things were getting pretty dismal for a bit.
I knew I'd reached completely new lows when i found myself inadvertently cruising the manager of the local two dollar shop. I'd been standing around, with my newly shorn neck exposed as I flipped desultorily through the discount CD's.... and she came up to me, asked if I needed some help, and said they had more CD's under the counter.
This had never happened before, in a two dollar shop. she had a toned down version of the dykey patchy foiled up tortoiseshell hairdo, and she looked at me and I looked at her, and blushed, and selected a generic compilation of miles davis. Met her eyes as I made my purchase, scurried home to wank over torrid fantasies of fucking to bags of glitter and ribbon and feathers fluttering around us... A TWO DOLLAR SHOP ROMANCE!?? Unlimited dressups for scragg... - the stuff of tinsel and dreams.
The next day I went back, courage in my throat... lurked in the aisles again eyeing off bottles of discount soft drink... she faced me head on and asked what I was looking for. "Err.... bubble Wrap?" I stammered. 'We've got none here" was her curt reply. Damn. I scurried off. Sulked, sadly and stupidly wondering who I was trying to fool.
At the real home for xmas, I collapsed, felt myself on the verge of losing something of myself. No, I mean, really. It was the first time for ages that I had really big doubts about what the hell i'm doing with my life.
At night, stalking around at sunset, I wandered past the best christmas lights in town. The house, a magnificent Mcmansion single level bungalow, could have come straight out of the shire, or the US midwest. big house, big car, big roly poly family. Cosy, comfortable, secure. I recognised the matriarch, and blushed, scurrying around the corner. thirty years ago she'd been the object of my torment. I'd found her impossibly stupid and thick and dull and compulsively bit and scratched her, only moderating my torments after being given a demonstration stroke of the cane. I'm finding it hard to articulate what my 5 year old assessment of her intellectual prowess was given that neither of us could read, but she was like a slow old cat - and I was a hyperactive myopic maniac. (So little has changed - I still experience similar levels of visceral rage around really slow, stupid or stoned people that I have to walk away fast so I don't bite them on the face). So – she inside, ensconsed in consumer luxury, a loving hubby and kiddies, and the same job for 20 years.. and me, outside, half mad, heartbroken, alone, and childless… trying to reinvent a world that I often don’t really feel like being a part of.
I had really big doubts about EVERYTHING at that moment.
Like why Do I react, and rebel, and fight and squabble and grumble against everything? Why can’t I be complacent and content and happy? I don’t think I’m that much better off for having so much insight into everything? Or so many books? Or degrees? I went home and swallowed phenergan.
The next day I got up, and walked up to the local bottlo. “How ya goin?” they asked, “Can we help ya with anything?” “I’m Crap” I responded. “I’m tossing between a slab of UDL and a bottle of spirits… what do you reckon?”. They looked a bit surprised and remained silent. I got the disco themed bottle of Absolut and took it home, to wash down the Phenergan with some DVD’s.
Sometimes I wonder if the chinese calendars are correct after all. I hadn't spent time alone and single back in the cnutry for 12 years, and it was the first time in 12 years that I'd gone out alone drinking, facing faces familiar and strange, trying to recite the old stories of why i'd left.... make my life into something that could be recuperated into the verbiage of respectable rural australian values.....
And I passed, really well. Scored an interview on the local radio. Nice expert. And I managed to go out and not score myself any attentions from local lads or the Sappho of Bilo. I spent xmas eve on the verandah of one of my old friends, joking about the joys of living in a redneck inbred rugrat farm with her hubby, and sinking stout from a tallie around the Barbie, and trying to feel half human. And xmas was OK really and I came back to Sydney, and didn’t meet any more jailbait on the train thank god coz the seven hour monologue by the last escapee from silverwater had done my head in, and I was back here home safe at last… and I don’t often seek refuge in alchohol, but lately I have, coz things got really really bad for a while, and alcohol numbs the brain, shuts up my head, kills the cells that make me such a fractious neurotic miserable shit, and when I’m alone, all alone with this, with me, with my thoughts, and everyone around me looks calm and content, and slow and stupid, I think… “fuck, WHY should I try to be different?”
That’s when I have to get out.
The country nearly kills me sometimes… the endlessness of neatly mowed, fenced off contained smug LAND. With cows and trees and tractors and electric fences, and it’s all owned and proper, and it goes forever and there’s nothing at the end of it. You look out and see you future, wind up and circle back to where you started. Here is Nowhere. Here is hell.
Back in Sydney, where even the air feels like a skanky teenage armpit, I feel freer, like there’s a reason to fight for breathe among the fug of flowers, sweat, traffic and humidity. Catching buses to the edge of the land – to strange littorals between sea and water, on the edges of cliffs, watching waves hurl themselves against rocks, heaving and smashing themselves like my mad ambitions. I love it, I feel alive, delighted, so incredibly calm by comparison……
After the hell of last year, something miraculous happened, and it has given me just enough hope that maybe things aren’t as fucked as they seem. I’m not just talking about Hunt Coward being ousted – but about something else, that has made me feel that being a reactive neurotic fractious bastard doesn’t sentence me to a life of isolation and torment. That there are decent people around, and I don’t have to pretend and play and put up with shit. That I don’t have to play dead to survive, or put up with people who do. That I can speak and write and act, and some people will eventually listen and respond with something more than superficial syconphancy or terror. My rage feels less mute, my heart less smashed up.
Critical News Literacy and Young People
4 days ago