What I read in January

10965432_10152708151736313_1496209159_nYes, I have not blogged (what a horrible, pasty skinned verb that is) in like,1.5 years or some shit. Yes I’m just going to gloss right over the pause like it didn’t happen, cool?

I did not read enough last year. I watched a lot of television shows. I hosted nights in my home for folks to read aloud to each other from books and I did read some really great stuff (oh my Lord, read Blindness by Jose Saremago), but mainly I kept looking at my shelves and shelves of bought and borrowed books and wondering when I was going to read them. I kept wondering too, how to stop myself buying books. The answer came to me part way through the year, when I started pulling books off my shelf and delivering them to my bedside table as if new. Oh look Carlynne! That’s a book there! Isn’t that so cool and exciting?

It worked a bit. But I still kept watching TV shows while playing tetris on my phone and finished the year feeling unmotivated creatively and decidedly syrupy in the brain-tank. Watch me try and change!

January.

Wildwood Imperium– purchased last year.

The last in the YA Wildwood series by Colin Meloy. Unlike other young adult fiction around this series harkens back to a time when stories were about the hidden worlds we spent years aching to find. Set in modern day Portland (and featuring a duffel coat and Keds wearing heroine who leads a revolution on her pushbike) where a magical wilderness exists invisible to normal human eyes. The final instalment was every bit as charming, surprisingly funny and full of unassuming yet very relatable characters (a lot of whom are talking animals). This chapter in the Wildwood saga saw the fight for the wildwood extend to Portland and the world beyond, but I couldn’t help but feel like as a finish to this winsome and transporting series it was a little rushed. I do still highly recommend these three for youngins and actually all those who remember gazing into the underbrush at the back of your house and feeling the longing for some friendly eyed beast to take you by the hand and lead you into a world enchanting as something nearly tangible. Seven stars.

Lila– purchased with gift voucher

I had been twitching and mooning about this novel for months before reading. Anyone who has heard me talk at all has probably heard me dreamily affirm author Marilynne Robinson as one of the world’s greatest living novelists, an opinion I share with the Sunday Mail (quoted on the cover). Her latest novel is set in the same small American town as her previous two, Gilead, but is this time from the perspective of Lila, the softly spoken wife of Reverend John Ames. We know her from Gilead the novel, but not well. We know of the Reverend’s love for her and of her mysterious prior life and of her being much younger than her husband but not a lot else. Lila takes place at her entrance into Gilead as an itinerant drifter, chronicling her meeting of and marriage to Ames but flitting into and out of sharp recollections of Lila’s past beginning with her abduction/emancipation from her parents as a very neglected child.

Once again Robinson’s prose leaves me nearly speechless, or at least very aware of the soft and elegant way she has of carrying you through someone else’s journey, someone who now seems as real if not realer to me than people I have known for years. I ate this book altogether. I was consumed and read it basically all in one day- which for the record is not the way one should read this author- expedited by the form of the novel, in which there are no chapter breaks whatsoever. To read it is to be inside Lila’s grave, wild and rare mind, to walk where she walks, to slide painfully into the past while trying not to fall down in the present. To try to make peace with a God who was unknown to her in her time in the wilderness and with a man who she can’t trust but loves almost immediately.

Please read this book. Read all of Marilynne Robinson’s books. Read them slowly, over days and weeks, or read them twice and three times through, but please read them. She makes me want to marry words and devote myself to them for the rest of my life. 8 million.

The Handmaid’s Tale– borrowed

I had meant to read Margaret Atwood before now, but somehow found myself assuming she would be unapproachable or stale in some way. I think I must have looked over an excerpt in a class at uni and decided she was standoffish. Anyhow, I picked up the Handmaid’s Tale at Jessie’s house one night and am glad I got to finishing it last month. Firstly, on a super creepy note THIS BOOK IS ALSO SET IN A PLACE CALLED GILEAD. WHAT. Secondly, it’s really good. Atwood’s mega-dystopia is a world at war, and dying out. You only catch glimpses of the wider problems plaguing the Republic of New Gilead, as the handmaid who is telling us her story is a very small cog in a tightly wound and controlled machine where women are possessions, prized only for their ability to help repopulate the world. Atwood’s words are kind of brutal- softly beautiful, harsh and despairing all at once. It’s a pretty bleak world but the fragmented humanity still given our heroine- small pieces; a glimpse of a forbidden word, the feeling of movement under restrictive and forbidding garments- are like crumbs you must keep following. Will be reading more Atwood for sure. A+

The Goldfinch– borrowed

I have a few feelings about this book. And I think that’s to be expected because it’s like, so so big. Shit. 771 pages man. First off, to have put together a reasonably complicated story spanning around fifteen years with the level of detail, character and plot development Donna Tartt has is pretty damn impressive. I liked the thing most of the way through. I liked Theo all through his sad and complex childhood, found him beleaguered and sweet and understandably consumed in the chief problem of his life- a painting of a goldfinch. The people Theo meets are real people, who you love or hate in turns. Even the doormen at the apartment building he shared with his mother are so vivid you feel like you know what they’re like at home and are halfway to imagining another story where they are the protagonists. Theo’s likability fades considerably about two thirds of the way through at the jump to his mid-twenties. His problems say a lot about what happens to an unsupervised and understood kid left alone and grieving at a key point in his life, but this failed to keep me interested. I just wanted him to allow his friend (and saviour, in a lot of ways), the delightful and charming Hobie the benefit of trusting him with his whole complicated mess but Theo is at this point so stuck in himself he can’t see his way to do much right at all. I should say here that I like the literary style for the most part, up until this point. It was really immersive and quite moving and lovely in points but I just got sick of it all. By the last chapter- a largely sentimental mush of thought and observation that seemed out of place and barely cogent- I just really needed to not be reading about this guy anymore. Basically, I think this story could have been told in half the time. This amount of detail needs to lead somewhere more concrete than I feel Tartt got to. But what do I know. Maybe I missed the point in my quest to just… bloody… finish. She apparently won the Pulitzer prize for literature, so- who you going to believe? I give this two old rugs and an ok looking lamp.

Thanks for reading,  I don’t know why anyone would care what I think of books particularly well received ones or ones that everyone has read already, but it’s keeping me off the streets. Stay tuned for more Uninformed Literary Opinions in February!

I know it’s been a while but please read this

So hi, it’s been over a year since i posted anything on here, and I’ll get to my trivial shit at a later stage. Here, though, i have the words spoken at the funeral of Leo Seemanpillai. I don’t need to say a lot more- it was a catholic funeral, it’s obviously aimed at a religious audience, but it speaks i think to our nation as a whole.

———————————

At Tamil asylum seeker Leo Seemanpillai’s funeral at St Mary of the Angels Catholic Parish in Geelong last week, Tamil Dominican priest Father Pancras Jordan of Pax Christi, flew down from Brisbane to lead the service. He received spontaneous and resounding applause during the funeral service for his powerful, profound and very moving Homily which he has kindly agreed we can share far and wide. See attachment and below. With thanks, Father Pan, for your strong compassion and courage to speak out so strongly at Leo’s funeral. May others follow your example.

“Dear Friends This afternoon we are gathered to say thank you and to say good bye to our beloved brother and friend Leo Seemanpillai who was killed by the harsh, unjust and cruel policy of our government. We are also gathered to pray that our brother, who shared in the sufferings of Christ, may rise with Christ in his resurrection.

Penitential Rite- Lord, we ask your pardon for our ignorance of the plight of the refugees in our country. Lord have mercy.

Lord, we ask pardon for the way in which our country has contributed to the wars in other countries that have produced so many refugees. Christ have mercy.

Lord, we ask your pardon for our poor response to those children, women and men locked in detention centres within our country. Lord have mercy.

My dear friends, We find ourselves, again and again, heartbroken for the individuals and families destroyed by our political games: a political game whereby people are slowly broken in a system of indefinite detention that dehumanises and disempowers; a political game whereby people are locked in the limbo of legislated poverty that is life on a bridging visa. We find ourselves, again, despairing for the Australian character, being shaped by leaders who normalise cruelty, vilify voiceless people and rob the world’s most vulnerable people of not only their rights, but their dignity. “The current Government Policy has about it a cruelty that does no honour to our nation,” The Australian Catholic Bishops announced in their May statement on the issue of Asylum Seekers. They proceed to say It is a policy of ‘dehumanisation’ and ‘institutionalised cruelty’. There’s no doubt that Australia’s clear message to people fleeing tyranny in our direction is “You are not welcome here.” This is unambiguous. Current policy is not about creating an “orderly system” or “saving people from drowning”. Billions of dollars are being spent on making people’s lives in detention centres and in our communities – as miserable as possible, in the hope that they will return home and convince others not to head in our direction.

Our government is actively inhospitable, proactively brutal and intentionally determined to break the spirits of people like Leo who once imagined they might find protection from oppression in our care. In a nation committed to unwelcome, with a government committed to cruelty, compassion is protest and welcome is rebellion. So, during this Eucharist I imagine that Leo would be calling us for an uprising of decency, an insurgency of hospitality, an insurrection of humanity, generosity and kindness. I am sure Leo would be inviting us to mutiny. To disobey the order to fear, unwelcome, rejection of asylum seekers and to oppose the wishes of our leaders. But this isn’t a call to arms, to take over the streets with righteous anger and clever placards. While our leaders have determined to hurt asylum seekers until their spirits are broken, and to convince every persecuted person on our planet that asylum seekers will not find safe refuge here, then every act of compassion is protest. A message of welcome is rebellion. It’s time to make a stand. It is time to consider the Australia we want to live and the values which we wish to exemplify. It is time to not merely march against brutality, but to embody hospitality and kindness. To not only rage against injustice, but to model welcome as a lifestyle. We are all called to live as the embodiment of an alternative future for our nation. A future where leadership is measured by the enhancement of human dignity, where diversity is celebrated and every human being is considered equal and deserving of fairness and freedom. Every time you welcome an asylum seeker in your community, every time you make a new friend, or help someone settle into their empty house, or write a postcard to a child in detention or help someone learn English, you’re defying the vision and instruction of our leaders. You’re saying, “welcome” to those they wish to reject – and you’re combating the insidious invasion of heartlessness into our character and communities. And so, in this nation where compassion is protest and welcome is rebellion, we’re asking you who are here, to join us by spreading a simple message of welcome through every suburb, street and home.

Most recent public opinion polls show that a significant majority of Australians support the harsh policies of the present government towards asylum seekers who come on boats. I know of no recent survey of attitudes in the Australian Catholic or Christian population towards the same issue, but it cannot have escaped us that the current policies have been put in place by a government led by a Catholic (and former seminarian) who wears his faith on his sleeve, and that the Minister for Immigration lists “Church” as his favourite hobby in “Who’s Who”. An Australian MP, making his maiden speech in Parliament in 2008, said, “From my faith I derive the values of loving kindness, justice and righteousness, to act with compassion and kindness, acknowledging our common humanity and to consider the welfare of others…’ That MP was Scott Morrison, the architect of Australia’s present inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. His words were an accurate representation of Christian teaching; his current actions betray that teaching, whatever he might claim. This same Scott Morrison, so insistent upon compassion and kindness in his maiden speech, is the same Scott Morrison who in 2014 chooses to ignore his faith’s values, when announcing Leo’s death at a recent press conference, by choosing not to refer to Leo by his name, but as an illegal maritime arrival (IMA).

Let me reflect what went wrong with Leo. He wrote notes about visits to doctors and counsellors. He wrote reminders to take his Olanzapine (an anti-psychotic) and Fluoxetine (an anti-depressant). In September, he detailed part of one bad week: ”Thursday – I have no sleeping Friday – bad dreams, darkness Saturday – I sleep 3 hours Sunday – my birthday”. This government was in power at that time. Furthermore Leo would call refugee advocates, asking if he would be sent back. In October he learnt what Immigration Minister Scott Morrison had told Australians: ”Anyone who may have come from Sri Lanka should know that they will go back to Sri Lanka.” These words of Morrison made Leo sick in his soul. Later in his journal he wrote: ”If I’m deported back to Sri Lanka, torture is certain because I’m a Tamil” and ”In the midst of rejection stand tall. Life is hope.” Over the summer of 2013/14, he struggled. In February he checked into a mental health facility and, while there, he tried to hang himself with a towel. In March he moved into a flat above the Barwon River, and chose the small back room because it had the best natural light. ”He was afraid of the night,” said Cathie Bond, a volunteer and de facto mum to Leo. ”I gave him my grandson’s little night light. He said it was like a shiny moon.”

Leo fretted about his fate, and joined Amnesty International and the Australian Red Cross believing membership could somehow help him stay. He went to church on Good Friday and kissed the Holy Cross: ”I asked Jesus to bless me, and to bring a resolution to my past struggles and to not have any more struggles in the future.” Outwardly Leo was upbeat, visiting friends and calling people. The day before he died they said he sounded ”happy”, ”brighter” and ”more alert than he had in a long time”.

My dear friends, for us who work in the area of pastoral care we know often when someone is contemplating suicide they appear to be “happy” because in reality, they have made the decision to end all miseries. They feel a sense of freedom and in the case of Leo, freedom from all cruel policy and denial of fundamental human rights. In the Gospel today we heard what astounding and wonderful things may take place when strangers and refugees are welcomed and given hospitality. “I was a stranger and you welcome me” (Mt.25:35). This passage is part of the parable of the judgement of the Son of Man coming in glory. The astonished people who are gathered around the throne of the King did not realise at the time that they showed welcome and hospitality to their Lord himself and they voice their amazement. Thus, the criterion for a Christian believer to enter eternal life is based on welcoming and rendering hospitality to strangers. The Christian believer therefore encounters their Lord in the stranger. It is by the way one treats the poor and the stranger that one’s worthiness to enter eternal life is tested.”

What a magnificent puzzle you are.

I write this late at night, with drooping eyes and in full knowledge that I want to write this better and with more back story and potentially hilarious anecdotes and or stories about dragons. I am also aware that this will seem hokey, and that I strive to keep spiritual speak out of here, usually. But I must write it now, pjamas and hoke or no.

I have been thinking a lot this past year.

A little over a year ago I became a member of the Uniting church, which was for me a very big deal. I wrote a little about why in a letter to the church, and I did so because I had fallen in love with my congregation and the glimpses of the wider church I got when I attended the National Young Adult Leaders Conference.

A year is a long time. I have been thinking a lot.

I decided to start a period of discernment a few months back*. I felt a little hypocritical entering the period at this time, coinciding as it did with my wading into a bog of doubt. I plan to write about the doubting itself at a later stage when I’m not sitting in bed on the nod, but suffice to say I was not exactly like the horse in Neverending Story, but I was close. I hadn’t necessarily fallen out of love with the church, but I had looked for the first time with any integrity at what that love sat on.

It’s been a stark couple of months.

A couple of weeks back, surrounded by gumtrees at our church camp, I met with God again. Truthfully, I had not fully surrendered Her. He was there in the gentle reminders of hope, in the stories of resurrection, in the faces of my church family, who are just about the most guileless and open-hearted people you can imagine.

Tonight, I sit in bed, one leg slowly numbing, weird hair pins lumps in my hair, near sleep, but elated. Today I was at Synod** with a whole lot of my church. Today, and yesterday and the day before, we wrestled with some awful stuff. We met with bad news and we entertained grief, and we encompassed dissent and were not satisfied.

But.

Today I saw people who disagree vehemently with one another co-exist, and even like each other. I saw people change their minds. Religious people. I saw people be heard, and celebrated, and I heard us all reminded of hope, of the extraordinary Love we are drawn around like moths.

And today, I prayed earnestly to a God that I believe in, and that I don’t understand. Today I joined with others and we invoked the sacred name of our creator and that was something that I wanted to do. And whether or not you believe in God or organised religion, believe that this is a little like water to a dying woman.

Today I was a part of a church that wants to do better and that makes mistakes and is a bit of a fuck up but loves each other and more than that, really honestly wants to make you a cup of tea and have a chat and longs to hold your hand as you scream with anguish and wants to say that you’re OK and sorry about the times when the name of our Beloved was used to hurt you.

Today, we were finger painters. We made messes and the paint is in the grooves of our fingerprints and on some of the walls but we are trying our best to make something beautiful, and that is what I want you to know.

To those who hate the church, I’m sorry, we are trying.

To those who are in the church, know that we are trying.

To those who after today have paint on their faces, is it not lovely that we are trying?

To my church: thank you, thank you, thank you. I will keep trying.

 

 

* This is a time through which a person in the Uniting Church can examine their faith and calling with support from the church, to see if they want to enter ordained ministry or just to see where they fit, how they fit, how they are and who they are.

**Synod is the gathering of a particular Synod of the Uniting Church. For instance, my church is part of the presbytery of Port Philip West, which along with other presbyteries is part of the VicTas Synod. We gather to report to one another the things that we’ve been doing, to air concerns and chat about important decisions.

A note to LaTrobe University: we were not really finger painters.

 

Sadness can eat my ass

Being sad is just a huge load of shit, yeah? Man.

Who, I ask you, needs a deep and heavy pit in their stomach or a frequent and burning ache in their chest that has nothing to do with a night of much scotch? Nobody, that’s who.

It is amazing to me, post-sadness, to recall a day pre-sadness when I looked at the bits and pieces of my life and thought ‘wicked. Solid. Good job, life’. I effing hate it that something can waltz solidly in and shoulder out the magic that made my life really cool and leave it looking sort of greyish, wan and sickly. I liked it cool.

Worse still is the knowledge in my viscera that the magic hasn’t actually been shouldered out it’s just been hidden behind a haze of hurt and memory and my life is STILL REALLY COOL, particularly as I am well fed, employed, able bodied, have access to my iTunes library and remain wholly unpersecuted. How dare I sigh so much? Why is it OK for me to wake up in the night crying? Sadness can eat my ass.

Time wasting jerk.

 

 

the girl who lost her face

She had a lovely face. She would wear it all over town, and most who saw it were moved to smile or at least to look away disinterestedly. She wore it well, her face. It’s curves and smiles, it’s eyes and forehead were all in their appropriate places- she wore it well.

She had a particular look she was trying out. It was a faraway, pleased but mysterious look. It carried a sense of whimsy around the mouth and that of a thinly veiled secret hovering just above her brow.

She was getting better at it. She did it more and more. She would look at herself and think “that is it. That is my face. I can see it now”. She made the faraway pleased but mysterious look all the time.

Then one ordinary day, she woke up and something was different.

Her face was gone.

She moved around her house like one dead. She could not eat, she could not see; she had no face.

In the street people didn’t look at her at all. They didn’t understand what she had lost. She took to sitting by her window, and to feeling the soft breeze on her shoulders. She would have cried, but she didn’t know how.

She moved towards mirrors and would run her fingers juddering down the glass, trying to remember what her face would do: the way her lips would pull to one side, or a slight crease in her brow.

“Damn” she thought as she strained to recall the face she had loved,

“I thought that was the one.”

 

Upfield line to City

At Jewell Station a man gets on the train and stands in the doorway, looking out. A girl on the platform laughs saying “you’re holding the train” and smiling he steps back.

She lingers until the door shuts as if making sure he will stay put then she waves and walks away as our train heads the opposite direction. She is barefoot and happy and her short bob is a deliberate mess.

I watch the back of the man as he moves to a seat, and so does a guy nearby with a bike and a ponytail. He shakes his head.

I wonder why because all I want to know is if they are in love, if they’ve just spent the night and the day together, if each are giddy and sick from the other.

 

What not to say

In recent years I’ve sported a short, asymmetrical ‘do that has kicked ass, jabbed my eyes frequently and led to many un-PC speculations about my sexuality.

It is quite short at the back. Think a brunette Ellen DeGeneres or a female boy. My hairline unfortunately extends a decent few inches below where the hair cut stops in two ragged and hairy tooth shapes, which when left unchecked leave me looking somewhat fur collared. One of the myriad benefits of said haircut is the opportunity to regularly shave my neck. Not only is this good exercise but it also provides a nice tempering to any unlikely aspirations I might have to ever be a real lady.

I didn’t ever stop to think about becoming a woman that shaves her neck when I was younger and much more starry eyed. But there’s a lot that changes when you grow up, and neck trimming it seems is par for the course in response to the life choices I’ve made.

I was at a party on NYE and chatting to a quasi-bearded friend (male). Because I was a few G&T’s in and because my frequent razoring has left me much more attune to the plight of those amply follicled, I mentioned, in what I’m sure was an appropriate moment to do so that I shave my neck. My conversational partner was a little shocked but only, I think, because it was not something he had considered before. He also pressed upon me the importance of blogging about this, as he too was several G&T’s in, and so here we are.

What I find interesting about any of this, because of course it’s patently clear that nothing else is, is that I am often embarrassed to admit to the neck shaving. It’s not really talked about over pizza or the water cooler or the whatever else, because it seems a little embarrassing to admit. And that shits me. I haven’t done anything wrong. I don’t want a hairy neck, because my do requires a certain shape to look like it is supposed to. That I find a hairy neck inherently unfeminine is a problem for another blog- today my beef is with all the crap we are not supposed to discuss.

I have a lovely friend, who after the turn of the year, asked me if I thought it was lame (paraphrasing a bit) that one of their resolutions was to make this year the one where they wound up in some sort of meaningful relationship.

I of course hushed them right up quick smart because to talk openly about one’s desire to find companionship can only mean that one is desperate and one can of course only find said coveted companionship when one is certainly not looking for it and doesn’t want it at all.

Actually I told my friend that they are excellent and brave.

We are often of the understanding that to talk out loud about being lonely, or looking for love is a little bit uncomfortable. Where did this idea come from? I know people who’ve been advised for years that they will find “the one” (please) when we’re “not looking” (honestly).

In a lovely paradox, we are supposed to soldier on happily in our singledom, knowing we’ll scare secret spouses-to-be away if we admit we’ve spotted them skulking in the underbrush, but we can’t ever talk about how happy we find our soldiering.

We are not allowed to say

“I am lonely and I find it entirely shit” but in equal and confusing measure

“perhaps I am super happy alone and get a lot more done”

is also off limits.

Similarly a parent is not supposed to say that sometimes they wish they hadn’t had children so they could play x-box all day.

Maybe it’s just the truth that is uncomfortable.

I am aware that there is often a time and a place for certain conversational topics- I will never, fucking EVER condone the Facebook over-share and I will probably not ever start a conversation with the words “I bleed monthly from my vagina and what do you think about that”- but, I don’t like the mystery and the hoo ha and the connotations that to admit certain things, to utter them out loud is to conjure the lord Voldemort of awkward societal topics. What’s the worst that can happen? Your friends might find out that you get gassy from eating apples? That you took secret pleasure from the getting the black shit out of your nose post-camping? That as much as I pretend to be still fairly keen and am afraid it will make me look like an unfeeling, unwomanly monster, and as much as I adore my nieces and nephews that I remain completely unconvinced that children are a thing I would ever want to grow in my body?

This is how the church ended up being a place where people are uncomfortable and ladies body parts got all the worst curse words.

I demand truth, for goodness sake, and the truth is this.

I am sad sometimes because I am alone. I am happy sometimes because I am alone. I don’t think I want children. I love, LOVE, sitting around and not doing anything. I hate it when you get lyrics to songs wrong. I like unhealthy foods. They taste good. I have kissed a grand total of one boy in my life, but have really wanted to kiss around six or seven. I am sometimes afraid of dying but most often I’m afraid I’ll not live well. Beans have been known to give me gas. I shave my neck sometimes, and bleed monthly from my vagina.

Try it.

You might like it.

The Hit List

A summation of stuff, 2012 style (Because I need to remember things sometimes so I can keep my shit together. The asterisks are for what took me a little by surprise):

Dated, both speed and real (with dude)*

Played golf

Fell in love quite a bit

Got punched soundly in the heart a few times

Crossed a mountain range

Visited my beloved Vincent in the Musee D’Orsee

Met Berlin. Approved.

Took a lovely rolling bike tour through Barcelona

Walked five days of the Camino/had five of the best days of my life

Saw Stephen Fry perform for five pounds (bargain)*

Was tattooed by a Bulgarian

Ate and enjoyed capsicum and lasagna. Presumed I must be growing up.*

Met Doctor Who and became an infinitely better person

Met so many excellent people it is a little ridiculous

Became a member of a church* and

Learnt to like Christians*

Saw Sufjan, Death Cab, Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Beck, Cake, Beirut (x2), Sigur Ros, Regurgitator. I remain as enamoured of music as ever

Increased tattoo coverage by 250%

Remembered countless times why I hate slow walkers but more times why I love humans

Was told off by a parent for swearing at the age of 30*

Felt thoroughly mediocre more times than I’m happy with

Was selfish, and lazy, and mean and was reminded why those are shitty ways to be

Met my new neiflings who are only two months old but are already strong and mighty and beautiful

Learnt that I am ok

Learnt that sadness is not the end of me

Graduated*

Went to two music festivals

Drank a lot

Wrote some

Wanted to write more

Committed petty acts of vandalism

Loved

Laughed

Ate

Cried

Swore

Sang

Danced enough for several lifetimes

Watched the world not end: was pleased, though not surprised.

 

All in all, not a bad drop.

Hello, friends

How are you?

Just so you know, a few things have happened to me recently.

I know, I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath, but then we’ve got to keep moving; something else is using the Internet in ten minutes.

They weren’t super exciting things involving promotions or monkeys or super dramas things like my brother being kidnapped by terrorists and forced at gunpoint to construct a nuclear device. Just some things (one of them was making friends with an amazing Irishman -no, it wasn’t like that- another was walking over a mountain range -yes, it was cool and it does make me a little better than you) that have added up to me being a slightly different me than I was.

What they have wrought, in their little subtle-life-altering-Frankenstein-ie way, is Carlynne 3.1(the birthday came later but we’re pretending it’s all been timed really well).

Carlynne 3.1 doesn’t apologise for herself.

Now- to be clear, this is not in a douchey way. If I tread on your toe or diss your woman I’ll apologise the crap right out of you. Goodness- if I’m playing music too loud on the tram, please tell me! Because that is so impolite and I’m so sorry.

In the past though, some of the stuff I (and I’m sure actually a lot of other schmucks) have been apologizing for and the ways I’ve been sorry are things like this:

Feelings of noticeable discomfort around people who could reasonably be described as ‘Hipsters’ as am convinced that I am not quite as cool (I have too many emotions, and don’t wear t-shirts as nonchalantly), and they will see me as not as good, which they should be spared from, sorry cool people that I’m not cool-

And

Concern over certain items of clothing accentuating my wobbly arms, wobbly belly, large boobs or big frame and as said accentuation means that people will see them, I feel badly as these wobbly bits are obviously something that no one should be forced to look at I’m sorry world for the bits I will cover them all up for ever-

And

The certainty that all conversations I engage in are mostly my responsibility and that I need to be the most entertaining/sincere/wise/funny/lighthearted person ever witnessed and when a conversation veers off course or stalls or seems awkward that this is all self’s stinkin fault because of self’s failure to be one or all of the above; sorry chat buddy for not being radiant and wittastic constantly I’m sorry

And so on.

That’s a bit shit.

Carlynne 3.1 doesn’t care. She does not need to be intimidated by anyone, because this is all bullshit. She is a person just like all the other people are and this is ok even when she laughs too loud, or likes a Justin Beiber song, or plays with her iPhone in front of the ones in the great jeans and scraggy hair*.

She has realized that how she appears to passers by, friends and loved ones does not matter, that they will love her anyway if they matter and that she is fabulous and, it turns out, beautiful**. She has never allowed herself to say this aloud before.

Carlynne 3.1 knows that there are at least two parties involved in the conversations she is a part of (save for those she has with herself, and those are another story, for another blog post) and that if things don’t run as perfectly as the script she sees in her head that this is OK too. Also, she refuses to let silences be awkward. They are simply a lack of noise***.

So that’s some stuff.

Let’s move on now, hey?

Yours,

3.1.

xx

*Carlynne 3.1 does not wish this post or any comments herein to be seen as an indictment on those of a Hipster persuasion- she has nothing against that lifestyle whatsoever. She has Hipster friends and an argument can easily be made, thanks to the nebulous definition of the Hipster, that she is in fact one herself, from time to time. You know, when the mood arises.

**The secret to this step is not a diet, or a tummy flattening undergarment, or a facelift- it is much simpler. It is deciding to believe it. Voila: Instant confidence. Who knew.

***Seriously the other day I interrupted these two dudes I barely knew as they were very clearly finishing a conversation and smiled benignly at them for around four minutes as they finished talking and prepared to leave the area. They looked politely at me from time to time, wondering why I was watching their boring chit-chat. I was quite comfortable there. Quite comfortable.

A Sad Story

This is a story of being sad.

Not because it’s never been told before, or because this story of sadness is special or vast or because this story is one of the triumph of the human spirit against interminable odds or dragons or something.

Simply because I’ve told a lot of stories about being happy, or bored, or silly, and so I thought I would tell this one too.

Once there was a girl, and she got pretty sad for a bit.

She cried:

In the shower (x2)

On her mother’s couch

On a Jetstar flight to Melbourne

In bed (x2)

In the office of the indescribably kind Indian GP at the end of her street

At her desk (x3)

The reasons why don’t matter so much; suffice to say she wanted something that she thought would make her life pretty excellent (forgetting in the mean time that her life was already, pretty excellent) and then discovered to her horror that the softly glowing future of her naïve desire was not to be.

So she cried a lot and listened to too much Damien Rice (lovely but inevitably unhelpful), and wondered if this thing that had made her sad (a small thing, as far as things go) had broken her a little.

Now- her sadness, in comparison to say, an ocean of such a thing was only a puddle, or a wee glass full of sadness. You might not have even noticed it floating gently behind her eyes if you had talked to her. But you see, it was a potent and a dark sadness, grown darker with infusions of her dreams, many months worth of denying and that most gruesome helper- hope. It weighed upon her chest.

She was a lucky girl, and as such was surrounded by a veritable forest of sensible friends (and an incomprehensibly nice doctor man) to help her lever the heavy sadness away. She was also blessed by having Things To Do, which meant that as much as she wanted to lay in her bed bleating sadly she could not. Thank heavens.

Here are some more things that helped her:

Music

Staying off of Facebook

Staying away from beer

A magic mantra she chanted to herself when she got sad, consisting of a vision of how she wanted to feel when she was not sad anymore (and an easily reprogrammable brain- made so from years of memorising pop lyrics)

Being honest

Laughter

Magnolia season

And so, the girl incrementally stopped dwelling in sadness, and got on with things. She had function. She had necessity. She had things she could do. And she remembered that before wanting the thing she had wanted that her life was really, really excellent.

She is aware that she will sound like a douchebag being sad for a couple of days then blogging about it like she knows anything other than a very little bit about bidding a repeated farewell to something you think would have been some kind of perfect, but sadness is something very vivid and sometimes very not discussed, and she believes in being open.

And so it is possible, that within your circle, or your sphere, or your hectagon, there are many many reasons to get out of bed, even on the days when that seems like utter fantasy. And hopefully if and when you are sad you will find yourself in a sensible forest and you can write a wee story like this one about the time that you were sad, and were lucky enough to learn again how not to be.

The End.