Sydney CBD office workers were this morning greeted by the sight of a 28-year-old local woman running through the city centre screaming ‘I just bought flights to the US for October and I got them at a very reasonable price, so suck it bitches!’ whilst wearing an outfit which one witness, a local fashion magazine editor, described as ‘a valiant, but failed attempt at dressing like an adult’. Police were called when the woman began trying to chest bump strangers.
Police say the woman was previously unknown to them, and although checks with Interpol have so far turned up nothing, they suspect, given her vigorous fist pumping and clear disregard for the law, that they will find some links to the underworld in the near future.
After being remanded in custody, during which period she pointed at many things and say ‘Oooh what’s that? That’s shiny!’ the woman was released into the care of a family member who said it was not the first time the woman had acted irrationally in public and confirmed reports that the woman is often seen in her local neighbourhood wearing outfits made up entirely of gym-wear and men’s underwear.
I was the only kid in my family who was able to make it home for Feaster, so of course my parents lavished me with the affection and presents that they normally can’t bestow on me when my sisters are there, because the sisters are the jealous types.
One thing I forget about farm life is how everything requires more effort, but how there seems to be an extra few hours in each day to accommodate that. I also forget the DANGER. On my first day there, my parents combined effort with danger to illustrate this point.
As my hardened black city lungs struggled to process clean air, my parents decided it would be a good idea to collect kindling for the fire, which sounded suspiciously like exercise to me, so I packed my camera in order to document this injustice.
We set off, Dad in the lead, Mum close behind on her newly unbroken ankle, which she broke galavanting around the farm a few months ago (please note the danger of galavanting. I don’t galavant for this reason, not because I am inherently lazy), me bringing up the rear.
Here are just some of the dangers of collecting kindling:
I spotted the first danger quite quickly, because it’s everywhere. Danger Poo. My parents are cattle farmers. Cattle do three things: eat, look at me oddly and poop. If you don’t want to ruin your city slicker sneakers, be careful of the poop.
The second danger was also quite obvious. If a tree falls on a farm, will anyone hear it? Possibly. If you’re the person whose head it falls on, my guess is possibly not. Trees mean business, and are thus Danger Trees.
The third danger was less obvious, because it was on the small side. My younger sister is the smallest in our family, but also the most dangerous, so I know not to judge a book by its size, thus when I saw Danger Bugs, I immediately steered clear:
Once we had dodged all this danger, we had a good supply of kindling:
We then trundled home to do other stereotypical country things like bake and wink at our cousins.
Anyone who knows me knows several things. First, I have a topless picture of Christopher Hitchens on my fridge. Secondly, I have a cat with no face. Finally, I don’t cook. I like to eat, testify! I just cannot concentrate for long enough to cook, I find it face-gratingly boring, but I need to learn in order to function as an adult, so Mum’s been helping.
Now I know how to make scones, so if you come around for dinner, I can make you toast or scones!
I think it’s a testament to my cooking and photography skills that my mum thought the first photo was taken after I’d baked the scones, like I couldn’t tell that wet dough painted with milk wasn’t something I should serve up. I may be stupid, but I’m not that stupid.
Later in the visit, we headed out to the local dam for a picnic, where we saw a goose, which brought back memories of the time I was bitten by a goose.
I had to have a second ginger beer to calm my nerves.
The rest of the time I spent catching up on sleep and generally enjoying not seeing many other human beings and it was hard to leave. It’s so quiet and so peaceful and I miss it when I’m not there.
To make myself feel better about having to go back to Sydney, I reminded myself that with all that danger, there’s no way a cat with no face would survive in the country.
The temperature had fallen with the sun. Marathe listened to the cooler evening wind roll across the incline and desert floor. Marathe could sense or feel many million floral pores begin to slowly open, hopeful of dew.
And they could both feel this queer dry night-desert chill descend with the moon’s gibbous rise – a powdery wind down below making dust to shift and cactus needles whistle, the sky’s stars adjusting to the color of low flame – Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace, pgs 97 and 109.
I’m going away on Friday for Easter and I already know I’m going to make two really dumb mistakes.
Dumb mistake 1: I am going to think to myself ‘Julia, you are faced with a three hour long train ride from the city, over the Blue Mountains, into the hell hole that is Lithgow, the last bastion where people still burn coal to heat their houses, before being picked up by your parents and driven another hour and a half to the farm. You should empty your iPod and re-fill it with music you’ve been meaning to listen to for ages, but haven’t had the chance to’.
I will then spend the next four days ruing the fact that I did this, because for me, listening to music I’ve never heard and listening to music I already love are two very different experiences and when you’re on the train and you’re stuck next to someone and their five screaming children, you want to know for a fact that you have an album on your iPod that is soothing enough to stop you from surreptitiously sharpening your travel toothbrush into a shiv.
Dumb mistake 2: I will leave everything I need to get organised to the last minute because currently I feel like a packing wanker. I feel like a packing wanker because my packing list includes ‘athletic gear in which to exercise’, ‘iPod charger’, ‘camera charger’, ‘spare memory cards’ and ‘Kindle charger’. When asked to list my occupation, I put White Capitalist.
I also have long-held packing issues. I will forgot that my old friends are all married or have kids, or are currently newly married and with child and I will pack for events that will never happen. I will pack my going to the pub outfit and my on the run from the law outfit and they will make my bag huge and heavy and when I get back to Sydney, they will be sadly crushed at the bottom of my bag, with an odd, faint smell of mildew and sin.
In case I don’t squeak to you before because I am lying in an anxious, sweaty, unpacked pile right up until the last minute, or in case that noise on my roof just now was Michael Myers, I wish you and yours a safe, chocolate-laden Feaster.
There is a huge pig’s head in Lloyd Good’s toilet tonight. I put it there about three hours ago, just before he walked home from the bar. The snout is poking straight up out of the family toilet and the pig’s lips are glistening with Ruby Red lipstick and the eyes are propped open and the toilet bowl is filled with red commercial catsup.
The first time anybody in that house goes into the bathroom and turns the light on, I am going to have to be very alert. We will have serious action. Hysteria, wild rage. I have seen a lot of hideous things in my time, but the sight of that eerie-white pig’s head in the white toilet bowl with its mouth covered with lipstick and its dead gray eyes looking straight up at me – or anyone else that comes near that toilet – will live in my memory forever as one of the most genuinely hideous things I’ve ever seen. The idea of waking up half drunk in the middle of the night and wandering into your own bathroom and pissing distractedly into your own toilet and realizing after not many seconds that there is something basically wrong with the noise that normally happens when you piss into a bowl full of water in the middle of the night, and feeling the splash of warm urine on your own knees because it is bouncing off the lipstick-smeared snout of a dead pig’s head that is clogging up your toilet… that is a bad thing to see when you’re drunk.
Indeed. I am preparing to flee, even now. I told him that pig was going to be very expensive. He and his boys put it in my bed the other night, tied up and drugged and half hidden under the covers so that when I sat down on the bed right next to the beast and began talking seriously on the telephone to my accountant, who was not amused when the thing suddenly started moving and I said, “I’m sorry, I’ll have to call you back, there’s a pig in my bed” – Songs of the Doomed: Gonzo Papers, Volume 3 – More notes of the death of the American dream, Hunter S Thompson, pgs 232 and 234.
The sharehouse was a tiny pink thing, on the most interesting street in town, directly across from our favourite pub. Sometimes when it snowed, it snowed inside the house and we let the grass grow so long that dads had to be engaged to help mow it.
I feel bad for the women I moved in with. I was the young adult ADD kid, all ‘Look at this house, it’s pink, the pink of a uterus, I’m going to call it uterus pink! And look at the breakfast juice you have! It’s the consistency of how I imagine the inside of a uterus looks! Gross, can I have some?’
Later in the lease, I made multiple photocopies of an Annie Leibovitz photograph of a naked bearded woman and wallpapered the lounge room with them. My parents loved to visit.
One day I felt like maybe I’d been going to the pub a bit too often, so when a friend suggested we pay it a late Sunday afternoon visit, I warned her that I’d be drinking Coke, and nothing else. To really make my point, I thought it would be funny to ask for a pint of Coke, which Wikipedia tells me, is about 570mLs of Coke. So I sat and I drank my pint of Coke and it was less funny, but more sugary than I had hoped, and when I was done, I went home and straight to bed.
The next morning I woke up and I needed to go to the toilet like I’d never needed to go to the toilet in my life. This wasn’t theoretical busting, this actually felt like I had torn something precious. I carefully got out of bed and then ran, as fast as I could, to our one bathroom.
As I rounded the corner, I was faced with my worst fear. Worse than ghosts and burglars, rabid dogs or being nude in public. The bathroom door was shut and the noises within made it clear that Kelly was in there and she was prepping for a bath, and for Kelly, a bath was Serious Business.
I knocked on the door and explained as much as my predicament as I felt comfortable with, to which she replied ‘I just ran this bath. Can’t you wait?’. At that point, our friendship almost ended, as I snapped ‘I drank an entire pint of Coke and if you don’t open the door, I am going to pee all over the floor, now!’
She relented and I have never felt such sweet, sweet, worryingly painful relief in my life.
Unfortunately, the painful relief lasted several days and eventually I decided I needed to see the uni doctor. Now, colour me naïve, but I seriously thought the doctor might get a kick out of my story about drinking a whole pint and going to bed without peeing and then nearly peeing inside my own house, so I never once considered the fact that a young woman, presenting herself to a university doctor, complaining that it hurt to pee would be considered a sign of something more salacious that 570mLs of Coke.
She looked at me, eyebrow raised and said ‘Those symptoms sound like an STI. Take off your pants and get on that table’.
TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS AND GET ON THAT TABLE.
Suddenly, a bit of pain when peeing seemed like a small thing to have to live with if it meant not having to take my pants off and get on that table. I tried to reason with her, explaining that I didn’t make the story up to avoid having to tell her I was an idiot… well I was an idiot, but I was a liquid idiot, not a sexual idiot.
She paid me no attention and before I knew it, I was on the table, with my pants off. Once she had done the dreaded lady checks, I got up and miserably pants up, both of us steadfastly ignoring one another. She spoke first. ‘Right. Now take your shirt off. I may as well teach you how to do a breast exam while you’re here’.
By the time I left, there was not one lady bit on my body that had not been studiously examined. When I finally stumbled out into the harsh daylight, I ran into two friends, who looked puzzled as I silently open and closed my mouth and pointed to my lady bits, trying to indicate what had just happened, before going home and crawling under my quilt.
Turns out my diagnosis was correct. One should never drink a pint of Coke and not pee before going to bed. I hope you’ve all learnt a lesson.
Perhaps you have parents like mine. The type of parents who are a bit tough love when it comes to getting over your fears. The type that tell you that if you don’t know something, you should just ask, because people don’t judge you for asking.
Let’s cut to the chase. People are always judging you and typically, you will find a way to make yourself look foolish when asking a stranger a question. I do it all the time. At least seven and a half times a day I make myself look foolish (the half is when I deduct half a point for at least attempting to recover from looking foolish).
For example, the other day I was at the gym for a training session. Let me illustrate here my relationship with pysical activity: at the end of year 10, my PE teacher pulled me aside and told me that even if I wanted to, he wouldn’t allow me to continue doing PE for the final two years of high school. After enquiring if he was on drugs, I wandered past the athletic girls doing all kinds of springs and twists and whatever else you do in gymnastics and back to my friends, where we continued doing what we’d been doing for most of the summer months in PE: talking about music and skanking, and when that was too arduous, lying around in the sun.
So when I started going to a gym recently and got a personal trainer, I immediately regressed to high school and when she talks to me, my mind goes blank and I start to wonder if she’s passing bitchy notes to other trainers about how my fringe looks like my mum cut it (which, to be fair to the girls in high school, she did). Because I’m mentally back in a classroom that smells of wet wool and teenage hormones, I’m rarely ever listening to my trainer, and the other day I realised she was standing there, waiting for me to respond to something, so I panicked and picked what I thought was a really relevant response to pretty much anything a trainer could have said, and I enthusiastically yelled, ‘Awesome!’
Immediately I knew I was in trouble, because she went silent and stared awkwardly at me. Next thing I knew, I had launched into a huge diatribe about how much I love going to the gym and how if I don’t go for a few days, I start to miss it, all the while squeaking the toe of my sneaker on the floor and feeling short of breath.
Finally she raised an eyebrow, turned around and made me do pushups. I still have no idea what she said to me.
Imagine my horror then, when I realised I really needed to pee. I casually looked around, hoping to see a sign for the toilets, I tried to pretend I hadn’t followed my trainer into her office, hoping she was going to an un-signposted toilet, and while I was marching across the room swinging a medicine ball over my head I was sternly reminding myself that I am Julia, Julia who has never peed outside, Julia who made it through countless long distance holiday drives with her family as a kid without ever once needing to stop for an emergency toilet break. I am Julia whose mother has said she has the bladder of a camel numerous times. Camel Bladder, they call me (actually they don’t, they call me Fluffy, but that’s a different story for a different day).
Now, my mother is reading this and she’s sighing, ‘Oh Julia!’, both because she can’t believe I like to talk about my toiletry habits on the Internet, but also because she’s thinking to herself, ‘Why does this daughter of mine not just ask her friendly trainer where the toilet is?’
You know what Ma? I didn’t ask. Instead, I exercised so frantically that my body used up every single iota of liquid in it, just to make it through the workout, thus negating my need to find the toilet.
You should see how smug my face is right now.
And so, my advice? There is absolutely no need to confront your fears or engage other people in small talk. Follow my advice and you can be just like me.
Edit: my lawyer has advised that this post could be construed as me giving advice which suggests you shouldn’t pee, and that in doing so, I am leaving myself open to lawsuits pertaining to the bursting of bladders, so please, if you need to pee, do so. Also, this provides a really nice segue into the story about the time when I didn’t pee, and there were dire consequences. Let’s talk about that tomorrow. To make sure you come back, I’ll tell you now, the post will contain the word ‘breast’, or ‘boob’ if I’m feeling more lighthearted.