You Really Want to Know?

I just want to say a few things about the ridiculous RUOK Campaign.

Despite the best of intentions, unless you are prepared for the following answer:

“No, actually, I am not OK. My life has fed me a shit sandwich since the day I was born and it continues to get worse. The only reason I stick around is because I am too determined to not let my piece of shit life defeat me.”

or

“No, I think about ending my life every single day”.

or

“No, I need your help.”

Seriously? Don’t ask.

If you are not prepared to pay $100 an hour for a Psychologist, or are not prepared to pay their bills and feed their cat when they are hospitalised…

If you are not prepared to have someone break down in front of you.

If you don’t really know someone very well.

Then back the fuck off.

It’s a nice thought, really, but are you equipped to deal with the answer?

Have you experienced our mental health system lately?

The help isn’t there. Not really. Funding is cut to mental health services. No one gets support when recovering. Not really. We still have to work, pay bills, prioritise our days, parent… we all have to cope.

I agree that suffering in silence is a big, big problem. But sometimes, not talking about it helps you to just get through one more day, without losing your shit entirely.

If you have ever sat in a Psychologist’s office, you will know the power of the question “How are you?”. It’s a big responsibility to ask that question. It is not something that should be done without serious consideration. And training.

I know they mean well. But… this is serious stuff. Reducing Psychology into water cooler conversation is the height of irresponsibility and recklessness.

In defence of knob gags.

This morning, I woke up to a fun meme on Twitter. The #changelovetoknobsongs hashtag. For those that are unfamiliar with how these things take off, it generally means everyone gets on board, tries to have some fun with it, and after a little while, we all move on and everything goes back to normal. 95% of the posts are crap, but there is a portion that will have you laughing so hard, it is worth it.

When Julia Gillard ousted Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister, #spill was born. #ausvotes2010 has emerged as the hashtag for the Australian Federal Election. It helps people to connect, live, during an event on Twitter. The commentary is a mixed bag. Most of it is crap. But, there are a few gems in amongst it that really highlight the value of Twitter. Not only as commentary, but as a source of comedy. @kevinruddexpm seized that moment during the spill, providing us with lowbrow, but instantaneous humour during the leadership change.

And you know what? I love every minute of it.

Why am I comparing #changelovetoknobsongs to #spill? Well, why not? Both of those were sourced from the very same group of people. Both had roughly the same ratio of comedy to crap. And you know what? Yeah, it’s dick jokes. But that’s not even the point.

There were a few people who got on their high horses about the lameness of the meme. (@jasonjordan @lonefemaletog I am sorry if you think I am singling you guys out here  - much luvs)… but the commentary revolved around it being an “embarrassment” for Twitter. That it is not something you would want to showcase as an example of the power of Twitter. That the jokes were lazy or that “professionals” (still confused about what that even means) would not appreciate the joke.

But the point of Twitter is that it is not the quality of the content, or volume, or even the sophistication of the jokes that matter. It’s that everyone can find an audience, and for a brief moment we can all suspend our grown-upness and be idiots and run with it in the hope of making others laugh. It comes from the ground up. Or, the gutter up, in many cases. But that is precisely why Twitter is so powerful.

Twitter is powerful because people don’t need to censor themselves. Smart people, “professional” people, academics, Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, IT people, political people, retail assistants, 10, 12, 31, 45, 62… can all play on a level playing field and just be dumb and puerile for a little while. Because we are all 3-dimensional. I am a mother of 3 kids, own a business and have a high IQ. I also (surprisingly) know big words, have table manners and wear clothes from David Jones. I am going to be a Doctor and you know what? I find farts funny. And the day I stop finding farts funny is the day I become everything I hate.

I feel qualified to speak on this because I attract business because of who I am and how I say it on Twitter. I speak in an authentic voice and I make no apologies for doing so. I am friends with the most amazing group of diverse people, many of them “professionals”, and they love me for me. That’s how it should be. Airs and graces and pretence is an outmoded and dying concept. I am thankful to Twitter for allowing me to have my real voice out there.

Formality and hierarchy are slowly being eroded, and of course those who either don’t get that, or those who hold power because of it, will resist it. But ultimately, lowbrow or not, these are the things that are changing society for the better. Where a woman can swear and people *respect* what she’s doing. Where a Doctor or a Lawyer can be a *person* rather than a robot. Where a knob joke or a vagina joke has equal airtime to political commentary. It is eclectic, it is not always high quality, but there are gems if you are open to it. And that is why I will always defend it.

I don’t think I have laughed so much as after joining Twitter. It truly is crowdsourced comedy. And yes, like all crowdsourcing you’ll get amateur crap you have to sort through, but every so often, there is this glimmer of genius, or turn of phrase that makes you realise that it’s truly revolutionary. Not many get it or see it the way I do, I understand that, but you know, seriously, lighten the fuck up.

Poo. Bum and Wee. Burp. Fart.

Apple fans shit me and here’s why.

It is currently 1 degree celsius outside, which, by Australian standards, is about 5 degrees higher than the coldest night Perth has ever had. It’s cold. I am wearing layers and have a heater. It’s cold.

And what are some people doing tonight? Why, they are camping outside the new Apple Store that opens tomorrow, that’s what. As you do.

There is no new product. The iPad came out last month and it is available at several other stores. The iPhone 4 is out, I guess, but it’s a phone and most likely going to be available at every mobile phone kiosk at the same time.

Now, maybe I am just old, but WHY THE FUCK ARE PEOPLE SLEEPING OUT FOR A NEW STORE? It’s not like they are going to get anything, right? Is Steve Jobs going to come down from Heaven and jizz iTunes vouchers all over everyone? Hardly. Maybe a couple of people might get an umbrella but shit, you can buy one on eBay if you’re particularly desperate.

Now, look, we are an Apple family. To date, we own:

  • 1 iMac
  • 2 Macbook pros
  • 2 iPhones
  • 1 iPod touch
  • 1 iPod shuffle
  • 1 LED screen
  • 1 x Mac Mini
  • 2 x iPads

And even this:

Yes, that is an Apple lamp in my office. Shut up, it’s got nice light.

We really like Apple.

However, I need to officially distance myself from the Apple fanbois from now on because you know what? Apple fanbois give me the absolute shits. I know that people like to have a laugh at Apple’s expense and say that it’s all just hype, and blind oohing, aahing and eventually purchasing of everything Jobs shits out at the keynote, and it is this claim that frustrates me to no end.

And you know why? Because the fanbois make a company that actually makes very good quality products seem like nothing but a shiny gadget for the mindless, designer-label-consuming middle class. Instead of being seen with credibility and quality, as both Apple hardware AND customer service deserve, it ends up being aligned with latte-sipping, cargo-pant-wearing snotty nosed brats.

My computer is a workhorse. I switched to Mac for purely business reasons, and it is now my preference… but HOLY FUCK you idiots who are sleeping outside the Apple store? You make me look like a fucking idiot whenever I try to present a serious case for why Macs are more than just “hip”. They are excellent computers that are still running years after the best-config PC has died. I can ring Apple Care and get brilliant customer service. I can order a computer and it will arrive within 24 hours, and there will very rarely be a problem.

And yet, somehow, I am now aligned with the idiots who will go out in the freezing cold, for GOD KNOWS WHY and for GOD KNOWS WHAT, and yet again, I have to sit there, with my Apple lamp, thinking that somehow these people have managed to turn a computer into a religion. And Karl Marx always did say that religion was the opiate of the masses and I start to think “man, that guy was right”. And then I think that Karl Marx may have used a Mac and I get pissy again.

Remember: Words Have Power. And sympathy is not empathy.

Yes, I know. Another Charlotte Dawson post. Another social media person making commentary in order to get some Google Juice. Another person who has been the victim of online harassment speaking out. Another person sharing their story.

I know you’re fatigued with the discussion, because so much has been said already, but hear me out. Because whilst Charlotte Dawson’s Twitter bullying saga, landing her in hospital, and subsequently in the mainstream press, has been done to death, there is something I want to say about it.

There seem to be two, rather polarised, camps on the events of last week. The first, in Charlotte’s defence:

  • Decrying the bullies (and “trolls” being lumped in for good measure);
  • Calling for harsher legal consequences for online behaviour;
  • Calling this a feminist issue, where “strong” women are frequently targeted online with vicious attacks;
  • Criticism of telling a person, who has openly battled depression and lost a partner to suicide, to kill themselves (and rightly so).
  • That to criticise Dawson’s own contribution to the events that unfolded, is ‘victim-blaming’;
  • Commenting on the bigger picture of violent behaviour online, that stalkers are a very real problem for ‘celebrities’, and that you cannot understand unless you are in that position.

The second camp, are not terribly sympathetic of Dawson’s situation, and:

  • Say she is a troll herself, and therefore deserved everything she got;
  • Say that as a public figure she needs a thicker skin;
  • Say that she needs to disengage and detach from it, and accept that this is ‘how it works’ online;
  • Say that Dawson contacting the girl’s employer (a University), means that she was the one to overstep first;
  • “Don’t Feed the Trolls”;
  • Defending the definitions of harassment vs trolling (which are very different things, with different intent) and expressing concern that people who provoke for a bit of fun are going to be labelled “bullies” and hauled through court for “harassment” (a valid concern).

I think I have summarised most of the commentary, aside from the extreme , that my peers, the media, other commentators & friends have said over the last few days. I took a few days to really digest what was going on, and how I can provide some original thought on this subject that has been done to death… and I am still firmly… empathetic. More on that in a moment.

My point is, that despite people being polarised in their support (or lack thereof) of Charlotte Dawson, every single one of those points above… is true. It is all true. They are all factors in a complex issue, where… there are no absolutes, no right, no wrong. And as such, because I am still on the fence and believe that everyone has a legitimate point to make, I am going to recount some personal experience to try and make a broader point.

Like most people who are active on Twitter, I witnessed the incident in question. Honestly, when all the hubris hit, my immediate thoughts were that Charlotte Dawson was handling this… like a bit of a n00b. We’ve all done it. We knew it would happen eventually – you provoke the wrong person and BLAMMO. So when things got nasty, I honestly did not expect things to go the way they did. Because as you and I both know, Internet, a bit of fisticuffs is something that kind of goes with the territory.

  • It goes with the territory of being a public figure.
  • It goes with the territory of being online.
  • It goes with the territory of being a woman online.
  • It goes with the territory of having an opinion, on anything, ever, on the internet.
  • It also absolutely sucks balls when you are subject to an attack, particularly when you are battling with depression and suicidal thoughts on top of it.

Thing is, this stuff doesn’t just happen to celebrities. It happens every single day to ordinary people. It happened to me. It has happened to friends. I have had escalations and vicious attacks online that are certainly not for the faint hearted – ranging from a bit of rivalry & heated debate, to being systematically targeted by packs, to doing something I never thought I would and make a Police complaint & file an AVO.

Now, you all know by now, that I am not exactly innocent. I have been part of communities well-known for their snark and sarcasm, enjoy a bit of a playful poke and have built (and benefited from) a persona that is dry, sarcastic and snarky. I only ever target people who I think can either take it, ‘get it’, or are fair game (e.g. Reality TV show contestants & celebrities).

One of whom, has been Charlotte Dawson, who did one of her famous “RT the “bully”" things on me, on a fairly innocent-in-context remark, with NO opportunity for correction or recourse. To 30,000 Followers. It was a joke, during the Celebrity Apprentice, about a caricature. Not a real person. I said it. I own it. And I probably deserved it. But I don’t know that her response was entirely fair given the context. She was on Celebrity Apprentice, for fuck’s sake.

However, because I am a reasonable and fairly reflective sort, I learned from it. It made me think for a while about the role that sarcasm and snark, under the guise of “funny”, can hurt people, even if it isn’t my intent.

So, yes, in short, over the years, I have been complicit in some things I regret. Usually as a result of a misunderstanding (a big downside to relying on sarcasm rather than wit), sometimes because I saw bullying and harassment of others and didn’t speak out, because I knew that I would then become a target.

I have also been the target of harassment. I always intellectually knew that it wasn’t me, a real person, but my caricature, they were targeting (something that Dawson could actually try to understand). But, I have also struggled with an anxiety disorder for the better part of 20 years. On the good days, I can take it and dish it out. But on the bad days… it can be enough to push me over the edge. And quite literally, it did when I had a complete breakdown in 2010, partially as a result of Twitter abuse that escalated into full blown harassment. It wasn’t pretty. Claims about me as a mother in my most vulnerable time post-separation. Being called things that noone, ever, should ever call another human being (and remember… I defend the C word…). Of course, the abuse was not the only thing. It was not the cause of my breakdown. But to deny that it wasn’t at least a significant contributor, well, that would be a lie.

I don’t really talk about it. I let people think I was OK. But, I was terrorised. There is no other way to describe it other than… terror. Not just the self-inflicted terror of having a Formspring account (which I deleted quickly in an attempt to ‘ignore the trolls’), but absolute terror at logging onto my email, to work, to see what had landed in my inbox. Terror at checking my voicemails because I was getting abusive messages. Terror at even going online in case another well-meaning friend decided to tell me what was being said about me by those I had blocked.

I haven’t really talked about it till now. Because I was afraid. I am still a little afraid, to be honest. So, then, to try and preserve my sanity and emotional state, I completely deleted my blog, that I had been writing on for 7 years. I deleted my Twitter account & my Facebook account. I even contemplated (and trialled) changing my name at one point, just so I could do my job and be left alone. I was forced into virtual reclusion.

Bullying is not as simple as ignoring it when it escalates to that point. This is not a couple of negative responses. This is relentless. They follow you. You CAN’T just block it without taking napalm to your entire online life. Luckily for me, after 6 months, it settled down and I was able to rebuild my online profiles again. It briefly resurfaced, during the iPad thing, but… thankfully I was less psychologically vulnerable at that time and could take it.

I have been where Charlotte Dawson is, on a smaller scale, and It. Was. Fucking. Horrible.

And, like her, I have said things I regret, or crossed a boundary. Some may even believe that I deserve everything I get. I make no excuses, and have recently decided to reduce the role that negativity and sarcasm has in my life, and in the way I communicate. I have learned this the hard way. My point is not that I didn’t contribute to it, or to justify myself or look like a victim, or even to try and defend Charlotte Dawson, but to highlight the very real impact that these things can have on your psyche when you already struggle to begin with.

There is a difference between being sympathetic and showing empathy. I for one feel tremendous empathy for Charlotte Dawson right now. Even if I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for her actions. It is unfortunate that she has had to learn the hard way, and I hope that, rather than play victim and deflect all of the blame, she does at least acknowledge her role in it, and try to… be better. Engage positively. Lose the snark. Lose the sarcasm. It hurts people and you know what? It hurts people.

And yeah, you may just tick off the wrong person one day.

Learn from this.

Peace.

Whew.

It has been so long since I have blogged… this started as a Facebook status and I thought “hey… why not blog it and then people will think I am totally not neglecting my blog… suckas! ha ha ha”.

I am now almost 4.5 months into making the best and most liberating (and yes, terrifying) decision of my life. I am not generally adverse to making those kinds of risky decisions – I mean – I generally have a pretty adventurous disposition – but nothing has really paled to the decision to leave Perth to live in Sydney.

“Big deal”, is what most people would say… however… the decision to be further away from your children is one that is not easy. Most people just don’t understand, and some even go so far as to openly judge me for it. But, I love my children. I didn’t do it lightly. And… thus far, I think I am making it work.

When faced with the difficult choice between one piece of your heart (my career) over another (my children), there will always be doubt. And people will always have an opinion. And believe me, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t scrutinise that choice.

But as I sit here, after a week filled with some amazing developments for the business, and sharing it with someone… incredible… and with the once-tense relationship with my ex husband turning around into a positive co-parenting relationship, I realise that sometimes… you just have to go with your gut, even if everyone else thinks you are making a mistake.

On a day to day basis, I try to forget/suppress how much I miss the kids. I keep myself busy and fill it with distractions. We FaceTime as much as possible, and I try really hard to make it work.

I manage to forget the pain, for the most part, until I have a ticket booked to see them, and start preparing to have Moo again. We do month-on-month off with him, because he is not yet at school. And when my month comes around… I get so excited that I am reminded how much I miss my babies.

Missing them is such a normal part of my day and I am so busy I don’t give myself time to think about it…. that when the anticipation and excitement kicks in… I realise…”wow… that REALLY hurts”. And yeah, when I am exhausted or have a few glasses of wine… I get sad. I mean… who wouldn’t?

But, 4.5 months in and I realise, that Sydney is my home. I love it here. I made the right choice. Yes, it’s difficult. And there are aspects that do provide me with some stress and incertainty. But, nothing in life is certain (as the breakdown of our marriage proves), and… I am simply doing my best. I am finally starting to rebuild my life after an awful 3 years… and things are starting to work out. Sure, my kids may have a different view, and I am prepared for that (and would never blame them), but… I am trying to make it work.

And, my ex is coming around in a way I never expected him to, being more flexible with the kids and visits… and as money improves, hopefully it won’t even be an issue.

As I reflect on the craziness of the last 6 months, it hits me that, despite the odds, I reckon we can actually make this work. Against incredible odds, I reckon we can. And if there is anything that you can get out of this… it’s that you should follow your gut. Trust it. Make difficult choices as necessary, but follow your gut.

Well you can scratch that one off the bucket list…

The border.

So, I kind of managed the drive across the Nullarbor! Made it to Ceduna without any hassles. I am actually surprised, but it’s weird, that now I have hit the other side… and am free to enjoy a couple of days… that the emotions kick in and I realise that I have left WA. I actually did it. Wow.

I drove across the Nullarbor, alone. I didn’t break down, I didn’t get serial killed… and in some small part, I managed to distract myself with the “big  drive” and everything till the SA border, so as not to have to think about what I am actually committing to doing here.

Fuck, I LEFT Western Australia. After 15 years of talking about it, I have actually done it. For a maybe.

While I ponder that for longer than I should, I suddenly realise that it’s a hell of a drive back if I chicken out now.

So, like the lovely psychologically healthy person I am, I’ll just distract myself again and tell you about the trip.

I left Madura at about 7am, after a pretty average sleep, what with keeping one eye & ear open for mice eating my eyeballs. I made Ceduna my goal, planned to pace myself, take in the sights, take photos… and I did. To an extent.

The outback is… amazing. I don’t know why people say there is nothing to see – it really does have some incredible beauty if you look for it. Going from brown, to green, to red… to glimpses of cliffs on the Bight to the most beautiful red & ash-coloured trees I have ever seen (and need to be seen with eyes, not a lens, to be fully appreciated!). And that’s the thing. It really is something that you need to see. Experience. Take in all the colour and the beauty and the vastness that a lens just can’t capture. It really is… epic.

So yes, I got some pretty great shots. But honestly? I actually really, really like (and prefer) the driving part. There is something incredibly Zen about hitting the open road, alone with your (in my case swirling and complex) thoughts and emotions… that each time I hit somewhere, I really only stopped for half an hour, to stretch my legs, go “aw pretty”, take a picture… and then… kept moving.

I guess I learned something about myself, which is that I relax more when I am moving forward. Not too good at the sitting still, me. So a note to anyone planning holidays with me: you better be planning to take me exploring or walking up a mountain…

Anyway, yesterday, I finished the leg between Madura, Ceduna and landed in Smoky Bay with the intention of spending some quality time there.

Until I was told there was no accommodation.

See, apparently all the oldies like to fill up all the caravan parks and accommodation in March & April, creating a grey peak tourist season outside of the school holidays. I did not know or plan for this… I assumed that because school holidays was over, that it wasn’t a problem.

But apparently it’s peak season, so without paying over $150 a night for a room (which I can’t afford), I am fucked.

The guy at Smoky Bay was really nice and apologetic… and laughed at my joke that I should camp outside in case we get a “casual caravan park vacancy”… so … I wasn’t annoyed. And, unperturbed (given that this is an adventure after all and I know I am a control freak who really needs to learn to just roll with things…) I continue to Streaky Bay, where I was again informed there was “no room at the Inn”.

Same problem.

It was at this point I decided that I was not paying $30 for an unpowered campsite (my only option other than $150+ a night hotel rooms). I stopped at the Streaky Bay bar, where everyone was just a little weird and looked at me funny and made me feel generally uncomfortable. Or maybe I was just about to meltdown… because I love the feeling of having no control. Yeah, I am totally in my element there.

It was at this point it really started to hit me what I was doing. I was half way between either home, with nowhere to stay because everything was full… people were looking at me weird, my daughter won’t talk to me on the phone… and… then I find out that an old friend had passed away… it was all too much.

So, after a little panic attack and a cry to Martin, at 8pm, all emotional, tired, out of control and sad to hear about Jaye, I decide “FUCK IT” and hit the road and drove till I was tired.

It was absolutely WONDERFUL.

I have no problem with night driving. I take it easy, I am alert and know how to handle myself on country roads. And… it was awesome. No roos, the occasional road train, and passing dead quiet country town after dead quiet country town.

And then I saw the big concrete cockatoo. Never before have I been so relieved to see the stupidest thing I have ever seen. Kimba. Halfway across Australia and slightly more than halfway through my trip. It is hard to describe that feeling, especially given the weird state of mind I was in that got me there in the first place. But…

For the first time in about 2 weeks, I breathed out. And I smiled. And then I cried. Hard. SHUT UP YOU DON’T KNOW.

So, I kept going for a bit longer, and eventually started to feel tired around midnight, and because nothing was open along the way, about 70K West of Iron Knob (heh… knob), I pulled over into a rest area with all the truckies and slept in the car. Which, ironically, was the most comfortable sleep I have had the entire trip!

I woke up, found a shower on the way, and am now sitting in Port Augusta. Where I am actually feeling good and relaxed.

There’s more to write about that, so I will save that for the next post. It’s funny the things you learn about yourself when you travel on your own…

Norseman to… Madura?

So, right now I am completely offline.

I was chatting to the guy at the BP in Norseman this morning, and making small talk about lack of comms and internet. He said “that’s why I kind of like not having the internet a lot of the time. When you can’t Google everything, knowledge is more valuable than information”. I liked that.

So, anyway, I drove 700km this afternoon. I arrived in Madura at 7pm. It is now 9:30pm and I have unloaded my car twice because I had to move rooms. More on that later.

For the last few months I have been contemplating/anticipating/planning the Nullabor drive. I have been reading up on how harsh it is. I have been reading about all the little adventures you can have… and, intellectually, I was completely prepared for anything that happened along the way.

And you know what?

It was fucking anti-climactic.

Not in the sense that it was disappointing – it is beautiful. It is quite Zen-like, in fact.

It was anti-climactic in the way that it was actually MUCH easier than I thought it would be.

“Oooh it’s SO boring! The 90 Mile straight will kill you from the boredom!”

Nar. Wasn’t an issue. I don’t get bored easily. My brain is a circus. Not a problem. Besides, I have karaoke in my car…

“Watch out for kangaroos/camels/bunyips and especially don’t drive at dusk”.

Well, guess what? I DIDN’T SEE ONE LIVE ANIMAL ALL DAY. And, because I am a fucktard who forgot about timezones, found myself driving at dusk. And guess what? NOTHING. I saw ONE eagle eating a Kangaroo corpse. Any other roadkill had been well tenderised days ago (and by tenderised, I mean mooshed repeatedly into the bitumen to make a mincemeat pancake)… and 2 sheep at the side of the road.

That was it.

In fact, it was a very pleasant drive. Time went fast, I barely even noticed how far I had driven, and now, I am well on track to Ceduna from here.

I must say, that there was a “squee!” moment when the road got pretty and hilly again. And here I am, at the Madura “Oasis” Motel.

This is as far as I could get before nightfall, and it’s… you know… an Outback roadhouse. I am haemorrhaging cash, with fuel being $2.10 a litre (! YES I have noticed the massive difference in consumption between Premium Unleaded and normal… massive difference and Premium is well worth the money), it’s a LOT more expensive than I thought it would be. And the accommodation is… well… not great.

To be honest, I am starting to think that I am better off sleeping in my car on a cheap powered caravan/camping site. The best night I had was in Coolgardie, but the rest have been pretty bad. So I might try that and see how I go. Can’t be any less comfortable!

Look, I am no Princess. I love camping, can live for days without power or anything fancy. I am in the Outback and I am not expecting anything other than a bed to sleep in, access to power and the basics… and… NOT HAVING VERMIN IN MY ROOM WHEN I PAY $80 A NIGHT.

Because, I tell you what… there is no vermin in my car. I have nice pillows and blankets and stuff and at $80 a night, I will happily sleep in my car if it means not having my feet chewed off. The thing that annoyed me tonight was not the mouse… I mean… it happens… it’s the Outback! But what annoyed me was the “countryfolk” taking the piss because I happened to go in and ask what I should do to deal with it. Like “har har city person” condescension… like I can’t POSSIBLY know anything about anything.

I FUCKING KNOW I AM IN THE OUTBACK. And I was not freaking out. I simply asked if they had a broom or whatever so I could get it out to sleep… but it became this big deal. And then I look like a city prick freaking out over a mouse, when I really didn’t care… I just didn’t fancy paying $80 for the privilege of wildlife infestations around my ears.

I’d take up drinking if it wasn’t $300 for a bottle of wine.

So, Eucla & the Bight and pretty things tomorrow. I am looking forward to seeing the ocean. I am leaving here at 6am, so I should go get some shut-eye.

Perth to Norseman

Why hello. I am writing to you from Norseman, WA. For those of you unfamiliar with the vast land between Perth & Adelaide, Norseman is the last stop (…approximately 1200km) where you can get decent water (without paying a premium), supplies and… OMG there is ZERO phone or 3G reception without a satellite phone. For 1200km.

So, obviously I am lingering here for another day, to take care of outstanding work, prior to going dark for the longest period of time since I was in a coma for 6 days. Believe me, I am dreading a repeat of the emails I got then (you know, because I had the gall to go and almost die and leave a woman without her slideshow…).

So yeah, I am finalising things before I go, you know, just in case something happens and I go get myself Wolf Creeked or something.

Why?

For those who are not up to speed on what’s been happening… About 4 months ago, I decided to move to Sydney. I said “within the next 6 months”, started making plans… and well, here I am, with my worldly possessions in the back of my Kia Rio, making my way across the country. I was initially going to fly… you know… to make it EASY on myself… but because I have a car that is under finance, it became a pain in the arse to sell it… so… I decided to drive over, extract a couple of days of R&R, enjoy a leisurely drive over, do the “bucket list” thing of driving the Nullarbor and start anew.

As for the kids, I’ll be flying back to Perth once a month and staying approximately a week. Still not entirely sure how it is going to work (or how I am going to pay for it!), but… that’s the goal. We have clients in Perth, and I am committed to keeping roots in both cities (even though Sydney is my new ‘base’).

So, I am going to blog my journey as best I can, but frankly, it’s not really very interesting! I mean sure, I am a 33 year old woman, driving alone across some of the harshest land in the world… but to me, it’s not really very interesting. I have planned this trip so that it is NOT interesting, you know, beyond the stuff I will see.

Because nobody wants an INTERESTING trip, where they break down, lose tyres or end up as a wilted skeleton corpse on the side of the Eyre Highway. I will take perfectly boring ANY DAY, thank you very much.

So, Norseman.

I thought it fitting to write a post just before I disappear. You know, because if I die, at least you know I will have died doing what I love: sleeping in the freezing cold, with limited water supply and no internet.

If I break down after this point, my only option is to flash a truckie my sub-standard boobs and perform favours for a lift. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that… I am about to leave, and I managed to charm a guy into checking my tyres for me. See, ladies, THAT is how it’s done. You apply sunscreen to your bare shoulders at the service station and then look quizzically at the air thingy… and someone will help you.

Fuck Bear Grylls, I know how to survive in the desert.

It’s funny though. I have 6 bottles of water, and I have gone back in 3 times for one more. The service station attendant thinks it’s endearing and funny. I think it’s fucking TERRIFYING. You should NOT READ THE INTERNET about crossing the Nullarbor. And yes, even though I know it is aimed at English fucktard tourists who underestimate the conditions, there is this part of you that knows all the potential things that can go wrong. Which, if you are a control freak like me, means you end up carrying about 500L of water and 14 spare tyres. And, you know, a helicopter just in case.

Seriously though, I like long drives, and have thus far easily made it to Norseman without any fatigue, boredom or anything else. Growing up as a kid who was always on long drives, and then later as an adult who worked in the Goldfields, I am struggling to find anything interesting to say about the Perth-Norseman leg — firstly because I have seen it and secondly, well, I am not one to get bored easily… I am happily alone with my thoughts and let my mind wander and it’s an adventure. But you know, if you haven’t seen WA yet, then… well… you totally should. Because it’s beautiful.

So anyway, I will see you on the other side, no doubt with much to rant about.

Undateable.

So, an interesting article landed in my feeds this morning:

Why men don’t fancy Funny women

More than half the men who took part in the survey revealed that a witty woman was not what they were looking for in a partner. Dr Martin said the findings suggested that men see themselves as the ones who should be delivering the lines and feel threatened by humorous women.

This is one of many articles I have seen, since I entered (and then opted out of) the absurdly dysfunctional world of dating, where studies dissect dating behaviour and try to understand what men (and women) find appealing in a partner.

There are articles that say that men don’t like women who make more money than they do. They don’t like educated women. They don’t like women who are taller than them. They prefer younger women. They don’t like fat women, or women with children from previous relationships. They don’t like women with opinions. They don’t like “needy” women. They don’t… well… you get the picture.

I don’t even actively seek out this sort of information and according to most of these things… as an educated, overweight, somewhat tall, funny (well… that’s subjective), ambitious, not-being-able-to-be-bought-off-with-diamonds, mother of 3 with a chronic illness and a litany of abandonment and avoidance issues that I grapple with every day…. I should just shoot myself right now because I am going to die alone. I am so undateable it’s not funny.

It sounds absurd, right?

Similarly, men are subjected to the message that they must be successful, tall, romantic… hell even I have my list of what I look for in a partner.

But you know, the more I navigate this whole “single” and “dating” thing… I realise that whilst some of the catch cries are true when things are unhealthy or not working out (Read: “He’s Just Not That Into You” and everything on the brilliant Baggage Reclaim) - it’s, quite frankly, all a load of crap, because at the end of the day, we love who we love. It actually isn’t a conscious choice.

It’s easy to theorise about people when they are an intellectual concept or stereotype, saying what your preferences are. Maybe, when they asked the question about funny women, the men actually pictured Catherine Tate, or Janeane Garofalo, who they weren’t physically attracted to. Or, they have a theory that most comics are depressed… and they have extrapolated a stereotype that helps them respond to a complex question.

As someone who was asked this on radio, TV, and continue to be asked…”What makes your ideal mate?”, it’s a highly, highly complex question to answer. I always kind of muttered and said “When you know, you know.”

But at the end of the day, it is quite simple. First, it is possible to be an exception to “The Rules”. Second, no-one fully understands what makes a successful relationship. Third, and the most important point:

There is always someone who will love you for you. All of you. It might not happen right now, and let’s be honest, your flaws may shit them no end… you may not even fit their “check list” at all. But eventually, someone will come along who accepts you for who you are… and possibly even loves you for your ‘flaws’. In fact, for anyone I have ever dated, it has always been their idiosyncracies and “deviations” from my check-list that have been the most appealing.

So I guess my point with this study, and like all of the similar ones… is that you shouldn’t settle. And you most certainly should not modify who you are. It’s OK to feel alone and frustrated and lament that men don’t like assertive, successful women with baggage and a sense of humour (let alone health problems!). Hell, I worry all the time that that magic mix of the right person, right timing and right circumstances will never fully align… But no-one should have to compromise who they are just for the sake of a relationship. Yes, sure, working towards self-improvement is one thing — like I said, I have a whole host of crappy things that I work on every day… but being intelligent and funny are QUALITIES not FLAWS. And no way is it something I would EVER modify for the sake of another person.

Be you. The rest will happen… eventually. Maybe. And if it doesn’t, so what?

 

Witnessing the Marriage Equality discussion…

Witnessing the Marriage Equality discussion, and a few others in the last few years since social media took off… makes me reflect on my Undergrad Politics classes.

We learned that 95% of the Australian public are apathetic to political discussion, not engaged, don't even know how government works. We learned that engaging the electorate-at-large in a meaningful debate was like pushing shit uphill.

It makes me wonder how much of an impact Social Media has had on this. I have seen several examples of people who would have been considered apathetic in those days, talking positively about political change. Getting involved. Getting active.

Maybe all people ever wanted or needed was to feel like what they say is being heard? What an incredibly heartening thing… to witness fundamental change as a result of technology. #wp

We are the 99% and we are douchebags too.

I have a genuine dilemma about the 99% movement…

On one hand, I agree with the sentiment, in principle. On the other, I consider it to be ignoring one big point: That people are selfish, irrespective of the economic base it comes from.

Greed & individualism, at the expense of human compassion, are our enemy. Not the rich. Case in point: Every person that has ever fucked me over & destroyed MY life has been in the middle… even when presented with the option not to.

In fact, most of the people I have met who are in (or approaching) the 1%, are actually fucking great people, and do a lot for others.

Therefore, I choose to live my life according to this song:

I absolutely LOVE this.

Nancy Upton. Entrant of the American Apparel “Next Big Thing” Model competition… totally pwned them. Her pictures involved her, as a very beautiful US Size 12… cavorting with chocolate sauce, ranch dressing and a cherry pie.

This is quality, quality LOLs with a very fierce statement.

Good on you Nancy. I love it.