Me Too

When the #MeToo campaign started I felt ill. I couldn’t quite pin point why…but I felt a bit sick every time the hashtag appeared on my various devices. I was reading awful tales of groping and abuse and quickly telling myself, “you don’t have a #MeToo story, skip past it.” But I have several, I think most women do. But at the time they felt insignificant, even though they ranged from deeply unsettling to inconvenient. They were experiences I’ve barely bothered to discuss with other women because they seemed harmless. They weren’t. I may be one of many women who’ve been harassed but that doesn’t mean my voice is meaningless in this rather elaborate narrative.

#MeToo when I was four and a strange man tried to pull me onto a train in front of my distracted mother.

#MeToo when I was fourteen and the boys that caught my train used to yell obscene sexual things at me and touch me inappropriately on the way to school because it was “funny”. #MeToo when I told my friends and they thought I was lucky because I was getting so much attention from nice looking boys (half of them older than me).

#MeToo when I was sixteen, waiting for my Mum in a quiet (but not unpopulated) mall and a drunk (and possibly high) man sat with me for an hour, touching me, telling me he thought I was pretty. #MeToo when I couldn’t move because I was so frightened, when several adults walked past me, even when I pleaded with them (albeit through eye contact) to save me…all whilst in my school uniform. #MeToo when I told my mother and she was sympathetic but unconcerned and unsurprised.

#MeToo when I was eighteen and started receiving unsolicited pictures of dudes private areas.

#MeToo when I was nineteen and I was groped in a movie theatre by my lovely date (even though I mumbled a no and moved away from him). #MeToo when I felt like I had to comply because he bought my ticket and my drink.

#MeToo when I was twenty and a guy I wasn’t seeing, tried to get me to play a ‘sex game’ with him and got extremely pissy with me when I refused. Thankfully I was better at saying no and sticking to it by then…I don’t want to think about the trouble I could have gotten myself into if I’d been younger.

No, I wasn’t raped. But this sort of behaviour and my own dismissal of it feeds a culture that allows men like Harvey Weinstein (and women like Harvey Weinsten) to act recklessly, without punishment for twenty years. It allows Johnny Depp to come out the hero of his divorce from Amber Heard. It allows dear old Donald to become President of the United States. By not discussing these instances of harassment I am contributing to a culture that not only ignores such abhorrent behaviour, but also forgives it.

That’s not to say anyone with stories like mine (or worse) need to come forward and write #MeToo. Victims should not be solely responsible for repairing this culture. But those of us (like me, who hasn’t been irreparably scarred by these instances) who can come forward should. Expose the motherfuckers! That being said, I can’t bare to post this to my social media, I don’t want my voice heard on there and I think that says something. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for someone who has been severely impacted by their #MeToo story to share it.

And you know what’s really sick…even as I write this I’m hesitating to post it because I feel awful for lumping my measly stories in with all the awful stories I’ve read so far. I don’t deserve to be part of this discussion, I don’t get a say, at least that’s what my funny little brain is telling me.

I know that the #MeToo will be soon forgotten (as is every other meme, remember Kony2012 or I need feminism because…?). But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important…we’ve started a crucial dialogue. And even if it only exists for several days or weeks, it’s part of how we fix the problem. You can’t mend a problem like this in a week or via twitter…it takes years, if not centuries. But still, we have to start. And in a world full of filters and like buttons, this feels like an appropriate means of starting the discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things I am not very good at…

I’d like to think I’m pretty good at everything but sadly, I too, as a humble mortal, have failings. I am not good at everything, in fact I’m rather terrible at a few things.

In no particular order here is a list of things I have yet to master.

  1. Accepting compliments. I know, it sounds like a dumb problem to have but I’m truly awful at accepting compliments. I forget to say thank-you, I never compliment the person back and I usually transform into an introverted weirdo (which is also my actual personality but I try and I try and hide that). Mostly it ends with me saying, “oh yeah, well…that’s not…I forgot to shower…god bless you.”
  2. Using Google maps. I really need to figure maps out (Google maps specifically). The amount of times I get in a car with someone and they ask me to navigate and I’m too embarrassed to admit to being Google maps illiterate and end up directing us to some shady caravan park is concerning. Seriously, I really need to take some sort of course on Google maps…I’d fail, but I still need to take it.
  3. Following recipes. I can sort of cook. Everything I make is edible but it always taste just a little weird and it has a lot to do with my tendency to go off book. As soon as I start the cooking process I am overcome by some strange and incompetent Martha Stewart demon. Note to self: you are not Martha, you should not put in three more onions because you’ve been ‘inspired’.
  4. Time management. I’m really good at procrastinating…like really good. If procrastinating were a sport I’d be on the Olympic team baby. I’d be an elite procrastinator. Unfortunately it isn’t a sport and it’s never, ever done me any good. Seriously Charlotte, you gotta manage your time better girl.
  5. Talking at a normal volume. I either whisper or I shout everything (usually due to overexcitement). The worst part? I hardly ever know I’m doing it.
  6. Proofreading. I hate proofreading, it’s awful, I want it to go away. But, it’s sort of important. So yeah, gotta learn to do it more. Sigh.
  7. Going to bed at a reasonable time. Since I graduated high school I’ve had serious trouble sticking to a sleep schedule. I mostly go to bed between 12-1 am and wake up anywhere between 5-10am. When I was doing Law (gross) I regularly went to bed at 3-4 am and woke up at 11am. It’s very naughty and my body hates me for it.
  8. Wearing my retainer. I had braces for a year and a half in high school and because of that I have to wear a retainer for the rest of my life. Yay. I should wear it more than once a week but it’s so god damn uncomfortable and kind of gross. Also I really to visit my orthodontist.
  9. Arriving on time. I’m never late, like ever. I think I’ve been late three times in my life. Instead, I’m the pathetic loser that shows up thirty minutes early ‘just in case’. If you invite me to literally anything I’ll be waiting down the block, watching the clock, until it’s an acceptable time to be ‘early’.
  10. Staying upright. I’m really clumsy. Last week I was doing my ‘important, professional woman with a purpose’ walk into work and I rolled my ankle and came alarmingly close to falling to the ground. Worse still, it was in front of all the other important, professional men and women doing their ‘professional person with a purpose’ walk…and none of them fell to the ground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Worry, Your Cousin Burt Isn’t Going to Marry an Alpaca…

In Australia you can eat kangaroos, you can put beetroot on burgers and you can walk barefoot through Coles without judgement. But if you’re a lady that likes ladies or a man that fancies men, unfortunately, you’re still not allowed to marry your soulmate. So, because the LNP are kinda gutless we’re holding a (voluntary) postal survey to help parliament decide whether or not same sex couples can marry.

I’ve seen some silly responses to the survey, namely the ad that’s been appearing during ad breaks for the Bachelor (Ironic isn’t it? You can date 24 girls at one time but Steve and Damien can’t walk down the aisle).

I respect the ‘Vote No’ campaign. I don’t understand it and I don’t think I ever will. I spent twelve years in Catholic education and even they were cool with homosexuality. But I don’t think spitting on a bush fire does anything to tame the growth of the flames.

But…I do think we should talk about some of the ‘Vote No’ campaigns concerns.

Number One. What About the Children?

What about them? Kids don’t care if the lesbians down the road marry. They think it’s cool that their friend Mindy has two Dads.

They care about feeling safe and warm and fed. They want you to tell their brother to stop cutting the heads off their Barbies. They want you to stop feeding them green foods. They want to be loved.

Trust me, your kids aren’t confused by gay marriage…evidently, it’s the grown ups that have trouble wrapping their heads around the concept (apparently we get sillier as we grow older).

Number Two. What’s Next…Humans and Horses?

If your cousin Burt wants to marry an alpaca trust me, he’s going to marry that (gorgeous) alpaca. It won’t be legal but he’s going to do it anyway (probably on a Tuesday in December under a flowery arch). Marriage between humans and animals will never be legal…sorry Belle, you and Beasty boy ain’t ever walking down the aisle (p.s please tell me what the grey stuff tastes like).

Number Three. They’re Going to Make My Son Wear a Dress.

Look, if your kid wants to rock a pair of Louboutins and a silk evening gown can you please congratulate him on having excellent taste for me? Oh, and ask him if ruffles are in or out this season?

Seriously man, if little Billy wants to slip on his sisters Snow White costume the world will continue to spin. And if their school is encouraging them to disregard gender conceptions you picked a good school.

Number Four. But, but, but…it’s gross.

PDA is gross, cannibalism is horrific, people who think Keira Knightly was a better Elizabeth Bennet than Jennifer Ehle are disgusting. But gay marriage is none of those things…it’s actually pretty awesome.

*

It is your choice, whether or not you vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the survey but please, fellow straight person, remember, it really won’t effect you.

No one is going to make you marry a person of your sex. No one will make your child marry a person of their sex (although I’d hope if they did you’d be supportive). The only annoyance you might experience, is the sudden disappearance of your friends in the wedding planning business.

A ‘yes’ vote will propel Australia into the 21st century where it belongs. It will change the lives of some of my friends. It will level the playing field. It will mean I’m going to get to go to some fabulous weddings. It means happiness.

Let’s let love win. And stop picturing Burt with that alpaca.

 

The Writer’s Tag

I found this tag on the internet and decided to give it a go. Are tags till a thing? They better be or else I look like a real noob.

What do you write?

Novels. General/Women’s fiction I suppose, New Adult, Young Adult…and they always include a romance component. I like to mix it up. You can’t tie this girl down…to a genre.

What do you mostly write about?

I’ve never stuck to a genre, sometimes I like soppy, happy, cliche plot lines, sometimes I like disturbing, gritty tales about pretty girls. I’m better at the disturbing stuff. I do not want to look into what that tells me about myself.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Writing is sort of my ‘thing’ now. It’s something I’d like to think I’m somewhat good at and I like being somewhat good at something. But truthfully, it’s a replacement. My true love is acting, it’s the only thing I am naturally good at, I do not have to put much effort into it, it’s just something I’ve been able to do pretty well since I was a kid. But…I left that dream behind (for various reasons) and picked up writing. I am not a naturally brilliant writer but the work makes the reward that much sweeter. And so really, I like that it keeps my creativity alive, it’s given me another ‘thing’ and that has kept me sane.

What/Who inspired you to start/keep writing?

I started writing properly when I was thirteen (truly, I started my first novel at thirteen like the big nerd I am). I was in a friend group not unlike the Plastics from Mean Girls and I needed to write about it because I was too much of baby to break free.

I keep writing because I like telling stories and I like talking to myself about my books on trains and buses and long runs. That sounds odd. It’s not, I promise.

Who’s your favorite character you’ve made up?

Oh god, do not make me pick! That’s like asking me to pick a favourite child.

When did you start writing?

Thirteen. Don’t be fooled, I wasn’t any good at it. I thought ‘mean girls are mean and it makes everyone sad’ was an original plot line.

First story you wrote?

No clue. I was probably pretty little. I made my sister a book of short stories for Christmas when I was seven…that’s as early as I can remember.

Favorite story you wrote?

Pretty Girls Die First. It’s the novel I’m working on right now and it is almost done. Actually, it probably is finished, but I can’t stop prodding at it.

Do you have a writing schedule? Like, do you write every day or just when you feel like it?

Good god no. I write when I feel like it. Sometimes that is every day for three hours, sometimes that’s once a month for twenty minutes. I can’t write if I’m not in the mood.

Do you want to be published?

Heck yeah.

Writing Bits

These are bits and bobs from the book I’m working on (which is painfully close to being finished). It’s called Pretty Girls Die First. Please don’t steal the title or any of my carefully crafted words. I will find you and I will give you a very stern talking to.

 

I have been drained of my emotions. Someone stuck a cork in my brain and my heart, twisted, and then pulled it out without asking. And before I had the chance to say my piece, everything that makes me human spilled out of me and onto the floor, sticking to my shoes and swimming around my ankles. So that they always followed me, just out of reach, a reminder of what I’ve lost. I wish they had been poured into a nice tall glass, cooled with ice-cubes and given to me as a drink, my humanity fed back into my bloodstream. Maybe then I wouldn’t be this numb.

***

It’s funny how the night always plays out the same way. But still, I remain in my seat, transfixed by the tired narrative.

***

So I’m worried. I’m worried Leo is going to expect me to be perfect when all I’ll ever be is human.

So lately, stupidly, I’ve been thinking about Rob again. Not in a romantic, I want you back, type of way. Instead, I’ve been turning arguments over in my head. I’ve been cradling memories of dirty texts sent to other girls in the palm of my hand. It’s like cheating, in reverse.

Because, in the end, and as much as I despise myself for it, it’s easier to fixate on Robert. He knows me. There is no starting again with Robert because he’s already seen how ugly I am, inside and out.

***

“I’m never going to be in love with you the way that he was.”

***

I was deluded. I secretly trusted the idea that what we had was too passionate, too intense for this world. It was destructive and sometimes it left me raw but it was romantic. It was Scarlett and Rhett. Romeo and Juliet. Bonnie and Clyde. We were so in love with each other that we destroyed the better parts of one another. What I should have paid better attention to was the lack of a happy ending in these love stories. I should never have based my romantic expectations on fiction.

I bet that if he had pressed a gun to my breastbone and threatened to pull the trigger…I bet…I’d press my chest deeper into the barrel until it bruised me. And the next day, like a fool, I’d maintain his love for me. Romeo and Juliet baby. Romeo and that fucking idiot Juliet.

Stupid Things I’ve Done…

I’m sort of excellent at embarrassing myself. I’ve spent the last twenty-one years mastering the art of self humiliation. Here’s some of the dumb things I’ve done.

  1. I fell over whilst receiving the award for clumsiest skier. Yeah. That happened.dasaaa.gif
  2. I once stayed on a bus I was meant to get off of. Sure, everyone’s done that or come close. Except, my friend was with me and I watched her get off the bus, instead of getting off with her. And I then waved at her, completely oblivious.giphy (2)
  3.  In my first week at my new uni Uni I went to the wrong room for each of my four classes. What’s worse is, I sat through two full tutorials, completely confused when they told me my name wasn’t on the roll.asdsa

 

4. I got my side fringe caught in a comb when I was twelve, my Mum had to cut it out, leaving me with a very short, very jagged front fringe. It took me a year to grow that baby out.

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5. I thought rabbits laid eggs till I was sixteen. I’m intelligent, I swear.

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6. I ran out on a date because I hadn’t realised the dude was such a creeper. I took a phone call in the movie and literally ran to the train station. How romantic.

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7. Last year, in the hopes of re-inventing myself, I cut a front fringe. It wasn’t the look I was going for but it wasn’t a disaster. So, a bit panicked, I cut my hair into a chin length bob thinking it would make me look super edgy. It was the most unflattering look I’ve ever sported, seriously, I’ve burned all the photos so I can’t show you. Trust me, it was bad. It’s been a year and I’m still haunted by the six months it took me to get it past my shoulders.

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8. I was raised in a Catholic family, had twelve years of Catholic education and I’d like to think I’m kind of tight with Jesus. But…it took me a while to figure out that the cross we hang around our necks as jewellery is symbolic of Jesus dying on the cross. And by a while, I mean I didn’t realise until like last month. Sorry Jesus.

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9. I bought a pair of boots online last year, I wear them nearly everyday, and I am in constant discomfort. I looked at my order a month ago, turns out I ordered a size six. I am a size eight. Can someone please hold my hand and guide me through adulthood, I am not doing it right.

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10. I regularly put coffee in my coffee machine without the filter…and proceed to make myself a lovely, grainy cup of coffee. Seriously, help me! Anyone, please, I don’t care if you judge me, I need someone to tell me how to stop being an idiot!

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Writing bits…

I’m trying to tackle my anxieties regarding people reading my writing because ideally, I’d really like to get one of my books published. So…I am sharing bits and bobs on here to try and combat that fear. Here is the opening chapter to a book I tried writing this year…unfortunately, I’ve abandoned it. I may develop it into something later but for right now I have other writing projects that I’m working on. Still, I’d like to share this first chapter.

 

***

Winston gives Ivy a nervous little smile. The type of smile you give a girl when you’re about to kiss her for the first time, or tell her that you love her. But instead, Winston opens his mouth and tells her that he is currently in a rather serious relationship with a girl called Lorelei.

“What?” Ivy’s mouth is a sticky puddle. “I’m sorry, did you just say…”

He laughs, like this is a rather delicious secret they’re sharing. “I know, it must come as a shock. We’ve been going out for about two years now. I’m breaking it off with her. I promise.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m breaking it off with her. Tomorrow. Or sometime in March. Either way, I’m leaving her for you.”

She blinks back at him, as he looks at her with hope, lips spread in a contented manner. Ivy notices the plaid button down he wears proudly. She blanches, he looks like my grandfather, if my grandfather still had a mop of honey-brown hair. “Winston, we’ve been going out for two years.”

He nods, “Yes, it was really a rather unfortunate time when you came into my peripheral. In fact, it was only around a week after I went steady with Lorelei that I met you.”

“You’ve been dating us. Both of us. For two fucking years! I’m not the other woman Winston, I’m the woman. You’ve been two-timing both of us.”

He pats the leather lining of his mother’s favorite sofa. “Ivy, that’s not very fair.”

Ivy stands, shocking the cat, Lula. “It’s completely fair.”

He rolls his eyes. “Honestly, you’re making this a big deal when it the grand scheme of things it really isn’t.”

She laughs, sarcastically. He hates it when she does that, so she really draws it out, waiting two beats before she speaks again, so he can sit in the discomfort he must be feeling. “No, I’m sorry, this is nothing. I shouldn’t be at all bothered by the fact that my boyfriend has been screwing some other girl for the entirety of our relationship!”

“Well, when you put it like that.”

Her stomach threatens her with her recently digested apple strudel. “I’m going to have to get tested for STD’s. My Doctor is going to think I’m a slut.”

“No, he won’t.” He leans towards her, lowering his voice. “And besides, I always wore a rubber.”

Something inside her, located near her diaphragm, snaps. “THEY’RE CALLED CONDOMS WINSTON! THIS ISN’T 1983!”

He flinches, recoiling at the volume of her voice. He had no idea her voice could fill the room that way.

Ivy is sick of pretending that she doesn’t mind his prissy way of talking or his ugly beige pants. She chose the nice boy, the one we’ve all been told is the best fit for a nice girl. Her mother told her, over and over again, “marry a nice boy Ivy. Nice boys will never hurt you.” Except, the nice boy broke her too.

And what if she isn’t a nice girl?

“I don’t like the way you are speaking to me. I realize you go to a public school and thus you’re a little rougher around the edges than I am, but I will not allow you to raise your voice like that in my house.”

“This is your mother’s house. And I’m the one that’s going to Harvard in the fall, you couldn’t even get into Brown.” She makes her voice as icy as possible. She refuses to be bullied by this boy. Two solid years of her life have been spent loving him, ignoring the things that make her write lists titled why it is important to stay with Winston Carroll.

Winston’s mouth sets into a hard line. “How dare you bring up Brown.”

“How dare you cheat on me for two years!”

“I wasn’t cheating on you; I was cheating on Lorelei.” He says, exasperated.

Lula bolts from the room, probably to inform the other cats of the drama currently coming to a head in the living room.

Ivy cannot believe that she has skipped first period for this. She should have gone to her calculus class, perhaps then none of this would be happening. “I’d like to meet this Lorelei, I think she and I might have a lot in common. Heck, maybe I’ll take her out for coffee and then lure her into my bed. Seeing as how I’ve practically been sleeping with her all this time.”

Winston’s face crumples at the mere mention of homosexuality. “I don’t think I want to leave Lorelei for you anymore.”

“Yes, well I’m not sure I want to be the last woman standing.”

They stare at each other for a while. She shudders, to think, I probably would have married this boy in five years.

Ivy picks up her bag, swinging it onto her shoulder. She wonders if Todd Samuels will be interested in taking her to prom.

“Good-bye Winston.”

“Good-bye Ivy.”