Archive: Aug 2012

  1. Evening the score

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    I used to fight with my mum like it was a life force.

    We would go hammer and tongs, I thought. But actually I would go hammer and tongs and she would wonder what exactly she had done wrong and I would wonder why she didn’t understand what she had done wrong but now I can’t remember what it was anyway.

    The first thing I thought of when I woke up each day was how she was going to do me wrong and how I could even the score.

    I wrote the tally on the inside of my eyelids and stared at it each night in bed, waiting for the day the numbers were the same and the fighting would be done and I would be victorious.

    We would stand at opposite ends of the living room like a boxing ring and I would throw my word punches at her and I should have been disqualified for hitting too low or too high and she put her words up in self-defence but mine probably made it through sometimes.

    I knew I was wearing her down because she would get my dad to step in and he would have to fight for her. He was better at fighting; he knew all the best words like “you are such a disappointment” and “you let us down”. She never said those words because she wasn’t as good at fighting as I was. She asked me to move out because I guess I was too close to her number and she didn’t like it.

    Then one day we stood on a busy road in a foreign city and I hadn’t seen her for five months so my technique was pretty rusty but I was giving it a good crack anyway. She probably knew she was beaten so she turned to the road and a bus came by and it hit her.

    After that I realised that the bigger score was mine. Now I use different words to try to even the score, but I’m pretty sure I’ll always be winning.

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  2. My Love Project

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    I was compelled to work on a love project by the most encouraging and delightful woman on earth, Bernadette Jiwa.

    The publication that will eventually become Bide Magazine had been milling around in my brain for years. When I was a little kid I created a newspaper and gave my brother a dollar to distribute it to all the people in the neighbourhood. I was lucky that my dad had a photocopier. My overheads were low.

    It would be fair to say that bloody good writing brings me more pleasure than almost anything else. (Yes, apart from that.) But I can’t always read a whole book. Or I can’t find one I like at that specific moment. Or someone recommended one to me and I’ve read it but now I can’t face them because I hated it. But there are few magazines that will fill that gap – the beautiful writing without the days-long commitment.

    That isn’t to say that I think other magazines don’t have their particular place in my shelves. Lord knows I have ruddy hundreds of them, spanning life, beauty, food, parenting, culture, writing and music. Some days all I want is an afternoon with a Cosmo and I’m okay with that. It’s like eating lasagne. A lot of bloat, but ultimately it hits the spot.

    What I want to do with Bide is create a mag that just has wonderful writing from start to finish. It talks to the things that people think about, in their brains. It’s kind of many different inner monologues mashed into one magazine.

    So, what I’ve come up with is a quarterly digital magazine that has content from different brains. Some are established writers, while others are emerging writers, but all are exceptional. The idea is that you open it on your computer or other device, or download and print the PDF, and then sit down and really read it. You don’t skim over it or speed read it because it’s worthwhile. It’s bloody good writing.

    The exceptional Kelly Exeter is designing and finishing the look and it looks amazing.

    Subscriptions cost $10 a year (4 issues).

    Subscribers will receive a unique username and password to gain access to the download area. Four times a year, this download area will have a new issue of Bide in it. The rest of the time, I’m going to chuck in bits of my own writing, some giveaways, things I think are lovely and other stuff. So it’s like a little box of goodness all year round, but not something you feel like you have to go and look at every single day.

    And that’s Bide. If you subscribe, I will be thrilled. If you share the link with other people, I will be thrilled.

    The first issue will hit subscribers on September 28, and features pieces from Kerri Sackville, Jo Thornely, Ben Pobjie, Bianca Wordley, Robyn Box, Victoria Birch, Lindy Alexander, Emma Swift, Magda Wozniak, Nicole Carrington-Sima and others.

    If you’re a business, we have some introductory advertising options available. Sponsor the whole mag for $800 or grab a one-page ad for $150.

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  3. Yes

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    When I was 19, I was engaged to a man I had known for less time than it took the kettle to boil. We lived together in a tiny flat that backed against the train line and had a courtyard just big enough for the pair of metal seats we picked out of hard rubbish and sat on with our knees touching.

    I had a job I liked, working in an industry I thought would take years to crack. Every day I kissed my 20-year-old fiancee goodbye and hopped on the train with a newspaper and half a rockmelon and then changed to the bus that went to the beach. At lunch times I sat in the sun and thought things about where I was going in my life.

    One day I went to the supermarket on my way home because I could not go another minute without Tim Tams. And as I walked around, I noticed women with huge bellies. Hundreds of them. Maybe six. But it seemed like hundreds. Everyone in the store seemed pregnant. I realised I was two weeks late. I put a test in my basket.

    Two lines came up and I hadn’t read the packet but somehow I knew that what it meant anyway. I told my sweet blonde man and he didn’t speak for three hours. When I checked in on him, he stared at the television, which was off, and didn’t blink.

    “It will be okay,” I said, but I didn’t know for sure.

    The next day I called my mum and told her I was pregnant. She started crying.

    “Are you going to fix it?” she said.

    “No,” I said. “Definitely not.” I put my hand on my newly discovered baby and hung up on her. She didn’t call me back. For three months.

    I went to the GP I had been going to for my teenagehood and told him I had done a couple of pregnancy tests and I was pretty sure I was growing a human. “Oh dear,” he said, and pulled out the form for a referral to the clinic.

    “No thank you,” I said, and found a new GP.

    Being pregnant made me worried and sad and I had a lot of appointments. “I have to go to the doctor again,” I told my boss, and after four weeks she called me into her office and told me I was no longer required.

    “But I’m pregnant,” I said.

    “Oh, that’s a shame,” she said. “Are you going to keep it?”

    “Obviously,” I said.

    My very small baby was born in May, and I had no job, no money, no house and no idea. But I had a daughter, and I knew we were a team.

    When I was 26, I had a new boyfriend, an ex-husband, a job I hated and money in the bank. I dragged my feet to work every morning without kissing anyone goodbye, driving my car with the windows up and yelling at other commuters with my middle finger. I sat at a desk in a government building and listened to the jerk next to me say things like, “She has great tits; we should hire her.” Every day I looked for an excuse to leave.

    When I got home, my boyfriend would sometimes come around, if he wasn’t too angry or tired or happy or busy or sad. We would sit at opposite ends of the couch and watch television until it was time for him to leave and then I would sleep in a big bed on my own and it was so draughty.

    One day the same two lines came up and he said, “Are you going to fix it?” And I had nothing to lose, but I crumbled and said, “Yes.” and I knew we weren’t a team.

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  4. Where I say thank you whilst crying

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    Yesterday my Pozible project ended.

    If you click through, you’ll see that an incredible amount was pledged. $3,851 worth of backing, well, me.

    The target was $6,000, so I didn’t quite get the project funded, but that doesn’t make the support demonstrated any less amazing.

    I wanted to offer my sincerest thanks to those 72 people who thought that what I wanted to achieve was worth putting actual dollars into. Especially Rose Wintergreen, Sam Quigley and Sarah Moran, who believed in my goal more than I did.

    As the project due to a close with no obvious sign that it would be funded, I was surprised by my actual crying at the computer. Not because I was disappointed, but because I was pretty much completely overwhelmed by how many people actually gave a shit.

    In a last minute effort that I left too last minute, more than a thousand dollars was pledged. Neil ruddy Gaiman tweeted a link to my project – it had already closed, but I still did an ugly dance about it.

    So thank you for your support. I believe in the importance of this story and will continue to write it, just a bit more slowly. This project may not have given me the funds to take time off to dedicate to writing, but it has given me a serious boost to my motivation and the general smugness required to put words down.

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  5. Breakfast in Armadale – is it worth the risk?

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    I sat down for a quiet breakfast on my own this morning, and was rather enjoying myself when a toffee-nosed woman in her 60s sat down at the next table.

    “WAITER!” she bellowed. “I WANT A GLASS OF WATER!” The waiter was a very nice young man, bordering on meek if I’m honest, and he rushed to bring her one. “UGH. I DRINK HEAPS OF WATER. GET ME A CARAFE.”

    I tried to helpfully explain to her that no one has asked for a carafe since the mid-90s, but she was busy admiring her eyebrows in a tiny gilded pocket mirror.

    Less than a minute had passed when her daughter – in her 30s – arrived.

    “Sorry mum, have you been waiting long?” Her voice had the lilt of the long-suffering.

    Seeing her opportunity, the mother sighed heavily and folded her hands as she would if she were in her coffin in the ground due to neglect from her children and said, “Oh, a little while. Ten minutes or more.”

    “Liar!” I yelled*.

    “Tell the waiter we have to order quickly,” mother barked. She had the breakfast salad. Her daughter chose scrambled eggs (“Do you really think you should order them after the trouble you had finding a bathing suit last week?”).

    “So, Julie** will be in court next week. You know they’re saying she murdered her husband?” Pause. “Did I tell you about my plastic surgeon? He’s moving to Malvern East. Ugh, how vile! I’m going to have to find a new one.”

    I felt pangs of pity for the daughter. Briefly.

    “Oh, gross. I don’t even go to Glen Iris anymore! Hey, I think I should take these pants back and get the smaller size. She tried to get me to buy the size two, but I said I thought the four was better.”

    Laughter. “Sales assistants are bad at their jobs! Anyway, here you go. I wasn’t sure how much you wanted, so I just took out two thousand.” Mother passed the money across the table, pausing for a quick glance around to see who was looking.

    “I guess that’ll do.” Long sigh. “I can’t believe the waiter didn’t bring a carafe.”

    I cleared the residual cough from my throat. Both women looked at me with fire in their eyes. I met their gaze. They visibly recoiled.

    “I think we should move tables.”

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  6. Good days and bad days

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    When you have an anxiety disorder, sometimes feeling bad isn’t that different from feeling good. When you feel bad, you wait for the moment of panic to take hold and throw you around until you wish you could cut out your brain and rinse it in CLR Clear. When you feel good, you wait for the moment of panic to take hold and throw you around until you wish you could cut out your brain and rinse it in CLR Clear.

    Anxiety is a waiting game. The fear is inevitable. Sooner or later it will find you. At least on the bad days you know it’s right there, that it will probably face fuck you at some point before dinner. At least on the bad days you know what you’re up against, that you are anxious and you will feel out of control, and knowing that is almost like being in control.

    On the good days, you don’t know when it will happen. Only that it will. It’s like the monster in the closet. You don’t know if it’s in there or not. You don’t know what it looks like. You don’t know when it might leap out and throttle you. On the good days, the anxiety is an unknown entity. It might not pay a visit at all, but the fear that it will is almost as crippling. On the good days, you can be so acutely aware of how not anxious you are that your whole body is wracked with panic. On the good days, the agony of failure to stave off the fear is so much greater than on the bad days.

    Today was a good day. And so, inevitably, it eventually became a bad day. And that is how the cycle perpetuates.

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  7. How to be moderately good at suburbia

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    Don't you wish you could be on Lily's team with its fine floral guernseys?

    Apparently we now take both of the children to basketball on Saturday mornings. This is my entree into the world of weekend sport, and you know, I don’t hate it. My Saturdays had become a bit of Me Sitting at My Computer and then a little Me at the Supermarket followed by Me Thinking About But Not Actually Doing Stuff. Now they have an hour of Me Sitting in the Bleachers.

    I’ve been surprised by how unshit Georgia is at it. I was a fine basketballer in my time, dribbling the ball with my hands and tossing it into the scoring device. Seriously, I was pretty great. I was like Lauren Jackson, except less people gave me tokenistic roles at Olympic Games. The ex wasn’t a basketballer, but he played state level baseball, which is only a couple of letters different. Even so, I have watched my elder daughter for many years, and she is like an ungraceful dwarf gazelle. She is the kind of child who accidentally kicks herself in the bum when she runs and then falls over.

    And yet! She made the ball go up and down while she ran alongside it, ponytail swinging. She came third in DONKEY. She accidentally did a layup! I was the proudest mother in the stands. Well, the only mother. The rest of the kids had been escorted by their dads, who talked to each other about how hot the 16-year-old taking the class was, how much beer they planned to drink later, and why there was a mother in the stands when she should have been home making lunch.

    Lily, on the other hand, has all the sophistication and poise of a roast chicken footlong. She had the worst time of anybody doing anything in all of history. “I’m injured!” she cried, and when I called her a filthy stinking liar she tried to throw the ball at my face but didn’t even make it half way. So it came as a great shock to me when, at game end, she told me how excited she was to go back.

    And now we are Saturday morning sportspeople. And I kind of like it.

    If they decide to become rowers, though, they are going on the first adoption list I can find.

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