homage to his fortunate circumstances instead of paying coinage to the dealers of BMWs and Lexii. I’d like to hear my friends boast about how much interest their term deposits are earning instead of complaining how their Eastern Suburbs apartment makes the traffic so bad in the mornings.

Most of all, I’d like people to realise that even if you have it, flaunting it just brings the wrong kind of attention.

I’d like people to give us – their future creditors – simple in desire and easily amused, the respect and compound interest we deserve. Or maybe I’m just old before my time.

Got an overdraft, anyone?

For the original version, see here.