"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Thursday, December 19, 2013

speak now #33: my problem with k-obsession

Now Playing: Acapella by Karmin (now you're talking crazy, saying that you 'made me', like I was your Cinderella)

My problem with k-obsession:

- Most k-fans have no Korean heritage, little contact with people of Korean descent, no concept of Korean society or culture and don't know the Korean language beyond the lyrics of their favourite songs. The Korean entertainment industry, like all entertainment industries, presents a very skewed, airbrushed depiction of Korean society and I don't think this is actively recognised by non-Korean fans.

- As a half-Korean feminist, sex positive peer sex educator and social justice activist I don't think it's healthy for people to idolise a society that is rampant with sexism, sex negativity, class conflict, domestic violence and alcohol abuse. Korean society is incredibly misogynistic, patriarchal, ageist and classist and is not a safe or healthy environment for women, young people and/or queer individuals. The discussion of sexuality is extremely limited and problematic, especially female sexuality. Obviously as a Korean I am very proud of Korean talent and the entertainment industry and I have seen many examples of using popular culture as a medium for social criticism, but a lot of that criticism and subconscious reflection of problematic attitudes and behaviours is lost on a foreign audience.

- Having recently come out of an emotionally abusive relationship, the way in which many romantic relationships are depicted in Korean popular culture is extremely concerning - they are almost exclusively heterosexual, the 'good' ones are almost entirely sexless, they reinforce rigid gender roles and patriarchal thought and are almost always emotionally, physically or sexually abusive

- The depiction of men - both heroic and villainous - is extremely concerning, especially given that the target audience of Korean popular culture is young heterosexual women. Men are portrayed as being hypermasculine (sometimes disguised or juxtaposed with metrosexuality) and that wounding his fragile ego is a crime that deserves punishment - normally as a row between a couple, abuse or public humiliation. It is the duty of women in Korean popular culture to protect the fragile egos of men by being physically small and weak, as well as docile and accommodating. Male violence towards women is normalized in Korean popular culture, and is sometimes even part of the humour, and the overuse of the 'oppa-dongsaeng' relationship - without the fine nuances of this relationship being explained for a foreign audience - further establishes the archetypal female in Korean popular culture as childish, weak and in need of protection. This kind of gendered interaction is extremely dangerous to be mindlessly broadcast to vulnerable young women, nor is it healthy to encourage them to idolize violent, maladjusted men with extremely fragile egos.

- Obviously the vast majority of K-stars are tall, slender, attractive, with Western or Westernized features. I have firsthand experience of this limited depiction of Korean appearance as influencing social thought in Western societies on how East Asians are 'supposed' to look. Korean popular culture also reflects the obsession with physical appearance and materialism prevalent in real-life Korean society, but this is absorbed rather than analysed by both domestic and foreign audiences.

Of course, these problems are not isolated to Korean society or Korean popular culture, nor do I think that these problems necessarily inhibit the production of quality entertainment or enjoyable consumption. My worry is that K-mania has reached the heights of stupidity and that these social problems are being absorbed or ignored by both domestic and foreign audieneces - it is much easier, as someone living in a Western society, to be critical of Western popular culture; I have seen countless analyses of whether or not the Game of Thrones franchise is feminist/sexist, but almost no discussion of the treatment of gender and sexuality in Korean popular culture. An unfortunate side effect of political correctness is that many people feel unable to criticise non-Western media, and non-Western cultures are often idolized in lieu of open criticism. Korean society and popular culture will continue to grow and develop and evolve and I am confident that the more pernicious aspects of it will fade away in time - but it is important to remember to analyse media and the messages depicted in media as well as enjoying an consuming popular culture.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

speak now #32: Children in Adult Bodies - The Taboos of Female Adolescence

This was my research essay for Gender Studies, in which I analyse the treatment of female adolescence in society and the media, with a focus on East Asian female adolescents in Anglo-Australian society.

Female adolescent bodies have been viewed throughout history as bodies of sensuality and fertility. Although the tradition of exploiting young women for entertainment and pleasure endures, in our society female adolescent sexuality and reproduction is rigidly regulated. The discourse surrounding adolescence and youth sexuality in our society constructs female adolescents as children with adult bodies; individuals with the desires and biological function of adults, but the treatment and lack of rights of children. This is especially evident in the discourse surrounding East Asian female adolescents living in Western society, in which cultural attitudes and racial stereotypes compounds the effect of the taboos and stigmas of female youth sexuality on how these individuals are perceived as sexual beings.

Although inherently connected, discourse serves to separate sexuality from female adolescence. Legally, the majority of adolescents are unable to freely engage in sexual expression. In Australia it is an offence to 'have sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 16 or to induce a child under the age of 16 to have sexual intercourse'; it is also an offence to 'have sexual intercourse with a child of over 16 but under 18 if he is in a position of authority to/over them' . The wording of these laws is implicitly gendered - the use of the male pronoun to describe the perpetrator of statutory rape assumes sexual aggression on the male part; and in our heteronormative society, a male perpetrator will have a female 'victim'. These laws, whilst preventing child sex abuse and reducing the number of non-consensual sexual encounters amongst young people, assumes that adolescents - especially female adolescents - are not sexual beings in their own right, but are rather 'induced' to have sex, especially by men 'in a position of authority to/over them'. Child pornography laws also prohibit the production and distribution of sexual images of children under the age of 18. Whilst these laws were created with the purpose of combating the spread of child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children, it results in adolescents persecuted for creating and spreading sexual images of themselves, and effectively erases an outlet for sexual expression for adolescents. These laws also result in the erasure of adolescent sexuality in Australian society and culture; in 2008 police seized exhibited photographs of nude female adolescents, and the images were denounced by Kevin Rudd as 'revolting' . This attitude could be attributed to society's desire to protect the innocence of children, but given the widespread presence and acceptance of images of nude infants, it can be read that this outrage is not sparked by the fact that a child is being sexually exploited, but a 'child' has a sexual body and therefore a sexuality. At thirteen, a female 'child' is thoroughly in the grips of puberty and most likely menstruating; but these biological facts are brushed under the table by patriarchal ideas of young female innocence. Childhood, in society and under law, is a sexless state that extends well into the sexual realms of adolescence - as Emily Maguire states, 'the urge for teenagers to have sex is not going to disappear'. The threat of criminal persecution has made taboo sexual interactions with people not of the arbitrary age of adulthood, and therefore stigmatises the inherent sexuality and fertility of these individuals. The discourse surrounding adolescence and sexuality reinforces the concept of female adolescents as vulnerably sexless children trapped in sexual bodies, and in need of protection from the 'adult' world of sexuality.

Female bodies are simultaneously the most sexualized and sexually oppressed bodies in our culture and discourse - the taboos of female adolescence is sharply contrasted to the hypersexualization of female adolescent bodies and the extensive presence of the voyeuristic male gaze in the media. This is particularly evident in the porn industry; in spite of child obscenity laws, the focus on female adolescence in porn is blatantly obvious - 70% of porn stars are female, and the most common female roles that appear in porn titles is 'teen' . Emily Maguire notes the emphasis on 'the sweetest youngest girls' and that porn 'infantilises the woman and emphasises her innocence'. Playboy features 'girls with fluffy bunny ears and short cutesy bios' because they are 'soft and unthreatening; the fantasy is to bend them to your will, to sully their sweet, blushing, cheerleader innocence'. A disturbing parallel in the attitudes in the porn industry and in the law can be drawn in Maguire's claim that porn stars are depicted as 'so darn sweet and naive that there is a sense of the man having corrupted her'. The sexual imagery of female adolescents is not restricted to the seedy recesses of hardcore pornography; a famous example of female adolescent bodies being used as sexual objects is Miley Cyrus, who appeared scantily clad in Vanity Fair at the age of fifteen and in a similarly sexualised photoshoot for Elle magazine a year later. Child obscenity laws makes this sort of depiction of actual teenagers an exception rather than a rule; however, this does not stop adult women masquerading as adolescents when they are exploited by the media. Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist scholar and media critic, produced a criticism of GQ magazine when it released a sexually explicit photoshoot of Glee cast members in character as high school students . The use of adults to portray adolescents is common in Hollywood, as it is supposed to circumvent the many laws regarding employment and sexual depiction of children. However, it does not detract from the fact that as these adults represent and are commonly viewed as adolescents, and when they are sexually objectified it constitutes sexual exploitation of adolescents. A level of hypocrisy between the widespread use of sexualised imagery of adolescence and the many legal and social restrictions and stigmas of female adolescent sexuality is evident; female adolescents are restricted from free sexual expression, yet female sexual bodies can be freely exploited, especially if they are sexually mature adults masquerading as 'sexless' adolescents. The juxtaposition between the stigma and taboo of female adolescent sexuality and the treatment of female adolescent bodies in the media reinforces the concept of female adolescents are children with adult bodies; incapable of sexual expression, but capable of being sexually exploited.

The discourse that constructs female adolescents as children with adult bodies is particularly evident in the treatment of young women of East Asian heritage living in Anglo-Australian society. The manner in which Asian women are depicted in Western popular culture is painfully limited and harmful; poet Rachel Rostad speaks of 'a long tradition of turning Asian women into a sad fetish' in which Asian women are either sexualised, like Madame La Parte in the Bond film Thunderball, or reduced to a simplistic love interest, like Cho Chang in the Harry Potter franchise. Bitna Kim's study of 'Asian fetishism' amongst white men revealed that white men perceived Asian women to be more 'submissive and obedient' than white women; another study reveals that Asian women are commonly perceived as being 'submissive, man-pleasing sex kittens'; or, more palatably, of having 'great personalities'. Female adolescent Asian bodies are easily infantilised; the average Vietnamese woman stands at 10cm shorter than an average Anglo-Australian woman and 20cm shorter than an average Anglo-Australian man  , and this combined with smaller secondary sex characteristics can result in Asian adolescent women to appear childlike. A common misconception amongst white men as revealed in Kim's study is that Asian women 'believe westerners are superior to Asians'; this myth of a submissive Asian woman helplessly attached to a white man is rampant throughout popular culture, featuring in the opera Madame Butterfly and the musical Miss Saigon. This kind of infantilism and sexual objectification of the submissive Asian woman is not exclusive to the cultural insensitivity of Hollywood. The kawaii (cute) and ero-kawaii (erotic cute) style of manga/anime is extremely popular in Japan, and has crossed over into pornography with roricon, or Lolita porn; animated pornography which sexualises female childhood and adolescence.. From this, we can gather that there is a contradiction in the way in which Asian women are depicted and perceived by our society; as sexless, but sexually appealing because they are constructed as childlike in eroticised and fetishised bodies. Gail Dines discusses the treatment of Asian women in pornography, stating that Asian women are 'childified - they are presented as naive, innocent, and lacking any adult agency'. Dines also draws a connection between the eroticisation of Asian female submissiveness and colonialism, as the depiction of Asian female adolescent sexuality is not only governed by the discourse of patriarchy and sexism, but also of colonialism and racism.  There is, of course, a taboo against sexualising child or childlike bodies, and also a taboo against mixed-race relationships; Asian female adolescents combine and eroticise these stigmas, and encourages these taboos to become more socialised and acceptable to mainstream popular culture. The treatment of female adolescents as children with adult bodies is particularly evident in the depiction and perception of East Asian women living in Anglo-Australian society, as the discourse surrounding East Asian female adolescence is informed not only by the taboos and stigmas laid down by the law, but also the complex power dynamics of cultural stereotypes, racism and colonialism.

Female adolescent bodies belong to legal children; unable, in the eyes of the law, to consent or actively participate in the 'adult' world of sexuality and reproduction. This is contradicted in the excessive sexualisation of young women in the media; resulting in female adolescent bodies being constructed as inherently sexual, but belonging to sexless people - legitimising, therefore, exploitation and the erasure of female adolescent sexual agency from our society. This exploitation and erasure is particularly evident in the treatment of the East Asian female adolescent, who is constructed through pornography and popular culture as the archetypal child with an adult body.

Bibliography: 

Dines, Gail. Pornland: how porn has hijacked our sexuality. Boston: Beacon Press, 2010.
Maguire, Emily. Princesses & Pornstars: sex, power, identity. 1st ed. Melbourne: Text Publishing Company, 2008.
Kim, Bina. Asian female and Caucasian male couples: Exploring the attraction. Pastoral Psychology, 60, 233-244, 2011

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

speak now #31: racism & sexuality

“Fetishes, on their own, aren’t harmful, wrong, or shameful things. Whatever floats your boat is fine—as long as it harms no one. The important element to fetishes that don’t harm people, though, is that they all involve a degree of performance and the ability to move in and out of fetish space. If you have a thing for people wearing ostrich-feather tails, your partner is free to prance around the house in hot pants and a tail as often as she likes; and when she’s not into it, she can put the tail away. 

Racial fetishes, however, are based on objectifying someone because of her race, which isn’t something she can control. An Asian woman can’t choose to take her Asianness off for the day, a Black woman can’t decide to not be Black while she walks down the street. These are lived, inhabited identities that cannot be turned on and off; there is no safeword for race. You live these identities throughout your life, experiencing the good and bad things associated with them, interacting with your community through and around this identity. 

Someone who says he (and it is usually a he) ‘prefers’ women of a specific race isn’t exercising a preference based on orientation or experience. He’s viewing certain kinds of women as dateable material on the basis of racial discrimination; and it’s telling that most men with racial ‘preferences’—which are really racial fetishes—use very racist, stereotypical descriptions when talking about why they ‘prefer’ women of specific races. Asian women are meek, say, or Latinas are fiery, or Black women are exotic and know how to deliver in bed.”

I explain non-heterosexuality to people by saying that my body does not define the bodies of those I am attracted to - having a female body is not a prerequisite to loving someone with a male one. So when I'm tumbling around with a tall pretty white boy and he says - probably well meaningly - 'so you do like white boys!' I can't help but feel a little...used.

What has my Asianness and his whiteness have to do with anything? Because I am Asian, am I expected to only be attracted to other Asians? Does he consider himself somehow special, because he is so different to what I am supposed to be attracted to - so attractive that I have broken out of my race rut? Why isn't he confined to just white women? 

It is a running joke that I have 'racist hormones', in that I have not been particularly forward with Asians as I am with men of other races. Allow me to clarify - my experiences of attraction are my own and it is not my obligation to justify them. But I have had many experiences of attraction towards many Asian people, which is the grounds of my dislike. In my experience Asian men take part in this racial fetishism more than white men; instead of cultural concord on which to build a steady relationship I've only found a series of cliches and stereotypes, and someone hellbent on making me conform to them. I've long mused that I would perhaps end up with someone like me - a second generation immigrant, faced with discrimination not only from Anglo-Australians but people from our motherland, too. But my experience of being turned into a tragic fetish extends above and beyond my encounters with white people, and I'll not excuse Asian men of their implicity in the racial fetishisation of Asian women. 

In our multicultural Australian society there are people of all races and backgrounds, and you will have to learn to see them as people and not as colours. If you judge me by the racial stereotypes held by our society you're in for a bit of a nasty shock - and you're in for a nasty shock whether someone is 'fresh off the boat' or a fifth generation Australian who just happens to be - shock horror - brown. Stereotypes are derogatory and one dimentional and idealistic and people are complicated and multi-faceted and imperfect. In our society of 90% white people, we've learned to not have too much faith in racial stereotypes of white people - white people are seen as people, people almost without race. Do the same for other people. Meet, love, fuck, marry, create people. Ethnicities are not fetishes. 
  
I think a lot of people don't realize the harm of racial fetishisation, which starts with 'I prefer Asians/Blacks/Latinas/etc.'. It is above and beyond liking a specific hair colour or body type. It is even above and beyond preferring a specific personality or character trait. It is imposing racial stereotypes on someone and expecting them to conform to your fantasies, purely based on race. And as the quote above says, other fetishes are not permanent identities that one must embody 24/7 - race is. 


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Monday, November 18, 2013

Dollar Shave Club

Now Playing: Buzzcut Season by Lorde (I remember when your head caught flame, it kissed your scalp and caressed your brain)

So, I don't know about you, but buying razors is annoying. I hate how only one type of cartridge fits with your razor and it's never the ones on sale. I hate how grooming products are priced as if pink dye is a rare and priceless resource and marketed as if your ovaries will explode if you buy anything that isn't lady-branded.

Enter: The Dollar Shave Club.

My colleague introduced me to this thing where you can buy really high quality razors online - for cheap! - and they get shipped to you every month; you just pick the type of razor you want and how often you want them delivered and then never worry about running out of razors again!

Ladies - I know this is a kind of ladsy company with ladsy products but the 4X is called the 'lover's blade' for a reason. - they're the best razors I've ever used to shave my legs.

Blades start at $4 per month (including postage and handling) and click here (affiliate link) and use the coupon code UNIDSC1 to get your first month free!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

oxytocin.

Now Playing: White Teeth Teens by Lorde (I know you love it when the hairpins start to drop)

My first real relationship wasn't a relationship at all - there was another girl, it was messy and complicated, abusive and manipulative and addictive and, at the end of the day, physically unfulfilling and emotionally draining. We were reckless and wild and it was very intense, for a pair of sixteen year old fools. I thought it was love.

I thought it was love because I get attached to people, easily. I thought it was love because I'd never had that kind of chemistry with anyone else, before - it was a relationship that went from zero to a hundred miles per hour and then hit a wall and exploded. We disagreed on basically everything but there was a powerful intellectual connection, a bond between two people who loved and admired intelligence and intelligent conversation. I thought it was love because in between the neglect and cruelty and drama there were glimmers of kindness, and when you are young and lonely and vulnerable that's all you really want, really.

He left because I am a difficult sort of person and he had less complicated people with less complicated demands to attend to. And when he left, it felt like the world was falling apart. I missed the intensity of our relationship. Everything we did was intense - our conversation, our fights and, in stolen moments, other things, too. It was a destructive relationship and we were slowly destroying each other but I didn't care, because it was all I had. And for two years I had a pair of arms to run to, to hold me tight, to shield me from the world when the world got too dark and scary. For two years I had a shoulder to cry on, a friend who was always there come hell or high water. 

But now, nothing. I see pictures of him and there's nothing - no rush of affection, no surge of hate. When I see him in person I irrationally panic and it's very scary - almost as scary as the cognitive dissonance of being afraid of the one person who used to make me feel safe. But after that, nothing. It is as if two years of hugging and kissing and fighting and loving never happened. It is as if five years ago I never laid eyes on a beautiful laughing boy and sighed with longing. 

A month or so after that ended it happened all over again. I thought two years was a whirlwind; this was a blisteringly intense two weeks. The first time I met him there was that instant attraction, all over again; and for two weeks chemistry simmered. We were reckless and ran wild, and he was ferociously intelligent; verbal sparring is when I feel most at home, because I have become so comfortable with manipulating words. I felt alive again, after a month of lying in bed, feeling dead. There's nothing in the world like having eyes and hands and lips on you. 

And then I felt it, again; that rush, that thing I used to think of as love. We were lying in bed, all tangled up, talking. It was crazy, getting that rush that had slowly built up over two years after just two weeks. And that's when I realized I'd never really been in love.

I am addicted to physical contact. I have never been on any kind of medication for my depression, so oxytocin is my only antidepressant. I have never been able to form a close bond in relationships that didn't involve a lot of physical contact; and my strongest relationships have always been ones that have had some kind of sexual element to them. When R left, he accused me of never loving him, and perhaps that is true. Perhaps all I have known of love is the rush of oxytocin that comes when a boy you have a crush on hugs you hard, and often, and kisses you on a park bench on a sunny winter's day. Perhaps all I have known of love is that feeling that bubbles up when you're lying in bed with someone who has their arm around you and their lips in your hair. I was attracted to these boys above and beyond the rush; they were both charming, charismatic, loveable; but we were rreconcilably different and I was always aware that a relationship was neither achievable nor desirable. I loved them as friends and valued their company, their conversation, those moments of kindness when they swept in and defended me or swept me away from my demons. But most of it is oxytocin, I think - that rush of irrational content and happiness that sates my unfortunate predisposition towards melancholia. I know that seems harsh and clinical, as if I use sex and people like a drug but in that hopeless, vulnerable dependency I think there is something real and visceral in these oxytocin relationships. I literally depended on you, for my survival. You were literally the glue holding me together, and I would have done anything to keep you with me, because I literally cannot live without you. But evidently my best effort to keep you good and safe just isn't good enough. And evidently you did not love me enough to keep me alive. 

I am doing well enough, for now, without my oxytocin. I know now that I am not ready for love. But I know that I need to feel that warm glow of contentment, soon. The first time I found it it was in something ugly and addictive and all-consuming - the second time looks worse on paper but was all in all a much healthier, if much less long-lived, affair. I know something as sinister as an oxytocin addiction can be sated in someone good and wholesome and sincere, and that you can make them happy. But I am not stupid enough to think it is love, not anymore. Love is something more than that.  

Monday, November 04, 2013

Speak Now #30: navigating hook up culture

Now Playing: Lies (Acoustic) by Marina and the Diamonds (you're never going to love me, so what's the use? What's the point in playing a game you're going to lose?)

This semester I've been heavily involved in university guild politics which is a crazy perverted backstabbing madhouse, to tell the truth. It's a place where hormones a surging, tensions simmer constantly and alcohol flows freely.

So, sex.

Here is some advice and thoughts on people new to hook up culture like I was:

1. Shit's going to happen.

You will drink too much. You will find yourself in situations that repulse you. You will hang out with the wrong people and do the wrong thing and trust the wrong information to the wrong ears. People will do things and say things to hurt and humiliate you. But you will pick yourself back up, brush yourself off, put your clothes back on and begin again, with your head held high.  

2. Forever isn't a thing, for now. 

The people who truly love you, body and soul, irrevocably and unconditionally, are very, very rare. What you will come across more often is a mixture of affection and attraction and friendship in weird combinations; the love you will experience, most of the time, is a very imperfect love between very imperfect people. You will lust after people who are just bad news. You will love people as friends but do things that are decidedly not platonic. Not all wanting is permanent. Not every guy who tumbles you into bed will eventually pop the question. That's okay. Embrace it. We come to love and other animals with this expectation of forever - anything worthwhile will endure eternity, and everything else are just false starts and fuckups. But what you get with people like that are standards and expectations of perfection; and that's when the emotional abuse and the blackmail and feeling obligated and self-conscious and insecure and all the lovely stuff pops up. Some of the most beautiful experiences you will have are in relationships that are completely overwhelming and whimsically ethereal, the relationships with use by dates; but that is because neither person expects the other to be perfect, or for something to be perfect. Perfection is really overrated - just go out there, get some new experiences, learn, grow, and enjoy good company.

3. Stand your ground. 

Think about what you do and don't want to do - emotionally, physically, whatever - and constantly re-think and re-evaluate those lists. It's okay to mix them around; to be open to something you were initially opposed to, or to suddenly be repulsed by something you were dying to try out. You figure out what types of sex you want in certain situations; what you'll do in a one-off hookup, what you'll do in a casual relationship, what you'll do in a more serious committed relationship, etc. Don't let anyone pressure you into doing anything you don't want to do. Once you have decided your lists, or change them in any way, think about what you'd need to make sure you can do what you like safely and responsibly - think protection, contraception, having somewhere you can crash for the night after a party, someone sober to drive you home or access to money for a taxi, numbers to call to let people know where you're going if you're going home with someone.

4. Be prepared for fuck ups. 

I think it's important to have a good idea what you will and won't do sexually before you dive into the big bad world of sex, drugs and alcohol, but be prepared for fuck ups. When you drink your inhibitions fly out the window, as do the inhibitions of people around you. Know your options if you forget to use protection, or your contraception fucks up, or you are raped or assaulted. Prevention is key, but be educated for last resorts.

5. Find your crowd.

University campus culture and night life is chaotic - nobody's quite sure where they're going, who they'll end up with, what they'll end up doing, where they'll end up. Make sure you only hang out with people you trust, and keep as many people as you can - both at the party and out of the party - in the loop of where you are and what you're doing. This is something of a double edged sword; most people get into campus culture (at least at my university) by joining a club or a faculty society or, like me, getting involved in Guild politics and those people will keep you safe, but they also hurt you.

6. Explore.

For me, the biggest learning experience is learning about the many different ways I can experience attraction. Learning that there are so many people that I love that I had previously denied myself, because I was too worried about the low possibility of us extending into eternity when that is a ridiculous thing to worry about when you're at my stage of life. Learning that there are so many things to do that I love, and so many things that I wanted to do that are an utter disappointment. Learning that no one should be able to convince you that this is it, this is your happy ending, when it is neither happy nor an ending. Learning the hard way out of bitter regret and disappointment at stupid mistakes and bad decisions. Sexuality is the original sin; knowledge. Go learn something.


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Friday, November 01, 2013

Noose.

In truth, I feel quite bereft without you.
I have replaced you, to be sure
I have had my night with clothes strewn on the floor
I slept in someone's arms
And those arms were not yours

In one night I had more than you ever gave in half a decade
I have found a new set of eyes
To smile at me, warm and kind
A new set of eyes that rake across my body
Then hands, then lips
Hard and hot and determined

I have loyalty to heal the wounds of your treachery
But I have no love yet to replace what I have lost
No friend to console me in the early hours
Arms hold me together, as you once did
Arms shield me from you, but are not mine to have
Words never fail me, yet I am still wanting
I took and was taken by delicious desire
But love is a little less constant

And in this, I miss you.
I miss depending on you,
Loving you, trusting you with everything

And you were always there,
Always there for me, come hell or high water
Until you slipped away like a barrel under a noose

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Liebster Award!

Now Playing: Youth by Daughter (we are the reckless, we are the wild youth)

Hi lovelies! Look what I got!


Thank you to Spencer Ellis for the nomination!

I have been set some questions by Spencer, so here goes:

1. Where in the world would you like to escape to?

I think the question is not where, but with whom. And as for that question, I don't know. You know when you spend time intimately with someone and you feel like you are beginning to peer into their soul, but then when there is company they are the biggest fucking asshole in the world? People are often like that, I find. I have escaped to places - secret corridors at school, deserted lecture theatres, quiet cafe back rooms, bedrooms in houses I will never visit again - with people who are seemingly born and die in my arms. If I could escape to an eternity of that, I think I should not be so concerned with geographical specifics.

Romantic metaphysical musings failing, I think London has always been my favoured getaway location.

2. What's your favourite song and why?

My favourite song changes! At the moment it's Wings by Birdy, because it is a perfect reflection of what my life is right now, and where my relationships are at right now. The people I associate with now are a dangerous blend of childish earnestness, boyish stupidity, adolescent recklessness and adult suffering which lends to some...interesting situations with interesting people. 




3. What's your favourite book? 

Gaaaaah. Why all the hard questions for?

I don't have a specific favourite. I love Philippa Gregory. I of course adore Harry Potter. I love The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger . Masters of Rome by Colleen McCullough. My favourite non fiction book is Princesses & Pornstars by Emily Maguire, which is feminist polemic.

4. If you could do anything you wanted for a day without limitations, what would it be?

I would do whatever gave me the greatest legacy, most notoriety, the most pleasure, help the most people and give my life the most meaning.

5. What are you looking forward to most about the future?

As I have gotten older I have realised that my hopes for the future are painfully limited by the present; an eight year old has no idea what life has in store for an eighteen year old. I look forward to the unknown, I think is all that is safe to say.

6. What's your most precious object?

My silver ring.

7. If you could go to sometime in your past and change something what would it be?

I would only want to change how other people treated me, and that I cannot do.

8. What's your favourite TV program?

Australian TV sucks pretty badly, to be honest - but I do like Gruen Nation and Slideshow, and when I was a kid I adored Thank God You're Here. In terms of international telly I love Mock the Week, The Tudors, and I have just watched the entirety of The White Queen when I...should have been studying for exams...

9. If you could buy anything you wanted right now what would it be?

A vibrator.

10. What is your favourite food?

OH MY GOD THAT IS THE HARDEST QUESTION OF ALL TIME YOU PEOPLE CANNOT EVEN BEGIN TO COMPREHEND HOW MUCH I LOVE FOOD.

I actually don't know where to begin with this. Just. Food.

I must confess that I do not read that many blogs - I love writing one, but I actually much prefer vlogs; it's just the way I learn and absorb information. Please recommend me any blogs in the comments so I can read, give out my Liebster Award and dish some questions!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Speak Now #29: a caveat on virginity.

Now Playing: Wings by Birdy (damn these walls, in the moment we were ten feet tall)

Hello lovelies! I am back!

I apologise for the extremely long hiatus - I have been very ill, and then very busy, and then some. But I am back. Speak Now will be a weekly series, perhaps interspersed with a few quickies :)

A lot has happened, since I last wrote on this series. Sexually a lot of things have changed, and I have new insights and have learned new lessons. Which I am, of course, all too willing to share with you.

I wanted to make a quick caveat on virginity.

I said before that I didn't define or describe myself with the highly problematic term of 'virginity' - and I don't, because by my definition of 'virginity' I am not one, and that does not bother me in the slightest. I am a person, and I should not be judged by the things I do on the bumpy road to becoming a more informed observer of the universe. I have learned that I will do things I regret with people I will never come to love, but that's okay. Nothing on this earth will destroy the fact that I am a child of the universe, and I am of infinite worth and deserve every respect.

I should like people to adopt my definition of virginity. It is the one widely used, more or less, in the sex positive community and is the most inclusive of all sexes and genders and types of relationships and sexual encounters. That being said, I know that it is an unfamiliar concept to people and quite heavy talk when everyone is slightly drunk and out for a good time. And, you know, flirting with university boys is a whole other thing to flirting with high school boys; they're blunt, and brutally honest, and want answers.

People ask me if I'm a virgin, and I say yes. I say yes because even though I don't recognise vaginal intercourse as the only definitive form of virginity-losing 'sex', I do have my list of what I will and will not do in certain situations - and that is, for the time being, on the 'will not' list. Just logistically it is problematic, and not every guy you make out with in university will be the most mature compassionate feminist. I say yes because it sets boundaries, and boundaries are of paramount importance. In a way this muddled confusing definition of sex and virginity provides some clarity in my experiences; there are things I have not done, and will not do with you.

I am perfectly comfortable with that. I don't withold because I try to be Anne Boleyn or Elizabeth Woodville, and use sex as barter. I hold out because I have used the fundamental element of sex positivity - the right to make your own choices about your own body and your own sexuality - to empower myself. I have the right to say yes, and the right to say no. I don't hold out because I'm 'saving myself', either - it's just that some things are more high risk and fraught than others, and that would get in the way of my having a good time or staying safe. And there are so many other ways to feel good and to make other people feel good - and trust me, nothing feels as good as staying safe and in control.

I have been pressured to have sex before; I think most people by my age have. I was not tempted in the least, and for that I have sex positivity to thank. I am not so gullible, anymore, to think that vaginal sex is the only way to have fun or to please someone else; it takes the pressure off, a lot. And being open about my sexuality has been a massive confidence boost - I'm no longer the sad little girl who nobody looks at twice. There will always be another, and men are more or less much the same as one another; it is how they treat you that makes one stand out from the rest. This guy walked out, and I felt good. I had done what I had consented to and refused what I didn't feel comfortable with. That is the main point of sex positivity; you are wholly in charge, and you don't owe anyone anything.

Long story short: I don't consider myself or anyone else a virgin. But to society, I am one. It means nothing to me, but if it avoids some misunderstandings in this world of misunderstandings, then I'll happily adopt a few arbitrary labels for a few hours.

PREVIOUS SPEAK NOW

Monday, October 14, 2013

enigmatic

Now Playing: How to be a Heartbreaker by Marina and the Diamonds (it's better to be fake, can't risk losing in love again)

It has occurred to me of late that I am something of an enigmatic character; and, in a place like university where dearest friends are actually mere acquaintences, and lovers are people you barely know but know too much about, this is something of a burden to myself and my colleagues. I know I must seem utterly unpredictable, but I'm never really pretending or putting on an act; I am really all of these things. I know I am innocent and naive and gullible. I know that I am mature and capable and intelligent. I know that I am small and cute and bubbly. I know I am not beautiful, but I can be sexy if I want to be. I know I use all of this to my advantage when the time is right, but I am all of these things. I really was scared. I really was happy. I really was being bold and defiant. I really was angry. Doubt anything, but do not doubt my sincerity.

There is, of course, a degree of calculation in it. But it's not acting; acting implies deceit. I am simply adaptable, and conscious of adaptability. Is that really such a bad thing?

I think it is a result of my botched education that I am like this; horrifically maladjusted, far too mature and yet far too ignorant. I have been taught by the best teachers in the country at the best school in the state, but something has been very remiss. I learnt to talk but not to touch; I learnt how to make dangerous threats but not quite how to carry through with them. I can hold my own in a clash of wills against dominant men twice my size and double my charisma, but winning against them doesn't quite feel like happiness, yet. I have learnt how to be endearing but not quite how to be respected.

And people make mistakes, based on what they see. They see a child, sometimes, and then realise that that child has just outsmarted them. They see someone who gives as good as she gets, but ends up getting more than she bargained for. They see someone with great bravado and mistake it for courage. It is not my fault people judge me on face value. There is nobody on this earth who lacks complexity; there is nobody on this earth who escapes the wrath of split second judgements.

I have become, for want of a better word, a politician. Politics is in my blood; I've always been quite charming, at least to people who don't know me too well and are not troubled with the burden of loving troubled souls and damaged goods. Even small scale politics such as university guild politics can change a person. The people I associate with are all blisteringly intelligent, ruthlessly calculative and it is a blessing that I am on their team and not on their target. I may be young and inexperienced, but I learn quickly and I learn from the best teachers; and not all that I learn is strictly to do with politics. Love and loyalty is very important in popularity rat races. Nothing is a disadvantage; you only have to learn to use everything to your advantage.

I suppose I am quite enigmatic. Perhaps I am not the steady, level headed, rock of stability people want; but there are other people to fill those roles. I am the little girl who can dodge and divearound people three times her size to sweet talk voters. I am someone who is easy meat to pick on but perfectly capable of stirring up a ruckus to get an appropriate response out of the appropriate people. I am someone who gets stage fright but even in the grips of terror can still flip a witty remark. I am someone who can flirt her way to almost anything, even unchartered territory. I quite like that. More resilient characters snap in the wind and buckle under pressure. It's only the small and the accomodating who can ride out storms.

Friday, October 11, 2013

there will always be another

Now Playing: All You Never Say by Birdy (all you never say is that you love me, and all I'll never know is if you want me)

I'll be the first to confess I'm not wonderful at relationships. People are so unpredictable, and I am the most unpredictable of them all. Affection always seems overwhelmingly intense and whimsically ethereal, all at once. I don't understand it, and sometimes it hurts, but I love it. I have always been addicted to love, and to people.

I come to uni as an unknown quantity, which simultaneously intrigues and scares the pants off of people. I am too young but not that young but not quite old enough, which is a frustrating thing to battle for all involved. It is difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that legally I am a fundamentally different person on February 5 than on February 4; both when I turned sixteen and when I will turn eighteen. Seventeen is a frustrating and emotionally fraught liminal space, especially in the highly charged places and people I have found myself with. I've always been somewhat enigmatic, but I suppose that is exaggerated when you are a child in an adult environment and a bit of both.

I am much clearer about what I want, though. I have realised that some of the things I dreamed of in my younger and more vulnerable days are repulsive and degrading; I have realised some things I turned my nose at I actually crave more than anything else. I know that I don't really want a capital-R Relationship with capital-R Responsibilities right now. I know now that attraction and friendship and romance are neither mutually inclusive nor mutually exclusive; I know now that it's okay to want some but not all. I know now that even as young and reckless as we are some of us are hurting, and some of us are broken, and maybe some of us are even permanently damaged; and they will turn their back to you, literally or figuratively, and it will hurt you somehow, too - but you will love them anyway, because vulnerability has become dangerously beautiful. I know now that there are people who let you be afraid but refuse to let you be ashamed, and those are the kinds of people I love best of all.

But the one thing I have learnt is that love is infinite. You can't waste something you will never run out of - I felt drained and exhausted, like a corpse drained of blood by a monster in the night, but love has a way of replenishing. I have learnt that I will do things I will regret with people I will never come to love, but that's okay - the important thing is to focus on staying safe, and not to focus on staying whole. You are not what you do, and you are not where you are from; nothing you do and nothing others can do to you will diminish you as a person. There is nothing in this world that can destroy the fact that you are a child of the universe, and you are of infinite worth.

And the most important thing I have learnt, perhaps, is that there will always be another. Things seem so final and fraught when you're young and stupid; and men always had a way of tricking me into believing that this was it, he was my happy ending, even if it was neither happy nor an ending. I was always the one left wanting, the one left to pine alone, the one left to exist on memories, the one to wonder why they do not love me, do not want me. I have realised that two can play that game, and that it touches prides and wounds egos. But it is important for people to realise that loyalty only goes so far. My admiration and affection remains unchanged, but if you are loath to commit you won't get any commitment from me.

I suppose this resolution, to walk away from things that are dead ends and not fresh stories, is the lesson I have learned now that I have an emotionally abusive relationship under my belt. I know what it is to be hopelessly dependent, to feel like there's nobody else and there will not be anybody else, to feel like the world is falling apart when they leave. I know what it's like to feel as though you have to endure not only another person's faults and imperfections, but also blatant neglect, condescension, cruelty. I am the first person in the world to admit that I am not perfect, and I neither want nor deserve someone who is. But I know now what is the difference between tolerating faults and tolerating abuse. You may think me disloyal, but I have learnt to love like men; I will not put up with being cast aside. You can't expect to keep anyone you throw away; they will run, run alone, or run into the arms of someone else. There will always be another, and you are only one of many. Men are more or less much the same as one another; it is how they treat you that sets one above the rest.


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Wings

I had almost forgotten kindness
Warm arms, soft words, sweet smiles
I thought they were lost to a life and time
I'll never know again

You have too much power for a ghost
I'd do anything you say if you say it with your hands
I found you in the dark
But I could not find your heart

At three in the morning, in the darkness
Arms around me and lips against me
And clothes scattered on the floor
Too rough, too warm

You were born and died in my arms
Whispered words and blushing confessions
Hushed revelations and animated conversations
They are all here, here with me, here to keep me company

I have never known such vulnerability
I do not know you at all
But I know you have known pain, and loneliness
It is easy to touch you, but easier still to touch your pride

But for a moment, I think
Just for half a heartbeat
I knew not only your naked body
But also your naked soul

Damn these walls
In the moment we were ten feet tall
And you told me after it all
We'd remember tonight for the rest of our lives

Inspired by 'Wings' by Birdy 

Friday, October 04, 2013

hiatus things

Now Playing: Wings by Birdy (you told me after it all we'd remember this night for the rest of our lives)

I apologise for the hiatus from 'actual blogging' over the last few weeks.

Firstly, my dearest friend is gone. I'm doing okay; I keep finding myself and then losing it again, but I'll get there. It feels weird, writing and knowing he's not reading; or, at least, reading as a bitter cynical broken ex-friend instead of my sweet smiling best mate.

More importantly, I ran in my first election - which is the most exhausting, stressful, draining, deliriously exciting thing I have ever done. I've made so many new friends and had so many good times and it has really helped me pull through such a difficult time.

I did say that Speak Now would be back three days ago but didn't anticipate the crazy that has been this week. I'm not going to set any deadlines, but I'm just saying that Lady Solitaire is back, and I hope you missed me.

Stay beautiful :)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Meteoric.

You've always been two people to me.
The person you are, and the person you pretend to be. 
I've kept one of you here, safe in my heart.

I can smile at smiles, even now. 
Even when I curse and cry at you
Even when I let you fade away into the depths of time
I can remember you, fondly. 

It is like I have kept my friend with me, eternally
And that is enough, enough for me
Enough that I can still smile at what used to be. 

for forgotten friends. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

my demons.

Now Playing: Fire & Rain by James Taylor (I've seen fire and I've seen rain, I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end, I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I could see you again)

I have had depression for about six years now. In retrospect, I've always been a pretty anxious person, but it has escalated into full-blown anxiety in the last year or so. These are my demons.

I knew I was depressed pretty quickly, once it set in in a big way; it's just like you know you've got a flu even before you start hurling or before your thermometer tells you that you should technically be on fire. It's really hard to explain depression; it's like...you forget how to be happy. The things that used to make you happy don't have any effect on you and you try, you try so hard, to have an appropriate reaction but it just seems really fake and performed and doesn't fill you with that warm glow. And the tiniest, pettiest, most trivial things can send you down the rabbit hole of despair and hopelessness and worthlessness.

Depression isn't like a cold, though; you can't catch it, it isn't caused by anything, and you can't cure it by 'manning up' or popping a few pills. Depression is more like cancer; it never fully goes away, it just goes into remission. Depression is something that is on and off, for most people; there are times when you can be happy and sad like a normal person, but it's always lurking in the background. It's something I have to recognise and accept in myself, and learn how to manage it. I have been suicidal before. I have seriously considered taking my life before. It's scary.

There are so many misconceptions and misunderstandings about depression; that it's just a mood thing, it's just weak people unable to cope with the normal trials and traumas of life. But just like how cancer is caused by cells mutating and multiplying, and diseases are caused by germs attacking your body, mental illnesses is an actual physiological thing; it is caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert, but basically our moods and how we process and react to things are controlled by a careful balance of chemicals called neurotransmitters that impact how we process and store data; the effects of caffeine or alcohol or recreational drugs is a result of increasing or decreasing the level of chemicals in the brain. Mental illnesses does that for you; there is significant evidence and research to show that people with mental illnesses have different levels of neurotransmitters than people without mental illnesses. Antidepressants work by attempting to fix the neurotransmitters back to normal levels. It's all science and chemicals.

The hardest part about having depression is that nobody takes you seriously. Unlike breaking your leg or being punched in the face depression doesn't have physical symptoms, usually; it's all up in your brain. People can't see that your neurotransmitters are fucked up, so they simply don't believe it. That's the hardest part. People tell you to snap out of it, to grow out of it - but they'd never ask you to snap out of having a broken leg. Having a mental illness isn't about being weak or pathetic or unable to cope. Having a mental illness is being sick; it needs care and treatment and empathy just like any other kind of sickness.

My anxiety is a little more complicated. I don't know what makes other people upset. To me, people seem to behave irrationally and unpredictably, and so I'm always afraid of people, or of upsetting them. I find it really hard to talk to strangers, and I find loud, crowded places extremely stressful and upsetting. I can't deal with language barriers and sometimes I can't maintain eye contact. I get upset easily and I can't control my reactions to certain things, and my relationships are defined by uncontrollable insecurity and paranoia. I get panic attacks and I have lots of phobias; most obvious is my fear of needles.

When I was younger I don't think my family really understood mental illnesses or recognised that I had them; I don't blame them, because people in general know so little about mental illnesses and even less on how to cope with them; also, mental illnesses are highly taboo and unspoken topics in Asian cultures. I have had to deal with my demons on my own, for a long time; but I think now that I am better able to articulate my needs and problems and they are becoming more informed about these things they are becoming more accepting and supportive, which I am unbelievably thankful for. My only advice when someone tells you that they have a mental illness is to keep an open mind. It is incredibly difficult to admit to people that you have a mental illness; I have never met anyone who lied or bragged about having a mental illness. Even if someone isn't 'clinically' depressed or doesn't actually have an anxiety 'disorder', the fact that they think they do means that they are obviously troubled and definitely need support.

I know it is difficult to be friends with someone with demons like mine; but only if you forget or trivialize their problems. We accept that people with diabetes need to test their blood every day and might suddenly faint and need sugar. We accept that people with epilepsy might not be able to drive and might have a fit at any random moment. What we don't accept is that people with mental illnesses can lash out or be unable to behave appropriately. Everyone is capable and deserving of love regardless of their physical or mental incapacitations. Just because someone is sensitive and struggles with demons doesn't mean they don't love you, or care about you, or would do anything for you. All friends sometimes feel burdened or heavy or unloved or uncared for, and it is easy to blame mental illnesses. But nobody ever said friendship was easy. It's when friendship gets tough you realize who your true friends are.

I just lost my dearest friend because he couldn't deal with my having demons. I tried so hard to tell him that I cannot help but be upset and irrational and I try my hardest to manage it, but there are some things that are simply out of my control. I tried my hardest to tell him that I always loved him and cared for him, but he didn't believe me. I tried to tell him that I am going to feel insecure and paranoid unless we communicate openly, but we didn't. In the end we were very different people and perhaps we are better off not being friends. But it hurts beyond belief that he left to punish me for being sick. I am such a mess right now; every day it takes so much effort to get out of bed, do my work, smile and face the day. If it were not for my family and friends I could not do it. I miss him, of course, and I regret that we have parted ways. But I can get over that; this is not the first or last time someone has flitted in and out of my life. What hurts the most is not his absence, but the reason for it. I trusted him with everything; he told me to always be honest with him, about how I was feeling, and that he'd always be there for me. He told me to be myself, that I didn't have to pretend to smile with him, that I didn't have to be insecure or paranoid, because he wouldn't leave. I told him about my demons, I was open about when I was upset and why, I was open about what I needed for our friendship to work. In the times I had better control over myself I told him how much I cared about him, and would do anything for him; and that whenever I treated him badly I did not mean it, I could not help it, and that I was sorry. I told him that if I was doing anything to hurt him all he had to do was tell me, and we could work it out. I did the best I could do and in return he said that I wasn't a good enough friend for him because I'm sick. Who am I supposed to trust now, when my best friend has abandoned me because of my demons?    

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The back room of my favourite coffee shop
Unsullied by memories 
A place of quiet contemplation 
Without your sweet smile and cold goodbyes
I am at peace.

Wordless Wednesday: More Paint Art


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

a pretend to smile.

Now Playing: Dear John by Taylor Swift (maybe it's me and my blind optimism to blame, or maybe it's you and your sick need to give love then take it away)

Not everyone knows about Ai Weiwei, a Chinese contemporary artist well known for tweeting pictures of himself flipping off historical monuments and not as well known for designing the birds nest for the Beijing Olympics. Not everyone really likes Ai Weiwei, either; namely the Chinese government aren't really huge fans. But despite not everyone knowing or liking Ai Weiwei, he has made an undeniable impact on the world. He dares to speak out, even though he comes from a place where speaking your mind can be one of the most dangerous things to do.

A lot of people accuse me of being performed or attention seeking of late, but I think they are unfair accusations. I can't talk to people, I can't walk up to a complete stranger behind a counter and ask them for something, I can't tell a waiter what I want to eat or a shop assistant if I can use the fitting rooms. Even amongst my close friends I can't always tell them what I want to do, or even just look them in the eye. I had a panic attack when someone laughed too loudly. Of course everything I do is performed; it's performed because unlike you, I have to actively pull myself together and grit my teeth through everyday life. I have to force myself to do things that involve people and interacting with them; so of course it's going to come off as performed. I do my best. Forgive me for not being perfect.

As for attention seeking, well; everyone's pretty damn attention seeking. Doing anything that differentiates you from a robot makes you attention seeking.Even deliberately avoiding attention is in itself attention seeking. We all crave attention, but we have made seeking attention to be such an obnoxious thing. Women, in particular, are meant to sit quietly and agree politely and hope and pray that some man notices her blending into the wallpaper; we have glorified the wallflower because we're terrified of a woman bold and independent and individual enough to be the life of the party. Men like it when they 'find' someone who is humble and self-effacing and perfect but ignored until now; men don't like women who haven't been ignored, because they're tainted by the male gaze. There is, apparently, something desperate about a woman who puts herself in the limelight; it is because we have made women to be obscene - both 'off stage' and 'disgusting'. The girl everyone likes is someone defined by everyone liking her; if people hadn't happened to take notice she would have been a nobody. I am not like that. Whether you like it or not, whether people notice me in the crowd or not, I will always be a somebody. And we all crave attention; nobodies and somebodies, it's just whether or not we procure this attention without voicing our desire for it that matters, which is ridiculous and hypocritical.

So I am well aware that I'm quite a performed, attention seeking person. But what differentiates attention-seeking Ai Weiwei and attention-seeking Kim Kardashian is sincerity, a sense of integrity; the thing that differentiates artists and performers and activists from reality TV stars is that people like Ai Weiwei refuse to 'pretend to smile'.

I had a very close, very precious relationship with someone that broke because I couldn't pretend to smile. My pretend to smile was to like someone I didn't know; and the only recommendation is that 'everyone likes her' - with the design of pressuring me into liking her, too. I have no doubt she is someone perfectly likeable and worthy of being liked, but the idea that someone is validated as a good or decent or interesting person solely because everyone likes them is ridiculous. I knew a boy who was almost universally liked, too; it did not make him a particularly good person or friend. He was liked because he was so easy to forgive, but that did not make him very forgiving. By circumstance, I could not like this girl; liking her would be a pretend to smile, and an insult to everyone involved. We had nothing in common and far too much to drive us apart. I am perfectly sure she was not very interested in knowing or liking me, either.

I have always considered my relationships totally distinct from each other; it was why I could love a girl and her ex boyfriend equally and at the same time, and there would be no row because they were two individual relationships instead of an attempt to force three people to mutually love each other. You learn, eventually, who and what you can and can't bring up, and it's fine. I have my list of things I'd rather not talk about, too. But that isn't good enough, for some people; to prove how much you care for them, you have to pretend to smile and like someone else, too - their best mate, or their girlfriend, or whoever they consider to be of equal or greater value than you. It's messy and humiliating and inevitably doomed to fail. I will be cordial to whoever you might hold dear, but I am under no delusions that my friends' friends are automatically my friends, too. I should be able to choose who I want to associate with without risking what is precious to me.

And I have watched, too, as people pretend to smile until their falsehoods become realities. They believe whatever is convenient, and twist stories into half-true fairytales in which they are always the hero.

I do not strive to be known to everyone, or liked by everyone. The only people I know who have achieved this are aggressively vapid, and posess no talents either than the ability to pretend to smile. You can claim that all these well liked people are intelligent and outspoken; but only on conventional matters. They only speak loudly because they're singing with the choir. I only want friends who will speak for the silenced, and be unafraid of dissent and defiance; these perfectly likeable, perfectly intelligent, perfectly opinionated people quickly lose their virtues at the face of something remotely controversial. These are not the kind of people I admire, and not this is not the kind of person I aspire to be. I have my faults, but at least people will know and remember me as a person of integrity and sincerity. These perfectly flawless people have flaws, and it is stupid to think that they are immune to human failings. I think the most unforgivable flaw is to be so quick and unrepetant when you pretend to smile.

I know you do not think of me as a particularly honest person, and I know you consider my demons to be great flaws in my character rather than illnesses that I struggle with, every day, with or without your company. But I only lied when I felt obligated to pretend to smile. In all other things I was honest to you, even when it hurt, and even when I knew it would hurt you. I thought someone like you might be deprived of someone to tell it like it is, so I did. I risked everything to be a good friend to you, and when you forced me to pretend to smile I did my best. I know you are not really listening, now; I know your great talent for believing whatever is convenient will make me seem an even greater liar than you thought before. But I don't live for you, anymore. I live for myself. And I know in my heart that I was always as honest and as sincere as I could possibly be, with you. If you don't believe me, then consider why I believed everything you said, why I believed you did everything in good faith, why I took your word for it when you promised me all those promises you broke. I believed you because I was being honest, and when you're honest with someone you cannot help but believe, or hope, that they are being honest, too. But I was not the liar; you were. Your honesty was nothing more than a thin veil to hide your cruelty; when you were being kind, or generous, you were also lying. And now you have broken me like a promise, and I realized too late that just because everyone forgives you doesn't mean that you are worthy of forgiving. You broke me like a promise, but I was honest to you to the very end. I don't need you to hear it or believe it. I am assured in my heart of my own integrity, and that is enough.

For my friends I have forced myself to smile through tears, to bite my tongue and hold my breath; always with the threat that if I did not pretend to smile for them, they would leave. But I cannot, I cannot pretend to smile; and even if I did you would see right through me, because for all my performed attention seeking I am too real and too open and too vulnerable to convincingly lie. And it will always be a lie; I don't see why people get so angry about that. I can't change who I am, all I could do is lie, but then you get angry because the painful lies are not convenient truths. And so I will not pretend to smile, anymore. The only thing that sets me apart from everyone else isn't excessive beauty or excessive wealth or excessive talent. People only become Ai Weiweis and avoid becoming Kim Kardashians by refusing to pretend to smile.



Sunday, September 08, 2013

I think you can regret some of the things you did when you were young and stupid, but I don't think you can regret actually being young and stupid. Some of the most intense, exhilarating, amazing moments will happen when you're young and stupid and don't know any better; and you will never quite be able to bring yourself to repeat those moments because the hangover/heartbreak/depression/bankruptcy that follows them is what jolts you out of being young and stupid. You're only brave enough to do things when you're ignorant of the consequences, and I think everyone needs those moments. Eventually you will stop deathwishing that guy or puking at the smell of that drink, but you will remember the reckless things and destructive people who made you happy.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Forgive me
My mistake
I thought
Someone so
Utterly forgivable
Would be
Forgiving.

Friday, September 06, 2013

We will welcome her into your cabinet of broken things
We will welcome her with open arms.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

I had to leave my English class to cry. Just for a moment, it all got too much, and so I stood outside in the unseasonably warm almost-September night on the balcony of the old Art building and cried. Two hours later we were no longer friends.

I can't talk when I'm upset; our fights were always defined by long, uncomfortable silences. It freaks people out, because I'm one of those people who has the reputation of one with the inability to shut up, and they think I'm deliberately making them uncomfortable. A lot of people assume that smart people do everything deliberately, but I'm the most reckless and impulsive person I know. Conversely, I mean it when I say I can not talk, rather than I will not talk. I knew something had changed when I was upset and you forced me to talk. Maybe that's when we stopped being friends. But, seeing as I'm not entirely sure when this all started, I guess it makes sense that I'll never know when it actually ended. Does it matter? All that matters is that it ended, and now I am broken. 

But not broken enough to not come back into class, sit down, and argue with my classmates. I wanted to sit there in miserable mopey silence, in the full knowledge that 'miserable mopey silence' translates into 'shit tutorial participation marks', but I couldn't. Somebody said something so wonderfully interesting that I had to have my say. Somebody asked me a question and I couldn't help but answer it, honestly, and therefore controversially, and then I couldn't help but get caught up in the whirlwind of discussion. A discussion that was interrupted by you being a dick one last time, but it almost made me forget. It almost numbed everything, blocked everything out. Somewhere in the tearstains I found this incredible focus, and I knew that I was doing the right thing, I was being the right person, and anyone who didn't agree with me on this account had to be left behind. I have no issue with squabbles and conflict; I am not a peaceful sort of person, and neither are you. But I'm on the right path, I'm doing the right thing, and I'll get to the right place, someday. And you weren't there, in that room, where I spoke loudly and proudly even though my voice quavered with tears. That is who I am. I've never been as strong as you said I was, or brave - but what I lacked in bravery I made up for in bravado. My fearlessness is that I do things even though I'm terrified, because I have to; my fearlessness isn't that I'm not afraid, but that I'll do anything in spite of my fear. Maybe you won't be there anymore, to listen to me, to talk to me, to give me advice and to stand with me when they leave me all alone to fend for myself, but I was alone and abandoned then, and I was doing what I do best, at my best, so I know I'll do just fine. I told you once that maybe happiness isn't my lot in life at the moment; definitely having a friend to stand by me isn't my lot in life at the moment. Maybe my lot in life is that my voice will always quaver with tears, but that's okay. Because my lot in life is also to have a voice that is loud and proud, no matter what. And I'm very okay with that.  

So many things I want to tell you.

I want to tell you that Kyle 2.0 and I actually went to primary school together, although we didn't know each other back then. I want to tell you that they stuffed up and nobody's running for Women's Officer, and I want to see you tut tut and tell me again that I was the best gal for the job. I want to tell you that my friend sounds like death and asked me to pray for him, but I don't know how and it kills me a little bit each day. I want to tell you that I'm sick and scared and I want you to hold me and tell me that everything will be okay. I want to tell you that my anxiety is so bad that that day when you saw me I could barely get out of bed, and that I saw you long before you saw me and cried because I couldn't run to you and kiss you on the cheek like I always could.  

And I want to know how you've been, too. I always wanted to know; it was why I always wanted to see you, because I know that the question that gets the most lies is 'how are you'; people always ask me that now, and I always say something stupid and generic and not-me like 'not bad' or 'pretty good' or 'yeah, okay'. No. I'm not okay. But there's nobody I can say that to anymore. You were the only person who could handle my not being okay. I always had to see you to see that you are good and safe, but now I cannot. But I hope you are happy. I hope you have other people to talk to and other people to make you smile. I hope you miss me. Don't work too hard. Don't stress out so much. Don't hurt yourself at work again. Look where you're going when you're riding that damn bike. Don't eat too many sweets. Be yourself, but remember to be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. And stop skipping those "optional" workshops. 

I wish I told you that just because I say I'm not okay, doesn't mean I assume that you're okay. I wish I told you that just because you upset me doesn't mean that I don't think you never get upset, or that you deliberately tried to upset me. Everything turned into a blame game, but I wish it hadn't. All my life people have blamed themselves for my many deviations from healthy or happy, but I wish they didn't. It is not my fault that I am not healthy or happy, but that doesn't mean it's yours. It just is, and we could have been friends without the fear and blame. But you're only not-quite-eighteen, and I don't think you can handle this quite yet. I am still-just-seventeen and I've never been able to handle it, but you had a choice and I never have and never will. You can turn a blind eye to all the times I spend doubled over in pain or curled up and crying, but I cannot. But that means you have to turn a blind eye to all the times I've smiled with you, laughed with you, talked with you, loved with you. It would have been too much of a sacrifice for me, but that was because you were all that I had. I know you have others. Less complicated people. It's what you deserve. 

And I want to tell you that I'm glad that we were G and Ry until the very end. 


I miss you more than words can say.

I had forgotten that you don't have those messages anymore and are not in the habit of weeping nostalgic and being sentimental. I don't think you remember what you gave up. 

And it's too late now; do you see the finality of this? This isn't just some fight we can spring back from. Words cannot say how much this is hurting me, hurting me more than anything; there is nothing I can do to forget how much this is hurting, or to forgive you for it. I have no-one to talk to, no-one to hold me like you used to. I would have done anything to get that back. 

I cannot let you back in, but if you ever find it in your heart to forgive me, please, come and see me. If you can just tell me to my face that you don't hate me and wish me well, I will be okay. I am sorry, so sorry, more sorry than words can say. 

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

There's something I failed to learn in all my life as a writer; life is a story, but a story with no ending. We love rhyme in our poetry and happy endings to our fairytales because we crave a sense of completeness; but life is a story, or rather a series of stories, that end mid sentence. I let you write a few chapters of my life, and you wrote for me euphoric highs to rescue me from my demons and beautiful, tender, touching moments. You wrote for me guilt and insecurity and worthlessness; you wrote for me confidence and courage and comfort. But your story ended without really ending; you stopped mid sentence, you stopped mid word; a word I can't decipher, because you barely wrote the first letter of it and then you left.

I did not adore you as much as people think I did. I was perfectly capable of speaking harshly of you to my other friends, and I did so on a regular basis. My friends are all accountable to each other, and that has protected me. It is why people are here to catch me now that you have made me fall. I do not like some of them as much as I liked you, and I have complained of them to you. It is important not to do anything silently. 

My comfort is all the things you derided and attempted to wean me off. Other people you don't like, books by people you don't respect, spending time on things you don't believe in, writing things you don't agree with. I could have kept you by cutting them all off, but I will not be dependant on any one thing, or one person. They always told me that part of abuse is isolation, and I thought that meant physically. But you are not the kind of man who would hurt a woman. But there was a kind of emotional, intellectual isolation, from all the things in my life and from myself. You glorified loneliness but could not deal with the burden of my solitude.

I'm okay, really. I know this matters to you in the most selfish way possible; you don't like the guilt of hurting people. You would rather I pretend to be okay because when I fall apart you see how implicit you are in my pain. I hope it affects you; I hope this affects you the way it affects me. I hope you miss me now that I'm gone. This is my selfishness.

My irrationality always ends up making sense; I don't know if this is paranoia creating its own catastrophes or just really good intuition on my part. I was always so afraid of you becoming like this, because I always saw it in you; it was an achievement, to go a day without your indifference or malice or cruelty. It was an achievement, to pass so much time with your care and affection; you are not the kind of person who is all too liberal with that, and I don't know if that makes you cold or if it makes me weak. I do not know what you saw in me to make me worthy of your attention, but apparently that is not the case now. You always treated your time like a precious commodity and that I should be honoured to live in the scraps of it. That's not how friendship works. We are all too busy for everything, but there is something insane in us that makes us wake up at stupid hours and go to bed at even stupider ones for the people who are important to us. I was never important enough for that.

I feel kind of guilty giving you all this friend advice when I am nothing but a terrible friend. I warned you, but you didn't listen. I warned you, but now you are hurt. I suppose I never listened to you either, so maybe we are even.

I've been forcing myself to read over our last fight to desensitise, and it is working. But I can't bear to scroll up beyond then. It is easy to leave behind your anger and neglect, your blatant condescension and pointless cruelty. I can't bring myself to read all of our smiley conversations, not yet. I can't bring myself to relive your kindness, and your affection that seemed all at once overwhelmingly intense and whimsically ethereal. It's too hard to think of your hugs and smiles and winks and whispers and kisses.

I wish I had never met you. I wish I could go back to when I admired you from a distance as something annihilating and untouchable. I wish I had never known what a joy you are as a friend and how cold you can be when you I let you close enough to hurt me. I wish I had not been broken and I wish you had not taken it upon yourself to fix me, and then break me again. I wish a lot of things, you know.

I've just finished reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, a book I know you will never read; but you should, because it would make you less of an asshole, but one of your many endearing traits is that you wear that like a badge of honour. It's the first time I've read one of these death lit books and not wanted to jump of a cliff; I know what it's like to be sick, probably not on that kind of scale, but more than your average cold. Having my demons and being hospitalized because your heart sucks at being a heart is very different, but at the same time exactly the same. This idea that all sick people are self-martyred angels resigned to their fate is ridiculous; the vast majority of us are attention seeking narcissists who shamelessly exploit sympathy, because we can. We don't want to be defined by our illnesses, but it's simply not possible for illness to be ignored. I have a heart condition whether it is acknowledged or not. Whether or not you show me any kind of care or consideration, I still have my demons. It is expected that sick people always attempt to brush aside their pain, but when you're sick pain is a part of who you are, and your friends are supposed to accept you for who you are. What you did to me wasn't nice, but what I was doing to you wasn't nice either; the difference is that I would have stopped it if I had any way to. I don't know if you could say the same.



Wordless Wednesday: Paint Art


I remember in our last conversation when we were talking about how the people in our lives impact us in those little idiosyncratic things we do that we like to think of as our own, but they're all copied from other people; people we've loved, people we've hated, people we've forgotten, people we remember all too well. It was an interesting thing to hear, from someone like you; someone who so vehemently detests being told that you're not being yourself.

The important people in our lives leave imprints. They may stay or go in the physical realm, but they are always there in your heart, because they helped form your heart. There's no getting over that. I remember those times when I felt safe and warm and loved with you and that is a great part of the strength that I need to get through each day. There are little things about me that were yours and are now mine. I don't regret that, I don't regret that at all.

I can't absolve you, though; and I know that was what you were looking for. All through our time together you have always tried to guilt me into thinking that everything is my fault; you always apologised until now, but the blame was still there. I cannot absolve you from your implicity in my pain; and I would not even if I could. In your life there will be people who hurt you and people you hurt, and you're just going to have to live with that. You might not deserve your hurt, in the same way that I don't deserve to be periodically anaesthetised and flayed open, but you need that, you need that to help you enjoy the good times, to appreciate the times when you're not in pain. And the people you hurt might fill you with guilt and self-loathing and regret, but you need that, too; you need that to realize your capacity to inflict pain and to control it as best you can. I would be doing you a great disservice by absolving you.

You created your own monster; you were the one who told me to go out there and be myself, and now I am so hopelessly addicted to that I could not be anything else if I tried. You were the one who contacted me, you were the one who gave everything and you were the one who took everything back. I think you enjoyed that; I think you enjoyed being a friend to someone rendered so passive. The kisses were fine when it was you and not me. The games were fine when you started them and I didn't. The debates and arguments and endless hours of chatting our lives away were fine when you wanted them, but not when I needed them. You told me to be myself, but you did not know who I was. I am sorry if I disappointed you on that account.

I think you, like most people I know, have romanticized mental illness. I think you have romanticized the idea of the fragile little girl needing a shoulder to cry on. I think you have romanticized the image of a pretty but untouched sixteen year old innocent. I think you have romanticized the idea of being the last man standing for the lonely nerd nobody wants or cares about. I think you have romanticized the strong, defiant, outspoken woman. I don't think you realized what a burden it is to be a friend to someone with demons like mine, I don't think you realized how needy and dependent broken people can be, I don't think you realized how permanent and consuming first experiences can be for someone like me, I don't think you realized that being my friend means you will inevitably cop some of the shit that is always being tossed my way, I don't think you realized that if you teach me to stand up to others I will end up standing up to you. I did not know what it would be like, to be your friend; I learned it was wonderful, exhilarating, beautiful, but also lonely and heartbreaking and confusing. I didn't know and came to it with no expectations. You cannot always expect me to be good and kind and loving. There will always be times when I will be cold and thoughtless and hard to understand. Friends, like spouses and children and family and everyone else who makes life wonderful, are burdens. There will be times when you feel unloved and uncared for; believe me, you have made me feel all of that plenty of times. Friendships, like all relationships, require commitment. Sometimes you have to realize that friends are not infallible and sometimes there will be times when their only choice is to either lean on you or fall over; part of being a friend is realizing that sometimes people lean on you not because they want to, or to make you feel hurt or heavy, but because they love and trust you enough to let you carry them until they can walk again, and because they love and trust you enough to do the same for you. People need to break down, sometimes, and they need people who will honour their promise to not leave. It is easy to be friends when everything is sunshine and roses; real friends stay during crises. You need real friends during those times when you cannot walk and your only choice is to lean on someone or to fall over. You let me fall over, but I will pick myself up.

I know you and I are very different and that is why we cannot be friends, but I think you know that we are more similar than you like to admit; I think that you see the worst of yourself when you see the worst in me - I certainly did. It is an uncomfortable feeling, isn't it? We are all hyperaware of our faults, but seeing them in other people is intolerable. You realize that forgiving yourself means that you have to forgive people like me, and some of the things I do are unforgivable. It's hard when you realize that you are unforgivable, like everyone else who has lived or will ever live.

I do not doubt that you have people who are willing to be more indulgent with you than I ever could be; I do not doubt that these people somehow manage to maintain some kind of dignity and integrity whilst doing so. You are so easy to love, and so easy to forgive - which is a blessing and a curse, I suppose. I am sorry I could not indulge you; I wish I could. But it got to the point where I could not indulge you without shutting part of myself out, and over these last two years I have become accustomed to living half a life.

There is something that we always admire in people when we first get to know them; idealism. I know that because my only selling point in the sell-yourself game known as guild politics is that I am an idealist; a very young idealist, so young that they have to sneak both me and my idealism into licensed premises. That kind of idealism is appealing, but absurdly impractical; inevitably we watch as we and the people we love become the cynics we used to mock. I admired your idealism and optimism because I am not a naturally optimistic person; it was something I experienced vicariously through you. You have a great gift for hope, but also a predisposition towards become one of those people who's life savours of anticlimax. The brightest stars burn out the fastest and you are blinding. That was my great worry for you, back when I was still allowed to care for you.

How difficult I must seem, to be so attention seeking and yet so reclusive. You were always trying to coax me out of my shell because that's what friends do, but you were not prepared for the person who always remains hidden. We have romanticized coming out, in every sense of the term, without considering why something must be hidden in the first place. Your idealism was that I should have no shame in a society defined by shame and shaming; you did not stop to think why I was forced to hide so much of myself in the first place. In all the movies everyone turns out to be more or less normal, and deviations from normal are 'attention seeking'; we fail to realize that for some people, abnormality is the norm and being normal is our way of seeking attention. We are all attention seekers, as much as you might detest them; you cannot judge anyone for that. We have created industries and empires upon the desire for attention and you are a part of that machine whether you like it or not. I think we have romanticized reclusiveness because we have shamed attention seeking so much. And you have no right to shame me or anyone else for that; break up with your girlfriend, cut off all your other friends and move somewhere far away with no human company before you dare tell me that I should not attempt to cure my loneliness with a bit of attention.

I spoke only the truth when I told you that people lie, and then they leave; you are the epitome of that. Nothing you have ever said to me holds true now, and now you are gone just like all the rest of them. I suppose I must have seemed broken and resigned when I said it and you, as my ever faithful and loving friend, attempted to banish those thoughts away from me. I did not doubt you when you said you would never leave; it is one of the only things you have said to me with genuine sincerity, now that I have the benefit of retrospect. But I did not think that your presence made the statement any less true; I know that what you mean one day can hold no water the next day - it was a recurring theme of yours, and a constant source of pain for me. People lie, and then they leave, and yet we still want them. But I do not want you, anymore; I wanted the boy who used to drop everything and run to me whenever I cried, I wanted the boy who was genuine and charming and had that smile that made you feel like he was irresistibly prejudiced in your favour. I wanted the boy who sincerely wanted me to be happy and apologised sincerely for causing me pain. I wanted the boy who could see past everything else and saw me for what I am. I wanted the boy who realized I was broken and put me back together, and then held me tight so that I would not fall apart again. I don't know what happened to him, but he's long gone and his ghost had a great capacity for cruelty and indifference that I cannot bear. I know you think you have not changed, but maybe when you have the benefit of retrospect you will see what I mean. Nonetheless, I wish you all the best, because I know that somewhere behind all the spite and exasperation my friend is still here and you are all that remains of him. I don't know if you're still here, but it doesn't matter. I know you know all of this. I hope one day I will find someone like you and you will find someone like me, and I hope all of this will have taught us how to treat these people with a little more decency, and to afford them a little more dignity.