1 or Zero.

On or Off.

Oui or Non.

A muddling mess of dichotomy I seem to have found myself in.

I look around though and see I am not the only one. I’m in good company.

Smiling above the surface while underneath legs burn from treading heavy water. Striving for one and not the other.

Sneaky filters hiding it all.


We always focus on one side of a binary pair, have you noticed that?

On life, not death, on the appearance and not the disappearance.

It's actually a cultural thing; instinctual. It's why men have done so well out of it all, the phallic strong in mind as a 'something', instead of a hole between legs..a space of nothing. 

The ‘what is' instead of …what is not. That’s where I currently exist, the space between 'what is' and 'what isn’t'.

I am not binary, not resolute and it destroys me constantly.

I feel like I have always been there, in between.

A constant holding pattern.

No, not always actually. Once there was promise.

I remember the first time as an adult as I sat in a packed, tin can of a silver train, destination Sydney.

Ugly and grey.

Pulsing and clacking and churning its way along the tracks to the big smoke.

I loved it. 

A torrential down pour, battering against the steel. I held on in a vice-like grip, to the steel pole and my high hopes.

As we approached the city-scape on the edge of it all, to me it was the emerald city.

Me and my high hopes and the powerful bustling streets before me, thumping and pulsing like the train on it's tracks.

I felt alive. I felt like the city was alive too, an animal.

It was all at my finger tips for the taking.

I spent the day trolling the streets in my cherry docs and a smile.

Holding hands with young love who wore a leather jacket and dark eyes. In and out of op shops and cafes and museums, on the cusp of something grand.

The switch turned on.

He convinced me to buy a fur jacket, in a dark, cluttered shop that smelled of mothballs and mildew.

He spun me around and made me feel like everything was there in my sights, plenty of opportunities to wear the fur.

Before it all disappeared. Him, my high hopes and the emerald city, 'Poof' just like that.

It never really came back again, that was always my problem; I expected it to show up when really I should have chased it. Done something.

Done anything. 

I was sitting at a table a few nights ago with a group of childhood friends. We were soaking up yellow Indian curry with our garlic naan, as we soaked up each other’s stories and heartaches and simple joys.

I told them I live in a big house and it was beautiful, but I felt like a squatter there, an intruder. Never settled. Everything is always feeling temporary to me, yet at the same time so completely permanent, in a 'sinking into wet cement' kind of way.

Fuck Binary.

I blame the Naan. No maybe the Malbec. It has a way of relaxing the truth from me. No filter. No pretence.


One had come back from a trip to Israel, a destination on a long list of places she had been to, while running her own business in an industry she gets to be creative in, another discussed her absolute passion turned into a career - photography, and her big family and dreams fulfilled and joy apparent. Another at the top of her game, a dedicated, intelligent business woman with a couple of kids and so much going on ...all of them switched on, so much to say and places to be. 

I told them about how I had an OK job and had no plans for travel ..or anything really. 

God damn Malbec.

Fuck binary.

My youth and my dreams, rocking down the train tracks, further and further away.

I go about my day with a smile, but underneath it all I feel I have landed on nothing.

There was no swanning around Paris, in a striped skirt, non. No bumming a cigarette in Brooklyn with attitude. 

Switched off inside, I have somehow managed to disappear.

I turn to stupid things to try to grab the high again. It never works and sinks me further into the pavement. Waving as I sink. 

I had so much promise.

I expected my moment to come. 


A while ago, I grabbed for the fur I kept all these years. I never wore it after that day in my cherry docs. I felt funny wearing something dead. 

Now though it's me that feels a little bit dead and that is just too gut wrenching a prospect to deal with. 

I need to appear again somehow, to move from off to on. 

So, the fur is now out of moth balls and I swan around in it when I need to. 

When I don’t want things to stay the same.

When I want them to be 1 and not zero.

Oui and not Non.


Emma Kate xoxo


Emma BrookerComment