How to get started in ocean kayaking.
Since I lost my job at the petrol station, I’ve been writing for ContentGenius for 3 US cents a word. While lying about my room each morning and evening I go through the new listings and choose all the articles that I think I can write with less than 5 minutes research, and by doing this nearly every day I get double what I would have got had I just gone on the dole instead.
The trick is to pick articles that are destined for spammy blogs. They don’t care about quality and they usually come with a list of keywords that need to be stuffed into 250 words of content. The trick is to turn the keywords into question and answer pairs. Are you wondering how to choose the best kayak? The best place to start is looking at sit in vs sit on top kayaks. That’s 72 cents. If I’d hyphenated sit-in and sit-on-top I would have cost myself 9 cents. Writing like this I can bust an article out in 15 minutes, taking a tour through best inflatable kayaks and how to get started in ocean kayaking.
I don’t bother proof reading the articles because it’s like talking to a drunk person who is fixated on a topic they barely understand. ContentGenius haven’t said anything so I’ve recently started testing whether anyone reads them. Does choosing between sea and touring kayaks fill you with existential dread? Here are the best tandem kayaks to save your failing marriage.
Most relaxing guided meditation apps
Typically, my day starts with the sound of her alarm at 6am, and she’s almost always out the door at 8. She has such a steady cadence to her life, although sometimes she stays home with the TV on all day, and on these days I rely on my stash of water and muesli bars to tide me over, lying on my mattress imagining that she has a migraine and feeling a bit unwell myself.
For breakfast I have some of that cheese that comes in the little red balls of wax, a sliced apple, and some water crackers with poppy seeds. I’m free to be a bit noisier while she is showering, so I take that time to boil some water for coffee in my camping stove and to clean up, filling a plastic bag with wrappings or scraps from the night before, the wax and apple core from breakfast, and my pee bottle. I used to drink instant coffee but in the past few weeks I’ve turned a corner financially so I have been treating myself to coffee bags.
I drink coffee and write until I hear the door close behind her and I am free to come down. Only once has she come back in, grabbing something from the fridge in a rush and then running out the door again. Luckily I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth, so I just stood there with spearmint burning my tongue until I was sure that she was gone.
Healthy milk alternatives for lactose intolerance
I’m sure she won’t notice if I take just a little milk for a coffee, a splash of white in my mug, a little dash to take the edge off the bitterness. After all she didn’t say anything, or even seem particularly to notice the one time I borrowed a glass of rosé.
But we never talk so why would she say something? I only exist in the spaces where she does not: no creaking boards or thumps in the night, no accidental Bluetooth connections, no cooking fish or spraying deodorant, no stray beard hairs in the bathroom sink, just that one occasion after an infamously bad day when I had one small glass of cheap rosé from a bottle that had sat two thirds full in the fridge for over a week.
Aside from that it’s just a few sheets of toilet paper every now and then, a dribble of electricity, scant cents worth of residual heat, a few MB of data, such a small amount that it may as well be rounding error.
She surely won’t notice if I take a dash of milk. She barely ever makes it though the bottle before the use by date and ends up pouring half of it down the sink even though it’s probably still perfectly safe to drink. So I pour a little bit of milk into my mug, taking care to put the bottle back in the same spot in the fridge door, the handle facing to the left.
Affordable holidays for singles
The highest ground in the local area is a park three suburbs over that was reclaimed from swamp by piling up rubble and refuse into a blobby pyramid and slapping a layer of dirt and turf over it. I set out for the park on my bike; I don’t need a sweeping vista or ship speckled ocean, just to briefly get out of the apartment and to see the dissolution of city against sky.
She’s gone to work so I can safely move about the apartment. I’ll shower later but I brush my teeth before I leave, making sure not to leave any toothpaste remnants in the sink. I am grateful that she is clean without being too fastidious.
On my way to the park I coast my bike into the petrol station where I used to work and buy a sausage roll that I throw in my bag. I eat it lukewarm on the grassy peak of the pyramid, brushing flakes of oily pastry from my lap and shirt, scrunching its perforated plastic wrapper into the side pocket of my bag.
The horizon is a dim brown band punctuated by the occasional high rise, above which a residue of clouds streaks the sky. I cannot coalesce the clouds into images; a potential chihuahua smudges into cornflower nothing and a fist fails to close, but I’m comforted by the sudden thought that if I could reach the horizon today, I would not be able to make it home in time.
The surprising extra benefits of joining a gym
On the way home I stop to buy waxed cheese and crackers, and while I’m there I remember that I’m low on peanut butter and vitamins. I contemplate making buttered potatoes, but cooking is a hassle and I’m worried that the butter would go rancid without refrigeration.
There’s a kiosk in front of the supermarket that cuts keys and repairs watches; when I went there I wore chinos and a blue shirt like a landlord, but the guy didn’t ask me about the raised lettering of ‘DO NOT DUPLICATE’ on the head of the key. He’s behind the counter today but doesn’t recognise me as I pass.
I ride to my local gym and lock my bike out the front. I always leave it here because there’s usually a nicer bike with a cheaper lock on the same rack and I’d prefer not to park it near the apartment.
I use the weight machines for half an hour, but the main event is the shower. I wash my shirt, boxers, and socks while I’m in there. There’s a pump of all purpose body wash and shampoo on the wall, and the residual citrus notes help to combat the mustiness that my clothes sometimes get from being dried in my room. I swish my shirt with a bit of body wash on the shower floor, then ball it up and press it against the wall to squeeze the water out. I do this eight times and then I do my socks.
The best over ear headphones
I’m back home only ten minutes before her. I got stuck out once before. I’d gone to dinner with a friend and after our dumplings (fried pork and chive for me, steamed pork and prawn for him) we had bought a six pack of cheap European lager and drank them down at the harbour. We spoke about container theory (neutral for me, valuable for him), and I argued that because awareness of one’s own mortality is subjectively worse than not existing, creating an entity that is capable of sensing this pending void is an immoral act. He countered with an argument based on the intrinsic value of life and we got so caught up in our moral calculus that by the time we parted (bus for me, taxi for him) it was too late for me to go home.
So I stayed overnight at the gym; reading a book on the reclined stationary bike, dozing in the bathroom, peeling the warning sticker off the chest press machine. Shift workers occasionally came in with their duffel bags and noise cancelling headphones, and by mutual consent we looked past each other as they made their way to the free weights area.
I left when the morning crowds started to arrive, grabbing a flat white from a convenience store and sitting on a low brick fence just down and across the street from the apartment. She made eye contact with me as she walked to the bus stop, but did not say anything.
How to apply for your first lease
I lived in the rooms downstairs before, and I did all the normal tenant things: dusting the venetians, mailing talcum powder to the real estate, drawing two diagonal lines and writing “RTS” on the envelopes that arrived for previous tenants. I had the living room set up with chairs facing each other to encourage conversation but now it’s just a too large couch directly facing the TV; she watches tennis in the middle of the night with the volume too high and I’m kept awake by the tock tock of balls on racquets and the babble of the commentators.
It was census night last week. The Bureau of Statistics makes a big effort every four years to track down every resident, hiring thousands of people to canvas streets and remote communities, and I lay on my inflatable mattress and read a magazine from the library while she filled it out downstairs.
When she put the letter from the Bureau on the fridge I noted down the code and planned to participate, but in the intervening weeks I got paranoid. Now when the government redistributes GST and decides on funding for hospitals the calculations will be slightly off because I don’t exist.
There is a grace period of a few days so I could probably still participate, but I’m worried about of all my responses sitting in a big government database. So instead, I lie on my inflatable mattress and read an article about the high mortality rate of cave diving.
Landlords hate this one weird trick
In a month or two it will be too hot up here; the wax on my cheese is already softening and the last two mornings I’ve woken up to find that I’ve kicked the sleeping bag off in my sleep. I think about it at night after the light coming up through gaps around the manhole cover turns off, as I float in the blur of my phone screen, tapping endless garbage into the ContentGenius portal, slowly sipping water so I don’t have to use the bottle, moving little and slowly so as to not make a sound. After a few 40 degree days I’ll drip through her ceiling in big pink drops.
I’m trying to write an article on how to pay off stubborn debt, but I’m stuck at 131 words. Instead of buying lunch, steal your colleague’s leftovers from the work fridge and eat them in the toilet cubicle. I don’t know why am finding article this so hard to write. Cut down on expensive social engagements by cultivating an unpleasant personality. It must be the heat starting to get to me. Bankruptcy is a low fuss way to evade your financial responsibilities. I close my eyes and put my phone on the ground. I should abandon this article before it takes up any more time.
She’s coughing downstairs, and I’m worried that tomorrow will be another day of her on the couch. But there’s nothing for it, so I pick up my phone and start typing again.
Jonathan Battista is an author and poet, and an accidental finalist in the Australian Poetry Slam. He has been published in Aniko Magazine and Alethia Literary Quarterly, including as the winner of the inaugural ALQ prose poetry award. He lives on Dharug and Gundungurra Country in the Blue Mountains of Australia with his wife and son.