Sour Lemonade

“To the left, to the left, everything you own in a box to the left”.

Beyoncé sang these lyrics in her 2006 hit Irreplaceable, which is about kicking out a cheating spouse. The song was never considered as a mirror to her life; it was just a sweet RnB-pop song that credited Beyoncé as the seventh writer. Two years later Single Ladies happened and everything changed. She established herself as an industry powerhouse; creator and controller of her perfectly curated image. With the 2013 surprise release of BEYONCE, she evolved again, this time into the bad ass feminist pop-culture needed. When she released the game-changer, Formation  in February this year, she positioned herself on the powerful platform of race and gender. For the first time she explicitly branded herself as a black female artist. GAME. CHANGER.

And since the Super Bowl we’ve all impatiently waited for what we assumed would be a spectacular, game-changing new album.

Last weekend, the visual album Lemonade was released, and I couldn’t be more disappointed and confused. Despite the powerful and beautiful images and lyrical themes of Beyoncé owning her identity as a black woman, the overarching theme is a glamourous reflection of her forgiving her cheating husband (while not confirmed, there are plenty of not-so-subtle lyrical references.)

However, let me be clear: there is no denying the profound impact this album has already had and will continue to have, particularly for black women for whom it was created. I’m not diminishing that in any way, as it wasn’t created not for me. It’s not my place to comment on the black woman’s experience – it’s only my place to support, learn and understand. Therefore, rightly, it leaves me only with the cheating theme to connect with and critique.

My dear friend Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen recently wrote about having problematic favourites; her issue being with Beyoncé playing a Bollywood actress in Coldplay’s Bollywood-themed video, and still being ok with loving Beyoncé just as much as she always had. (Another fab friend, Ashley Anderson, has also written about the problem with idolising celebrity.)

Like Giselle, and so many other women, I lost my shit when Beyoncé stood in front of a huge FEMINIST banner at the 2014 MTV VMAs; I coordinated a military-style exercise to get tickets to her 2013 concert; and I’ve unashamedly ran to the dance floor to do my best Crazy in Love strut. I’ve always loved Queen Bey’s music and watched on in awe at the Boss Lady she has become. And like Giselle, I have now found out that the higher we place someone on a pedestal, or the greater level of perfection we expect from them, the more disappointed we are when they mess up.

And boy, Beyoncé has messed up. Twice.

I was expecting Beyoncé’s new album to be a sequel to her spectacular release of Formation: a deeper examination of the historical and current experience of the black woman, and her interpretation of gender and racial inequality. While those themes are incredibly showcased, for me, Beyoncé distracts from the social and political issues that matter by having a whinge about her cheating husband.

Firstly, I know it’s not Beyoncé’s job to educate me on matters of gender and racial inequality, but through what is really a stunning visual album, I’m getting something very different, and unexpected: an education on how to forgive someone you love for the ultimate betrayal. Maybe Beyoncé doesn’t want to rebrand herself as a solely political artist, but does she really want to be the poster girl for the clichéd dutiful wife to a cheating husband? Is this really what she wanted to use her post-Formation platform for? To encourage her mostly female fans to attack other women (when it takes two to tango)? To have the Internet try to figure out who Becky with The Good Hair is? While there are wonderful reflections of what Lemonade means to black women, I feel like Beyoncé has wasted a creative and political opportunity for everyone to focus solely on the issues that she so explicitly and amazingly aligned herself with pre-Lemonade release.

Secondly, I’m having a hard time processing why Beyoncé, such powerful woman, a self-proclaimed feminist would promote what is, in my eyes, such an anti-feminist act of standing by her cheating husband – especially in amongst content that actually matters. I’m struggling to support her creative choice to…heal (in public)? Air dirty laundry? Contradict her Bow Down mantra? I’m also struggling to think of any reason good enough or complicated enough that would ever warrant someone forgiving their partner who betrayed their love and trust.

As a non-perfect feminist and expert single person, I’m hardly the most qualified to comment on relationships and others’ choices about how to deal with the challenges within them. But I can only respond to what Beyoncé has presented, without explanation: her husband cheated on her, betrayed her, and she’s stayed with him. Regardless of feminism or relationship status, what she has presented is so outside of my moral compass. I’m disappointed that I haven’t been able to connect to and focus on the beautiful music and messages of an artist I’ve admired since she was hanging out with Kelly and Michelle.

I freely admit that I’m projecting my non-negotiable moral compass, as well as my selfish request to be educated on such important issues. Maybe the cheating narrative isn’t for me to understand, but I can only respond to what I know and believe for myself – and if that doesn’t align with what I expected and hoped for from Queen Bey, well that’s on me to either accept or not. At this point, I can only hope that I can press pause on my (bizarrely dramatic) moral response and, press play with a clear mind to appreciate the music and, the messages that matter.

***

Assuming this isn’t a bullshit, yet brilliant marketing charade, I’m holding out hope that Lemonade is a pre-curser to a divorce announcement and Beyoncé takes Jay Z for all he’s worth. It’s been 13 years since Crazy in Love, she doesn’t need him anymore. I also hope that we can all move on from focusing on the cheating theme to the issues that matter.

I still love and support Beyoncé, but her crown is now tarnished. Jay Z can remain in the bin forever.

The Faceless Man

I loved my place in Brisbane. While it wasn’t a true Queenslander, it shared some of the same qualities of screenless windows, high ceilings and wooden floor boards. The little two-bedroom subdivide was my little slice of Paddington heaven.

Paddington was built on Turrbal land, and was settled by white Europeans in the 1860s. The 19th century foundations of workers’ cottages and hilltop mansions still define Paddington today. Rumours of gold were just that, but the modern-day gems can be found in the cheese deli at the Rosalie Market.

While I didn’t know how old my place was, I knew when I moved in, that like Paddington, it had a history of its own. Toward the end of my two-year residence, I saw and felt what I can only describe as a presence. Prior to my encounter, I never questioned anyone else’s experiences but I always considered “ghost stories” cool, but a bit silly (like horoscopes). My mum and sister can recount several experiences of their own. I’ve listened with interest while acknowledging that I never got that special gene of being able to see things that weren’t “real”. I’ve never considered myself a spiritual person, and I still don’t, but I would stake my life on the fact that I saw and felt a presence in my home in the September of 2011.

In the warmer months (which is eleven-and-a-half of them in Brisbane), the back door was kept open to allow the post-storm breezes to flow through the kitchen into the living room. I first felt something while lying on the lounge one night. From the corner of my eye I thought I saw someone at the back door. When I turned and saw no one, I didn’t think anything of it as I wasn’t expecting guests.

But two nights later I saw a man standing at the edge of the kitchen, facing the lounge. I knew he wasn’t real, but I could see him clearly. I inhaled a quick breath and held it. I froze in stunned silence. I was home alone so I didn’t know what to do. Without moving another muscle, I stared at him, wishing my eyes were fooling me. The man stood there for a few minutes, with his left hand in his pocket, his right leg cocked outward, his head directed toward the left corner of the house.

After what seemed like hours he turned in the direction of his right leg and walked through to my bedroom. He could have only jumped out of the windows as there was no other way out. I was relieved when it was over, whatever it was. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t see anything. But the next night I saw him again, and then the next night and the night after that. I didn’t know what to make of it, but he didn’t scare me. Initially, the experience did but not the man. Not once did I feel threatened or unsafe. I felt like I wanted to help him but I couldn’t figure out why.

From the second I saw him, I could make out almost every detail. He was slim, just on six-foot and his dark hair was covered by a trilby-style hat. He was smartly dressed in a three-piece brown suit with a silver fob watch. He wasn’t a young man, but not an old man either. The only detail I couldn’t see was his face, which was completely blank. No facial features just a smooth, blank canvas of skin. I’ve never known why I couldn’t see his face, maybe it was because he didn’t want me to.

For fear of being ridiculed I didn’t want to share my experience with anyone. But it got to a point where I had to say something to my housemate. She nervously giggled in disbelief when I told her what I was seeing. So strong was my conviction, I questioned how she couldn’t possibly see him too, like she was the crazy one for not seeing the faceless, masculine presence in our house. I assured her it was nothing to worry about, he wasn’t there to hurt us.

From the girl who wrote “a crock” in a response to a religion question on a Year 4 exercise sheet, I was now seeing and deeply sensing something that only seemed real to me. I had to find out who this man was, and why he was visiting.

I embarked on a research assignment at the Queensland State Archives. I ignored the condescending smirks of the research assistants when I asked where I could begin my search for information on my Faceless Man. I combed through turn-of-the-century Paddington maps, Births, Deaths and Marriages records, land acquisition contracts and census data. I narrowed my search to the age, profession and residence of three men: Richard Thomas Ratcliffe, Charles Potts and Leslie DeGrant.

It was at the peak of my research when he disappeared for good, but not through my bedroom windows. One rainy night I was driving on North Quay. Crawling along the riverside bend, I looked in my rear view mirror and there he was in my back seat. It scared the shit of me, I nearly crashed into the car in front. It was the first time I saw him outside of my home.

The next night I looked for him to walk through the back door, but he never showed. That rainy night in my car was the last time I saw him. For weeks afterwards I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had lost something, not like when you lose a favourite pen but when you lose something from your life that you knew you needed.

In the early part of October I had pre-booked chats with two different psychics (I thought about psychics the same way I thought about horoscopes). Without me saying a word about him, both psychics asked who the male presence was in my house. I didn’t want to give too much away, but I shared a few details about his physicality and how he left me. Both of them acknowledged that he had a painful and violent past, but one went further: that he met his end by murder or suicide at the hands of a gun. He was a lost soul visiting my house, a place where died and perhaps lived, to find closure for himself. And when I saw him in my car, and never again, I was simply dropping him off where he needed to go next.

I didn’t want to hinge my unexpected experience – and discredit my own “legitimate” hard work to find out who he was – on the assumptions of a physic, but I knew it felt right.

As time passed, I got distracted by other things and my eventual move to Melbourne. But I haven’t forgotten him. I always wished I could have proven his real life existence. My personality demands the hard facts, the data, the evidence to determine what I believe to be the real truth about something or someone. But I don’t think that’s the point in this special case. My sister says that you can only see and feel what you are open to seeing and feeling. I can’t remember precisely what I was going through at the time, positively or negatively, but I have to trust that for whatever reason I needed that man – possibly named Richard, Charles or Leslie – in my life at that time. And it seemed he needed me.

Reclaim the Throne

I’m coming up to nine years of being single. I haven’t been in a social situation where I’ve said “hey, this is my boyfriend” in nine years. Almost a decade. Surely I’m eligible for an award.

Over the years, I’ve marvelled at how some people have tolerated having boyfriends or girlfriends. All the compromising, checking-in, negotiating, and arguing all sounded exhausting to me. I hated all that when I had it (don’t worry, there were fun times too. I think. I can’t really remember anymore, it was a lifetime ago).

After taking a couple of years to get over “it” properly, I revelled in my singledom. I could do what I wanted, not that I always did, but I knew the option was always there. I did a bunch of travel and study – and loved every second of it. I pursued adventures, activities and passions that I believed I couldn’t really do the way I wanted to if I was in a relationship.

On the rare and fleeting occasions when I wanted a boyfriend, I immediately thought about how suffocated I felt based on my limited experience of one relationship and short-term dating. I couldn’t imagine dealing with the suffocation-on-steroids of being in a proper relationship again. The sense of relief of being on my own was immensely gratifying.

However, this sense of relief began to change. Last year was the first extended period of time when my eternal singleness bothered me. Getting dumped by someone lovely and going on a couple of shitty dates certainly contributed to it, as did the never-ending stream of friends’ weddings and engagements. Maybe it was that I was approaching the twilight years of my 20’s and I had yet to sort out New York – something I believe I can’t do with a boyfriend. I’m not sure what exactly triggered the shift, but my patheticness bothered me, and I knew people noticed. And I noticed too through my own blog posts, sarcastic throw-away lines and conversations with friends and family. It was boring and whiny to say the least.

A friend recently told me – when he was blind drunk – that at 28 years old, I really only had five or so years left to find someone because “you won’t look like this forever”. Given how many beers he had consumed at that point, I took what he said with a grain of salt, and I knew he didn’t mean it as an insult. But I also acknowledged the truth of it. While I’m fairly confident that I will still look 21 year old when I’m 35 or even at 40 (or so dozens of people have told me), that still wouldn’t diminish the fact of my age. Approaching middle age, I can only imagine meeting two types of men: losers who still live with their parents or married-for-15-years-just-divorced losers with pets, or worse, children. It’s really no different to the men I occasionally meet now, only they haven’t started breeding and aren’t divorced yet.

While I’m repulsed by the current and future prospects, I am ok with it. I completely and utterly accept that my path may be different to the 99% of my friends, family and colleagues who’ve chosen to embark on relationships (and, obviously, other super cool and impressive pursuits in and outside of those relationships).

My paternal Great Aunty Vera is the 1%. She has been single her whole life. She’s had a high-achieving career as a nurse, travelled and never had children. As far as I’m aware, she has led and continues to lead a fulfilling life. Last year, at 85 years old, she demanded she resit the full driver’s test when she was told her license would be restricted simply because of her age. She genuinely passed. What a boss.

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The Queen (source: Daily Mail UK)

Maybe my path will be the same as Aunty Vera’s – I’m trying to tick the high-achieving career box, I’m already ticking the travel box and I will certainly be ticking the no children box.

I don’t see this path as the road less travelled, or a path less desirable, or one that should evoke sympathy or concern. I don’t think everyone was meant to follow the same path of being in relationships or getting married (if that’s an option for you). But, if I follow the same path as Aunty Vera’s, I’ll be sure to do it my way.

As a New Year’s Resolution of sorts (I know it’s trendy to “not believe in them”, but whatever), I choose to reclaim 2016 and beyond to genuinely love being single all the time, like I used to. Of course, I’ll try to remain open to the unimaginable, but seriously, get out of my way bitches. I’m back to reclaim my comfortable, much-loved and sorely-missed title of owning my single status.

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Just in case…

 

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016.

To wrap up the oyster blogger for 2015, I wrote about my inspirations as well as my highlights and lowlights of the year. For my first post, on the third day of a new year, I have thought about what 2016 has in store for me:

  • Next month, I turn 29 years old – the last year of my 20s. SHIT. Am I where I imagined I would be at this age? Probably not, but my pretty excellent Melbourne life is just a stepping stone to what I hope will be a pretty excellent New York life from 2017.
  • My friend Jacque and I have our long-awaited trip to Croatia and Turkey in March and April. We’re about to secure our Turkish tour and Cappadocia hot air ballooning tickets. (I’m told it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience). Jacque is turning 30 years old while we’re there, so I can’t wait to share this trip and milestone with her.
  • Whether I remain at my current workplace for the next month or rest of the year, I hope to work more with my Communications colleagues Erin and Tim – both of whom are intimidatingly excellent writers. I’ve already learnt so much from them, and I’m keen to keep doing so. With this in mind, I hope to write on a more regular basis, attend more in-conversations and workshops, learn more from other writer-friends and explore new writing ideas.
  • I’ll for sure chuck another tantrum and deactivate my dating app for the 3,745th time. Men continue to be gross. I expect nothing to change here, which suits me perfectly, as I’ll be too busy being ***Flawless (grossness and flawlessness don’t mix).
  • I haven’t been to Sydney in a few years, so I’m excited to have a weekend there mid-year. I’ll attend a Dragons game, see my Nanna and Pa, and hang out with my cousins Simon and Emily. I can’t wait to fly somewhere (domestically) for a weekend for a reason that’s mine, and on frequent flyer points.
  • I’ll witness two sets of friends get married: Umesha and Militha in January, and Julia and Tom in September, the latter of which I have the privilege of co-MCing.
  • I’d like to get another tattoo. Maybe. It took me 20 years to get the first one, so it’ll probably take me another 20 to get the second – but that doesn’t mean I can’t think about the design now!
  • I have a big year of saving and researching. I’ve spoken and written about my NYC plan to death – 2016 is a year of action! BRING. IT. ON.
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My happy place.

I’ve written this post from my bedroom (I usually can’t fully concentrate elsewhere). I like to set the creative mood – with the lighting of a lamp and candle, and the sounds of my inspiration music. This year, I’ve begun with a new version: my cheap IKEA lamp has been replaced with a priceless antique lamp (the shade belonged to my Old Nanna), a Glasshouse Manhattan candle – a Christmas present from Mum and Dad and, recently purchased old-school Kanye tunes (how did I not have Stronger?!).

I hope my new-and-improved creative mood is indicative of my 2016: filled with strength and light.

I wish everyone a bright 2016, and to hold onto your strength and light whenever some of your days and experiences aren’t shining as brightly as you hoped.

I leave you with my 2016 ANTHEM PLAYLIST. You’re welcome to borrow it:

  1. She Works Hard for the Money – Donna Summer
  2. Drag Me Down – One Direction (yes, I’m totes a Directioner! Niall is my fave. Discuss.)
  3. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
  4. Power – Kanye West
  5. Wannabe – Spice Girls
  6. Empire State of Mind – Jay Z and Alicia Keys
  7. Just a Girl – No Doubt
  8. Believe it or Not ­– Greatest American Hero theme song, Joey Scarbury
  9. 28,000 Days – Alicia Keys
  10. Maneater – Hall and Oates (added for laughs for my sister – who says she originally selected this tune as my intro song for my speech at her wedding! She ended up going with with track 6.)
  11. Out of the Woods – Taylor Swift
  12. ***Flawless – Beyoncé

 

What’s in store for your 2016?

For my Grandparents, with love

I’ve grown up with three grandparents (my maternal Grandpa died when I was six months old). I even had my paternal Great-Grandmother, Old Nanna, in my life until I was six years old. It wasn’t until I reached my late teens when I realised how fortunate I was. I had thought everyone had grown up with most, if not all of their grandparents – but I learned a lot of my friends were lucky to have had just one when they were children.

My paternal grandparents, Nanna and Pa just had their birthdays, turning 76 and 80 years old respectively. They both still drive, are active participants in their church groups and regularly take short driving holidays through regional New South Wales. Nanna volunteers weekly at the local Salvos and Pa is a wiz on the computer, he’s a Photoshop expert (and he’s just come around to the idea of the internet!)

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Nanna & Pa’s wedding (1961)

When I was a kid I watched Elvis movies with Nanna, and 1980’s rugby league grand finals on VCR with Pa on Saturday afternoons, then we shared tea with Jatz and Cracker Barrel cheese on the balcony. When I visited Graceland a few years ago, it was Nanna who I wished was with me. (She was so excited when I called to give her all the details). During the football season, Pa sends me clippings about my team the St George Illawarra Dragons from The Illawarra Mercury (not realising I’d already read the articles online). Both Nanna and Pa have written their life stories, and Pa has done a huge amount of research of our family’s history (I’m fifth generation Australian!) I feel incredibly fortunate to have these connections with Nanna and Pa, especially about two of my biggest loves: Elvis and rugby league! While I haven’t lived in the same town as Nanna and Pa for over 18 years, we’ve shared visits over the years and we still have semi-regular phone chats.

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Nanna, my sister, me and Pa (c.1995)

My maternal grandmother, Granny, is a few months off turning 86 years old. Unfortunately, her health has taken a turn for the worse in the last couple of years with a gradually worsening case of dementia. She no longer knows who I am when I call her, but recognises me immediately when I visit from Melbourne – she also mixes up or doesn’t remember who other family members are, among other lapses of memory. (A special mention to my mum who has been a superwoman looking after most of Granny’s needs recently). Although, she does have lucid moments – she did try to marry me off to a male nurse in the hospital today! But lucid or not, she always encourages me to do whatever makes me happy and to be content within myself. I think it’s amazing advice from someone who had seven children, arrived in Australia from Scotland as a 10-pound-Pom with Grandpa and six children, travelled the world and lived an independent life since 1987.

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Granny and Grandpa’s wedding (1950)

I have extra good fortune with Granny in that I’ve lived in the same town as her for the majority of my life (with exception to a couple of years when I was a tween and the last few years since I’ve been in Melbourne). When my mum returned to work when I was seven years old, Granny helped out by collecting my sister and I from school a few days a week – our home was a five minute walk away. Granny used to make the best shortbread in the world and I remember watching old movies with her like Ladyhawke and Mary Poppins.

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Grandpa, Granny and I (1987)

At almost 29 years old, I feel even more grateful than I did as teenager to have all these memories and experiences with my grandparents. Nanna, Pa and Granny have always been proud of my achievements, and I’m sure Grandpa would have been too – what an amazing support system to have.

I truly hope that everyone has had the experience of having a grandparent or grandparent-figure in their lives, even for a short time – there’s nothing else like it.

2015: A Year in Review

At this time every year there is always is a chorus of “I can’t believe its December next week!” or “I swear this year has gone quicker than last year!” I agree with both sentiments. So, with a new year almost upon us, and my 29th birthday less than three months away, I’ve begun reflecting on my 2015. As always, it’s been a mixed bag but a big year of accomplishments.

Work:

I pulled off two huge projects – a gala ball (I’ve coordinated hundreds of events but never a gala ball) and a video production that seemed to take 120 years to complete, but it got there in the end. Both projects received a lot of push back from certain areas of management, but one of my favourite things in life is proving people wrong. I got to do that for both of these projects! My work year hasn’t been without stress though. My boss thought it was a good idea to – twice – suggest that I’m “offensive”, “threatening” and “negative” and those characteristics were affecting the team (not actually true, my colleagues laughed when I asked them). She’s also showered me with compliments in between. Whatever. I’m lucky that I get to work in a team with the most incredible people who I can truly call friends. It makes the shitty days feel so much better.

I also reached my two year anniversary on 23 November. This milestone has prompted me to think about moving on, particularly onto a role that would pay me what I believe I’m worth. This time of year is typically slow on the job ad front, but I’m keeping an eye out for anything that comes up.

Writing:

I couldn’t be happier with what I’ve accomplished with my writing this year. I’ve written 24 blog posts (this is my 24th!) While consistency with timing isn’t there, I’m thrilled with the content I’ve produced. Earlier this year, I considered curating my blog to a certain theme or topic but in the end decided against it. I’m still green in the writing world, so I didn’t want to restrict my creative outlet in any way – it explains how my posts fit into wide-ranging topics including dating, football, favourite things, and travel!

I also completed my Graduate Diploma in Journalism.  Reflecting back on my accomplishments over the years, I’ve never been prouder than I have of this one. I received four high distinctions, two distinctions and two credits – which resulted in a distinction GPA. In fact, I missed a high distinction GPA by 1%. I worked incredibly hard during this course, so I definitely deserved the grade. The reason why I did this course was to study something I enjoyed as a hobby and to prove to myself that I’m a good writer. I achieved what I set out to do. I still have so much more to learn, but I couldn’t be happier with where I am now on my writing journey.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me, “what are you going to do now that you’ve graduated?” and my answer every time is that I have no idea. I didn’t do this course so I could automatically change everything I was doing the minute I graduated. I’m still figuring it out, but I’ll let everyone know when I do.

Travel:

I’ve travelled overseas every year since I was 21 – 2015 was the first year I didn’t. Unfortunately I didn’t get my annual leave approved. However, in March and April of next year one of my best friends and I will be travelling to Croatia and Turkey. We’ve been talking about this trip for years, so it’s a dream come true to be finally making it happen.

I had the opportunity to apply for a support role on a 2016 New York work trip. I never thought I’d say no to an opportunity to go to New York, but after careful consideration I decided against applying: I wasn’t sure that I would still be working there by the time the trip departed, so I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time; I’ve been to NYC several times and I thought I’d give others more of a chance to apply; and I plan on moving there in early 2017 anyway. As it turns out, one of my fabulous work friends got the spot, and I’m beyond excited for her!

By the time the year is out I would have travelled to Brisbane five times and Adelaide once, even though I don’t consider it real travel. It’s meant that this year has been a financial disaster – but that’s, literally, the price I’ve paid for moving away from Brisbane the minute all my friends and family decided to get married! A few months ago I boldly and naively declared that I wasn’t going back up to Brisbane in 2016 other than for Christmas and a friend’s wedding in January which I had committed to attending more than a year ago. I’ve since been told to expect invites for two more weddings (I’m sure there are more coming that I don’t know about yet). I would love nothing more than to be at both of them, but next year I need to be selfish and focus on my savings and working toward my own goals (and not feel guilty about it).

Dating:

A disaster as always. My dating life this year has featured: getting dumped by someone I quite liked, going on dates with two guys – one of which was with the most boring person on the planet and the other had such tiny man hands his name should be T-Rex. Plus, there was the train guy who appeared perfectly normal and then disappeared without a word. I also got asked by a friend if we could be friends with benefits (it sounds dodgy, but it wasn’t) – even though it caught me completely by surprise, I was extremely flattered but I declined in the interests of “preserving our friendship”.

A few months ago I deleted my dating apps. I was prompted to act after a constant stream of dick pics, explicit introductory messages, and absolute morons. It’s soul destroying stuff. But, after encouragement from friends I’ve decided to jump back on (just one) to see what happens. Now that I’ve finished studying, I have more time to explore Melbourne and go out more. I’m trying to be positive, but I’m not holding my breath either.

Friendships:

I miss my Brisbane friends more and more each day (although a few of them are here with me in Melbourne!), but my obsession with my Melbourne friends has taken on a new level this year. I continue to learn so much from them and their selflessness is with compassion and without agenda. Love to you all.

What’s next in 2016? More savings, writing opportunities, love, and travel!

As we all crawl toward Christmas and New Year for a much needed break, I wish everyone the most amazing festive season! I also hope that 2015 has been good to you, and if it hasn’t that there have been sparks along the way that encourage you toward better things in 2016.

What if . . .

A friend of mine is encouraging me to join him in the online writing quest, National Novel Writing Month. Otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, it’s a worldwide community of writers who support one another to each write a 50,000 word novel in one month. The idea is that participants get, at least, a skeleton plot and character plan together ready for the first writing day of the month.

It’s a feat that seems unachievable to me – but I’m assured it’s possible, and fun!

My friend is already well ahead with his planning. While there is a huge amount of creative freedom in terms of topic and genre, I’m in panic mode trying to think of an idea. One of my challenges with writing is coming up with the original idea. I’m not one to go looking for inspiration, I kind of hope it just happens by chance – which is probably not the most effective option, but I’m still learning my craft.

During our conversation about inspiration sources, my friend ended up suggesting ‘what if’ as a starting point. “If you consider a possibility that doesn’t already exist”, he said, “it can become anything.” I usually enjoy writing based on truth or realism rather than impossibilities and fantasies. However, in the interests of creative exploration, I pose the following ‘what ifs’ based on my truth.

#selfie
#selfie

What if . . . Paris was my dream and not New York City?

What if . . . I didn’t have red hair?

What if . . . we stayed in Wollongong?

What if . . . I finished school at 18 years old and not 16?

What if . . . I never worked at Pizza Hut?

What if . . . I did journalism and not events management as my undergrad?

What if . . . I didn’t move to Melbourne two and half years ago?

What if . . . I didn’t accept my current job after months of being unemployed?

What if . . . he didn’t lie and he was what I wanted him to be?

What if . . . I was more extroverted than introverted?

What if . . . I said no?

What if . . . I said yes?

My ‘what ifs’ listed here make up a small sample. There might even be a story idea in there. They aren’t meant to be negative or deeply self-analytical or regretful in any way, nor disrespectful to anyone else’s ‘what ifs’. But they’re mine. I do wonder. But I look forward to the future – and coming up with an idea for NaNoWriMo!