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Getting Your Photo Taken can be a rebellion Against Your never ending Insecurities.

There seems to be a loose thread to this week and that thread is me being photographed. I Read more…

photography club

Today as I was walking away from thousand pound bend because it was shut. A baby boomer with a fancy camera approached me a little shyly. Hello. He said. Can I please take your photograph?
Why? I said confused and worried a little bit.
I’m retired and part of a photography club. He said. Your photos wouldn’t go on the internet. They would just be shown to my photography club.
My guard goes down. And I smile.

You look like a very interesting young person. He says.
I grin. My outfit is very very excellent. He had a good eye.

I let him take my photo. He takes a few.
I’m wearing black ballet flats, fishnets under black and white horizontal stripe high waisted shorts, buffy the vampire slayer t shirt and red crop cardigan. And my black leather jacket. Because fashion is what you buy but style is what you do with it.

The baby boomer photographer asks me what I do and I tell him I’m a writer.
He gets my blog details and my email address. He says he will send me the photos. He takes my photo while I write my details down.

He introduces me to his teenage son who is also a “mad keen photographer” The son says nothing but smiles shyly and laughs at my jokes.

It felt good. I used to worry so much about being considered pretty and sexually attractive. But being eye catching because of how I threw my outfit together and being “interesting” is so much better.

The red cardigan is a birthday present from a boyfriend years ago (10) purchased with a gift voucher to that store vicious Venus. The voucher was for 300$ I got more than the cardigan but the cardigan became a long lasting staple. Also 300$ ?? That’s stupid amazing amount of money. I should have known he was lying to me about something. Any who !
T shirt I got while drunk on the internet. Shorts I got from Japan and fishnets also from Japan Worn over Off white tights for a very cool two tone effect.

After that random interaction I got to go to The Moat and discuss all things disability and writing with two total babes who I will get to talk smart with at The National Young Writers Festival. Evan and Julia talking to you two was like talking to old friends. But friends who understood all the stuff you can’t really talk to your normal friends with as you worry it’s boring and whiny.
To get to the end of a little rant and be met with “I get that” was beautiful.

When I got home my person was on their way out to play a gig. They looked super cute.
This.
Is.
My.
Life.

You never even knew who The Buzzcocks were before knowing and loving me.

Sometimes I put my middle finger up at your memory 

As if you are standing right here 

And able to see

Orgasm addict by the buzzcocks
Was one of our many songs

It was funny because it was me

I was an addict 
In all my Sunday school classes and church teachings 

Warning against it

They never mentioned 

It was fun
You have a son now 

And i hope he becomes a better man than you

A man who Does not 

pick at a woman’s weakness 

In order to feel bigger and distract 

From how small and cowardly they are in comparison 
Sometimes I put my middle finger up at your memory 

As if you can see me do it 

Poem 

Sometimes I hear my mothers tone Come out of my own mouth

It doesn’t stress me out 

And I’m not bothered 

Anymore 

There are worse people to take after 

There are worse people to take after 

There are worse 

There are

Sometimes my tone sounds just like my mother 

The tone that gets let out 

When nearing anger

In my own ears 

But I’m not worried 

I’m not bothered 

Anymore

Sometimes I hear my mothers tone 

Coming out of my mouth

She taught me something better 

Than being placid 

Faking calm. 

All My Friends And I Alone But Together At LCD Soundsystem 26/7/2017

I did not take any photos save a couple at the start. I cannot tell you what the members of the band were wearing. If they looked like they were having a good time. You did not ned to see faces to know the whole band were having a fun time.  I was up the back and to the right of the stage. With nobody behind me, though I was free to stand and dance. Dance I did. The dance of someone ten years older than when they first became obsessed with the dance anthem poetry of James Murphy AKA LCD Soundsystem.  I was no mystery to me as to why they had reformed and decided to tour. They knew that we had all gotten older and thier songs were as important to thier fans now as they were ten years ago. Also if I was an American Band I would jump at the chance to leave the country and tour the world where people know your name and love what you do. Did they do it for money? Does it matter if they did? They have a new album coming out so its not so weird.  It makes sense.

I arrived to The venue a good three hours early.  I walked towards the entrance behind a couple in their 30s holding hands.  I made up an entire love story for them based around LCD Soundsystem songs. They met in thier 20s at a house party where Daft Punk was playing…

Because of how anxious I was that I would not be able to find my seat.  I made friends with the lady standing at the door to my sear section. Was brave enough to explain that I may need help finding my seat. She helped me with zero bad attitude. The arena was practically empty at this point and Top Forty music was being blasted through the speakers.

I went and got a cup of Cider and some chips and bought it back to my seat. I placed the cup ( after taking a few sips) and cardboard bowl of hot chips on the floor under my seat. I sent a tweet and then went to get my snacks. I promptly knocked over my full drink and spilled it all on the floor under the seat next to mine. After brief but intense sadness at the waste of ten dollars. I thought it was for the best and ate my chips.

I watched people slowly spill into the general admission floor section and all I could think was how glad I was to be sitting down. An incredibly tall middle aged man sat in the seat next to me. The seat under which I had spilled my beverage. He commented to me how this seats were alright and I was so relieved that I had a gig buddy, I may have talked too much. But there was still ages till the show started. We chatted about music and he told me he had quite eclectic taste that included George Michael, Paul Young and Blur. We were even at the same Placebo show years ago at Festival Hall.  He had just got back from Greece with his wife and was heavily into reading books about the politics of the country.

It was thanks to him that I knew that there was a DJ playing at that moment who was famous for being a brilliant hat maker. ”He is famous for his hats and he is always wearing one of his creations when he performs.”  Because I could not see what this DJ looked like on stage. I imagined the frontmen of that band Vince gets asked to Join in an episode of season two Might Boosh. Vince gets in a fight with the guy who calls himself Johnny Two Hats.  Who is so named because he wears two hats. That is who I imagined was supporting LCD Soundsystem. Sometimes being vision impaired is great for the imagination. Not so great for accurate music journalism.

When the band come out and the house lights dim, the collective excitement erupts,  The band launch into their first sone Yr City’s A Sucker from their debut 2005 release. The light art at this show was high quality and spectacular. This added to the overall sensation of seeing them live. It could be said that their earlier shows were better but I never got to see them ‘Back in the day.”

When they played Daft Punk Is Playing At My House the memories came flooding back as I stood up and started dancing myself free. In 2005 I was living on the dole and living in my first share house on Alexandra parade in North Fitzroy. Back then you could affor to live there while on the dole as long as you didnt eat much and didn’t have a smartphone monthly bill to worry about.  I had just moved to Melbourne with a gnawing hunger in my heart. I held a party but I had zero social or financial capital  so nobody came. No twitter and no Facebook meant no worries. I got drunk and danced in the tiny living to LCD Soundsystem all by myself. I was 23.

James even stopped after a few songs and amicably but firmly voiced his disdain  that the arena the gig was taking place at was named after a renowed homophobic tennis champion. ”Lets rename this place.” James said to the sound of much cheering and clapping.  He also apologised for the huge speakers blocking the view of the stage to some unlucky ticket holders.  ”If we could do without them, we would.” Jmaes said. ”But we do need them. Thank you for being here.”   Then the band starts the opening to the song I Can Change. I and my gig buddy get up out of our seats almost in unison.

Get Innocuous! American Dream.

When they played You Wanted A Hit, From their 2010 album, I am transported to 2011 (my year of heartbroken OK Cupid dates and non dates) when  I would start messaging with a guy on the now still functional and less invasive than Tinder (OK Cupid is not connected to Facebook), dating site. His profile picture was him dressed as James Murphy as he is dressed on the albums cover for the album This Is Happening. This young man whose name I cannot remember and whose face I never saw in real life,  taught me that having good taste in music did not bring the boys to yard. Sharing music taste with this elusive Fuck Boy  didn’t fill the guy with unconditional love  like it did me.  I never met him I just madly and rather obsessively messaged him and would constantly try to organise for us to meet up ( and have hot hot sex, duh. I can get wet over the idea of someone)  and he always had excuses. I just put it down to my face in my pictures that were on my profile, not being pretty enough to entice him. As I danced to You Wanted A Hit and then toTribulations I wondered if that guy was down below me sweating with the general floor crowd as he danced himself silly.  Did he remember a weirdly intense girl during his stint on OK Cupid? A girl who  acted so thirstily as if she thought they should get fucking married just because we share a love of a few bands? I will never know.

Movement. Call The Police.

Before they launched into New York I love You James told us that they would be taking a very small two minute break and then playing two more songs. These songs could be considered an encore. James told us.Which hinted to any discerning person present that there would be no encore after these two  final songs. ”We have to go pee.” James tells us. ”We are old.”

When everyone sings along to the line from New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down that goes ”Like a rat in a cage pulling minimum wage” it is with nuanced and knowing self awareness. We are older but with not even half of what we were promised growing up. The world is scary and James Murphy was not wrong but scarily accurate when he sang in Call The Police that ‘The future is a nightmare.” It is true which is why nights like this are so important. It is why art matters. How on earth can people cope if they don’t look to music and art and literature?

Someone Great.  All My Friends are the final two songs.  It is when they play the final song All My Friends that I feel myself getting overwhelmed with the brevity of my feelings about this very moment. It is all to much almost to take in and hold in my one tiny heart. I feel it almost breaking with the understanding that we are all older and one day we all will be dead. Everyone of the people that witnessed this gig with me will die. Hopefully they will die old.

I walk to Richmond train station with my gig buddy after the show. It is cool but not freezing and there is no rain just the vestiges of it from earlier. He is 6ft 3 and i am 4ft 9. As we walk we talk about our first gigs and i find out he saw Blur at Monash Uni. ”I saw a Christian rock band with my Mum  and little brother when I was 12.”  I tell him. ”at the small town hall in the town nearest my parents farm.”  I acknowledge he wins. We say goodbye at the train station and I as he walks away to get the Belgrave Line I call out ”Thanks for being my gig buddy!”

Now the only thing left to do is anticipate the new album while listening to thier old ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swinging And Swirling

MONDAY

I get a rejection email from a writing competition that I entered 4 months ago. I really hoped to make the long list.

My phone has not been working for three days. I cannot type in my security code as all but the 2 and 5 are useless. It is nice to leave the apartment without it. I day dream more and watch things around me.

Walking home from the shops I see a soft toy bunny head on the damp foot path. No sign of the body and limbs any where. It looks macabre and I smile.

At home I write on my lap top  and share a little of it. I am working on a bigger project but cannot resist sharing these three paragraphs in a short blog post.

It gets some good reactions from people who understand what I am trying to explain and articulate. There is only one bad reaction. I ignore that bad. I am not writing for them.

 

TUESDAY

I resent having to go into the city on a new phone mission. I would rather be writing. The huge Telstra building on the corner of Bourke and Swanston is ultra modern a woman standing at the entrance greets me and directs me up the escalator. There is top 40 pop music blaring and lots of neon lights. My customer service rep is a young guy called Nathan. He is unable to help me get into my old phone. I finally have to say goodbye to my beloved 4s with the Japanese depressed egg (Gutatama) phone cover. ‘I have not seen one of these phones for 10 months.’ Nathan tells me. Then I see two in the space of two days.”

I decide on the iphone 7.  Nathan goes to get one for me. I am asked if i want tea or coffee 4  times. My keep cup is on clear display, placed next to my bag and coat. Nathan returns and starts to help me set the phone up. ”What are your plans for the rest of the day?’ Nathan asks me.

”I am going to poetry book club. Because I am a big nerd.’ I reply. I am relieved to have something concrete to say. I hate it when customer service people ask me that question.

”Cool. Cool.” Nathan says amicably. ”What do you do with yourself?” He asks.

‘I am a writer.” I say. ”I am quite useless as a member of functioning society.’  Is my pithy response.

It is a relief to finally exit the large space age building armed with a new device.

A baby came to poetry book club. I am impressed that his mother managed to come all the way from the suburbs. I watched everyone coo and fuss and i tried to measure up the same enthusiasm.

When the question arose did anyone want a hold,  I stayed silent.

It was only 3 months old. I do not find infants all that enthralling. They cannot talk or ask interesting philosophical questions.  This feeling could be due to the fact that my own father was always quite vocal as to his disinterest in new borns. Even his own kids were weird looking untill 10 month old. ”You looked like ET when you were a baby.” My father told me numerous times.

My gosh, a baby could have the capacity exhaust me so much i may have less time to be depressed. I know on an intellectual level that this is a terrible reason to have a baby.  Also, I don’t want one. I just feel like I am supposed to want to have one and this makes me feel guilty. When Im depressed I feel this exponentially more than usual. It is not your fault, small human. I think as I half heartedly touch the infants tiny left foot as my friend holds it and looks like a natural Dad while doing so. He is genuine in his joy at this infant’s presence at poetry book club.

 

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At poetry book club we discuss the book of poems by Tanya Thaweeskulchai, called A Salivating Monstrous Plant. I had read the poems out loud to my empty apartment with the hum of the fridge as a backing track. I love the poems. The rhythm and flow of the language as it comes out through the voice is so much more powerfully experienced than when simply reading them silently. The poet originally created a performance using these works and that really becomes apparent if you read them aloud. It is the thick meaty imagery that I enjoy the most in this collection. There is acknowledgement of the strange and surreal. In these poems you are invited in at your own risk. There is a half boy half crow, a house being swallowed up, plants and earth seen from the inside.  These poems gave language and description to my own body and the weird and wonderful shapes that inhabit it from day to day and year to year.

I am a salivating monstrous plant and there are times that I feel completely out of control inside of it. This collection of poetry encapsulates what it feels like to be swallowed up by forces outside of yourself yet also, deep inside of you. There is description of peeling back a cornea that almost has the power to make you put the book down and gather your wits again before continuing.  It is a book of Avant-Garde poetry that could be a bit too much for some. I found it comforting. It gave voice to the unspeakable and indescribable qualities that encompase my own body.

 

WEDNESDAY

I lay awake in bed listening to the rain falling heavily. I used to love the sound of rain, I still do. It is just that the prospect of going out in it and making the two train trips to West Footscray, in the rain and wind, in order to discuss my ever recalcitrant head and heart.

The 8 minute walk from West Footscray train station to my appointment, is cold and windy but, no rain is falling. When I walk into the warmth and comfort of the reception area, I am greeted with a smile and an offer of hot herbal tea. Today the tea is called Yummy Tummy. I sit on one of the worn mismatched couches and sip my tea as I wait to be called.

My psych session did not leave me feeling any better. I got frustrated and inpatient with her reasoning. She thinks proactive thinking and logic will fix things. It won’t.
I get so my chest and heart actually hurts. Like sudden heart ache for no reason. She tells me that that is anxiety. When the hour is up, I feel like I have wasted it talking about stupid things that cannot be changed. I cannot be changed.

 

THURSDAY 

It is astounding what a good phone conversation with a good friend can accomplish . My friend who relocated to Sydney for a film job that fell through is coming back in a week.
She calls me from her bungalow in Sydney. She puts me on speaker phone and original feeds to bake a cake as we chat. It is soul replenishing and before I know it aver an hour has passed. She has made me laugh and we have gotten mutually outraged about sexist idiots. To feel seen really seen and understood is such a rare and wonderful
 thing. She already has a job lined up working on the show Underbelly when she gets back to Melbourne. Talking to her inspires me. I look out the window as I chat with her and notice the sky in blue.

It is because of her that I decide to actually have a shower and get dressed to go to the shops. I will pick up some things that I always forget. L has been morning the loss of his bag of salt from the moving expedition. I will get a bag of salt.
It is sunny and cold outside. I breath in the crispness and exhale.

There is a father and his 5 year old son on their bikes at the corner. The father is guiding the child around a smashed beer bottle. “Let’s avoid the broken glass” the father says. “Someone’s been a bit silly with a beer bottle.”

The last of the winter  afternoon sun sinks down as I am in the supermarket.

When I step into the empty apartment it is after 5pm. I start putting away things in the low cupboards. I am too short to reach the cupboards above the sink. They are higher than my head. I should have left the bag of cooking salt on the bench.

I see some space in the top shelf of the top cupboard. It is the shelf with all the glass bottles  of delicious balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

Reaching up on tip toes with the bag of salt and try to half throw it that few inches so it lands on the shelf. It does land there. Then the entire shelf falls and there is a cacophony of smashing glass and something falls heavily on my for head, I think it is the large glass bottle of fancy olive oil. There is black sticky stuff that looks like tar in a puddle with glass shards everywhere. The tiles are slick with oil. The smell is overpowering. My vision gets a bit blurry and my knees go weak. What a huge mess.

A few sobs of despair burst out before removing my wet with oil socks and start trying to clean up. I guess it is a good thing there are no kids around to worry about their little hands and feet getting sliced with glass shards, I think.  It is not until after I have nearly finished cleaning that I wipe at my head with a clean hand. Upon looking I  see thick streaks of red and my fringe is sticky with blood. There is more to worry about than a simple concussion. I also fear that I have done some permanent damage to my frontal lobe. I touch gingerly at the wound. It hurts.

I check my emails. Another literary rejection. There is a big sigh let out of me and I check my head wound again.

FRIDAY

I finish a collection of essays called You Cant Touch My Hair. And Other Things I Still Have To Explain.  The author is American comedian and one half of the pod cast called Two Dope Queens: Pheobe Robinson.

 There is a lot to love about this book from an intersectional feminist perspective. Pheobe writes candidly about the trials and tribulations of being a black woman in America. She writes about being an actor of colour and the  racism and sexism she has encountered while trying to carve out a career in comedy.
There is an essay entitled How To Avoid Being The Black Friend and maps out the ways to spot if you are the tokan black friend. This stuff is important to understand even if you are not the tokan black friend, because white people need to know how to avoid putting their friends of colour in awkward situations even accidentally.
When Pheobe writes about the experience of being on a set for a television show and calmly calling the director out on his careless racist comment about her being ”uppity” because she asked nicely for five minutes to quickly go over her lines, You learn something.  That no matter how nice you are as a black woman, the stereotype of the angry black woman follows you around like a rain cloud of micro-aggressions. Instead of graciously accepting he has made a mistake, saying sorry and moving forward. The director makes it all about how he is a good guy and has a wife and kids. It is a story all to familiar to any minority when talking truth to power. Phoebe handles it well and this makes the immaturity and childishness of the director stand out even more.
Phoebe is funny. She writes about the members of U2 and puts them in order of who she would like to sleep with the most to the least. She makes sure to be clear that if you expected her to be into rap more than music loved by mums, than that is a form of racist thinking.
My favourite essay would have to be A Brief History Of Black Hair in Film, TV, Music and Media. Phoebe discusses the pixie cut worn by Halle Berry in 1994 as ”the ‘Rachel’ cut for black women.”
There is even a photo of one of my favourite film actresses Janelle Monet whose hair is described as ”So on point that I would pay to live inside it,,,its bigger than my NYC apartment, so this is a win win.”
The freedom that comes from having well behaved white girl hair should not be overlooked. For black women hair is far more politically loaded and that is thanks to generations of white supremacy.
The collection of essays closes with some words of loving advice for Phoebe’s biracial niece Olivia, in the form of a collection of letters. One of these letters is called Use Your Vagina For Good. Which is obviously for Olivia to read when she is older ( not 3 years old at time of book being written).
 This book is fun and informative as well as filled with comedic gold. Ms Robinson’s wit is obvious from page to page.  You should buy this book and read her weekly musings on her blog Blaria.com (aka Black Daria).
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How To Build A Girl By Caitlin Moran

Masturbation and writing are two things all teens can do. Regardless of their socioeconomic status.’

 

 They say do not judge a book by its cover, but, I did and do quite often. The cover of Caitlin Moran’s second novel hit me twice as I browsed in my favorite independent book store. First it hit me right in my enthusiastic love of the writer herself. Because I had no idea she had written another novel to follow up her first and very successful effort, How To Be A Woman. I was thrilled at this discovery. I grinned in excitement. Her writing makes me feel good. Giddy- type-good. It makes me feel giddy type good about simply being me. That is no mean feat.

When I got How To Be A women for Christmas (because I asked for it) It was read with the verocity of a hungry brained zombie girl. My large family spoke loudly around me. On my completion of the book. I stood on a chair and announced to my family that I was a feminist. My youngest sister had retorted to the Knight clan all gathered around in various stages of post gluttony stupors.

‘’Oh great, she is a lesbian.’’

It did little to derail my enthusiasm. I had also received the Miranda July collection of short stories. It was a well read Christmas that year.

So when I saw that Ms Moran had written something else for me to devour with my near sighted peepers, there was no question of if I was going to buy it with what little money I had. But, rather, when. I justify it by thinking that as a writer myself. As a writer, who has her own ABN. An ABN that should have been free to get. But, because I did a search on the internet, and had no patience for searching through and finding the free way of obtaining an ABN. I ended up paying 98$ for an accounting firm to do it for me.

My housemate came home to find me at my desk crying hysterically in front of my laptop, in horror at the amount of money I needlessly wasted on something that should be free.

But, regardless, I have one now and it adds a certain amount of emotional legitimacy to my dreams. Also it means I can buy books and stationary supplies and keep the dockets for tax deductions!

The front cover of her second novel is green with a white border and shows a pair of legs side on. The legs are in torn black tights with ladders and running from thigh and over the knees. These tights run into a pair of black Doc Martens with the laces loose. It is for these legs simply hanging over a brick wall in waiting, that I buy the book.

Those legs that so strongly remind me of my own. They are the legs of a girl figuring things out in her own time. What is the rest of her doing? I imagine that it is me in a way. My tights often have holes and ladders in them. I continue to wear them and quite enjoy the how cool my pale skin looks against the black or red or purple of my torn tights. There is something comforting in that book cover. The book designer is a genius because they did not just create a well designed book, they also created an idea an immediate snapshot what this book will be to you if you buy it. I thought as I held that book in my hand and stared at the cover, that I could be a friend to that girl who owned those legs.

I purchased the book and used the docket as a book mark so as not to throw it away like I have done so many times. The book gets finished in two days. Moran has created a character that is immediately identifiable. She is passionate and has dreams that, reach past her predicament of existence. That of which, consists of living in the council flats in the British midlands, specifically, Wolverhampton. Johanna is busting to be in the world out there. She is busting in the way so many girls from lower class families are busting. She is busting to be out and so much more than she feels she is, like I was. And she goes about it in all the wrong ways. That is why this book speaks to me and why it moved me so much. To be moved by literature is one of the best experiences to experience, as far I am concerned. What makes this book so important for teenage girls to read, is that it makes making mistakes an ok thing. A thing that can be overcome.

I wish I had had this book when I was a timid and scared 14 year old with no friends save for the books I read and my younger siblings that I looked after. This friend of a book would have really helped me out of my shell. Instead this books simply makes me appreciate my smashed shell and bask in the wonder of all the things I did to get to where I am now. A wine drinker, just like Johanna hopes to become as a grown women.

This is a book about class and gender and sex. It is the sexual content that makes this book important it is the type of sex that happens in real life and I found myself smiling and cringing in empathy and recognition at the situations Johanna gets herself in and out of.

For this is the grit of it. In How To Build A Girl, Moran illustrates through Johanna a way to regain control when you feel you have lost it, or, how to take control even when you are not sure of what it is you are doing. Moran has provided a literary tailsmen for the yet to be fully forms women of Britain. It is a literary talisman that stretches over to the Antipides. Johanna comes from an incredibly loving but hapless family. Her father is on disability benefits. Johanna lives in fear that these benefits will be cut due to her talking about it to the old lady down the street. A women who gives the young Johanna the cold shoulder after discovering the girl’s family are on benefits from the government.

The book provides a window into the lives of families living on benefits in the early 90s, in Britain. There is no money for anything fun or decadent. Johanna’s siblings and parents all live on boiled cabbage and chappatis with tomato sauce and salad cream. Her father is an alcoholic, Marxist and a heart-breaking dreamer, who just wants to be a pop star and make an easy million. Her mother is a ‘sad ghost’ of a woman whose life would have made an amazing novel as well. The relationship she has with her big brother is one of the most rounded and believable. It is also touching and through this relationship you get an idea of how incredibly blind to the obvious we can be when it comes to those closest to us.

Johanna wants out the way I wanted out at her age. Her ticket was writing. Mine was writing and education. As Johanna says herself .

‘. . . writing_ unlike choreography, architecture or conquering kingdoms _ is a thing you can do when you’re lonely and poor.’

How my heart just ballooned with happy identification at these sentiments and more so at the following, ‘Poor people can write. It’s one of the few things poverty and lack of connections, cannot stop you doing.’

Through these words I am 13 again huddled over a notebook that my mother got me from the supermarket, using my bed as a desk and writing furiously. The dogs bark and the cows are mooing as they slowly make their way into the dairy to be milked. My younger siblings appeased for the moment by ABC after school programs. Soon I will have to start dinner and escape from all this seems so so far away…

I want to be 16 and hanging at the chemist with Johanna as she steals eyeliner. I want to sit under a dreary greay Wolverhampton sky and watch her smoke as we laugh till the tears run down our faces. The 16 year old me needed a friend like Johanna. Like Judy Bloom showed time and time again, so does this book for a new generation: sex is not something to feel guilty about.

Your worth does not decrease with the number of penises you allow to inside.   Consentual sex can actually teach you a great deal about yourself. Sometimes it takes a lot of experience to make you appreciate certain aspects of yourself. But, sex is not the only way through which self-actualization grows. No, not at all. That comes from masturbation and this book is in parts an ode to the wonder of self-pleasuring. It is not evil and bad and will send you to hell. It is the best way to learn about what you like sexually.

It has always baffled me why Mormon youth are told not to masturbate. I mean, it is risk free and hurts nobody. You cannot get pregnant from it and teaches you about your own pleasure principles. I was emotionally stunted by this information that I did not discover the joys of masturbation until I was 23! Which is again why this book is important as it shows a teenage girl who is ever so happy to masturbate. Masturbation and writing are two things a teen can enjoy regardless of their low socioeconomic status is the world.

Moran’s novel shows just what a young girl can do as she realizes that what her parents have taught her is not enough. Sometimes it is difficult to ‘honour thy father and thy mother’. The road is rocky when one is on the path less travelled. Sometimes there is no path at all and you have to use your whole body and might of mind to bash through the prickly bushes of gender inequality and innate sexism that comes at you from all directions, as you try and make it in the rather laddish culture of music journalism in the early 90’s. Through Johanna’s eyes we see the world and it is hilarious and touching and nerve wracking and euphoric.

When you have finished this book, you do not want to put it down. You do not want to add it to your bookshelf and walk away from it. Like the cover promises, the girl is your friend. So, as with all good friends who make you feel good and entertained, you simply want to walk around with them beside you all the time. You want to drink coffee and chat till it starts to get dark and the people who work in said coffee shop are starting to take the trays of cakes away and put chairs up on tables. You want to go see a gig and get drunk and annoy boys with them.