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art is life. Life is weird.

It was the first truly cold evening of Autumn. I went out in it to see art anyway.

The first exhibition was at Printmaker Gallery on Brunswick st, Fitzroy.

Noirscapes By Paul Compton is a collection of delicate and very gentle collages that are small enough to inspire close scrutiny and deliberate contemplation that is not without whimsy. It felt whimsical to stare at these small works of art and make up stories for them. They made you think of black and white movies and cloak and dagger goings on. I found myself wandering around the collection at least four times. I did not want to miss any details.

One of works Secret Seer looked to me like a simple cuff of a white shirt with a fist coming out the bottom of the sleeve. When I got closer it became apparent that I was mistaken. The image was actually made up of two cut out images. The fist was acually a  muscular male torso with the neck disappearing into  the second cut out image, which was not a white shirt cuff, but  two white pillows that were positioned in such a way as to trick the eye.  It was so well priced that I considered buying it. It sparked my imagination and tickled my funny bone. The image really asked more questions than it answered. Something great art can do.

One of the dark and dreamy linocuts printed by Andrew Gunnel showed three small white ghost like apparitions dancing on the back of a grey rabbit like creature ghost. The creatures looked like they were inhabiting the deepest and darkest part of a forest. It was so dark the trees are invisible in the frame.  The work is entitled Hadith. Hadith refers to a collection of traditions containing sayings of the prophet Muhammad. It is a major source of guidance for Muslims that is in addition to the Koran. I find the work mysterious and beautiful as I stand in front of it without knowing what the title refers to. It remains beautiful and mysterious when I know what the title could be referring to.

The second art exhibition for the evening is Gemma Flack’s  pop up art show and sale at The Goodness Bureau in Thornbury. The show is called Everything Is Not OK But I hOpe You Will Be. There are small works on paper done in coloured pen and ink. The works are affordable and some have very important messages for fello artists and creatives alike. The exhibition is a call to arms for self motivated woman everywhere and woman who need to be nudged a little bit. Gemma Flack wants you to be OK. It is ok if you are not, though.

There are a couple of particularly pleasing illustrations that are done with Jetstar sick bags as the canvas. The juxtaposition of all the images that fill the surface of the sick bag canvas create a sense of joy and vibrancy along with the unspoken mantra that is under every pen line: Do not waste any time.

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Some of the women in Gemma’s work are solo wolf packs who need nobody and no one.  Like my favourit work that is a black gouache on board. It shows a young woman with long black hair and get bak eyes sitting in front of a window.  I can imagine wanting to be friends with all the woman in Gemma’s creations. It would make a great movie. Gemma creates all these works and they come to life one night after all the art lovers have gone home. At first it is amazing and the illustrations come to life make wonderful friends and it is a girl gang of all inclusive wonder.

Then the murders begin. Men of course. Bad men.

I eventually decide on one to purchase. It is a small illustration of a womans face with the words IM ENOUGH underneath.

I plan to place the small framed image on my desk so it can be a constant source of calm to me as I work at becoming what I want to be: Brilliant.

On the tram home I am sitting up the front. Across from me sit two young women of about 19 or 18. I can see the one sitting nearest to me. She is wearing black leggings that are slitted so that you get a line of black and then some bare flesh that s at the mercy of the cold damp night outside.  The one with dyed red hair and black leggings is doing the most talking. Her friend is listening and saying the occasional softly spoken ‘ah’ and laughing softly.

I decide to keep my head phones in my ears but do not blast Childish Gambino as I was planning. I sit and stare straight ahead and listen.  There is a steady stream of conversation or stories really. Conversation involves two people exchanging ideas. This is not a conversation I am hearing. It is a narrative of woe. The young woman is talking about a time at a pub with a group of men who want her to show them her ‘tits’ She does not want to do that. They keep asking and badgering her. A friend at this juncture knows there is a photo of said friend’s breasts on said friend’s phone. This friend (not on the tram) gets the phone and shows the men he picture on her friend’s phone. The young woman telling the story is not upset of even worried. She simply describes how the group of men got very quiet after seeing the picture of the young women’s breasts. One of the men simply told her the breasts were very nice.

There was an ex who used to beat up this young woman. He is an ice addict who is now dating a 17 year old that the two young women on the tram know. There is a young man who is not allowed to wear a shirt if he is in her bedroom. The rule applies to her too so its not one sided. There is no talk of anything but men and boys. It makes my heart hurt to listen. I want to say something so badly. I just don’t know what. Anything I try and say would just come across as patronizing and the ramblings of a crazy stranger on the tram.  Young women have no idea how strong they are.

When they get of at Palace Cinemas and step out into the dark damp night. It is raining steadily. I find myself saying a silent prayer to a collection of omnipresent  representation of illustrated women by Gemma Flack, that they get home safe and sound. Not just tonight but always. I also prayed that they realized male attention is not the only thing that  can give their life value.

 

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Two Years come Sunday

Sunday was the two year anniversary of my kidney transplant.  It seemed an even more exciting reason to celebrate than the usual another year older reason. You turned another year older? Thats cool. I have three kidneys inside this tiny skin house, and the one that works is from a man who helped create  me the first time around.  Last year I went to visit my parents on the farm and spent the weekend with them and other family. It was a rather stressful time and on the exact one year anniversary of my kidney transplant, I ended up trying to explain sexism in football culture and found myself howled down to the point where I simply ran to the disused sheep shed and cried there for about 2 hours.

This year I wanted to try something different.  I wanted to celebrate with  a few good friends at one of my favourite drinking establishments in an area that I missed living in terribly. I wanted to celebrate my kidney transplant at The Edinboragh Castle in Brunswick.  I decided to do a brief statistical experiment while on the train to Brunswick. I posted a pithy status update saying where and when I would be where I was planning to celebrate. I knew it was short notice so I was not expecting lots of people to drop their Sunday afternoon for me.   Which is why I was so happy when two out of the 50 people who liked my kidney transplant celebration status, came.  All up there was seven of us and this was perfect. The afternoon was humid and sunny, perfecr for drinking cold alcoholic ginger beer full of ice. If you think it is strange to be celebrating a kidney transplant by drinking, I assure you I was not getting wasted. Im not an idiot. My Dad gave me the kidney of a non drinker, non smoker and hard worker. I was not going to waste it.

I sat at that corner table full of people and felt so happy I thought my heart might just burst. The conversation was rich with humour and imagination and intelligence. Each friend had so much to contribute to the flow of conversation. We spoke about films and feminism and art and books. We spoke about music and politics and nobody howled me down until I felt so powerless and silenced all I could do was run away to the disused sheep shed and cry for 2 hours.  My friends and I laughed so much. It occured to me as I sat there that every single person person sitting at the table was someone who I had met and become friends with in the last ten years. That means no friends from school from any of my schooling: Primary , high or university. I knew when I moved to Melbourne at 23, I wanted to carve a life out of it that was new and exciting and the kind that I felt befitted my character and the character I hoped to develop over time and experience.

I had been very pleased with my out fit for the celebration of my new kidney turning two. I was wearing a black and red tartan button up shirt, tucked into dark blue denim short shorts, black fishnets and a silver necklace that one of my ex housemate made from an old  gin decanter label.   I was attempting a fashion homage to Beyonce’s look in the Flawless music video.  I failed at looking exactly the same but that was not the intention, I just love shirts buttoned up and tucked into short shorts. I got complimented on the ensemble by my friend Jess.  The point is I was feeling pretty stylish. I love putting together outfits that work. Especially when the outfit is more than 50% created from opp shop finds.

Which is why what happenned later so upsetting. The gathering ended at about 6. So my partner and I decided to go for a walk up Sydney rd and decide on some dinner. The air outside had cooled down a little and the humidity had fled. The sun was starting to set and crazy gold light outlined the buildings and got in our eyes. My partney had just reached for my hand when we stood at the crner of Albion and Sydney rd. A car with its widows down and two men sitting together in front were at the lights. I could have kicked the car they were so close to the curb. The driver yelled at me, ”Anorexic Dickhead!’ and his passenger laughed a cruel and loudly enthusiastic laugh. The kind of laugh that hurt to hear.

I felt slapped. I felt put back in my place. I felt ugly. I found myself wishing for a cat call or a honk instead. I looked down at my skinny legs in fishnets. Who was I kidding? No matter what I do and achieve and no matter how brilliant my outfit, there would always be guys like that.  I found myself feeling embarressed that it happened with my partner present. He sqeezes my hand as we continue walking. ”I would have kicked thier review mirror if I had been quick enough.” He says. I laugh. We decide it would have been the best revenge. With little to no consequences. What could those neanderthals do? They were stuck in their car in traffic.

It was like being back in school. The kids thought I was anorexic before the doctors did. The rumour went around. My class at the country school was not even 25 kids.  The stay in the adolescent ward at The Royal Children’s Hospital. All that stuff just came flooding back. All because of two entitled male twats who thought the height of sophisticated humour was yelling abuse at young women they did not know. Like I was meant to care what they thought. It was something to add to the list of self hating mantras, when Im feeling depressed already and am looking for tangible proof that the voices in my head telling me that I am sub par and below average.

I hate that my beloved had to witness things like that. It made me twiNge with insecurity. I did not want him to see me any other way than they way he did. I didn’t want outsider informants twisting or distorting that perception. I know it does not do this.  He is not a brainless neanderthal. He is one of my best friends. My best friend (whom I have sex with) and I walk to The Brunswick Green and eat dinner. We share a pint of beer that I am proud to say I drink most of.

 

 

Someday My Prince Will Not Come: My Feminism in its infancy

It was my mother who planted the feminist seed within my intellect.  I am not even sure if she remembers doing it. She was a busy lady. These days when she says she is not a feminist, I huff and puff and roll my eyes as if no time has past at all and I am still 16.

She may not consider herself a feminist but,  she sure as hell raised me to grow up into one.

She did so through the route most appealing to me, that of books. It was book she found in an opp shop one day when I was 15. The book entitled Someday My Prince Will Not Come: More Stories For Young Feminists compiled  by Rosemary Stones, was a life saver.  An intelligent raft of rhetoric ideas wrapped in pathos and the real world. Flung out to save me from drowning in the fears that I was doomed to live a life alone and undesired by the opposite sex. This collection of fiction changed my way of thinking for the better and for the more enlightened.

This illogical and incredibly insipid fear arose from a conversation I had had with my father’s mother a few days before my mother presented me with this book. The conversation went like this.

Nan: Do you want a boyfriend?

Me: Yes. (furtively and with all the angsty hope I could muster)

Nan: That must be hard.

I am sure if my Nan knew how much this affected me in the negative, she would be very upset. I am sure she did not mean to crush my tiny teenage heart. She loves me.

Even now I find this conversation baffling. What did my grandmother mean?  That I was ugly? That because of certain physical abnormalities, I was doomed to live a sexless life? To never catch the eye of a handsome stranger? I agonized over this exchange for a very long time.  It made me think that the whole reason for being a girl was to get a boyfriend and for a very long time I believed it.

Which is why this book my mother found and gave to me is so important. I will deconstructing some of my favourite short stories within Someday My Prince Will Not Come and how the Pathos was established and carried out to a very positive end: the enlightenment and confidence of one particular young woman. It did not result in the brutal and merciless obliteration of an entire generation, or in the mass suicide of brain washed men, woman and children.

Someday My Prince Will not Come, was a big burly comforting hug that began to convince my blossoming social conscious that I was not alone. Stilettos by Rosemary Stones tells of a girl who saves a shoe shop from being robbed, armed with a rather visciouse looking high heeled shoe (Stone, 1988). No man rushes to the defence quick enough. Yet in the paper the story printed tells of fruit vendor man saving the day. The short story holds a much deeper message for  any young woman reading it. That sometimes people, the media, the social paradigm in which we are enshrouded, can seem stifling and suffocating. Yet, we should not give up being strong and smart and self self-sufficient.

Sandra Chick’s story Different Rules follows one evening between a young woman and young man. The morning after she overhears him in conversation with a friend. ‘Remember our shag a slag nights?’ she hears his friend say. They both laugh and the final line is about the girl considering how there is no male word for ‘slag’ (Stone, 1988). Within this story Chick expertly uses pathos to question the readers understanding of the inherent double standard in the actions of sexual activity between men and women.  Chick appeals to our emotions through the female character of her story and also through the male character. It is not until the end that we are shown what kind of person he is and with that realization comes the same kind of sadness that the female character feels. You are disappointed and saddened by how the events have unfolded. You are disappointed and upset by the different rules that apply to girls and boys.

A Long Ride On The Carousel by Adele Geras uses two of the three main types of rhetoric in her moving and emotive piece of fiction that follows a young women’s growing pains and her friendship with an old man who stays at the  hotel she is working a holiday job at.  This story  explores a young women’s growing understanding of what real love is.. It also touches on the rather complex issue of euthanasia, of how taking a persons life is not always wrapped up in murder and a desire to cause harm. There are gray areas, extenuating circumstances. Mr Fuller explains himself quite eloquently through ethos he is able to make himself credible and trustworthy in the eyes of the young women. There is a mutual respect and this  helps him to make him seem a credible character to the reader as well. You are on his team, even though you are shocked by his comments. ‘There’s no need to be alarmed. I am not in the usual sense, a murderer. We made the plans together’ (Stone, 1988), 1988).  He killed his wife in order for her to escape a debilitating and painful disease. It is through this elderly man’s wisdom, that the young woman; Shirley leans what love and life is all about.  When she sees her boyfriend with someone else, it becomes clear to her. She realizes she deserves more and that there is no shame in being alone until you find what that ‘more’ is.  It is best advised to read this story with tissues close at hand as the pathos is plentiful.

Geraldine Kaye’s  Bargain Basement, follows the erratic and passionate Daisy’s short lived love affair with a Young man called Ben. It is through these fictional characters that you learn about the emotional intricacies of sex and love. There is so much more to sex than penis and vagina. It is through Daisy that we learn how sex can look like love if you have no idea what love looks like.  It can give you something to hold onto when you cannot feel yourself. Daisy is bored of her privileged upbringing and intelligent parents who want her to achieve all the great things that they have.  Ben is the heat on her skin when the coldness is inside of her. Daisy is not overly likeable sh is a well rendered teenage girl who fluctuates up and down and around a large list of emotions and desires. This is ok though. This story tells the reader it is ok to be adventurous to grab at life and make it jangle.  The light goes out of her eyes when she discovers what Ben really is. Her desire for him dries up and blows away like desert dust when he proves to be not in keeping with what she hoped. She does not love him. She loves and is passionate about an idea of him, a fantasy.  Daisy was given the freedom to explore her life options  (to a point) by her parents. ”They did worry of course” (Stone, 1988).

Through this story we are encouraged to contemplate the implications of a young women not given a safe and unconditionally loving safe place to grow and learn. To consider what happens when this self exploration is blocked by religious mandate and cultural taboo .

We are so lucky to live in a world where feminist information and books can be downloaded for free (sometimes). Which is why it may be easy to pass of this little book of short stories as dated and kitsch. It is a great book for young women who are in their early teens.   This particular book pin points a important moment between my mother and I and our relationship. It was  not long after that that I left my family home to complete my last two years of high school.

This book was a cute and brilliant jumping off point to ( many many years later )  discovering a whole lot of other amazing and intersectional women such as Bell Hooks, Audre Lorde, Simone De Beauvoir, Kathleen Hannah of Bikini Kill,  Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin.  Helen Razor, Catherine Deveny, Beyonce, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi, Angela Carter, Roxeanne Gay, Margaret Atwood,  and so on and so forth for infinity. I don’t think my mother had any idea what an impact that little book from an  op shop would have on her eldest daughter. Or maybe I am not giving her enough credit.

I did end up doing what my Nan had made me feel was important and impossible for me, by getting a boyfriend (easily). He took in my confidence and independent spirit and would always drunkenly comment while drunk, ‘You know, If you turned out to be a lesbian, I would not be surprised.’

Sometimes it takes getting what you are programmed to think you need, to realize you don’t need it.

 

A day long gone in September 06

They were two torn out pages with my hand writing on them. Had I torn them from a notebook years ago?  They were found amongst a box of old high school art folios and reports. The weird god stuff in my art folios made me cringe. That dumb and silly girl did not exist anymore. I threw everything including the school reports into recycling. I kept those two hand written filled pages. There was meant to be more. There was one very important thing that was missing from that box. Something I had wanted so that I could love and read and then choose to throw away myself. More on that in another post.

Here are those hand written pages. Oh.

 

 


 

September 18 2006

 

As I fold his t shirts and pair his socks I think about a day three years ago.

I was sitting on my friends front lawn in Ballarat. The sun was out but the air was crisp and cold. I was in the messy middle of my cid infatuation. My friend had come over to visit and found me in a tear filled heap on the floor listening to some whiny white boy band that tried to pass themselves of as punk.  ( Unwritten Law’s Seeing Red) My friend and her boyfriend had bundled me up from the floor and taken me to thier place for some tender loving care. It may have also been at the behest of my housemates. They may have grown bored of my morbid self indulgence.

Sitting in the winter sunshine I  watched my friend’s  adorable dog, a Jack Russel called Violet, run around the front yard gleefully sniffing out bugs and tiny creatures. My friend was trying to get me to call Sid and flat out ask him what the fuck he was playing at.

”You can use the phone in the kitchen. I will shut the door and give you privacy.” She suggested.

”Like it is that simple.” I said glumly. ”Hey Sid. Just calling to ask regarding those hand jobs I gave you. Do you love me or what?”  God, it hurt to love that idiot Sid. I did not need to call him. I had already convinced myself I knew the answer. He would laugh at my me and say that he would have  to be pretty desperate to fall in love with someone who was so rubbish at hand jobs.

It was here with my friend kindly giving me such love and patience as I wallowed in my angst and misery that this particular friend said something to me that it would take a very long time for me to believe.

‘This will have a happy ending no matter how it turns out.” I roll my eyes and grunt and then sniff. My friend continues.

‘If you and Sid sort everything out and end up together. That is happy. If Sid continues to act like an asshole of mammoth proportions you will move on and that is happy. You will eventually find someone who realizes and appreciates how weird and wonderful you are…and how great it is to kiss you.”

I say nothing and my friend’s boyfriend comes out to bring us cups of tea. Later that year my friend and that boy break up and she moves in with me and her best friend. They eventually decide to ask me to move out. It is not a surprise as I was being fazed out emotionally for months.

Now its three years later and I still have the first text Josh ever sent me four months ago.

5 june 06

Hey cutie. Just wanted you to know I had an awesome weekend and that last night was great. I should have birthdays more often. Text me if you got credit.

Even now thinking about that text makes my heart feel like it is being squeezed. he is not even pressuring me about the whole sex thing. Which is a relief.

Oh dear Ive gone and done it now. I have written his name down for the first time. I have been too scared to. What if writing it down shifted some fabric in the universe and unhinged something? Like a thread pulled once too many times resulting in the whole thing unravelling.  Its done now and there has been no shifting that I can observe with the naked eye. I will now allow myself to gush a little.

He is tall. 6ft2.

he has dark floppy hair that falls into his eyes and causes him to flick his head in way to get his hair out of his eyes.

He has the cutest New Zealand accent as he is from there.

He is interesting and darkly funny.

He loves to kiss me.

I guess that my ex friend was right.

It was only a few nights ago that he told me the whole story behind the death of his mother when he was 18 years old. He spoke in his soft deep voice and I pushed my face into his neck in an attempt comfort him. He wrapped his arms around me and held tight. I almost stopped breathing. She had been addicted to anti-depressants and pain killers.  He had come home late from a party with his then girlfriend: Angela. They had had drunken sex and fallen asleep. The next morning he was woken by a knock on his bedroom door. It was his Dad. ”I knew it. I knew it before my Dad even said anything.” My beloved boy murmured into my neck. ”Its the shittiest feeing, the feeling of loosing a parent.”

I hug him and think of his old girlfriend. I wonder what I would have done in that situation. What could you possibly do to lessen the impact of such news? Nothing.

The house is empty and we are on the living room couch. I kiss his cheek and he find my mouth with his. There is hunger there and we are hyper aware that we are alive. He gently pulls my t shirt up and over my head. He tosses it aside.

I smile to myself as I fold the last shirt. It is about 3 hours until he gets home. I cant wait.

At Night I Marry The Bed

I left my very first and only Silver Bullet vibrator in a bedroom in a large share house in Kensal Green, North London to be exact. It was 2009 and I had been happily flipping my own bean for about 4 years. I did not realize my diminutive implement of happy endings was missing until I was in Manchester. I had expected to find it while unpacking my suitcase in the bedroom of the house I would be living n and working as a nanny. I owed rent to the place in London and did not have the money. I could hardly call up Patrick the creepy live in landlord and ask if he had come across my vibrator while cleaning out my side of the bedroom. It was not all that large or expensive and I think the one double A battery that made it work had run out. I had become a little addicted to its magic as it had helped curb my initial intense homesickness and sexual frustration.

Growing up in a Mormon household (The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints). There’s a musical about us. The church had guidelines for every aspect of your life. One of the things that is considered wrong and unholy in the eyes of the lord, was masturbation.

Yes that delightful, harmless and disease free past time was considered gross and dirty. This is so funny and inexplicable to me now that I stand before you a proud and defiant apostate of the church. Apostate is just a fancy way of saying that I decided through a process of transgressions and starting to think for myself, that perhaps the church was not as great or good for me as my parents and relatives had tried to make me believe.

There is a little pamphlet that you get as soon as you turn 12. It is called For The Strength Of Youth. Inside the pages are some very lovingly written, if not condescendingly, information that invites you to dress modestly and save yourself, your sexy parts and feelings for your husband or wife. It says you are not to ‘arouse sexual feeling in your own body’. In the pamphlet you are told that Homosexuality and Lesbianism ‘is a serious sin’. You are told same sex attraction saddens the lord. ”It’s Adam and Eve. Not Adam and Steve!” This was a statement I heard hundreds of times while growing up.

Everything fun makes god sad and it confuses me that the person up stairs created all this stuff and then said ‘don’t touch any of it’.

Masturbation was not discussed. Sex was not discussed, consent and feeling safe or what constitutes a healthy relationship was not discussed.

When I was 13 I was visiting my friend from church Claire, she had an 11 year old brother. While I was visiting, his parents caught him rubbing his crotch up and down the pantry door. He had obviously just discovered how amazing it felt.

My friend and I watched as her brother was taken into the living room and sat down for a talk. We listened through the closed door. It was all so funny to us. What was he doing that for?

He could have simply been told that it was something to do in the privacy of your bedroom. He was instead told that it was not right. He was told that, ‘You just don’t do it.’ ‘Just don’t do it’ is basically the cornerstone of the Mormon religion.

I never understood why the church told young people not to masturbate. It was disease and pregnancy risk free. Did you really want to be so very ignorant about what made you feel sexually wonderful on your wedding night? Wouldn’t it be better if you could help steer your brand new spouse around the map of your body? Have the vocabulary and confidence to say what you needed? No. Refrain from all of it and you shall remain pure in the eyes of the lord. That creep was always watching you with love and judgement.

Which is why I did not discover the joys of self -love until I was 23 and had been living out of home since I was 16. The guilt and shame surrounding sex is something that I found difficult to unlearn.

I got a job on the tropical holiday destination of the wealthy: Hamilton Island. The job involved cleaning up fancy apartments, after rich young adults had partied and puked and left grand amounts of alcohol behind. Because, when you are rich like that, you waste shit. The other cleaners and I would collect it and sneak it back to our rooms.

I was still a virgin at this stage and when the rumour that Hamilton Island had the highest rate of STDs in Australia. I got scared and decided I was not loosing my V while on an island full of people who may or may not have the disease that gives you cluster warts on you genitals.

It was there with the warm breezes and sounds of the ocean floating through my window, that I slowly entered the wonder and majesty of self- reliant sexual pleasure. It was all very tentative at first, just a small and nervous hand caressing the stomach and slowly, very freaking slowly it moved towards the front of my underwear. over the knickers and until I found the spot that made my heart start humming and a feeling that was so so good it amazed me that I had been made to feel so bad about it and put off doing it for so long. You could say that my working holiday on a tropical island was also a sort of honeymoon period for myself.

 

It was not jus that it felt good. Learning to make my own body feel sexually aroused was a huge deal. My body up until that point, had never really felt like my own. It always felt like it was being shared or dissected or cut open and my insides moved around or added to. My body was a slab of malfunctioning meat and it was not nusual for it to be stripped down and stared at by multiple medical professionals at a time. It did not happen all at once, this awakening and feeling like my body could be sexual. When you ar a kid with a body that is fascinating medically, it is easy to feel like you have no control over what happens to you and the skin you are in. While on that tropical island I discovered that I had way more control over my body than I was led to believe. Learning how to make this body sing a little and learning what caresses worked and the ones that didn’t, was like a whole new world was right under my nose and I had the magic key.

All that wasted time reading the Book Of Mormon in preparation for the end of days. All that time spent believing that Jesus is going to come to earth a second time and you better be on the right and sexually pure side when he arrives. What a wasted adolescence. I wonder if I would not have been so sad had I known how to make myself feel like the second coming of Christ, without the judgement and the end of the world.

After that I became aware that it was great for calming my nerves or helping me fall asleep. What an invention of the human nervous system. To think all through uni, I thought if I did anything like this, it indicated I could not get a boyfriend. Thanks to the church really pushing the whole hetero-normative patriarchal, only get sexy when its your husband helping, ideology. I thought fluffing my own cream puff, indicated that I was as ugly and doomed to die alone, as all those truly horrendous and lame Mormon dances had me believing. It did not prove anything except independence.

I did not need a girlfriend/boyfriend. I only needed my clean hands, a sexy imagination and a quiet moment.

Thirteen Hours & Chocolate.

Once the news that you could sign a sheet with your email address and log on to the website, in order to get your two 40$ tickets to The Book Of Mormon The Musical, the queer kids behind me hastily signed the sheets and went home. They were weak, I thought as my resolve simply grew stronger. I was not going home without two tickets held in my own hands. I had come too far to simply go home now. Also, I did not really trust the internet. What if the site crashed? I would rather stand here in this line without any food or water, than I would want to bother with annoying internet forms and such. I had exactly 80$ in my wallet and no money in the bank. I felt like a lone wolf or half of a gun fight at dawn: focused and pulled tight with concentration.

The queer kids were very interesting. There was the amazing male identifying kid who was wearing the most amazing yellow blazer I had ever seen. He had seen the musical in New York and simply thought getting cheap tickets would be a good way to get a babe to date him and make out with him. The female identifying friend wearing a dress they said thier mother got for them and was ”vintage as it was from the 90s!’ Had recently gotten released from a psych ward. There was an American girl who was wearing an adorable dress covered in a cat print. She had also seen the musical in New York and thought it would be nice to get some cheap tickets. She was not too bothered as she was just happy to hang in the line with her friends.  Yellow blazer had a huge picnic blanket that they spread out so we could all sit on it as we waited in the line. It was 8am at this point and the line was huge. I happily sat on the blanket with the baby queer kids and they suggested we go around the circle and introduce ourselves and our preferred pronouns. The weather was cool and the sky was cloudy.

There had been people camping out the front of the Prices Theatre since 4pm the day before. I noticed people on thier way to work staring at the line. One man in shorts and thongs had his phone out and simply filmed the entire line from across the street. I glared at him as he walked past my section of line.  Having people to talk to did make the time go quicker. It was nice to know I had my book in my bag in case I got tired of talking.  These kids seemed very young and I had no doubt I would tire of it eventually. Yellow blazer was talking about how upset they got at someone at a party who had commented that they often felt uncomfortable around white men. I thought this was an understandable feeling. Yellow Blazer explained how victimised they felt at such a statement. I stayed silent with some difficulty.  The line moved a little bit and we all stood up and picked up the blanket to move forward four steps.

I listened to Cat dress and Yellow blazer discuss their  views on dating as the person in the 90s dress lay with their head in the lap of Yellow Blazer. The sun had come out a bit stronger and I removed my own less amazing blazer that had been free from a friend who was almost as short in stature as I. ”I just want to kiss all the babes.” Yellow Blazer exclaimed. I noticed they were also wearing an amazing button up navy shirt with a bow tie.  There was so much I loved about the outfit.  Cat Dress did not share Yellow Blazer’s enthusiasm for babe kissing, or, she did not care for what was required in order to get to the babe kissing part. ”I just find dating incredibly tiresome.” She said in her American twang.  The kids did not ask me anything about myself at all. It was wonderful. The talked excitedly and without taking any breath. It was as if every single word was of the utmost importance and had to be shared straight away.

Once the line had moved to a point where you could see Amphlett Lane and the street art showing the iconic school uniform that  Chrissy Amphlett often wore and her two beloved dogs.  The queer kids started squealing about how cute the doggos were. ”That lane is named after the lead singer of The Divinyls.” I said. ”Do the dogs have anything to do with her?” Yellow Blazer asked.  ”Yes, they were hers.” I said. ”You should youtube her band. They are amazing.” Yellow Blazer nods.They have no intention of looking up some old lady band.

It is about at this time that we are informed that all the 20$ tickets are gone. My heart sinks a bit. We are told that it is not to despair as if you stay in line you can still get two 40$ tickets. I sigh in relief and double check my funds. The cool breeze blowing through the city is lovely and I am glad the day is not hot. I figure that free coffee should  give me adequate sustenance for all this line standing. Some guy with a big camera stalks around taking photographs. Up the line there is a man and women in faded clothes. They are standing with their arms around each other and the woman is laughing. There is a fold up stool and a plastic bag next to them. The man and woman break away and the man sits on the stool and pulls out a note book and a pen. ”We were going to go to the pool after this.” He says laughing.  He sits on his stool and jots stuff down in his notebook. It is not a moleskin. It is one of those ones you can buy at a supermarket for $2,95.  Another group of older people in the line have become friends while waiting. They discuss their children and how much rain they have gotten during the week. They discuss parking and what kind of fresh hell the traffic will be when they finally get to drive home. They are cheerful and in good spirits. Holding each others place in the line for toilet trips and snack missions.

The line keeps moving in tiny ways and larger more positive ways. The yellow Blazer and friends are getting quiet and more bored. When the sheets for email sign ups get handed around they sign and flee. I was hoping more people in front of me would vacate the line. Some people do go home and I find myself standing behind two older ladies in their 50s to early 60s. They are sitting on milk crates and offer me the spare one. ”You can sit on my scarf if the crate is to sharp.” One of the ladies says. Her name is Ann and her friend is Karen. I sit on the crate and fall into easy conversation with the two women.

Karen and Ann knew each other back when they lived in Wagga, but they were not friends or enemies. They both moved to Melbourne within a 3 month period and became close friends around the time their marriages dissolved at the same time. ”That is so wonderful.” I said. ”That our marriages fell apart or that we became friends?” Ann said. ”Could it be wonderful that both things happened?” I asked. Ann wrinkled her nose in response ‘Nah.” She replied. They had been friends for over ten years.  They love the theatre and usually buy tickets for something to go see together for every birthday. ”We are both geminis.” Ann says. ”I think that means something.”

‘I do not.” Karen says.

There is a great deal of excitement when we get to the point in the line that is actuall at the start of the line with velvet rope that creates a snake at the frot of the theatre. It is nearly time and I can hear people cheering as they exit the theatre with tickets. I decide I will not cheer. I will quietly and with dignity, exit the theatre and make my way to Parliment station. The milk crates are a bit annoying now so I leave mine for someone else to sit on.When the women find out that I was raised Mormon they have some questions. ”What made you leave?” I say that I simply started thinking for myself and i found I could not be a feminist and go to church without wanting to tear my hair out and scream in frustration.

Karen asks me a question that makes me stop and think hard. ”Is there anything that you got from being raised in the mormon church?”

”Good stories to tell strangers.” I say quickly. ”Its a weird thing to have first hand knowledge of.” I say. ”I guess I am glad that I have that lived experience as writing fodder.” My new friends look interested and I can feel that they are listening and its nice. ”It is also really great to have so many rules to break.” I say. Sex and drinking wine is so much fun when you first start doing it, because you have been told so many times how sad that stuff will make you.”

There are a group of young kids ahead of us who are playing cards as they wait. There is a very large man in a Star Wars t shirt standing and chatting to another very large man wearing a Hawaiian shirt. There is an Asian man standing behind me in a blue t shirt with CALIFORNIA written across the front. Karen asks him if he has been to California. ‘No.’He says. ”The t shirt was from Kmart.”  He turns to me. ”Jessica.” He says. ”Your name is Jessica isn’t it?”

”Yep.”

”Is Mormonism like Scientology?” He asks this very respectfully and with great interest. It is a great question.  ”I would say no at my first instinct.” I say. ”BUT! I do think they have some things in common. Both religions were started by white men. Both have a badly written manifesto. One written by the founder of scientology himself and the other translated from golden plates that a boy was told about at age 14 or so. Mormon people do not live on a boat like  Scientology people did. The level of famous people involved in both religions is varied as well. Scientology has Tom Cruise and John Travolta. The Mormons have Mitt Romney and the  Brandon Flowers who is lead singer of The Killers.”

The man in the California t shirt has a plastic bag with him that contains a few bottles of water, some empty and one unopened. He offers me the unopened  water. I accept with gratitude.   I gulp the water and it sloshes around my throat. It is 6pm.  People who saw us on their way to work now see us as they return home. Karen gives me some fresh limes from her bag. Ann has a lime tree and Karen slept over at her friend’s apartment last night. ”These will go great in my gin and tonics.” I say. ”Thank you.” Ann and Karen start planning their celebration of getting tickets. They are in need of a stiff drink and some food. They invite me to join them. I really want to. I cannot as I only have money for the tickets. ”I would love to.” I say. ”I have plans already.”

It is 7pm when I and my new friends get to the ticket sellers. I hand over my cash and get two tickets printed and handed to me. I share excited exclamations and Karen and Ann ask me when I’m going. ”10TH of Feb.” I say. ”The ladies get my blog details and promise to look my writing up as does the lovely gentlemen in the blue California t shirt who is in the process of getting him and his wife tickets as I say my goodbyes.

I make my way to Parliament station and ride the escalator down to platforms 3 and 4. I walk past the vending machine and stare longingly at the treats I have no change for. It occurs to me for no other reason than curiosity, to put my hand into the part where treats drop after you have swiped your card or put change in. My hand comes into contact with a bag of something. It is cold and I pull it out excitedly.

It is a bag of Malt Teasers.

I sit on the train with tickets to the Mormon musical, two free and fresh limes and a free bag of chocolate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Years Eve Tarot Read

It is new years eve and it seemed like a good day to go and do something I had never done before: get a tarot reading.  Growing up under the teachings of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints, it was advised to avoid anything that was in the realm of witch craft and trying to contact spirits. It was said that the spirits in this world were actually working for satan, so trying to chat with them was pretty silly and dangerous. You really only need to watch that amazing 90s teen film, The Craft to know that it is not the power or spell that is bad,  there is o bad or good except in the heart of the witch. No wonder the LDS church wanted you avoiding that, it completely rendered all the patriarchal god fearing and hell fire stuff null and void. It placed the power in you.

So I went to The Royal Arcade off Bourke Street Mall and found the adorable and busy pagan shop: Spell Box and made an appointment to see and be seen by Joyce. While I waited I looked around the store and considered by a candle that came with a tiny owl pendant. The candle was to be lit on a full moon and used to inspire wisdom. I looked at bracelets made from jade stones and tried them on my wrists to see if they would fall off easily. The stones felt cold and smooth on my skin.  There was some young tween girls looking at fancy looking boxes  with their Dad.  ”It is beautiful.” The Dad said as he crouched down with his daughter. ”Will it fit all the stuff you want to put in it, though?”

When it is my time, I am approached by a buxom woman in her late forties. She  has perfect ruby red lips and  curly blonde hair pulled up and tesed around her face. She is wearing paisley and her skirts tinkle with tiny bells. I smile as she leads me up some stairs and ushers me into a dark room with a lamp and a small round table with a satin cloth draped over it. The room is hot like an oven. The fan is too loud so we leave it off.

”You can record the session on your phone if you like.” Joyce tells me. After fiddling with my iphone for a bit, I realize I have no idea how to record. ”Is it an iphone or android?”

”Iphone.” I say.

”I cant help you, I’m afraid.”

I laugh and put my phone away. ”My person would feel very validated by your comment.” I say. ”They hate iphones.”

Joyce looks at me and says, ”You have a partner?” Damn I was not meant to give her any free info about me, I think. I nod as I mentally kick myself.

They are creative and are very intuitive to the rage and anger within others. I am told and I agree. Joyce says that they are creative and do not focus on or express their own creativity enough. I nod in agreement. They need to channel the rage and anger around and in them and pool it into their own creative endevours.  Joyce stops and leans back in her chair with tarot cards in hands. ”This does not help you, though. But, wanting the people to love to  succeed encourage them to carry out their own dreams, is pretty important.” You cannot argue with that. I really want them to do their own stuff as they are just so talented and have so much more to offer than merely being part of other peoples visions.

Joyce tells me a bit about herself: raised catholic and completed a degree in psychology. She always felt a great spiritual presence or power around her and within. Not the spiritual power that the catholic church pushes: one of guilt and self hate. She asks me what brings me here. I tell her curiosity. ”I was raised in a religion that taught all this stuff was evil and should be avoided at all costs.” I tell her. ”I was too scared to even take part in sleep over seances as a teen, because the Mormon church strongly advised that stuff opened up your soul to the devil. ” I ell her that now that I am a grown up and no longer feel tied down by the fear of hell and an angry heavenly father, I can do things that I have always wanted to do or experience. Once you have ticked off the big ones: sex before marriage, alcohol consumption, tea drinking, recreational drug use. You need to get more imaginative.

 

”Do you work?”

The question makes me look down and then up again. I avoid her eyes and then gather my courage. Her eyes are kind and questioning. There is no malice there, it is only in me and directed at me. ”If you mean gainfully employed in full time work, no.”

”I didn’t actually. I meant what do you do thats important to you.”

My shoulders unclench and I feel my spine sigh a little as it releases tension. I straighten my tiny rounded shoulders as much as they will allow. ”I write. I want to be a great writer.” I say. It feels so good to say it out loud. In the tiny,  one lamp  lit windowless room, the statement feels like a confession fused with an declaration.   ”Im getting a strong welfare sense from you.” I nod and frown. I am told that this is not to be ashamed off. The work that I do writing and making my voice heard is an important work and should not be considered of lesser value that working in a 9 to 5. Joyce tells me that my words and point of view mean a great deal to a great many people and will continue to matter. I am told that the kindness of the state  allows me to do my important work that matters to people. ”You need to let go of all that fear that surrounds you in regards to your writing upsetting certain people.” Joyce tells me.

I am asked to divide the tarot card deck into three piles and pick a pile to take a card from. I do this and choose the top of the left pile.  Joyce is doing card stuff and my bad eyes do not allow me to see whats on the cards. I concentrate on what she is saying.  ”I ma getting a very strong child vibe and nurture.” Joyce tells me.

”I cant have kids.” I tell her. I feel a bit deflated at this. ”You don’t need to have kids in order to be nurturing. It could mean that you need to nurture your own belief in yourself. It could relate to how you value friendships and relationships. What is your relationship like with your mother?” I groan and make a face. ”Not good?” I shake my head. Joyce places cards on the table as she speaks. She says something that makes me squirm in discomfort, or is that recognition of something inside myself I am too ashamed to ever say out loud? ”You feel  you would have done a better job at mothering than your mother did with you.” Joyce says. I stare up at the ceiling and turn my attention to the lamp light splashed across the wall. That is a horrible thing to think. I think. I nod slowly. It is true. I do think that sometimes. I wont ever get to know for sure though as I dont want any children. Being the eldest and having all that responsability when still a  child myself, killed any mothering desires I may have had. ”I would have done things differently.” I say softly.

”You are on two very different plains.”  I try to keep my adamant nodding to a minimum so I don’t break my own neck.  ”I know she loves me but I do not feel connected to her at all.”

”She does not see your light.You are scared of writing what you need and want too as it will upset certain relationships, your mother/ daughter relationship in particular. You need to let go of all that angst and mother related fear and focus on doing what is important to you. You cannot control how people respond to your work. It is doing it and  continuing to do it that is most important.”

Joyce encourages me to put it out in the universe, my wish or want or desire.

”Mother. I am going to write my truth and do what matters most to me. I am sorry. I love you. I have to this.”

I need to treat my writing more as a buisness. Joyce tells me that in the next three months I must focus on it more fully and even go away somewhere quiet and rural. I need to go away somewhere where there is a lake and mountains and I can sit and write with a view of the lake and be undisturbed. This sounds wonderful to me. I know you should be able to work anywhere as a writer, but, I would love to go somewhere with a lake view and solitude. I ask to see the card that is giving her this idea and she places it in front f me. She points to the tiny mountains in the bottom left of the card. I read the words at the bottom of the card: ACE of SWORDS. I look up at Joyce. ”Oh wow.” I say. ”This card is making some connections for me. It is bringing to mind a specific heart break that I’m basing a novel on. The person it is making me think of did not mean too but did break my heart.” I pause for a long moment.

”I helped a little.”

”You need to work on that book. What is something about that relationship that you are grateful for?”

I sit and think. ”They took my writing seriously.” I say. ”They were one of the first people to see me as  talented and that I should share my writing instead of hiding it.” With that statement I proved that the ace of swords card can uncover a new way of thinking about certain situations. It can indicate a push to stop certain self delusions and focus on a brighter and more realistic perspective

Joyce encourages me to let go and put less energy into focusing on past relationships and focus more on the relationships that I have now. Common sense to some but revelatory to me.  I may need to only do this to a point as past heart break is pretty good for poems and writing. There needs to be a certain amount of conflict or unrequited feelings.

The final portion of the read revolves around decisions and feelings of worry and fear of the future in regards to life and goals and feeling far behind others when it comes to success and progress. I am presented with the hanged man card. Joyce tells me this could represent a release of control and encourages me to not stress about all the decisions all at once and right now. It is ok to not have it all figured out. I feel comforted by this. I ask Joyce.

”Do you think that some of my stress about not being completely convinced of many things, comes from the whole being raised in a religion that claims to have every part of life sorted and planned? Because it is scary not knowing what will happen when I die but I’m much happier being more flexible in my brain space. My mind puffs are much puffier without organized religion deflating them.”

”That is certainly a very good interpretation.” Joyce tells me. It is then that she lets me know our time is up. We stand and I gather my tote. ”Give me a hug.” I do so and it is a wonderful soft hug. It could be due to the heat but I feel light headed and full of a inner fizz.  It was 55 dollars well spent. I did not feel my soul opening up to satan. I simply felt freshly imbued with new found purpose and lust for living my life.