Monday, 28 November 2016

[ tell me what you want to hear ]

This article actually started as something else, in another piece, with another name. Then I did what I usually do - make magical mischief - and there it was, seeding buds in my head already.


When I meet someone new, there's always a little part of me that whispers please be as curious as me, please be as weird as me, please be a seeker like me...

I think we all have effects we hope for when we connect with people, and some are flexible and some are not, even if we don't realise it at first. 

A long time ago, after I concluded I knew a lot more than I gave myself credit for, I coined the phrase I have a lot of secrets, but nothing to hide.

I guess what I meant by that, and still mean, is people tell me things, lots and lots of things. And I do things; random things, important things, mundane things. I see things, make things, chase things. And sometimes, more often than imagined, these are things that we don't usually see or talk about. They just are. It's not a boast or being dramatic, it just is what it is. 

Personally, even when the circumstances are less than pleasant, I still consider myself deeply blessed to be where I am. To be considered worthy enough to see people at their best and worst, at their most vulnerable and their most capable; these are truly the treasures that make up my memories.
Obviously, this is a double-edged sword; these are not always my stories to tell, even when I'm in them. On the other hand, it's not as if I don't have enough secrets of my own to keep me busy. 

Here's where it gets interesting. A sweet and handsome visitor from my past recently invited me to discuss anything I wanted, any way I wanted, and let the dialogue entirely follow my whim. I don't know if I took that as directly as I could have, or understood it as well as it was meant. I was a little lulled by how comfortable I felt, how much friendly affection I was given without question, and how easy the flow was.

So, to be fair, I don't think it's unreasonable to suspect how I might have opened my mouth with the wrong person and the right words. Or the right person with the wrong words. The universe lets me choose my path as freely as I wish, but it can only put up so many signposts...


At a xmas party recently at one of my favourite places in the world - a bookstore - I met someone. Being me, I stalked him around the store in a socially-acceptable fashion, flirting and trying to make myself appealing. Lo and behold, it appeared to have worked! 

Long story short; we hit it off and starting talking endlessly over text and hanging out a little. All the normal(ish) stuff.
The first time we were alone together, I told him one of my secrets. I'm not really sure what possessed me to do so, but out it came and there we were. The response was lovely. This particular piece of information a few people know and to a person, everyone has been wonderful. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised; I don't spend a lot of time with people my heart doesn't have faith in, and he certainly didn't give me the impression I couldn't otherwise hope for.
My level of trust in people is built around our mutual ability to cope with anything. So I think when I tell you something, I try to make sure it's not more than you can take, or asking more than you are willing to give.
The second time we were alone together, I did it again, with something a little bigger, a little older, a little more private.
I wondered why on earth I felt the desire to pull out such a revelation; intimate validation? A craving to bear my soul just that little bit more? I knew the rush of connection was there, but not the shared history that usually loosens my tongue. At the time of writing, I still can't quite put my finger on it, but I know the message is coming...

Is a secret still a secret if more than a few people know about it? Does it still hold power if you don't talk about it, or if you do?

This is a little secret buried in a lot of time. There are quite a few (what's quite a few really...?) that know about it, but only a handful who ever speak of it. Intriguing, isn't it; the tease of something that can't be spoken?

The reaction wasn't what I imagined (I can't even fancy what reaction I expected...), which is always the 50/50 chance when you open your chest, as it were.

But I've discovered something I honestly didn't know; it doesn't really matter what the reaction is with something like this is.

To be fair, initially it does. But, in the end, it's more about why you've said it, than what you've said. Savvy?


Let's rip the blinders off, shall we; the other people who know this secret are varied. Some believe it to be true, and others a figment of my exceptionally overactive imagination. 

Some pay no mind to it at all, and some reference it in everyday life, as naturally as the colour of my hair or the way I take my coffee.

All of these people treat me exactly the same; the same love, the same respect, the deep and abiding surety of knowing we have each others' backs. And a little secret changes not the fundamental nature of my being. 


It's strange to tell someone new an old secret. You forget the impact it has, the way their opinion of it floods your mind and makes you relive it all over again. For anyone who has ever got a tattoo, even a small one, you know exactly the feeling I'm trying to describe; nothing prepares you for the needle against your skin, the starbursts of sensation that rush you. 

And the very nature of the material - a secret - recalls to you a certain sense of privacy, a hidden factor not exposed outside of a limited circle. 

It's terrifying and it's intoxicating and it's really, really hard to replicate. Even if you wanted to. Maybe that's why we tell our secrets to others; holding it in is like caging something wild. All it wants to do is get out.


So here I am, with an old secret retold to a new character and my soul a little exposed. And you know what? It feels amazing.

Did I tell the wrong person? The man from my past got confused with the man from my present, and my energy felt something similar, so my mouth opened? Who knows...

I don't think Mr Intellect believes me. He is a man of science and his head rules his being; there must be a reason for everything. You cannot convince a tiger of being a spaceship, because there is no point of reference they would understand. Which is both conflictingly wonderful and frustrating.

Yet, it doesn't matter. The words were spoken, and cannot be unheard. And in that moment, I knew a freedom I didn't know I craved; to be seen again. To be seen and known and to feel special. 

Stranger still, I did. In the disbelief, or more fairly, the tolerance of an unusual secret spoken aloud, I felt like myself. I felt special.

Wherever it came from, I found that sometimes the truth really will set you free. And in order to keep feeling this way, keep feeling special, it's almost like I want people to just tell me what they want to hear...

Because I'm almost willing to start giving some of my secrets away. Almost.


Tuesday, 22 November 2016

[ some things never change ]

Waking up and treating every day like a new adventure is all good and well. Seeking new experience, looking for love, making friends; these are all wondrous and amazing things.

But fuck me, they are tiring some days.

Some days, you just want to wake up and have the world be exactly as you left it. Not a cup out of place, not a car moved, not a president on his way out.

In a slightly unusual turn of events, here is a different list of things. Here is a list of things that stay exactly the same. They never really change, they just roll on, like the sands of time, slightly unnerving, deeply comforting.

Because some days, you just want a quiet fucking coffee and five hours of boredom in peace.


1. Neil Diamond and Chuck Norris
The former will forever have his songs played at Christmas, and the latter is basically holding the fabric of the universe together with his bare hands. Let us give thanks and hope that we die before they do (which is entirely possible).

2. Lemsip: sore throat, cold and flu relief
For something that is supposed to make you feel better, the taste leaves a lot to be desired. Somewhere between crushed up panadol and snot mixed with hot water, you wonder how something so utterly vile is meant to make you well. Maybe the virus is terrified into submission? Either way, much like calamine lotion when you were a kid, the horrifying liquid antiseptic smell is somehow quite reassuring. 

And in a truly soothing turn of events, there's now Lemsip Blackcurrant; which does not, in fact taste like those yummy fizzy blackcurrant lollies, but like warm, medicinal Ribena. Gak. 

3. Family practical jokes
When I was a kid, my brother told me that there was a giant tissue box in the city that you could jump off a building into, like the ad on tv at the time. Being a somewhat trusting child, I bought this malarkey, much to my mothers' long sufferance, and took rather a lot of convincing otherwise. 
My other brother, on more birthdays than seems fair, has filled my bed with the following; birthday confetti, stones with novelty faces on them (cute actually), streamers, and other random objects. 

20 years later and less than a month ago, I came home to find a spider in my bed. It looked distressingly like a Huntsman and though I was reasonably sure it wasn't real, I tapped it with the edge of my phone, before cursing like a sailor when I saw it was plastic. 

Don't worry bro, you'll get yours.

4. The way mum makes a cup of tea
The indescribable pleasure of someone else making you a cup of tea is only surpassed by the discovery that they have made it exactly the way you like it. 

It's been 34 years. Every. Single. Cup. Is amazing. I kid you not. Bless you woman, for one cannot underestimate the power behind a good cuppa.

5. John Farnham Comeback Tours
Oh Farnsey, you don't need to come back! We know you never left. Ever. Not even after that duet with Olivia Newton John (especially after that).

6.  Mini Babybel cheese
It's been 34 years. The wrapping is the same, the wax is the same, they taste exactly the same. 

So good you could cry. 

7. The Lynx effect
The little beatniks at Unilever probably gave themselves the week off when they came up with this one. For some bizarre reason, there is actually a Lynx effect. It basically revolves around anyone (men *and* women) catching a whiff of what is basically deodorant and feeling mildly thrilled by it. 
It's unclear whether they've been messing with pheromones in the lab or subliminal messages in advertising, but the scent of a good antiperspirant still has the ability to titillate.   

Weird. Slightly creepy. Deeply satisfying.

8. Bacon and egg rolls
The classic. The old-fashioned. The one and only. 

Even in a time when kale is the height of sophistication, and we now have such abominations as the cronut (just a fucking donut thanks), the duffin (dammit), and the cruffin (kill me now), there is no way to mess with old faithful. 

Maple crusted ham with egg? Just a posh b & e. Soft poached egg with honey-glazed, American bacon on a brioche roll? Still just bacon and egg on a roll, but with a stupidly long name that comes with a distressing high price tag. 

It's protein with protein and some sauce. There's no real way to mess with perfection. 

9. ' 90's music
Soulful boy bands, hip-hop badass, girl bands, unfortunate fashion choices, lyrics that meant something (including the dodgy ones - which was most of them). The '90's produced a lot of complete crap, but music wasn't one of them.

Between utter hilarity that was (is) Vanilla Ice, who was a white boy rapper well before Eminem, endless fun with the Spice Girls (you know you allocated yourself one, don't try to hide it), and knowing every single word to every single Michael Jackson song (even though at least half were released before 1990), the '90's are a deep and meaningful comfort in a time where trying to interpret a Kanye song gives you a headache, and just the thought of a Miley Cyrus video clip makes you want to shower with industrial grade disinfectant. 

Load up the CD player (because you still have one) with Backstreet Boys, Jamiroquai, Goo Goo Dolls, and rock out until you forget what day it is, let alone what year.

10. Sydney public transport
It's unreliable, shoddy, insufficient and barely gets us where we need to go. Trains and buses are intermittently claustrophobic with heat, fuel fumes and other passengers, or arctic-like freezing, deserted and creepy, and set the scene for every serial killer movie you've ever seen. 

You've never gotten into work on time anyway, but in an age where the possibility of walking into the office means finding out half your job may have been replaced with a robot, knowing one of the main functions of our society wouldn't pass an international safety test on its best day, is somehow profoundly soothing.


[ a shot of neon in the windowpane, a shot of whisky and we're young again* ]

When you spend as much time as I do knowing who you are, having the lines already defined around you and the stage already set, surprise news tends to rip the ground from beneath you harder than expected.

This isn't surprise news like having to change jobs or move house; these can kind of be expected and the surprise isn't so much surprise, as rolling with the punches that you knew already had the possibility of coming.

Surprises like the one I got punch a hole in your gut the way the death of someone you love does. You know the ones; the world changes colour and your ability to focus or comprehend fuzzes around the edges a little.

It does something else too though, something bittersweet. It makes you remember who you are; the not-so-great stuff, the broken bits, the scars you bear from all the things you've ever been and are. Which doesn't sound particularly swell on the surface, and it sure as hell doesn't make you feel good at the time.

You start to reconsider all the choices you ever made, all the dumb decisions that seemed like a good idea at the time, and everyone you ever trusted who let you down.

But, always, always the but; if you can get past the fact that these recollections aren't that pleasant, you can remember something else too. You can remember that these fucked up things are what made you. They are the stuff of your substance, and all the good things didn't just make you into you - the really hard things, the ones with the razor edges, carved you into yourself.

It can take a while. Sometimes a day, sometimes a week, a month. Sometimes, sadly, a year. But it will happen if you let it, if you want it enough.

Right now, I don't want it enough. It's hard to admit that because I'm a natural born fighter, and giving up isn't in my nature. But there it is.

I learned another thing again recently; if you let yourself realise how shitty you feel, it gets easier. It really does. It doesn't make it go away, but it does make the time pass.

Trying to recapture your youth, and maybe relive the better moments, doesn't mean you can change anything, it just makes you delusional and a little sad. But only living in the now, making out that nothing else matters, is the same. And it makes you desperate.

We can't change everything in the universe. We can change how we react to it.

So, while I am somewhere between delusional and desperate right now, I'm also changing my reactions.

Heavens help me, I know too much not to.


Friday, 4 November 2016

[ 10 everyday things that deserve a high five ]

The whole 'celebrating the wins' thing came up again recently, and I was thinking about this in terms of your professional as well as personal life.

In my old office, we had to actually force ourselves to think of things, then spend an excruciating 15 minutes going round the table, awkwardly describing why we should all give ourselves a pat on the back that week. Which says more about the state of that office than anything else really...

Topics ranged from completing a report you'd been agonising over (er, yay? you should be happy you are doing your job?), to receiving an email from a supplier you had been waiting on (ahhh, yay again? you can be happy someone else is also doing their job?). 

Kill me. Kill me now.

My current office is pretty excellent; praise is bestowed where praise is due, promptly and with enthusiasm. And that made me think of all the things we do every day (at work or otherwise), that probably don't get enough attention, but definitely deserve a big high five, even if you only do it mentally. Enjoy!

1.  You beat the boss into work. He gets usually gets in at what seems like the crack of dawn, and you still beat him in. Sit smugly at your desk and read the paper for 10 minutes. Well done! 

2. Tempted to drink coffee from a bucket and eat a pastry of comparable size? 
Didn't; got a veggie juice and a fruit salad. Make boo-ya! face and fist pump the air like a champ. 
(The pie and chips at lunch doesn't count)

3. Did not call creepy Kurt from IT a dickhead under your breath when he asked you if you'd tried rebooting your PC. For the 5th time. 
In fact, you smiled pleasantly and thanked him for his help. He seemed surprised and replied warmly. Extra points if you didn't make gagging noises after he walked away. 

4. You refrained from texting your ex. Even though you got your periods that morning, and that song he sang you seems to be playing bloody everywhere.  
Double high-five if you also refrained from social media stalking. 
5. The catering company you chose for todays' meeting outdid your expectations, turned up early, the boss had decided you have magic powers and keeps eating the mini pastries. Smile humbly, nod gently, mental self-five.  

6. You wore matching and tasteful clothes outside of the house today. You haven't spilled anything, dripped liquid paper, or otherwise soiled them - and it's after midday. High-five yourself to an early lunch, you legend. 
7. James, your super-dodgy mate, asks you to drinks in the city. Knowing this will be an utter disaster, you feign a prior commitment, therefore saving yourself $200, an epic hangover, and some deep and meaningful regret. Smashing it like the grown-up you are, boom!

8. Find out Netflix has updated the shows list *and* your favourite movie is on TV tonight. Order a pizza, pour a yourself a drink, cheers yourself from the lounge. 

9. Go to bed at a decent hour. Therefore giving yourself a good rest after a long week, rather than getting ratassed on a Friday and getting home at 3am, like usual. Adulting like a boss. 

10. Wake up Saturday morning well before 9am, sans hangover, fresh faced and full of beans. Go for a run, do all your washing, clean the house. Discover it's not even lunchtime and you can make brunch with the crew. You are on fire, my friend, treat yourself to waffles and repeat tomorrow.