There is a small space between the barbed wire, and a bend in the gate where she hoists herself over. The power lines sew the soft landscape together with a slight buzz, kookaburras stitched in at intervals scoping the ground for a lizard. A single VB bottle floats in the weir. The sky is clear but for the occasional cloud and the ground has seen a little rain. She lives for walks like this. Following the fence along the paddock, she is unprepared for the corral bearded with discarded wire at the top of the hill. A low rumble makes its way through the trees. In the corral bones outline a cow. The horses are so thin they could be wind. The farmer has gone to Europe for the winter, his son owns a house in the next town. Last Christmas he left his wife for the bottle, and has never been the same. He shot his neighbour’s dog for trespassing. Neither have seen the bush-lined house for more than a month. Or seen the goat on the ground, chained to the fence, scraping the dirt with legs too weak to get up. The rumble grows louder. Beside the corral there is an open paddock, thick with weeds and patches of grass. The bush beyond is dense and open to the road. The gate is chained shut. She pulls and twists at the chains as the son’s truck skids to a stop. She pulls the gate open just enough. The horses pass at a trot. A shout comes out of the truck. She turns and catches her jeans on a coil of barbed wire. The son walks to the back of the truck. She frees herself and runs for the bush. The son takes his disfigured Rottweiler off its leash.
I was semi-engaged once. I say semi because we never had a legitimate ring or a party to announce it. We used my late grandmother’s dress ring and it turned my finger green. That should have been an omen in and of itself. I decided that my wedding would be alternative, with lots of handmade touches and second-hand items turned chic. I decided as so many brides-to-be do to feature blue prominently and my bouquet would be made of buttons not flowers (this doesn’t look as kitsch as you think). Each bridesmaid, family member or friend would choose some blue or white buttons and I would fashion them into a bouquet using my best straight-from-Pinterest DIY skills. Above are two buttons one designated bridesmaid gave me. The designs are etched into some sort of shell material.
After the relationship disintegrated, I kept the buttons in an old teal lockable make-up case along with some of my late grandmother’s things and other painful or precious items. Somehow they have migrated from there to a pen organiser beside my desk. Today I found them and cleaned them up a bit. They don’t arouse bitterness or pain in me now and they are the most gorgeous shade of blue.
We also received an expensive Japanese bowl set from one of my friends and once after a fight I was cleaning and dropped some of them, sending triangles of bowl all over the kitchen. If believed in omens that would have been the rooster’s second crow. We also had an orchid that we decided was a symbol of our love (yes, I was that ridiculous. Oh to be young and blindly infatuated). We got it at a seaside market and always laughed at the fact that it wouldn’t grow, despite being re-potted and fertilized and what have you. The rooster’s third crow?
After the relationship ended, and I was alone in my moldy one bedroom apartment during a particularly rainy May, painfully broke and slowly losing myself to depression, I looked out of the window and saw that the orchid was had a single shoot growing up through the cream-white bulb. I laughed.
I wish I could say that this was the time of a great epiphany. That this was the moment that I pulled myself together, became strong and fought against my madness to emerge victorious and build my life anew. But it wasn’t. I continued to fade into the shadows of myself until I was admitted to hospital.
When I moved house I threw out the ring, the orchid, and the remaining bowls but I could never bring myself to throw out the buttons. They were too pretty. I could never use them either. Because despite not believing in omens, I still associate those buttons with that man, not in a negative way, just as a memory. Who wants to carry around the ghost of their ex-lover in their pocket? Or sew their memory to your favorite shirt. Forgive me, but that’s like recycling a wedding ring. A bit creepy.
What do you think, my lovely chums? Have you ever recycled any of your ex-lover’s possessions?
In off-white stained briefs he scratches himself
out the front of the half-way house
as the girls giggle by, stomachs stacked with shots,
he watches them pull up every windscreen wiper
to the sky, leaving all the cars paused in prayer,
their hoods shining in the dewy early hours
One of the girls squats behind a car
rolling up her tight red dress to pee.
The man picks up a ukulele, hisses
“Excuse me, some people are trying to sleep!”
before humming Thunderstruck and plucking
the only remaining string.
This post will be split into two parts because it deals with two different but loosely connected things.
When I was religious I didn’t swear much. Well I occasionally said ‘shit’ but mostly just stuck to the fat-free cuss words like ‘crap’. I was so strict with myself that if I even thought the word ‘fuck’ I’d feel guilty for hours afterwards (I wish I was kidding). But I certainly didn’t even go near the C-bomb. No way, nuh-ah. Too sinful. All the soap in the world wouldn’t wash out that sucker. So here’s my story…
Upon my conscious bitter as betrayal uncoupling from religion I ended my cuss diet and binged. My brain stuffed as many cuss words into my mouth as possible. I said shit and fuck in every sentence and called people dicks (under my breath) but I never could bring myself to drop the C-bomb. In my mind it was a painful word that I’d first heard used in spite. It was classed as the worst of the worst. To call someone a cunt was to insult them in one of the nastiest ways possible (unless you’re a particularly laid back Australian teenager then it’s what you call your mates, but I didn’t know that yet, I was more sheltered than a wombat in a burrow. Yes, I really just typed that).
But soon I became daring. I’ve been told that I look innocent, so I began to say it for effect. Then I began to think about it. Why is ‘cunt’ such a bad word? Why does a euphemism for vagina have to be classed as the worst of the worst? Why is the worst thing a person can be stand in for a female body part? Now I’m not going to go into the politics of it here, others have done that and a hell of a lot better than I could. I’m just saying that I consciously thought about why it was that I didn’t say ‘cunt’. Then I began to say it in my head to try and get rid of the negative connotations associated with it. I said it under my breath. I thought it about the middle-aged woman talking loudly in the quiet carriage. I sang it in my head to the tune of Diamonds by Rihanna. “Shine bright like a cunt face… shine bright like a cunt face…” Ok, so that last part’s a lie, but it improves the song somewhat, no?
So what do I do about it now? I still only say it for effect. It’s still considered by many as the worst of the worst and despite my protests I still haven’t quite gotten over the way it sounds in my mouth. Perhaps I never will, but I’m trying. For now I engage in crafty slactivism. By which I mean I stitch ‘cunt’ onto fabric and frame it. We all have our small rebellions. I’m changing the face of society, one stitch at a time. I’m sure society’s views on what is deemed offensive will change based on one woman’s Sunday afternoon craft project. Give it time.
Now this wasn’t an isolated binge. After my uncoupling I went through a spiritual crisis (surprise! I’m still there! Woo! Fun times! – that’s a story for another post), in that I no longer felt spiritual at all. I went from deeply religious to believing in nothing. Not even myself. I didn’t feel connected to anything. When I was religious I would go out into nature and feel this deep and profound connection to god and to the earth. It was euphoric, I used to feel almost high on the country air (later I found out that this wasn’t a connection to god, it was a connection to untreated mental illness. Yay! Woo! Fun times!). After I started taking medication, all connection to god left me and I instantly didn’t believe anymore. It hit me like a train. I felt like my upbringing had been a lie. A hurtful scam designed to make me feel less powerful as a woman, guilty about sexuality, and oh I dunno, guilty about everything else on the planet. I became bitter against Christianity and binged on all the ‘bad’ things. By which I mean I purposely littered, I didn’t hold the door for people, and I called rude customers bitches (under my breath). Did I mention I was a little strict with myself? These things felt like acts of rebellion to me. I felt powerful. I felt how Snoop Dogg (Snoop Lion? Whatever he calls himself now) must have felt smoking marijuana at the MTV awards. I felt smug as fuck. I was sinning and there wasn’t a god in the world to stop me.
So where does that leave me now? I don’t know, cunts, crouched in some dirty alley way tossing Cadbury wrappers on the ground (no I’m not, don’t litter kids, it’s bad for the environment). Still bitter, I suppose. I still can’t bring myself to stand in a church and nature just makes me sad at the loss of connectedness to the environment. But we all have our things to work on. On another day I’ll go into the story a bit more if you’d like to hear it, but for now, let’s lighten the mood with more arty fun times.
So my lovely cunts, what’s your small act of rebellion?
So as I’ve previously mentioned, my house has a mold problem (there’s a sexy pick up line if ever I saw one). So I’m frantically moving my books to higher ground. I’ve moved all my nice ones, now I’ve just got my least favorite books to go. They’re on the bottom shelf of my bookcase (does anyone else do that? Put the books you like least on the bottom shelf?). So I was going through them and I found ‘Vinegar – 1001 practical uses’. A hark back to my hippy no-chemicals-for-me days. Now I could probably re-stock a pharmacy from my blood alone. I also have 5 books on medicinal herbs and two books on home remedies. I’m not sure why I still have them to be honest. It’s probably the book-hoarder in me that wants them. That tricksy hobbit.