A lot of people think it’s offensive the way white girls sell into the “gay bestfriend” cliche peddled by media like Sex and the City, Will & Grace, Mean Girls etc. And while I agree that it is wrong to commodify or trivialise a person’s sexual orientation for a personal reputational gain, I think the appeal for girls mostly lies in the fact that the “gay bestfriend” is probably the safest male-relationship she’ll ever have.
I wake up in the night and feel my eyebrows knot angrily as I remember. Isn’t that moment of divine clarity before your life comes rushing in so precious? When your mind is devoid and everything seems wonderful. Contentedness rushes in only a millisecond quicker than reality. But, like clockwork, reality always pours into the cracks of your mind soon after. Your arm is not there to be placed beneath my pillow. Your hand will not snake around my body to rest at the top of my chest. Your lips will not mumble ‘I love you’ into the warm nape of my neck. Your body warmth will not keep me warmer than any blanket or hoodie or heater. Your breathing will not synchronise with mine, lulling me back to slumber. You are not here.
Well, it’s finally coming. After a six-month-long parade of every single uncomfortable LNP member blurting out on Q&A, ”so announce the election date then!” when stunned by a question, the ALP have announced the election date.
Lucky for the media industry. Faced with the prospect of expensive newspaper paywalls, major magazines like Grazia and Madison going under and journalists expected to be performing with so many expertises they may as well invest in some Inspector Gadget apparel, an election is the perfect content to fill up every inch of any media period. Seriously, if a whale happened to grow opposable thumbs (and fingers, and hands, for that matter) and managed to spear some japanese ‘scientist’ right back, I doubt we’d hear about it. Unless an asylum seeker boat travelled within a 1-mile radius of it happening.
Rudd was quick to declare a fair, just and authentic campaign free of the tattle-tales of yesteryear. Of course, we all had a jolly good laugh rather like goose-chinned english aristocrats smoking cigars made from starving children. Of course it was going to be ruthless. And the nails are well and truly out. Asylum seeker policies are getting crazier by the second (buy the boats for the same price it costs them to make them? Reminds me of a cashback offer I once took up when buying a hair straightener at Harvey Norman), budgets are getting shuffled so quickly it’s like our health, education, agriculture and infrastructure are all playing a nation-wide game of musical chairs and politicians are spitting venom in 140 characters or less like a bunch of cobras (question: what is the correct plural for cobras? A spaghetti?)
However, I’ve never seen the line between left and right get so seriously blurred. It’s like the LNP did a Zoolander-esque “turn right in a full 180 degrees and end up facing left” maneuver with the recently announced maternity leave scheme, and who can forget the outrage from undernourished uni students on Triple Js Hack program when Rudd announced his alliance with Indonesia in offshore processing of asylum seekers.
What I see as the central issue in this election isn’t to do with policy. Psuedo-politicos are quick to denounce your political commentary on social media by declaring with all the authority of Julius Caesar himself; “you DON’T vote for Rudd or Abbott - you VOTE for the party”. But do you?
Maybe it’s because I’ve studied way too much discourse in my degree. Maybe it’s because I was raised by a mother with a sociology degree. But all I can think of is the mass social consciousness of Australians.
Lets be honest. The budget will not, for the majority of Australians, ruin your life. In fact, the majority of Australians are extremely well off. We have one of the highest standards of living in the world. We have a great medicare system, the option of HECS debt for studying and crime is relatively low in comparison to the rest of the world. The “cost of living” is a slogan that was fed to you by a very clever public relations team. Look around. If you have a flat screen television, more than one car in your family and you take a holiday nationally or internationally, you’re doing great.
What is really going to be the defining feature of the future in my opinion is the social awareness of Australia. Let’s be honest. We, as a country, already have a bit of a reputation for being casually racist, sexist, homophobic, just about any bigotry you can name in the past. So, what do you want for the future of Australia? LNP, by historical standards, are conservative by definition. Abbott, the leader of the party, is notorious for taking this agenda and vomiting it up whenever a camera points at him. He has casually declared that “abortion is the easy way out”, “there is no longer institutional racism in australia”, and of course, that he is “threatened” by homosexuality.
Is this what we want for Australians? Is casual blatant discrimination from the leader of our country okay with you? Don’t we want to move forward, right our terrible wrongdoings of the past by systematically working towards a society based on equality? On a ‘fair go’ for everyone, despite their gender, sexuality, skin colour?
What I ask is, how could Australians elect a party led by a man who holds damaging and backward views that actually halt the wheels of progression and send them right back into the 1950s? With comments that belittle a professional woman to little more than “feisty” and with “sex appeal” (actually reads like the back of a catwoman costume), comments that completely deny racism towards indigenous Australians in public and with invalidating comments on two people’s love being nothing more than a trend, what is the message we send to our future world? As long as you’re a white-privately-schooled-man-in-speedos you can prosper in a modern white-privately-schooled-man-in-speedos world?
Yes. The LNP have been ‘consistent’ amongst a changing ALP political environment over the past few years. Consistent, in supporting a leader who continually demonstrates shocking and blatantly narrow-minded opinions that strip many Australians of their basic human rights to live a fair and just life, free of discrimination.
I wake up suddenly, bathed in morning light and irritated that my pajama pants had ridden up around my lightly scarred knees in the night. I lean down to push them back down to their rightful place around my ankles and my lower back fires like a gun - CRACK! You always loved my lower back. You’d tease me about the feathered fine hairs, so brief and concealed that even in a bathing suit no one but you could notice. I push myself out of my bed, squealing softly at the laptop charger cord under foot. You always laughed at the assortment of noises I make - a different noise for each difference unlucky occurrence that invariably happens to me. You mimicked me, but never got them quite right.
You sit against the warmth of the window, letting your green eyes slide in and out of focus as the train zipped along the landscape. You spot a lone farmer, tending to ghostly cows, and entertain yourself briefly with the idea of a sensual, cheesecloth-wearing Italian honey with dark curls back home waiting to be spanked. You haven’t felt the warmth of a woman in some months, and your daydreams are always warm and sensual. Your train pulls up, you stand up, pick up your backpack and swing it around to your back. Too hard. It smacks against the face of the man with the fine moustache seated next to you. Enraged, bloody-nosed and yelling in Italian, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a knife. It plunges easily into your chest, through the gaps in your ribcage. The tip pierces your heart.
I strip quickly in the chill of the morning and turn the shower taps on. Sizing my figure up in the mirror for a moment, I run my hands down the tops of my swollen breasts and along the curviness of my hips. I tweak my nipples, once, twice. My womanly figure was my biggest shame as a teen - too big here, too saggy there, and what’s with the tummy? I had only just fallen in love with it in the past year. Photos that had been sent to the satellite far above my head and then onto your iPhone through some terrible hostel WIFI had slowly stitched a shaky confidence together. Never ever send naked photos, I had told my teenage cousins sternly. The body is a temple, not to be circulated casually. I step beneath the force of the hot water above.
You run a comb through your messy hair, revealing your rather large cowlick. Just like Sinatra, you hope. You spot a very small mole near your hairline, and think of how I used to kiss it softly. Your friends are yelling at you from the tiny downstairs bar. You give yourself an uncertain smile in the mirror, and you notice your dimple crease in your face. You suddenly remember me tickling you to make it surface, and your stomach flips. You walk down the rickety staircase. There is already a drink on the bar, waiting for you. The toothless bartender leers at you, mutters incoherently, and wipes a foggy pint glass with a dirty rag. Your friends begin to chant in the only Spanish they know. “ABAJO! ABAJO! ABAJO!”. You throw the drink down and choke slightly from the contents - there is something extra in it you can’t identify. The bartender watches easily as you clutch your throat, collapse. You don’t feel your head crack fatally against the steel bar stool. The room dissolves.
I stare at the contents of my cupboard. It’s winter, but the temperature is a balmy 20 degrees. I smile at the cloudless sky, but I’m no fool - winter is an icy temptress in this part of the world. I had often been fooled into wearing a flimsy summer dress until I disappeared around some corner into a shadow, and then my skin had burst ceremoniously into a thousand goosebumps. I finger a dress you always loved, pausing for a moment - it was white, backless, and with big red roses across it. I wonder why I haven’t worn it since you left. Maybe I don’t like the dress, just the way you looked at me in it. I reach out for it and slip it on. It falls easily around my figure - a little looser than before. I had been eating quite a lot less since you left. No one to cook up gorgeous oily pastas and garlic-laden generous breakfasts with. I tucked my feet into some sandals and grabbed my text book. Uni readings in the sun, I decided. I’ll show winter.
You’re walking along a cobbled stone street, and you watch a buxom woman air a dusty blanket out a window far above. She waves, and you wave back. Your camera hangs around your neck - your parents had spent an amount that would purchase a small car on that camera, and you had grown very skilled at using it. You are a natural at a lot of things I’m not. A small boy scampers up to you. “Bonsoir monsieur, puis-je avoir des bonbons?” You laugh. You’ve picked up a small but proud amount of French, but you reply in English instead. “I have no candy, sorry!”. You snap a quick picture of him, focusing your lens on the grin nearly splitting his face in two - sans his two front teeth. A woman suddenly falls onto the street out of the door of a nearby bar, closely followed by a man yelling French obscenities. You rush over to help her, thinking of me very suddenly. He smashes his beer bottle and plunges it toward her neck. It hits yours instead, and shards of glass pierce and sever your essential veins.
I sit at a local espresso bar, right on the beach. It is chic and loud, and the bohemian staff smile quickly at me as they rush past. It is quarter past the afternoon and I stretch generously, listening to the small pop! of a couple of fingers. I smile as I think of the night ahead - just five hours of sleep, and then a three hour train ride to the big city to see you as you alight your plane. 179 days had passed, and there was only a measly half of one to go. A coffee is placed in front of me. The barista had woven a small rich brown heart in the froth from the silken white milk. I wonder if I will share my next coffee with you, or whether we will be bed-bound for days.
You sit stiffly in your seat, reading the inflight safety instructions. Somebody, perhaps a bored young girl or a nervous young boy, had drawn all over the last frame. Two animated asian men sit in the seats next to you, and they both shoot you a big grin simultaneously. You smile back, maybe a little too generously because of your nerves. They don’t seem to notice. A flight attendant announces a welcome over the intercom, first in Japanese and then English. After what seems like centuries, the plane rumbles to life and slowly begins to move. It rolls along the runway, so large that it seems the rest of the world moves instead and the plane stays stationary. Gathering speed, you brace for your guts to fall as the plane becomes airborne. Instead, there is a deafening smash and groan so loud your ears pop painfully, coming from somewhere ahead. You smell fuel and sit frozen in your seat, but you don’t see the two symmetrical fireballs that travel down both symmetrical isles, coming for you.
I stand nervously at gate ten, shifting my weight onto one foot and then the other. I ran my fingers along the hem of the rose dress. Your flight is a little early, the pixellated screen says. Ragged travellers begin to pour out of the gates, pushing heavy trolleys stacked like a tetris game with mismatched luggage and holding sleepy toddlers in their arms. You appear. You’re one of the last to come out, because you waited for everyone to go ahead of you. You’re scanning the crowd - you haven’t spotted me yet. You’re close - I spy the mole along your hairline. You lock eyes with me and your pace quickens. You drop your luggage on my toes, but I don’t notice. Your lips are against mine.
Today I sat on hold to Centrelink for 42 minutes. So I decided to write a short story while I was waiting. Enjoy.
Emma sat on her lounge with her legs tucked uncomfortably beneath her. She never could sit like the average person – she wondered idly if it had something to do with her figure. Slightly torso heavy but small from the hips down, she was what her mother described as an ‘apple’ shape.
She had been waiting on hold to Centrelink for around ten minutes now. The hold music was classical and mildly pleasant to listen to, which slightly compensated the fact that she was essentially bound to her phone until they answered. That’s the thing with being on hold – the longer you’re on hold, the worse you feel about hanging up. As every minute passes, you get more and more invested in your time being validated by an answer. You also grow equal parts irritable.
She put her phone onto speaker and got up and walked onto her balcony. Ironic, that she had just had a 700-word feature article published in her local paper on the weekend and she could, from the balcony, make out the figures frolicking whales in the ocean. Yet she was on the phone to Centrelink to fix her government payments that had been unceremoniously ceased for two weeks now… Well, not yet. Suddenly, she heard a knuckle rap her front door. She went down and answered it. A young, pimple faced boy stared back at her.
“Do you have a moment to talk about our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ?” he braced, as if expecting the door to be slammed in his face.
Emma was not religious in the slightest, and having been through the catholic school system, thought she could probably tell HIM a thing or two about Jesus Christ. But she felt for the young boy. He looked so forlorn, standing there and just wanting to offer some sort of spiritual solace. Besides, it’s not like she could do anything else. She could hear the classical hold music still playing in the background.
“Sure”, she said, putting her hands on her hips.
“But make it quick, I’m on hold to Centrelink”
“Oh”, the young boy said, his face crinkling into pity.
“Been on hold a while now?”
“About fifteen minutes. Hopefully not too much longer now, but who could be sure?” she sighed.
“I know what you mean. The apocalypse could come to pass and that damn classical hold music would still be playing. In fact, there’s a scary insight to Hell. A room, a phone on hold to Centrelink… but no one ever takes the call!” he finished, dramatically.
“But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised,” Emma contemplated.
“Jesus himself said it would be this way, isn’t that right?”
The boy nodded energetically, and hastily went to begin to speak. But Emma continued.
“‘Those who most want to assist others in need will always be scarce’, blah blah… Not that it’s much of a surprise. Philosophers and spiritual leaders have been preaching this message for centuries.”
The young boy’s face turned to one of surprise.
“Really?” he asked, curiously. “Like who?”
Taken aback that this was apparently a new concept to the boy, Emma paused for a second.
“Well, Socrates, Plato, Confucius, Aristotle…”
The classical hold music continued to play somewhere behind her.
“But what was their message? Surely it wasn’t as wonderful as Jesus’!” he asked.
“Well yes, actually, it was. ‘Love one another’ is an ancient message that the majority of philosophers have concluded in one way or another.”
“Wow!” the boy said. “Why doesn’t anyone talk about that?”
“Well they do, though perhaps not the people you are around. Look up some teachings of ancient philosophers. Seems like something you might benefit from…”
“But I’m the one that’s meant to be providing you with the spiritual guidance” the boy said, exasperated with his thwarted efforts.
Somewhere in the distance, she heard a voice. Centrelink! They must have finally answered! She dashed back into her loungeroom, leaving the boy at her door quite oblivious as he stood deep in thought.
No answer. They had hung up.
“JESUS CHRIST!” she yelled angrily, and threw her phone down on the lounge.
“No, Socrates and Aristotle and Plato, apparently!” the boy yelled, and she heard him depart.
Step 1: Cook for the husband and children you will never have. Eat each of their portions and sob uncontrollably. Realise no one will ever love you.
Step 2: Wear a bra to bed. Spend sleepless night squirming uncontrollably as satan himself constricts your chest with a $90.00 Oroton straight jacket complete with itchy lace near your nipples. Be too lazy to remove it despite growing murderous irritation levels.
Step 3: Live alone. Wake up in the night and list the ways a murderer could break into your house. Get home with groceries for the week and sing out to an empty house, “Honey, I’m home!”. Sob uncontrollably.
Step 4: Buy a fish. Discuss current affairs and weather with fish. Realise your life, like the fish’s, is meaningless. Sob uncontrollably.
Step 5: Run a bath. Strip clothes off, get in bath. Realise bath is a single degree less than hot. Compensate by adding too much hot water. Feel skin blister with heat of now boiling bath. Sob uncontrollably.
Step 6: Hide all chargers for laptop and phone in obscure place. Spend evening using technology that teases you like your childhood bully with varying estimations of battery life that hover between fifteen minutes and three.
Step 7: Put warm socks on. Walk into bathroom while floor is sopping wet from your unceremonious exit and earlier sobbing from aforementioned failed bath. Sob uncontrollably.
Step 8: Have no money due to exorbitant atm withdrawl fees at all of your favourite terrible pubs. Watch as closest friends board planes for exotic destinations. Buy coconut water to feel more contiki. Realise coconut water tastes like dishwashing water. Slowly come to resent all friends and alienate self.
Step 9: Have one hit wonder blogging post. Attempt to match viral nature of aforementioned post. Fail. Realise your life has climaxed at twenty-two and your fifteen minutes is now finished. Milk fifteen minutes until appropriate amount of worthlessness is felt.
1. push yourself to get up before the rest of the world - start with 7am, then 6am, then 5:30am. go to the nearest hill with a big coat and a scarf and watch the sun rise.
2. push yourself to fall asleep earlier - start with 11pm, then 10pm, then 9pm. wake up in the morning feeling re-energized and comfortable.
3. erase processed food from your diet. start with no lollies, chips, biscuits, then erase pasta, rice, cereal, then bread. use the rule that if a child couldn’t identify what was in it, you don’t eat it.
4. get into the habit of cooking yourself a beautiful breakfast. fry tomatoes and mushrooms in real butter and garlic, fry an egg, slice up a fresh avocado and squirt way too much lemon on it. sit and eat it and do nothing else.
5. stretch. start by reaching for the sky as hard as you can, then trying to touch your toes. roll your head. stretch your fingers. stretch everything.
6. buy a 1L water bottle. start with pushing yourself to drink the whole thing in a day, then try drinking it twice.
7. buy a beautiful diary and a beautiful black pen. write down everything you do, including dinner dates, appointments, assignments, coffees, what you need to do that day. no detail is too small.
8. strip your bed of your sheets and empty your underwear draw into the washing machine. put a massive scoop of scented fabric softener in there and wash. make your bed in full.
9. organise your room. fold all your clothes (and bag what you don’t want), clean your mirror, your laptop, vacuum the floor. light a beautiful candle.
10. have a luxurious shower with your favourite music playing. wash your hair, scrub your body, brush your teeth. lather your whole body in moisturiser, get familiar with the part between your toes, your inner thighs, the back of your neck.
11. push yourself to go for a walk. take your headphones, go to the beach and walk. smile at strangers walking the other way and be surprised how many smile back. bring your dog and observe the dog’s behaviour. realise you can learn from your dog.
12. message old friends with personal jokes. reminisce. suggest a catch up soon, even if you don’t follow through. push yourself to follow through.
14. think long and hard about what interests you. crime? sex? boarding school? long-forgotten romance etiquette? find a book about it and read it. there is a book about literally everything.
15. become the person you would ideally fall in love with. let cars merge into your lane when driving. pay double for parking tickets and leave a second one in the machine. stick your tongue out at babies. compliment people on their cute clothes. challenge yourself to not ridicule anyone for a whole day. then two. then a week. walk with a straight posture. look people in the eye. ask people about their story. talk to acquaintances so they become friends.
16. lie in the sunshine. daydream about the life you would lead if failure wasn’t a thing. open your eyes. take small steps to make it happen for you.
I cannot believe the response I have had to this post across so many blogging and social networking channels. I love that I’ve reached so many different people. I really hope I can forge a career from writing and get responses like this teamed with a small salary to survive on. All I want to do is be heard, and now I have been I know more than ever it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.
You cannot be depressed if you wear contact lenses
The spectrum of my emotions is as vast as the ocean. But I am no different to any other person - we all feel a similar scope of emotion throughout our lives. The difference lies in our honesty to approach our emotions, to get right with them, and to set them free. I tend to have a lot of honesty when it comes to how I feel. It is a blessing and a curse.
I’ve struggled with it my whole life. I struggled as a child in being too overbearing, too hyperactive, too loud. I muzzled myself as a teen, and tried to seek out those who appreciate big personalities. But even with a muzzle, I’ve felt the shame that comes with being too big, more than I will ever remember.
I’ve also flourished with it my whole life. I’ve always been able to be honest about how I feel. I’ve cried enough tears to bathe in for the rest of my life, and I’ve broken bones from being too silly and happy. It’s left me with a lot of emotional maturity, and a real sense of who I want to be and who I want to be with. I know now I will never settle with anyone who is afraid to feel the way they need to.
But being emotionally honest can be fraught with danger in a world where feeling emotionally or mentally ill does not warrant a call in sick to work. This is just one way modern life seeks to illegitimise how you feel.
There are smaller safeguards however, that act as signposts. They tell you when you’re done feeling an emotion - sadness, anxiety, stress, elation, lust - and its time to move on…
My signpost is my contact lenses.
See, when I am in the depths of despair and my eyeballs are glazed with tears, my contact lenses begin to itch. They become uncomfortable to wear. My body begins to register there are two foreign objects in it. I have no choice but to take them out.
But I cannot see without them. It is as if they are saying to me, “listen Emma. If you can’t begin to see things clearly in your life, then you will not see at all”.
It is a small reminder that it is important to feel the emotions you are in need of feeling. It is important to be sad, angry, excited, but it is more important to not feel any emotion for too long. So many people fall into a depression because they can’t understand why they are not consistently happy. But is that pursuit really the best path to a full life?
I believe it is important to feel every emotion, pay it the respect it needs, then move onto another… ALL emotions promote growth and prosperity when properly acknowledged. And all emotions are intense. Being in the depths of despair is just as intense as the heights of happiness. Be honest about how you feel, and find your safeguard - the thing that reminds you who you are and how strong you can be in times of intensity. It’s more than being alive - it’s about feeling alive.
On fucking - a teen memoir from '09, by Emma Elsworthy
Being naked. Porn, tits, ass. What’s the time? 1960?
The 2 years that just ran past pickpocketed me of youthly haziness. Lying naked next to some skinbag of bones with a slippery grin blossomed an exhilarating, blood-squealing insolence. Hallways are coming into focus, let’s fuck. Ladies pout and whimper, glazing their eyes and curving their frame. Sucking power from the very particles that mould your naked straddling blood bag.
So fine a line between power and shame,
Tying your soul to the pole for the night, pouring sex into a hole that yearns for else. Breathing that goes from exertion to inner ache, the road you tumble down in the morning, clothed but stripped. Soul whispers past you, around you, through your dark eyes and the cracks of your cold old dry feet into your bloodstream, settling somewhere between elbow and wrist (left side). Early dawn, soft streets, yawning roads, the trees roll over in their beds. Thoughts are droopy, lopsided. The clack of your heels are synchronised with your heart-thuds.
Slowly, quietly, trickling thoughts, smoggy iced nights, hazy days, blinking world, muted television, muted voices, pressing silence, playing a blank tape full blast, a tap funnels a drip of water, misty windows, cold silent bedframes and a note drifts through the air from a wandering wind,
A child spins down the footpath, the road curves, deforms, an elephant’s trunk rears and his eyes dart back and forth, his body melts away like hot butter, his sunshine smothers the whole street, becomes a washing surf, pouring itself quietly into the cracks of the streets and the cracks of our faces, the trees as spindly as acrylic nails on an aged hand caress the air like an unseen lover, they meditate to the movements of electricity through the air, through the elephants eye, through a forceful sea, through the little girls movements as she opens her eyes and closes her mind and walks on.
"Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tounge taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was lola in slacks. She was dolly in school. She was dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita."