Lessons Learned…

From the moment I witnessed my first Stereo Stories in Concert, I have wondered if it would be too meta to write a Stereo Story about Stereo Stories….

A song. A place. A time.

These are all you require to get it moving in the right direction.

Into the Mystic by the Stereo Stories Band. Williamstown. 2017.

Ironically, when I turned up for the Stereo Stories writing class last month, I plonked myself next to the author of the story that went along with that song performance – the always fabulous Chris Phillips. I predictably cried my eyes out, when she gave us an encore at the end of the class.

Proximity to talent is a powerful thing.

I listened as Vin Maskell – the man who started it all, and Lucia Nardo – a prolific contributor to the Stereo Stories website over the years, offered up tips on how best to draw out stories of our own.

Having already contributed one story in the past, I was terrified of being a one hit wonder. Of course, I needn’t have worried. I left that class with an abundance of inspiration. My meta story would have to wait – I had some heart-shaped boxes to unpack…


Heart-Shaped Box by Nirvana. Werribee. 1996.

Kurt Cobain had been dead for a good couple of years, before I gave him the credit he deserved. When everyone was ‘smelling teen spirit,’ I was memorising the lyrics to Jump, by Kris Kross.

Nirvana were just a little too dark for 12-year-old me.

As it turns out, 16-year-old me was all about the darkness.

My latest crush was an abyss of broodiness. An abundance of hair product, atop an endlessly grimacing face. His expression, an eternal tribute to his deep, not-so-hidden teenage angst.

He drank too much. He smoked too much. He owned too many bongs.

I didn’t even know what a bong was – such was the level of my innocence.

We bonded over a mutual love for the Essendon Football Club.

We had nothing else in common.

He was sad. And damaged.

It was as though I found him down the bottom of a well, and felt certain that only I could rescue him.

He introduced me to Nirvana. I introduced him to sunlight.

He drew me into his “magnetar pit trap” – a perfectly appropriate metaphor for his quagmire of an apartment. I was caught inside his heart-shaped box and so entirely confused!

We kissed. We held hands. We broke up.

I don’t remember who dumped who, but I do remember the feelings that rose within me, whenever Kurt Kobain would begin his throaty, guttural struggle. While my angsty former beau was feigning suffering, Kobain had lived it and provided the soundtrack.

I will never really understand what “meat-eating orchids” have to be so unforgiving about, but Nirvana served to remind me that I have much to learn about this world, and I will be forever in debt for that priceless advice.  

*This piece was originally published on the Stereo Stories website on Friday August 9

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