Friday, 30 September 2016

[ love letters to myself ]

Dearest little L,

In a truly awkward turn of events, I've discovered that I want to tell you some things because I get the impression you may not know them.  Which seems odd, right? We know each other like the lines on our face, or the colour of our eyes, like no one else. But there you go, and here it is.

First of all, I need you to know how proud I am of you. You are not the woman of ten years ago. Hell, you are not the woman of ten months ago. And with all the weird and wonderful things that have happened to you recently, you've still managed to march on and not make an utter twit of yourself. Two thumbs up there!

In regards to more recent events this year, it's been a real rollercoaster to watch you step up an be yourself again. After the last great romance, I wasn't sure how you'd carry on or go to whatever the equilibrium now was. The game had changed, the goalposts had been moved (again), and yet again you had to reset your trajectory.

And dear gods, did you smash that out of the park! Suddenly the bubbly, bouncy girl was back, happy and meeting people, getting out there and focussing on her goals again. You hadn't given up on love, or even romance, and I was ever so grateful. Ever so filled with hope for the future. More on that in a minute.

The job thing was a little bit of a worry, to be brutally honest. I genuinely didn't realise how depressed you'd become until you weren't anymore, and then it dawned on me how shitty December and January had been. What a turnaround there. I feel like maybe you reached saturation level, and to paraphrase OneRepublic, had sunk yourself to swim.

The new job has been surprisingly eye-opening, especially for a position that has many similarities to previous roles.  A lot of it can surely be attributed to being back in the city. The break was definitely good for you, but you've never been a North Shore girl, and there are certain types of isolation that just don't suit you. Having the ability to dip in and out a social scene is a much better fit for your personality than the semi-enforced exile of the previous 18 months. Welcome home.

Being in a position that nurtures your nature, as opposed to stifling it, has also been such a blessing. I've never known you to have to hide who you are, so much as you are now able to display it. There's no solitary thing that stands out specifically, but I see your quirks and I delight. I feel your satisfaction when you don't censor yourself and I am thankful.

Not the biggest thing, but a really big thing all the same; the mini faerie project, as we are now quietly calling it. You spent so long being made to feel guilty for that, so long being unsure if it would ever happen, that my heart broke and I shut down all our aspirations for the future. I saw us losing faith and I admit, I was the one who couldn't cope. I couldn't quite see where our little being was in the timeline anymore, and it made me sad.

And then you randomly went to an IVF seminar, just to check out our options, and I nearly fell over with wonder. Who was the bolshy babe who had taken the bull by the horns, steered the rudder of her ship to a new direction, and was just going with it? I felt like I was watching a butterfly come out of a chrysalis, slightly sticky but shaping up to something beautiful.

That was the moment. Right there. That was when I knew I didn't need to worry about you anymore. There would still be bullshit and drama - let's be honest, we do enjoy that just a wee bit! - but it wouldn't change our goals. You became my heroine again right there.

And with even more recent events, I feel like we have finally found that path we have been looking for. The one that started all those years ago, the one with the pretty lights and the dark wooded forest, the magic and mayhem, the strange and wondrous characters to light us up like a torch.

Some of them have been here all along - in the form of a goddess who gave birth to us, for one - and some of them have joined the party rather later in the story. Somehow the latter have become major players, just by joining the adventure and following the quest with us.

And again, I'm so proud of you for being captain of the ship again, commander of the charge, writer of our own story. I know we are soaking up so much more now than we ever have before, and so much more rapidly, but you are crushing  it, princess, you really are, and I am thrilled. We've started a new chapter and we are whirling through it gloriously.

That's all I really wanted to tell you. We could talk more, you and I, about how much good we are doing, how far we have come. But just in case we don't for another while, I needed you to know.

Love you babes, like no one else.




Thursday, 22 September 2016

[ eskimo brothers and other things that have lowered my IQ ]

Writing recently was generally a serious affair, revolving around fear and other associations. Grave and measured stuff. The piece that came out of that was pretty heavy and got out some vapors that had been lingering.

Then I drank a bottle of Captain Morgan with a deep and clever viking-pirate musician, and binge-watched a truckload of Dylan Moran on YouTube. In hindsight, we can all see how that was going to end really.

So, on that note, saddle up compadres. You all know the drill; sit down, strap in, load up on tequila and guacamole, and brace yourselves...


The last time we had this conversation, I had found out that sex robots were a thing and basically rolled my eyes until I got a migraine. I tried asking myself why why why, and gave up in disgust.

The list of things lowering my IQ has grown considerably in the last few years. I've tried really hard to determine if it's being in my thirties, my complete lack of general surprise on a day-to-day basis, or I just haven't been paying attention and when I do, I get sincerely confused.

Let's say it's a little from all the above columns and move on, shall we?


The first instance of my dumbing down was a few years back, when I got told about 'twerking' after the Miley Cyrus / Robin Thicke incident. It's unclear whether I got stupider knowing that Cyrus rubbing her ass in someone's crotch is called that, or we've had a word for this for much, much longer. Minus 10 points right there.

Not long after the above piece of dubious enlightenment, I discovered that not everyone knows to veer to the left when you hear and/or sight an emergency vehicle. This bothers me for so many reasons. Not least of which is that one day some idiot who doesn't do this, because of laziness or arrogance, will be the one needing emergency services and yelling at people to get out of the way. And those that would do it, if they knew about it, are left looking at some twit waving their hands frantically and wondering why. Why isn't this on our driving test already?! 4 points.

The next one I need to get out of my system, and quickly, as I'm sure the backlash from some of you will be high. PokemonGO. It's basically a technological way to determine survival of the fittest. Or a game for human lemmings. However you want to look at it.

For those of you asking, (what fuckwittery is this?!), let me explain; a mobile game designed for people to run around the streets, chasing Pokemons (little cartoons really), visible only on their phones, 'catching' them in random and various places, including - but not limited to - parks, restaurants, housing complexes, public toilets, bikie bars, roadways, construction sites, and other places unattended gamers shouldn't go. Some of which no self-respecting citizen should go.

Before you all lose your minds, don't mistake me here; on the surface, the concept itself is pretty cool; a game that gets you outside with friends, running about, talking and interacting, moreso than you generally would with other games. You know, much like the concept of capitalism or communism sounds cool.

The operative words here are on the surface. Because, after all the getting outside and running around, you find out two things - one, humans in packs aren't very bright unfortunately. Left to their own devices, without guidance or intervention, they tend to mill about. Like sheep.

Two, we are not an endangered species.

And drivers, therefore, do not consider that maybe someone might possibly run out in front of their car at random intervals in traffic.

Honestly. Darwinism at its' most efficient. A solid 10 points.

Next came the US election.  After the mind-numbingly, painfully dull Australian campaign, I was dead sure nothing could possibly stultify me into mush like Aussie politics. Clearly, I was wrong.

Between all-singing, all-dancing, bullshit-circus that is the Trump brigade, and the unbelievably banal, squeaky-clean with just a touch of tarnish Clinton express, I lost the will to live after the second month.

Admittedly the interspersion of Mexican fences, questionable emails, endless hair jokes, and some tasteless health-related aspersions, kept me from completely going off the whole thing.

That being said, much like Two and a Half Men, this whole debacle should have to be cancelled waaaaaaaay earlier than the SEVEN MONTHS it carries on for. How Americans keep up the level of enthusiasm they appear to have is completely beyond me. And the worrying thing is, the more I learn about these people I don't care about, let alone interact in any meaningful way with, the lower my IQ drops.

If I hear one more thing about the personal life of Trump himself, his daughters or his wife, I'm going to give up the ghost and book myself a spot on Jerry Springer. Just to get the ick out really.

Which leads me to my next point; reality tv. With the exception of Masterchef and Family Feud - the former having no evil agenda between the contestants, and the latter being the ultimate in good, clean tv fun - I'd rather lace a tampon with Tabasco than watch reality tv these days.

I cringed with dread at every intro ad to The Bachelor, I out-eye-rolled Liz Lemon with the Married at First Sight promos, and there was outright cussing with the buildup to Australian Survivor.

Torn between trying to watch the small amount of free-to-air tv I actually enjoy, watching after-the-fact on catch-up apps, or just downloading contraband versions, I asked la mama how she made it through a nights' viewing without feeling like she was in that scene from Clockwork Orange, sans dentists' chair and restraints.

I swear, the woman has the zen-like calm a Buddhist monk would envy. Her voice, tranquil as a soft breeze, gently advised me to tune it out. But, but, but how? I begged.

Just tune it out, she said. (We should all have such willpower).

Would that I could, my friends, would that I could. But the stupidity crawls under my skin, up into my brain, and stirs up the hamster like a crack-laced carrot. Then we have hours of wondering what kind of narcissistic tool keeps thinking up shows that basically reflect the worst elements of ourselves.

If I wanted to watch grown women be bitchy teenagers, I'd hang out with soccer mums. If I wanted to watch grown men try to out-macho each other, I'd go down to Bondi more often.

And if I wanted to hear 30-somethings emphatically hold forth on subjects we are hazy on their actual knowledge of, I'd record myself after 3 cocktails and watch that on playback. Reality tv; 11 points.

And lest we forget the where this original rant got steam from; I found out what eskimo brothers are last fortnight. For those of you hesitant to ask, but still perversely curious, it's two guys who have slept with the same woman.

See? You feel denser already, don't you? The viking-pirate saw fit to educate me on that particular nugget, and I'm officially a dimmer bulb for it. 

In a then truly alarming turn of events, and without provocation or prompting, someone bought up eskimo sisters at a brunch with our mutual friends the next week. Asking if any of us knew what that meant, I frowned and wearily admitted I did. 

If you thought the situation couldn't get anymore appalling - and being a pondering lot - the crew wondered where this turn of phrase may have come from, and who do you reckon knew the origin of such a phrase? Oh yes, yours truly, much to her disgust, and with an extensive education, was able to educate us all on the possible provenance of such an expression.

This in no way boosted my little grey cells back to their natural heights. I suspect it contributed even further to them joining the lemming army and deserting me. Pretty sure I eradicated 6-8 years of high level schooling in 8 days. I know stoner uni students with more brain cells than that.

To be fair though, I did learn one thing recently that I feel may have donated back to the mental banks in my head. And to give it street-cred, I was informed of such a thing by Mr 23, whom as an arts major, English student, and all-round clever-clogs, upps the integrity somewhat I think; 

Throwing shade

Even sounds cool, doesn't it? Apparently this is trash talk, especially low-key or veiled trash talk, where the speaker is the one who is considered uncool or mean. Say it with me; throwing shade. As in, Did he just? Did she just? Did you just get thrown a shade?! Lovely. 

Lucky they don't have words or phrases for being a bullshit artist, right? I'd be in trouble then!! 

Oh wait. They do; they call us writers ;) 


Friday, 16 September 2016

[ I'm friends with the monster that's under my bed... ]

The nature of fear has always been deeply fascinating and mysterious. Its tenacity, its ability to morph from something niggly to monstrous, and vice-versa. Fear is a mercurial beast, and it manifests in such wildly differing ways in different people, it's hard to pin down at any one time.

There are so many distinctive words and phrases to describe fear. Panic, anxiety, doubt. Uneasiness, disquiet, cold feet. All of them manage to convey peculiar states we can sometimes find ourselves in.

Personally, I've always found fear to be very much like love. Or even hate for that matter. Both require you to have an emotional connection to the subject. Broadly speaking, you don't love something there's no relation to. People don't hate things that they haven't got a connection with.

Like love, fear worms its way under your skin, finds your soft spots and settles there for the long haul. Some fears can be worked through, openly challenged and conquered, using the metaphor of dragons and demons to explain their banishment.

Some are more insidious. They wait inside you, simmering away, ebbing and flowing with time. Sometimes for years. Then they surge to the surface to terrorise at truly excruciating moments - like 2am. Because, you know, the complexity of the human mind!

There's an old saying about the cold light of day bringing clarity to even the the darkest issues. It never feels like that in the middle of the night however, with nowhere to run and no clear way to solve the problem.

The monsters crawl out from under the bed and intimidate you in the dark, when you're weak and can't think straight. They show you all the bad things that have happened, could happen, and all the shitty choices you might make. And then it bludgeons you with them, over and over.

In the middle of the night, in the dark, your tools of defense seem so far away. Your ability to cope trembles under the weight of your fear. And it's hard, really hard, to take your focus away from the demon in front of you.

Recently, I saw something really simple but really powerful. I can't rightly say why it resonated so much with me, but it did;

Because you are your own worst enemy. It folded around me in a firm, warm hug and stayed with me all day. And then into the next. And the week after. And, from far away, I sometimes hear a voice in my head, repeating these words like a mantra.

Then one night, my monsters uncurled themselves from the depths that I'd buried them in and tried to break me in half. They spent a good hour or so at it, slowly and methodically dismantling all the walls I'd built, all the strength I've developed.

I cried myself hoarse, until I could barely breathe. After I calmed down a bit I cried some more. I lay in bed with the lamp on, convinced all the awful things that could happen would happen and I'd be left back at square one again, with nothing.

And then I said to myself, over and over, never believe all the things all the things you tell yourself late at night. Tomorrow things will be clearer, tomorrow things will be easier - if only in the way you understand them.

And it helped. Gods help me, repeating a mantra like my life depended on it helped. Don't mistake me here; these are still first world problems I battle. But at 2am, they seemed like armed demons to me.

And here's the thing; your demons cannot face daylight like you can. They can't pull themselves up, put on a smile and face the world. Their domain is the shadows, and this is where you will always win.

Because, no matter what, you live in both worlds. You can see who you are to everyone every day; the suit and tie, the apron, the badge, the quiet nod.

And you see yourself late at night. You see your fear, and you know her for who she is; lighting you up like a match. You see him whispering bullshit into your ear like poison and know it for what it is.

The hard part is talking yourself past this. These are all parts of you, integral parts, parts you have become used to over time.

But. Fear is still fear. Love is still love. Hate - heart stopping as it is - is still hate. They can fit into boxes in your head, they can be viewed like a slideshow you put together for yourself; you know you. You know what makes you tick, and that's where you are the champion. That's where you will always win against your own mind.

Not to go all psychobabble on you, but this is a solid basis to start from; seeing yourself for who you are and knowing that all the shitty things that have happened to you are not the sum of your parts. The great stuff, the wonderful stuff, the soul-building stuff; that's who you are. That's where your heart is kept.

And I guess this is why I made friends with my monsters. Or at least got on civil terms. Because now, when the 2am chills roll around, as they inevitably do, I can talk my fears down. They don't go away and it doesn't solve all the problems. But I remember me, the real me, the strong me.

Don't let your fears master you - for you are the master here.


Thursday, 1 September 2016

[ now is the Winter of my discontent ]

Alright. So I'm aware that this may seem a little out of the blue. And I know this is something you never thought I'd say. I really am sorry about about how this is going to sound, especially coming from me, of all people. But here it is...

Sydney, we need to talk. It's the first of September, the first day of Spring; a new month, a new season.

And it's still fucking cold. Like, brass monkeys here. And I'm over it. You need to give it up already.



You know me solidly as an Autumn/Winter baby. Which I'm sure makes this really hard for you, but you have to see it from my point of view, right? I'm onto my third week in a row of still taking hot water bottles to bed, overheating, kicking them out, and then still waking up with near-bloody-frostbite. 

Chilblains are not sexy, and seriously; no one is going to shag me if my touch makes them shiver with dread as opposed to delight, so you're also screwing up my sex life here. 

Also, I cannot tell you what a right cretin I feel like when I get lulled by the first pleasant day in a week. The sun streams through my window, and suddenly I forget everything from the past month like a goldfish. Up I pop, full of beans, slip on a slinky dress, NO pantyhose, some spiky heels, and totter off to work. 

By eleven-thirty I want to pour the entire Zip tap of hot water down my knickers just to feel anything from the waist down. Needless to say, I spend most of the day hiding at my desk with a blanket I have scrounged from the storage cupboard on my lap. Gods only know where it's been, but risking the choice between an insect infestation and amputating my legs, we're going to go with the former, hands down. 

Also. Every single person, without fail, whom I shake hands with - or stand within three feet of, if we're being honest - has gross hands. I mean, coughed, sneezed, or generally icked them in the last 10 minutes. I've had an itchy nose, sore throat, and red eyes for a month. Until recently, whenever I raised my voice above the soft dulcet tones of an Elizabethan maiden, I sounded like a coked-up, disapproving duck. 

And, much as I appreciate my co-workers, it's getting beyond revolting. I'm pretty sure the same strain of tonsillitis has settled itself firmly into doing the rounds of my office and think all its Christmases have come at once. 

On that note, public transport has taken on the nightmare quality of a trip through Mordor, complete with Orcs, feral animals and a blazing red eye (more than one actually). First, you slog through wet streets, muddy median strips, and generally dangerous traffic intersections (Sydneysiders are utterly nuts; a million Syrian people die and we're all; oh, that's sad. It starts to rain in Sydney, and everyone LOSES THEIR FUCKING MINDS). 

Then you get on the large, moving tin can, which every year is basically an incubation chamber for every flu virus since the dawn of time. I really don't know why CSIRO pay to have labs; we already have some in Sydney they can use. They're run by CityRail.

And people Will Not. Shut Up. About the weather. Honestly, we've all suddenly lost the ability to have any semblance of stimulating conversation, and have  become almost painfully Victorian-England British. Asking about people's kids/pets/weekend has been chucked in favour of random gripes about horrible it all is, like we toil under the yoke of an oppressive sky god who just wants to drown us and be done with it. Fair call to her really.

And last but not least, WHY IS IT SO FUCKING DARK ALL THE TIME?! I swear, I utterly adore twilight like a fat kid adores cupcakes, but this is getting beyond a joke.

I wake up, it's dark. I go to work, still dark. Head home - at a reasonable hour - Still. Dark. I feel like I've slipped into the parallel universe, except in the that Total Recall-like world the lights seem brilliant and beautiful in comparison to this hellhole.

We've become weird, self-absorbed shadows of our former selves. And not just in the usual, snobby, Sydney-is-better-than-anywhere way. Now, we moan like zombies, but at least they look like they've seen more sun than us.

I'm begging you. Give it up. I want to get just one more shot of vitamin D before we all implode, not with a bang, but with a sticky, gurgling noise, like a snotty baby trying to cough and cry at the same time.