DAY 81: JEFF…

DAY 81: JEFF…

I was seventeen when I was first introduced to Jeff Buckley. An older, cooler, dude from the cafe I worked in on weekends would lend me stacks of CD’s, of music he thought I should know.

One day he he handed me an album with a pretty faced young guy on the front, wearing a spangled jacket, and an earring. The way he clutched the microphone made him look like an easy listening crooner like Harry Connick Jr. So needless to say, I was reluctant on this one.

But within three tracks of Grace I was in deep, undying, besotted love. How could this man sing like a choir of angels one minute, then be like a howling like a sex wolf the next, then shredding the guitar like Hendrix. All whilst looking like a hotter, prettier, version of James Franco in Freaks and Geeks, as if that were even something I ever thought possible.

As my listens to the album grew into the ten’s, then the hundreds, and I learned more about him via obsessive internet reading and the couple of iffy biographies that the local library had, so did my love for him.

He had everything that a romantic, endlessly-dreaming, music obsessed teenage girl could ever want – an infamous, tragic, famous musician father who died young, a pained and tortured soul as he deals with these inevitable family comparisons, a deep set rage and anguish, good looks, infinite talent, New York kudos, and then, of course, his own mysterious, unexpected, heartbreaking death at the young age of 30, as he was right on the cusp of recording his second album. With his death he left the world one perfect album to fetishise and idolise – his legend and beauty set in stone forever.

Consequently I dearly wanted a troubled and pained boyfriend of my own, who played guitar hilts peeking through his gorgeous lush fringe. Who’d let me wear his musky flannel shirts, whilst he opened his heart and soul to me about his family sorrow, and wrote epic seven minute love songs, for me, about the first time we made love, or fucked, or both.

But now here I am, aged 33, and with a few of those emotionally tortured and pained boyfriends under my belt, for which I definitely blame Jeff for, I think I can say that I am well and truly over that fantasy. It all seems nice and romantic, whilst staring at your bedroom walls, listening to Last Goodbye for the 16th time that day, but in reality I now know it means nothing but long nights of sulking in silence, butterflies in the gut (and not the good kind), arguments in public places, and spending hour upon hour listening to him whinge about his problems and feeling and tears. Oh and so many tears. So many. Some are his, but they're mostly yours. In fact, they're pretty much always yours. Despite all of this, you'll hang on, suffering, convinced you can fix him, you can cure his pain, you can be the one to make him happy. And then in the end, he'll be the one to dump you, and creak your heart, because you know, he told you all along he wasn't ready for this kind of relationship, he never promised you more, he can't do this, he's to damaged and you'll never truly understand his situation and damage…or some other bullshit that he'll cry at you as he walks out the door.

Nope. Give me an emotionally available, happy, kind, and committed type who has a steady job, gets along with his parents, thinks that sulking is for five year olds, and isn’t afraid to talk about, or make plans with you, further than two weeks in advance.

And Jeff? Well I’ll always love his music, the album Grace, and have a special spot for him in my heart that we reserve for all of our first loves. But otherwise, geez, what a huge sulky man-baby he was.

In fact, I’m going to declare it: Jeff Buckley would have been the most insufferable, exhausting, self-indulgent boyfriend ever.

I'd still pash him though.

x

DAY 46: HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL…

DAY 46: HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL…

Tonight I went to a high school production of the musical Chicago. It got me feeling incredibly misty-eyed and nostalgic for my own school musical days. Suddenly feeling very old as I realised that these kids on stage weren’t even born when it was my turn. 


But looking at them, it was like I was back there. Examining their faces for expressions of excitement, their body language giving away little clues of clumsiness and insecurity. 

Most of all, I look amongst them, and I wonder “Who has a crush on who?”

Oh, the high school musical crushes! Was there anything more glorious?!

They were such beautiful, soul-consuming, painful, festering, giddy things. They would develop in the first week of rehearsals and last the entire term. Twelve weeks of torture and bliss all in one. Nothing like spending every lunch hour, three nights a week, plus weekends with the person of your desire to really get the heart racing and imagination flying. Not being able to wait for opening night, but also, feeling sad as in the back of your mind you know that once the show is done, these nights of being in his, or her, proximity will be over. You see your time together vanishing before your eyes. 

Getting up the courage to sit one seat closer to them, each rehearsal. Stolen glances from across the stage. Being able to watch them, unashamedly, in all their glory, longing for them, from the wings, as they stand out on stage and perform their solo. The stabbing jealousy every time they have to hold another cast members hand, or god forbid, kiss them, in another scene and you cry “why can’t it be me?” You’re utterly convinced that they’re going to fall in love now, and elope. 

But then, after three nights of performance, it’s all over. 

But all is not lost. Because, there’s there it is, there awaits the payback! Your final chance, at the end of the journey, to get close to them: the sacred After-Party. 

The After-Party is always held at someone’s house in the backwaters of suburbia. You are all under age, but some how have a copious amount of Kristov vodka and RTD’s. Everyone is going apeshit. You’re trying to be cool, and hang out with your friends, but you can’t stop scanning the room, anxious that he’s not there. 

Eventually, at 10pm he arrives. 

And it all becomes a bit of a blur from there. 

It’s 11pm and you’re talking to him. 

12pm and somehow you’re wearing his military jacket. 

And then it’s 1am and taxi vans have been called and your friends are telling you that you have to go soon, but you say JUST HANG ON A FEW MINUTES and you’re both standing out on the freezing, frosty, back porch. The sky is black, the stars are bright, and your breath is white mist. And suddenly, suddenly, you don’t know how and you don’t know why, but he’s leaning in…and you’re pashing. It’s happening. It’s really really really fucking happening oh my god. Oh my god. 

It’s taken twelve weeks. Hundreds of hours of brainpower and imagining. Half a bottle of $15 vodka. And endless blind optimism and wishing. But you are finally kissing your school production crush.

You congratulate yourself. 

It was all worth it.

You did it. 

You win. 

So to those kids in the show tonight, I wish you the best of after-parties tomorrow. I’m so excited for you and the chance to hopefully, finally, get that pash. I feel your anxiety, rush of hormones and sense of opportunity. Go for it. Be brave. Be bold. 

God speed, little ones. Go get them (in a consensual, legal, respectful, and safe manner, of course).x

DAY 42: MY TAROT CARDS…

DAY 42: MY TAROT CARDS…

They say that you should never buy your own set of tarot cards, that they should always be gifted to you. 

Well, if that’s the first rule of tarot, then I broke it right away. 


I was fifteen and had spent a good 6 months circling Scorpio Books, in our old-CBD, hesitantly peering into their mysterious, intimidating, tall and very locked, glass display case, which housed their collection of tarot decks and other spiritual curiosities. Never being able to summon the courage to ask for it to be opened for me.

Instead, I’d been borrowing library books on the tarot. Substitutingthe real thing for nights and weekends spent researching the protocols and rituals that surrounded this very grown up and, what felt taboo, subject. Just like anything that’s slightly out-of-reach, which a studious and well-behaved teenager aspires to – love, sex, booze, drugs, and edgy fashion – when you can’t have it, you read about, and study it in every detail that you can, until life finally passes it your way.

Eventually I decided that I was ready for my own tarot deck, and once I’d decided, well I was 100% READY. It was now or never and this was something I couldn’t delay any longer. I couldn’t wait for a birthday or Christmas to be gifted them (not that I’d ever have the courage to ask my parents for some, though I’m sure they would have happily obliged). See, somehow it felt almost as if the rest of my adolescence depended on it – how could I meet boys, finish school, get drunk, learn to drive, or wear red lipstick, unless I had my cards to steer me in the right direction towards them?

So one Saturday morning I put on my coolest, most empowering, outfit (army coat, secondhand kilt that I hacked the bottom six inches off, and studded with safety pins, striped knee high socks, Velvet Underground satchel, black eyeliner), got the bus into town, strode into the bookshop and got up the guts to ask what felt like the biggest, most grown-up question, I’d ever uttered:

“Can I please look inside the glass cabinet?”

I don’t know what I was expecting the staff to do? Would they ID me? Did they think I’d shoplift the cards? Would they lecture me on the dangers of dabbling in the mystic arts? Had I not seen The Craft? What was next, love spells and fire rituals (well, actually it was…)?

I stuttered and I blushed. But they let me in. And once I was in, I knew exactly what I needed. I grabbed my deck, that I’d researched for so long (Rider-Waite, never anything else), and abandoned the cabinet, before they could change their mind and tell me to hand them back. 

Two minutes later I emerged from the shop, triumphant and floating with pride, feeling like a critical milestone in my journey to adulthood had just been reached. I had my cards with me like a talisman of my destiny – my very own tarot deck wrapped in a crisp, brown, paper bag, which I hid inside my oversized coat like smuggled contraband. 

These still are, and always be my cards. 

Although I wasn’t gifted them, like they say you should, I feel that the journey behind their acquisition embodies so much spirit and emotion that, in the end, it doesn’t really matter. That slightly anxious, curious, optimistic, teenage girl, with just a hint of rebellion about her, lives on within them.

And that’s why sometimes we have to put textbook traditions and rituals aside in life, and just create our own. 

After all, my cards have always looked after me. And that counts for everything. 

x

DAY 25: DIET (VOL.2)…

DAY 25: DIET (VOL.2)…

CONTENT WARNING: WEIGHT LOSS, DIETS, EATING DISORDERS

My second diet was when I was Sixteen.

It was the school holidays. One afternoon I stepped out of my bedroom, during the ad break in Sally Jessy Raphael, into the bathroom and for some unknown, and random, reason decided to step onto the scales for the first time in years. Well, since my first diet.  

The number I saw was TOO BIG. I didn’t know what the number was meant to be. But I knew it was TOO BIG. 
Then I looked in the mirror. I tugged at my clothes and pinched at my full, fleshy, hips, that were stripy with stretch marks. 
My jumper was TOO BIG. No… it wasn’t the jumper. It was me. I was TOO BIG.
So I decided to go for a walk. Then the next day, at the same time, I went for another walk. Then it was a walk, every day, for the next six months. 

I had a special cassette tape, for walking, that I made myself. It was full of upbeat and motivational music that I’d pilfered off the radio. My goal was to get back to my front gate earlier in the tape every time. It worked a treat.

Little games like that got me through. 

I also made myself a secret exercise regime to complete every morning, without fail, in my room: 100 sit ups. 100 leg lifts (both on my side and on my back). 100 squats. And I made some makeshift weights from two cans of baked beans that I’d stolen from the pantry. 

Every spare moment was spent hoarding, and reading, old copies of my Mum’s Slimming World Magazines. She had hundreds. I’d pour over the before and after photos, comparing those ladies weights with my own. “She started heavier than me” WIN. “I’m still heavier than her” FAIL. 

For someone who hated math, I sure became obsessed, and very good, with numbers. 

I memorised the fat and calorie content of every food I came in contact with. I didn’t really understand about how calories worked, so I simply  decided that fat was the enemy. Everything must have zero fat. 

A couple of months in, my Mum went back to England for a month, which was great for my game as my Dad and Brother ate a lot of food I didn’t want. Things like meat, and takeaways. They didn’t care or take any notice of what I ate (or didn’t), so I could just make my own dinner every night. The dinner I allowed myself was always the same: a cup of pasta bows with some canned tomato sauce. It felt like plenty after eating nothing all day.

It didn’t take long before I stopped understanding why people needed three meals a day. One was just the perfect amount. Food stopped having any kind of pleasure. It became a function. A chore. An inconvenience.

I lost about 25kg, very quickly. I was suddenly a size 6 in Jay Jay’s and Glassons jeans. I didn’t really have any boobs anymore.  I had to spend all of my pocket money on clothes from the mall because nothing fit me, which I resented because I just wanted to buy magazines and CD’s. My school uniform hung off me like a gross, daggy, sack. And I was always cold. So so freezing cold. I’d huddle in blankets and duvets in my room, my fingers and toes going numb. 

But all I cared about was what other people thought of me, and since no one – not a single friend, teacher or family member said anything to me about how I looked or had changed, I figured that it wasn’t noticeable, it wasn’t a big deal. That I must still be TOO BIG. I must keep working hard. 

Which is why I was shocked when, later that year, I looked at a photo of myself. My smile was tired. I looked dead behind the eyes, with big dark circles underneath. I looked  old. Not older in a cool way. Just old. And very sad. That wasn’t what I wanted. I was meant to become thin, pretty, suddenly know how to talk to boys, and become super popular at school. But this girl in the photo didn’t look any of those things, and she certainly didn’t look like me… so why couldn’t I see her when I looked in the mirror? Why did I only see TOO BIG? TOO BIG.

Ten years later I showed this photo to my then-boyfriend. He gasped…then told me that I looked “Really hot back then. You should try to look more like that now”.

Yeah, more on him another time.

x

DAY 24: 1001 SONGS – SURFACING…

DAY 24: 1001 SONGS – SURFACING…

1001 SONGS
SLIPKNOT- SURFACING (1999)

The video of for this song that I watched starts with the words “THIS-IS-YOUR-NEW-FUCKING-NATIONAL-ANTHEM” being screamed at a large crowd of scary youths who are treating Slipknot like the second-coming. 

Which seems about right.


Ugh Slipknot. We meet again. Sadly.  

I know this song very well, because I know this band very well. Not even remotely through choice, but through my little brother. He force fed Slipknot onto me every day for around a year, back when I was 16, and he 14. 

Slipknot turned our idyllic riverside house into a war zone. Our poor parents. Our poor neighbours. Our poor pets.

For some reason, that still escapes me, as soon as my brother hit puberty and discovered his love for nu-metal, the only way that he would get out of bed, and ready for school, was to play the dulcet tones of Slipknot, at full volume, every day. We’re talking 7am. Have you heard Slipknot? Why don’t you try that in the morning and see how it goes?

I still don’t know why this became his ritual. 

Was this just his age?

Or despite all his rage was he still just a rat in a cage? 

(See what I did there?!)

At the time, I considered myself much more sophisticated than him, in musical taste, with my Britpop, Radiohead, Beatles, and stacks of Q Magazines. I was the grown up one. So much more mature. 

However I was not sophisticated when it came to handling my brother: 

I’d scream at him to TURN IT DOWN. 

He’d scream back NO.

I’d storm into his room.

He’d force me back out. 

I’d cry. 

He’d turn the music up louder. 

I’d slam my door.

He’d slam his door. 

I’d tell him to fuck off.

He’d tell me to go fuck himself. 

Repeat x 3 

The music was just such aggressive, screeching, gross, masculine, cock-swinging, noise. I’m all for diversity in musical taste, but no one needs that much anger and confrontation in their lives each morning. 

It’s no wonder I enjoy living by myself so much.

Thanks for the memories, Slipknot. Another 15 years apart will be just fine. 

x

Day 2: Arms…

Day 2: Arms…

The gold and silver bibles, belonging to my Mother, have been smuggled into my teenage room like contraband. Here I hold the guidebooks for my impending adulthood; success, love, wealth, beauty and the kind of sex that you’d imagine Fox Mulder having:

Trinny and Susannah’s What Not to Wear Volume 1 and 2. 


Fifteen year old me sensed that if I studied these two books hard enough, I will be my Most Fabulous Grown Up Self. The kind that they cannot teach in school.

Amongst their countless rules for clothing, style, and personal image, one was drilled home harder, and more frequently, than any other; Bingo wings. 

You see, poor old Susannah has flabby upper arms. Flappy, saggy, sad, old pelican wings. She must cover them up, at all costs, and so must you. Squeeze that rancid, cheap, sausagemeat into a nice cotton and Lycra blend. These misshapen things that you call arms? They have no place in society. How vulgar. How repulsive. No one on earth needs to see those.

Look at Susannah, here, in her fuchsia wrap cardigan demonstrating ‘casual workwear’. Here she is in a green shrug, so tasteful, ready for a cocktail party. Oh Susannah, you look so normal, in your Marks and Spencer 3/4 sleeve taupe linen blazer. Fatty arms be gone!

Now there’s a modern, independent, woman who is destined for a lifetime of six figure salaries, steamy love affairs, glamorous travel and will never, ever, find herself feeling sad, stupid, or lonely.

Fifteen years, and 1,362 Glassons cardigans, later I hear rumours of a man who has quite the thing for chubby upper arms.

Surely such a creature, as mythical and rare as a Unicorn, cannot be real. Trinny and Susannah wouldn’t lie to me. Because if this were true, then why the hell have I been suffering through all of these summers, parties, dancing, and music festivals, with my elbows to my shoulders, sweatily swaddled in cheap synthetic fabrics?

By the time I meet the Unicorn he immediatley devours my naked upper arm flesh so hungrily, so rampantly, so intensely, so absolutely, utterly, wonderfully, that he leaves behind a bruise, large and deep, like a puddle of spilled merlot. It takes a fortnight to disappear.

I examine and photograph his mark each day – a smug and sordid memento of, not only the power of my body, but also that I’d proved those nasty bitches wrong. 

Sorry Trinny and Susannah, but it seems that chubby arms will get you everywhere.

x