(totes click-baited you)
(totes click-baited you)
‘You’re a mum now Lou’ my friend informed me as I sat before her, tea in hand, despair draping my face. ‘You’re going to have to learn to deal with it.’
I silently opened a packet of Teddy Bear biscuits as she continued.
‘You’re just won’t be able to be funny anymore. Happens to the best of us. I use to be fucking Conan O’Brien till I had kids. Now everything I say comes across as if I’m giving a speech at the Hague.’
And just like that, she had confirmed my deepest fears – that now I’m a mum, everything I say and do will forever be read and taken with all seriousness.
F**k. For someone that makes a living from writing funny things, this did not bode well. I mean, I’d had a baby, there were bills to pay, a new car I’d bought to live in…
Yet the thing is, I had/have cause for concern. It had already started – the ‘with all seriousness.’
Last week my boyfriend/fiancé’s face flashed up on my phone – ‘F**k, he can’t live without me’ I chuckled to myself as I paused Netflix’s F.B.I Files (‘True stories from the F.B.I.’) ‘I bet he’d kill for me if I asked him….’
‘Yo, waz up?’ I casually enquired with my usual greeting.
‘Is everything ok?’ He blurted out between tears. I sensed something was wrong so I paused the TV. I’m good like that.
‘Why? Should something be wrong?’
‘I just got a text asking if We were ok. Are We ok? Why would We not be ok?’
I thought about it. Were We ok? Perhaps this was my out? Mark Ruffalo had recently landed in the Gold Coast and I had just gotten my legs waxed a month earlier…coincidence?
I decided to give it a go.
‘I don’t know. You tell me. Are we ok?’
‘I mean unless you’ve done something wrong?’
I un-paused the TV. This definitely was a conversation that could continue with background noise.
‘No, no…I mean don’t think so.’
‘Are you sure…?’
He fell silent for a moment, searching his brain for an incident, one where he’d fucked up so much that it would undoubtedly drive me into the arms of The Hulk.
‘Someone from work rang. Said you posted something on Facebook, about our relationship. She was worried.’
I flipped over to a documentary entitled ‘My Time in a Cult’. Winner.
‘And then she said it was something about me no longer being your lover, that I’d become your carer.’
‘Oh, that? It was a joke.’
‘She didn’t think it was a joke.’
‘It was clearly a joke. That’s my thing.’
I scrambled to pull up Facebook on my phone, only to notice 11 unread text messages had popped up, including 3 voicemails and various Facebook notifications.
‘And then my brother left a message asking if it was true –
‘- You are not my carer.’ I assured him from our bed, wearing an adult diaper, pushing 100 kg, wheelchair idling by my side table, power pumping two boobs at a time…
‘All I wrote was…’
‘Remember, from the other night when you were reading that SBS article, and I thought it was funny given I’d just wet the bed for the second time that evening and we’d laughed about how we really needed to get around to buying a mattress protector. Remember? It was funny.’
I scrolled through the messages:
Saw your post – it gets better xx
You and JK will be fine xx
I’ve sent you a link to a single mother’s Facebook group. Mostly widows but heaps of great tips. xx
I never liked him. Let’s do coffee soon x
This is just a kindly reminder that your ANZ card payment is now overdue.
I’m on my way over. Bringing chocolate! How could he!!! ☹ ☹ ☹
Did I leave my hairdryer at yours????
The Facebook messages were much the same
‘Thinking of you and the bub during your turbulent time xx’
‘Not you guys!!!’
‘Hi, my name is Kirtia and I like sex and men. Please meet??’
I couldn’t understand what was going on.
It was clearly a joke. I only ever posted funny things. I was the funny girl. What was happening?
And so this was when I called my friend for reassurance, the one who now works for the Hague…
‘Everything you do, write or post about from this point onwards will be met with a degree of earnest belief and genuine concern. Gone are the days of flippant remarks, you’re part of something bigger than yourself- being a mum on social media.’
‘But I’m not just a mum.’
‘As of now Lou, yes, yes you are.’
I took the last remaining Teddy Bear biscuit offering none to my friend.
‘Don’t despair Lou. You can still be funny in private, you know, as long as no one is watching, listening or reading you, but once you post your funny on Facebook, Twitter, Insta, blog about it, or continue to post on that YouTube Channel you made that no one ever watches – it will only be seen as a cry for help, a need for support, a plea for understanding, shit Lou, I mean with any luck you might end up a mummy blogger – purely by default.’
‘You shut your mouth!’ I spat at her.
It was a truth bomb I clearly wasn’t ready to hear.
‘You need to leave’ I said shaking ‘Get out of my house’.
And with that, she was gone.
A few weeks late I took to social media again. This time posting on the hilarious feeder-esque situation I now found myself in.
It was my comeback. A nuanced, funny observation on breastfeeding-
My phone beeped:
‘OMG Lou. Are you ok? Just saw your post. Can I recommend Lanosin for your chafed nipples…’
Beep! Another message…
And just like that, my fate was sealed. My friend had been right. I was f**ked. Chafed and f**ked.
The idea is that you find at least 5 things to be grateful for each and everyday and by keeping a list of them you can reflect back on the good things in your life, making the bad things, well trivial and in making them trivial give them less power in your life. It sounded right up my alley so I was eager to get the gratitude ball rolling.
Before I started though I had to give myself some rules so that my daily entries didn’t read like an ode to just ‘making it through the day’:
So NO –
Basically no gratitude was to be given for just being alive. I needed to be grateful for more.
So here’s Day 1:
Sure my period was on it’s way, my credit card wasn’t rejected at the supermarket, they’re letting me pay off my computer in installments and the fuckwit across the road did me the honour of letting me park out the front of my house and sticking his truck there – but that’s too ‘poor me’ to be really grateful for it. It’s not really gratitude, not the sort of Miranda Kerr grateful I was aiming for.
Didn’t need to mention the new hairdryer was a result of the fact I couldn’t afford to get a haircut that week…
Soon I was grinning so hard with gratitude that my face hurt.
After days of working out what I’m grateful for, I feel I’ve found a happy medium. I think Miranda would be grateful that I was finding my own path.
I read an article in The Age recently, because yes, the newsagency had sold out of Grazia – BAM! No, I was really reading The Age and no it wasn’t something I’d already read a week earlier on the Guardian Newspaper website and then was re-reading syndicated as ‘our’ news in ‘our’ newspaper, no this was proper Australian news, an entire article devoted to the ‘perish the thought’ idea that Australian women are more likely to list their ‘absolutely cannot live without beauty treatment’ as spray tanning over leg waxing, like I said my brain is actually perishing at the thought. I mean imagine the site of it, furry tangerine coloured women wondering around, freely and clearly without a thought for prioritisation. Personally, as a person of ethnic extraction I celebrate this coming together of colour and leg hair. Viva la revolution!
Earlier this year I was asked by UN Women (calm down, the Melbourne branch) to go into high schools and talk to you young women and inspire them, well I was there to talk at them, a presenter from Getaway was there to inspire them. At the end of the session a young Greek girl raised her hand to ask a question and when it became clear this wasn’t a question about Getaway it was directed at me. It was a question asking why girls like myself weren’t ever seen on Australian TV, well not in things that weren’t Fat Pizza, well look not on any other channel other than SBS and to be fair, SBS 2. I jokingly remarked that years ago when I was first starting out in television in Australia an exec at one of our ‘ethnic orientated television stations’ actually told me I wasn’t ethnic enough for them, a sentiment re-iterated to me again earlier this year by the same station. I hadn’t conceded defeat though I told the young girl, cause well given my tanned olive skin I was hoping to score an audition for Home & Away. As the polite laughter died down another girl raised her hand ‘but wog olive skin isn’t the same as real olive skin is it?’ And then she motioned to the spray tanned glossed veneer of the presenter from Getaway ‘I mean that’s real olive skin nowadays isn’t it?’ And before I could object every girl in the room nodded in agreement.
It’s not the first time I’d been told the colour of my skin wasn’t what people considered ‘real olive’ nowadays. When I was in my 20’s I moved to the UK where lovers of the fake tan, muffin tops and chubby Page 4 blonde lived in harmony together. Given I didn’t have a muffin top or a desire to get my ‘knockers’ out for a lads mag I thought I was safe from this orange goo seeping into my life, but my Gordie housemates had something else in mind. Every Saturday morning after a night on ‘the pull’ my housemates would waft into the kitchen smelling of skin varnish and draped in sarongs to stave off streaking. A bottle of turps was always kept within grabbing distance in case of any furniture smudging. For the most part they left me alone, after all I didn’t even dye my hair, some people were such as myself were clearly beyond help, well that was until one day when I was ambushed while watching a re-run of Big Brother Up Late, my only witness Russel Brand talking to me from the TV as my arms were held down and I was slathered in fake-tan because and I quote ‘we just really wanted to see if it would work on your skin’.
Of course amongst all those that don’t think my skin can actually be called olive and tanned these days because it doesn’t come with instructions to prevent streaking there are some purists like Tom, a guy I’d worked with at a music festival a couple of years back. We ran into each other again at a friend’s BBQ in the chilly winter Melbourne months when he saddled up next me and asked if I’d like a sip of his white wine and yes it was a euphemism. When I told him I was allergic to semen the conversation moved on…
‘You should keep that tan Lou, it suits you, how’d you get it?’ He hovered close enough so that I knew his body was covered in a combination of Lynx and skin.
‘It’s natural, I have olive skin.’ I replied navigating the hummus that only seemed attainable if my hand were to brush his against his person. I decided against using any dip with my bread.
‘You know Lou I’ve never touched olive skin before.’
The air vomited around us both…
‘It’s the same as any other skin.’
‘I doubt it Lou, here touch mine.’
He held out his arm…
‘Or if you’d prefer’ he began to mime unzipping his trousers as I turned away and silently began to cry – I really wanted that hummus, this bread was nothing without it.
‘Can I touch your skin?’ he asked.
‘If I bought you a drink maybe you’d let me touch it then?’
‘ Can we please stop talking about touching skin?’ I watched as the last of the hummus was devoured by someone who didn’t have to push past Tom’s penis to get it.
‘You’re a feisty girl aren’t you Lou…I like feisty girls, feisty Spanish girls, maybe you and I can get together one night and make paella together.’
‘I’d prefer it if you just fucked off.’ To be honest he was bearing the brunt of my frustration over my lack of hummus.
‘Ok Lou, no need to be a cunt about it. It’s all good. Anyway, if I’m honest I prefer dark skinned blonde girls; at least they care enough to pay for their tan.’
A few weeks after that encounter I was on a tram when a young woman approached me interested in where I went to get my skin done. I didn’t bother even explaining it was my natural tan, all I said was ‘make sure you ask your spray tanner for the colour that existed before orange became the new olive.’
Last week I was off finishing up a contract when I noticed one of the girls in the office staring at me, the type of stare normally reserved for the blacks drinking from whites only water fountains in Mississippi during the 1960’s, gays attending an evangelical church conference, or a severe burns victim.
‘Is everything ok?’ I asked, putting my pen down.
‘You’re left handed’ she pointed out, almost accusingly. Obviously she’d never seen a ‘Southpaw’ up close before, perhaps her only exposure being a leftie idiot savant who ‘liked sling blades’ but accidentally beat children to death with rocks. I could see it in her eyes, the sort of eyes that said ‘being left is a choice so don’t flaunt it round these parts.’
‘And you’re ok with it?’ she continued.
‘Ok with what?’
‘You know, being all left?’
‘It’s not really something I can do anything about, I was born this way.’
‘My grandma says it’s a choice.’
‘You’re grandma isn’t the most educated of people is she?’
‘Well at least she ain’t a leftie.’
…this was not a time for ‘touches’….
I picked up my pen, partly in an act of defiance, partly because there was work to be done ‘You can get it fixed right? – like there’s lots of mutations they can fix these days’.
“It’s not a mutation’
‘I’m just surprised with all the advancements in technology you haven’t done anything bout it.’
‘It’s not something you can fix’.
‘Oh, that’s a shame – I’m sure if you wanted to change you could, but I guess you minorities like your soap boxes. Personally couldn’t think of anything worse.’
‘Really? You couldn’t think of anything worse then being left handed?’
She spat out what was left of her chewing tobacco and sized me up one last time.
‘I had to hit a ball with my left hand once, looked like a spastic – now if you ask me that ain’t no way to live.’
And with that she went back to work, or posting anti abortion rhetoric on the web, I didn’t want to speculate.
This wasn’t the first time I’d faced the ‘idiot brigade’ (a group of like minded people generally set up to pontificate about subjects they know little to nothing about).
At a pub once playing pool a small man, who after inadvertently trying to touch my vagina 2-3 times while trying to reach his beer, noticed rather suddenly as I was about to take my shot that I was in face left handed – he called it out from the other side of the room ‘well fuck me till Tuesday she’s a leftie…shit hand jobs but gotta give em an A for effort’.
So now we were bad at manual labour, which further compounded what the lady at the supermarket check out once said to me as a signed for my purchase.
‘you think you guys be extinct by now, what with survival of the fittest and all, I mean statistically you’re more likely to be schizophrenic, more prone to alcoholism, dyslexia, Chron’s disease and mental disabilities…like you hear all them people going on about how getting rid of a kid when they have the downy gene, if it were me and my kid was a leftie, I’d have to say I ‘d give it some thought – I mean most of you can’t even cut paper.’
Ok –she was right there, most of us (lefties) remember primary school and being allocated the special green Crayola scissors sans blades! And it didn’t matter how many times you tried to tell the teacher that you didn’t have a learning disability you were never allowed on the swing like the other kids and, were supervised unlike the right handed kids in class whenever you required a toilet trip, or any other trip that involved being responsible for locking your own door.
Registering at a doctor’s surgery one day, my boyfriend noted that I had failed to put anything in the ‘suffer from any other condition we should know about’ section.
‘You should let them know you’re a left handed.’
‘Cause what if they give you the wrong medication?’
‘Maybe you should put down you’re Jewish’.
‘That’s being stupid, it’s not an illness – it’s something you’re born with.’
‘But what if they give you medication for Christians?’
‘What a stupid thing to say Lou, for a smart girl you can be so ignorant sometimes, I mean you try being part of a minority.’
I was banned from writing on the board at school because I was a ‘smudger’, a devout Catholic wouldn’t sit next to me once because I was powered by the hand of the devil; this was a girl mind you who masturbated next to me 8 months later in church, but to her credit she used she used her right hand – the hand that Jesus would’ve used.
My mum even took me to a left-handed support group once (where you could buy the T-Shirt; ‘Once you’ve turned left you won’t want the rest’), where an expert on the affliction came along to talk to us (he was right handed). He told us that in his experience that being left handed was just one of life’s anomalies – sure we all had a predisposition to violent primitive crimes, but we also be geniuses in the making, basically that we made up the extremely gifted – we all smiled – but he continued – ‘but a majority will find that you make up the extremely compromised’, and we should be encouraged to get involved in wrestling and boxing – any sort of primitive sport that doesn’t involve thought or reason – we were after all left handed and according to Darwin’s theory of evolution should’ve been killed off years ago – and then he asked if there were any more chocolate biscuits left to go with his tea.
The mutants in the room all grunted, some even banged their chests…but chose not to attack…our time would come.