I don’t do things by halves. This much is obvious. Caught between a longing for a device that doesn’t rely on batteries/electricity/access to printing, and an almost psychotic need for all of my handwriting in journals to be neater than a nip of 18 year old Loch Lomond in a crystal tumbler (and thus the terminal role this need has always played in my short-lived journal keeping attempts over the years), I bought a manual typewriter earlier this week. Within 36 hours of igniting this impassioned affair with the idea, I Googled the hell out of typewriters, shortlisted a desirable selection, and promptly bid on one within the final two minutes of an eBay auction – and won it by the skin of my single dollar above a hotly-competing bidder who evidently didn’t have the quick-draw ADSL2 required to steal back their bargain in time… And a bargain it was! $45 for a white Adler Gabriele 25 manual typewriter, made in West-Germany, in excellent condition, with case and operational manual. A replacement ink ribbon is even on its way to me from the UK; such was my determination for supremely replete typewriter-preparedness. Even the drive to Donvale (fucking Donvale) from Footscray straight after work in peak-hour traffic to pick it up from the (rather lovely) lady who was selling it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. I was bringing this obsolete little gem home and setting my mind to click-clacking reams of brilliance through it as soon as ridiculously possible… And by the hair on my head I darned well did it. Huzzah!
So, for normal people, on one hand, there’s accommodating a tantalising personal whim, a sudden fancy. Then, there’s prescribing yourself a cathartic solution to an undulating, rapid, energised need that develops a heartbeat all of its own… A solution fresh from the eccentic head pharmacy that elicits an impulsive lust for reaching above your current ability to perform a task that is fundamental to your life as you know it… To sate the whims of a mind that demands the assembly and destruction of ideas, letters and the flashes and grips of elusive somatic states of your physical body as the very fuel of its perpetual machination to create. I strive to feed a mind which refuses to close its mouth. Yep, I’m of the latter brand of lunacy with the garbage-guts for a brain.
An obese body of words is a healthy body of words… or so it keeps telling me. The rolls, bulges and folds among the valleys of things; thoughts, ideas, experiences, opinions, fears, hopes, dreams and loves form a body of gluttonous stimuli. A voluptuous figure of pure, and impure mind that despite its sheer massiveness, cannot ever appear as anything other than utterly desirable. It’s kind of delightfully weird to grin at the retrospective realisation that a state of alphabetic diabetes is something I find compelling… even a thing which beats with a steady pulse of hope, for my blood – the blood sugared by 26 shapes arranged into fresh, viscous, visceral groups, and eaten with a greedy, infinite fascination. The steady circulation of heated life fluid, full and heavy with sweetened, opulent enrichment.
Of course, however, the insulin doses come in virulent blowdarts of bitter, creative suffocation propelled by the hard-edged shapelessness of peripheral life and circumstance. Tiny needles invading cells to harpoons which threaten to shear bone from marrow. But, like any vibrant ecosystem tempered by the balance of starvation, loss, cruelty and even the claustrophobic cupboardspace of averageness, the acrid rivulets of self-doubt, tiredness, and generalised rending of flesh from a blind mass of knotted negativity which exists everywhere and nowhere is essential. If only to provide the divine disease for which my words are the cure, but also for that sugared, scarlet cluster of cells to taste all the sweeter after the sourness of hideous necessity leaves my tongue. The balance of my disease with the normalcy, grit and severity of everything around it. It’s almost a symbiosis where my infirmity consumes my surroundings and turns them into the strands of creation I exist to craft. The confectionery of the soul, made from even the foulest oil skimmed from atop a pool of depression, anxiety and stagnation.
I live by an infirmity which demands to be gorged with every single component of infinity that I can provide. For a sustenance that feeds us both, I will endure my whirlwinds of lunacy, and the medicines prescribed to salve the friction burns of unceremonious self-improvement. I will embrace my insulin and my hunger so that I can bathe my tongue in the saccharine pools of words bled onto pages and screens by veins which know sweetness ever more keenly, for the bitterness of spiteful bile wrung from life’s gut is a memory never far from the buds of a tongue made for telling stories.
Aha! A reliable source of inspiration… My teeming stack of ‘Fuck I Hate That’ things.
On today’s menu, I’m dipping my freezing toes into a simmering pool of inner road-rage that is welling impressively fast. I’ve only had my Ps for four months – like a relatively newborn motorist. Initially, I was starkly aware of my relative n00bidity to lone piloting the comradely mottled bitumen trails and Every Red Light Between Here And The Thing I’m Late For. Thusly, I kept a humble head on my shoulders and reminded myself that I’m a 23 year old punk kid who sits on a cushion to see over the dash and has barely sprouted a Weary Peak Hour Motorist pube. Well, my humility has provided the princely sum of fuck all that noise. Very nearly nobody can fucking drive – and I’m damned well not going to suffer in silence as one of the dear few sets of torso and limbs sitting behind a steering wheel who knows what the stick thing beside the wheel thing does. It’s just the ticket to demonstrate to every other similarly fast moving object around you that you aren’t the Minister for Surprise Directional Change. This seems to be a little known gem of complex and bewildering knowledge. I also reserve the right to dearly wish for these lobotomised sacks of brine pickled self-awareness to be stuck behind a bloated landfill truck in the height of summer in peak-hour traffic as punishment.
It really is astonishing just how often I am blasting a ferret behind a wheel, looking around wildly for a reason other than their utter obliviousness and my hastily narrowing proximity to their flippant stupidity as to why I would be making some car-ish like sireny noise right at them. I assume that these glorified limbuckets have gone through the same bowel-freezing VicRoads test. Haven’t these people who are certified as allowed to perch their witless cheeks into a driver’s seat all experienced the testing examiner who basically tells you that they Will End Your Test if you so much as come within ten feet of a light sea-breeze because the car will explode and you will kill all the children and puppies within a three populated school-crossing radius as a result of your catastrophic failure to be constantly aware of the precise molecular structure of every object around you at all times? And yet it seems that an alarming proportion don’t know their seatbelt from a shoehorn.
Funnily enough, I’m sure I’m not alone in my curdled disgust at the sheer magnitude of gormless, metal-snouted road pigs who outnumber and outgun we who still live in mortal fear of the hi-vis vested Back Seat Woman. We still live with the echoes of her absolute certainty that you’re going to kill everything good and pure if you don’t change lanes with the, calm, precision and perfect 360 degree vision of someone who isn’t actually in a car, and who is in possession of a portable rotating platform. With this terrifyingly high standard of Not Hitting Things, it’s any wonder these scented bin-liner brained people actually avoid experiencing the same desire to Not Hit Things… they must feel like they’re on a big adventure in their carefree Space Dinghies in Major Arterial Adventureland. The unique theme park where insurance premiums and surprise games of tag are just part of the fun.
I can tell that the vein-popping trials of apparently being the only person in the whole history of ever who doesn’t drive like a blind, excitable marmot is going to channel quite nicely into my cheerfully expanding ‘Fuck I Hate That’ archives… The boundless petting-zoo of fibreglass floats and forays into fortune, failure and fuckwittery.
Right-o, let’s just pick up where we left off, then? The bit about people blowing out spent oxygen and even more recycled crap to justify laziness, decay and apathy… You with me? Good.
Okay, so most of us are lucky enough to live in a general realm of verbal comfort with our ability to turn to someone, whether it be to a stranger for directions or to a friend for discretion, and communicate an approximation of our thoughts with relative ease. Of course, this isn’t always the case, and there are umpteen reasons why this might be – and they would be quite beside my point anyway. Here, I reiterate that I refer to the collective majority as average, longer-term or native residents of Australia just going about their daily business.
Aside from ensuring I distil my point with this statement, I also point to this lump of persons as a pretty safe example of an assortment of people who should probably know better than to pull our downy English-language quilt up over their heads, like teenagers texting past bedtime and communicate like their thoughts are limited to 160 braincells. Bluntly, I think it’s becoming increasingly obvious that we’re being backlit by laziness, not by progress or efficiency. This laziness is something that many people try to assert is ‘progress‘. Some studies centred around the topic of utilising SMS language in language learning conclude that it is, in this context - and some similarly limited studies have positive, but mixed conclusions, that also temper the positives against the consequent loss of ‘higher’ communication skills. Some pundits and people also liken it to the changes in the English language seen over the centuries of the written and spoken tongue. Pah! As one-part writer, one-part grumpy person and two-parts editor, I call bullshit on a majority scale.
Yes, it could probably be argued to and fro ad nauseum about how shit changes in language and things happen… and stuff and things and… and… why the hell do you have to make such a big deal about silly things like this? Are you on some kind of Macquarie Dictionary powertrip? There are well-fed children and starving third world warlords in those other countries. What? I didn’t say that. Look, I’m busy texting Bruce to pick up the ingredients for gore-may rissoles, leave it alone, would you?
Look, despite the simple brevity of mince, breadcrumbs and eggs being the key guests of the gore-may simplicity of a quick instruction, I passionately believe that this shouldn’t leak like the hose into the entire blossoming garden of how we use words. We should open our arms, our spellcheck and our sense of busy entitlement to rejecting the apathy toward the infinite possibilities provided by choosing not to speak less and communicate precious little else… I mean, people often invoke the classic example: ‘just look at Shakespeare and all the freaky-deaky things he did with English! And let’s not forget ye olde secretary shorthand as a valid form of shortened language widely used in professional business contexts WAY back when blah blah blah…’ Ahem. It goes on… Modern society demands speed and brevity. And we must spend more time looking out ahead for the next neon-blazing servo with Krispy Kremes for the board meeting than down at a trifling distraction like typing a three letter word with three whole letters. Our obsession with buzzword justifications to sell our own apathy ointment to ourselves is symptomatic of a culture always looking for a fix that satisfies without effort, like how we latch rabidly onto verbose vitamins, antioxidant wonder potions and miracle lemon detox diets. We’re making like a handbag snatcher does, or the comical character that falls, whistling down the manhole because they couldn’t see the gaping maw before they dawdled on progressively into it… We’re cutting off our dictionary to spite our own brain.
We’re all so quick to find the easy way out and smoothing papier-mâché thin justifications over our breezy mouths. We use our vowel-less, grey rations of letters to excuse our right to wave around a big dildo, slick with snake oil, and ream ourselves with the pleasure of buying a Costco-sized pallet of ‘Eau de No-Fuck-Need-be-Given’.
It makes me wonder what people might not even realise they have to say, and that makes us all poorer.
We are an affluent society, starving without food for thought.
Yes! It’s Disclaimer time! Yay! *ahem* So, this post is intended as a ‘Dear Jane and John Citizen’ open bleat at the native-English chatterer status quo populace far and wide. I’m more than sharply aware that there are many learned people who do not generally flock with this here ‘goodwill tanty’ – but, on the other hand, I also know many learned people who occasionally skulk in these realms… myself included, no doubt!
I don’t know if it’s the brussel-sprouts I ate for lunch or the wasted carbons, aspartame and garlic fumes we’re huffing out of our busy mouths, but I smell an odour that is increasingly difficult to ignore… It seems to be coming from people who are blowing out a lot of spent oxygen and very little else.
Right, so, it’s no secret that I am totally crushing on English and we’re in love and it’s beautiful even if English hasn’t realised it’s true feelings for me just yet… But I’m pretty sure that shitting in English’s mouth and calling it nutrition is something I’m allowed to get all ‘nerd-miffed’ about without sounding too much like the why comments sections on tabloid newspapers should strictly be avoided for health reasons…
To give a little background to why I’ve decided to don the chainmail and charge the masses, just minding their own darned business, with pointy words, I’ll introduce you to someone I know and let you in on what happened recently.
Meet Manny, a learned, native Swedish-speaking friend of mine who has a remarkably well-rounded and comprehensive command of the English language. (Hi, Manny!)
With the awareness that most Swedish people are taught English alongside Swedish from very early in their education, it can be said that this alone isn’t exactly a groundbreaking or particularly eyebrow-raising claim to fame. However, there are two reasons why this dear fellow struck a chord in the tireless resident Symphony of Overthought in my head. Firstly, I have to reiterate my glowing assessment of my friend’s remarkably sound and confident command of English syntax, spelling and vocabulary. And aside from its relevance to this flaming arrow posted to the heart of English heretics, I mention this also partly because it’s something I feel I must bask in as often as possible; as it seems to be somewhat of an endangered birdsong. I indeed find myself actively relishing the occasions where I’m greeted with speech that doesn’t subtly wallop my sensibilities with blunt-force trauma to the simplest components of a sentence, or exhibit such lazy expression that I could swear they just had an audible miscarriage in my ear. Now, as a writer who occasionally steps on the toes of their beloved native tongue as tool toward creative necessity, I’m more than a little disposed towards bending the rules of language to illustrate a point, or to make a statement… but this aural plague bleating on my doorstep over the last decade or so is certainly not that.
Now, back to Manny! He readily knows the difference between parentheses and brackets, the right ‘your’/'there’/'could have’ etc., which is impressive enough among the many native English speakers who wouldn’t know their you from their ewe… But he also possesses a firm efficiency in utilising the expressive tantamount of English communication required in the fields of science and physics, like it’s common knowledge.
Yet, the look on his face when I casually mentioned something about ‘catching germs’ recently was priceless:
*Confused expression* ‘Huh? What the hell is germs?!’ He asks with a hint of alarm.
*pause* O_O … *laughs* ‘Oh! Germs are, among other things, often a simple way to refer to micro-organisms, generally used in casual reference to viruses, microbes and pathogens which commonly cause illness.’
‘Oh! Right!’ ._.
Germs? No. But pathogens? Microbes? Micro-organisms? o_o
I instantly felt a little tug of shame at teaching him the ways that we often oversimplify, limit and blanket-clause our use of the English language… *dabs away a fledgling English nerd tear*. But this, of course, is only the cotton-tip of the issue pounding at my greymatter.
While I get the flipside in saying that colloquial or slang phrases/usage can often take longer and prove more difficult to grasp than the ‘textbook rote’ of a language, and can indicate a sense of familiar ‘mastery’ or comfort of sorts; I felt that this pinged a much deeper note as an indictment on a much wider scale of how we ‘natives’ choose to use our language the vast majority of the time… Well, we don’t. And herein lies the stillborn messes of alphabet I see so often.
No, I don’t believe we should be speaking in great, bloated purple paragraphs of fifty-syllable words to request the table salt’s passage down the dining table. That would just be silly, and would also be missing the point by ridiculing it. What I mourn is the lack of flavour in our daily speech. We don’t use the words that we have at our disposal, like an army of tiny painters, blotting, dashing and stroking words into colour, action and engagement. It’s a well-established fact that if we don’t use vocabulary, we lose it… and we’ve lost a whole pool of our trusty alphabet soup, it seems, without so much as batting a half-explained eyelid. We don’t seem to seek to bend an image to make it move when we speak. We use the barest minimums to convey an approximation of our thoughts, and in this, we rip ourselves off, and actually end up saying very little. It makes me sad, and makes me mourn a hundred times over for a thought that might have been six feet taller or ten times bigger, but was stunted and bound into a lazy concision. An approximate meaning. A ballpark intention. And we seem to be okay with that…
Nobody generally knows what anybody is really on about anymore, because our Home Brand words don’t print in colour, and monochromatic wordsmithing makes for dull and joyless points.
Speaking from the heart of a writer, of a total nerd, an editor, and as a human who regularly makes words at other humans, I dare to say: Do yourself a favour… Expand your own brain… Plug into your words like you actually value your thoughts. Take a step up the ladder of expression. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and stop printing yourself out in black and white to save toner – cheaper cartridges will cost you a lot more in the long run.
Now, because I can never bloody well help myself, I leaped overboard and frolicked among related topics, issues and facets… and now I have to wash them off… Part 2 of the quilted comfort is coming soon! RUN! Or, y’know, stick around for some shit that contains actual research.
Yeah, I know, right? It’s like I’m actually expending effort without a coversheet and numerical validation to look forward to… Concerning…
There’s something… that pretty much everyone who has come within a five-foot radius of me in the last two months knows… I got a little ol’ piece of mine published in a fine arts journal recently, called Voiceworks. This Yoda-old and well respected literary and arts journal has been going for longer than the raging socks/sandals age cutoff debate (well, for as long as 93 quarterly issues take to gestate and wreak havoc, anyway. I don’t math too good.).
Anyway, it was a poem that I first wrote way back in 2011 as a part of a uni thing that I instantly hated and thought was contrived ‘made-to-order’ rubbish, and since then, it had been kicked, punched, loved, hated, surgically altered and put into the witness protection program periodically… Up until early February of this year, when I decided to just try to marry it off to a nice piece of paper so that I could be done with it already.
When the ace team at Voiceworks woke to it crying on their email doorstep, they apparently thought it still had a little while to live, so they took it in – and the adoption email they sent me nearly four months later was the cue I took for the loudest semi-accidental ‘HELL YEAH’ ever yelled at a perfectly respectable desk in a quiet office… There may have also been a delirious Chubby Checker ‘Twist’ moment betwixt the desks of my bewildered colleagues whilst my outer extremities took the liberty of rhythmically overreacting…
Alas indeed, they took my dearly-weathered piece and worked with me to put just the right amount of lipstick and rouge onto it to ready it to be released into the wild. Yep, my first successful submission for publication anywhere, and my first platter of words to ever actually add to my Aldi Wine and Superfluous Stationer – erm, my Being a Responsible Adult fund… Ahem.
And heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!
She smells dusty, sweaty, dipped in fever,
swathed in movement.
Lubricant spreads like jam, heated
between pursed thighs.
The smooth lines of wood on the deck,
under tense calves and a huge umbrella.
The beautiful note of a bottle
propelled by a careless missionary wrist — now a gift
of inertia, untasted tannins swelling the woven rug.
instead by her smile’s weight as
palms cling to the muscled buttocks of verbs,
directions to the nearest gasp.
Flattening of chests and
a feathersoft touch
Languid stretching of toes
and the knocking of knees.
She smells the bourbon and rush of capillaries
now opening from the mouth of a highball glass
and heat pressed from the tiniest lip creases.
Skin salts skin, cells under duress,
a dance untimed by tuneless candles,
the rhythm never once perfect,
but full and plum-red as the nourished weave beneath them,
goes unjudged by the reflection in the glass.
© Skye V. McFarlane
Yes, it’s a little bit naughty – it contains themes such as spilled wine going unsponged and nude toes. I hope that doesn’t offend anyone too much. Feedback, comments, questions and shares are very much welcome!
You can of course purchase a copy of Voiceworks to read and experience a metric boob-tonne of other amazing stuff from young writers and visual artists all over Australia and the rest of the world – all for less than the cost of a vat-sized coffee and a suspiciously cheap muffin! So, get on with it then!
The streets were choked with bereft eyes and dilated pupils atop bodies made of haphazard timeliness. I could not catch an eye that saw nothing. Towers of colourless skin with desiccated throats that blankly conceived of nil, went masslessly down the water-stained walkway, blinkered by the vast sheets of the Wednesday Age’s vacant tongue. All around the intersection, gormless metals boomed and clacked past, each containing an egocentric thunderstorm of oil and heat with a soft centre of unbeknownst imaginations usurped by drycleaning and overripe with shapeless vagary.
Everything around me was a monounsaturated human silence that threatened to steal my very next breath, despite the substanceless cacophony of chaos. The unconscious bags of meat, bone and flickering synapses simply continued to continue. Synthetic soles lifted and dropped onto the pavement like tuneless rain, punishing the gum-flecked slabs for carrying them like a tired widow’s featureless repetition, toward their infinite sameness. Rows of smiling teeth flecked the corners like tartar. Their vapid lies occupying monosyllabic faces and dishonest handshakes draped with garish salves for an inarticulate emptiness, sinking their packaged apologies against vacuum sealed ears.
I saw a story with no pages. A thing that should be kept far away from words. The words crumbled into the tinfoiled void of reflected sameness, as a simple cessation of the intent to place any cognition in the vicinity of these bipedal shapes. The tinfoil reflection offers nothing but the sickly smaller twin of the airless questions that are never formed.
The streets smell like a breath never taken by a stillborn child, the thoughts that will never flicker behind the perpetual nothing of distilled absence, and the letters which cannot and will not ever be the unfathomed sameness that is suspended between nothing and everybody. A directionless maw which cannot say goodbye to an idea that never arrived.
© S. McFarlane (2011/2013)
I wrote this article in 2009/2010 and it appeared on a website which is no longer active. Could probably do with a little polishing now that I’m older, uglier and have even more impressively superfluous polysyllabic words to express my bitterness and disdain for everything that ever existed at my disposal… But alas, occasionally with age, there also comes the ceebs. So, might revisit in future.
Anyway, thought I might as well post it here, as the issue is still relevant to us wee Y whippersnappers.
Hello, I’m a Generation ‘Y do I have to?’ halfwit.
I still live in the fuzzy confines of my parents’ mortgage, think the sole purpose of the Classifieds section of the paper is to giggle at the ‘naughty hot grannies’ ads, believe that the television is working completely of its own volition month to month and that my mum really secretly enjoys traipsing through my minefield of a bedroom to retrieve my dirty undies… I like to party, and am of the stern belief that a little bit of nudity and vomiting among friends is a healthy foundation to growing up… apparently.
I cannot leave the house without a Today Tonight vulture painting that skinny numbskull’s yellow-framed shades of idiocy onto me like a template of the teen status-quo [NOTE: referring here to none other than that ancient-news little snotpebble, Corey Worthington, who got far too much attention for simply being a total festering dickpimple around this time - who most people would have mercifully long forgotten by now]. And every time a kid decides their VN Commodore is needed to amplify their genitals and gets him or herself wrapped around a pole, I’m collectively glared at if there is any square object emblazoned with the letter ‘P’ anywhere upon my vehicle.
Excuse me while I unzip my generational trousers and compare the size of my imperfections with my baby boomer (BB) tut-tutters. It seems that out of all the living generations that the Gen X and the BBs are the beautiful bullies who let me know how it feels to be the only girl in the locker-room who ‘looks different’. This is utter garbage. The assertion of a blameless generation is ridiculous, and I’m getting right sick of being told I’m the lazy ingrate child all the older kids express their disdain about. Although, in fairness, we do have some rather big shoes to fill if we are the future. Golly, if we want ministers running our country to rival the Della Boscas, Troy Buswells, Graeme Sturges and Matt Browns, we need the kids to grow up to abuse staff, bully employees, sniff chairs, snap bras and dry hump their colleagues – and this is only dipping into the few gene pools that run our country.
We are supposed to be the most rebellious, entertained and spoiled generation; why is this always portrayed to be our downfall? We didn’t ask to have technological advancement thrust upon us, and so tantalisingly advertised to maximum effect – We didn’t need to lift a finger – the Gen X and BB marketing teams/developers did that for us. We had the iPods, fibre-optic internet cables, premixed ‘cowboy’ shots and gangsta rappers and their ‘hoes’ gyrating on our plasma television screens while we’re chowing down our ‘Iron Man Food’ every Saturday morning spoon fed to us by the same people who shake their heads and weep at our collective disarray.
We can be the ones to pioneer advancement and social change for the better – if we get the right guidance, the naysayers who point and mutter at us to get off their lawn because their Macgyver re-run was cancelled aren’t the helping hands we need. A writer for the Australian Leadership Foundation, Mark McCrindle, released an explanatory document to aid those in need of understanding our newfangled generation entitled “Understanding Gen Y”, which explains; “Our research shows that the third strongest felt need Australian teenagers have is for guidance or direction in their life that is trustworthy. There is much advice on offer but not much of it is believed by this sceptical generation, and rightly so.” Even good old Ozzy and Mundie of the Microsoft mob are cashing in on our malleable little minds, publishing fact sheets about ‘How to Reach Generation Y Consumers’. We’re a product group, a horde of dollar signs both salivated over and damned by the monocles and trimmed white moustaches of society. We see hundreds of thousands more advertisements by the time we reach puberty than any previous generation, and if we getting advice along the lines of wearing a g-string to look our best for a grade six disco and the pivotal need to wear THAT particular deodorant to have the giggling girls rolling all over you, then it’s darn right that we’re sceptical of the spoons being shoved on our faces in all directions from the older kids. How on earth are we to blame?
Yes, there are exceptions to that rule of the blameless Gen Y’ers, but those who wish only to do harm are not representative of a generation – or all other generations would all have much to answer for also – Latin American dictators responsible for the murder of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, the Argentine revolutionary, by Bolivian forces in 1967, the Vietnam war that claimed thousands upon thousands of lives, the stolen generation of Aboriginal people at the hands of the self-important ‘whites’ and right down to the many rug-swept reports of the asylum seekers in Australia being treated like dirt at the hands of both authorities and policymakers alike – as Julian Burnside QC (a leading Australian barrister) so asserted as a ‘blistering’ criticism on both those in power and those who report it. Just to name a few… Some of us are still playing in the mud and sounding out words like ‘vagina’, frowning cross-eyed at Where do Babies Come From…
So, I might be a little more concerned with getting my degree and enjoying my life than settling down to pop out premature grandkids and accept the carbon-dated monotony that’s coming to me – those who do are probably in need of better influences or help in their own lives. I refuse to be tarred with the same brush as the teen-pregnancy (which has existed long before we did) and ‘youth-are-out-of-control’ brigade. No, the issue of bullying and violence isn’t getting worse; our kids just now have the ability to film it and bring it to the attention of whoever wants to look. While their intentions are far from acceptable, they still aren’t definitive of a ‘growing’ problem, just the ugly head-rearing of one which has existed for a very long time. And hilariously, the older the persons involved, the more often it results in the ‘poo-pooing’ of the technology used to capture it, more than the issue itself.
So please, oh pencil-pushers of the Herald Sun, please stop telling me I’m a part of the trend of night-time alcohol fuelled violence – which is more the fault of alcohol being advertised to the young-ones with the disposable income, and the attitude from bogan fathers to their sons that their manly validation is just a right-hook to a random nose away. Crucifying the kids who can’t hold their beer is so very effective in changing their actions, or so the tabloids believe. With Generation X and BB role models like the NRL’s star Gen X bad boy Todd Carney and AFL mob of nobs like the ever-womanising BB dignitary Sam ‘Sammy’ Newman and the brain and ball busting Gen Xer Barry Hall… Are there any fingers left to point solely at Gen Y for being the ones who farted in the elevator of good behaviour?
Our music is all drug-ridden suicidal pornography, and we need to be protected from ourselves before another Columbine brat decides it’s a good idea to pinch his dad’s sawn-off and pretend the video game Postal is a great idea to emulate with all the cool kids who pick on him. Blame it on Marilyn Manson, he is that strange white-faced bloke all the goth kids love, right? Sure, a subculture or genre of music is definitely the blame-spot for the masses, and the kids are just joyfully lapping it up. It’s like deja vu! The fifties rock’n'roll, the sixties psychedelic rock, the seventies heavy metal, the eighties punk and half-naked spandex pop, the nineties grunge and noughties! The noughties brought a whole new slate for the big execs to paint a picture of boundaries and sex, all to serve up to us on the silver platter of commercial television. Are we responsible for the the television bigwigs who decide to press a half-naked woman grinding up against a man at a club full of booze and ‘homies’ as the hip music to own and the ‘tude to adopt? We don’t make the music, it is manufactured for us. Sorry to burst the ‘Gen Y: Oversexed Brats’ drawcard for you, but we consume what is put before us, just as you did with all of that sex, drugs and rock’n’roll business. So ner.
What is it with today’s mums and dads that makes them both want us to succeed, and yet get utterly incensed and disillusioned when success does not equal getting married, having children and working in the same job (whether it is enjoyed or not) for the balance of their lives? As McCrindle has discovered: “This generation has observed their parents get the rewards of hard work: houses, cars, and material wealth. Gen Y has benefited from this being the most materially endowed, and entertained generation of teenagers ever. Yet they have seen the costs of their parents’ success in terms of broken marriages, absentee parenting, and an epidemic of stress related illnesses. For their part Gen Y have been left disillusioned with the materialism they have enjoyed.” So the issue of guidance and social advancement comes back again, how can we as a generation, be painted as collectively any worse than any other? It’s a silly and baseless mindset. We are the product of our upbringing and surroundings.
Why are we immediately vilified as lazy, if we’re doing nothing but working and studying full time? Not to mention tearing our hair out trying to figure out whether what we’re passionate about will even end up putting food on the table when all the graduation hoo-hah is over with and the pointy hats are thrown into the air? How about the money-making bosses market a magical crystal ball to let us know if we’re ever actually going to succeed because we sprayed our hormonal bodies with Lynx, or wore that bikini, or bought that bling? We’ve got it so easy and smooth, y’all.
Does not own an iPhone.
Warning: I’m not apologising for sounding like an unabashedly under-developed sour grape. If you’ve thought of a compelling counter-argument, I’ll bet that I’ve thought of it, too. There is so much more to everything. This is an unedited photograph of an imperfect thought. The long shadows created by a sunrise where I’ve not mentioned the glow.
‘I thought I wanted a career. Turns out, I just wanted paychecks.’ – Unknown
It strikes me as more than a little ironic that ‘career’ is a word that is a feast of both noun and verb. In common usage in the Adult World™, it refers to a practically ‘lifelong’ path of gainful employment/occupation centred around a certain specialisation, skill or objective… but it is the sweet, golden verb that brings the magic to my mindset about the word in focus:
Move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way in a specified direction: “the car careered across the road and went through a hedge”‘ – Google Dictionary
And it gets even better when you get the synonyms in on the party:
noun. profession – occupation
verb. rush – run – speed – gallop’
Ahh… such a delicious, stellar juxtaposition of vindication… A language after my own heart, it truly understands me, when I say that career is a dirty word. To me. In my shrivelled, blinkered view of most careers that don’t involve interesting things, like not being at risk of DVT from a wheely chair, and even being allowed outdoors sometimes…
Okay, I’ll get to the point; you see, I’m one of the vast majority of people in developed countries who has heard this word umpteen times throughout their days to neatly describe the ideal trajectory of a perfectly justifiable existence for the duration of one’s ‘useful years’. A ‘career’ is something of a yardstick of many qualities entirely unrelated to the condition of existing in a garden variety payroll foodchain. Doing something in particular, fulfilling an obligatory task on merit of efficiency, skill, and all of that dogtreat-appraisal gifted for managing to continue this perfectly respectable, perfectly rounded routine of ‘specialised’ servitude for a very, very long time. Having a ‘career’ is almost synonymous with completion, a rounding of the self, an accomplishment of justifying your stubborn right to continue flapping around the aviary with the illusion of freedom. Some people even went to school to learn how to do their skill-thing properly.
‘Career’ is neat. It has no corners, no uncertainty. It has an easy way about it, like a warm place to stay forever and ever. A ‘career’ is as if the hard work is all over, and that you will spend the next fifty years on the summit of self-definition as a Member of Society that arrives somewhere to do something at 8:50am every day and never leaves the mug-ring on the tea room bench unwiped. It will be a safe, dull hum that will help you sleep at night over the long-defeated knocking of a heart against ribs that will likely never know the round-winged, undulating air outside this puncture-topped jam jar of 9am – 5pm.
I thought I wanted one of those career things, but it turns out that I was charmed by the simplicity of the Life Solution as easily as any other. Oh well, I think, I guess I have just submitted myself to be judged by the tribunal of Safe Society… and will no doubt be found to have lapsed in my civic duty to have a civic duty. The verb… to ‘move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way in a specified direction’… it’s a beautiful encapsulation of what a career really is, to me. It is an eventless, hurtling fast-track through a largely unchallenging plain-Jane corridor, being assuredly safe in the unsurprising, controlled to the eyebrows, yet feeling as though you are free in this trajectory of normalcy among pant-suited peers, toward one, single, unwavering symbol of stability… your summary of usefulness. After which point, age is the only time you have, and it’s keenly too late to be anything else. Your title is stamped in a grandiose gold foiling across the cover, and along your thin, airless pages of breaths taken with ease, but without use…
So, now that I’ve thoroughly depressed myself, and while many are no doubt now resembling Gollum with their twisted expressions, full of rebuttal and bone-set outrage at my lack of… well… everything from life experience to a pet llama… I suppose I should begin to offer the Fine Print. I should begin to Band-Aid up my feebly defended assessment of what a career means and give examples of amazing careers that don’t ascribe to any of the damning, grey-jacket features of a lifelong dedication to eradicating mug-rings on the tea room bench, but I won’t.
I won’t defend my chalk-drawn approximation of what scares the shit out of me about growing up with a goal without really understanding what ‘forever’ really is. Unfortunately, I’m shackled to the wall of the salary dungeon alongside everyone else, proving my worth as a taxpaying citizen who knows how to write words. And I asked for this. I went to school to learn my thing and to prove to others that I did, too, so that I could finally ‘begin’. My words, the love of my life, funnelled into the payroll foodchain, are my DVT. I know how to do words, and that is my verb, my corridor to the tea room, and my civic duty of maintaining a ringless bench.
I’m sure, though, that I can begin to imagine a jam jar without a steadfast lid… If I don’t freeze on the summit first.
Siblings are interesting things. The three musketeers. At each other’s throats (sometimes literally – but that’s another post entirely) one second, and laughing with each other like malfunctioning chipmunks the next. My brother, sister and I are far from unique in our bonded madness, but then I remember that my brother and I, only a year apart in age, used to occasionally ‘synchronise’ our sleepwalking without ever being conscious of it at the time.
One night, when we were 8 or 9, we’d been put to bed as usual, with the cacophonous knell that was the ending credits of Home and Away signalling the impending doom of bedtime at 7:30pm, as always. The three of us shared a room at that point. We were soon presumably fast asleep… Until around 10:30pm, which was when Dr Quinn: Medicine Woman was on at night, and mum would finally have some peace and quiet… In an ideal world without weird offspring, at least…
I came running out of the bedroom into the lounge where mum was watching her show on TV. I stared at her, stock still, and she asked me ‘what’s wrong? Why aren’t you in bed?’ … and I started to speak in unintelligible gibberish, frantically, as if I was telling my mother something very important, all in grave seriousness. She quickly realised that I was sleepwalking, and told me to go back to bed, as was the protocol for when these nighttime oddities occurred. After scowling at her rude refusal to listen to me, I did return to bed. But, not ten minutes later, my brother dashed out into the lounge and did exactly the same thing. Suspicious, but knowing we both had sleepwalking tendencies, mum asked us the next day if we remembered our ‘mission’ from the night before. Mystified, we looked at each other, no memory of it at all. We were quite pleased with ourselves and decided that we were obviously mind-reading superheroes. Huzzah!
My brother and I were like a tag team. Often frightening the absolute shit out of each other in the middle of the night, with one or both of us up and about on the REM train, with our poor elder sister copping the short straw in merely being forced to endure our oddness without taking part. In a kind of mysterious sync, without fail, the risen-sleeper would always get inexplicably irritated when the unfortunate conscious sibling would blearily instruct the zombie(s) to go back to sleep. It seems I don’t like being told what to do, even among the sheep.
One night, my sister woke up to find me rummaging around at the end of my bed, leaning over into the stuffed toys I’d kicked off my bed in my sleep. Apparently, I was very, very serious – as is the demeanour of a superhero, I maintain. When she was suitably awake enough to be alarmed, she asked me what (the hell) I was doing. I looked up at her, my expression changed to one of abject despair, and I informed her with all the sadness of bereavement that ‘I dropped my straw, I can’t find it’. Um. Yes. A wayward drinking aid was presumably causing me mental anguish. But c’mon, dropping straws is annoying! They get all dirty and then your teeth hurt from the cold drink… I’m a sensitive soul, my subconscious straw trauma must have simply been too much to bear in silence…
Sadly, my animated sleeping self never did find that straw, but I was sure to scowl good and proper at my sister when she told me to get back in bed; fancy brushing off such an acute straw trauma like that? How callous!
Another time, I also apparently had her wake to me glaring intently at her, while sorting around the same stuffed-animal debris around my bed, as if she were to blame for some heinous crime. I picked up her favourite toy, a plush Shar-Pei (‘Rolly dog’, creatively named ‘Rolly’) and clutched it ominously, as if for ransom. And I demanded: ‘GIVE BACK MY BAR, IT’S MINE!’ So, what the fuck was I talking about? We may never know… A bar? I was only 8 or 9, and even that was a little early in years for a Frankston kid to be demanding the immediate return of a facility that served alcoholic beverages. I hadn’t even set foot into a Cash Converters yet: and one needs to learn to walk in the footsteps of the cigarette-burned moccasins before one can run to pawn off nanna’s ring, after all…
Lunacy never sleeps.