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Monthly Archives: November 2015

1.

My virginity was seen by in own eyes as both a burden and a competition: cursed as a teenager with an increasingly petty streak, I had to be rid of it before the age of 19. 19 was the age that my brother had lost his v-card, and although we’d never speak about it, I wanted the quiet, bitter joy of knowing that I had beat him: despite my flab, despite my awkwardness and despite my homosexuality.

Although I’d thought mildly to myself that gays, as I knew them, wouldn’t find a hefty-bodied 17 year old attractive, I also forgot the one cardinal rule of all men everywhere, regardless of their gender preference: they all love sex and will do mostly anything they can to get it.

I am studying for my mid-year practise exams – for year 11 or year 12, I can’t remember which – in the depths of Philosophy or Literature or History or something that required actual study. (In actual fact, of course, all of my subjects required study, which could have been why my final results weren’t did bad, but weren’t as impressive as I’d hoped.) After a solid hour or two – enough to bring me towards the middle of the day, but not enough so that it’s dark outside – I somehow find myself scanning a myriad of gay hook-up websites with a teenager’s pornographic lust: first Manhunt, then Adam4Adam, and finally, the aptly (and uncomfortably named) Squirt.

With trepidatious fingers I sign myself up, upload a photograph – not too bad, I think to myself – and list my sexual interests.

I’ve never had sex, so how can I have any interests? I think. I randomly select four or five; the ones that don’t seem too intense (compared to BDSM, WATERSPORTS and the dreaded BAREBACKING) and hasten onto the next page, where a button announces: “Upload Your Profile and Get 5 Days Free!!!

I appreciate the exclamation points at the end of the sentence; as if the owners of the website are so excited for you and all the male to male sex you’ll be getting across those five free days.

I swallow my fear, and click the button.

And I am sitting on an older gentleman – 35 to 40 years old, I’d guess, from the crows feet around his eyes, but not unattractive; certainly attractive enough that I’d question why he felt the need to engage in sexual relations with the likes of me – and allowing him to thrust away as I try not to look like a bored school-girl waiting for it all to finish. We’d met at a nearby park – predominantly so I could make sure he wasn’t an axe murderer, and him presumably the same; a trick I’d seen on Law & Order: SVU – and he’d driven us over to his family home, quietly muttering to himself: “You’re not fucking chubby, mate,” referring to how I’d described myself on the profile.

Oh, thanks, but I am, I’d thought. And despite what some people might say, that’s actually okay.

We’d progressed quickly to his bedroom, where – partly because of the family photo prominently featuring his wife and two very young children, and partly because his whole house smelled like Glade – I’d quickly lost interest, but hadn’t felt like I had any right to say “no” or extricate myself from the weight of his expectation. It didn’t help that he’d driven me to a place not too far away, but far enough from my own home that I hadn’t the foggiest how to get back without his vehicular help.

“Yeah,” he grunts to nobody in particular, and pulls me down to kiss him once more. I notice with a quiet revulsion the inconsistency of his body hair – black and wiry in parts, patchy and invisible in others – and skin – intermittently taut and loose across the fullness of his chest and shoulders – and think that it’s really nothing like the limited pornographic films I’ve managed to see at this point in my life.

“Yeah,” he grunts again and bucks me off onto the bed next to him, pushing up with his legs and wrapping me around the neck with his spare arm (the other, it seems, is violently Taking Care of Business.)

“I’m close!” he groans. I match his own speed, hoping that if we both come, it’ll all be over, soon, and I can get back to my Philosophy or Literature or History or whatever I was doing before I decided it’d be a good idea to meet up with this gentleman.

“Fucken’ come on my balls, mate!”

I think that if I hurry and focus, really truly focus, I won’t laugh in his face, and that’s probably for the best, given his bicep is still caught tight around my throat.

2.

It is one year earlier, now, on New Year’s Eve, and we are somewhere in Ormond or nearby: suburban central. Me and my goth friends Cloe and Emma and Maddy and Kurt are all hanging out. Kurt is a strapping gay gentleman – not a goth, but friends with Cloe’s mother. Kurt is 34, but given his propensity for hanging out with teenagers, often acts like one and thus buys us alcohol more often than not. I am 16 years old. I have never kissed a boy. Or a girl, at this point, beyond “playing doctor” or “families” as a schoolchild; the sexless dry kisses of a youngster who didn’t really want to kiss or be kissed, but did want to know what it felt like, as if this would shed some light onto why the hell all adults everywhere seemed always to be kissing.

We stand and lean, casually, on play equipment in a public park, vodka cruisers in hand – those giant 1.2 litre ones that held 5 whole standard drinks a piece and were enough to keep you buzzing for the whole night, at that age, at least – and shoot back and forth with bored conversation. I can’t exactly remember what we were discussing, but it was probably inane and stereotypically counter-culture; something about how nobody understood us and our parents hated us and everyone was out to get us.

“I need to pee,” Emma announces, and departs, taking Cloe and Maddy with her in the teenaged belief that urinating alone was a sheer impossibility. There is silence, for a time, and Kurt and I size each other up, oddly, as I realise we’ve never been alone together in the six months we’ve each been aware of the other.

“So,” I say, moving closer onto the rope bridge strung out between us some six inches off of the tanbark; trying for smoothness and overshooting horribly. “How’s life?”

“Yeah, good,” Kurt replies, playing along as he too steps onto the rope bridge and closer to me, closer again. He turns to look at me head on, and I turn to look at him head on, and my heart is beating in my chest, hard and fast, not because I particularly want anything to happen, but because there’s a chance it might.

We step closer, wobbly on the confines of this children’s rope bridge like two erstwhile lovers at the end of the first act in a classic two-act musical. Our noses, now, are almost touching; the electricity and air between us crackling and firey and –

“We shouldn’t,” he says, and turns away. I grab the side of the rope bridge in childish anger; not anger that our union couldn’t, apparently, happen, but that it was taken from me as a concept when it might have happened.

“Fine,” I spit, thinking I’m doing a very adult job of hiding my true feelings but very much failing.

Then, a truly evil thought crosses my brain: “You should kiss me.”

“I’m not going to,” he says – not forceful, but calm, understanding.

“You should kiss me,” I continue, “Because if you don’t, I’m going to go across the road to see Graham and let him do whatever he wants to me.”

Graham is another neighbour of Cloe’s, a lecherous old homosexual of some 60 plus years with a penchant for drugs, cigarettes, and – according to Kurt – “forceful” sex. I have no intention of ever going across the road to Graham’s, but like a 17 year old 5”11 male Veruca Salt, I want it – where “it” is the chance to kiss another male – and I want it now, damnit.

Kids in school get to kiss whenever they please, I think, so what’s so wrong about me stealing just one?

Kurt turns to look at me, face clouded by confusion and anxiety.

“Really?” he says, unsure. After everything he’d told me?

“Really,” I say confidently, calling upon every acting bone in my body and lying through my teeth.

A pause, then:

“Okay.”

His mouth quickly encapsulates my own, and the feeling of his stubbled sandpaper face rubbing across my skin is far more displeasing than I’d anticipated. His tongue worms through the insides of my mouth and he thrusts his hand down the front of my pants with vigour.

That was easy, I think. Too easy.

“You’re hung like a horse and I love it,” Kurt purrs, all hints of indecision gone.

I’m not, I think. Not that I’m particularly concerned about its size, but it’s just a normal, healthy penis size. What a bizarre complement to give.

Behind us, Emma coughs, and we turn, sheepish, to see that the girls have returned.

“I wanna go to Hungry Jacks,” Maddy says.

3.

“I was like, so offended when I first met you, kinda,” he says. His name is Ryan, he’s a violinist for the musical I’m in, and the first time I’ve met and flirted with a fellow homosexual and felt like we, at the very least, exist on equal ground: I like him, and he likes me back. “I was like: who’s that faggot who’s too good to speak to me?”

Who indeed.

And: In turn, I was super hyper aware of you, and not at all too good to speak to you, more just “too scared”.

And: I think you’re really attractive.

And: you make me wanna do things to you with my things.

And, in the innocence of youth: isn’t that kind of homophobic to use the word “faggot”?

“Haha, yeah,” I say, trying desperately to remain cool. “I wasn’t, though.”

“You weren’t what?”

“Too good to speak to you.” The words awkwardly spill out before I have the chance to grab hold of them. It’s all become very serious, very quickly, and it’s very much my fault. “I just…” I pause, unsure of what to say, and acutely aware I’m accidentally letting my crazy seep out in droves. “Yeah, nah, I wasn’t too good. I’m not.”

“Oh,” he says, either oblivious to my circular ramblings or else too kind to mention them. He takes my hand and gives it a quick squeeze. “Another beer?”

“Yes, please,” I reply faintly.

And some hours later, in the dark of the night, we lie hand in hand in the makeshift double bed I’ve drunkenly assembled with a fitted sheet and two single mattress thrown haphazardly down the stairs. We’re both lying on our backs, and somehow making out – not forcefully, or violently, just calmly and sweetly, now. The evening has shifted wholly into night, and after the performance, and the booze, and the insistent cast dancing, we’re both quite happy to lie in the comfort of each other’s arms, feeling the long, slow, soft beating of our respective hearts. Emboldened by the alcohol and the near constant kissing, my hand reaches, under the covers, towards his crotch. Silently, he takes this hand and pulls it up.

“No,” he says. “I want it to be just right. Just perfect.”

Perhaps because of this desire, I never see him again once the show’s over, some two or three days later.

“So, how’d you two gooooo?” A friend of mine goads me the next day. “How was your little date? It seemed like you were all over each other.”

Oh! I think. Really? That was a date?

“And don’t give me that face, it was totally a date,” my friend confirms. “I mean, come on: you two moved away from everyone else and spent the whole time making eyes at each other, and touching.”

4.

He sits opposite from me as night bleeds slowly into morning; colours rising from beneath the earth to paint the sky around us. It is 2007 or 2008, and so early that it’s late, and:

“I just,” he says. “I really like you. I felt like there was something between us.”

“Oh,” I say.

Fuck me, I think. These situations really are awkward from the other side.

“I don’t…”

I pause, then:

I don’t know if I feel the same way.”

And it is 2010, now, and I’m walking with a boy down the street to purchase cigarettes, and we are nearly hand in hand, our bodies pulsating with the electricity that precursors two people coming together. My boyfriend is away on holiday, somewhere across the country, and his boyfriend is in the house we’ve just left, dutifully waiting for us to return.

His knuckles brush my own as we walk, and slowly, surely, I turn my head towards him; look him in the eye. He bites his lip in a soft and unconscious manner, and my heart (and penis) skip a beat.

“D’you think…” he says, and trails off. Our hands are still touching without holding, and our energy is still violently directed towards the other.

And now, of course, I look back at myself in anger: at the poor little insecure boy who couldn’t remain faithful, who took each sexual conquest as a tick in his corner; a confirmation that Hey, you’re okay, you’re not terrible and awkward! Or: You actually are super awkward and a little bit terrible sometimes, but it doesn’t really matter, apparently!

But then, of course, he kissed me and I kissed back; thrusting my hands down the front of his pants as I’d learned to do from Kurt some years earlier. 

That’s a problem for future Chris, I’d thought. Or else, not thought at all, just simply done it, thinking regardless.

And I’m learning that it’s really not the first time that matters. It doesn’t say anything grand about the times to come; it doesn’t set a precedent for good or bad, it simply is.

A problem for current Chris: making each time as good as it possibly can be. Without fucking yourself or anyone else over.

I am sitting in the lounge-room of my childhood home as the rest of my family rolls out of bed and begins readying themselves for the day ahead. The news of the terror attacks in Paris has just come through. The man delivering this televisual update continues to consistently mention Australia, continually re-iterating that “all Australians are accounted for,” and I can’t help thinking that it seems a little cruel; like seeing a man in a wheelchair and letting everyone around you know that it’s okay, you can still walk, run, jump, kick, dance.

Later, when it’s confirmed that at least one Australian has in fact been injured, this is treated with all the gravitas of the recent Sydney siege, as if nobody watching could possibly identify or sympathise with any of the victims unless said victim is a white Australian.

The world is burning, and my parents have just bought a selfie stick.

Years earlier, when I was twenty or twenty-one, one of my first plays was self-produced and performed at what was then The Owl and the Pussycat Theatre in Richmond. The play’s name was Acidtongue and Dollface, and it was a thinly veiled piece of attempted autobiography melded with an improbable plot that featured, among other things, the weight of parental expectation, arson, and bloody murder.

Its reception was mixed, to say the least. The two or three good reviews it received were from young people like myself; and the two or three bad reviews – really bad, almost excitingly, quotably bad – were from confused and personally offended adults. In a way, this played exactly into my twenty-year-old hands. The adults, like those strange and unintelligible creatures from the cartoon version Schulz’s Peanuts, just didn’t understand. The youngsters, however, very much did. Suburban life was as suffocating to them as it was to me.

I was always a bookish child, and at age 12 was granted early access to the Upper School section of my school library – because I was a step ahead in my reading capabilities, I was allowed to pick whichever novel I’d like to read without any fear of librarian retribution; it had been decided that my mind wouldn’t be too badly warped by the adult concepts and graphic passages rife in this restricted section. Perhaps as an unconscious test of this claim – more likely because I just liked scary things and had heard wondrous things about this Stephen King fellow – one morning I picked up and loaned out a fat book with a pitch-black dust jacket and the letters slashed in blood red across its cover: IT.

While IT didn’t warp my mind, it did give birth to my first wholehearted experimentation with fan-fiction as I wondered: what would happen to me and my friends should the mysterious and terrifying creature known as IT begin to haunt us? (Also, what if the similarly mysterious and terrifying Freddy Krueger had joined forces with IT, and what if we possessed the ability to morph into fire breathing dinosaurs, too?)

King’s novel was something that stuck with me: not for the antics of Pennywise the Dancing (and murderous) Clown, but for the idea of seven ordinary children thrust out of the doldrums of normalcy, and – as a particularly fat child – the idea that an obese childhood wouldn’t define your adulthood.

These same obsessions – being thin, being special and Not Being Normal – were probably why when I played ‘doctor’ with my next-door neighbours I was always the patient, and always spun an elaborate backstory about round-the-world travelling, excess, and fame.

I stand outside in the heat and oppression of late December 2013 and stare at the monstrosity before me. A mobile home with particular emphasis on the ‘home’ side of things, and less on the ‘mobile’: my parents have discovered their current car doesn’t have the mechanical strength to tow their caravan, so it sits out front of their house – it is too tall to fit underneath their carport without breaking something in the process. The answer, apparently, is simple:

“We’ll just need to buy a four wheel drive,” my mother says, and I can picture already the ‘Toorak tractor’ they’ll need to make this several tonnes of caravan mobile.

God. I hope I never become like that, I think with a petulant stab at my surroundings. Then:

You hope you never have enough money to casually decide to purchase a car?

It is March of 2008, and I am – after a long process of gap-years and course transfers – about to begin the first lecture of my Journalism degree at Monash University; encouraged by my family to seek a job that “involves writing, but also involves getting a job.” The excited chatter of fresh students falls immediately to silence as our lecturer stalks into the room; seemingly glaring at every face before her.

Excruciating silence for what feels like an eternity (but would’ve only been ten seconds, max), then:

“Who here wants to be a journalist?”

My arm is slower to rise than the others; the final tortoise to finish the race as a hundred Tracy Grimshaws around it sprint full bore ahead.

“Wonderful,” our lecturer smiles. “Now, I want ninety percent of you to put your hands down.”

Electricity courses through our collective silence. Is this a…?

“It’s not a trick,” she confirms. “And it doesn’t have to be exact, obviously, but I want about ninety percent of you to do me a favour and lower your hands. Go on.”

Slowly, cautiously, the room does so: all except for me – caught in stubborn refusal after my arm’s embarrassingly slow ascent – and about nine other young upstarts. She only speaks once the last hand has lowered.

“Now, look around you. This is about the collective success rate you’ll have as journalists. Possibly worse.” She pauses, dramatically. “Look at the person next to you. They’re your friend, right?”

Finally: “Wrong. They’re your competition.”

Quickly, unconsciously, my arm begins to lower.

As seems to be the rite of passage for all arts-oriented individuals in Melbourne, at the beginning of 2012 I picked up all my worldly possessions and trekked with friends across to the north side – a quaint little Burton-esque house just off Sydney Road, Brunswick, right near the hub of pubs, cafes, Savers, skinny jeans and the ever-shrinking gulf between “homeless” and “hipster” chic.

This’ll be great, I thought. I can smell the freedom already, and it smells like a quickly oxidizing long black.

When I was eight or nine, I’d used to spend my weekends with the girl next door; a young, sporty lass by the name of Jessica. Jessica and I would tick all the childhood boxes: we’d scrounge and save our spare change to purchase icy-poles together, we’d spend our days riding mountain bikes up and down the length of our street, and we would discuss, in grandiose terms, our plans for our futures.

I remember being utterly amazed by the state of her house: her mother was an interior designer (or something of that ilk) and as such, her house’s interior didn’t fit in with of any other house I’d been in: blood red feature walls in the kitchen, polished floorboards and marble benches, a stone tub at the centre of the bathroom like a sacrificial altar to cleanliness, and a centralized vacuum cleaner that drew all the dirt into the house’s very walls.

For me, this house was my Brunswick; just off-kilter enough to be intriguing and effortlessly “cool” without holding any kind of legitimate threat.

My grand move, years later, occurred around the same time that “privilege” slid into popular lexicon (as in, “check your”, “you’re so”, “I have no”, and “you don’t even think about”), and I can’t deny that this added a certain sheen to life on the north side: you weren’t buying into your privilege; you were roughing it in ethnically diverse suburbia, which was evidently immensely different.

Being 23 and caught inside a horror movie film set of a house, however, far away from the cushiness of suburbia, was a different matter altogether.

Heard on the train this morning:

“I’ve told him heaps of times, now, to be careful when climbing on the roof; and he’s almost died doing it; like, fallen off and snapped his neck, but he still really wants to. He won’t – would not – be swayed. If I’d known he hated leaves that much I wouldn’t have suggested we get the awnings with the Colour Bond gutters, now, would I?”

As I first began to realise, growing up, that maybe I didn’t want to (indeed, couldn’t) settle down and marry a girl, I began to shake off the expectations of both my family and society writ large and attempt to pave out something that was more conducive to the life I wanted to lead. In a sense this has led to my (initially violent) kick-back against a suburban lifestyle, but I seem to be coming back around again: it’s not something that I have a particular interest in, sure, but others do, and that’s okay.

In a recent episode of Josh Thomas’ Please Like Me, a homosexual character speaks about the confines of expectation and his sexuality; noting that as a child, when he realised he wasn’t ever going to do what was expected of him (i.e. marry and settle down with a wife, a house and two point five children) it essentially opened the idea of relationships and the world up to him.

Regardless of your opinion of Thomas or Please Like Me, I would argue that he has a point. In the long road it’s taken for me to finally accept that a career in the arts is something that both fulfills me and something that I want, I have repeatedly wished for a sudden fervour and propensity for mathematics or accounting. First wryly, as a joke – then, increasingly, less so. In many ways, it’d make everything a lot simpler if I held a hunger and a passion for taxes.

The world intermittently lights up with the force of explosive violence, and people around the world choose to live their lives however they want to regardless: maybe there’s more to worry about.

Eight Things I Have Learnt Through Writing This Blog 

  1. How to stop fucking procrastinating and just do the thing.
  2. How to stick to a schedule and actually commit to a long-term project.
  3. How to stop fucking caring about what people think.
  4. How to be much more upfront about the times I’ve been a shit person.
  5. How to deal with people having momentary lapses of sanity; assuming something is directly about them and personally attacking me.
  6. How to exorcise my personal demons and release them into the world (or at least into a Word document).
  7. How to find beauty in the mundane, and
  8. How to let it go.

I began this as a writing exercise in December of 2013, when it’d been recently confirmed I was heading to NIDA and – to my own surprise – managed to keep it up ever since. I’ve kept this production of words going at a rate of one new entry every fortnight, rain, hail or shine – give or take a day or two either side – and the only real break occurred from the end of August ‘till the beginning of October, 2014: the time I was in a hospital and, for some of the time, in a coma. It feels appropriate, then, to bring it to an end as my time at NIDA comes to a close.

This blog has informed my playwriting process as much as said process has informed this blog; forcing me to grow both in my scope and maturity. It has seen me through the rollercoaster of 2013 to 2015, and I’m actually really proud of myself for keeping it up and learning to engage with and love creative non-fiction as a genre of writing; learning to find my own voice.

This being said, as 2015 has bored down upon me, its begun to feel like a burden – I’ve started no longer to feel the innate desire to write; feeling more and more the crushing weight of my own expectation, lest I disappoint the two-point-five people who read it, or myself. And maybe the sad – or bitterly funny – fact of it all is that now that my life isn’t jumping from one histrionic extreme to the next; now that I feel like I’m actually approaching some level of normalcy, there isn’t much left for me to write about.

I had a strange and unwelcome experience some two weeks ago. After posting my latest entry, someone I once knew chose to anonymously slander me, claiming my experiences were “lies and bullshit” and that therefore “other stuff [I have] written must also be bullshit too”. Admittedly, once I was able to work it out, the incident I’d written about was actually two incidents blurred together for the sake of a more interesting story; but both of these incidents still very much happened. (Also, I wasn’t offered the chance to explain that I’ve never claimed it’s blind truth; that indeed the ‘creative’ part of ‘creative non-fiction’ involves, for me at least, a bit of sanding off the edges for the sake of overall structure.)

After spending a fair amount of time unnecessarily anxious about this one person and their bevvy of poorly worded (and poorly researched) attacks, I realised three things.

Three Things I’ve Realised By Being Unnecessarily Troll Attacked

  1. I did not owe this person any sort of explanation; and I did not need to (or want to) defend myself. Crazy people be crazy.
  2. My immediate response wasn’t one of shock or horror, just of quiet bitterness as I registered that this had become no longer fun.
  3. I could stop writing any time I wanted.

There is a small and bitter part of me that wants to plan on writing this blog until next year at least, out of irritation that this person might think that I’ve stopped because of her very adult, very sane attack. But there’s an even bigger part of me doesn’t really care. This has turned from something I’ve really loved doing to something that’s, slowly but surely, weighing me down unnecessarily.

And so, here we are. This might be a permanent stop. The end of the road. Or, this might be an intermittent stop, punctuated by new entries every few months as I relearn to love it. Hell, this might be a pit stop for two weeks as I suddenly realise I totally can’t live without blogging. (I very much doubt it’ll be a pit stop for two weeks as I suddenly realise I totally can’t live without blogging.)

It’s been a great and intermittently stressful two years, and I’ve learnt a heap about myself, the people and the world around me, but it’s time for a rest, now.

What’s that they say about all good things?