b y  p a i n  m a s t e r ,  g a b i


l a u r e n


lauren makes me coffee everyday. it’s quite lovely of her, really, to remember my order based on what time of day it is / how hot it is. she senses what i need + she has never made me a coffee that i did not love with all of my heart. part of this wholesome feeling i gain when leaving her, i can attest to our conversations held across the hip height counter. i first made a connection with lauren the day i won a raffle at the art shed. i could not remember entering this draw, but it sounds like something i would do – i’m such a sucker for the mini upsell. so ash + i headed to the art shed for a little break from work – i can’t remember when exactly this was, but it was in the chaotic midst of ‘we are about to rebrand + open two new studios – how the fuck are we doing this again?’ the prize that i won turned out to be a wooden brush set box. quite nice quality + i was appreciative of the freebie, but i wasn’t attached to it – i’m an illustrator, not typically a painter. our next stop was coffee from plenty – enter into the story, lauren. she asked me about my day + i explained to her my little win. i hadn’t yet told her that i wasn’t going to be able to use it, before she began to tell to me about her art – she’s a water colour painter (+ a spectacular one, as it turns out). so i retrieved my useless prize from ash’s car + delivered to her a useful gift. she was greatly appreciative + it made me feel lovely inside to do so – there really isn’t such a thing as a selfless good deed.


h a r r y


i first noticed harry at a little café in highgate hill. we were both regulars there + he never wore shoes. i once went a few months without shoes. i enjoyed it – extremely grounding + toughened the soles of my feet. harry only ever sat by himself – sometimes in the café, sometimes on the curb with his own coffee cup. he was always working on something, sometimes writing in a book, other times, tapping away at a laptop. it eventually came to my attention that he was the author of some self published poetry books that the café stocked for distribution. i picked myself up one + read his beautiful compilation of words.

the small interaction i’m writing about today, was my first official meeting of harry. we were sitting at opposite tables in the café – both by ourselves. i can’t recall who started the conversation, but we ended up discussing what we were individually working on. people usually assume, due to my age, that if i’m typing away at my laptop, that i’m a uni student. i explained my role in SoBa + how i had left uni the year before to pursue happiness + passion – two things that weren’t filling my soul when i was studying to be a paramedic. he then told me that he was in his last few months of engineering study. he, too, had at one stage left university, because he was not experiencing happiness, but his return to study is the highlight of this small interaction – he returned to university because he shifted his mindset from “finishing to become a qualified engineer,” to “finishing something he started.”

it’s not a mindset for me, or my situation, but it was a mindset for him + one i greatly respect. he has now finished what he started + working on a new compilation of poetry.


a l d i  l i n e  u p


i don’t like aldi. i grew up in roma, so aldi isn’t the norm for me. much like night owls, seven elevens + traffic lights. i am scared to inhale too deeply, because whatever fumes are radiating from the plastic products cannot be good for my body, let alone the environment. however, i am a classic consumer for ease from time to time – i live literally thirty steps away from the west end aldi. so here is a small interaction from last week while i was in line at the checkout – two apples + a bag of mixed nuts in hand. i wasn’t speaking to one human, in particular, just any of the many in the close quarters around me.

me: i always find aldi check out lines to be so bizarre.

[ silence ]

me: it’s like a race.

[ silence ]

me: like you’re not worthy of being in aldi if you don’t put your stuff in your bags at record speed.

[ silence ]

me: i feel like it’s sucking the life from all of us, y’know?

[ silence ]

me: it’s almost as though we are being lined up for slaughter.

[ silence ]

me: y’get me?

[ silence ]

me: okay then.

why didn’t i stop talking?


l i t t l e  s t r e e t  c o m p l i m e n t s


i was in mecca recently, buying some new exfoliating wipes + saw a girl about to have her make up done. no make up was on yet + she had incredible skin. it’s like her skin missed the pores memo all together + there was nothing but baby faced smoothness. as i left, i told her she had marvellous skin. she thanked me + we moved on with our days.


this one is an older one – back when i worked retail. a customer came in + i was blown away by his face. just downright magnificent. his outfit was up with the trendy business times. his aura screamed “i have my shit together.” when he came to the counter, i told him that he had a notably attractive face. this oh so together man literally took a startled step back. he dropped his wallet + stuttered a few times before saying “no one has ever said that me before… thank you.” he left the store in a rush, before re-entering about two minutes later to awkwardly shout to me from the doorway, “i think you have a nice face too.”

i think i may have shaken his day up a little more than i had intended.


i was walking by a girl in the street + her outfit was all sorts of elegant + chic. i said those exact words + she said “thank you, i tried.”


during this most recent heat wave, i was retrieving money from an atm. i was a sweaty mess with shorty running shorts + a singlet on, no bra. as i turned, there was a woman, nicely dressed up + overall well presented. she said, “my butt would not look like that in those shorts. you are rocking it girl.” i was a little bit sassier for the rest of that day.


compliments are free to give, so why not give them freely?