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Nice Day For A White (Person) Wedding

There is a wedding. One of my Mormon cousins is getting married. Ezekiel looks like James Franco and has the affable nature of someone who does not realize he looks like a movie star. They are having a very untraditional Mormon wedding. It’s held at a venue where there is actual alcohol available to drink for those non mormon friends and relatives. I think this is lovely.  I assume they will be having a traditional temple sealing for all time and eternity in the Melbourne Temple at a later date. Those ceremonies are only able to be witnessed by people who have temple recommends. I have not had one of those since I was 15.  When Ezekiel’s sister got married in the temple my father and I waited in the car while my temple recommend holding mother was inside. My father had a nap and I read a book. Then we went to the reception at another location.

My partner and I  enter the venue. There are white guys in suspenders and bow ties and moustaches and white girls in dresses some with the undeniable splash of colourful prints associated with a popular Melbourne based designer. I reach for my partner’s hand and squeeze it.

Speaking to a friend of the bride, I ask what the bride is like. What is she passionate about? I am told she has been crushing hard on Ezekial for over six years, that she likes shopping and was at university but has quit now that she’s getting married. I try not to look too horrified as I nod politely and sip my beer. When you are no longer in the Mormon bubble you forget certain details. Sweat slips down my back.

The ceremony is short and sweet. The bride looks beautiful and and my cousin is wearing a very dapper suit. Things they would not be able to wear if getting married in the temple. The strapless dress would not be allowed. 

After the ceremony there is mingling. Wait staff serve canapés on silver trays. My partner and I get talking to an aunt and uncle I don’t see very often, about the Book Of Mormon musical. They went to see it twice. I am astounded at the money that would have cost. I had had to line up for twelve hours in order to get two affordable tickets.

I chat with my aunt and uncle about the musical.  My uncle says that If there was a musical like this about Muslims we would get blown up by Isis. The joke falls flat and I remain unsmiling. I explain that that is not a fair comparison to make as ISIS is not affiliated with the Muslim faith. Muslims are getting much abuse due to that misunderstanding.  Muslim people are getting far more abuse than Mormons ever have and this is because people let white Christianity do pretty much whatever it wants. I explain to my Uncle that In New York City a young Muslim woman was pushed down subway stairs and called a terrorist. In London another Muslim women was pushed in front of an underground train.

My uncle tells me he is not like that he does not discriminate. ‘’You know what? The very next day after nine eleven I sat next to a Muslim woman on a train.” OK. I say, silently refusing to congratulate him.  Considering the joke he made contributes to the demonizing Muslims. I have not lost my cool or been speaking in an aggressive way.

Up to this point my partner had not said much but simply stood behind me and making it clear without any words that he has my back.  When discussion turns to race things get heated and out of control. My partner and I are presented with the full extent of white fragility reactions. All because my partner tried to explain that as the only person of colour in the room he felt he needed to explain how jokes like that are not helpful. “Its not your fault.” He said but society has not treated you the same way its treated me or other people of colour. So jokes like that are not helpful.” He tries to explain how white people can have a hard time due to financial hardship and all sorts of other horrible things but their lives are never hard because they are white. ”Not being white is something that cannot ever be hidden or escaped from.” My partner says. ”All those thousands of tiny micro-aggressions add up. So when a person of colour is explaining what life is like for them its good to listen.”

He is barely able to finish as he gets talked over.  There are tears and accusations of my partner attacking them. ‘’You don’t know me.’’ My aunt says crying white tears to perfection.  ‘’I voted Greens.’’ My uncle shouts.

My aunt and uncle do not listen. They are very upset and nobody seems to be noticing or coming to diffuse the situation. My aunt tries to get me alone and asks me if my partner and I talk about this stuff at home. I say that we do.

I want to respond with a yes and that it never ends with white tears and me screaming that I’m being attacked.  It makes me uncomfortable how she seems to have cloistered me away momentarily to get me alone as my uncle continues talking loudly over my partner. It is obvious to me what is being attempted here. They are trying to get me back on side. What about white solidarity? My aunt tells me I’m a lovely girl and that its not my uncles fault he is upset. I don’t stay ‘lovely’ for much longer.

She goes back to crying and my uncle is still being belligerent. It’s all a bit scary as he is much bigger than me. It is at this moment that my partner and I realize that this is going nowhere. They are not going to meet us half way. They are not going to give an inch. My partner grabs my hand. ”We have to go.” He says quietly. We exit the venue without saying goodbye to anyone.

Once out and walking. We didn’t even know where we were going we just had to move ourselves forward and as far from that place as possible.  At an intersection I burst into tears myself and my partner hugs me. ‘’I am so sorry.’’ I say. We go to the Fox Hotel and call his cousin Sarah who lives near there. Her and her boyfriend meet us. We drink and debrief about the incident. I keep checking my phone to see if anyone calls to se if we are ok, if someone texts me to see where I went. Nobody does.

I am furious. I am paranoid. They must be talking about me to my parents I stress inwardly. What would they tell them? That their eldest daughter and boyfriend were disrespectful and hurtful? That we attacked them verbally with talk of racism and ruined a lovely family function with thier social justice ramblings?? Did I ruin the wedding? Should we have simply let it go and enjoyed the afternoon? But we would not have enjoyed the afternoon.

I feel the guilt wrap itself around me like a sweaty hug. My chest heaved with worry. It was worth it though. I was convinced of this.  I was. Wasn’t I? I would be. I look at my partner and it washes over me like cool fresh water flushing out the anguish: love.

That night we both have trouble sleeping.  The next day we go to Hiede Museum and try to rectify the weekend. As we are getting ready we hear a knock on the front door and I feel weak kneed in worry. They have come to yell at me, I think in a panic. The door is not answered. Both my phone and my partner’s phone rings. We do not answer. I text my mother from the car as we are driving towards the art museum: On our way to a museum out of town.

I agonize over adding an emoji like a smiley face but then decide not to.  I’m filled with rage. Talking didn’t help. I am angry that my partner tried to articulate himself calmly and was decried as an attacker. His experience was not listened to. We were not ready to act like nothing unpleasant happened.

I know that I got off easy. The environment I was in when trying to use my whiteness for good was family. I was not going to lose a much needed job over this stand I was making. I was not going to lose social standing. I was around people who love me and the relatives that I stood up to were not relatives that were very close to me. The cousin whose wedding it was was close, in the past while we grew up together anyway. Before I lost my faith and became a feminist killjoy. Before I became a stout believer in the need for overthrowing white supremacy, neoliberal capitalism and patriarchy. These things make it pretty difficult to stay close to people who though lovely, unwittingly hold up these values.

Im not a hateful person I silently try to convince myself as I wander around the art gallery. In the gift shop I purchase a decorative tea towel that says BE NICE in big black capital letters, in between the two words is a painting of a  rainbow. It gets put up on a wall in our apartment. A cute token that reminds us that to be nice sometimes involves being seen as not nice by people who have vested interest in the upholding of the status quo.

Ezekiel gave me the password to his Netflix during my time in hospital three years ago and I had been enjoying free Netflix ever since. That is until now. ‘’Oh no! Our comeuppance has come!’’ I exclaim on discovering that I couldn’t log into the streaming service.  The wedding had only been 48 hours ago. This meant we had to pay for the streaming network ourselves.  This swift and calculated response to our hasty exit speaks volumes. Let that be a lesson to you. If you decide to rail against racist comments at a family function, make sure you are not relying on a relativ’s Netflix password.   And then speak up anyway.

In a country where, in the last few weeks alone: a Tasmanian football player recently dressed up as Serena Williams using black face, an aboriginal man dies in police custody, two children drown in the Swan river following a police pursuit and Tony Abbott is appointed as the Envoy for Indigenous Affairs, not speaking up in the face of any casual racism seems like the more hateful option.

Being Netflix free for a few weeks is hardly an issue when you have  the internet, a hard drive full of  classic 90s cartoons and random television shows, friends and books to read. My partner’s sister gives us her password when she heard we were paying. Comeuppance in this tiny instance, is reversed. I do not see or hear from the extended family even now, over a year later. it is not enough to be affable and polite today. You have to be actively anti racist. The idea that being nice is enough is a faulty one. 

As Layla f. Saad explains white supremacy is a system that I have been born into. Not being aware of it does not make it less true. Being a woman with a disability does not mean I don’t have white priviledge. All I can do is try to disrupt and overturn this system and work to dismantle it within myself and the world.

Layla f. Saad has created a free download of  her Me And White Supremacy Workbook, a workbook written for white people who are willing and able to fully deconstruct and disrupt the roll they play ( the roll I play) upholding white supremacy and how You and I can do better. 

You can download the workbook by pressing on the link below 

https://convertkit.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/documents/15414/1697406/Me_And_White_Supremacy_Workbook__FINAL_BOOK_.pdf

A Cool Change Comes

On the way to my Psychiatrist appointment on Saturday it is forty degrees and from the front passenger seat all the cars on the road look black in summer sun glare. In the distance billows a fat white cloud that is difficult to identify. It looks so beautiful and scary. Later I will read what it actually is: fire. The Bunyip and Licola bush fires are so intense they created their own weather. My psychiatrist tells me i need to get a blood test and for my parents to fill out this survey based on how they remember me as a child. It fills me with anxiety.

Sunday i wake up after a fitful hot night. The heat is overwhelming and I am dizzy. My head hurts and i feel like I may be sick. The count down for the cool change begins. I spend the day hiding in the National Gallery Of Victoria reading a book about trauma. I eat an over priced sandwich in the cafe and listen two two young women catching up together over coffee. I think about how to get my parents to fill out the forms. I don’t want to worry them.

Monday the plumber comes to fix the kitchen taps. He shows me how old the washer is that he has to replace. He seems very excited to show me and I look and exclaim how old it looks. He asks me what I do and when I tell him I am a writer he tells me that that is always something he has wanted to do. He confesses he doesn’t do poetry but short punchy things that make people go ”woah’. He cant think of what that kind of writing is called. I suggest Poetic prose? micro fiction? He is pleased at the descriptions.

Once he leaves I get the tram into the city and then another tram to north carlton. I walk up Rathdown Street. I am going to pick up my dress from the whippet thin stylish old woman who has been altering clothing for over forty years, from the front room of her home. As when I dropped the dress off, I arrive sweaty and tired from the walk in the warm humid afternoon sun. Gina gets me cold water from a chilled glass jug and pours it into a beautiful tall glass that feels like it has history. I try on the dress and she fixes one of my straps as I stand in the dress. I have one shoulder slightly lower than the other. When she is done I stand in front of the mirror and marvel at her handy work. She says I look like a ballerina. I nod with pleasure. A punk rock ballerina I think as I look at the red tartan tulle skirt.

I don’t get the tram straight after leaving Gina’s house. I wander up and down Rathdown street aimlessly like I used to ten years ago when I lived here. I go stand out the front of the very house I once lived in. The house where I had the tiny room and tried to fuck the pain away after my first break up. I don’t see the white van out front and wonder if the owner of that van has finally moved on. There is a ghost of a version of myself that no longer exists in a tangible form on this street. It makes me feel strange and for some reason I cant leave. I just stand there staring at this house stepping back into that person momentarily. Eventually I shake myself out of it and walk to the tram.

Tuesday I have to go to my GP to get another mental health plan. I tell her about my latest writing triumph and as usual she is unsurprised and as usual this surprises me. ”You are going to be so amazing and the only thing I regret is that I wont be able to tell anyone that I know you.” She says. I laugh. ”Yes because of that annoying patient doctor confidentiality.” I say.

Tuesday evening is the night that *Edith gets kicked out of poetry book club. She is not kicked out directly as that would be too awkward. It would not be unkind as I am pretty sure Edith is completely without shame. The plan is hatched after the meeting is over and Edith has left. Someone will simply tell Edith that the book club has been liquidated due to busy schedules and we will make the event page private from now on. It just got too much to put up with all the lack of reciprocity in conversations. Have you ever been around someone who seems to just wait for their turn to speak and not actually ever show understanding or acknowledgement that you have said something? That is what it is like having Edith at poetry book club. At one point she had interrupted me mid sentence to start talking boring nonsense. I had to gather my best caustic and disesteem voice in the one sentence ”I’m not done yet.” Before continuing to the end of my story. After the plan is completed we drink more wine and talk about our week as the sound of the city wafts through the open apartment windows with the cool evening breeze.

Wednesday I finally call my mother and ask her if she and dad can fill out the surveys relating to their memory of me as a child, if I post them to her with a return envelope. My heart is in my throat. She agrees and we chat for a little while. She is in her car on the side of the road. She pulled over before answering the call. My mother tells me she is on her way into town to check her bank balance. I ask her about phone banking and she says that my father has it but she has no interest.

She tells me that my Dad would not mind if all us kids were little again. My mother does not share this sentiment and for good reason:she was around us as little kids far more than my father, who was always working on the farm. My Mother nicknamed him The Phantom. I say I love you before we hang up on each other. Afterwards I take the forms to the post office. It is raining outside and I have to go back inside to get my umbrella. I have a panic attack on the way there and back. Something about cold wind blowing too strongly makes my breath get labored and I think I am going to stop breathing for good. It takes standing still focusing on the rain on my umbrella and breathing slowly to get to a point where I can walk forward instead of hurrying back home.

That evening I go to my friend’s house a short walk away to help with a table read of the final draft of her play before she hands it in to producers. there are six of us sitting around the kitchen table with laptops open to the play document. Hearing professional actors read a play is amazing. The play is about a 35 year old woman who returns to her parent’s rural home and comes to the realization that her white adoptive parents did not prepare her for what it would entail being a Korean adopted by white parents. It is a great play that is so much fun to listen in on. I am not there to read a part I am there to read stage directions, listen and give feedback. Afterwards we eat dinner together and drink wine as we discuss the play.

One of the actors gives me a lift home even though its walking distance its dark. I resent this inability to feel safe walking the short distance home. The actor and I both agree the fault lies with men. I am told a story of a creepy maths teacher that turned out to be a child molester. He also showed up at the house of one of his young female pupils after she had stopped being tutored by him due to feeling uncomfortable in his presence he always wanted to talk to her about boys more than actual school work. The young woman’s Dad was home and told the creepy teacher to go away. This should not be part of a teenage girl’s high school experience.

When I get home it is 10pm. I skull a glass of water and stay up past midnight watching two new episode of Crazy Ex Girlfriend. There is something so comforting about watching the erratic ups and downs of Rebecca Bunch and her struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder. the song she sings in season four episode 13 about her first love The Darkness feeling thats been with her before even puberty and boys. She calls it her first love and names it Tyler whose pet name for her is slut. It is almost too relatable. I would not name my all consuming inner darkness Tyler though. I think I would anoint it as something antiquated and old fashioned like Edward or Nigel and they would not even have an evil pet name for me because its crushing enough the way they whisper my name with such contempt and dissatisfaction as they sit on my heart and make my chest hurt and stomach churn.

Small Implements

The Netflix show is called Crazy Head. I watch the entire season quite a few times. In the last scene of the series finale the two heroins stand at the entrance to a crypt and in perfect unison they flick their wrists and make their retractable batons extend out in such a badass way that I get a tingle of excitement every time I watch it. OH how I want a retractable baton of my very own. It is a source of excited rambling for many a day in the apartment I share with a long suffering person who made a rather daring decision to love me.

One fateful day it happens. I get presented with a postage parcel. It is not a full sized one as they are apparently ‘illegal’ and ‘would be as long as your entire height thus making swift and suave deployment impossible.’ It is small and comes in its own little pouch. I squeal as soon as i take it out of the pouch and feel its weight in my hand. I am taught how to flick it just right so it pops out from 15cm of metal to 35cm of metal. What follows is an excited and serious discussion of how I could utilize this in a situation that called for it. As we talk I stand in the middle of the living area practising a film like extendable baton flick giggling evilly like the little gremlin I am. In order to retract extended baton you simply push the tip into the ground in a swift movement. I blurt out the idea as it forms in my excited brain: I need a thigh holster! So I can have easy discreet access at all times. I would not even use it I would just enjoy knowing i had it hiding against my thigh. It would emit a feeling and aura not unlike the feeling that comes from wearing sexy underwear, only far more comfortable and fun.

The truth is that if I was in trouble the best action would be to run, if that is possible. With my lack of peripheral vision whose to say I would clock the danger in time to make a speedy escape? Anyway its in the home that women are more likely to be killed so I guess its best that I keep these things where they could be needed most. When I say this I am not meant with defensiveness or outrage. No shouts of ”Are you saying I would do something like that!” They know it’s a statistic and a well proven one.

Discussing ways of defending myself even if it is not something that I could in reality do, is cathartic and fun. It is nice to pretend that I have a fighting chance. Even though with my back to a wall I wouldn’t. I’m not even five foot tall with small bony shoulders and elbows with no actual core strength to make good use of said tiny but sharp bony elbows.

One Sunday evening L grabs his camera and we go on a walk with a creative mission: take photos of me with my tiny little retractable friend in locations that seem zombie dystopian. It is early evening that beautiful pre sunset light. Walking past houses the sounds of knives and forks being scraped over plates and voices waft around and melt into the air. We go down to the Merri Creek. Every time someone walks by with their dog or a friend I tuck my retractable baton inside my jacket. Even though it is merely a prop and I have no intention of using it for real.

I am not good at getting my photo taken when I am aware of it. I am a fidget. I may have a good angle but as soon as L has set the camera up and about to take the photo, I have a habit of moving and wrecking the shot. I never thought I would end up with someone who was talented at photography and seems to think Im a worthy be it annoying subject. It is a fun thing to do together. I am told to walk up some steps leading to the walkway along the creek. I am told to make my way down the steps with my flicked baton as though I am about to fight something imaginary and dangerous. This is difficult when the only thing in front of me is a person whose face looks at me like I may not be the total trash goblin I think myself to be. So I look past that person and envision something else.

Every time I was told I’m too smart for my own good. Every time I feel ugly and all the times to come that I will feel ugly. The fear of death and the fact that I may go to hell or if not that just be aware that I died and there’s nothing I can do about it. I see my death in the hospital bed. I think of every man who has done monstrous things and received no consequences. I think of the things done to people I care about. I envision my emotional swings and depression the BPD that makes my internal voice so hectic my temper so quick to consume me. My fear of god even though I like to believe I don’t actually believe anymore. That I am passed it now and can live a good life and try to be a good person free from religious obligation. I see the secrets I am keeping and how I wish I could shout about it and bring on some justice. No, I don’t see some imaginary monster that needs slaying. They exist in a place where no retractable baton can diminish them. I start walking down the steps and make the baton click out with a flick of my wrist. The photo gets taken.

There is a poem by Elizabeth Hewer that I discovered recently


i wish she had something savage


coursing through her skin.


god should have made girls lethal


when he made monsters of men.

Perhaps this could help explain my affinity with things quick to cause harm and easy to hold.

Getting My Face Done.

A few months ago I got a free makeover at one of those fancy make up counters at Myer. I thought it would be fun and that was the only reason I did it. That and I was curious to see just how much effort it would take if I chose to do this every day, how many steps exactly? Answer: quite a few. Did you know there was a difference between face primer and eye primer? Because I didn’t. I am having a great time chatting to the young make up artist about how great Schnitze is and if I worked near one as she did, I would eat it everyday. The make over had barely begun when a woman in her 50s came over to me and looked at me through the mirror reflection we were in front of. ”I just had to come over and say that even though you have only just started the make over I can already see a huge difference.” Before I could bite my tongue not that I even tried, I was so angry that someone had felt the need to share what they thought of me. I was doing this for fun not because I felt a needed to. ”So you are saying I looked like total shit before?” I say. Make up artist says that the lady meant it s a compliment. ”I didn’t ask for the opinion of a woman I do not know.” I say. I felt enraged but kept my eyes closed and face passive as the make over continued. ”Have you had strangers come up to people you are putting make up on and saying stuff to them with no invitation very often?” I say as she is gently blending foundation. ‘No, actually.’ She says. We return to talking like old friends. In truth that is what I liked the most about the make over: the chance to get to know someone and hear about their life while also being made to look extra amazing. The stranger and their need to share their opinion about how amazing a difference some primer and concealer makes on my haggard face changed how I felt for the rest of the day. It made me feel less like I did the makeover because it was free and something fun to do and made me look at myself far more critically. When the make up artist told me she was finished. I pretended to be in awe and excited at the result but I hated my face more than before. I could barely look at it. The woman who made the comment and then walked away probably thought I was an ungrateful little bitch and didn’t have any manners. She would be right. I did thank the make up artist and told her I hoped that even though I got the makeover for free that she still got paid. Because what I lack in natural good looks I make up for in concern for late capitalist structures that enslave so many.

Heat waves and hotel hibernation

The climate is collapsing, temperatures are going to increase and we are all going to die slow sweaty deaths. That is people who are the most vulnerable will. This is something I think about and I am pretty sure I am not the only one. When I saw that Melbourne was going to experience a night of 30 degrees I began to panic as my home does not have air conditioning and is not well insulated. I have lived in over ten share houses and in all those places only one had air conditioning. We lived there for one year before being kicked out so the owners children could move in.

I am at a time in my life where I am finally able to admit I am not healthy and robust enough to simply ”embrace the heat” like so many non chronically ill and able bodied healthy people do and exclaim ( sometimes in an incredibly annoyingly smug way). The hot days and night spread out before me and it seemed like there was only one thing to do. One thing I had never been in a position to do before: hibernate in an air conditioned hotel room near my home so L could still get to work on Friday and i could simply stay inside the blissful oasis and keep my fair skin out of cancer inducing rays.  Skin that, due to one of my post transplant meds, pits me at a 50% chance of getting skin cancer easier than most. I never loved sunshine or beaches that much anyway. I prefer the beach in winter: more romantic and gothic and brooding.  I used one of those cheap hotel emails, chose a place that was by no means The Hilton but had air conditioning as one of its benefits.

Four books ( will that be enough for two night?) underwear, tooth brush and my laptop go into my back pack.  Check in is 2pm, it’s 38 degrees and a hot wind is blowing. I get a taxi instead of walking the twenty minutes in a heat that would render me dizzy and on the cusp of fainting. Another expense. I know there is no way i can go to the book launch I was planning on going to this evening. I am lucky that i got my taxi to accept me. I hear later that that very night my friend Carly Findlay whose book launch I don’t go to, gets rejected flat out by the taxi driver who gives her some excuse about waiting for ”his brother” then takes other passengers. Leaving my friend in the heat that affects her health and skin condition in very adverse ways. A perfect example of the kind of everyday ablism and discrimination.

L wont be there until after work so I have the hotel room to myself for a few hours. I feel like Carly Rae Jepsen in her Party For One Music video.

 

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The room is large and the bed is king sized on first impression. On lazing on it I find that it is actually two king single mattresses placed next to each other. I don’t mind as the room temperature is a perfect 21.  I kick of my shoes, pull my books out of my bag and scatter them artfully on the bed. There is a huge wardrobe with mirror sliding doors, a small kitchen with bar fridge  and plenty of floor space for dancing around in your underwear.  The curtains are open and directly opposite is more apartments which doesn’t bother me as I can’t see if anyone is looking at me thanks to my cataracts so I’m blissfully oblivious.

Thanks to an actual television being in the room L and I get to witness mainstream media. We watch the last five minutes of news and it is a news story about the verdict of a 32 year old man who stabbed a 15 year old girl and prior to that had raped another teenage girl in a christian bookstore. Before the horror of this could sink in the news story that followed was a much longer one about the tennis showing a lot of happy white people cheering exuberantly. L comments in horror that the rapist man is a monster. There had been footage of the man on the television he looked like a man a healthy physically strong man. He had a shit eating kind of smile that made my flesh crawl. ”Not a monster. Just a man.” I say turning ofF the television. I feel it rising up inside of me that familiar rage that stems from feeling powerless and sad. We go and brave the hot night to get some dinner.

There on that big wide expanse of bed I read aloud to L from the book Im reading: Rage Becomes Her. The Power Of Women’s Anger. By Soraya Chemaly. I read from the section From Bedrooms To Boardrooms And Back in chapter 8 entitled There Are No Words. I read aloud the part about a case in 2017 where over 156 women stood in a courtroom and described in detail how former USA gymnastics and Michigan State University Doctor Larry Nassar had sexually abused them. The courtroom proceedings were televised and Nassar claimed it was too difficult for him to hear his victims statements. All these women had been children when Larry had sexually abused them and the girls who tried to tell any adults were dismissed.  When I come to read out loud a quote by the last person to speak to the judge: Rachel Denhollander who was the first person to come forward with allegations, my voice catches and i fight back tears as I read aloud loud ”What is a little girl worth? What is a young woman worth?  Nassar gets sentenced for sexual abuse on top of a prior conviction of holding child pornography that added up to over 175 years in prison. Many men do not get caught and many men do not get consequences.

I am a very fun girlfriend.

While drinking chilled white wine a random cartoon comes up in my youtube playlist and its love at first sight. The cartoon is called Bee And Puppycat. All ten episodes are available to watch and watch them all we do.   Bee, a reluctant hero, becomes entangled in the adventures of a puppy (…or is he a cat?) as they travel between reality and the void of Fishbowl Space. Created by Natasha Allegri, character designer and storyboard artist for Adventure Time.

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I feel an affinity for Puppycat straightaway. At the supermarket while Bee isn’t looking Puppycat gets a badass black leather jacket and puts it in the trolley. When Bee says he has to put it back on account of not having money, he throws the jacket on the supermarket floor in a petulant huff. Puppycat just wants a leather jacket so he can look as bad ass as he feels on the inside.  The soundtrack is great and the episode based on a story Natasha Allegri’s mother has told her regarding where jellyfish come from is a beautiful commentary on loneliness and connection and how a lost princess can help a lonely octopus.   In the first episode Puppycat is pissed that he is made to wear a cute helmet by Bee for their ride to the supermarket.  I don’t want to be cute, he says angrily while wearing the truly adorable helmut. A pain I am familiar with.

Friday an interstate friend comes to visit me in the hotel room before getting their flight home. We enjoy the air con and chat about writing and failed grant applications with humour and sardonic wit. I felt like such a wealthy girl about town when the hotel room phone rang and reception informed me I had a guest and should they send them on up.

I say yes please and thank you before hanging up the phone.

The cool change hits Friday evening.  L and I return home late Saturday morning. But not before I get to stand naked in the middle of the hotel room and eat a chocolate croissant.

 

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Zooming House

You take photos of me in the Escher and Nendo exhibition at The NGV.   You take  the photos of me crawling in as far as I can go into an installation designed by Oki Sato entitled Zooming House (2018).  Should you leave me it would be all the photos you took of me that would haunt me the most.There are not so many of us together.  To have so many reminders of how you saw me: as something worth capturing frozen in moments with you behind a camera.

The exhibition is amazing and the air condition ing and lack of exposure to hot January sun is much appreciated.  as we move through the retrospective there are a father and son who like to stand in front of art works and discuss their steps count on their phones.

We decide to take the train home from Melbourne Central. The escalator taking us down is blocked on the right side by a guy who is simply spreading himself across for no reason. He is in blatant disregard for the rule of staying to the left is you wish to stand still on the escalator. You say excuse me to the guy so we can continue down the stairs. You say it politely. He responds. ”You in a hurry.” It is not a question it is a threat. My heart starts to thump. You say politely that yes a little bit. The guy does not move. He is standing next to a woman on her phone. ”Just move.” She snaps at him. And pulls him. But the whole thing took up the escalator ride and the guy stays in our way as long as he can.  We rush past him and get through the barriers. I find myself scanning for all the reasons that that was so frightening: toxic masculinity mixed with obvious racism.  I find myself worrying about the woman he was with even if they are just friends. I also cring when i remember I actually apologised to the guy as i passed him. An over perky ‘sorry’ as I hurried away to my train  that we were not in a hurry for but simply wanted to walk down the escalator uninterrupted. I said sorry out of fear that he was going tomperhaps punch you or attempt to grab you on our way past.

the next day is a Saturday and I see my friend for a catch up drink in the afternoon. She tells me of an incident a few weeks ago where a man punched her as she got off a tram. My friend is small and at the time she was carrying a bunch of flowers. I am filled with horror and rage at this. Again its a cocktail of toxic masculinity, racism and misogyny.

But of course how dare women show fear or frustration at the constant onslaught that is threatening men who don’t seem to need a reason to throw their scary energy  and physical strength around. Now there is a multi million dollar disposable razor company jumping onto the now profitable idea of fighting toxic masculinity. The ad shows men calling out other men when they disrespect women, men breaking up little boys fighting and men showing gentleness. The Gillette We Believe: The Best Men Can Be advertisement is just that an advertisement but the fact that so many men seem upset by the concept of kindness and respecting women such an  offensive idea really tells you all you need to know about where we stand in relation to such concepts.  I refuse to read the comments as I value my time and mental health too much today. It is pretty horrible that such an ad is considered so remarkable. That I cried a bit when I watched it. I got a little choked up at the thought of how many women had to die and be assaulted r mistreated in order for this ad to be considered marketable. I think of the few little boys I know  and I try to be hopeful but mostly I’m scared. I don’t want to be.

There was an older boy on my school bus who would punch me hard in my tiny arm as I got off the bus every day after school.  I don’t remember his name just how it felt.

On the walk back to the apartment from the train station I grab your hand and squeeze. I thank you for not needing to express your masculinity in scary and threatening ways to strangers in order to make yourself feel important.  You are confused by the comment and I know i shouldn’t thank a man for simply being a decent person but here we are.

we are all glow worms

The storm is rough and angry. The boat is being hurled about on choppy water like it is a ball of scrunched up newspaper. the rain is heavy the lightening frequent. I stand in a room with a bunch of cowardly men who are willing to make shady dealings that will result in the pain and anguish of innocent people but save themselves. I will not do it. I cannot do this. I would rather go down with the ship. I declare to the impassive looking gentlemen. I make a dignified exit with the utmost amount of indignation.  The next thing I know I am inside a train carriage with a group of fellow minded visionaries. We have all strapped ourselves into our seats. Someone is driving the train into a tunnel that is blazing with fire like the pits of hell. I can see the flames engulf the train slowly as we drive further and further inside. I wait to feel the heat and hope that im dead before the flames start burning me. I am not a woman of my word it would seem. I did not go down with the ship.  Before the flames start to hurt I wake up. It is ten to seven in the morning and I am alone. To contemplate what the dream could mean. Afriend later in the day will say that my subconscious is very dramatic.

The dream leaves me a little anxious. Its too obvious about my unconscious mormon guilt that has me worried my decisions made about my life after choosing to disregard the belief system I was raised in has me on a hellish trajectory. The thorny path I picked myself.

Speaking of hell directed living, I went to the most fancy restaurant I ever have on Sunday. The waiters wore white suit jackets. There was not even one stain on them. The waiter mistook me for being in the same age bracket as my partner’s niece and nephew. They took my wine glass away. It was sorted out ” She looks effervescently young but she is old enough to drink wine. I promise you.” My partner says and the waiter replaced my wine glass. ‘Don’t let it happen again.” I say in my best most posh sounding voice. I ruin any semblance of adulthood by immediately ordering a cocktail because the name indicates it will be a pretty colour: Violet Skies. The drink is indeed a pretty colour and tastes like expensive fairy floss so I’m satisfied beyond belief. And by the end of the evening which is celebrating a marriage of 14 years ( they are an adorable couple )  I am tipsy and full.

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I have always wanted a pair of bright white kicks or sneakers. Not sure why. I guess so as I have something to reflect my loss of innocence over time as the white sneakers slowly get dirtier and dirtier. I now have a pair of white reeboks that fit my tiny feet perfectly and that were on sale. I went into one of those terrible sneaker shops that play loud music that makes your brain thump in time even though you don’t want your brain to thump in time with the deafening beat.  I also got a pair of black sneakers as well. Sometimes I catch myself thinking that I have it pretty good: old enough to drink but small footed enough for kid shoe prices. Kind of evens out the inconvenience of having wine glasses removed at fancy restaurants. Never underestimate the joy of coming home with two shoe boxes. Two! The possibilities of them. I could turn them into gift giving accessories. They could hold fancy notebooks I never use… They could be loved intently then thrown in the recycling. I could see how many tightly rolled totes from my tote bag collection could fit in one.

It is the first week of the new year and I have already finished a novel. The first in a trilogy by Phillip Pullman. The first book in the trilogy entitled The Golden Compass enchanted and consumed my attention way more than The Lord Of The Rings ever did. Oh how those books and films bored me. (I’m so sorry Dad! I know you love them.) The trilogy His Dark Materials has a small girl as its central character called Lyra. She is strong willed and quick thinking and brave. If I could have children I would put that name down as a strong contender. I spent those few days away at my friend’s parent’s house in Fish Creek totally absorbed in the unfolding story. There is a alcoholic bear who drinks a beverage that is a mixture of gin and whisky. There are world within worlds and conspiracies. There is a terrible organization secretly doing terrible things to children in the name of research.  There is a wonderful line that speaks of how churches use power and fear to control and that if there is a battle then the side opposite religion is best and far more ethical.  I have been warned that the second book takes a dark turn but I feel like the first book had some pretty dark material. Especially the stuff involving what the organization did to the children they stole, all the cutting and keeping them  on the cusp of life and death. In Lyra’s world everyone has a animal companion that can change shape and is always with you. A constant friend and protector that you cannot be separated from as it is a part of your soul. I would love something like that.  A physical furry and cute representation of my emotions. I would hope it would be something easy to carry inside pockets or rest comfortably on my narrow shoulder.