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Medically speaking you’re adorable

I gave blood yesterday as well but that was for a different doctor and unexpected so here I am again. The exact same pathology nurse I had yesterday. “Oh. Babe! Your back again!” She exclaimed. I like her. She takes blood painlessly and knows how to distract me with questions about myself. 

I have gotten quite good over my lifetime, at putting what’s inside of me, out and into the world. Sometimes it is because I have to and then I must relinquish control over what’s happening to me, to a certain extent. I sit still, put out a limb and wait for the moment that what’s beneath my skin and inside one of my many veins, gets intruded by a needle with the beautiful name of Butterfly, and then my red inside goes on a little trip through the eye of the butterfly needles and gets captured by vials and taken away to be studied and measured on a variety of contexts. 

Once the blood is taken I get this nurse to take my photo. She takes a variety of angles without me even having to ask. Before handing me the plastic jar with a yellow lid. “You know what to do?” She asks. “Oh yes.” I say. “I’ve peed for you guys many many times.” I wonder if this is why I love getting up on stage and pouring my heart out in front of people. Why I was drawn to writing from such a young age. 

Every time I do that it’s because I want to.

Yes. I have become quite good over my lifetime, at putting my insides out into the outside world. 

It chooses you

When I was 15 my parents did something that would change my life more than they realized at a price that was far exceeding what they could afford to do.

In year 8 I received a good mark ( my teacher was overwhelmed with love for my sick lit non fiction spinal surgery story. I got two stars and an A plus plus) for a text response essay for the book by John Marsden Letters From The Inside. I wrote about the isolation of being a young person in hospital. Teachers LOVE that shit.

My parents found out that John Marsden was doing a creative writing camp at a private boarding school over summer holidays. It was expensive. My parents asked if I wanted to go. They said it could be payment for all the work I do around the house and the big help i am with my younger siblings also it would be my christmas gift. 

I got to spend two weeks participating in intensive writing work shops with kids who actually went to private schools and also who were going on from this expensive summer holiday camp to other expensive summer holiday activities like island resorts and skiing. It was so fun and also awakened my class consciousness a bit. 

When I finished year 12 I wrote to him and even sent him three hand written pieces of my writing. I was desperate to be this thing and was devastated at my bad year 12 results and felt like i would never be good enough or rich enough to do this thing that made me feel so much happiness and freedom in a world i just didn’t think i was made for. 

The writing was done at the kitchen table after cleaning up the seven person dinner mess and once everyone else was asleep. 

I wish I could remember what I sent him to read. What was my Guide To Adolescence?!

I found his response kept safe and sound in one of my old journals and it made me so happy to see how far I have come. I could not believe he had responded WITH writing advice and a much needed pep talk thrown in. 

I did go to Ballarat but transferred from the writing to psychology because it occurred to me as a virgin Mormon girl from a dairy Share farm (you live and work on someone else’s farm). Maybe and perhaps I didnt have anything much of importance to say just yet. Also the people in the course irritated me and I hated editing class with the fire of a thousand suns.

Punk Rocker gets A Kidney Transplant

Hello everyone. I got an email saying that they are closing ABC OPEN and if I wanted to keep my story I needed to go and get it so I did. And here it is. Something I wrote a few months after the transplant and before I went to get my biopsy and nearly didn’t come out of hospital alive.


You cannot force anybody to become an organ donor.

I can be honest and upfront about how grateful and humbled I am that my father chose to donate his kidney to me. Because he was willing and a match, my way of life is forever changed for the better. That and my ability to finally master the art of swallowing pills by the handful. A skill I avoided mastering. You know what they say: necessity is the mother of invention. Or being told ”Jess, if you cannot swallow pills there is no point giving you a kidney transplant.”

It had been three days since the long-awaited kidney transplant operation. I had spent those three days in the Royal Melbourne Hospital Intensive Care Unit.

It was precautionary to keep me there, as my body is small – I am 32, under 5 feet tall and my weight is 31 kilograms. Too many things had gone wrong in the lead up to this transplant. The doctors wanted to be sure everything went well and there were no complications.

The last thing I remember before going to sleep via the magic of my anaesthetist, was my surgeon standing at my bedside and telling me, ‘’I have seen your father’s kidney, Jess, and it is so beautiful.’’

She was not exaggerating. My father had lived a clean life of no alcohol or cigarettes. If you could choose an organ from a line up, it would be the organ donated by a non smoker.

My father gets taken to recovery after the operation and my mother flits between my father and I.

My father is high on pain killers when my Mother tells him how well his kidney is working while inside of his daughter.

Upon hearing how well I am urinating ( its a big deal if you know the pain of not being able to, trust me) thanks to his kidney, my father says,

‘’You know what? All this pain I am feeling right now is totally worth it because my daughter is weeing thanks to me.’’

When I do finally see my father after the transplant I am lying in a bed in the dialysis ward. I am getting a dose of plasma exchange to ensure my antibodies do not attack my father’s kidney in a foolish attempt to save my body from this foreign object. I am yet to have much energy. I am facing the entrance to the ward so I see him as soon as he enters the doorway. He refused any help to walk as he wanted to see me unaided. This moment was for he and I alone.

He is wearing the white hospital gown and the knee high white socks they give you. He is not standing up strong and straight like I am used to. He leans on the door a moment to gather some more strength. He is smiling at me though. His glasses are on his nose and his blue eyes are crinkling at the corners. I have never been prouder to have inherited his blue eyes.

When he gets to my bedside, I reach out my left arm from under the blankets and he takes my hand in his. I look right into his face and he looks down into mine.

‘’I think we did it,’’ I say.

‘’Yep,’’ my father says.

‘’Are you OK?’’ I say.

‘’Yep. Fine,’’ My father says.

My transplant operation was on the 26th of March 2015. 4 years later both the donor and the receiver are doing fine.

The best thing to come from all this is a better understanding and connection between my father and I. We rarely agree on anything. I joke that his donated kidney is now a transgender feminist and equipped with this secret weapon, I will use it to systematically smash the neoliberal capitalist patriarchy wherever I see it. I was doing this before but now I’m not weakened by my two punk ass kidneys being all RA RA I WONT DO WHAT I’M S’POSED TO. I am better able to maintain the rage.

So, thanks Dad. x

Not quite the whole cherry

there are no photos

from all the way

Back then but I don’t need them

To see what They would show.

You and me drunk And in a muddle

my head turned In your direction


They ask you the questions

You shrug

I Say it doesn’t matter

We are always chasing

The attention of the other

I sleep with a photo of you

Under my pillow

While home for summer

Still not enough of my sleep

Involves dreaming

Do you still have the letters

From all the way back then ?

It was good practice I suppose

Your birthday invite

With an image of you 3 years old

Walked around everywhere

With that

In my back pocket

So I could take it out

And stare in wonder

Anywhere I went

when it went through the wash

your young face

Sodden dissolved

Into nothing

Like it never was

We were nothing in particular

It didn’t stop me though

I have a good imagination

Thought it was more than just friendship

your trademark impatience

Possibly love and lust

you got a good girl

To turn her tiny twisted spine

On god and what he tells of sin

Made you poetic

Despite all your limitations

Loud laughing

To cover the confusion

Questions I know how to answer

But wanted to hear you say

That’s ok I understand

Instead I’m at your party

in the bath with the beers and ice

Freezing cold and grabbing at your body

to try and get out

Of another situation

I let you

When the lights go out

And the party starts sleeping

There is always only one place

For me to go that’s how we always met

in the middle under your covers

You at your most decisive

That’s how you got a good girl

To turn her tiny twisted spine on god

And all he taught of sin

They were zombies, yes.

The flesh was hanging from their bones.

I helped them through a half open window.

They stood before me all unsteady.

got them to remove their torn and bloodied clothes.

cheerfully did their laundry.

They were the undead

The undead became my friends.

Wanted to tell you that dream

When I woke up

Tell you the zombies

Are us without each other

But you change in the morning

And I want too much

From a person who simply did what they wanted

Got a good girl to turn her tiny twisted spine

On god and all he taught of sin

Left a love note

On your pillow

Cried on the tram

from Brunswick

to Southern Cross Station

A concerned looking lady

Asks if I’m ok.

A sniff a smile in reply

Before looking away

Loud laughing

To cover the confusion

Questions I know how to answer

But want to hear you say

That’s ok I understand

Least of all you got the thrill of knowing how

you got a good girl to

Turn her twisted little back

on god And all he taught of sin

Take the drawing down

Post your hat back

With a three page letter

One last try to make you poetic

Despite all your limitations

there are moments now

While drinking with new friends

My imagination flickers to


If I had another chance

My teeth press down hard

on some ice

As I consider other things I could have used my teeth for

Least of it all

You got a good girl

To turn her twisted little back

On god and all he taught of sin

for a taste of you

Made you poetic

Despite the limitations

I should have loved a thunder bird

I run to the bottom of the garden, my pale uncovered feet turning numb with the cold and wet blades of grass sticking to my heels.

The night is dark and still. The houses surrounding me are full of slumbering parents with good stable jobs and children that are well adjusted and happy.

That is perhaps until life experience ravages their innocence.

Mutates it into something dark and empty.

I suddenly wish I had put on clothes for this but in my head it has more chance of succeeding if I did not have anything on that could interfere with my attempt at being a transitory and omnipresent entity. 

I feel the icy air making my bones ache. I stand for a moment in the moonlight and stare up at the stars. You can see the stars at night in Greater Manchester.

A dog barks most likely at a spirit or ghost.
I press my fingertips to my lips and pretend I am kissing your cheek or  one of your perfect earlobes.

The fingertips are then pressed to the damp earth at my feet. 
”happy birthday” I whisper.

I stay crouching on the grass as the cold wind ruffles my long hair and makes my bionic over ambitious spine shiver painfully.

  I try curling up there in the cold night, on the wet grass, naked, in the hopes that I would get so sick and delirious I would see you.

But I knew I am too weak willed for that. Instead after only laying there a few seconds and soft as breathing say your name, the wet grass starts to seep into my bones more deeply. I stand up cup my breasts with my hands and moved quickly through the long backyard till I reach the porch and my pjs in a pile at the door.

A phone call would been ideal, I had had it all planned. I was going to wait until the family I worked for were asleep then call you from their land line.

I lay in bed a few nights planning what I would say.
”hey shorty’ I can hear your voice saying that like you did every time you showed up at my door after making me wait for ages. You always had a good and very dramatic excuse.

You could have replied I imagined in a hundred of possible different tones and levels of enthusiasm to my impromptu ;omg distance phone call. As soon as I got this far in the conversation, tears fall down my face and they are hot and salty and big patches appeared on either side of my face, patches of salty tear stained pillow case. what if you is busy?
what if you are with someone? What if you was getting birthday sex?
I didn’t want to interrupt anything cool. Anything better than a call from me.
I could not even text him as I have no money. So instead I am at a computer in her employers study, researching long distance love spells.

How to know love spell is working on a person far away and has ……
How do you know love spell is working on a person far away and has broken communication … DO NOT try binding spells on someone that doesn’t want you.
What happens when you cast a love spell then change your mind?
Has anyone used a love spell and got their ex back?
Do love spells and potions really work?
Can real love spells bring back my ex?

It looks like a lot of work though. A lot of work for someone who only said they loved me while drunk and drinking punch from a purple sparkly hat and who had not even meant to call me in that instance in the first place but who meant to call the boss at the video store and tell them ”I quit”.

As soon as you said it you took it back. I should have listened.

Im A Hopeless Romantic. You’re Just Hopeless

June 20 2009

‘What would you do if I told you I had read it?’

I regard him closely as I think about it. It is possible he has. I have left it lying around on the times he has stayed over. It is likely he could have stolen quick reads while I was in the toilet. Thats the only bathroom related thing I do alone when he is around.

‘I guess there would be no changing what has already happened.’ I say slowly. ‘And as you are still hanging around there seems to be no harm done to this strange entanglement between us. I would be pissed but, not for long.’

‘Oh, cool.’ He says leaning over me and picking up my newly filled notebook by my side.

‘Hey!’ I say with real concern as I try to snatch it back from him. He is smiling. ‘But if I read it now.’ He says. ‘The future becomes the past there will be no harm done because the future will be just past.’

‘You have a lot of pretty words and that was a very nice try but, what’s contained there in is far too incriminating.’ This is an understatement as the whole notebook is filled with angst relating to him and how he makes me feel.

It is Sunday afternoon and the house is filled with various friends who are helping Conner make his album in the music production room upstairs. As people wait for thier turn to go up and provide various musical actions, they are watching football turned down low. He and I are not doing that though. We were curled up in my nest, two couches pushed together with blankets and it was very cozy on this cold afternoon. He and I are propped up on pillows talking and reading our books. He seemed momentarily more enthralled at the prospect of reading some original Jess than Naked Lunch.

It is hard to contain my glee at being by his side as we both read. He hates football. Could he get any more perfect? Nelly Walks past us on her way out the back to the garage affectionately named The Pit Of Despair where she will proceed to get more stoned than she already is with some others. ”Oh, look at you two reading your books.’ She coos on her way past.

I got tired of reading and just wanted to be close to hime so we changed positione slightly. I was now in his arms with my head resting on his chest as he had his arms around me while he continued reading. I am very content ion this position for some time untill I wiggled a bit and saw that in his hands was no longer William Burroughs but Jess Knight. I mean props for supporting womens writing but, pick a better time and place and oh, perhaps a book by a women who chose to share her writing?

I start to struggle in order to get out from his embrace and attempt to get my hand wriiten private words away from his eyes. It is no use and too late to fight it. I have no idea how long he had been holding me while reading the journal. To fight it now would be like a kitten fighting to get out of a sack that’s been thrown into a river. I get out of his arms and sit by his side pulsing with anxious defeat as he keeps reading. I lay down after a moment and stare at the ceiling while the annoying sound of AFL plays in the backround mixed with the chatter of other people. He loves my recount of a friends birthday I took him to. ‘This is beautiful.’ He laughs.

He gets quiet as he continues to read and I feel like I know what he is coming to. A part where I write about how he made me feel when he said he didn’t think he should see me for a week. He reaches out without saying a word he places his left hand over my right and entwines his fingers through mine squeezing gently as he continues to read.

I am sort of glad he is reading it. As strange as that sounds. At least someone was reading my scribble and not like in the past where they did it just to torment me and didn’t actually read all that much themselves at all. This person loves writing as much as me. He loves reading as much as me, if that is even possible. I wait with his fingers tangled in my own for him to say something more.

‘It’s so fraught.’ He says reverently before quoting me back to me, ”The immense weight it carried.” He reads aloud then, ‘You’re so poetic.’ he says.

‘Thank you.’ I say. ‘You bastard.’ He laughs softly. ‘I guess the more upset and sad I get the more poetic I become.’ ‘Yeah.’ he says, continuing to read for what seems like ages and hours and days as he continued to hold my hand. Finally he shuts my spiral hard cover notebook with a thud and puts it down. He brings a blanket so it is covering us and he curls up behind me and brings arms around me holding me tight. ‘Isn’t spooning great.’ He says into me hair. I respond in sigh of agreement. His hand starts caressing me and moves slowly up my skirt. He thinks I’m poetic? I smile. Perhaps this is the turning point. My words breaking down the last of his wall and worming inside his heart and there I can stay.

In Five Words Or Less

The featured image for this blog post is a photo of the front cover i drew for a journal I kept in 2003. No social media meant I had quite a bit of free time to be incredibly earnest in private. Look! I can draw punk people.

I am in a sound booth at RMIT struggling to finish reading a journal excerpt from 2003. I was being recorded which made me a bit more bashful than when I was reading from a less saucy journal at the live diary reading event I went to last year. The live journal reading event was organized by the same women doing this particular study. They had approached me via email and asked me if I would be willing to take part in their research project the purposes of which included:

The diary project is a research project based on re-reading of girlhood diaries and related artefacts of the late 20th Century. It examines these diaries against the twenty-first century phenomenon of public diary sharing as a form of literary event.

That is what lead to me sitting in a sound booth reading out loud among other things the following sentence

”I concentrated instead on massaging his pleasure palace.”

It’s when I get to this that I have to stop and giggle a bit and start to feel ridiculous. I look up from my journal and tell the researchers that this is excruciating and laugh awkwardly. Reading about a boring church dance at age 16 was far easier than reading about how I was so desperate in love with someone I did dick stuff with them quite a few times without him kissing me. I don’t say that to the researchers though that is too embarrassing. I will write about it here instead where you can’t hear my voice or see my face go bright red as I read about this fellow blowing his load up the sleeve of pjs that my grandmother had gotten for me.

The researchers say I dont have to continue if i dont want to but they assure me there is no need to be embarressed so I take a breath and continue to read.

”I felt it get moist and then blow it’s load up my pyjama sleeve. I am glad it’s dark in the bedroom so he can’t see me cringe in disgust. I have no idea what to do with my cum filled hand.”

I finish the section ( the guy in question lets me wipe my hand on his boxers) shut my journal with a satisfying thud and bring us back to the here and now, where I no longer have to deal with post adolescent heart break and feeling like I’m going to hell in a basket. The researchers burst into impressed and sympathetic laughter. ”Jess, that was amazing.” They tell me. I cover my face with my hands as I wait for the feeling to subside. Its not like I am not able to share stuff like this. I’m working on a project that will entail me talking about this stuff onstage in front of people. I have done it before with no problem.

The difference is that when I do get on stage and share stuff it is usually filtered through the beauty of rewording and memory juxtaposed with a helping hand of paraphrasing and twisting the truth to serve a more entertaining narrative.

Reading the exact words written by me at that exact time when these things are happening and I’m feeling the feelings associated with those events, is different. It is like Im 21 again and I’m back in his bedroom with the black out curtains, friends asleep on the bedroom floor by the bed we are in. While his housemates continue partying down the hall. I’m back to that nigh all wide awake with angst and worry and insecurity. The pages and pages of messy writing relaying every touch and shrug. It hurt. And after reading, it hurt again.

I was also annoyed at myself for not being confident enough to just tell them what I wanted. Demand some answers and not be so riddled with the conviction that if I was prettier I would not be in the mess I am in. I want to jump into those pages and find myself at 21 and shake her and hug her and shake her again before telling her how beautiful she actually is, how funny and unique and that yes, she should definitely go and see a psychologist because my young darling version of me, you are all over the place emotionally and part of that is because you are 21 and the religious ideologies put on you from birth have messed you up big time, it’s also because you are incredibly depressed and trying way to hard to not let anybody know.

Drinking as much as you do and eating as little as you do…I know you have no money…I could go on. I love you is all. Do you understand, little Jess? I know I’m not the person you dream of saying that to you. I’m sorry. But its still pretty cool isn’t it? Seeing your future self, I have had SEX lots of it. Every one of them has kissed me first. Turns out we are kissable as all hell. You know what that means? Yeah I don’t need to spell it out you are smiling. You are smart. We. Are. Smart. Keep writing those journals it is going to pay off career wise. You think it means nothing and does not matter. You are wrong.

The researchers ask when and why I started writing a journal. It was my mother I say. I was 4 and she got a notebook from the supermarket and covered it in koala contact paper. It was to record my days as best I could when I was little. Church really encouraged journal keeping as a form of family history. They were meant to be for your kids and relatives to read after you were dead so they could get to know more about you. I really took to it. But not so much so my kids could read them. Im pretty sure your kids don’t want to read about your first sexual interactions.

It was not until I left home and was away at university that my journals got even more honest and interesting.

The researchers ask me if I have any plans that include any use of my journals. I brighten and explain that im working on something called Mormon Girl a one woman show that centres around the disenchantment of my Mormon upbringing coupled with my burgeoning sexuality and bodily autonomy. They get very excited about this information. ”You must let us know when it’s on.” They say. ”the title alone will get people coming.” We all laugh for a while and proceed to make a few more climax related double entendres. They ask a few more questions and all in all the interview had taken a bit over forty five minutes. They give me numbers to call if this experience has caused any emotional distress. I say I’m fine. It will hit me later that I am not really. After I have spent two nights staying up till midnight reading and rereading old journals obsessively, seeing things with the painful bastard hindsight and clarity. Things I missed. Chances lost.

Once back outside the sky is grey but it is not cold.

I go home. Where there is someone waiting.