There are mornings with children that are not unlike punching yourself in the eye over and over.
Then there is this morning, which was a bit like if I’d dipped my fist in a bucket of acid piranhas covered in nails, and rather than just punching myself in the eye I had ground said fist backwards into my lower intestine.
Three different people have since offered me chocolate, which means it’s likely I’m literally crying without realising. And I ate that chocolate – for breakfast – but it didn’t help. In fact, it made it worse. Now I’m all hopped up on caffeine but still totally miserable which is so much worse and just means I’m POWER CRYING instead of ACCIDENTAL CRYING.
Seriously man, some days, fuck adulthood. Pass the bong.
There are two types of men in the world: those who are grown-ups and form their own opinions about relationships through years of experience and insight; and those who learned everything they know about women from an issue of Dolly they read twenty years ago.
I go to Malvern to meet with a couple from New Zealand. They’re both gorgeous. I feel plain and unpleasant. He is a builder and a rugby player. She works in marketing. They have a Rottweiler. Their rugby friends come around a lot, they tell me, and I am pretty fine with that.
I was just on the phone to my dad, and yet again found myself in a very strange situation wherein he says, “Love you lots.” and I say “Thanks …” like a high-school boyfriend. It’s even worse when mum says it – I have literally hung up on her to avoid a stammering “you too”.
It’s not that I don’t love them – quite the opposite. I adore my parents as much as I have ever adored anybody. I speak to them on the phone at least every second day and see them every week. Some days I go to their house and work side by side with my dad just because I enjoy his company so much. When mum is watching TV, I curl up inside her armpit and let her stroke my hair. I adore my parents.
It’s not that I’m not the “I love you” type. I tell my kids I love them every couple of minutes. I tell my friends I love them. I tell virtual strangers on the internet I love them. I tell my dog I love him. I tell my nanna I love her. I tell my parents I love them via text message only.
As you might imagine, it wasn’t always like this.
When I Was A Little Girl I would run up to my parents and scream “GUESS WHAT?” right in their faces, and they would say “What?” and I would say “I LOVE YOU!” At first they would smile and say it back with their faces buried in my adorableness. As time went on – and perhaps I picked my moments less successfully – they started to find me less and less wonderful. I would come thundering in yelling “GUESSSSSS WHAAAAAT?!?” and they wouldn’t look up from their books while murmuring “You love me”. Eventually I stopped.
Now, I’m an adult and I know that they were busy and that the novelty of your children shouting right in your face does eventually wear off. I know that they weren’t tired of hearing it and I know that they didn’t love me any less than before I started. But the sense that I will bug them remains, and I find myself in this bizarre position of being paralysed by fear when even thinking about spilling those three words out in their vicinity. And now I’m terrified that they will get old and die and I’ll look back and wonder why I didn’t say it more often. Or ever. At all.
Yesterday, Senator Mary Jo Fisher resigned to focus on her mental health. If there’s one thing I can really get behind, it’s spending time focusing on mental health. If I could afford it, I would spend pretty much all my time focusing on my mental health.
In Fisher’s case, people may have thrown back their heads and laughed uproariously at the idea of a panic attack causing someone to shoplift. “Nice one Winona!” they cried. “You’re just in it for the danger! You just like to live on the edge!” But the fact is that this kind of mental health issue is not rational or easily understood or even systematic. Sometimes the brain does things, inexplicable things, unpredictable things.
Panic – especially the familiar sense of rising panic – is a feeling I struggle to even remotely do justice to with words.
Once you’ve felt your throat close over in the grip of panic, it is always there. Panic waits in the wings. Panic sits in the back seat. Panic is on the other end of the phone. Panic is in the next room.
The worst panic attack I ever had was while visiting my grandparents about 10 years ago. I was sleeping on their lounge room floor. At around 2am, I woke up, already panicking. (That’s a fun thing you might not know, by the way – sometimes panic attacks start when you’re not even conscious! Manage those, suckers!) I was frantic. I was so acutely panicked that I couldn’t see. I grabbed the cordless phone and ran outside, screaming, trying to force more air into my lungs, convinced I couldn’t breathe and was going to die. I called for an ambulance, in that I dialled Triple-0 and screamed into the phone until my dad found me in hysterics and gave the ambos the address. Then he found my valium and force fed it to me, dragged me back inside (still screaming) and made me Vegemite solider men. He stroked my hair until the valium kicked in and I stopped screaming. When the paramedics arrived, I apologised for wasting their time but “could you please check my vitals anyway because I’m pretty sure I was just about to die before?” They did, and I was physically fine, of course.
In total, I panicked furiously for a full hour. Do you know how much shoplifting you could do in an hour during which you were completely out of control? You could shoplift a fucking piano. The “fight or flight” reflex in a panic attack – and I am a “fleer” – is strong, like those mothers you see who lift cars off their children or outrun lions. If I start to feel myself consumed by panic, I will push a moving train off its tracks if it means I get to go to somewhere safe. If I’m holding a Mars Bar at the time, you better believe that sucker is coming with me, because I have literally no idea that it’s on my person. Later, when the world is “normal” again, I will come back and pay for it.
Sometimes I let myself feel bad about it. It doesn’t make sense to be consumed by fear of absolutely nothing. It doesn’t seem fair to be fine one moment and then gripped by terror the next. Sometimes I let myself feel angry about it. It’s fucked! This is bullshit! Sometimes I let myself find peace with it. I’m not panicked all the time. I have lots of techniques to keep it under control when it does happen.
It’s just that, for a lot of people, it seems “crazy”. Being out of control is “crazy”. Being depressed – not crazy, just sad. Being riddled with anxiety, paranoia, irrationality – crazy. And as long as it’s crazy, it will be approached like everything else that is crazy. With fear. With disbelief. Without compassion. Without understanding.
As long as society at large is given to believe that anxiety sufferers are “crazy”, the anxiety will tell us we are and around we go. I hope that Fisher’s openness – amongst the many other fantastic women who have spoken out about their own battles with anxiety this month – will be the start of a new kind of awareness and normalisation.
The oak door swung open, and a frantic man charged into the office. ”Jack! Jack! My child is sick! The school just called me, I have to go pick her up immediately!”
Until then, it had just been a normal day. At his desk, Jack head whipped around, flinging papers to the floor.
“Oh Jesus, Simon! Is she okay? What happened?” He could hardly believe his ears.
“It’s … it’s nits!” Simon’s eyes were bloodshot.
Jack’s mouth was agape. “Simon, I couldn’t bear the burden of responsibility if something happened to her. You must go. And here – take this.” Jack reached into his filing cabinet. “I won this when I played for the Under 10s, but now it’s yours.” He slipped the trophy into his employee’s pocket.
“Oh Jack, who knows how long she’s been in the sick bay, waiting for me, a comb in her hand?” He began to sob, loud and wet. “She’s only fourteen.”
Jack inhaled sharply and took Simon’s hand. “Take all the time you need -” He bit his lip to stop the trembling. “- soldier.”
“Thank you, your support means everything to me!”
“Simon, you are her father! It is a duty and a privilege to serve side by side with you. A father. Being there for his child … in her time of need …” Jack wiped a falling tear from his cheek.
“Okay Jack, I’m going. I don’t know when we’ll meet again.” Simon looked ferocious, fierce, determined, Jack thought.
Jack let himself relax into his leather armchair. What a terrible time for all involved. He poured himself a double cognac.
There was a light tapping on the doorjam.
“I’m sorry to disturb you, Jack. My son has fallen from the play equipment and been knocked unconscious. I think I should meet the ambulance at the hospital.”
“Fuck off, Nancy.”
P.S. You guys, I really love men. And my employer is always so adorable and supportive if I need to leave for some reason. Just sayin’.
As you and three million others already know, last night was part two of a staggered grand final of The Voice. In this sometimes singer’s humble opinion, the winner on the night was in fact the one with the best voice, so, hooray! That’s how it’s supposed to work, right? Everyone sings, people vote for the person who sings better than the others, that person wins. Democracy! Applaud Karise Eden.
What I didn’t realise was that apparently Sarah de Bono was supposed to win, because her coach and his wife have the most Twitter followers.
Eden’s victory was an unexpected blow to the power of social media. De Bono walked into the final a favourite, backed by her mentor Joel Madden and his wife Nicole Richie’s combined Twitter following of roughly 4 million people.
Allegedly, everyone fell off their seats and cracked their heads open, because de Bono in fact came fourth, accurately reflecting her lack of basic talent. “But how!” they cried. “Joel Madden and Nicole Richie have so many Twitter followers!”
This is “an unexpected blow to the power of social media” because before now, everyone thought that you could take a product that wasn’t very good and then ask celebrities to tell people to pay literal money to privately endorse it so that the poor quality product can be rewarded.
I don’t really like that or think it’s worth paying money for.
SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER:
Yes you do!
Oh, well, okay. I’ll give it a chance and make an informed decision.
SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER:
Just buy it without doing that!
Er, I’d really rather make an informed decision.
SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER:
No! I got this many followers because I have all the answers to all the questions and my opinion is worth more than yours!
Sorry. Here’s my money.
Social media – and its influential users – is a great way to spread messaging for a product, or in this case a performer on a TV show. But here’s the part that Michael Idato has forgotten.
Yes, having a large social media audience means that statistically there are likely to be a proportion of idiots who will do what they’re told, but ultimately Joel Madden and Nicole Richie are only able to invite users to make their own decision. The fact that their followers are fans of Joel Madden and Nicole Richie does not necessarily mean that they will also invest in what they promote unless it is a good quality product.
New media has allowed consumers to be better informed, not worse. And that means they make decisions based on many more factors than they ever have before. Poor quality products are quickly exposed as such, and that fact is widely communicated.
All of the conversation around mummy bloggers has to me highlighted something very important: you can tell people that it rocks, but if it doesn’t, a) they will find out, and b) your reputation will be damaged. Successful social media PR needs to sit on the solid foundation of something that deserves to be promoted.
Social media will not make your product better.
This may be an “unexpected blow” to the agencies planning to engage social media influencers to sell their products for them, but for those of us who actually use it, it shouldn’t come as a surprise at all.
An interesting thing happened in Twitterland last week. At short notice, influential social media users and bloggers – all women – began to murmur about how they had been invited to have morning tea with the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. “Cool!” we said. “What’s it for?”
It would be fair to say that there wasn’t a flurry of responses to that question, but the ones that did come back were a variation on the “to have a chat” theme. Considering Gillard is one of the busiest people in the country, the notion that she simply wanted to have a chat with a group of women she’d never met – all of whom are well connected with and influence many other women – seemed unlikely. But with no clear statement from Kirribilli House or really any additional information, those not invited along waited until afterward, when surely everything would become clearer.
“What was it about!” we cried, looking for juicy details.
“She just wanted to chat!” they said.
And then, as we might have predicted, they took to their blogs to talk about what a wonderful time they had had at morning tea with the PM, and their many and varied female audience members – remembering that women are also the key influencers in their households – read about how excellent it all was. So far, all fine.
Obviously it wasn’t just for a chat, and was a carefully constructed exercise in PR by a very clever team that has its finger on the pulse. Mummy bloggers make headlines because of their influence –> mummy bloggers spread Gillard’s likeableness via their great influence.
I think that’s neat. It’s clever, it’s contemporary, it’s creative. Someone has tapped into an audience that most people are too scared to touch and generated publicity gold. I don’t have a beef with any of this. I think it shows a degree of savviness not often seen in Australian (or any) politics. Iced Vovos all round!
IT IS an old saying in politics that complaining about the media is like a sailor complaining about the sea. But these days, if conditions get too choppy, you can switch to calmer waters by bypassing the mainstream media and heading straight to the blogosphere.
Let’s break that down.
It’s safe for the PM to invite and address a bunch of female social media influencers, because as far as the general public is concerned (and I’m obviously not saying I agree with this) they are not real media influencers with real ideas or real opinions or real political leanings. They are apparently not perceived to be a group of people who will get involved in something and then speak in a contrary way about policies they disagree with.
Don’t worry, Prime Minister, you can invite these people along because chances are, they are too nice to say bad things about you and they don’t have real opinions anyway.
I don’t think that’s true – I think the “blogosphere” comprises a large number of motivated, interested people who think critically about issues in their lives. But because they are not (always) representatives from mainstream media, sometimes they may lack the objectivity and forthrightness that is necessary to report accurately on things like “visiting the PM and talking about her policies”. What therefore comes out of these visits is a series of blog posts that speak to the “femaleness” of Gillard – her warmth, her empathy, her passion. All of which I believe to be true, but which also has very little to do with her politics.
Therefore, says the SMH, they offer an excellent low-risk method of organic communication to other women like them – ones who are politically malleable and who feel comfortable about investing in a woman who is warm, empathetic and passionate.
Dad came around today while Michael was cutting a hole in the wall, and began to sing (my dad has a song for every occasion, he’s a proper dad like that).
I must have been four, because we moved just as I started school. Dad had St Pepper’s playing on vinyl in his poky study and we were dancing. He used to shoot video of everything we did, and that’s how I always remember him – through the viewfinder of his massive camera. You had to put full size VHS in that thing.
But that’s not the part I remember best. The part I remember best is how tiny my little brother’s legs were. He had on my blue ballet skirt and no underpants, and he stomped his two year old self around that cramped room like a man possessed. Under a mop of platinum blonde hair, his face was radiant. My mum was leaning against the doorjam with her huge baby belly rocking back and forth as she shook with laughter.
The memory is short – it only lasts the duration of the song – but it’s one of those that sometimes sits in the present and makes it a little nicer.