Ladies and gentlememes, if you frequent this little corner of the internet on a regular basis then you may have heard that as part of the Brisbane Writers Festival I had a short story, Lenore Meets a Mack Truck, printed on a few cushions scattered around the festival thanks to the good folks at Tiny Owl Workshop. There were a total of five printed, one of these was sold to a charming gentleman who told me he was going to also buy one of Sam George-Allen‘s and make his children fight with them, which sounds hilarious and delightful.
I’m going to keep two of them myself, but I thought it might be fun to give the remaining two homes in strange and unknown places. As a special preXmas offer, anyone who purchases either Zeb and The Great Ruckus or A Beginner’s Guide to Dying in Indiadirect through this website in the next week goes into the draw. One book = one chance. You buy both books, you double your chances. You buy 50 copies, you’ve pretty much got it in the bag (hint).
One has a shiny blue backing and the other is chocolate brown with tassels. Because everything is better with chocolate and tassels.
My only caveat is that, because these cushions are super large, you’re either going to need to pick them up from my house in Paddington (QLD) or, if you live within a half hour drive of the Brisbane CBD I’ll deliver one to your doorstep. Remember, there are only 5 of these IN THE WORLD, or to put it in modern terms, there are only five times as many of these story cushions as there are women in Tony Abbott’s cabinet. HURRY HURRY HURRY CLICK CLICK CLICK!
Here is a handsome man holding one of the super fun story cushions. Perhaps by winning one of these cushions you will either become or acquire a handsome man of your own! It certainly wouldn’t be the most ridiculous thing a promotion has ever promised you, I’m sure.
PS This is super secret, but in addition to being a standalone microfiction piece, this story is also the opening page of a novel entitled Lenore’s Last Funeral. I’ve only just started writing the first few chapters, so it’ll probably be released sometime in the next few years. It will most likely be the weirdest thing I’ve ever written. You can think of these cushions as an ultra-exclusive sneak preview.
This week, I'm going to give you some advice on romance. Now, I know what you're thinking. It's either A) How did I end up at this page when I was looking for videos of cats playing keyboards??? or B) Why on earth would J. M. Donellan be qualified to give relationship advice? He seems to just post about getting dumped all the time.
I have no answer for A) but in regards to B) I'm hardly going to be the first amateur to deign to impart ill-founded advice. I mean, the Situation wrote a fucking book with advice on dating, I'm pretty goddamn sure I'm more qualified than he is. Not least because of the fact that I realise that a book should consist of more than just 133 pages of narcissistic, misogynistic ranting. And fashion tips.
Sure, love can be a beautiful thing. But let's face it there are plenty of times when it can also be gross, stupid, frustrating, painful and sometimes, just really fucking inconvenient. Maybe they're your housemate. Perhaps you just have the wrong anatomy for their romantic preferences. Or they just said the sentence "I don't know who David Bowie is." Maybe they're dating your best friend and the three of you hang out all the time and once in a while you'll all have a little too much to drink and he/she will suggest you all head into the bedroom together and by the time you realise they were only joking you're already half undressed and then you have to pretend like you were only joking too but they both know you weren't and it gets super awkward and even worse they've seen they embarrassing tattoo that you keen meaning to get removed…
Whatever the case. There are times when being in love in just a terrible idea, so here are my strategies to help you not love someone.
1 IMAGINE THEM AS YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE POLITICIAN
Simple but effective. If the politician in question is ugly and/or the wrong gender for your preferences, even better. Just imagine someone who really sums up everything that's wrong with politics and modern society in general, someone like, oh I don't know…
2 DEVELOP A NEGATIVE PAVLOVIAN REACTION
"Jenny? Oh no, I'm WAY over her. She smells like transmutational butterfly larvae."
Sounds weird, I know, but weirder than tying all your hopes, dreams and happiness to one single human being who is just going to end up decomposing in the ground some day? I think not. Keep a packet of something disgusting in your pocket, like canned chrysalises for instance. Every time you see or think about your soon-to-be-not-loved one, shove something putrid into your facehole. Once you associate the object of your desire with squirming, crunchy larvae, IT'S BYE BYE ROMANCE!
3 INTRODUCE THEM TO YOUR PARENTS
I know this is often what people do when a relationship is going WELL, but this is primarily due to the fact that people are idiots. By the time dear old dad asks them for the sixth time if they got that nose ring because they were hoping to more closely resemble a swine or just to antagonise their deadbeat parents you'll know that all hopes of a happy, successful relationship are dead in the water.
4 THINK ABOUT THE LAST TIME YOU BROKE UP WITH SOMEONE
"Oh god! I can't do crosswords anymore! She used to use words like, all the time! Sometimes in sentences, or paragraphs even! It was our special thing…"
Bear in mind all relationships end, the only variables are when and how badly. Just try and picture that last time, when you listened to the 3 Smith Kings of Misery (Elliott Smith, The Smiths and Robert Smith) on repeat and lived on a daily intake of three bottles of cheap red wine and a family sized block of cadbury chocolate. Actually that last bit doesn't sound too bad, but then there was the bawling over summertime photos, the dividing of possessions, the places, songs, books and movies that were forever ruined. Yeah, that's right. You've got all of THAT to look forward to. Maybe in three months time, maybe three years, maybe three decades but whatever the case we all know that breaking up with someone feels like having your heart torn out of your chest, ripped in half, spat on, then forcibly reinserted via your colon.
So there you have it. Next time you start falling in love and it's going to be the worst idea ever you can thank me for reminding you that's it's the worst idea ever. Send me a thank you email. Maybe with a photo attached. Perhaps a facebook friend request.
Thanks so much for your suggestion for me to send more flowers to my now ex-girlfriend for Valentine's day. And yes, you are right. That first bouquet I sent back in September did indeed ‘WOW!’ her. The problem is that the flowers I had delivered to her have now withered and died and been tossed into the nearest trash receptacle.
Much like our relationship.
For a brief period which future literary historians will doubtlessly refer to as ‘J.M. Donellan’s “SWEET MOTHER OF GOD WHY IS EVERYTHING SO UTTERLY AND INCOMPREHENSIBLY HORRIBLE ALWAYS AND ALL THE TIME?’ period I was temporarily transformed into a quivering and mildly alcoholic wreck spending most of my time lying on the floor listening to the Cure’s Disintegration on repeat and consuming a weekly average of twelve packs of oreos.
Thankfully I’ve now more or less recovered, reduced my oreo intake to a much healthier and more sustainable pack a day habit and returned to an emotional state of which Oprah would be far more approving. After all, as the old cliché says, there are ‘plenty more fish in the sea.’ (The fact that the search for love is so frequently compared to tricking a small water dwelling animal into spearing a hook through its face and then subsequently forcing it to asphyxiate in one final furious fit of fatal convulsions before removing its outer layer and internal organs before cooking and consuming said animal does, however, somewhat concern me.)
I suppose I COULD still send her more flowers, but that would seem kind of weird and pathetic. I am both of those things of course, but I’m trying to pretend like I’m not. So far I am attempting to accomplish this by doing push ups every morning, but I’ve been doing this for literally DAYS now and I still don’t have rippling biceps so I’m not really sure what the point is when I can just be my normal scrawny self with absolutely no effort whatsoever.
I’m sure your message was well intentioned, but the fact is, for a great many people Valentine’s day is just a reminder of the fact that they are tragically alone. It’s a day when single people feel like the entire world has conspired to say LOOK AT US! LOOK AT WHAT WE HAVE! LOOK HOW MUCH HAPPIER WE ARE THAN YOU!
"I wuv you honey baby sweetie pie!"
"Not as much as I wuv YOU my little muffintop on stuffed crust pizza base with double cherries on top and a side of bacon fondue pudding!"
Of course I can always take solace in the fact that the vast majority of those couples are either going to break up at some point in the near future or alternatively edge incrementally towards their graves despising each other slightly more with each transpiring hour until they are just a pair of nonagenarian husks that stare into each other’s gimlet-like eyes with an odious cocktail of disdain and boredom whose potency is outdone only by their own body odour and crippling ennui.
In conclusion, unless you feel like adding a ‘deliver large box filled with vodka, cheesecake and Stevie Ray Vaughn’ albums to your Valentine’s day package options I don’t think I will be interested in your services.
+ + = YES.
In fact, after I finish writing this email I am going to instigate a campaign to have National “I Am Still Single Because I Refuse to Settle Down with Anyone Who Won’t Make Me Supremely Happy and Allow Me To Do the Same for Them in Return in Order to Allow My Already Astonishing Levels of Awesomeness to Attain Even Greater Heights” day. This will basically involve a host of astoundingly wonderful single people getting together to drink vodka, eat cheesecake, air guitar to Stevie Ray Vaughn albums and indulge in guilt-free make out sessions in the utilities closet. Feel free to attend.
A bad thing happened last week. One of the worst things that can happen, actually. Well, almost. If you wrote a list of the 100 worst things you could possibly imagine occurring with ‘stepping on a thumbtack’ at the bottom and 'nuclear holocaust' or 'waking up next to Kochie' at the absolute top, then this particular event would probably rate around an eight or a nine, depending on your personal preferences. Perhaps your entire family was killed by a rogue thumbtack and everytime you see one it triggers a wave of emotional anguish that leads to a three day rampage of drugs and grand larcency, who knows. But we aren’t here to talk about your problems. It’s the internet people, I want to whine about ME.
Ever since this the eighth or ninth worst thing that could ever happen to me did I've been working my way through the 7 Stages of Grieving. Not that textbook list that they give you, I mean I'm working through MY list, which is immensely superior. If the eighth or ninth worst thing that you could think of happens to you, then you may find it useful.
1 POSTING A SHAMEFACEDLY ATTENTION SEEKING STATUS UPDATE
Come on, we’ve all done it. Maybe you prefer the unsubtle approach, something along the lines of: “OMG I AM GOING TO FUCKING KILL MY BOSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” or maybe, much like westpac bank, you’re the cryptic kind who favours generic melancholic statements such as ‘oh so over it today.'I'm sorry Westpac, we've all been so caught up with minor concerns like global warming and colony collapse disorder that we haven't had time to spare a thought for those poor little corporations that only posted 1.6 billion dollar profits last quarter. Text me later. We can eat cookie dough, talk about boys and watch 'Beaches.'
2 TRYING TO CAUSE LOVESICK COUPLES TO SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST
Sure. A week ago you were my allies. I would look at you and think, "dawww…look at those two crazy kids; sniffing the rosebushes, sharing their sandwhiches, picking nits out of each others' hair." But no more. You have all become my nemeses. If I see hear ANYONE using any kind of ridiculously sappy pet name (honeybabysweetiemuffinsugar) in the next few days I am going to just speed up the whole combustion process by means of a can of petrol and some cheap, illegal fireworks.
This is a somewhat risky game of Russian roulette. It may offer me a tenuous rope out of the depths of the abyss, but more often than not I may simply find that the rope in question comes in the form of a tight fitting noose. That episode of Bored to Deathwhere Johnathon says that "those amazon sales rankings are very misleading" ain't no joke. Somedays my book can jump a MILLION slots. Which I think means its sold around 3 copies that day.
7 BURNING COOKIES
Much like my now non-existent relationship these cookies were once sweet, colourful and nourishing. Under my careful watch however, they became burnt, deformed and fit only for the rubbish bin. END METAPHOR.
It'll get better. OBVIOUSLY. I mean, it's not as though I had my legs devoured by flesh eating ants or had my brain surgically transplanted in Pauline Hansen's body or anything as horrible as that. In the meantime I can be grateful that as a writer I have the only job in the world where being a depressed drunk is actually an advantage. Well, writing and detective work perhaps.
Feel free to post your own grieving practices, although I'll probably be too preoccupied with lying on the floor drinking cheap vodka, listening to 'Roman Candle' and eating burnt cookies to read it.