Thoughts on friendship, self-belief, and our ability to move on from disappointment

Photo by Cory Bouthillette on Unsplash

I learned to drive a little later in life than most. I was 33 when I sat behind a wheel of a car for the first time.

I think I fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to driving. I’m not a terrible driver. I’m responsible and observant. I care about keeping myself and others safe. I’m also not a magnificent driver. Moving a car didn’t come naturally, and my spacial awareness leaves something to be desired. It’s probably better for us all if you don’t ask me to reverse park.

Now, here’s something I’m admitting publicly for the…

True Crime in a Mountains Town

Linda Loosley’s grave on April 12, 2020

At 2:15am on Sunday June 2, 1918, Ruby Loosley was woken from her sleep by two revolver shots bursting through the quiet night. Terrified, she ran to her sister’s bedroom where she had heard the sound. When she knocked on Linda’s door, she heard a soft moan of pain. Unable to force the door open, Ruby ran to her neighbour’s house and rang for the police.

When Constable Coleman arrived, he kicked down the locked door to reveal a grizzly scene. Linda Loosely and her boyfriend James Collins were bleeding profusely in a shared…

Am I a hack? Or just a realist?

Photo by Mirza Babic on Unsplash

I had a vision when I joined Medium. I would write about my passions, my feelings, and my dreams. The crowd would go wild! I’d sit on a yacht in the Bahamas and fritter away my royalty cheques under a tropical sunset.

Okay, maybe I was a tad more realistic than that. But I did believe that reflections on my childhood traumas would draw more attention than they ever did. Articles about my obscure interests entertained my friends, but they didn’t bring in the claps or pay the bills. …

On falling in love with a special needs dog

Me cuddling Doris on her first day in our family

It was love at first sight when I saw the first photo of Doris posted on Facebook. She looked disheveled, frightened, and confused. She was lying on a lawn with her front leg in a bandage and her ears plastered back against her head. I knew there and then she was the right fit for our family of three pups and two humans. I also knew from the start that she was deaf — a deal-breaker for many potential adopters.

That morning I had been volunteering for the animal welfare charity…

A poem of disease

Photo by Dasha Bakani on Unsplash

Act I: Scarlet Fever

On a milky stomach a rosy rash grows
Pale around the lips
She rips up my shirt on the kitchen floor
and displays the sight like an aberration
I am making trouble.

All stories start somewhere, and here is mine:
The girl who caused too much bother
Wind back that heartbeat,
Unbark that song.
She is at it again.

Fever hits its highest notes
There’s nothing outside of this bedroom
Except to turn the pillow over and find its cold side
Feel its embroidery on your strawberry face

Veils of lilac line…

Advice from a professional academic

Photo by Cristofer Jeschke on Unsplash

This article goes all to all of you who are wishing you’d never enrolled in that degree or taken that major. It’s for anyone who dreams of turning back the clock.

I get the sense of regret you’re feeling. I really do. You’re not the only person who has graduated with a sense of loss, frustration, or shame when you should be feeling pride. You’re not the only one dreading a career you’ve only just started, or watching your savings fritter away as you apply for job after job after job.

I work in a few roles at my university…

Can classical tools help the modern writer?

Charles Laplante (1866), image in the public domain.

The word ‘rhetoric’ has a bad reputation.

Think about the last time you heard it used. Was it someone complaining about politicians and their empty promises? Was it a discussion about trickery and deception through slippery words? For many of us writers, ‘rhetoric’ feels like an insult.

This is a real shame, because rhetoric as a discipline can teach us better tools for connecting with our audience and refining our style to suit our topic. It has helped some of the finest writers, from lawyers to poets. …

Incantations for the smart phone generation

Emoji collage by Zoe Alderton (2019)


Does this string of emoji have meaning for you?


How about these images?


Or these?

For many, they are simply chains of loosely linked, cartoonish pictures. For those versed in emoji spellcraft, they represent incantations for bringing good things into the future or banishing the bad.

The first step in constructing an emoji spell is signalling its magical qualities and purpose. The crystal ball emoji (🔮) is a common choice, normally placed at both the beginning and end of the spell. Next, the caster will often choose an emoji to represent themselves. The girl…

Grave of Betty Marie Curtain II, Katoomba (2019) by Zoe Alderton

“In loving memory of our little daughter”

There is a hospital at the highest point of Katoomba’s hills. Behind the hospital lies a nursing home, and behind that, a cemetery. A morbid soul might see an implied progression.

The graves are scattered on hard rock and sparse, yellow grass. Erosion is rubbing away the topsoil and the vegetation is eaten by the rabbits who build holes under the graves. Wealthier patients from the Tuberculous Hospital lie here, as do the victims of murder, suicide, and accidents. …

Zoe Alderton

PhD in Religion and Economics communications specialist by day. Angsty writer by night.

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