Running red lights

Walking is better than driving, any day of the week.

Cycling is better than driving, any day of the year.

But cruising around, hands off the handlebars through an empty subdivision is best of all.

10 minutes from where I live there’s a block that’s sprouted 15 apartment complexes. The roads are smooth and wide and perfect for a midnight cycle, except for the traffic lights. There’s so little traffic on these big new roads that the lights don’t change often.

Cycling through this neighbourhood always makes me think of this song by The Avalanches:

Spring leaves on trees

As the sun goes down, the tops of the trees glow gold and orange.

Eucalyptus and oak, acacia with thick grooves running through its bark.

New leaves look powdery and soft to touch. The rainbow lorikeets kamikaze through the verdant clumps without breaking speed, navigating the bare branches and launching themselves on old crusts.

In one week the smooth winter boughs have been covered by green. Spring is irreversible, bulbs springing up in the plant beds and overtaking naked earth.

On the 10th floor

The corridor stretches out like an airport runway, every desk pushed against the window with engineered precision. I imagine the night cleaners bowling balls, racing office chairs and playing indoor cricket.

My team staggers itself out across the line. Looking up from my desk I see the tops of apartment blocks and church spires. Fluffy clouds sit over the mushroomed heads of tree tops, sprouting among terracotta roof tiles.

In the distance the Sydney Harbour Bridge springs out from the cluster of skyscrapers, an iron rainbow in the city haze. Rustling bags muffled by the carpet and the hum of aircon surround us.

On my bed

Lying on my bed, sinking into the doona, I watch reflections in the ceiling light. People walking, a white car driving past. The curved glass is a fishbowl holding a miniature world.

Rattling plastic wheels pass by, the blue gloved cleaners pushing trolleys of disinfectant. I wait for the buzz to fade and slowly the crows and pied currawong fill the space again.

Acacia blooms

I met him when the acacias bloomed,
walking against the river current.

Arms linked under a black umbrella
the air was sweet and damp,

squalls forcing us under branches
freshly budded,
like a dripping yellow gazebo.

Changing seasons

Spring has slapped me in the face.

The air has changed, swinging between smelling like a wet dog after a day of drizzle and the sweet blossom spilling from bee filled trees.

On a break from staring at my screen, I noticed the bare tree limbs were now sprouting pale green leaves. When did this happen?

I woke up on September 1 and everything had changed.

Too warm to wear shorts, it’s hot and dry. The morning isn’t cold enough to make me reach for my uggs, the night still thick with heat and making the blankets on my bed feel oppressive.

I miss the cold. I wasn’t ready to change seasons, to experience spring in a new city.

Spring blossom smells the same but the streets and my memories have changed.

Allpress Alley

It’s not a one way street but the walls are narrow and the only cars that turn in drive in the same direction.

At night I cycle east, dodging potholes them at the last moment. No streetlights, just the reflection of the moon, or the glare of oncoming cars.

During the day I cycle west, the same direction as the cars parked along the street. Shuttered garage roller doors back onto the alley, forklifts duck in and out of storage rooms, and the Allpress sign glows 24/7, their workers sitting with their feet in the gutter on a smoko break.

The brown sacking spilling out of red topped bins, the smell of roasting coffee – burnt toast and malt – following me to the end of the street.

The coffee shop

“Morning lovely,” is the way I want to get greeted every morning, by every barista.

The shop is a little larger than a hole in the wall, if a truck driving into a building was how they created the hole.

Facing east, the hanging baskets of flowers glow in the sun and warm the group of us gathered and waiting.

They call my name, but it’s for a different Jo. A blonde and tanned Jo.

Opposite the shop is a mysterious warehouse. No signs, no name on Google maps, barbed wire on the fence. Looking past the men in high vis and women in black pants and sneakers I can see racking and pallets stacked to the roof. Sometimes a row of pink vans exit through the electronic gate.

Outside the warehouse milk crates wait for the staff to take their breaks.

Morning walk

At 7.30am my feet and knees feel uncoordinated. I lurch down the stairs, propping open the back gate with the kitchen mop, and gently step out onto the bark.

Peach tiles and geranium bushes and a blushing sky greet me every morning. The red flowers are so bright they don’t look real. They’ve flowered all winter and I wonder if they’re perennial.

Joggers join me on the path up the hill. Kids in unform, the few people who still commute to the city by bus, what feels like 100s of dog owners, and the early morning smokers. Somehow I’ve never seen the same dog owner twice.

The crest of the hill looks down on a rundown series of shops, the tops of gum trees and a stretch of hills – deep blue in the distance.

One day the answer will be yes

No vs Yes.

I don’t know about you, but when an idea or a plan doesn’t work out it can be hard to believe it’s worth trying again.

Call it a knock back, a problem, a mountain or a hill of moles armed with toothpicks: rejection sucks.

I think that to be produce or best creative work, or to do well in life, we need to be resilient to rejection.

This week I’ve been swinging between a sense of possibility and the feeling of ‘what’s the point?’, and there are two thoughts that have helped me find momentum and energy again.

One is that rejection is not personal. It probably feels personal (let’s be real, it always feels personal), but 98% of the time the reason for rejection is based on someone else’s goals and values.

Rejection doesn’t lessen the value of who you are and what you do, it actually allows you to move forward and find a person or a job or an opportunity that aligns better with who you are.

The second thought is that persistence pays off. On my wall I have a postcard covered in black ‘Nos’ and in the middle is one red ‘Yes’.

That’s all you need. One yes, one open door, one connection and the next step will flow.

So this week if you’re finding it hard to keep going, just remember that one day the answer will be yes.