It’s now more than a year since I moved to my lovely place of residence, a sunny little studio in Glebe – the aptly named Cornieworld 2. I should start by pointing out that there was, as implied, a Cornieworld 1. This was my previous apartment in Glebe, which I inhabited for roughly one year, between 2005 and 2006. This place, which was also lovely and sunny, and, it must be said, considerably larger than its sequel, was dubbed Cornieworld by my former partner in crime, “Pockets”, on account of my surname – not actually Rollmops, incidentally.
Cornieworld 2 is really very close to Cornieworld 1 geographically – so much so, that if I stick my head out the back window, I can see the balcony of Cornieworld 1 across the backyards and through the trees. It is not more than eighty metres from where I now lie on my beloved bed, writing this piece of fluff. I remain as deeply attached nostalgically to Cornieworld 1 as I have to many other favourite places of residence, and, indeed, to this one, in anticipation of the fact that I shall have to leave here at some point in the not too distant future.
So, one year on, my place has changed very little, physically. I’ve kept the same arrangement of furnishings, have not changed the decorations, and have kept it clean and orderly by regular vacuuming, dusting, polishing and the like. Consequently, it actually looks identical to how it looked once I’d completed my initial wave of home-making, which is nice, because I like to think I nailed it first up.
Having now experienced all four seasons in my studio, I can safely say that it’s a lovely place to be, come rain hail or shine. It did get a bit stuffy in summer and my failure to buy a larger fan was a regrettable oversight, yet it was rarely, if ever, unbearable and the amount of light and space I felt inside, despite its small size, was always refreshing. I’m also very partial to the blue-green end of the spectrum when it comes to living spaces. Without blues and greens I feel oppressed and desolate, and need these colours to comfort me. Too much red and brown leaves me very sad indeed, both impatient and harassed, and the colour scheme here has always been much to my taste. I can’t claim credit for the pale blue-grey of the walls, yet I do like to think I have balanced this nicely with the various pictures I’ve put up. Now, with the trees and grape vines on the trellis blooming fully again with fresh, spring greens the atmosphere is, more than ever, one of refreshing and beautiful calm.
When I wrote about moving here back in August last year, I titled the piece Sleeping with a Fridge. The reason for this was that, inevitably, in a studio, without a separate kitchen, there is little choice but to share the space with a fridge, and we all know that fridges have a habit of rumbling and grunting in their own sweet way. Having moved in, I was very soon reassured that my fridge would not be keeping me up at night or distracting me, and this has, fortunately, continued to be the case. The only times I notice the little guy is when he stops his quiet churning – an event punctuated by a brief stumbling as the parts cease to move. On such occasions I am assailed by such a sense of peaceful stillness that I am forced, every time, to remark at how I hadn’t realised the fridge was running until it stopped. And so, on that score, I can safely say that the fridge has proven to be a good housemate, and I’d quite happily share with him again.
My studio has one rather odd feature about it. The ceiling slopes down from one end to the other, so that above the door and the compact, yet spacious bathroom, there is a space which begins at roughly two feet in height, and reaches a height of three feet at the point where the ceiling meets with the wall. This space is the depth of the bathroom, about four and a half feet, and thus, above the bathroom and door, there is a sort of miniature loft. When I first moved in here, I wondered if it would be at all possible to make use of this space – perhaps getting a ladder to make it accessible – and for months used to joke about installing a Korean student and subletting for a hundred dollars a week. Well, I never did buy a ladder nor make any use of the space, and, for the sake of my peace and well-being, and, indeed, my sex life and privacy, I’m pleased that ultimately no Koreans were installed.
When I first moved into this place, I was riding high on a wave of personal revolution. Emerging like a phoenix from the ashes of a devastating break-up, I was full of an almost unbearable, restless energy and threw myself at everything I did with a vengeance – be it writing, photography, running, weightlifting and, indeed, dating. In this intense state of being I also found myself assailed by memories of the intense work ethic and level of output I’d had during my last time in Glebe, where I’d not only taken a lot of photographs and written a lot of prose, but spent much of my time agonisingly crafting poetry.
Thus, shortly after returning to this neck of the woods, inspired by the sheer compact brilliance of my studio, and totally in love with life in a new and profound way, I found myself writing a lot of poetry again. I do think some good material came out of this, but the new wave of enthusiasm for writing poetry soon petered out and has now evaporated.
This is unfortunate in that writing poetry is very much a craft and the less I do it, the less well I do it. Back in 2004 when I first began my Creative Writing Masters, I had a very excellent mentor in the form of Robert Gray, who was teaching poetry at UTS. I’d dabbled in the stuff before, but it was mostly pretty trite and unpolished and lacked any real technical sense. After being in the presence of this most erudite and kind man, who seemed not only to know everything it was possible to know about poetry, but also to be gifted with the wisdom of the ages, I was so inspired that my first poetry submission to Meanjin was successful. As soon as I was given such a sense of credibility, I was overwhelmed with a sense of destiny and, after an initial celebration in the form of a long, hard run where I pumped my fists a lot and shouted “I’m a fucking poet!” I kept it up and, for the next four years I diligently worked on my poems.
It seems strange in retrospect, having always considered myself a prose writer and having turned almost entirely to prose in recent years, that for a while there it was the poetry and not the novels or short stories that came out most completely. Much of the best material was written during my time in Cornieworld 1 and my second stint in Cambridge. Yet, when I returned to Australia in 2008, I ran out of steam and stopped working on poetry altogether.
It was nice therefore, albeit briefly, to find joy once again in crafting poems. I do hope this desire comes back, but for now it is the photography that has taken over as my preferred form of expression. Again, however, on this front, I have my return to Glebe to thank for this. As I’ve written elsewhere, I long ago grew tired of Sydney as a photographic subject, but over the last year, I have come to love shooting the place again. Photography too is very much a craft and whilst it might not be the same for everyone, I find that the more I do it, the more my eye is “in form”. Thus, much of my time here has been spent on editing photographs and putting together collections to publish on this very blog. It’s something I’m very pleased about, as I feared that only the stimulus of a foreign country was sufficient to get me out of my shell have take photos. I now never leave home without my camera, except when going running, and thus am well placed to catch those unexpected and ephemeral compositions that life throws up.
And so, the next phase of life approaches. Having been very fortunate in finding love in the last year, I shall be packing up this little haven in the next couple of months. It will be very sad to leave, but it has served me so amazingly well that I wouldn’t want to stress the relationship I have with the place and grow stagnant. For now, however, Cornieworld 2 lives on, and I shall make the most of its glorious last days.