With All Seriousness

‘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?’

‘What?’

‘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…’

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‘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-


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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.

 

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Where’s My Murphy Brown?

 

Last week as I wandered the streets looking for purpose, I overheard a woman and her friend bemoan the current state of television.

‘I miss family shows you know? Like, The Cosby Show and Hey Dad.’

Her friend nodded in agreement as if she too had been stuck down a mine shaft with her companion for the last three years…

I watched as they continued on their way, no doubt going home to old VHS recordings of The Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris Variety Hour while eating Subway sandwiches.

Nostalgia can be a powerful thing. It makes us reflect on more ‘wholesome’ times, even if most of the time we are reflecting through rose coloured glasses.

Indeed, when it comes to TV we are particularly susceptible to this, just look at the recent reboots of Fuller House and The Gilmore Girls. We somehow have managed to convince ourselves that these shows were from a better time, you know, when you stayed at home with the family, without a single smartphone screen in site and simply watched families be real families – unlike like the chaos of TV today.

Yet they were from a better time, but for a much better reason – TV was bolder, not always in a good way, but it took chances.

Stay with me on this…

And nothing was bolder than situation comedy…

I can’t cover all the comedy from the 80s through to the 90s, so I’m going with a few that just popped into my head while I thought about this topic.

I’m going to start with Punky Brewster – this is a show you couldn’t pitch today unless it was reworked as a gritty urban drama written by the guy who penned The Wire.

For those of you that aren’t familiar, 7-year old Punky Brewster was a modern-day Annie. Abandoned by her mother, along with her dog Brandon, in a grocery store car park, she finds shelter in an empty apartment, only to be discovered by building manager Henry – a single, older man who lives on his own.  She moves in with this stranger and it all works out happily ever after.

Ok, to recap – abandoned 7-year-old girl, moves into a squat and is discovered by a man, whose other passion aside from building maintenance, is photography. In the 80s this was a ridiculously popular family friendly show. Today, it’s a Law & Order SVU episode.

Like I said, bold.

And let’s not forget The Golden Girls. A bunch of women over the age of 50 (yes, over 50 and on actual television screens) all without the responsibilities of husbands and children (well, with the exception of Sofia, but that’s different) live a wonderful, friendship filled, at times challenging but rewarding life in Miami, with their own storylines and character motivations. They even eat cheesecake at least once a night and they actually look like women who would eat cake. And no, Hot in Cleveland is not the equivalent.  No, this show was groundbreaking and unfortunately one can’t help but feel that after that ground broke we’ve spent the better part of the last 20 years refilling the hole, and filling it with cement…

Let’s see, The Golden Girls tackled important issues such as aging, disability, gay rights, feminism (it was a feminist show full stop), AIDS, aged care, loneliness, death, gun control, reproductive rights – heck, it even covered Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – by using humour and pathos. So a bunch of amazing actresses over 50, on our televisions, being funny, with no fixed lead male characters…our equivalent today is….is….is….is…I’m sure something will come to me…maybe there’s something on Netflix…

Rosanne. There I said it. Weird ending aside, this show was and is to this day still bold TV. Yes, before Mike and Molly, believe it or not we had other large lead characters on our screens – Roseanne and Dan Conner. But being big wasn’t the focus of their show. No, it was about story, family and all the crap we have to get through every day just to survive. It was hilarious, relatable and is the reason I lusted after corkscrew curls for most of my teens.  Our equivalent of a working class family today – The Middle. That is all. I’m just going to leave that there – The Middle.

(P.S. By the way, the fact that real-life Darlene married the lead singer of 4 Non Blondes, makes up for the way the show ended…barely).

And in these days of debate surrounding gender pay gaps, abortion rights, gay and transgender rights and online trolling of women is our god damn Murphy Brown! The only comparison that springs to mind is Press Gang, but even then that show was of the same ilk and time. I can’t help but think our 2016 version of Murphy Brown would be the story of a single working mum trying to have it all, set to a montage backdrop of New York City.

Now I’m not saying that just because a show was bold makes it somehow better. There was definitely a fair share of bold and questionable in the 80s. Just take Perfect Strangers – and the less said about that the better. Much like the questionable set-up of Punky Brewster, Charles in Charge could easily be tainted with the same SUV brush today. Charles, a college-age student moves in with a family who has a teen daughter, as their babysitter and housekeeper. Yep, college student moves in with family, who has a teen daughter…and he becomes in charge of her day, of her life… I’m not saying college-age men can’t babysit 16-year-old girls, but this was the 80s and it was Scott Baio. That’s all I’m saying.

Maybe I just miss Let The Blood Run Free or Doogie Howser MD too much and that’s why I wrote this, but I’m not sure how much I’d like a reboot of a show about a teen genius that would inevitably just make me question the life choices that have lead me to still be a blogger and a renter at 36. Perhaps I don’t need bold TV like that, perhaps I should be content with groundbreaking TV like Modern Family that finally gives much-needed visibility to the older man/ younger woman relationship.

I’ll think about it… while I’m thinking about a TV comedy that stars women over 50 not being predominantly caregivers – sorry, couldn’t resist.

 

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Give So I May Brunch

Dear Reader, 

It’s not often I ask for help. I’ve never been very good at it, what with being a lone-wolf, renegade adventurer, blogger.  But today I out to my friends, I can call you that right? You see, the other day I went for brunch, dressed in clothes that I would come to realise, could also function as a cloak of invisibility. As I entered the well-lit inner city café/bookstore/ carb intervention centre, for a moment I thought perhaps I’d made a mistake and fallen upon the sign in booth at the start of a triathlon or at the very least, a competitive Mother’s Day power walk. 

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For as far as the eye could see there were Lululemon Compression tights and Northwest Fleece Vests filling every table, bar stool and cranny. It was as if a neighbouring gym had had a gas leak and this was their evacuation point.  As I stood there in a dress and opaque tights, a look I describe as ‘leaving the house chic’, being ignored by a waitress dressed in last year’s best goat-milking coveralls, I couldn’t help but think – was I allowed to eat here? Perhaps, much like a Cannes red carpet, there was a dress code I’d missed as perhaps it was only communicated via weathering stares and spelt-milk fuelled eye-rolls. 

Finally, my boyfriend, wearing leather soled shoes, an obvious silent protest against the Adidas that surrounded us, were seated. Seated at a table with four young women, all wearing matching lavender tights and fit bits, all talking about how they were too busy to hit the gym that morning. Unlike my boyfriend and I, they were served promptly and not judged when asking for extra bread and could heartily indulge in a large stack of pancakes because they were dressed to burn it off. I on the other hand, well the fact I was dressed in ‘day clothes’ meant I’d given up for the day, might as well turn in for the night, hoist open my mouth and roll me towards a trough…the end was nigh.

And then suddenly it struck me, as a tried desperately to get the waitresses attention because I needed cutlery to eat (though I’m pretty sure given I wasn’t wearing the appropriate amount of pre-workout foundation that she had just assumed I ate with my hands), that I was invisible. That without perfectly coifed and overly expensive exercise gear I might never have brunch again. My tears could have filled a thimble that day.

Of course I have my own workout gear but somehow I’m pretty sure my black leggings, the ones with a hole where my vagina begins, adorned with an oversized grey t-shirt hiding two Kmart sports-bras, well it’s not going to give me the visibility, the relevance as a person I need. 

So that’s why I’m turning to you guys, my friends, my bestie’s, my compadres. Sure if I budgeted better, perhaps stopped having my one-a-day instant coffee habit or my monthly trim at Just Cuts, I could afford to buy all the ‘going out’ gym gear I needed, but I don’t see why my frugal lifestyle should suffer when I have you guys – haven’t I suffered enough by wearing ‘going outside clothes’ for years?

But lets be serious for a minute –  If I don’t get your support then I’ll probably never be able to out for brunch again – don’t look away from me- I know it’s hard to see one of your peers begging for help, begging to be seen by all the coverall wearing waiters and waitresses of the world, but look at me! Look me in the eye – surely you can see I deserve to eat coconut infused muesli with optional pomegranate placenta at 11.30am on a Saturday just like everyone else? Do I not bleed if you stab me?  Am I not you, just with a lot less shame?

From as little as $20 a day you can keep me in the attire I should’ve learned to grow accustomed to by now and I know that with your help I might be served before 5pm on a weekend, once again 

Thanking you in advance 

Lou

x

ps. This is how I will look once your donations start rolling in.

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It’s been 132 days since my last diet.

After over two decades of being on a diet, yep 20 years and I’m only 35 (I could’ve raised a teenager in that time, or at least two primary school aged kids), quitting dieting is like deciding to stop brushing your teeth. It’s gross and there was the chance that giving up on brushing my teeth, like not dieting might also make me less desirable. I mean if I wasn’t lemon detoxing I wasn’t living.

That makes me come across like a superficial bitch but you’ve got to understand, for years I’ve seen myself as one of those women that come across like they might be on a diet, could be a diet, like they’re kinda just one week of losing self-control away from standing in for the marshmallow man in Ghostbusters.
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I told my fiance that I was giving up dieting. He smiled, said he supported whatever decision I wanted to make and returned to writing his blog about the lacklustre third installment of The Hobbit. But I was resolute. I told him that by not controlling everything that went into my mouth over the next 12 months there was a possibility I could double, maybe even triple in size. Was he ok with that? I answered for him – ‘you’ll just have to be!’ I shouted as I started to feverishly delete most of the diet and fitness apps off my phone.

Whilst my decision to get off the diet choo-choo train sounded altruistic in my head, that I was taking a long needed stand against the diet/fitspo culture that seems to consume most our lives, it was more selfish than that. I just wanted to see if I was good enough just the way I was. I know I’ve accomplished a lot of things in my life, I’m not denying that, but deep down inside I’ve always believed that I was about 5-10 kilos away and committing to a 3 week starvation diet away from achieving proper success, financial stability and happiness.

If I was a size 6 I’d get more work, I‘d get more money, more friends, more love.  It made sense to me. The world rewards the size dropper doesn’t it? I mean look at New Idea, Woman’s Day, fuck Ricki-Lee’s entire career is based on her talent to yo-yo. My time as a performer only saw to amplify this delusion as I saw my size scrutinised even more than during my frumpy teen years. There’s a fear of fat that drives most of us to try and be slimmer versions of ourselves, but that’s just crap, I’m a rational person, how can a fear of something so irrelevant lead to such an ingrained self-hatred? It’s disgusting. I was ashamed of myself. I needed to let myself become whatever it is I was destined to be and furthermore, love that version of myself.

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By the end of 2014 I started to realise that all this time spent obsessing over the latest fad diet or exercise plan to date had yielded fuck all. It got me thinking, what if I took a year off from trying to improve myself and see what I might be able to accomplish as me, just the way I am? (I couldn’t avoid that Bridget Jones moment- sorry guys). If I just let the year ride out and took opportunities as they came and believed that I was merited in taking them, that I didn’t need to fit into a pair of Esprit socks to succeed, what’s the worst that could happen?  It was a fraught decision based on a lot of what if’s and uncertainty but so far it’s going ok.

Taking all that time spent thinking about improving my physical self and channeling it into other things has seen me start to make headway on a lot of projects, that I otherwise might not have had the self-confidence to pursue. Of course currently it’s about 80% faking it to make it, but that’s pretty good.

I understand for some people dieting is important. Some need to do it for health and well-being and some of those people need support to do it, so it makes sense to look for programs that do that and are backed up with science, ongoing support and results but fad dieting isn’t the answer. It’s isolating. It makes you obsessive. It makes you sad. It can even make you smell, but most importantly it’s a waste of your precious time.

Of course I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to moments of weakness with a diet shake and a bottle of wine, followed by a punishing Jillian Michaels workout, but for the most part I’ve resisted. I’ve learnt to take deep breaths and then after a few moments I find the urge to try the latest fad diet passes and I’m able to get on with the day.

I now believe that sometimes it takes a lifetime to break the habit of the lifetime. If no ones said that before, I’m claiming that quote btw.
**this writer must declare she does still exercise because she loves it and it’s good for her mental health.

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I’ve dated a Trans Person. A lot of us have.

‘….our identity is a sum of our parts, not just one part in particular.’

I’m not Trans. I can’t speak to that experience. So I won’t. What I will speak with is the experience of someone who was once in a relationship with a Trans Man. Some people know about this, some people don’t. I always felt uncomfortable talking about my experience, thinking that in doing so I was revealing something that wasn’t mine to do, so much so that when I did a show about this particular relationship back in 2009 I didn’t mention it. I was really into prop comedy at the time anyway. I argued it wasn’t important to the story. I argued with my director, my script editor. I told them it wasn’t my story to tell. And you know what? In all honestly I didn’t want to distract from the show.  I didn’t want the audience to spend any of their time trying to figure ‘it’ out.  Trying to figure out what that made me? Oh and the much more common concern – watching the audience try to figure out how we did ‘it’.

Does that sound crude?  Abso-fucking-lutely it does. And sadly it was a question I got asked all too often.

No one ever thought they were being offensive or intrusive when they asked how we had sex and my grimaced smile didn’t really send home the message that it wasn’t an appropriate question to ask – the sort that revealed more about the ignorance of the asker then the answerer. I thought by not answering their questions  that that would say, albeit silently, that their questions were inappropriate. Like when they asked ‘have they had the surgery?’ or when they said ‘it’s amazing, they pass so well. You’d think they were a real man’ or my favourite ‘I could always tell.’  I’d tell them finally to shut up, that it was their ignorance and lack of education talking, but I was loathed to discuss it further as I still believed that just because I’d dated a Trans Man, that didn’t give me the right to discuss it.

But now that I’m older and as an LGBTQI ally and advocate I believe it is visibility and experience that is our strongest assets in this community. Putting aside the Bruce Jenner media spectacle we’ve seen in recent weeks, sharing our experiences, even if they are fleeting is important. It doesn’t mean you’re telling someone else’s story, it means your telling only part of your story. So yes, I dated a Trans Man.

As friends, we were great. As lovers, we were fun, tempestuous, fiery, belligerent and miserable – the perfect 20something relationship.  During my time with him, aside from the constant teary eyed break-ups and passionate reunions I never really thought about what being with him made me. People who knew us just thought it was great we’d gotten together, finally. Only when I started telling some close family and friends that didn’t know about him I was asked ‘are you gay?’ I would always answer ‘No, I date a man because I’m straight’ but I knew what they meant. They needed to make sense of it, as open minded as they were. If I was gay it would make sense. It would explain all the Indigo Girls albums and my fondness for the film ‘But I’m a Cheerleader.’ What didn’t make sense was that for all intents and purposes I was in a straight relationship and my boyfriend could be an asshole just like everyone else’s. On the odd occasion his transition  would come up during our time together he used it to try and empathise with me, like when I was complaining of period pains and he tried to empathise and I threw his trainers out the window…

I won’t write about his journey in this post. I still believe that’s his to tell. What I will say is he was an activist and friend to many in the trans community and it was hard not to be in awe of what he had overcome to be the person he really was. And whilst my relationship with him didn’t make me gay, it did make me more aware, more liberal and more importantly, did in some way contribute to the person I am today. But that’s what all relationships should do. The good, the bad – they teach us something about ourselves.

After we broke up and I started dating again, I would sometimes disclose details of my past relationship with him and be met with a mix of curiosity and utter transphobia –  ‘oh so now you’re with a real man’. This comment uttered by more than one but less than a few. Those relationships would last the length of a short breath.

I saw this short documentary once, where a Trans Warrior went around asking people on the street questions about what it meant to be a man. Questions like ‘If you were in a car crash and you lost your cock would that make you less of a man?’ In all of these ‘if you lost your cock’ questions the answer was always the same ‘having a penis didn’t make you a man’.  The interviewers intention was clear – our identity is a sum of our parts, not just one part in particular.

I realised while reading some of the reporting surrounded Bruce Jenner’s recent admission as well as  watching TV shows like Orange is New Black and Transparent –   that while it is important we continue to see trans visibility increase in our society, that it is also important that those of us who have been in relationships with Trans People not fall silent on it. By letting people know that being a relationship with a Trans Person was part of your story it can help lessen the stigma and at times offensive curiosity surrounding the community. It can show young people struggling with transition that they will love, live and have tempestuous and at time shitty relationships just like the rest of us. It might just show them that it does get better. It sure showed me that.

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I’d F**k A Funny Woman Any Day.

I find women funnier. I just do. There, it’s said. It’s out there. For years I’ve taken a diplomatic stance – funny is funny no matter what the gender, no matter who is telling the joke, but who was I kidding, give me an Amy over an Arj any day. Now by no means is that meant to be taken as a disparaging comment on the Arj’s of the world, it’s just that my pen is inked from a different well, um, a well of ladies.

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I was born this way. From the moment I came into the world, as my mother looked at my tanned skin and joked between puffs ‘oh look, she’s nicotine stained’…it was inevitable.

About a week ago some guy called Wippa from a radio show mentioned that funny women don’t get the guys. Mama Mia writer Lucy Gransbury posted a great response to his assertions – ‘Eat a bag of dicks’. A more articulate response to the ‘funny women shut up if you want to get laid debate’ I’m yet to see. My fiancé, a man no less, decided he too would post a response. Less barbed he conceded that funny was sexy no matter what gender but I begged to differ, and I did. Under his post, I wrote ‘I find women funnier.’ It was out.

As much as I’m a fan of David Sedaris, it’s his sister Amy Sedaris who I stalk with unwavering commitment. Her Instagram account is ‘what Instagram was made for’ a friend recently declared. Her recent turn in Broadcity, something to behold ‘where isn’t a toilet?!’

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Judith Lucy and Jane Kenndey were the reasons I fought to stay up well past my bedtime to watch The Lateshow, it had little to do with Mick or Santo. Then of course there was Lynda Gibson in Let the Blood Run Free, Madge in Big Girls Blouse, Smack the Pony, Lucille Ball, The Golden Girls, Mona from Who’s The Boss, Ruth Cracknell, Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler and Shelley Long in anything. Oh and then there was Girls on Top that introduced me to Tracey Ullman, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. And Julia Davis pretty much revolutionised my viewing experience with Nighty Night, um and Jo Brand, Ab Fabs Patsy, Tamsin Greig, Janeane Garofalo, Olivia Colman and Parker Posey, and that my friends is only a list encompassing my formative years to say about the time I started working in comedy in the early 2000s.

Now sadly it was only when I started working in the industry did I learn, or sorry, I was told that women weren’t funny from some punters, some promoters and the odd comedian thus negating my entire back catalogue of inspiration, well they would have if I’d actually given a shit and for a moment believed them. I guess it doesn’t help that near every year some journo with space to burn poses the question ‘Are women funny?’ it’s about as relevant and interesting a question as that from my Year 12 debating final ‘Should you be permitted to choose whatever clothes you want to wear outside of school?’

Sure I have friends who are professionally funny and successful because they’re funny, but it’s also my lady friends from other walks of life that crack me up just as much, if not more. I think it’s the reason I think I’m drawn to them in the first place, that and their hair. It’s what I value most in a friendship, a good laugh and good hair. My mum is one of the funniest women I know, now whether or not it’s intentional we’ll probably never be certain, but on more than one occasion she’s made me pee my pants and this is well after the potty training years. My friend Clem never fails to make me laugh-cry in my face and then there’s Hattie. I see her maybe every 5 years or so, but I’m still left smiling for years after our catch ups because of  her tales of exotic world travel engrossing me while her cigarette animatedly dances around the table as she weaves her squeal inducing stories. Actually if I’ve invited you around for dinner and plied you with booze and you’ve got a vagina it’s probably because you’ve made my tummy hurt with laughter at some stage….feel used? Good.

I’m sure if you know me you’ve probably always suspected that I’m funny girl inclined, there’s been rumours floating around for years and I just felt it was time to set things straight, on my own terms. I plan to raise my children as lovers of funny women and you know what, I don’t think they’ll be alone, especially if the recent spate of fan obsessing ver the Amy’s, Mindy’s, Tina’s and Ilana’s is anything to go by and they’ll be in the best of like-minded sexy funny company, I’m sure.

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It’s a Straight Issue.

‘As far as I’m concerned, everyone – gay or straight –  has the right to be as unsure and skeptical of the institution of marriage as I am.’

I watch wedding shows. Heaps. Say Yes to the Dress, Four Weddings, anything with David Tutera in it. I watch them to see how the other half live. They’re my version of Animal Planet. When a bride turns to camera to share with us that they’ve dreamt about this day since they were a little girl that to me is the same as David Attenborough telling me that male Koalas have two penises. WFT? Mind blown! Really? And there is where I disconnect. I never had dreams of getting married as a young girl, having a wedding, of wearing a princess dress. It never made any sense to me. There were so many other things you could be doing like swimming, bike riding, reading ALL the Babysitters Club books, studying, debating, dressing up as a playing card to attend your friends 10th birthday party, reading all the POINT THRILLERS but planning a wedding at 8 years old – surely that was a thing of the past? Something to be frowned upon in a more civilized and evolved society.

Clearly it is not.

Now here’s the thing, before I go any further I should let you know that I’m engaged to be married, which sounds a lot like ‘I’m a hypocrite’. But hear me out. Turns out the guy I fell in love is really into the idea of getting married. I can’t say he tricked me. I knew pretty early on in our relationship, well our first date exactly where his cart might be hitched when he told me in great detail about his ideal wedding (Spoiler alert: involves the Speigletent, a flash mob and some sort of trapeze with dolphins). As he concluded with the idea of rounding out the ceremony with a song from the Titanic soundtrack he turned to me and asked ‘so that’s my perfect wedding, how about yours?’ I nearly choked on my vegetarian dumpling.

I’m not the marrying type. I have problems with it. In some countries it’s still about property, abuse and subjugation or/and same sex discrimination and sure I hear you scream at me ‘but marriage has evolved in the Western world. It’s about mason jars, commitment and Ed Sheeran songs now, not ownership. You can even keep your maiden name! It’s evolved!’

Oh really? I reply. Has it? It’s evolved has it? Then tell me why in this country it’s still only the domain of straight couples? It hasn’t really evolved has it when you need a legal proclamation in your wedding service that really drives home the discriminatory practice of straight Australians participating within an antiquated and frankly embarrassing piece of legislation that is as old as settlement itself.

My issue with marriage? It’s exclusionary and as it stands in regards to certain sections of our community – discriminatory. My straight partner and I can sit and talk about marriage and plan a wedding in the knowledge that we can do it. However if in Australia you sit outside of the heteronormative, that is to say you’re not a man marrying a woman to the exclusion of all others well you can talk about it, no law against that, shit you can even plan for it but you can’t do it. And why? Because you’re not straight. But don’t worry, sure you might not be able to marry, but you can put your name down on a registry/ excel spreadsheet in most states. Isn’t that enough?

To be clear I might be ambiguous about marriage but I do like weddings. I love love and all that goes with it. Celebrations, parties, get togethers with an open bar –all a good thing. The idea of having one ‘snuggle bunny’ for life – adorable. Maybe not entirely realistic, but it’s f**king adorable. However not all of my friends can stand in front of their friends and family and tell their ‘snuggle bunny’ that they love them, nor can they declare the whole in sickness and in health thing either and look if you want to be pedantic there’s a whole bunch of rights in regards to equality in this country that same sex couples don’t have because basically they can’t marry. Same sex couples can’t jointly adopt in Victoria and some other Australian states because they’re not married. Rights to your partners pension should you die, carers benefits etc are also not the same and absolute as married couples. Inheritance rights in many states are not recognised in the case of same sex and defacto couples.

Ha! You said defacto couple! – so it’s not really about discrimination just against homosexuals is it? Yes, yes it is. There have been a few moves to overhaul rights for defactos in regards to adopting, inheritance and property rights, however because that would mean giving same sex couples the same rights as the marrieds…well no we can’t have that. They’re slippery little suckers those gays – trying to get their civil rights by bootstrapping their cause to the average straight Australian defacto relationship…well I never!

And of course never mind the fact that inequality of the Australian Marriage Act is in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, because who gives a shit really. I mean for most of us, the fact that same sex couples can’t marry, or can’t even opt out of getting married (just like the rest of us, because choosing not to do something is as much a right as doing it) doesn’t affect us and our day-to-day lives. And why should it? We’re the first class. We’re straight. I mean the only way it might start to affect us was if straight people stopped getting married, as a protest. That, until everyone had the same rights, the BILLIONS of dollars pumped into the Australian wedding economy every year would just stop. Imagine that – florists, cake shop owners, wedding dress designers and wedding DJ’s the country over out of work like employees of the ABC.

People will start to ask why the people of Australia stopped getting married and we will tell them – that we will no longer help our government facilitate discriminatory practices against members of our community. Leaders of business, feeling the sting of dried up bridal spending will write letters to their members of Parliament asking for bailouts to help them in this time of wedding austerity. Members of Parliament will put pressure on their political parties to change their stance of the Marriage Act as the Australian economy cripples under the weight of the estimated loss of over 2 billion dollars a year. Even the most homophobic misanthrope wedding car hire service owner when faced with such a financial loss like will declare – ‘oh for the love of god, let them marry!’

Now I don’t imagine everyone will jump on this protest straight away. Like with any social change it will start small. A few couples here and there will cancel their upcoming weddings after realising their newly out cousin might feel uncomfortable and excluded at the wedding when the celebrant has to legally declare that their union is ok because it’s between a man and a woman. Then we’ll get a hashtag started like #letthemmarry (spit balling here) and that’s when things will really take off. A groundswell of support will emerge and Tony Abbott who by then will be Minister for Menstruation and the Hymen Renewal Scheme will be forced to make a change.

I can’t take credit for this idea. One of my best friends who is gay (don’t worry, I wanted to stab myself in the eye as I wrote that) told me the only way things would change was if the straights got involved. Succinctly put, he said ‘same sex marriage is a straight issue’.

I’m part of the small grass roots movement. When my partner proposed, I paused, realising that if I was to try marriage it would be with this guy and only him and so I knew that when I said ‘yes, but on the proviso we don’t get married until everyone can’ that he would say ‘that was a given.’ And he did. And so we will wait.

People ask us all the time when is the big date? How are the plans going? And every time someone asks we tell them that we couldn’t imagine inviting our gay friends to a wedding only to have them hear that due to their sexual orientation they are denied the right to stand in front of their nearest and dearest and let the world know that they are in love. Sure, it makes some people uncomfortable but I’m completely ok with that. A little bit of discomfort for equality seems a relatively small sacrifice for both sides of the conversation.

I’m still not sure I’m the marrying type but given I’m in a position to at least choose if I want to get married or not, it means I’m in a position of privilege and I should exercise the responsibility that goes with that accordingly. As far as I’m concerned, everyone – gay or straight –  has the right to be as unsure and skeptical of the institution of marriage as I am.

Now because I’m engaged, I can’t watch my wedding shows with as much irony as I once did but they have helped give me a clearer picture of how my partner will look on our wedding day in his resplendent white dress being led down the isle by his father and presented to me. I’m very much looking forward to that especially with all my friends looking on and taking cash bets on the side to see if I go through with it.

If you support marriage equality as you no doubt do you can go here: http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/ and further show your support! Or you know NOT GET MARRIED TILL THINGS CHANGE 🙂

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Being fat in the ’90s.

1476484_10151783278006039_1435343232_nI was fat.

See this photo.

In this photo what you see here is me, sitting, being fat.

I was probably being funny too, cause that’s what fat girls do best, funny.

You can’t see it, but I reckon everyone in the room was laughing at something I’d just said.

Somebody probably peed his or her pants.

So back to the photo and me being fat in it.

I know I was fat because at the time this was taken I was constantly being picked on for my weight whether it be by ‘friends’ in the playground, or ‘friends’ of my parents commenting on my ‘full figure’ or my grandmother who would purposely buy my clothes too small for me and than make me wear them in front of her. Boys called me names.

One of my more humiliating moments I recall was when my grandmother returned from Spain with a bra for me. It was a 12AA. I was a 10DD. It didn’t fit. In my head now I know it didn’t fit because I wasn’t a boy, but at the time with very little around me to compare my figure to, I assumed that it didn’t fit because I was fat. And my grandmother didn’t correct me. My mother, I think burnt the bra. It didn’t matter how much my mother told me that I was OK how I was, I didn’t hear her. She was also wise enough to let me know there was nothing wrong with being fat either, lots of people were but that didn’t matter, all I heard was fat and now at 34 years old, I still hear it and the worst part is I view it as negative. When it comes to fat shaming myself, I’m my own worse bully. When this photo was taken I was 156cm tall. For those that know me, I had a very minor growth spurt after that (a whole 4 centimetres…small victories). And I was roughly a size 4-6 if not smaller. I weighed about 40 kilos.

It did not help that I didn’t look like all the other girls at my school. They were all so tall, like beanpoles, like all the girls in Australian magazines and soap operas. Thin, blonde, worthy. I had a tiny waist, boobs coming in and hips. Some adults often described me as ‘womanly’ or ‘sexy.’ I was 13.

And so it began. The great disconnect with my appearance. It’s been over 20 years since that photo was taken and I still struggle to see what everyone else sees. I hide behind mainly baggy clothes; I’ve been on a diet since I can remember. I get sick to my stomach if I break 1200 calories in a day. I exercise constantly. I honestly think that when I look in the mirror, that if I could just lose a bit more weight I’d be able to wear clothes that draped. I’m an idiot. I’ve got curves like a Kardashian minus the personal tailor. There will be no draping in my lifetime unless I make friends with flesh-eating bacteria…but hey you can only cross your fingers for so long…

The narrative of my chubbiness has informed so much of my creative work that I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was imperative to my identity. I write from the perspective of the outsider looking in, the best friend character, the strong personality driven girl, the underdog, the alien. I’ve done pretty well out of it, whether it’s the truth or not. Here’s the thing, it shouldn’t matter whether I’m chubby. I might not be. I might be. I really have no gauge anymore. I know I can wear children’s pyjamas but I’m not sure that means anything.

The thing is when I saw that photo the other night I got upset. I wanted to go back and tell my 13 year-old self to not listen to all the fat shaming and than maybe the next 20 years would be different. Social engagements would not be so crippling at times, I wouldn’t always think somewhere in the back of my head that my relationships didn’t work out because of my appearance, I would write populist chick-lit fiction that opened with lines like ‘the clacking of $700 heels only served to heighten her enviable calf muscles and say to the world that she was ready for anything’ as opposed to ‘she masturbated quietly to a poster of Zach Efron as her boyfriend sat in the study on the phone to his new girlfriend.’ But telling my 13 year old self that if anything I was actually almost underweight at the time that photo was taken wouldn’t have been enough, after all it wasn’t myself that thought I was fat, it was everyone else saying it, making excuses for saying it and shaming me into thinking it was the truth, a truth I’ve lived by ever since. It takes up a lot of my time thinking I should like myself better, sorry correction – it wastes a lot of time. My time. No one else’s, mine. I’ve decided next year I’m going to have a body shaming detox and take up sword fighting or podcasting, I don’t know, I could do anything. All I know is, it’s got to be more productive than what I’ve been doing.

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I don’t think we can be Facebook friends anymore…

Confiding in me over a hot chocolate in a small tucked away café a few days ago, my friend Agnes had barely touched her earl grey tea with a dash of cream and honey when she pouted and declared

‘I hate myself Lou, I just hate myself.’

I didn’t say anything, I knew there was more to come, there always was.

‘I just don’t understand why you can’t just be born the way you want to end up?’

‘You are asking an awful lot from the universe’ I surmised as I eyed off a marshmallow that wasn’t mine, but had been left on a nearby table.

‘No Lou, I don’t think I am. We put all this money into obesity research, diabetes this and diabetes that and don’t even get me started on early stage genetic predisposition testing and yet if we could just be born thin and beautiful, not necessarily smart but cluey, I could make do with cluey, well then you know what Lou?’

‘What’ …surely if it was just left there it was really MY marshmallow….

‘There’d be no war or famine.’

‘And how do you reckon that?’

‘Because it’s simple – they’d be born full.’

She squeezed more lemon into her tea and winced at the taste, which led me to this point – can you divorce your friends? Or at least if anything ask for a trial separation?

I thought this as I watched her straighten out her skirt, looking around, frustrated with the world, unaware of her complete lack of depth – why couldn’t I be completely unaware of her lack of depth too?

‘I think maybe darl, you just need to learn to accept yourself – you know a little self acceptance can go a long way.’ I remarked

…it’s my marshmallow, all mine and boy did it taste good…

‘Lou, I’m not giving up sex.’

‘Acceptance is not the same as abstinence Agnes,’

‘Don’t get tricky Lou.’

‘I wasn’t being tricky; I was going more for clarification really.’

Suddenly her nose screwed up.

‘Did you just eat that manky marshmallow off someone else’s table?’

‘I think manky is too liberal a use of such a negative word.’

‘You just ate garbage Lou.’

‘Are abandoned children garbage Agnes?’

‘Wards of the state are not marshmallows’ are they Lou.’…more a statement than a question really…

I picked a loose hair out of my teeth; she was right, it probably had been garbage, but her judgment wasn’t my punishment for little did she know that later that night in the privacy of my own home I would stand naked in front a mirror and ask myself ‘would you touch yourself?’ and my answer would be yes and thus eating garbage made me edgy and that was hot.

‘I just wish I could be more like you Lou’ she let out a long breath as she checked her iPhone for the time.

‘Grass is always greener on the other side my friend.’

‘You’re short; one might even describe you as homely and unkempt – almost like that character in House.’

‘What character in House?’

‘Oh you know, the eccentric aunt who collects newspapers and rides the trains, rather than just being normal and going on a diet.’

‘It’s called Housekeeping and it’s a book and I think you’ve missed the entire point of the story – it’s about Housekeeping in the spiritual sense, in the face of great loss.’

‘My point exactly – if we were born the way we wanted than she wouldn’t have become a hobo.’

‘You do realize you’re whole argument is derailed if say she wanted to be born a hobo.’

‘You honestly think she’d pick being born Kate Moss over being born homeless?’

‘No, you’re right Agnes, why find your own path and sense of identity when you can just claim someone else’s – cloning is much underrated.’

‘Don’t do that.’

‘Do what?’

‘That.’ – I really felt like a biscuit, but maybe that was too much. I found myself lamenting an incident earlier that day when I’d dropped and stepped on my biscuit – there was no saving it at the time I thought, but looking back now, I knew the truth, I hadn’t even tried.

‘Listen Lou, I hoped it wouldn’t come to this.’

‘Come to what?’

‘I need a time out – from this, from you.’

…what was going on…this wasn’t meant to end this way, we had plans together, great plans, the Kinki Gerlinki garage sale was only a week away…

‘I don’t think I’ve got room for you in my life, I’ve already got a stereotypical over achieving, blatantly sarcastic, bordering on compensating for an amazing amount of insecurity – brunette taking up too much room.’

‘Who? Who’s that?’ I demanded to know.

‘a little tabloid princess I like to call Katie Holmes.’

‘But you don’t even know her and please prey tell when if ever has displayed irreverent wit?

‘Just because I don’t know her personally Lou, doesn’t mean that we haven’t connected.’

‘She’s a celebrity, if this is the Matrix than she’s not even real.’

‘But she understands me Lou and quite frankly you don’t; in fact half the time I just feel like you’re taking the piss.’

‘No, that’s not true, entirely.’

‘See, you can’t even not do it now, even while we’re in the middle of breaking up – do I mean that little to you?’

‘I don’t know what you want from me.’

She paused.

‘Maybe the problem is I don’t know either.’

I held back my already restrained emotions on the matter.

‘Hey Lou, don’t get upset, we can still be Facebook friends.’

‘Really?’ – it wasn’t the end of us.

‘Restricted access of course.’ And with that she stabbed me in the ovaries.

‘What’s the point?’ I spat back.

She got up to leave.

‘Can I ask why?’

I did desperate well.

She turned and for a moment I thought she might sit back down and tell me this was all a dream, or a test, something other than blatant abandonment.

‘Listen Lou – oh how do I explain this… ?’

I saw her eyes search for words.

‘…you know that marshmallow you ate, the abandoned one?’

‘Yes.’

‘Well you’re like my marshmallow, on the floor, hair all over you, and sure if I wiped you down or hosed you off I might for a moment get that sweet sensation only a marshmallow can give me as it touches my lips, but than the guilt would set in, the self hate, that yearning for something more in my life – do you understand?’

‘I’m not a marshmallow.’

She took a long breath.

‘You’re not my marshmallow Lou.’

And with that she left…and for me it was time to go home and stand in front of the mirror – I was going to treat myself tonight.

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Even if you looked like a man I wouldn’t touch you like that…

Leaving a friends birthday party with a close friend of mine, a rather cute man confronted me, a gay man but still cute in a way I could appreciate. He asked me if I could light his fire, we giggled, I battered my eyelids, my friend rolled her eyes, lit his cigarette and proclaimed ‘oh for fuck’s sake Lou, he sucks cock!’


Fair point.

I waited in the cold, looking for a cab as my friend finished her ciggie, making idle chit chat with my newfound man friend when he asked how long my friend and I had been dating. I laughed, warming my hands in my pockets.’ We don’t date.’

‘But you’re both gay right? I inhaled deeply, adjusting my scarf.

‘No.’

‘Oh wow, I’m sorry, I just assumed because you were leaving together…’ he trailed off.

Correct me if I’m wrong but last time I checked the phrase ‘leaving together’ did not always mean ‘I’m leaving now to go get finger banged by my same sex travelling companion.’

I was just about to say something when my friend piped in, rather enthusiastically ‘but it would be awesome if we were both gay, because we’d be great together’.

My awkward silence said it all.

‘What? You don’t think we’d great together?

‘Let’s not get into that here’.

Cute boy put out his ciggie and looked to be heading back inside, ‘sorry guys, I didn’t mean to cause an argument’.

‘It’s fine really; she’s just had a little too much to drink – let’s just get in a cab and go. I’m tired.’

‘No, I don’t get it.’ I could see she was getting more upset ‘we’re great mates, your dog likes me, your dad even made chicken soup for me…’

A crowd had begun to draw ‘look, you’re making a scene, shut up.’

‘I’m not going to be silence on this. I’m a great girl’

‘Yes, you are. I’m not debating that, it’s just..don’t make me do this…’

‘Say it, go on, you know you want to’

‘You’re not my type. There I said it. Happy?’

The crowd drew breath, as my friend lit another cigarette.

‘What? You have a type now – I’ve seen the guys you’ve hooked up with lately – seriously you have a type? That’s just bullshit!’

Finally a cab pulled up and I pushed my reluctant friend into the backseat. We both fell silent.

‘I don’t get you Lou. Don’t you want something comfortable, something predictable?’

‘No’ I whispered under my breath. ‘I want more.’

We drove off into the cold wet night and I couldn’t help but be reminded of an incident much like this one….

It was 2002. A bunch of us had gathered at my house for a dinner party. A few bottles of wine in, a game of Yatzee and chocolate cake the conversation began to become more intimate. Each of us revealing some of our most personal desires. My friend Sophie stood up. It was her turn. ‘If Louise was a man I’d date her, we’re great together.’

I remembered that dry feeling on the back of my throat, the way I looked away as she waited for me to reciprocate, the humiliation in her eyes as I helped myself to another piece of cake wishing this moment away.

It was no surprise she’d fancy me as a guy. I knew I’d be her type. Olive skin, dark hair, dark eyes, arty and a good cook and yes, by my own admission we often finished each others sentences, but as she stood at the end of the table, begging me to answer with her silence I knew in my heart she could never be my type if she was a guy.

Sure, I could lie and we’d gone with our lives, occasionally joking to friends about how like a married couple we were, but I’d know in my heart it was wrong. I couldn’t live a lie and she couldn’t ask me.

I needn’t have said anything, we could’ve got on with the evening as planned but I felt compelled to make things right.

‘Hey, enough of this. Sophie I think we’ve run out of wine sweetie, why don’t you make yourself useful’. I could see the tears in her eyes as I tossed her the car keys.

Yes, I knew what I was doing. It was a rainy night, sure she’d been drinking…but I digress…

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