I wrote this really early on Saturday morning and read it to my mum that night and it made her laugh and it’s silly but true, so I thought I’d post it here.
The best way to describe how I’ve been feeling the last few days is this: I was Little Mario, then I found a red mushroom and I grew into Big Mario (which, I feel is important to point out, is where I started out, however long ago. Everyone is Big Mario to begin with).
Then I found a glowing flower and suddenly I was Big Mario Who Can Shoot Fire Balls. Then I shot fire balls for a few hours, but I ran into what initially looked like a lovely plant growing out of an innocent pipe, but the plant actually had fangs and I got too close and it took away my fire ball shooting powers.
This bummed me out a bit until I realised something important: I realised being Big Mario Who Can Shoot Fire Balls isn’t all that cool.
So I smashed a brick with my head and out popped a green mushroom and I re-upped. So I am back where I began, Big Julia, but I feel energised and as alive-ish as one can at 4-something AM when they’re using Mario Brothers analogies to explain how they reached a point of not only being okay with life as it currently is, but being glad it is the way it is.
Important-est part of the analogy: Mario pretty much can only move forward. Every step he takes limits how far he can go in the opposite direction.
I am running forward as fast as my little legs will take me and I’m not even going to stop to fight Bowser, I’m just going to jump over him, take a huge run up and straddle that flag pole as high as I can.
Yes, I’m becoming a pole dancer*.
* The pole is part of the Mario analogy people, no-one wants to see me real pole dance.
At 29, I am still a really terrific teenager. I don’t believe in nutritious food and I have unnaturally coloured hair and I am readily available for my friends if they want a buddy who’s never quite stopped romanticising the magic of a good slumber party that leaves you void of all you shameful stories of sexual inadequacy, but with a mouth filled with a rancid slime which suggests the ingestion of a high volume of sugared food, little water and no teeth brushing.
I work well as a friend because of various peculiarities I have which make me fun to hang around with, but I probably don’t scream ‘Responsible Adult!’. I am followed around by crazy adventures which are usually brought to a screaming halt by the sudden unexpected and unwanted appearance of a stranger’s genitals. I have seem more genitals of complete strangers than anyone else alive and not once have I wanted to, I am just amazingly adept at looking down at the most inopportune times.
When I was about 15 one of my best friends told me that she saw Future Julia as a woman who’d been successful in life, very successful, and I’d live in a huge Victorian-era house with many cats, and that although I would never get married, I would take many younger lovers. At the time I was insulted, because I’d just finished telling her that I thought she’d win gold at the Olympics and frankly, having the security of waking up next to a warm body was something I actually wanted in my life. Now I wake up next to the warm body of my first cat.
Anyway, I am now long comfortable with the idea what life rarely takes the paths you imagine it will and I have a huge amount of good things in my life and laugh many times a day and have a kind of hipster fringe that is poking me in the eyes and own a responsible amount of bras and stuff, so my life is very good.
Still. It’s fun to imagine what you’re going to be like in the future and I’ve never really believed I would fit into a particular mould or lifestyle, but then I came across this picture of Brigitte Bardot from the set of Shalako and this is pretty much how I’d like my 30s/40s to look:
I do not in anyway endorse the views of Ms Bardot, but I heartily endorse her hair and clothes and prop shotgun.
My 50s and 60s will be modelled on a woman who I used to see around when I lived in Marrickville, who was all tall and naturally white hair and red lipstick and sleek black clothes and her husband? He looked like Christopher Hitchens. I think you can see the attraction.
And thus, I choose to re-write my future so that I become some sort of Gothic frontier woman, with voluminous hair and smokey eyes and shotgun skills.
This weekend I am going to visit the parents on the farm, because they are babysitting my nephew and I figured they could use a hand and it turns out, despite it making no sense at all, I am actually quite good with kids, possibly because I find it as wondrous as they do that in this day-and-age, you can pull up a YouTube video for ‘Splish Splash’ on your phone and play it to said child as they have a bath. There is a lot of splishing and a splashing when I’m in charge of bath time.
I’ve decided to go back on the XPT, mostly because I can read on trains but not buses and also because I’m remarkably lazy and the thought of snuggling down into my seat and not having to move for four-and-a-half hours is pretty appealing. I am imagining my trip will be all big sunglasses and messy hair and red lipstick and a small hangover and a stack of Vanity Fairs and some sort of packed lunch, but I’ve forgotten it’s school holidays so inevitably it’s going to be screaming parents with packs of children whose behaviour would not endear me to them enough that I’d sit through 12 hours of the same Thomas the Tank Engine episodes on loop.
I want to take V to all the places in Orange I loved as a kid, like Cook Park and for a ride on the mini-train and maybe we can pick up a finger bun or two and sit on the stoop and eat them while we talk about the boys we like. All of the things.
When I am not dedicating myself to the whims of a small blond child, I’m going to try and find the perfect black handbag, get a side fringe cut, track the postage progress of my hot pink patent leather Dr Marten boots and finally watch Martha Marcy May Marlene. Because every now and again it’s worth being a vacuous, horrible person.
One of the more interesting aspects of this year has been a change in my relationship with music. I’ve always been a fairly compulsive music listener, but mostly I tend to listen to specific genres or new albums over and over.
This year, I unwittingly started to listen to particular musicians almost exclusively. For months I couldn’t stomach anything that wasn’t Ryan Adams and in recent weeks I’ve only been listening to Fiona Apple.
It’s like certain musicians nourish certain ways I’m feeling and only their songs can move me from place to place until I am where I need to be. Ryan Adams helped me get used to being alone again and quiet. Fiona Apple is about accepting that and making ugly things beautiful.
She is stunning, but she is difficult and talented and funny and emotional in public and unapologetic and too apologetic and she is all these things in front of everybody and there’s so little hidden or guarded and it forces her audience to be uncomfortable and hopefully realise that that’s how sanitised culture works: real things are dirty and abstract and contradictory and difficult and ugly and all of these things can be wonderful.
I also love that she can have a song as raw as ‘Sullen Girl’:
and also strip Zach Galifianakis down to his underwear in another clip:
I just think she’s incredibly special and that people like her a shots of colour in what can be a pretty grey world.
If I make it to Saturday without:
– falling asleep at work/on the train/with my lamp on/in my food;
– forgetting my name;
– staying awake through an entire night;
– crying in public;
– crying in private;
– skipping lunch;
– being too nosey about my best friend’s lovelife;
– forgetting to email all the incredibly sweet people I owe emails to;
– listening ‘Sullen Girl’ a thousand times;
– waking up with a cat’s tail in my mouth;
– forgetting to cook tacos;
– drinking three Red Bulls in a day;
– doing too much washing;
– doing too little washing;
– inhaling a bottle of dry shampoo;
– saying I’ll eat sundaes and then not eating sundaes
– trying my hardest to catch up on Breaking Bad …
I am buying myself these:
I deserve them.
Life rolls on. I am still purple and mostly tired all the time, but not tired of being purple all the time.
I am very settled at the moment, I am out a lot so I appreciate the time I spend at home. My room is feeling much more “me” now. I spent Saturday morning burning chandan and listening to Fiona Apple’s new album The Idler Wheel… (which is fantastic, all piano and heartbeat) and catching up on Vanity Fair.
On Friday night I went and had dinner with Mary, Drew and Mum before Mary and Drew left for the States where Mary is giving the keynote at the Wikimania conference and Drew is working in the New York Google office. Mum is in Sydney taking care of V for a few days before she takes him back to the farm.
After I left I went to Broadway to soothe myself with some late night shopping. I love that we’re such a consumerist society, but even with shops that don’t close until midnight, it’s possible to find yourself in an artificially lit capitalist wonderland, all alone.
The rest of the weekend was devoted to V-wrangling, which isn’t exactly a chore, he is such a sweet little kid. We watched a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine. Repeatedly. Over and over. It’s really hard to say no to this face:
On Sunday we met up with Steph and Joel and went to the World Press Photo exhibition which is my favourite yearly exhibition. It was fairly intense this year, a lot of images from the Arab Spring.
While Steph and Joel went to see it, Mum and I baptised V in the Botanical Gardens:
I am now his own personal Jesus.
Sydney was beautiful yesterday and family time was much needed.
– I just need to work on me. I haven’t been a very good friend, or daughter, or sister, or sister-in-law this year and those are the people who really matter to me.
– Whatever man, you satisfy all those people by just having a good life.
When I used to live on the other side of the mountains, I used to drive to Sydney or the Central Coast quite often, but I would go straight ahead at Lithgow, and Dad and Mum would turn left and go on the Bells Line of Road, mostly because they are sadists with car-sick prone children.
On one trip, we were travelling in convoy and agreed not only to go Bells Line, but to take a shortcut that my dad had discovered just before Sydney. I was travelling with Steph, while Dad, Mum and Mary were in Dad’s 4-wheel drive. I was driving a tiny little Charade, so I lost them by the time I was at the end of the driveway, but no worries, I had Steph and some amazing road trip mixes!
These were the days before smartphones, so when I got lost (surprise, surprise) trying to find the shortcut, I could call Dad, but had to describe where I was to him and he had to try and guess while looking at a map.
I got more and more confused and frustrated and anxious and finally Dad bellowed, ‘Just tell me a landmark you can see!’ and I looked around frantically and through my tears I saw something that seemed to fit the bill.
‘I can see something!’ I yelled.
‘What is it, I’ll find it on a map!’ yelled Dad.
‘I see a camel! Someone has a camel in their back yard! That’s weird. Huh. Look at that camel’.
There was a silence that followed where I could tell he was wishing they had conceived only two of their three children, but I did end up finding a more map-appropriate landmark and am not typing this from a rusted out car body in the backyard of a camel-owner’s paddock somewhere near Richmond.
My dad is pretty much my biggest fan. This doesn’t mean he thinks I am great, just that out of all the people who don’t think I am a huge failure, he is the most supportive.
Last night I rang him to check in, and discuss some recent events in my life and he said, ‘Well, you are sounding very mature, I must say’ and I said, ‘Yeah … maybe I used up all my immaturity yesterday!’ and then he said, ‘Maybe you did! … AHAHAHAHAHAHA!’ which I took to mean ‘Small chance of that, kiddo’.
The story today about a linesperson at the tennis who got hit in the eye with a serve reminded me of one particular season of netball I played, where I was actually pretty good. It was preceded by many seasons where I was not good at all, so I think it’s safe to say it was an aberration.
I was playing a particularly good game in this particularly good season when a woman approached my dad and told him I should try out for the rep side and go on a netball camp. I didn’t really want to do either, but my dad was so proud and I really needed to make up for The Great Hockey Underpants Incident, so I agreed.
When my parents dropped me off at the camp, I could tell that my dad saw how nervous I was, looking around at all the blonde, pretty, naturally athletic girls in their brand name sports gear and he knew I needed some pumping up, so he decided to show these girls that I could hold my own.
‘JULIA!’ he bellowed, ‘CATCH!’
In the split second I thought, ‘What?’ and turned, the bright yellow netball thrown at full force by my eight-foot tall brick shithouse of a father, reached my face and hit me directly on the nose, so the first impression of me that the netballers got was me weeping in the driveway, weeping those uncontrollable tears that even a minor tap to the nose can cause.
Regardless, I appreciated the sentiment. He’s a good egg, that dad of mine.