i like, i don’t like

I like my eyes. When I was way overweight, they were the only part of my appearance that I’d focus on as a positive. Shallowly, like: the rest of me may be gross, but oh, those EYES. I fell out of love with them for a while after my near-death experience broke one of them, made it perpetually lazy, but they’re nearly all fixed, now, and I’m learning to, if not love, then appreciate even the lazy eye. It has Character.

I like my body. At 28, after so many years of railing against it, I gave up, and simply covered it in tattoos. I now work out at the gym for improvement, to be stronger etc., but I don’t need to. In the early days I would sacrifice seeing my friends for a quick cardio sesh, but no more. Weight fluctuates here and there, and we all still look the same. I’m not a model, but I like my face, and the rest of my body, and if I had the chance to trade it in, I don’t think I would, anymore. (Or else, if I did, it’d have to be for a really fucking good trade.)

I like my butt – but more in pants than out of them. But to be fair to myself, I’ve never seen it from afar, only in my bedroom mirror or over my shoulder, vague and reflected and nebulous. Even then it still has a certain perk I appreciate.

I like smoking. I know you’re not supposed to any more, what with all the evidence out there detailing just how much it’ll kill you – and I’m not a smoker, not any more – but there are few things in life that can beat a cig and a coffee on a crisp Winter’s morning. I don’t like the smell, though.

I like drinking. Drinking is one of the aforementioned few things in life that beat a cigarette and a coffee. I don’t do it any more, but my brain is hardwired to release insane amounts of dopamine whenever I drink, and – regardless of the fucked-up decisions and hangovers, regardless of the time I slurred into someone’s ear that I loved them when I didn’t or that time I stole Hugo Weaving’s chips in the STC foyer – yeah, I really like it.

I like marijuana. The taste, not so much, but I like the effect. People have said to me: “how can you not drink but still smoke weeeeeeed?” like they’ve cracked the code, brutally injured my sobriety façade with their shocking insight and poised line of questioning. My answer is: firstly, I can happily put down and pick up a joint whenever I want. I’ve smoked twice this year, after two years completely sober: enjoyed myself, and happily had enough. With alcohol, when I did drink, even in the depths of the most hideous earth-shattering hangover I’d always think: hey, y’know what could fix this? MORE BOOZE.

Secondly, as someone with generalised anxiety disorder, being off my face high is one of the few times I don’t even slightly feel like the world is going to kill me. Year’s not over yet, but I can already tell my favourite memory of 2016 will be this: me sitting with friends in a cabin in Hall’s Gap, eyes shut and wheezing carefree from uncontrollable laughter.

I like my queerness. This one took a while, but I do. I’ve gone through many stages of life and understanding what it means to be, basically, a non-straight person, but I’ve finally reached the ‘liking’ stage of it: of being anyone outside of the straight white dominant paradigm. This came, I think, with my liking of myself: on one hand, my voice has a touch of fey, I work in the arts, I hate children but love RuPaul’s Drag Race, and have a tendency towards the melodramatic. On the other hand, I’m covered in tattoos, have a strong jaw-line (which is another thing I like) and will fight you if you fuck me over. I used to think, as a child, that I’d give anything to be straight – trade it all in. But now, I wouldn’t. It’s part of who I am, and part of what’s made me who I am. To quote a brilliant artist I know: STRAIGHT THINGS ARE BORING THINGS.

I like sex. I kind of think you’d be mad not to: it’s fun, and it’s supposed to be. Sometimes in the middle of sex I get that weird “outside myself” feeling and envisage what I look like from above – sweaty and ungainly and interlocked; making noises I’ve never heard before – and that sometimes takes me out of it, but I’m getting better. Mainly, now, I just laugh.

I like flamingos. I think about flamingos and I smile. I can’t explain why. Sometimes I wonder, “is this how straight people feel about babies?” They’re pink and they’re awkward and they’re kind of gay, and I just like them. Maybe I’m fulfilling some grand indie faggot cliché, but so what?

I like honesty. I find it so much easier to be honest in writing, though, which poses a problem – not that I feel like I need to lie in speaking, more that the act of speaking words makes it harder. Online or in theatre, crazily rehearsed and with lights and costumes and design and shit, I’ll happily tear myself apart. Confession sessions dot com dot au, forward slash me. I’d rather do it before anyone else does. In person, I’ll probably stammer and my brain will freeze and I won’t know what to say so I’ll trail off and sit in awkward silence, or maybe crack a really inappropriate joke for good measure.

I don’t like that I swing between terribly egocentric and painfully self-depreciating. Like, pick one, brain. (Or actually? Pick neither. Mediums are happy, and so in right now.)

I don’t like the politicisation of sexuality (lol ‘straya m8).

I don’t like injustice – like, I don’t like that systematic racism and sexism and fucking murder seem to rule our world, and I really don’t like that I benefit from it.

I don’t like how obsessed I can get with insignificant things, and I don’t like the fact of how insignificant my problems really are in the grand scheme of things. Not that I wish I had ‘real’ problems or wish that people thought that the problems I face were significant, more that I really don’t like how concerned I am with pointless shit when there’s a whole bunch of real problems going on.

I don’t like my privilege. Or, I guess I enjoy it, but I don’t like that it comes at the cost of so many other people. Sometimes it seems like a rabbit hole: dark and deep and endless. What can I do? Give up all my possessions? Apologise to everyone I meet? When do you stop donating to charities? What’s too much, and what isn’t enough? I’m a minority myself – homosexual and disabled – so can I start to claim on it?

I don’t like this country – its government, and its myriad and continuous cruelties.

I don’t like that I can’t let things go, but I’m trying.

I don’t like myself, but I’m trying.

I don’t like this essay, but I’m trying.

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