Archive | writing RSS feed for this section

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Forehead

21 Dec

I’m getting dumber as I age, because in my 33rd year on this planet, I decided that it was time to inject poison into my head.

Botox.

God knows why. It was largely curiosity, which appears to be the driving force behind my every impetuous decision. And you should know that the word ‘largely’ is used rather ‘loosely’ there.

Ten days later I fucking hate it. Hate it. And there’s nothing I can do about it, either. I’ve got to marinate in my stupidity and wait for my vanity to wear off, which will take approximately three months. This is just long enough to come to terms with the fact that I’m ageing, and also dream up a bunch of Botox jokes that’ll never get old.

Ha!

So, it’s an ordinary morning in an unnamed laser clinic in Sydney’s inner-west. I’m in a plastic chair, fingers clutching the leather satchel in my lap, and I’m grinning like a fuckwit before a woman with an I’m-still-funky-in-my-fifties orange dye-job and freakishly smooth skin. She repeatedly calls me ‘Gorgeous’ in an attempt of camaraderie that’s about as natural as her hair; and she is hovering over the top of me: an odd, waxen Skeksis from a nebulous era.

I trace a finger lightly across my forehead, emphasising that my presence in her salon is only spurred on by the appearance of “some fine lines starting across here”. I’m not, you know, vapid or anything.

Her hazel eyes zero in on my face as her throaty voice corrects me. “No, Gorgeous. Those are deep lines. Quite deep for thirty two, actually.”

Great. Apparently I’m ageing in dog years.

“And you’ve got a frown line beginning here,” she continues. “That’s a fine line.” Pause. “There’s one here, too. And your crow’s feet could do with a little…” She puts down the marker that she’s been using to Crayola my face with and picks up a brochure. “There’s a package available for treating two areas or more. It’s discounted at the moment,” she makes a show of flipping pages even though I’m fairly certain she knows the price by heart. “$459,” she glances up, her emotionless face incongruent with her tone. “It’s our Christmas special!”

Now, to put the cost of these injections into another context, $459 is roughly equivalent to the GDP of Liberia.

*Pause for effect.*

And, if a woman were to get this package four times a year (once every three months) her budget for facial paralysis would be the annual income of a Vietnamese fisherman.

Or, in other words, it’s a Christmas special fit for Tiny Tim himself.

Essentially, this package would make everything from the cheekbones up immobile. And, while this did appeal to my narcissism on some primitive level, I declined. At least until I learn how to express myself like a chimpanzee.

F3.large

The side effects are listed as she preps the syringe. “…drooping eyelids, bruising, headache, a heavy forehead-”

“Wait, wait,” I stop her. “A heavy forehead?”

“It’s not a pleasant feeling, but you do get used to it. You might have to raise your chin to read anything above eye line.”

I stare up at her. Without lifting my head, incidentally.

“I’ve got a date tonight, I’ll be alright for it, won’t I?”

“Of course. Just remain upright for the evening. If you lay down there can be complications.”

“Complications?”

“It can spread and paralyse other areas of your face.”

Best birth control ever. Sorry cute musician boy, I can’t shag you- unless you keep me perfectly vertical during the entire event- because nice girls don’t let their face get fucked on the first date.

Three days later I can’t move my forehead. And I’ve tried. When I do, one eyebrow twitches and the other flattens- I’ve nicknamed them ‘Mr Abbott’ and ‘Mr Shorten’, respectively. Yuk. Yuk. Yuk. What’s more- or possibly, what’s worse– is that she put far too much in. My eyebrows, once as delicately arched as the Bridge of Sighs, are now two broken roller shutters hanging over my face. I’ve devolved into Cro-Magnon woman. The skin under one brow bags attractively- sort of like a prolapsed uterus. I look like a Fraggle with a busted facial stitch.

Marlon_Fraggle

And one could argue that I am a complete muppet for doing this to myself. I mean: I can’t express how I feel about the results. I’m absolutely horrified, by the way, but you’ll have to take my word for it because I’m currently unable to convey that emotion.

And there’s got to be a feminist rhetoric hiding in that statement. Botox caps our emotional range. It lobotomises us, turning us compliant, docile. The patriarchal hierarchy is dimming our fire, man! The bastards. In Renaissance Italy, women used to drop belladonna into their eyes to dilate their pupils, which was the socially agreed upon sign of beauty. The side effects? Blurred vision and eventual blindness. So they were pretty as, but, you know, utterly fucking helpless. This sounds insane, right? Well, I posit that cosmetic injectables are the belladonna of the 21st Century. Don’t believe me? Botox is a compound of botulism, a toxin that was manufactured for chemical warfare in the Gulf War (among other places). Not only do we now inject this shit into our faces, but we pay people for the privilege. If the ridiculousness of that isn’t smacking you in the face like an autistic toddler, let me throw some farce comedy in to drive the point home: shortly after my botulism injections, I went and got myself an anthrax exfoliating peel and an ISIS labioplasty.

So my skin is now smoother, but in being frozen from the eyebrows up, I’ve lost something of myself. Botox has literally and figuratively flattened me out. My face- once earnest, friendly and reactive- is now a mask. I have permanent Resting Bitch Face. I’ve become Kristen Stewart. I didn’t realise how much I used facial expressions to communicate: to convey interest, surprise, to build rapport. Without my eyebrows, I find myself nodding a lot, like a bobble-head dog in a Chinese lady’s Corolla. In my haste to preserve my skin I’ve incapacitated a chunk of it, turning it into a metaphorical comic book that sits on the shelf in a plastic sleeve- the one that you never read and therefore never enjoy because you’re worried about a crease diminishing its value.

And I don’t know if that’s an equal trade-off.

Because I earned those wrinkles.

Sure, through smoking, but also experience. The furrow of worry above my left eye is courtesy of being trapped in Cuba with no money, no escape and no passport. The one above my right? Nursing violent lunatics for four years. That one there? A university degree. This vertical line above my nose? A crazy ex-husband. They’re the physical manifestations of a life lived. They’re my fault lines, each forming from the minuscule internal shift that has occurred from being thrust under a pressure that has tested me, nearly broken me, but ultimately fortified me. Would I trade them for a boring life and a smooth forehead?

6fea2600ee48b7315640ed8fd708779953d34e434c04cc23e9313c0f5205bcf0

And, if you’re hurtling towards the bathroom mirror every morning to marvel at the way your face has subtly shifted in the past ten years, it means that you’re still alive with your motherfucking marbles intact, which means that you’re incredibly fucking lucky. And if, like many of us, you’ve been challenged in your life; and if, like many of us, your body is now a roadmap of your emotional scars, you should stand tall because it means that you’ve not squinted in the headlights of adversity (or, if you have crow’s feet, maybe you have) but bore a brunt instead. So be fucking proud of it. Don’t erase it.

Besides, as a smoker, I’ll probably have a few more wrinkles than the average girl, but that’s the price I pay for sucking nicotine through a little tube every few hours. Getting Botox to ward off the effects of that is like going to church for Sunday confession after you’ve spent the week beating the shit out of your wife.

Back in the clinic, when I decline her $459 package, the Skeksis warns me about the importance of injecting the rest of my face as a preventative measure.

“I never started getting it until late and now my frown line just won’t go away.” She points at her glossy forehead.

I squint. Nothing. There’s nothing fucking there. Michael Jackson’s sexuality was more pronounced than that wrinkle.

“Preserve your beauty now, Gorgeous. You don’t want to wind up looking like me.”

I blink, considering the sentence that’s running through my head, choosing to remain politely silent instead.

No. I certainly don’t want to wind up looking like you.

Fleurgen the Stereo Muppet

18 Sep

Six months ago I bought an $800 car- a dusty red Charade manufactured back when Paul Keating was Prime Minister. I dubiously christened her “Cherry Bomb”.

She was bought from a fellow in Darlington. From there, Cherry travelled nine kilometres before having a hot flush and overheating on a busy road, ultimately forcing me to tow her like a menopausal beached whale to my mechanic. After some tinkering from him, my $800 bomb became my $1100 baby. We shared a few volatile months that were punctuated by agitated dashboard slaps, emergency radiator refills, and cries of “Just move you old whore!” Shortly after returning from an impulsive and ill-advised road trip to Melbourne, Cherry Bomb died, and I abandoned her on the side of the road like a Bangladeshi baby girl.

Then I bought another car. A shiny blue Citroen: round as a bubble, pretty as a daffodil, and reliable as a mule. I called my darlin’: Clementine.

Clementine deserved a new stereo. Speakers, too. Other stuff. I’m not sure what- I’m not fluent in tech…but something heroic that could handle Meshuggah being played at a volume best described as “unwise”.

I turned to Google. Found Fleurgen. Fleurgen has a 100% 5-star Google review rating. RodBallz2164 claimed that Fleurgen is a “wizard” that does “seriouse jobs n wiked shit”. DriftMaker called him the patron saint of car stereos before adding: “Don’t let the size of the shop fool you! lols! Hes an awesome dude too.”

Sounded good. I emailed Fleurgen. He instructed me to visit him Friday.

On Thursday night I had a few quiet beers with my best friend, The Reader. Because we’re horrible influences on each other, our three craft beers quickly devolved into being the last two inebriated idiots badgering staff at The Absinthe Salon, followed soon after by a dodgy kebab that may, or may not, have contained some minced dachshund.

So on Friday morning we’re both in a fragile state. Through a green groan, I tell The Reader about Fleurgen.

“Who?”

“The dude who’s installing my car stereo. He’s Swedish. I’m sure his workspace is filled with misbehaving chickens and that he says, ‘fleurdy der, der fleurdy der…bork bork bork!’ as he works.”

Just to, you know, ram that reference home for you all. Bork.

Just to, you know, ram that reference home for you all.
Bork.

“We’ll go,” I continue, “Meet him super quickly, then have wanky inner-west coffee somewhere.”

“And bacon.”

I grin. “Pork pork pork!”

*

The first thing you notice about Fleurgen are his teeth, because they aren’t really his teeth at all. They’re Gollum’s. Despite this, Fleurg smiles warmly, talks quickly, and repetitively answers his mobile phone during the consultation.

My knowledge of car stereo systems is just behind that of Toad from Wind in the Willows, and, in my hungover state, I’m about as green as my foppish, amphibian counterpart. I try to explain my audio needs to Fleurg, “I listen to music loud. And I listen to a lot of metal,” I swallow, willing myself not to fleurg recycled absinthe all over Fleurg’s floor. “I don’t want anything too extreme, no doofwoofer thingies,” I croak, “Just something that can frighten the soccer mums in traffic.”

Instead of answering, Fleurg leads us to his ute and folds himself in, leaving a pale, hairy leg protruding horizontally from the door. The Reader and I eye each other. Fleurg emerges and encourages me to get in. I do. He flips a switch and Swedish gangsta rap straight outta Stockholm assaults my ears.

“Sure,” I say, once he’s mercifully turned it off. “Sounds good.”

He grins wolfishly. “Well, that’s expensive.”

“Too good,” I quickly clarify. “I’m not worthy of such a sound.”

Fleurg then enquires about my budget. I evade the question, knowing that an answer will betray both my lack of knowledge and my deep pockets. He studies my car, muttering words like “amplifier”, “head unit” and “tweeders”, which sound like the unfortunately named sidekicks of a meth dealer to me. Fleurg suggests that I “soundproof” my ride, something that involves ripping my doors apart and stuffing them with what appears to be Ikea bubble wrap.

“It’s to create a speaker box,” he explains. “I can skip this but it really won’t sound any different after an upgrade and you’ll be wasting money.”

It’s all got the vague aroma of bullshit, but absinthe numbs my olfactory receptors and I was out of my depth the minute his jargon morphed from dB’s to THD’s, so I agree and ask for the quote. $1300. A quarter of the price I paid for the fucking car. It’s more than what I’d expected, but Fleurg is the best. And the best costs money. And it’s what Opeth and Katatonia would want to be played through, so…

“That’s fine.”

As he’s taking a small deposit, Fleurg asks where I work.

“I’m a nurse.”

“Oh, so you know about signalling molecules?”

My stare is blank. “I’m a mental health nurse. Not, you know, a real one.”

“Oh, mental health,” he clasps his hands together. “No. Even more relevant. Yes. Wait, please.”

He leaves, returning a minute later with a small photo album.

And then it got weird.

Because for the next ten, cotton-brained, dry-mouthed, we-are-both-way-too-old-for-this-shit, and-maybe-that-shot-of-mescal-was-a-bad-idea minutes, Fleurg shows us pictures of mouth cancer, ulcerated flesh, STD-ravaged genitalia, and limbs smeared with autoimmune skin disease, all juxtaposed with images of slightly less grotesque versions of the aforementioned. The Reader retches, swallows, and absently touches the cigarette packet in his pocket. Fleurg doesn’t notice. He’s enthusiastically flicking through the album like it’s a twisted Playboy– illness porn. He claims that the sole credit for healing goes to ASEA.

Make that ‘science porn’.

“What’s ASEA?”

According to Fleurg, ASEA is a scientifically sound revolution of molecules and atoms that are created in scientifically advanced ways and used in the fantastically scientific science of curing disease scientifically.

ASEA is the fountain of youth. The next big thing. It can fix anything. Anything. Did he mention that? Cerebral Palsy. Tuberculosis. Acne-scarred skin.

“Acne-scarred skin?” The Reader asks dubiously.

Fleurg nods. Anything. In fact, Fleurg’s been drinking ASEA for years.

“ASEA cures anything. Anything!”*
*except poorly fluoridated teeth

The Reader raises an eyebrow, “Drinking it?”

Yes. ASEA is water. Salt water, actually. Filled with miracle molecules.

I gaze at Fleurg, wanting to ask if he has any magic beans to sell us, as well. Before I can, he gets to the point: ASEA is, to be blunt, a pyramid scheme.

That I can buy into.

For the low, low cost of $259 per month.

Then, I can then sell ASEA to my patients at work, making a tidy profit in the process.

Simply by encouraging the mentally ill to exchange their antipsychotics for magic saline.

I’m not sure how that fits into that pesky ‘duty of care’ thing we nurses have.

Fleurg isn’t either. “Hmm, maybe you just refer your patients to me- keep things simple for you.”

I agree to it. I’ll agree to anything just to get the fuck out of there. “Yep, I’ll take a look at it…No, it sounds very interesting…Yes…No, of course I will. Just, ah, email it to me, and I’ll, um, look.”

By offering to buy the Kool-aid that he drinks as opposed to the stereos that he is meant to be fucking selling, I have pleased Fleurg immensely. “Goodbye, Happy CC!” he cries. “I send you information tonight!”

The Reader and I barely make it into the car before we begin cackling like jackals.

“What a fucking lunatic!” he exclaims as I speed out of there. “I just knew he’d be nuts. Fucking Scandinavians.”

*

Two hours later, over a cup of the inner west’s finest coffee: An overpriced, single origin blend infused with Guatemalan hayfever and Colombian orphan tears, we dissect ASEA.

I look up from my phone. “It is salt water. Literally. The bottle lists the ingredients as ‘salt’ and ‘water’. And, on a side note, the company director looks like a member of NAMBLA.”

The Reader leans in to look, smoking and smirking. “I think we should sell everything we own and buy into this. We’ll be rich as Nazis!”

I switch to Google stalking Fleurg. “According to his LinkdIn profile, Fleurg is a health and wellbeing enthusiast who believes that the apocalypse is coming.”

“Fruit loop. I might start selling my pubes as organic dental floss.”

“If they’re paleo you might be able to get Pete Evans to spruik them.”

“Think he’s on the wank-water bandwagon, too?”

My coffee cup clatters to the table in mock indignation. “It’s ‘ionised molecular saline’. Not wank-water. It cures cancer. Get it right.”

*

Later that evening, I receive a voicemail from an ASEA associate, a woman named Gaia who tries to build a rapport- or possibly credibility- by opening with, “I’m a nurse, too”. She then…speaks with…odd…pauses during part…s…of the conversation, almost…as if she was reading it…from…a script that had a large…cancerous…tumor on it.

Apparently ASEA have found a way to clone William Shatner into a female’s body, as well.

Fifteen minutes later Gaia calls again.

Then once more after four days.

Next, Fleurg emails me: ‘Hello Happy CC, Do you have steering wheel control for the radio in your car? Do you still want to be able to use this?’

‘Yes. And definitely,’ I type, finishing the sentence tersely in my head: I’m not sure what else I’m about to pay you over a thousand fucking dollars for.

His reply comes the next day. He’s ordered the part. But he can’t guarantee that it will work. Apparently, Happy CC’s car is “a borderline”.

Oh, no, I think. Clementine is a PD. I guess that explains the scratch marks around the doors. Maybe some ASEA in the fuel tank will cure her.

Untitled

But that wasn’t the end of the email:

With regards to the Redox Signalling molecules i spoke to yo about.

Here are a couple of links to short info videos:

www.amazingmolecules.com

Watch ” The Redox Breakthrough” (9 min)

” ASEA The Genesis” (21 min)

I like ” Doctors and Science” (5 min)

If you have further interest i suggest that you attend ASEA Discovery Event in Ryde this Saturday morning starting at 10, for about two hour.

This will be part of mainstream health care not to long from now.

You will hear real testimonials face to face.

Come along and have some fun a great bunch of people!

It was an event such as this that it convinced me it is something i need to be part of. This is an exceptional opportunity not only to seriously help people …but also to get paid for it!

Ver-fucking-batim. I think Fleurg’s positive Google reviews were left by fellow bricks on the ASEA pyramid.

*

“Don’t fucking go to that!” The Reader shrieks when I tell him. “It’s probably in a fucking dungeon where they make you drink their atomised rape-water and molest you to Swedish gangsta rap!”

“Think they want to ‘pork pork pork’ me?”

“Or maybe ASEA is just the bottled tears of their investors. It’s all just too fucking strange. Cultish. And how do people fall for this shit!?”

*

So, in conclusion, it wasn’t the redox that signalled to me on a molecular level that I was making a mistake in getting Fleurg to install the stereo in my car. It was an intuitive twang, something as thin and fine as gold filigree that plinks in my gut every now and then. I used to ignore them, often finding myself in horrific situations- like, you know, the time I was fucking robbed in fucking Panama– but I try to listen now.

Or, more succinctly: I tell Fleurg to fuck off.

I find a well-known car stereo franchise that afternoon. I speak to an earnest young man who quotes me $500 less than Fleurg. So far so good.

“And can I still use the steering wheel controls already in place?”

“That’s going to cost a little bit more.”

I hold my breath.

Keys click on the computer. “That part costs $15.”

My breath exhales in a rush. “And it’ll work?”

He eyes me strangely. “Well, yeah.”

I glance at his pasty, unfortunately pock-marked skin. Acne-scarring. Obviously not an ASEA enthusiast.

I grin. “How much deposit do you need?”

6ebb3c76fce9319fb54e82c7bc95e46e

A Post About a Threesome…

13 Jul

Ha! I’ve busted you, you perverted little sausage. This isn’t a story about a threesome at all. I’ve told a lie in a blatant ploy for attention that stops just shy of ‘tawdry’ by my omission of the word “lesbian”. My salacious title is just pandering to the voyeur in all of us. It’s my ‘now that I have your attention’ moment. There is no fornicating to speak of in this post. Just pornographic self-publication.

I am endeavoring, like The Little CC That Could, to get my book published via Kindle Scout. It’s called Funereal. It’s a black comedy. About a fucked up family squabbling over a will. There’s a twist at the end. And the heroine gets committed to a loony bin. That’s not the twist, though. That’s like, a plot point right near the beginning. It’s dark in places. I tried to write a sex scene. And failed. A monkey smokes a Parliament. And the word “fuck” appears 221 times, making the book 0.39% ‘fuck’.

The tagline is: And you thought your family was bad.

And it’s good. I promise you. Don’t believe me? Here are some recent reviews that I’ve gotten:

“I’m so proud of you honey. No, I didn’t read it, but you wrote a novel! Look at you! You came out of my vagina and thirty years later you wrote a whole book! Kiss, kiss. Dinner is at 6pm Tuesday.”

-Mum

“It’s not bad. That doesn’t mean that it’s good but…well…it’s done now. That’s something, right?”

-Uncle Theodore

“CC, I paid you to edit my sociology essay, and you send me this? Where is my essay? If you don’t replace this nonsense with ‘Merits and Demerits of Media for a Society’, I’m taking it further. You can’t hold my essay ransom until I write your book a good review. It’s unethical. And answer your goddamn phone. Return my damn calls. Goodbye.”

-Girl I met in the Manning Bar at Sydney Uni

“One of the greatest, most provocative and enlightening books of our generation. ‘Fight Club’ is an absolute must read.”

–A positive review for a totally different book.

“It’s hilarious. Well written. Compelling. Full of well drawn characters that seem to jump off the page. The next time you hear the name ‘Casey Millikin’, it will be alongside names like Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare.”

-Homeless man at Central Station who is, on a completely unrelated note, now $50 richer.

“You surprised me, its actually not that bad. The bisexual musician character, that’s based on me, isn’t it? Your saying you want to get back together, aren’t you? …No? Oh. …Well, your writings shit. Prick tease.”

–A grammatically inept email from an ex-boyfriend.

“Okay, just so we’re clear- if I write a good review for your book, you blow me. Right?”

-Something that never actually happened.

“CC, I’m going to say this one more time: Stop contacting me, stop stalking my Facebook page, and leave my secretary alone. The poor woman is two steps from a nervous breakdown. Threatening her cat was completely inappropriate of you. Yes, I gave you an ‘F’ but it was ten years ago and I stand by it: your poem was dreadful. You need to move on with your life. And stop sending my mother your smutty novel. I have no idea how you got her address but she’s had a stroke. She needs rest. The nursing staff have your picture and have been instructed to refuse you entry.”

-As Associate Professor Barnes can now attest: you never give CC an ‘F’.

“Alright, alright. It’s good, okay? There. Please stop crying. You’re so ugly when you cry.”

-Beneficial friend #23

I should probably tell you how Kindle Scout works. It’s basically crowd funding. I put my book up, you read the beginning of it, you peruse some Q & A I’ve done, you read a short- and not entirely truthful- bio of me, and then you log in with your Amazon account and nominate me in your top 3. If I’m popular enough to get selected for an eBook deal, you get a copy of it for free. Either way, you get a personalised thank-you note from me just by voting. It’s Sally Field’s acceptance speech from the 1984 Academy Awards- you know the one. She says, “You like me. You really like me.” in it.

And, just to add a sweet little kicker, if you vote for me, I’ll totally get Megan Fox to date you. Don’t believe me? I met her earlier in the year. She was an inpatient at a ward I used to work in. Lovely girl- a little volatile when she’s coming down from crack- but nice nonetheless. She has what’s known as a ‘grandiose delusion’. Sure, she’s let herself go a little bit since Transformers, but if she’s still heavily into the gear I can probably call in a favour from her. Guys, you’ll love her. Heroin has taken almost all of her teeth. They call her ‘Gummy Joe’ now. And she might even be a bit manic- and we all know what that means.

I’m kidding.

But in all seriousness- the book is good. Everyone who I’ve shown it to has read it in one or two sittings. They’ve laughed out loud. They’ve disliked the anti-heroine but found themselves rooting for her anyway. When I got it professionally edited, the feedback I received was, “It’s great! I stayed intrigued and interested to see what was going to happen next all the way through…The chapter titles work well; I loved the humour, enjoyed the profanity and the gutsy-but-fucked-up heroine.”

So, there.

And you know what? Fuck it, I believe in it. think it’s good and sometimes that’s all you need- delusions of adequacy.

Here’s the link. Vote. Not just for me, but for your country. Vote to stop the tyranny of ISIS in it’s tracks. Vote for the second helping that Jenny Craig won’t let you eat. Vote for the cake you dug out of the bin and ate with your hands after the last attempt at fitting into your skinny jeans failed. Vote for your dog. For the one-legged pigeon that confronts you on the way to work each morning. Vote for the red wine that you drink out of a chipped coffee cup when you can’t be bothered to do the washing up. Vote for Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. Vote for the hug you get from your best friend when the man/woman/dishcloth breaks your heart. Again. Do it for God, because s/he would totally read Funereal. If you believe in that sort of thing, look at it this way: God put this in my brain for you to read, so you have to vote or God will get cranky. And we don’t want an angry God- Nepal can’t handle another earthquake. You don’t want that in your conscience, do you? Hmm? Well, vote. Now.

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/42SZ05LUODJV

FUNEREAL – ON KINDLE SCOUT

The Great UFC

27 Jun

I’ve written a novel. Yay. I’m tirelessly editing and reworking it to submit to one of the many publishing houses accepting unsolicited submissions. Before I did, I showed it to a select group of people, telling them three things:

1. If it sucks, you have to tell me.

2. This is fiction. Which means no, that character isn’t based on you.

3. Constructive feedback is welcome.

Five people have all said the same thing. It’s really good. I read it (53,000 words) in one sitting. Your beginning needs work (duly noted and fixed) but your main character, Jemma, is too unlikeable.

I showed it to my dad, who put the pages on the table with a frown. “CC, is Jemma a P.D?” (a P.D is someone suffering from a Personality Disorder)

“No.”

“Is she a sociopath?”

“Uh, no.”

“Okay, because,” he puts his hands on the manuscript, “she’s fucking nuts.”

One of my best mates said to me, “I don’t like Jemma. At all. But I’m strangely rooting for her.”

Basically, my main character is a pain-in-the-arse. She’s in her early 20’s. She’s promiscuous. She chain smokes. She’s an alcoholic. She’s confrontational, antagonistic, dysfunctional, sarcastic, misanthropic, arrogant, selfish, and she has zero empathy for anybody.

Hardly redeemable.

Still, I was slightly affronted. I like Jemma. I have a mother’s love for her. My brain did, after all, give birth to her. I have been trying to write this novel for five years, always giving up and saying with a tear, ‘Oh, I can’t do it! I’ll never be able to write a novel!’, so Jemma has been living in my mind for some time. Yes, she is dreadful at times, but she redeems herself a little bit in the end. And, the genre is transgressive fiction which is “literature that focuses on characters who feel confined by the norms and expectations of society and who break free of those confines in unusual or illicit ways. Because they are rebelling against the basic norms of society, protagonists of transgressive fiction may seem mentally ill, anti-social, or nihilistic.”

So there, she has to be nuts.

Besides, Jemma has what I believe to be positive traits- she is loyal to the two people in the world that she loves, she’s ballsy, strong-willed, witty, fiery, smart, she walks her own path despite what people may think of her, and she loves animals.

Plus, I don’t think you have to ‘like’ a character. Half of the books I read have unlikeable lead characters. I don’t want to have a beer with them, I want to be entertained by them. There are plenty of examples. Two from the top of my head- Patrick Bateman in American Psycho (I refer to his portrayal in the book, not the movie where Christian Bale managed to infuse him with charm) and Bruce Robertson in Irvine Welsh’s Filth (a character so horrible that I had trouble reading the book.)

But. These. Are. Both. Male. Characters.

This spurred me into researching anti-heroines to make sure that I wasn’t completely fucking up in my crafting of a character and I came across something called the Unlikeable Female Character (UFC). Unfortunately, the remainder of this post will verge dangerously close to a feminist rant so I apologise in advance. Basically, to sum up a lot of reading, there are plenty of male characters who are unlikeable but these generate a different response to a similar female character. In the blog, I Make Up Worldsguest blogger Kameron Hurley uses Sideways and Young Adult to illustrate the point:

“One follows a drunken, frumpy loser who steals money from his mother to enable his soon-to-be-married best friend to cheat on his soon-to-be-spouse; the other follows a drunk, frumpy loser who drives to small-town Minnesota to try and hook up with her happily married ex. Both films created stark, harrowing portraits of their protagonists’ pathology and inability to connect to others. Both protagonists are even writers! The biggest difference in the reception of these films, I’d argue, is that one featured a male protagonist – and thus was critically celebrated. The other told the story of a deeply flawed woman, and become instantly “controversial” because of its “thoroughly unlikable” heroine.”

Think about it, in every romantic comedy there is a scene where a man runs towards his love interest, declaring his undying for her. This is terribly romantic and usually incites a delicate ovarian flutter. That part in The Notebook where Noah grabs Ally and kisses her in the rain- My. God. Dry my seat and still my heart. But in this book, Ally is engaged to another man. If a female grabbed an engaged man and threw herself at him, what would you think? Slut? Tramp? If a lady chased down a train and screamed her undying love to the man on it, would she look anything but mentally ill or clingy? It’s a huge double standard.

I’d like to argue that the portrayal of female characters in film and literature is still quite narrow. We have come a long way from having gals portrayed as either a mother or a whore with a heart of gold, but there is a long way to go and I would argue that UFC’s will help to bridge this gap. There are hundreds of female characters out there who are beautiful, skinny, intelligent, nurturing, emotionally strong, and seemingly good at everything they do- i.e. they are perfect- but they have one delightful “flaw” (Oh, she overcooked the pasta! She’s not very domestic. How charming. Now she’s real.) or a delightful “quirk” (Oh, she bakes cupcakes while wearing army boots! And she has a ferret! Oh, how whimsical and charming.) These characters all have their place, but I don’t necessarily want to read, or write, about them because in reality they don’t exist. We are all flawed, fucked up human beings. I’ll put my hand up to admit it. And, fundamentally, we never change, we just grow up and become better at managing our fucked up-ness. I am still the same screw-up that I was at 21, but at 31 I have developed the tools to manage my neuroses. My character, Jemma, is in her early 20’s. Of course she isn’t together. Of course she is flawed. Who wasn’t at that age?

Plus, I would argue that that characters like Bella Swan and Anastasia Steele are unlikeable. No, scratch that. I would argue that they are hideous. They are nothing but whiny, one dimensional bags of co-dependant crap. Thing is, they aren’t meant to be unlikeable. But they are. Characters like Summer Finn in 500 Days of Summer, Mavis Gary in Young Adult or Elizabeth Halsey in Bad Teacher are UFC’s, but they are interesting. Compelling. Real. And I like them a hell of a lot more- flaws and all- than I do a whiny, selfish teenager who prick teases a werewolf while giving up everything for a sparkly vampire.

In any event, hearing that Jemma was unlikeable has thrown me into a bit of a tail-spin regarding submitting my novel. Most publishing houses only want the first 50 pages- where my main character is at her absolute worst. So, to offset this, I wrote something that I think is quite clever. In submitting my novel to Vintage Cape, I included this note from Jemma. Hopefully, it falls on the side of ‘creative and clever’ rather than ‘schizophrenic and egomaniacal’. I’m gambling that most people who submit their novel include a very serious synopsis of their work and accomplishments. I’m giving them the accomplishments, but with this:

“You probably won’t like me very much. I thought I’d open with that. I wanted to say that I don’t care if you like me because I probably wouldn’t like you, but Casey made me edit that. “We are not alienating the people who we want to publish our book,” she said. Look, I’m not perfect. I’m human. I’m flawed. As a result, I am an Unlikeable Female Character. To be honest, I wanted to portray myself in a kinder light. I mean, even someone who looked like the back end of a bus would want to be played by Angelina Jolie in their life story, but Casey insisted we tell the truth. She said that the events wouldn’t be believable if we lied. She’s right. If I’d acted like a human being in the beginning, the fact that I was sent to a psych ward shortly after my gran’s funeral wouldn’t make sense.

Anyway, this is a story about greed and family secrets and dysfunction and one lone anarchist (me) standing up against a sea of morons (my family). Casey calls it postmodern/ trangressive fiction, whatever that is. You probably want a brief summary? Well, after my grandmother died, I was made executor of her will. Her estate was huge. Nobody expected that. Her ex-husband, my grandfather, is evil. And greedy. He wanted the money. With my unwitting help, he managed to paint me as a mentally unstable alcoholic and I was committed. Here, he tried to wrench control of the estate. I was nearly raped in hospital and, being a clever little sociopath, I managed to use this event to con my way into a drug and alcohol rehab. I thought that entering rehab would prove that I was serious about my role as executor. In rehab I met a boy, a gorgeous, punk-rock Buddy Holly, and he trod on my heart. But, I should probably thank him because this was the catalyst for me to grow up a bit.

At the end of rehab, I learnt some pretty horrible family secrets which allowed me to pull the thread on a blanket that had covered my family for years. My grandmother

[***EDITED DUE TO SPOILERS****]

Finally, I was more than just a wayward, drunken, black sheep. I was a wayward, drunken black sheep who had managed to do some good, after being vile for so long. I was Black Sheep version 2.0. My family were happy. I was happy. Sort of. I was as happy as I will ever get.  And my grandfather

[****EDITED DUE TO SPOILERS****]

 

So, that’s my story. Casey makes it sound awesome- funny and tragic all at once. She’s quite a talented writer.

(I sent this to her to forward over to you and I’m fairly certain that her gigantic ego will stop her editing that part out.)

Which is probably the sort of comment that makes me unlikeable.

Casey does have a huge ego, though. Don’t reject her. She will cry. Seriously. And she looks ugly when she cries. Like Clifford the Big Red Snotrag. It’s horrible. And if she cries, I’ll have to deal with it and I don’t want to deal with it and, as a result, I will get pissed off and then you will have to deal with me. So really, it’s easier for everyone if you just read the book.”

Chattering Cat on Hiatus

29 Apr

I’ve abandoned the blog of late, pouring all of my energy into writing a mediocre novella that is finally completed- albeit messy and in need of an edit.

For weeks I have been spending my time at The Harold Park Hotel in Glebe, schooner of Bilpin cider before me, cigarette smoldering untouched in an ashtray as I bash away at my iPad, furiously trying to get these god-forsaken bunch of assholes out of my head and onto the page.

I have been bailed up by drunken scotsmen who see me writing and decide to tell me all about their coffee-table-book-on-Spanish-scarecrows idea- despite my ‘fuck off’ body language- and inebriated young Sydney University rowers who beg me to let them add a sentence- also strangely immune to a good ‘fuck off’. I’ve written whilst fielding odd requests from the mentally ill at work and cancelled lunch dates with friends when inspiration struck like lightning.

I am a woman possessed.

Last weekend I wrote the final sentence, managing to tie all the messy ends of the story together into one precarious knot. It felt good, it felt better than good. 42,000 words later the assholes are out of my head and onto the page where they lay- a bit fantastic, kind of funny and suitably fucked up.

Anyway, my plan is to edit it and then send it away to the scores of publishing houses that are now seeking open submissions. Maybe one day I can be in the $2 bin at Angus & Robertson, being read by nobody in print as well as online. A cat can dream.

In any event, I have a strange affinity for Funereal. I believe in it. I think it’s kind-of not-too-bad in an average way. Hopefully others agree.

I’ve decided to put two chapters up. If anybody wants to email me and tell me what my brain is steadfastly refusing to acknowledge: that I should just abandon this pipe dream of being published and stick to what I’m good at- TMI descriptions of a lackluster sex life on a tiny blog- then I’m all ears.

The basic premise of the story is: female narrator caught in the middle of a dysfunctional family squabbling over a rich great aunts will. She is made executor of said will. Shit happens. She bounces from a psych ward to drug and alcohol rehab on a tepid voyage of self discovery. She slays a dragon at the end. Not literally. You idiot.

I know. Me and Hemingway.

Amazing Grace walks into a bar…

I woke up, once again, with a level of anxiety and dread in the pit of my stomach that could be classified as emotional Armageddon. Today it was understandable, we were burying Mae in four hours, and a steady jackhammer thumping coming from my mother’s bedroom had kept me awake into the early morning- despite the heroic amount of red wine I had consumed.

As the jackhammering gave way to a muffled buzzing, I reasoned that it was amazing that I had managed to propel myself into adulthood with some semblance of normality given the catastrophic clan of jackals who had dragged me up. I should, I thought as I attempted to plug my ears up with a pillow, be furiously masturbating in a carpark, and flinging faeces at passersby.

The funeral itself passed in a blur of religious nonsense and farcical behaviour. Sharon fell asleep. Elizabeth farted. Grace picked apart the flower arrangements, when Audrey stopped her, she threw a tantrum. Dick rubbed his crotch. My mother hit me with a bible. You know, just the usual Micallef family insanity.

“Jesus died once,” Father O’Doherty lectured from the pulpit. “And he rose again…but I don’t think this woman will be rising…because she is not Jesus. But she is with him now. In God’s Kingdom, maybe they are playing checkers together, for all eternity. Bob told me how Mae used to love checkers.”

Checkers in heaven? I elbowed Dale who made a hissing noise out of the corner of his mouth.

“Yes,” the priest continued, shaking his head so the giblet of flesh below his chin wobbled. “This woman is dead and we will mourn her. But God will wipe away our tears, and once we have served our time on this earth we will hopefully see Mae again. Unless we go to hell.” He paused. The room was silent. “Or unless she went to hell.” Another pause. More silence. “Bob did tell me that Mae had turned her back on the church.”

Someone shifted uncomfortably in the row behind me.

“But, our God is loving and omnipotent, unlike other God’s, well so-called Gods. There is only one God…our God.”

Good God. I wondered if he was drunk.

“Audrey will now get up and sing.”

“What?” I said quietly to Dale. “There’s a musical number?”

I turned to see Audrey scurry to the front. She stood before the church, fixing her outfit- pulling down and pushing up where necessary- before fishing a cordless microphone out of the pulpit. She stood with her chest pushed out and declared breathlessly, “I’m Audrey Micallef and this is Amazing Grace!” She waited for an applause that never came and nodded to Father O’Doherty, who pushed a button on a portable CD player, which, after a squeak and a few seconds of hissing, began to play the opening strains. Audrey missed her first cue and awkwardly waited for the next break, looking like a six year old waiting for the right time to enter a skipping rope.

When she finally began singing she sounded awful. Just awful. Like an old tricycle that needed to be oiled. Behind her, Father O’Doherty winced and looked away.

That’s a handy yardstick to measure your level of talent by- if your singing is so bad that even the intoxicated can’t handle it, perhaps it’s time to give up your dreams of stardom.

At ‘how sweet the sound’, I began to giggle. I couldn’t help it. All of my grief was bubbling up inside me and I began to laugh like a maniac. Tears were rolling down my face- possibly the first real tears I’d shed since Mae had passed. Audrey looked uncomfortable and absentmindedly began to rub her right breast. I tried to stop, but Muttley-esque sniggers continued to escape me. Dale was kicking my foot and my mother was repeatedly slapping me in the back of the head. I put my head between my knees and tried to breathe.

“I-I-I-I-I once was lo-o-ost,” Audrey yodelled.

I sat up again and let out another loud laugh. I knew I was being inappropriate but I couldn’t help it. I was possessed. In church. My mother was beating me around the head with a bible. Bob was smirking in satisfaction. The others had stopped focussing on the warbling redhead and were now openly gaping at me.

“Shut the fuck up,” Dale hissed.

My mother continued bible bashing me. Audrey finally stopped singing. Grace had even stopped her wailing at this point. I felt I should do something.

So I stood and clapped.

Nobody joined me. Silence filled the space around my applause. Next to me, Dale sat with his face buried in his hands. Eventually my claps petered out, the way they do when they echo solitarily around a crowded room. I cleared my throat and sat down.

Before me, Audrey’s green eyes filled with tears. One long river of mascara dropped down her cheek. She fled the stage, running down the aisle. The church was silent but for the clack, clack, clacking of her heels.

The priest walked down the aisle shaking his head. As he passed me, I heard him murmur “What the fuck is wrong with these people?”

Penny hit me over the head with the bible again.

 

Aside from Penny nearly toppling in the grave at the burial, the rest of the funeral was uneventful.

I did save her- I’m not a completely dreadful daughter. I saw her wobbling on her high heels as she threw a rose onto the coffin so I grabbed her arm and pulled her back.

I never got a thank you, of course.

Apparently preventing your mother from receiving a humiliating concussion does not negate laughing at a bad singer. Or getting drunk. Or yelling. A lot. Oh, well.

 

The wake was held at Bob’s local pub, for no reason other than a small discount on food. We were led outside by a bored bartender whose bleached hair was tied back severely in a tight bun. The beer garden was irregularly covered in rocky pavers with cigarette butts mashed into the gaps between them. Dead pot plants, filled with more cigarette butts, were haphazardly scattered. Four weatherworn picnic tables stood in the centre, each with a dinner plate of limp and soggy sandwiches. The chairs had already been filled by ageing backsides, and I stood in the corner with a pint of beer, watching the mourners pick at the sandwiches like hyenas.

 

Winnie the Pooh walks into a bar…

Two hours and four pints later, I was struggling to follow the ramblings of Robert, who was lecturing me about something. The silent film era, I think. I wasn’t paying attention- he had lost me after telling me that the moon landing was actually filmed in the Nevada desert by Stanley Kubrick. To be honest, the only reason I was still talking to him was because he was buying me drinks. I was all ears while there was beer in my glass, smoking casually and nodding in all the right places. As soon the glass emptied, I’d blatantly lose interest. My eyes would glaze over and I’d start gazing around the courtyard until Robert, anxious at losing his audience, would ask if I’d like a refill. I’d pretend to consider it, nod, and then say, “Aw, why the hell not? I’m not driving after all. Cheers.”

This exchange had occurred three times so far, and he hadn’t caught on yet. He’d return, hand me the beer, frown, and say, “I’ve lost my point.”

I’d pick a random subject, gleaned from something he had lectured on at some point in the conversation. Then he’d say, “That’s right” and start up again.

I wasn’t listening to what he was saying. I didn’t give a shit. I was just enjoying playing with him and getting free beer at the same time.

When he left to get our next round I noticed Richard and Audrey in the corner. Audrey was the pantomime of sad, Richard, the caricature of caring. Suddenly, Audrey collapsed into his arms, sobbing. Richard held her and stroked her lower back. She pulled away. He said something, his hand on her arm, she nodded and they turned to leave. I did a quick survey of the courtyard and discovered Penny was nowhere in sight.

“I’ve lost my point.”

I grabbed the beer from Robert and told him that something had come up.

It didn’t take long to find Richard and Audrey. Two drunken morons are notoriously unimaginative when it comes to picking stupid spots to shag. I found them underneath a pool table. I nearly lost my beer when I saw them fornicating, Richard had the hairiest ass I’d ever seen, it was like a wombat who was trying to dive into a burrow but kept getting stuck.

A bit like Winnie the Pooh.

I left to find Dale.

Dale had taken my place with Robert, and unlike me, was interested. Robert was talking about the differences between fuel injection and carburettors in regards to shoving a potato up the exhaust pipe. Whatever. Dale raised his eyebrows at me, and I waited for Robert to finish, (“So, that’s why in Holden models after 1987, you should use several chat potatoes rather than one large apple.”) I told him again that something had come up and dragged Dale away.

I didn’t notice Penny following us.

Honestly, I didn’t.

We reached the pool table. Richard’s wombat was still jumping enthusiastically while he licked Audrey’s face like a happy Labrador. I wondered if he was going to cock his leg and wee on her afterwards.

I was so proud of my discovery that I just stood and grinned, certain that Dale would be as delighted as I was. I imagined this would be a private joke that we’d share for years. Dinner table conversations would occur in the future where a single word- ‘Wombat!’- was uttered with thigh slapping glee. Instead, Dale took in the display before him, glanced back at me, and turned away.

“What?” I whispered, grabbing his arm.

“Are you serious? This is what you wanted to show me?” he looked at me sadly and shook his head.

“Come on, this is comic gold.”

“No. It’s not. It’s just two lost people trying to find something in each other that they’ll never be able to find within themselves, one of whom happens to be the man your mother loves. If you take pleasure in that, then you’re a monster.”

“I’m not a monster,” I protested. “True, this is two lost people fucking under a pool table but that’s fucking funny.”

Penny turned the corner.

Her face fell.

Khe-Sahn finished on the jukebox. The only noise was a rhythmic squelching.

Abruptly, Penny screamed.

Richard and Audrey stopped and looked over.

Penny screamed again. She picked up the pint I’d left on the ledge behind us and hurled it at them. It shattered on the pool table.

Richard and Audrey still didn’t move. Their mouths were agape, the wombat was still.

“Fuck you,” Penny screeched before running away.

Dale left to follow her. I glanced at Audrey and Richard. Tentatively, the wombat jumped, and then resumed burrowing.

I felt torn- I didn’t want to watch them, nor did I want to listen to the bleating of my mother. I decided to find Robert to try and scab another beer, or perhaps some weed. On the way out I told the bartender that there was a broken glass over by the pool table area.

 

“How could you do this to me?”My mother was bawling in the middle of the beer garden.

Audrey was sitting on one of the grubby tables with glassy eyes. I was watching the exchange with interest, sipping the Grolsh that Robert had kindly replaced for me.

“I mean, I became a virgin again for you. I got my hymen put back and then you go and bang my niece like a bass drum underneath that grotty pool table!”

Wow. I’d believed her when she told me that she was going into hospital to have her varicose veins stripped.

“How could you? She’s a child. Why don’t you just open up my chest and take a nice big pooh on it? Hmm? Come on,” she actually mounted the table clumsily, fumbling with the buttons on her dress.

My mother was a funny drunk.

“Put it away,” Richard said.

“Well, answer me,” My mother was trying for indignant, which few can pull off on your back on a picnic table.

“Well, she is younger…and tighter.”

“She can’t sing, though,” I volunteered.

“And…well…” Richard looked reluctant to finish.

“What?” she spat.

“Well, she waxes.”

Audrey snapped out of her trance and glared at Richard. Dale looked embarrassed. I tried to suppress a laugh by taking a sip of beer, only succeeding in snorting it.

“So that’s why you don’t go down on me,” my mother whispered, looking at the ground like a wounded puppy.

I cleared my throat, suddenly feeling the need to stand up for my mother. “Richard, that’s not entirely fair. I mean, if you don’t like parsley you push it to the side of the plate, you don’t throw the whole meal away.”

“Shut up, Jemma,” she snapped.

A need which quickly vanished.

“Maybe we should go home,” began Dale.

Once again, we were the centre of attention. People were drinking, smoking, and watching the drama unfold. Even the bartender, whom I was mildly surprised hadn’t asked us to leave, was engrossed. Hardly surprising, we were a real life episode of Home and Away.

My mother sniffed. She looked pathetic. She was drunk, her makeup was smeared, and I could see the fine lines in her neck and trembling hands. She’d had so much botox that she couldn’t even show the heartbreak she was experiencing; only her eyes betrayed her. I felt sorry for her. The surgery, the preening, the running, the obsessive dieting. It was all to hold onto a sleazy younger boyfriend who’d fuck her nineteen year old niece in a heartbeat. And why did she even want him? It was part mid life crisis, sure, but mostly I think she was lonely. I personally doubted that Richard loved her, but he was still hanging around after two years, something had kept him there. He was nothing more than a gigolo, her kept toy-boy, but I was sure that Penny had believed he loved her.

You can talk yourself into believing anything if it keeps you happy.

“Come on, mum. It’s time to leave.” Dale gently took her elbow. “I’ll drive you home. Where’s your bag?”

She pointed to the table Audrey was at. Dale glanced at me; I nodded and reached for it.  Then Penny, with a speed that surprised me, lunged at Audrey, grabbing her and almost dragging her off the table. A fistful of auburn hair was in one hand as the other slapped the Christ out of Audrey, who was wailing and trying to untangle herself.

The bartender finally made her way over to the melee and said calmly, “Break it up. Let her go ma’am. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to leave now.”

Image

He’s cute like a frog.

4 Mar

I do a lot of stupid shit when I’m drunk.

A few months ago I placed a restriction on myself: it’s fine to get mildly tiddled with friends and make devastatingly clever and funny insights about human nature at achingly hip bars that none of us have any business being in, but it’s not okay to be alone and drunk, in ones tiny-inner-city-flat. I have learnt that the latter ultimately leads to me tearfully caterwauling from one ridiculous concern to the next with maudlin 80’s pop music playing in the background.

Yesterday though, I had a “fuck this, I’m sad and I’m going to get drunk” moment. It felt good to relinquish my vice like control freak grip for an evening. Getting drunk alone seems to hedge the sticky line between “social 30-something” and “burgeoning alcoholic” in my mind. Drinking alone makes me feel shameful, as if I am spending hours furiously masturbating to internet pornography: it’s certainly a way to pass the time but in the end you just wind up naked from the waist down with the distinct impression that you are wasting your life.

Marieke Hardy has pointed out, “Drinking alone can be infinitely preferable to drinking with other people. For one thing, you don’t have to tolerate the company of other drunks.” So with that endorsement I took a deep breath and prepared to be naughty for a night.

Two bottles of average red wine later, I had a headache, a tiny-inner-city-flat in various degrees of chaos, a troubling mobile phone call history, a pink bra hanging precariously from the television, several blank spots in my memory, a small jar of glucosamine powder for animals, and a large chunk of material for a self deprecating blog post.

And, I would like to apologise to Charlie, David, Leeroy, Duane, Ben, Andy, and the person whose name I cannot remember who is simply saved in my phone as “Mr Awesome.”

Drunk Dialling

Between the hours of one and two on a rainy Tuesday morning, I thought that prank calling people would be “hilarious” rather than “fucking irritating”. I’d been trawling through my phone when I discovered that I still had the telephone numbers of men collected during my time on an internet dating site. Most of these blokes I had never met, I usually offered my mobile phone number in an offhand manner when they were sufficiently intriguing in email form and I couldn’t be bothered continuously logging in to respond. These fellows were saved as some variation of “Ben – POF”, and with their dating profile picture added so I could keep tenuous track of them. I had not conversed with any of these lads in months, to be honest I have no idea why their numbers were still in my phone.

Unless it was to provide 67 minutes worth of entertainment to a lonely, intoxicated, thirty-something who exists in a worrying state of arrested development.

I have a Prank Call app on my phone, a relic from my relationship with my ex which would see us waste oceans of time harassing our friends and falling into fits of thigh-slapping glee when they eventually spewed strings of profane words uttered in the rabidly pressured speech of the truly pissed off.  We discovered that, much like the SpeakEasy Text-to-Speech! app, Pranksterz! provided 87 minutes worth of entertainment to two bored, intoxicated twenty-something’s who existed in a worrying state of arrested development.

My first victim was Andy, then Ben, Charlie, and I’m sure you can gather the rest. Some answered their phone, some of them will undoubtedly discover baffling voicemails where a robotic-sounding Chinaman informed them that their food was ready at 1am and would they please get out of bed and come to the store and pick it up?

When I got to David, all hell broke loose.

David was the only one on the list whom I had actually met. He was a fellow that I shagged from Plenty of Fish who became progressively nastier when I suggested that I didn’t want to take our union further, ultimately leading to a three day long text war of Dynasty proportions at which point I shrilly threatened to “ruin him”.

David was called at 1:13am, 1:21am, 1:22am, 1:22am, and at 1:23am. At 1:37am, when an intoxicated thirty-something in a worrying state of arrested development got bored of using her iPhone app, David had a three minute conversation with a human being. Named Mindy. Who explained in badly accented California-girl English that the middle of the night was her chosen time to ring past sexual partners and inform them that she had Chlamydia. And, ergo, there was a small chance that they had Chlamydia, too.

At 1:41am David was reminded that hanging up on Mindy wasn’t nice. Mindy was merely showing neighbourly concern about the sexual health of David and his future partners. Unfortunately, David did not show an appropriate level of appreciation.

At 1:50am, Mindy was briefly crushed when David called her a “crazy cunt” (which sounds like a chain of discount stores hawked in late night infomercials by a red-eyed John Singleton). David insisted that he had no idea who Mindy was and that he had “a very clean cock”. Recovering quickly, Mindy referenced the overweight Staffordshire terrier that David frequently locked in the laundry when entertaining his lady friends, proving that they had indeed shared a tawdry evening together.

Upon hearing this, David fell silent and uttered an audible gulp. His thoughts seemed to ring loudly through the crackling air: How did she know about my dog? Maybe I have fucked this bird. Oh god. Maybe I have Chlamydia. Shit. Shit. SHIT!

Unfortunately, this beautiful prank was ruined when Mindy gave a loud burp, collapsed into giggles and disappeared in a telephonic beep, never to be heard from again.

Denes Glucosamine

The white jar sat innocently on the couch. I had no idea where it came from. Upon inspection, I discovered that it was Denes Powder, a “green lipped mussel and glucosamine formula for cats and dogs”. Having no pets, I was mildly confused. There were two selfies in my phone- one of me holding a parcel, one of me holding the powder. Further investigation unearthed parcel wrapping in the bin, which suggested that at some point during the night I had decided to sneak down to the mailbox and steal my neighbours mail, ostensibly hoping that the small jar-like shape in the package was some exotic brand of cosmetic. I can only imagine that I had an inebriated internal conversation, where I managed to convince myself that if the package hadn’t been collected by 11.30pm, she obviously didn’t want it and by stealing it I was actually doing all of the other residents of the complex a service by ensuring that small packages were not left on top of the communal mailbox.

I left my keys hanging in the front door, too. A karmic invitation for burglars to let themselves into my house while I snored like a drooling pirate fuckwit with my inexpensive bounty scattered at my feet.

There is red lipstick…on everything

I woke up on the couch with red lipstick smeared on my arm, my face and my cushions, an empty wine glass sitting upturned at my feet, the crumbs of the midnight ham and cheese toastie spread over both my bosom and the kitchen floor. A small square of gluten-free bread sat forlornly on the bench, half-moon bite mark taken out of it, a determined trail of ants marching to and fro from a small crack above my kitchen cupboard. At some point in the evening, I had also made myself an espresso and managed to paint the kitchen cupboards with abstract art using only the finest organic Columbian coffee grounds.

I have no idea how or why there is now a harlot coloured lipstick print on the E key of my laptop. Perhaps I fell in love with an E, or an Edward, or Bob Ellis. The likely explanation is that I have ceased typing, mid sentence, after spontaneously collapsing, gracelessly faceplanting my laptop in the process.

To be honest I’m not even sure why I donned red lipstick to throw myself around my apartment, alone, on a Monday night.

The ever present iPhone

My Google history usually provides an interesting insight into the evening: “hybristophilia”, “Placebo Loud Like Love video clip”, “is Scarlett Johansson a whore”, “Denes glucosamine human consumption”, “is Denes only for animal consumption”, “can I give Denes to a human”, “will I die if I eat Denes powder”, and “how do you spell schaudenfreude”.

Earlier in the evening I had received a text from a fellow writer that I have been on a few dates with. I recall receiving the message at about 8.30pm but, with a flow of words pouring out of me like vomit and a bottle of red wine under my belt already, I had decided against replying, choosing instead to bash away at my laptop like a frustrated Mozart. However, at some point during the night I had picked up my phone and composed a verbose and mistyped SMS- involving entirely too many emoticons for anybody over the age of seventeen to use- which endeavoured to inform him that I found his thick framed hipster glasses “ironically dreamy” and that, despite the fact he is only my height and I would really prefer it if he could find a way to stretch his physique “only about half a foot or so, I’m not picky”, I would really enjoy another date with him if he would be “amenable to the idea” because he is “cute like a frog”.

Fuck. A. Duck.

Thankfully, I never sent it. And, thankfully, he doesn’t read my TMI blog, because I seriously doubt that I would receive much more than the awkward suggestion of alcoholics anonymous if I had not blacked out before hitting send.

IMG_0929

 

Dear Yoko…

25 Jan

KITCHEN PIECE

Hang a canvas on a wall.
Throw all the leftovers you have
in the kitchen that day on the
canvas.
You may prepare special food for the piece.

1960. Winter.

I never really had an opinion about Yoko Ono.

Until I saw her exhibition.

Now I hate her.

I despise her for the same reason I do Lady Gaga: weird for the sake of weird is not “art”. A dress made out of meat is not a statement on animal rights, in much the same way that this:
IMG_0839
is not “a challenge to accept the simplicity of the situation.”

It’s an apple. On a perspex platform.

That’s it.
ono-box-piece
I started the exhibition with Object in Three Parts (a diaphragm, a birth control pill and a condom), watched thirty seconds of Bottom (an 80 minute video consisting solely of hairy asses walking away from the camera) and felt some rubber boobs: Touch Me III.

I left the Museum of Contemporary Art silently congratulating myself on finding a way to waste both twenty dollars and forty minutes in such a spectacular fashion. Perhaps I can shoot heroin into the gap between my toes on my next day off.
yoko_ono_beat_piece
I understand the argument that “art” is “art” if the “artist” intends it to be “art”.

However

This is a moot point that could be debated in circles for centuries. It’s the modern-art version of ‘if a tree falls in the woods…’

Look, I could take a shit in a cake pan, bake it at 180 degrees, then cut a slice and serve it with cream. Doesn’t make it a cake.

Or art, for that matter.

I could convince you to eat a small mouthful. It would be “food” in the loosest definition of the term, but it would not make me a chef.

Or an artist.

“Shit in a Pan” is a performance piece that makes a brash statement about our ever expanding waistlines. It’s a commentary on processed, “fast food”. It’s a communiqué on reality television shows like Masterchef.

Or, it could just be a turd in a pan.

OnoFlyPiece270

I could walk up to the object of my affection, pick my nose, and wipe the contents of my finger diagonally across his forehead.

That could totally be “art”. I would call “The Boogey-man”:

a bold statement on the perception of women in the dating game and how gender roles are continuing to evolve in society.

But it wouldn’t make me an artist.

Arguably it would just make me an asshole.

Who would have problems getting laid.

And who should never reproduce.

syllable

Let me put it like this: when a three year old shows you a squiggle on a piece of paper, you might ask them what it is.

“It’s a sailboat!” they’d reply with a toothy grin.

And, if you’re honest with yourself, you would think: No it’s not. It’s a bunch of coloured squiggles. It’s nothing. Frankly it’s a load of garbage because you are really shitty at drawing due to your complete lack of motor skills.

You wouldn’t say that, though. You’d ruffle their hair, tell them it’s wonderful, and stick it on the fridge never to be thought of again.

That, to me, sums up Yoko Ono’s art. It’s a bunch of crap from someone with arguably low levels of technical talent. She gets gallery space because we, as a society, continue to indulge her.

Why?

Because of Mark Lindsay Chapman.

I know, I know. I’m heading into controversially dark territory here. Just humor me for a moment.

I could point out that pumping some lead into Yoko instead of John would have been more beneficial for society as a whole: it would have made millions of Beatles purists- and Ringo- happy. But I won’t. It’s mean and nasty. Plus, it’s too easy; it’s the writing equivalent of punching a blind kid and stealing his ice cream.

I am, however, going to say that if Chapman had never shot Lennon, Yoko Ono would have disappeared into obscurity, probably some time in 1992. John and Yoko would have divorced. It would have been splashed all over the media. She would have received a few million dollars, he’d have made a bad Christmas album to fund the lawyers, and that would have been that. Much like Heather Mills, she would be wealthy enough to disappear into obscurity with a large pile of blow and a few hundred pairs of shoes.

Maybe not pairs of shoes in Heather Mills’ case.

Unfortunately, when John Lennon died we became stuck with Yoko, in much the same way that Kurt Cobain’s shotgun lobotomy forever plagued the world with Courtney Love. If his trigger finger never itched, she would have O.D’d on heroin long before she could have released the tripe that is Celebrity Skin.

It’s true, both murder and suicide are selfish acts. So, unfortunately for us, these women and their atrocious art now plague society like a bad case of herpes.

182207_689856959860_89904323_40644942_663757_n
Back at the Museum of Contemporary Art, I overheard a staff member saying that she spoke to Yoko. Each day, Yoko calls the gallery and, if you are lucky enough to be beside the phone when it rings, you get to lose two minutes of your life listening to the sanctimonious ramblings of a cultivated eccentric.

“Was she nice?” the fellow beside me asked with a vaginal squeal of barely disguised enthusiasm.

What a stupid question, I thought. Of course she was nice- you are allowing her to make an obscene amount of money from a modicum of talent. Stalin would have been nice.

But, if I were Yoko, I wouldn’t ring and pleasantly chat to people.

I’d ring and confuse them:

“Gurnlikeafishbam. GURNLIKEAFISHBAM! Do you understand me? Gurn. Like. A. Fish. Bam. BAM. BAM! Gurn like a fish bam. Now. Gurn. Like a fish. BAM……..You aren’t Gurning…….you still aren’t Gurning…..You displease me. Human.”

I’d ring to scare them:

“Do you see the small red dot trained directly above your left ventricle? Well, Felix- my sniper- has been instructed to shoot if you can’t guess the number between one and five I’m currently thinking of. This means that you have a 20% chance of survival, and I have a 97% chance of making the front page of the papers tomorrow.”

Or, if bored. I would simply insult them:

“I bet your vagina looks like an over-the-hill bulldog that has just eaten a glazed doughnut.”

Nobody could say anything, because my phone call would be

a performance piece making a statement about the adoration of celebrity in our culture.

tumblr_mh5h44s4361qe31lco5_r1_1280

I finished the exhibition by watching Cut Piece “one of Yoko Ono’s most significant artworks today.” Basically, Yoko sits in a chair and has her clothes randomly cut from her body. It was “financially depleting…but the emotional toll was the most challenging aspect of Cut Piece

She first performed it in 1964, and repeated it again in 2003. It was that good. Apparently. Yoko Ono has said of the piece, “People went on cutting the parts they do not like of me finally there was only the stone remained of me that was in me but they were still not satisfied and wanted to know what it’s like in the stone.”

I think that if you smoke copious amounts of weed that statement begins to make sense.

Anyway, I watched Cut Piece and couldn’t help but think: My God, the old girl is still quite tight for 70…how does she manage that? Veganism? Pilates?

p01bkg5v

You could say that I’m being a vapid bimbo- or a perverted freak- for noticing the flatness of a pensioner’s stomach. Or, perhaps I’m making

a statement about how ageing women are perceived in society in regards to the “Male Gaze” of cinema.

Maybe my problem is that I just don’t “get it”. I reread the exhibition program before I wrote this post. Cut Piece is “an exploration on the relationship between older and younger women as well as a question of dignity, vulnerability and audience participation”. Bottom is “a detachment of the human body and a meditative comparison of abstract, curved shapes” and Touch Me III “addresses the quiet undercurrent of violence done to women in society. The depressions and gouges left on the silicone is a stirring reminder of the violent treatment that so many women endure in their daily lives.”

Anyone got any heroin?

Closet

All My Single Ladies…

16 Dec

Okay, so I broke.

Not Facebook, but I am updating the blog. I can’t help myself. I’m writing anyway, may as well edit and share the nonsense.

It’s quite difficult to stay off Facebook. I have to say I’ve cheated- a certain amount of Facebook is necessary for travelling, so I send trip related private messages. I know. But I haven’t looked at a news feed. Surely that buys me some willpower points somewhere…right?!

After a week of my self imposed exile, Facebook emailed me. “You haven’t checked me! Are you okay? Have I done something wrong?! You have notifications waiting! Come back! Whatever it is, we can work it out, I can change!”

I told my best mates about my Facebook Holiday Ban during one of the semi frequent emails I send: Hello, not dead, robbed or raped. I’m here now, heading there tomorrow. How’s Sydney? Miss you! 🙂

One bestie drily replied to the FBHB news: Good. You aren’t there as a fucking foreign correspondent.
The candour that only fourteen years of friendship can bring.
You are there as CC trying to rediscover herself. Much more important.
The same candour that allows one to call out a self indulgent and hackneyed three month voyage of self discovery that only the immature ones with no responsibilities can afford to do.

Anyway, enough of that. Travelling. Alone. Hmm.

If I had a dollar every time I heard, “You’re alone? My god. Isn’t it scary?”

…Well, I’d probably have seven dollars, but this is South East Asia, man. You can live like a King for seven dollars.

This question is usually followed with, “Don’t you have a boyfriend you can travel with?”

I had no idea that a partner was a prerequisite. Now I know.

Come to think of it, the question at the Thai border makes much more sense now, “Ladies: are you in the company of a man who regularly fills you like a bathtub?

I, of course, answered no. I was preoccupied with the realisation of how long it had been between, um, baths. I had to bribe the guy to let me in the country by myself. AND he only did on the assurance that I would don the harlot lipstick and do my best to find a man and settle down like a normal person.

My solo bliss hasn’t stopped a hive of indignant-bees entering my bonnet. I actually wrote a messy rant: why is a single man a bachelor- a swinging, free, fun, hard drinking lad who has taken the brave path of avoiding histrionic banshees loaded with oestrogen. A single lady? Well, she’s a spinster, crying into her soup-for-one and forgetting the names of her fifteen cats. Because, we are worthless unless we are part of a couple. We have to be paired off like animals heading towards the ark before we dry up downstairs and become useless. Well, title of my blog aside, I would like to firmly place myself as a bachelorette rather than a lonely cat lady, and it’s so unfair that…

Eek.

I know. Me and Ms. Greer. Frightening.

If it can be edited to sound more clever and witty, and less slavering feminist, it may make the blog. Maybe.

Probably not.

You’re welcome.

I’ve had other reactions to being alone. I met an almost lady boy in Sihanoukville. Beyoncé. Yep. Truesies. I change names on here but that was too fabulous to cover up. I’d periodically see him sashaying down Serendipity beach, hawking cheap friendship bracelets. He would sit next to me as I sipped piña coladas and we’d chat. We initially bonded after he made fun of my arm hair.
“Let me remove it?” he asked, brandishing threading string with a wicked gleam in his eyes.
“No, it’s fine.”
He pouts. “Who are you here with?”
Upon hearing that I was travelling alone he bluntly asked, “Don’t you have any friends?”
“No, actually. People hate me. In fact, I didn’t come here for a holiday, I was chased from Sydney by a mob with burning torches.”
“You’re so funny. I’m going to make you a bracelet because you’re so funny. Even though you have hairy arms.”
“Beyoncé, I don’t have hair on any other part of my body. My arms are fine. Leave them alone.”

Girl power rants aside- Does solo travel ever get lonely?

Fuck. Yes.

South East Asia has been a whole other experience: quieter, more introspective. Europe was a giant party and it was so easy to meet fellow solo travellers but this is vastly different, and my time so far has been a long way from the drunken debauchery of last month. When I chat to people and hear their Full Moon Party stories I wonder if I’m supposed to be vomiting in a tuk tuk instead of blissfully reading trashy thrillers in a hammock on the beach. But, to be honest, I feel that someone my age at Koh Panang is a bit pathetic. If you’ve done it at thirty, power to you, but I’d feel like I was squeezing myself into a pair of jeans that no longer fit. Lying on the bed, wrenching them over my almost-thirty-one-derful hips, pretending not to notice the camel toe…I’m over drunken debauchery. Sigh. It’s happened. I’m getting old. I’m entering Cher-town.

To finish this post, I’d like to make a reference about how I believe in life after love, but I can’t figure out how to make the bad-synth vocals come off in print. My writing is rusty. Damn.

20131216-175553.jpg

1500 words on Dinosaur Erotica

15 Oct

The things I do for this blog.

I have read endured 18 pages of dinosaur erotica for this post.

I have suffered for my art.

Okay, so I may have only gotten through 5 pages before I vomited my strawberry thickshake all over myself.

I’m in two minds about this post. The subject matter is quite out there, but also, the idea of dinosaur erotica is so ludicrous that making fun of it seems too easy. I feel like I’m punching a blind kid in the face.

Dinosaur. Erotica.

Yes. It’s true.

I have officially run out of blog ideas.

This is what happens when there are no dates on the horizon, I can’t write about my unending ability to drive away members of the opposite sex. I have too much time on my hands. I get sucked into the vortex of Funny or Die, and I discover questionable fetishes that start my little brain whirring: “Dinosaur erotica…do they use the tail? The horn? Surely not the horn, that would hurt…maybe they do…maybe it’s just inter-species Fifty Shades of Grey, S&M and stuff. I wonder if she makes a horny reference. Maybe I should read it to find out. It is only $2.99. I’ve spent more than that on Red Bull this week…”

Author Christie Sims, a self proclaimed “plain old Midwestern girl that lives a normal life”, is behind this. Let’s firebomb her house. Together. Tonight. I’ll bring marshmallows. I’ll shout the airfare. Forget the war on drugs, the war on terror, we need a war on bad writing. We can sacrifice her to the God of bad syntax. If I ever meet this woman, I’m going to smack her on the nose with a TV Guide and say, “No! No. That’s a bad Christie. We don’t *smack* write *smack* dinosaur porn!”

The titles range from Taken by the T-Rex to Taken by the Triceratops, which was followed by T-Rex Troubles (which sounds like a mutant Sweet Valley High title. I’m wondering if the T-Rex got angry at the Triceratops for stealing his girl. Dinosaurs cutting each other’s grass. Are they just petty, jealous prehistoric lizards? There’s a literary niche. Maybe the working title was “Possessive Tyrannosaudireaurea”, but it was deemed not saucy enough. Or maybe her readers didn’t know what a Tyrannosaudireaurea was).

Personally, my favourite title is, The Dragon Erotica Story Bundle (featuring three hot dragon stories), because it shows her breadth as a writer. You know, not just confined to the Jurassic era. Plus, she uses “hot” in the title.

Hot.

Geddit?!

Puns and scaly reptile genitalia? AND it’s only $2.99 on kindle!

She has written 116 of these fucking things. That’s right, 116. Admittedly they are self published, but nobody would repeat something more than a hundred times if there was no audience. I can’t even get one fucking book published. John Kennedy Toole died before A Confederacy of Dunces– which is an absolute comedic masterpiece- was published. This woman just had to write about being mounted by a gryphon.

To be fair, there’s a bit of repetition over the 116. Taken by: the Demon, the T-Rex, the Ogres Tribe, the Gryphon, the Pterodactyl, Taken at the Dinosaur Museum, Taken by the…oh, fuck it. I give up.

Fifteen reviews for “Taken by the T-Rex” give it a 4.5 star average on Amazon. Reviewer “Hermaphladon” states, “It is very uncommon to find accurate depictions of dinosaur on woman sex.”

Can’t imagine why.

Hermaphladon then throws terms like “literary masterpiece” around in a rather cavalier manner. The review rounds off with: “No other author has truly been able to both arouse and entice my intense desire to mate with a T-Rex as accurately and successfully as Christie Sims.”

Not just desire, “intense desire”.

“I would not be surprised if this book outsells the Bible and brings about a new age of literary enlightenment.”

Uh-huh.

Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, literary agent at Foreward Literary calls it “the best 17 pages of my life!”

A sentence that briefly made me consider suicide.

Sadly, they weren’t all good reviews. “Romance Author, Romance Reader” says, “Taken by the T-Rex was a bit of disappointment. In 5,800 words, the author had plenty of time to develop an authentic, believable relationship between our heroine (Drin) and our juvenile, still-feathered, well-endowed T-Rex, but the reader’s attention was squandered on too much backstory.”

We don’t want backstory getting in the way of a two foot long dinosaur kielbasa squirting hot milky liquid all over our heroine! What was Christie Sims thinking?

I was intrigued, and, despite still not having a copy of On The Road on my bookshelf, fifteen minutes later, I was the proud owner of Taken at the Dinosaur Museum.

My place in hell may be reserved for putting the breakdown on here. Note, it is not for the faint of heart. Although I have tried to tone it down, it’s disturbing. It makes Miley’s twerking look like the chicken dance. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The story begins with our heroine Kate, broke and dejected, halfheartedly looking for a job. “The thought of going home smelling like fried food every day turned her stomach.”

Sex with a pachycephalosaurus, on the other hand…

Then, her roommate enters the room. The two laughingly discuss blowing their old landlord for free rent. A suggestion that is met with, “oh, gross!

Now, I don’t want to sound perverse, but if I had to choose between wrinkled human testicles or scaly reptile ones…well, let’s just say I might be flossing with curly grey hair.

Then, her roommate warns her against “job ads to have photographs taken in some pervs basement!

If only the roommate warned her of something else. I believe I may start to, if only to get odd looks. ‘Before you start your new job, I should give you some advice. If you encounter an extinct, prehistoric lizard, don’t have sex with it. Especially not in front of security cameras. Yes their tongues are large, but apparently their sheer girth will “spoil you for any regular guy”. I have read Taken at the Dinosaur Museum, I think I know a little bit more about this subject than you do.’

Upon getting the job, she has a brief, romantic moment with the attractive young doctor who resists her wanton advances.

The pachycephalosaurus on the other hand…

Page 3 tells us that, “Kate hated sneakers…”

But what she didn’t hate was…

On page 4: “Heels had definitely been a bad choice.

You know Kate, I don’t think that kitten heels are the only bad choice you will make tonight.

Getting down to it, the whole sordid affair starts with the dinosaur’s tail. I was right, but I’ll ponder the ramifications of that later. Anyway, she freaks out initially. She wonders if she is hallucinating. Then, she bends over the desk.

A reasonable reaction, I suppose.

Further down the page: she strips, presents herself, and, um, yes. I’m sure you can imagine. I don’t want to type it. Please don’t make me type it.

She was enjoying every second of that dino **** sliding into her.

A sentence that I can’t unread. And now, neither can you. My gift to you. You’re welcome.

The next part plays out like your average, poorly written erotica. With one notable difference, I suppose.

I read it between shrieks of abject disgust. I stopped at “sex-o-saurus”. I just couldn’t go on. It was like a mental triathlon that I hadn’t trained for. I’m assuming that Kate gets up to more mischief, and the whole thing plays out like a depraved, bad-porn version of Night at the Museum.

I went back to Amazon looking for other opinions. Christoph Paul promised an honest and passionate review: “If you read this as an allegory of our dependence on foreign oil, this is an amazing piece of art. Where does oil come from? What is oil?

“It comes from dinosaurs.

“That is right, and they are still screwing us all in modern day.

“Sims subconsciously through using Beast Mating Erotica has written a provocative allegory about our relationship with Saudi Arabia.”

(I think this review actually got him a job at Fox News.)

“Some people complain about the price of the book, but yet it is cheaper than a gallon of gas. Either in life or on the page the dinosaur still screws us.”

Actually, there’s a trick I may have missed.

I should be standing on street corners telling people to read my blog, it’s totally free. Way cheaper than a litre of petrol.

We live in a world where people actually read dinosaur erotica.

Then review it.

Or blog about it.

There are some days that Chattering Cat only gets 2 visitors.

Life isn’t fair.

But at least it can be funny.

20131015-141604.jpg