time is a funny thing.

    I’m sitting in bed with what I’m sure is the beginning of freshers flu and mulling over the concept of time. Time is a funny thing. Bending and stretching and twisting. It has only been a week since I arrived on campus at Lancaster Uni, but it simultaneously has been the fastest and most forever week in my life.
    It’s a funny experience that. And looking back. Just over a week ago I knew no-one here. I was worried I’d make little-to-no friends. But now i have Grace and Hannah and Lydia and Lily and Ben and Freddie and Cole and Rich and Harrison and Alex and James and Tom and Michael and Vazz. I have my flat, Flat 8 – Ellie and Anna and Frankie and Em and Lucy and Will and the rest. The reps and the JCRs and pretty much the rest of Bowland. Not to mention the hundreds of drunk girls I’ve made friends with in various bathrooms. From getting-to-know-you drinking games to sweaty nights out to movie nights in with everyone’s legs playing a game of Jenga on the coffee table.
    It’s beautiful and lovely and almost terrifyingly serendipitous. The speed at which you can get to know people. A year can go by and you can barely get to know someone. A week goes by and you feel like you’ve known each other for yonks.
    It’s fickle and it’s gorgeous and it makes you realise all the seemingly small things that have brought you to this.

a long metaphor with no real payoff.

People will sometimes ask why you haven’t written in a while. They’ve been keeping an eye on your website they’ll say. Writer’s block? they’ll ask. Like it’s that simple.

Sometimes.
Sometimes it’s just too sad.
Sometimes it hurts too much.

To write is to think and feel openly. To bleed openly. Like galleries where you can walk through and look at the artworks one by one. Examining them for meaning. To read into the use of the colour blue. To write is to try and use varying combinations of just twenty-six different letters to describe human emotion and experience.

Sometimes to write is to throw everything you have onto a wall hoping that something will stick for you to throw a frame around and say tada. Throwing everything you have in a series of different ways trying to eloquently put into words:
I am spent. This is all of me.

And after a while all the pictures in the gallery start to look the same. You can’t see, you can’t feel, any growth. Just the same story, the same questions asked in every way. And it breaks you. It breaks you in a way you wonder can ever be fixed.

I’m not even sure where I’m going with this. I have no epiphanic answers. No closing statements that tie together metaphors to bring a succint ending. Again I have what feels alot like nothing. A piece that is about not writing pieces. Like florals in spring, groundbreaking.

I don’t know.
Maybe a piece about nothing is better than nothing at all. At least it’s still writing. Right?

something different. spoiler: it’s a rant

The Liberal government’s war on young people has become an actual freaking joke. And “war on young people” aren’t my words, actual real-life paid writers and journalists have been bandying it about for a couple of years. I am near-livid that the government who is supposed to both represent and do what is best for its people has done this. Cause they’re not. They’ve gone and skipped a whole freaking generation of care and respect and duty. And young people should know about it.

In the past couple of days the Liberal government passed new legislation to decrease the HECS repayment from $52,000 to $45,000 a year. That means that anyone earning over roughly $730/week will have to start paying it back. Even if they’re still undertaking those studies. That’s only $10 more than the minimum wage. AKA what has been determined as the necessary amount of dollars to live.

In June of last year penalty rates for those in retail and hospitality (aka the bread-making industry for nearly all young people) were set to be cut in a series of financial years. So in 3 days time that’s going to take a hit.

Adding fuel to the fire are the bunch of tax cuts which help mainly, surprise surprise, the wealthy, with an increase in benefits for those earning $180,000 and above. Clearly they need it.

All this comes from a government of whom the majority didn’t have to pay for their university degrees. Turnbull has admitted that he didn’t pay a cent for his 5 year long Arts-Law degree at Sydney University. For which the dude now makes roughly 500k/year.

This government’s disdain for young people is evident. The Minister for Youth was scrapped from the cabinet in 2013. Any complaint is retaliated with contempt: “we’re spending too much on smashed avo”. The price of existing has never been higher and don’t even get me started on real estate. There are more UNI graduates than jobs, our income doesn’t increase with the cost of living. Paying over $1.50 for petrol is the norm. But our generation is clearly entitled and doesn’t know what it means to work hard.

People, especially young people, should be informed and aware. Politics affect us. Hugely. Evidently. Come voting time, I so often hear, “I don’t really pay attention. I’ll probably just donkey”. And sadly, we are the ones bearing some of the brunt of policy and policy changes. Even more sadly, the majority of the brunt is shouldered by refugees. Which if you aren’t educated on and don’t find repulsive and aren’t a little ashamed to be Australian, then I have zero existence for you. But we need to know what’s going on. Cause it will impact us. A lot.
Here are the references if you want a closer look, or further reading:

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/australia-s-young-people-are-under-attack-20180418-p4zaa3.html
https://www.spectator.com.au/2017/08/war-on-young-australians/
https://www.buzzfeed.com/aliceworkman/free-ride?utm_term=.swYqaRP63#.xb3avmDz5
https://www.fairwork.gov.au/pay/penalty-rates-and-allowances/penalty-rates-changes-2017
https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/graduates-on-730-a-week-to-pay-back-loans-after-government-strikes-deal-on-student-debt-20180626-p4znsv.html
https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2017/03/04/charting-the-war-young-people/14885460004299
https://www.hospitalitymagazine.com.au/new-hospitality-penalty-rates-from-1-july/
https://theconversation.com/most-of-the-benefits-from-the-budget-tax-cuts-will-help-the-rich-get-richer-96348
https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/03/26/australia-really-needs-a-minister-for-youth-mps-say_a_22012970/
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/may/15/australian-millionaire-millennials-avocado-toast-house
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/may/17/australian-wages-growing-more-slowly-than-cost-of-living

norman.

It happens when you’re driving home one evening and daylight savings is over so it’s already dark and for some reason it reminds you of your childhood. Maybe it’s because winter nights in your childhood seem more memorable for some reason. Driving when it’s dark and cold and you can use your breath to mist up the windows and draw pictures. And in this moment of nostalgia you find the frequency for ABC radio, which you listened to a lot growing up. Especially Norman the Quiz, with its distinct theme song, and sound clips that have etched themselves in your memory, like the way they said multiple choice.

So you’re driving along and it’s an especially cold and clear night where you can see the same stars you could see when you were little, and the quiz comes on. But it’s got a different host and a different theme song and they use a different sound clip to announce multiple choice questions and it’s this sudden reminder that you can never go back. Those memories of sitting around the dinner table with the family, listening to the quiz and getting excited when you think you know one of the answers. Never again will you hear James O’Loughlin’s banter, or count on your fingers how many you got right or wondering if you should call up because maybe, with your whole family as a brains trust, you could win this round, make it to the end with its iconic fanfare.

But instead it’s a different lady who seems lovely but just can’t give you what you want. And you try to listen for a while but it’s just not the same and it sets off that gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach that you’re not too fond of, that somethings can never go back to the way they were. And while it’s exciting because it means there’s so many ways your life can change and become new and evolve, well, it’s sad too.

stay soft.

We as human beings face much hardship. We must learn to juggle study, work, a social life, good mental health, and all the while pay our phone bills on time. We have to try to be kind to everyone, forgive anyone, and nod and smile at the bus driver even when it’s not our day.

But the hardest thing that we must do is stay soft.

Because the world is sad and life is hard and people hurt us and say things they either did or didn’t mean and the boy you think is pretty won’t like you back and it’ll be for the seventh time in a row. And you’ll have to wonder if it’s the way you look or the way you are cause you’re not sure if you can change either.

And people will see that you’re sad and will ask you why and having to put into words that you’re slowly imploding and loneliness is a tangible feeling right in the middle of your chest below your heart and above your stomach. And when you feel like they don’t understand you not sure in how many ways you can explain that more and more days you can’t feel anything behind your eyes.

And it’s those times that you will want to flick the switch. To turn off any feelings, so that you’ll no longer spend nights lying awake in bed staring at the ceiling wondering why life is like this and when it will stop.

But you’ve got to stay soft. No many how many times your heart may break, you’ve just got to pick up the pieces, again and again. And, to the best of your ability, you’ve got to put it back together the same way. Still just as fragile, still just as soft, still just as breakable.

Because softness is the price you pay. It’s the cost of real and true happiness. Whenever it decides to show up.

“…but do you want to know what I hate most of all?” she asked, taking another sip of her tea.
“I hate choosing it. Opting to stay here. Having to think with my mind all the damn time. Telling myself over and over that it’s for the best. That being alone is better than company which, deep down, I know probably isn’t going to be brilliant. That a short-term of good banter, compliments and maybe even the occasional friendly handshake isn’t worth heartbreak later”.
She was staring out the window now, lost in her thoughts. I didn’t know what to say, how to console her.
She started again, “It just hurts, you know. Saying no to something you want. For the greater good. Especially when the greater good requires you to feel so damn alone”.

your twenties

your twenties have the potential to suck.

you’ve moved out of home, and now have to properly adult for the first time. pay the utility bills, eat food that isn’t junk food, attend classes at uni, submit all your assignments and actually get good grades, turn up to work and work well, never having a bad day, trying to also maintain friendships and maybe, just maybe, also try your hand at love.

it’s a lot to manage. more than one at first realises. and, unless i’m the only one in which case this will be embarrassing, some days it will get you down. the odds are stacked against you on that. you will have bad days.

but this is where your twenties get good. you are surrounded by absolute legends. best friends who will send you funny youtube videos that you can then watch at the same time and send each other their favourite lines and you’ll tell them when you’re crying or “just can’t even this is too funny”. housemates who make you a cup of tea when you’ve had an average day. and not just a normal cup, but made exactly the weird way in which you like it. gal pals who purposefully try to expand their friendship circles to include the guy you think is pretty. friends back in your hometown who send you “how have you been lovely? x” messages, who put up with your LDR that you chose to create.

big group dinners, where some of you cook, some of you clean. playing emperor/scum while it’s in the oven. all sitting around the table, swapping stories and throwing banter. drop in cuppas, having a good old yarn over tea and whatever you can find in your pantry. work mates, ones that you will happily spend free time with, even as far as going to the gigs of the token barista/boy band member.

your twenties are filled with people that you are comfortable with. getting maccas after work and then going back to their house, having a nap on their lounge while watching parks & rec.  getting coffee, going on road trips and small adventures. enjoying each others company, and genuinely being excited for their existence and everything that is going for them.

it’s filled with weddings and engagement parties and birthday weekends and end-of-exam celebrations. but also small, non-descript evenings where you make a throw together meal and have a beer and tell stories and laugh. you laugh a lot. your twenties could arguably be the hardest years of your life. they’re definitely the hardest so far. but they are also the best.

 

coldplay was wrong.
I love that song, but people aren’t a problem you can fix, a mystery for you to solve. they are complete without you.
people can only cure themselves.

untitled.

So this is an amalgamation of a bunch of different pieces I’ve written, so a lot of this will seem familiar. This was an attempt at a piece for my final assessment. I’m not sure if I’ll use it, but give it a read anyway.

You will feel sadness most of all. Sadness filtered through loneliness. You will spend your days wondering why. Retracing all your steps, picking apart everything you’ve ever said or done. Trying to pin-point exactly where it started – was it leaving clothes on the floor, or the sarcastic comments you made? Replaying the moment over and over, when your phone first chirped and you looked over to see a message that read:
There’s someone on my bus that is so beautiful it makes my heart hurt and I’ve just never felt that way about you. I’m sorry.

You will look back on old memories, and things will go all beautifully foggy, like when they covered the camera lens with Vaseline in the romantic scenes of old movies. You’ll picture how things were, back when you were in love. And it will surprise you, what memories stick. It won’t be your first kiss, or when they said I love you back. It’ll be the simpler things that last.

You’ll remember early mornings. They will have been your favourite times. Once you’d untangled yourselves from the bedsheets, rolled out of bed and into the kitchen, making cups of tea and boiled eggs. Standing around the oven and using it as a heater. Dancing around each other, packing lunches and coordinating schedules. Or dancing to warm up, whirling around to Miles Davis, to what will have been “your song”. You always said nothing beats jazz in the morning. They will have complained that the kitchen was too small. You thought it brought you closer together.

Or afternoon toast-a-thons, when you had both gotten home from class or work or whatever daily errands that were being run. Dinner was still a couple of hours away, so you’d make cups of tea and toast. Some afternoons you’d go through an entire loaf. Two slices would pop up, and another two would go straight down. Butter slathered on, and then whatever topping took your fancy. And you’d sit around the island bench, legs intertwined, the afternoon sun coming in through the window, crumbs everywhere, talking about your day.

But now, you will not want to eat, no matter how much you know you should.
“It’s been days since we’ve seen you eat a meal”, your housemates will say.
And you will know they mean well, but they just won’t understand. You’re not choosing not to eat, you just don’t have any desire to. You will have both loved too many of your favourite things. A lot of the meals will remind you of them. You will have to fight to enjoy cooking again, something you’d done together. Licking the spoon, their fingers. Blanking that out will be tough.

Living in a small coastal town will make this harder. Everyone will know everyone, and everyone’s business even more. Walking down the main street, you’ll avoid everyone’s eyes, sure they know. People will come up to you and say they’re sorry. They’ll tell you that they knew you’d never last, that you’re better off without them. You will write them letters that ask; (a) why they never said anything (b) if they are fools, because you’re meant to be together, and (c) who in the name of all things holy do they think they are giving their damn opinion. You will stamp these letters but never mail them.

Conversations with your best friend will go around in circles.
“I’m worried about you”, they’ll say.
“Don’t be. I’m fine. Really I am. I don’t think this will last. I think we just need some time. apart Absence makes the heart grow fonder you know.”
“But it doesn’t always. Some things just aren’t meant to be. And I’m sorry to say that. But I just don’t want you to hang all your hopes on this.”
“I appreciate you saying that. But I think you’re wrong.”
“But what if I’m not? What if they find someone else, move on. I don’t want to have to be the one to put you back together again. God, they’re your entire universe. And I’m worried that you aren’t theirs.”
You won’t know what to say back.

Sitting on the bus going to and from classes, pop music will play through your headphones. Sad alternative music is for people who want to exacerbate the mood, and the j-word will no longer be uttered. You’ll have to find a new favourite genre. No one will warn you about this side of break ups. You’ll stare out the window, and realise you can actually feel sadness in your eyes. You’ll go home and go straight to bed. You’ll fall asleep thinking of them, maybe you’ll still be together in your dreams.

You’ll go on long drives and stare out at the sea. It’s a cliché, but you’ll do it anyway. You won’t know quite what you’re looking for in the crashing waves. Maybe they’ll remind you of your heart, both constantly breaking. Maybe you’ll find solace in its vigour, beating against the same shore, never stopping, never changing. You’ll think about all the times you had laughed over this scene together in movies. The overworked ‘lonely lover stares out to sea’ trope. How you had thought you were lucky, because that would never be you. You will wonder how much God is laughing.

When you break your favourite tea cup, you’ll cry for a week. Getting a tea cup that you find aesthetically pleasing, has a good hand grip, and is both the size and shape that you like, is harder than it sounds. Someone will say it’s a metaphor. You won’t like their Instagram pictures for a month. You’ll put hours of effort into finding an exact replica. It will break your heart when you don’t. You’ll wander if that someone is right, if you’re trying to distract yourself from the existential crisis looming in your peripherals. You’ll consider getting a fringe or a new car. You wonder when you became a cliché.

So you’ll start to read more and talk less. Try and understand who you are through comparisons to Elizabeth Bennett, Jay Gatsby, Holden Caulfield and Sal Paradise. See if you can learn from how the Greasers dealt with loss. You’ll try your hand at poetry, and start writing long sad letters after reading too much Virginia Wolff. You’ll realise that other people have gone through this: love, heartbreak, confusion. You’ll also realise this doesn’t make it any easier to bear.

But, for the most part, you will go on existing, trying to live a normal life. You have always prided yourself on not needing people to be complete, so this will hit you hard. You’ll go to work, classes, whatever extra-curricular activity you choose to kill your time. You’ll laugh harder than normal, you always do when you’re faking it. You’ll tell people you are fine. Because you are – on paper. On paper, this won’t affect you as hard as it will.

Then, on an ordinary Tuesday, you’ll laugh and not fake it. You’ll be sitting in the lounge room, and the sun coming through the front door will bring that nostalgic joy, like the smell of earl grey or a tea cake in the oven. You’ll see the dust motes meandering around, nice and lazy. And you’ll realise for the first time in a while that you no longer feel like the human personification of a clenched fist.

And you will see them, maybe with someone else, and they’ll be happy. But their happiness will no longer make you want to crack open your ribcage, and give your heart to someone, anybody else.

Other things will become your favourite thing. The smell of a new magazine, or how the sound of hot water getting poured into a cup sounds different to cold water somehow, the ritual of tea. The way the sky looks when the sun’s setting behind you, and for a split second the whole world is pink.

You’ll decide you’ve had an epiphany. You’ll get a hobby, and go for runs. You’ll make a habit of looking up at the sky, even if it hurts your neck. You’ll use the space in your brain where their favourite book was to remember the names of the five closest stars. You’ll still go for long drives, and sigh deeper than you used to, but the plant that is your heart will start to grow new leaves and get taller.

 

you will feel sad. 

You will feel sadness most of all. Sadness filtered through loneliness. You will spend your days wondering why. Retracing all your steps, picking apart everything you’ve ever said or done. Trying to pinpoint exactly where it started. Replaying the moment over and over, when your phone first chirped and you look over to see a message that reads: There’s someone on my bus that is so beautiful it makes my heart hurt and I’ve never felt that way about you. I’m sorry

You will not want to eat, no matter how much you know you should. 

“It’s been days since we’ve seen you eat a meal”, your housemates will say. And you will know they mean well, but they just don’t understand. You’re not choosing not to eat, you have no desire to. 

You’ll sit on the bus, pop music playing through your headphones. Sad music is for people that want to exacerbate the mood. You’ll stare out the window, and realise you can feel sadness in your eyes. You’ll go home and go straight to bed. You fall asleep thinking of them, maybe you’ll still be together in your dreams. 

You’ll go for long drives and stare out at the ocean. It’s a cliche, but you’ll do it anyway. You won’t know quite what you’re looking for in the crashing waves. Maybe they’ll remind you of your heart, both constantly breaking. Maybe you’ll find solace in its vigour, always beating against the same shore, never stopping, never changing. 

You’ll read more and talk less. Try and understand who you are through comparisons to Elizabeth Bennett, Jay Gatsby, Holden Caulfield and Sal Paradise. You’ll realise that other people have gone through this: love, heartbreak, confusion. You’ll also realise this doesn’t make it any easier to bear. 

But you will go on existing, trying to live a normal life. You will have always prided yourself on not needing people to be complete, so this will hit you hard. You’ll go to work, classes, whatever extracurricular activity you choose to spend your time. You’ll laugh harder than normal, a classic over-compensational move. You’ll tell people you are fine. Because you are – on paper. On paper, this won’t affect you as hard as it will. 
Things will start to get better. You’ll realise that the “we are here for you, whatever you need”, texts from friends will heal you. Housemates putting hot water bottles at the end of your bed and making you cups of tea and buying you chocolate will start to fix the hole in your heart. One day you will laugh and not fake it. You’ll see them, maybe with someone else, and you’ll no longer want to crack open your ribcage, give your heart to someone else. Your eyes will feel less sad. You will be okay.