The More I Bleed, The More I Learn: Part One The Russian Beard Tax

The more I bleed, the more I learn
Making the most of the luxury goods tax, one factual month after the other.

So you might not be aware but menstruation is a thing that happens on the reg for many around the world. For the uninitiated let me enlighten you: there ain’t much joy to be found in it. For some, slight happiness can be found in the revelation that they made it through another month without accidentally bringing life into the world but that’s where it stops for silver linings – or in this case, more like reddish brown linings (sorry not sorry).
The monthly shed is accompanied by additional items being added to the shopping list with a luxurious 10% tax added to the price tag of these items – pads, tampons, panty liners, chocolate – you know, all the essentials.
It’s a dubious tax and adds maybe 10 cents a month, give or take, to the budget– which may not sound like a lot but a) it can add up over a while, and b) implies that these goods are something we CHOOSE. In a sense we do (it’s 2017, there are options, you can even get knickers that soak it all up but frankly they sound kinda icky to me) – but you know what I would choose if I could? To not bleed, mostly.
A nice consolation though, if you could call it that, to justify the spend, are the ‘fun facts’ that are found in the packaging of some brands (okay, one in particular but whatever). They’re great for pub trivia nights – they totally make the 3 to 5 days of pain, moodiness and icky feeling almost worth it. Almost.
I’m no campaigner, no activist but what I can do is string a few words together so when I thought, how can I help the sister hood I thought, I know, I’ll write some shit about the Libra facts – it’s the least I could do. Look forward to months more of entertainment. Unless I get knocked up. Dear God don’t let me get knocked up.

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A little tough to read, I actually had to Google to find out the fact…curse you Libra!

FACT #1 – April 2017: During the reign of Peter The Great, any man who wore a beard was required to pay a special ‘beard’ tax.

What a ‘fun’ first fact to explore – I mean come on, they paid a tax, we pay a tax – it’s like we’re equals!
I mean yeah, these guys were being asked to pay a tax for something that was optional – no one was forcing them to have a beard (unless they were one of those dudes that has a bit of a nothing chin – then they’re doing society a favour by covering that business up!) while I’m sure if you asked most women, they’d agree; involuntary bleeding once a month isn’t really something we’d choose if we could.

That being said, I’m sure that there are some of us ladies who would grow a beard if we could – because hey, why not, it’s all about choice! So Emperor Peter the Great was in power in the late 1600s – it was 1968 in fact when he introduced the beard tax mentioned on the Libra wrapper. The aim of this was to bring the Russian society in line with Western Europe (don’t worry he was doing other stuff too apparently) as beards had previously been deemed unfashionable in the society.
Wouldn’t it be a different story if old mate Pete was around now and trying to bring Russian society in line with the trends of inner city hipsters? Pete wouldn’t be making extra dough from taxing beads – if he was smart he’d have started an online store selling organic hand crafted beard oils and waxes at premium prices in 2012, just before the beard resurgence and flash forward to 2017 he’d be a cashed up entrepreneur. Pete you missed your calling.

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In case you were wondering, this is Peter. In 2017 he wouldn’t look out of place with a fedora perched on his dome.

Actually no, if Pete was alive in 2017 he would be a politician. Not an emperor, just a plain old minister, definitely found somewhere on the right side of things – probably inappropriately given the role of Minister for Women if I think about it. Because actually his beard tax was a bit dumb. First up, while people of different backgrounds and social status were charged the tax taking their status into account (the wealthy were appropriately charged more than the poor), the cost was still excessive. I mean come on; the blokes were just trying to look slick – or were just too lazy to shave and ladies, can’t we all relate to that? Especially this time of year, I know I’m not ashamed to admit that by then end of this month leg warmers aren’t going to be an added accessory on my body.
Imagine if we got taxed for something that our body did involuntarily? Oh, wait…

Peter The Great (I’m starting to think that is a terrible title, more like Peter the…shit)’s tax was abolished in 1772 – almost 100 years after it was first introduced. The internet tells me that he isn’t the only person to get wrapped up in taxing facial hair over the years but I guess feminine hygiene product wrappers don’t have room for all that. So let’s say that this tax was around for almost 100 years, here’s another fun fact; disposable menstrual pads have been made on a commercial scale since about 1888. Let’s just say that logically they’ve always been taxed – that’s now far more than 100 years that this even sillier tax has been around.

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The modern bearded gentleman. Apparently. If so, I think my fella is doing it wrong.  Pic was found here

In summary;
Beards = optional (but sexy, oh so god damned sexy) and a great place for accidentally losing your food and dignity (I found pizza cheese in my boyfriend’s the other day and we hadn’t had pizza for three days!)
Periods = unwanted, unavoidable, uncomfortable, unaffordable.
Both have been taxed rather unnecessarily. Despite the fact that I once got incredibly upset about finding a thick black hair growing from my cheek, if I had to choose, I’d take facial hair any day – at least I could put glitter and butterfly clips in my beard. You should have seen what happened last time I tried to do that with my period.

The Adelaide Stuff It List

Adelaide, you’re amazing! You’re my home town – the only place I’ve ever lived in fact, but that’s all about to change as I do one of the most typical Adelaide things to do…and leave Adelaide.
Many a list has been put together of fantastic things to do in Adelaide (here’s one from the Adelady gals)  before you kick the proverbial bucket but what about a list of things to do when you’ve decided to leave the city (for a while)? What about a list for when you say “I’m going into hiding (moving to Melbourne) for a while”?
I present to you, the Adelaide bucket stuff it list.

  • Walk Burnside Village in your pajamas
  • Hit up an unnamed outer suburb dressed (and behaving) as Tru and/ or Pru from Kath and Kim
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#heros image from here.
  • Sit at the start of the Mt Lofty hike eating a KFC family pack. Make eye contact and smile at everyone who passes by. Continue until you pass out from overeating.
  • Join The Adelaide Fountain Diving Team (a concept concocted by equally crazy aunties. It’s pretty simple; you swim in Adelaide fountains. Bonus points for fountains protected by fences…)
  • Head to the Central Market (or any other fabulous local market) and shamelessly consume ‘samples’ until you are content. Take a disguise for seconds if need be, but don’t forget, you’re leaving so who cares?!
  • Maslins Beach. Do it good and do it proper, you know what I mean.
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Live. This Dream. Image from…
  • Busk in Rundle Mall. Don’t have a talent? It don’t matter – everyone can yodel after a bottle of wine
  • Ride the bull at The Woolshed. Bonus points if you do it in a dress
  • Ride a bike along the linear trail and tell your deepest darkest secrets to walkers (and pray to god that they only hear a tiny snippet as you whiz by)
  • Hit up a late night eatery along Gouger street and order the house wine by the carafe (or BYO for a bargain price) play drinking games until you’re politely asked to leave
  • Go to windy point. Go stand outside a rocking vehicle and just start cheering. When you get sick of cheering, start singing “Sweet Caroline” (for no reason other than that song is so fun to sing and it’s kind of hilarious to harass a snogging couple with)
  •   Ride the Popeye and convince a stranger to go all Titanic (no, not the bit where they bang in the car…or where they die an icy death) and head to the front, get nice and cozy and shout “I’m king of the world!” or alternatively “that plank could have fitted two”
  • Head to the Zoo with the classic book “where did I come from” and read it to Funi and Wang Wang. It seems they’re not all that sure on how to make it happen. Our whole city is rooting for you guys (pun intended)
  • Attempt to mount the malls balls
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Image from here!
  • Do the same with the malls pigs
  • Streak at Adelaide oval? (if you can cop the massive fine…)
  • Photobomb weddings in the Botanic Gardens
  • Live like a tourist for a weekend – pitch a (canvas) tent in Vic Square!
  • Have a drink on the Balcony at the Hotel Richmond. Take a spray bottle full of water. Come on, you know what to do (if it wasn’t clear, you’re here to squirt people in Rundle mall as they walk on by…and then DUCK!).
  • Get “Adelaide famous”. To be clear being “Adelaide famous” isn’t necessarily a good thing. Below is an image of my version of “Adelaide famous” – I was twenty and I was not aware that this photo was being taken. Then I recognised my legs on a Marble Bar poster. My friends will NEVER let me live it down.

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I’ve done a few of these things already (though I won’t admit to which) but what I will admit to is that, despite abandoning Adelaide for Melbourne, I don’t really have any very good plans. I’m so lost in fact, that I’m putting on a Fringe show (my debut solo after being nominated as best new comer by Adelaide Comedy in 2016!) all about writing a bucket list! Want to help me with the challenging task before I abandon our beautiful city? Hit up Fringe Tix for your own ticket here.

10 Reasons To See One Beer Weird

Hey gorgeous! If you’ve made it this far you’re probably my kind of people already. I mean to get here you had to knowingly click on a link or type in a URL featuring my name – which is pretty confronting in itself – so go you! Pour yourself a wine, you deserve it. Don’t worry, I’ll wait til you’re done (I’m polite like that (which is a good enough reason to see my show, right?)) but even though you’re here, maybe you’re not sold yet. If so, fear not, for I have compiled a list, complete with 10 excellent reasons that my show is perfect for you.

  • You saw the 2007 film The Bucket List and which you found it endearing and inspirational, you thought “I reckon a 26 year old girl from Adelaide could do that better”
  • You understand that there is no science behind vision boards however you’ve read (and kind of believed) that they totally work
  • You have the bizarre desire to exercise some control over another person’s life (you weirdo)
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Could YOU even choose between Whitney or Britney?!
  • You get very chatty after one drink
  • You don’t even need one drink to get chatty
  • You know what a bucket list is and the first item on yours is to write one
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Come on, I dressed up as my dead dog for a party…
  • You have one single signature dance move that you pull out at every social occasions and sometimes just when a really good song comes on in the supermarket
  • You’re a generous, loving weirdo who wants to help a lost little kitten (me, I am the kitten in this scenario) find her way in this big bad world
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Help me, I’m so lost…
  • You like to laugh (well that was a given)
  • You sometimes wonder if you’re alone or if everyone else is just as nuts but just not showing it…

Are you convinced yet? If I got you across the line, you can grab tickets from here but if you aren’t there yet, maybe I’m not for you (and you therefore have terrible taste!)

Ten Thoughts I’ve Had While Moving House

Hello Internet, I am moving house! Probably not news if you’re my Facebook friend though, since I’ve posted about 50 million status updates attempting to give away my furniture over the course of the last five weeks but that’s beside the point (however if you’re after a queen sized bed frame or a lounge, hit me up!). I digress.
Moving sucks. It sucks the big one. I’ve only been in this place for three years but I managed to accumulate so much crap (okay a lot of it was left here by my ex – a.k.a he of poor taste and excessive amounts of novelty aprons) SO. MUCH. CRAP.
I would estimate that I’ve taken around 25 garbage bags worth of stuff (that is probably not actual crap) to the op shop and chucked around 10 bags straight into the bin. Aren’t humans terrible consumption machines?
Once again, I digress. So here are some of the things that have popped into my mind as I’ve trawled through it all…

  • I don’t have much stuff, I can totally fit my entire life into my Ford Fiesta.
  • Actually would two moving vans be excessive? Better make it three for good luck.
  • I’ll need to get rid of some clothes, this should only take an hour or so…*five hours later* “can someone please cut me out of my year 12 formal dress? It seems I gained some weight at some stage in the last seven years”
  • Ohh look it’s the diary I kept from the age of 14 to 16, this should be filled with all kinds of juicy memories…*three hours later* “Okay, I was either the most boring teenager in the world or incredibly paranoid that my parents would read this…I’m hoping it was the latter”
  • OMG I loved this top when I was twelve, I wonder if it still fits. Yep, fits. I sure was a chubby twelve year old. Tie dyed dolphin t-shirts are cool, don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.
  • Hmm does out of date medication still work? And is it okay if it has someone else name on it?
  • I wonder if old Kinder Surprise toys are worth anything?
  • PAUSE – sorry, I zoned out for a bit, I was watching the Spice Girls movie on VHS. I still have a video plays – how crazy is that?!
  • Who was Richard and why do I have a pair of ladies underwear with ‘his’(?) name on the tag?
  • Hmmm do you think people would pay actual money for an urn full of Grandma’s ashes? Also, why do I have an urn labelled ‘grandmas ashes’ – both my Grandma’s are alive…

 

This is How You Adult (Apparently)

Tomorrow I turn twenty six. Today I went to work wearing a purple tutu, unicorn jumper and a flower wreath in my hair. Instead of the customary birthday office cake (usually from Costco or made by a loving wife) I took honey crackles. Partially because I don’t have a Costco membership or a loving wife but also because I am a big ‘old, silly ‘old kid at heart.
As I sit here writing this, I’m wearing my unicorn pyjama pants (which I also wore to the supermarket yesterday…) and keeping warm with my purple hippo heat bag. Am I doing this adult thing right? Because when I was 16 (that’s TEN years ago) this isn’t how I imagined it.

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Oh yeah, mermaid leggings too.

I had this idea in my mind of what I would be like as an ‘adult’ and, though I’m not sure why, this certainly wasn’t it. I pictured power suits, late nights at the office and a house full of furniture from Freedom (because it was pretty, heaps pretty). I don’t know where my idea of adulthood came from but I remember thinking, aged 18, that I only had a few good years to keep wearing my classic Converse Chuck Taylors before it became silly – real adults wear real adult shoes. Seriously WHO RAISED ME?
Flash forward eight years and I’m dating a man (yes, MAN) who is thirty years old and those are basically the only shoes he owns, like twenty eight pairs of them or something. For some reason I pictured a corporate high flyer with who woke up early to go to the gym and enjoyed visiting farmers markets on Sundays – just for kicks.
Now somebody please slap past me because I’m pretty sure she had absolutely no idea who she actually was – the things that she enjoyed or wanted from life. I don’t like waking up early and while farmers markets are alright, I’d rather my food be prepared by someone else before it hits the table (I’m also fairly partial to the kind of specials that fast food outlets spin from time to time, yes I’m looking at you Maccas and your magnificent 24 nuggets for $9.95 deal) so why in hell would I want to date someone who was into those things? Sure, his bod would probably be a little more in check than my fellas (gosh, sorry babe) but the fact of the matter is that he’d probably be a self absorbed asshole and we’d have nothing in common. Plus, I could never date anyone more in shape than myself, I’ve got enough insecurities without having my physical superior lying next to me in bed every night.

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If I dated a health nut, all this beauty would be off the table. Like in the bin. How sad.

Thing is, not much has turned out the exact way I imagined it ten or so years ago and for that, I am so bloody thankful. I can’t imagine being stuck in a high flying corporate job where I go through as many pairs of stockings as there are jerks on Tinder (lots) or have to put my fakey professional attitude on all day long. I’m lucky to have a job where I get to have a nice fancy big computer screen that brings out envy in all the other staff, where I get to be myself for the most part and in some ways express myself creatively.
I am an adult, a ‘real adult’. Most of the time I pay my bills and I’ve even got a couple of ‘signature’ dishes up my sleeve (because Mexican food is easy to make and Banoffee pie seems fancy but really is truly simple). I’ve gotten pretty good at looking after my mental health, I can force myself to exercise and I eat spinach without it having to be hidden in my food.
I might not own a ‘power suit’ and while I do have some rather nice office wear, I’m most comfortable in a scuffed up pair of boots, the ones that are held together with a bit of tape. I’m happy. Way happier than I would be if I lived up to what I had thought I was ‘supposed to be’ all those years back. I’m glad I didn’t waste long trying to be someone who would have never made me happy – and the time that I did spend doing that was an interesting learning experience to say the least (if not some good comedy fodder…)
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve just started learning to hula hoop and I’m getting rather good so I’ll be practicing that until I fall asleep.

Let’s Get Political!

Guess what?! The election is JUST AROUND THE CORNER and this one is set to be a corker….!
Actually, that’s a lie – it’s batshit boring. That being said, we can still have a bit of fun with it!

I recently wrote an article for Scenestr.listing 5 memorable moments from AusPol history – that are sure to make you AusLOL (terrible, I’m only a little bit sorry about that too…)

All of this is in aid of my recent work on political television show The Raucous Caucus on Channel 44 – you can check out the first episode at the end of this insanely exciting post…and please do because I am so so so very proud of this bucking beast that is only getting better and better every single week!

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piccy from Tonedeaf

So without further ado, here’s the piece from Scenestr.

With the election looming and weeks of arduous campaigning still ahead, you could be forgiven for feeling a bit of a political overload.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Here in Australia we have an exciting history of bizarre political occurrences unique to our Aussie way of life. The team behind new TV series ‘The Raucous Caucus’ – which airs on Adelaide’s Chanel 44 and will be available online from 2 June – have put together a list of 5 uniquely Aussie political events and facts, these things that make our country… kinda great.

Cooking Crisis

In 2010 an Australian election TV debate had to be rescheduled so that it didn’t conflict with the airing of the ‘Masterchef’ finale. We Aussies sure do love our cooking shows!

DJ Albo

Our politicians aren’t afraid to rock out; former Prime Minister Paul Keating managed a rock band in the 1960s and in 2015 Anthony Albanese took up DJing to provide entertainment at charity and fundraising events. Mr Albanese adopted the name DJ Albo.

Cold Water Men

Likewise, our pollies love a bit if a drink, before becoming Prime Minister, Bob Hawke was immortalised by the Guinness Book of Records for drinking 2.5 pints (a yard glass) of beer in 11 seconds in the year 1954. Similarly, Sir John Robertson, five times premier of New South Wales, was said to have drank a pint of rum every morning for 35 years. He is quoted as saying: ‘none of the men who have left footprints in this country have been cold water men.’

Country-sized Electorates

Everything is bigger down under… our largest electorate, Durack, is larger in size than Mongolia. Durack, in Western Australia, stretches 2,905kms and covers almost 1.6 million square kilometers, which is like driving from London to Istanbul.

Time Out

In 1975, Australia had a government shutdown, which ended with the Queen firing everyone and the government starting again. While the whole thing is a little more complex than that, let’s just keep it simple – there was a whole lot of squabbling and in the end, our mum put us all in time out for a moment and since then we’ve tried (and likely failed) to be a little bit better behaved.

 

And now that you’re incredibly learned about all the complex ins and outs of the entire history of Aussie politics, watch the first episode…

New episodes will be screened each Thursday at 7.30 on Channel 44 in the lead up to the election, with all eps online after. You can also come along to a live recording – check out adelaidecomedy.com for more details!

 

Ten People You’ll Meet at Adelaide Airport

The airport is a great melting pot of people, all mixing together with one key objective; to safely board a flying chunk of metal, without engaging in confronting communication with their fellow travellers. While it could be said that every airport around the world has the same old commuters passing through, Adelaide is just a little bit special.

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Image credit: glgcorp.com/projects

 

Here are my fave 10 people you’ll meet at Adelaide Airport:

1. The Fashionistas

Ready and searching for a bargain before they’ve even left the state, the ‘fashionista’ probably stopped by Harbour Town on the way to the airport and they’re keeping an eye out for rare ‘sale’ signs in the airport outlets. In two days time they’ll be holding up the check-in line at Melbourne airport as they attempt to repack their bags after piling on all the clothes they bought over the weekend. It doesn’t seem odd that they’re wearing three hats, two coats and, most curiously, five bras, on the flight home, in order to avoid excess baggage costs.

2. The Footy Fans

A group that is heard before they’ve been seen, loudly singing the team song or discussing post game stats. Have you ever been stuck on a plane with a team of excited Port Adelaide fans (#sorrynotsorry for the blatant stereotyping) on their way to Melbourne in September? I’ll give you this advice for free; at all costs, try to avoid it — for your own sanity.

3. The High Flyers

You can spot an out-of-towner in a number of ways; they’re usually more stressed than your average Adelaide Joe and let’s be honest, they’ll probably be drawing attention to themselves by speaking loudly on the phone, whinging about the shitty day they’ve had in, “This hell hole of a city”– being Adelaide. How dare they!

Dressed uncomfortably in a suit not made for the climate, they’re itching to get back to their corporate-jerk job and inner-city home that has them mortgaged to the hilt. What they don’t know is — we don’t want them here anyway!

 

Read the rest of the article on Adelady here: http://adelady.com.au/10-people-youll-meet-at-adelaide-airport/

Do You Think I’m Brave?

I’ve never really thought of myself as brave but it’s a word that gets thrown my way on a far more regular basis than I would like. Heading to the bar for a drink after a spot at a comedy night, it’s rare that I won’t have a complete stranger exclaim to me; “you’re so brave, I couldn’t do what you just did.”
It often leaves me scratching my head in confusion, I certainly don’t feel that getting up on stage, rubbishing on about failed relationships, sharing crude, debaucherous tales and randomly sprouting out of tune lyrics from my favourite pop divas makes me all that brave at all. Are they being honest or are they saying that I’m brave because I wasn’t good? I don’t think I am brave. More than anything, I feel like it might be a little bit self indulgent. After a recent encounter at gig I began to wonder about the term ‘brave’ –as I explored it within my own mind I started to travel down many paths within my own self.

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Brave? Misguided? Genuinely crazy?

I decided that to chat to some ladies who I think of as brave and whose life journeys have involved tough choices or hurdles along the way that have helped to define who they have become. Now I don’t know anyone who has run into a burning building or risked their life to save that of another however as I’m sure many of us know, an act of bravery for some is a simple as getting up the strength of get out of bed and face the world each day. Immediately I thought of my best friend Stacey, a lady who I genuinely believe is one of the toughest and most resilient that I have ever met. She hasn’t always been this way – in fact knowing her since we were in primary school, I always kind of considered her to be a bit of a hypochondriac drama queen (sorry babe!) however all of that changed almost two years ago. Stacey and I were living together and despite the warnings to the contrary, living with my best friend was one of the most fun experiences ever – but all of a sudden it changed. I felt like I’d been hit by a train so I can’t even begin to imagine how Stacey felt – within the space of a week, at age twenty four, she was diagnosed with MS and doctors also found a four centimetre tumour at the back of her head, attaching itself to her spinal cord.
The removal of the tumour was horrendous; the tumour was wrapped around the nerve that controlled the left side of her face meaning that it too had to be removed.  My beautiful Stacey could only smile with half of her face and all of a sudden it seemed like her amazing flame had been dulled. It hasn’t been easy for her – that much is evident, but even then I still wondered – did she feel brave? When I asked her, she told me, “People call me brave all the time, which makes me feel a bit embarrassed…I never felt like I was being brave, I just felt like I was getting through each challenge.” Which I guess is what being brave actually is – right?
Stacey is basically blowing me away at the moment. Not only has she been through two more surgeries, worked hard to learn how to understand and live with her MS but she has also met an awesome guy – John and while he is certainly more than just a quick fix, Stacey did make me laugh when she explained; “People called me brave for going on blind dates but I don’t think that makes me brave – I just wanted to get laid!”

I don’t think I will ever be able to fully comprehend the level of courage that it has taken for Stacey to get on with her life and not just survive but absolutely thrive and I truly hope that I never have the opportunity to relate, I do however dream of having the bravery of the next two ladies that I spoke to. I first encountered Hannah Collins when I started working in my current day job – in fact she used to do what I do now, and she trained me up to take over her role. Since leaving the role she has volunteered in Africa, subedited a magazine and just recently moved to New York – with no safety net. I can only dream of having the guts to do what Hannah has done and as she explained, “I knew it was out of the ordinary but I also knew it was what I needed to do at the time.” Which once again brings up the idea of bravery versus self indulgence however, as Hannah enlightened me, sometimes to be self indulgent, you have to employ a level of bravery; “I felt a lot of guilt over leaving my family and friends, especially my family but I also knew that if I didn’t go and do it that I would only regret not going.”

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Hannah – with a big apple in the big apple. You can find out more about her and her work at www.byhannahcollins.com

There’s nothing more disappointing than a feeling of regret – I know that all too well.
Another clever lady who is taking the world by storm is the wonderful Laura Pietrobon – one of the most outwardly warm people I have ever encountered. I first met Laura when we were both sixteen and doing work experience at a radio station. Our paths crossed again at University but now she finds herself living in London, a dream I have always had for myself. She explained that “The first thing a lot of people said when I announced my move was something along the lines of “wow you’re so brave, aren’t you scared?” To be honest, I never thought this move was particularly brave.” However assessing the situations of others who have also undertaken the same challenge that she has she was able to see the bravery in their choices, “so maybe it’s all about perspective in the end” Laura concluded.

The concept of perspective actually, weirdly enough, put things into perspective for me. There are two aspects of bravery; one is perceived bravery, while the other is acted. So while you might not ‘feel brave’, the question is, if a person describes you as brave relative to how they define ‘brave’ in their own mind, while you might not actually be engaging in an act of bravery  you could be brave simply because it is in the eye of the beholder.

At this point I was certainly envying the sheer guts that it took for these two ladies to do what they had done and luckily I had one of my oldest friends Hannah Willsmore (who I have previously described as my womb buddy since we’ve known each other that long) put things into perspective for me. Hannah has recently started her own business – rather sitting idle in a job that she was beginning to resent, she explained “I could’ve just stayed there being unhappy like so many of the others are” however she boldly chose not to – if only for her own sake. I guess this confirmed for me that it is hard, risky and yes, brave, to do something a little bit different but it’s probably harder to let it just pass on by while the world keeps moving.

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This is Hannah Willsmore but that is not her baby – the business she runs does help to bring gorgeous little bubs into the world – www.adelaidehypnobirthing.com.au

 

Finally it was starting to click in a general sense – those around me who I viewed as brave, sure they were overcoming hurdles and individual adversity but each act of ‘bravery’ that I’d investigated had in ways just been a way of moving forward in life rather than choosing to remain stagnant, despite the challenges that may hold. I though, had been called ‘brave’ for the act of performance so I needed to know, is this something that other performers experience? After speaking to several male comedians it quickly became clear that ‘brave’ is a term almost exclusively reserved for female performers or those who deal with challenging and confronting material – it’s rare that a guy gets called ‘brave’ just for picking up the microphone but I think that might be a topic for another day.
In a performance sense I immediately thought of three ladies who I might be able to relate to and from whom I could learn. First up was Haley Brown, a wonderful and talented performer whose direction and style has profoundly affected my own. Haley faces her own physical challenges meaning that ‘brave’ is a word that gets thrown her way and for the first time since I began this exploration, the concept of the term being overtly problematic was raised, as Haley explained; “It’s a very close cousin of what folks in the disability community call “inspiration porn,” when disabled people do fairly ordinary things and are celebrated as being “brave” or “inspiring” for doing it while disabled.” Continuing on that theme of ‘brave’ not necessarily being a compliment, she elaborated “Often the word is awarded to individuals that society deems incapable of doing something who are “doing it anyway.”
I get that. While I may not have the same hurdles to face as Haley (whose work you can find here), there is that matter of my gender. It may be 2016 but don’t even begin to imagine that we live in a world where everyone is used to hearing the female voice as one of power, strength or, god forbid, humour. Sure times are changing however on more than one occasion (many, in fact) I’ve been outright told that “women aren’t funny”. That hurts and I can’t really put into words why – though mostly because it’s outright wrong. I like to think that I can prove those who hold that belief wrong. One woman who I know can do this is Nicole Henriksen whose giddily bizarre show ‘Techno Glitter Penguins’ made me laugh like nothing else ever had, before she slapped me in the face and tore my heart apart with her other totally different but equally brilliant show ‘Makin It Rain’. Despite obvious talent and a drive to succeed that is downright inspiring, Nicole has had experiences that have caused her to feel patronised when being referred to as brave; “I feel especially as a woman, and a woman of colour, the more it’s used “oh you’re so brave… really, really, brave… wow, so brave”… Why am I so brave, you know? Is that person implying that I’m brave for supporting myself, or performing, or what-have-you because my work isn’t good or isn’t financially viable? If so, why is that?” It’s a perspective that echoed my own thoughts, despite our somewhat different performance experiences.

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Many would say that the poster alone screams ‘BRAVE’ – check out more of Nicole’s work at nicolehenriksen.com

Finally I reached out to the lovely Alice Tovey, wise beyond her years, who helped me to put it all together in relation to my own experiences. She identified the sheer fact that she and her material had been belittled at the discretion of particular audience members, choosing to let the fact that she is a young woman cloud their opinion of the content. However she carries on, continuing to present shows that push the boundaries in one way or another. She explained, “I think when most people are asked what bravery is, you’ll get back a picture of an Alexander the Great like figure, who against all odds conquered the world. Or Oscar Wilde, who opposed a regime to preserve the true self. Or An Sung Su Chi, who stood up to an oppressive and unfair government. These pictures are all perfectly valid and good definitions of bravery, but I think comedic bravery is a completely different thing all together.”

“Comedic bravery, I believe, is making an audience laugh at something, whether dark or absurd or unusual, and asking them why. That’s the power that a comedian has. What an audience laughs at will tell them more about themselves than what makes them cry.” But does Alice consider herself brave?  The short answer is, yes – “In a way” How so? She explains; “I hope that I am doing just that, that I am pointing out some of the nastier things in our society. It can be confronting.”

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Alice doesn’t hold back – find out more about her upcoming shows at alicetovey.com

 

Now I can’t say that I’m pushing the boundaries in the same way as Alice, but on a good day I am making people laugh at some pretty absurd ideas – and hey, maybe that is a braver concept than I first believed. I am yet to feel like I possess the same level of bravery that I believe some of the other women I have encountered do, and while I don’t think I will ever feel comfortable being told that I am brave for doing what I think of as ‘dumb comedy’ I suppose I can make brave my own. I can chose to hear it as a compliment rather than in a patronising manner and I can choose to use it as a motivation to push on. Most of all though I can be bravely self indulgent because with life experience under my belt I now know that without being brave enough to indulge my soul in doing the things that truly make me happy, I would ultimately be facing the tougher challenges of regret, disappointment and true sadness. While life is never as straightforward as simply ‘choosing happiness’ –I’ve learned that it can be pretty brave if you’re able to put in action a path that allows you to do so.

I Come From a Proud Family of Liars

If there has been one constant in my life, it would be the lies that I have been fed – regularly and casually by members of my family. Usually they were innocent enough and mostly just off handed jokes that I was gullible enough to fall for. I genuinely believed for a long time that my grandma was a witch. Not JUST because my Mum (her daughter in law) would call her ‘that witch of a woman’ (kidding, they have a great relationship, though there was that one time that my Mum, in her early 20s called the incredibly proper, lovely woman who was to be her mother in law ‘fuckle features’ to her face – but that’s a story for another time). No, I genuinely believed that my grandmother was a witch because there was this HILARIOUS in joke in my family about it. I have literally no idea where it came from because that woman is as God loving as they bloody well come however for some insane reason apparently she was a witch, complete with her very own broom featuring handle bars and a bike seat. I shit you not. So there I was, all of eight years old, waiting to be handed a wand and taught the ways of people and I’m sure you can imagine how bloody disappointed I was, age eleven when I never did receive my letter from Hogwarts. Damn.

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This is me with my witch of a grandma (looks pretty innocent, doesn’t she?) at a dress up party.

I literally had no hope though – turns out liars have been in my family for generations. My great grandparents fudged the date on their marriage certificate. When cleaning out the house after my great grandfather had passed away, my Mum and my aunties found the marriage certificate in question, complete with poorly applied whiteout placed strategically over the date, altering the date of their marriage by two months.  How they thought that they could get away with it is beyond me. I get it, it was a different time, photoshop wasn’t a thing, but shit, Nanna Jarrett must have really been on another planet to think she could sneak that one on by. Even if she had been able to do a half decent job using the stationary her plan would have been thwarted by anyone with a half decent grasp of MATHS and MONTHS. My grandpa was born suspiciously soon after the hastily organised wedding date – that’s all I’m saying team.

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My mum and her sisters, all born into a web of lies.

The lies carried on though, I recall finding a ultrasound picture at my aunties when I was nine. “OH MY GOD YOU’RE HAVING A BABY” I shrieked. “No” she calmly replied, “The cat’s pregnant” which was a weird coincidence because a couple months later my auntie was married and not long after I had a new cousin. Furthermore, the cat suspiciously never had any kittens. EVER.

I’m no innocent bystander here though; I was a mean, mean terrible sister. I lied to my brother heaps. The most memorable, I will never live down. The tale goes as such; I was six years old, nagging my Mum to take my brother and I to the local kindy fete. Nagging, nagging and nagging some more. I do not blame my Mother for what happened next, she was not an irresponsible parent, I was just a really shit child. She snapped and without thinking said; “why don’t you just walk then?”
So off I went, to scrounge up some change (approximately $5) and find my four year old brother so that I didn’t have to walk alone. This was before my brother became a bad ass rule breaker (that didn’t happen until he was at least seven) so I needed to tell a half truth (LIE) to get him to come along. I knew that mum didn’t actually want us to walk. I was smart enough to understand sarcasm, but I still wanted to go, so I just told my darling innocent baby (like actually he was pretty much still a baby) brother that Mum had said it was okay.
Flash forward 45 minutes, Mum notices we’re missing, Dad finds us about 2kms away wandering down Greenhill Road and Mum learned that sarcasm isn’t an ideal parenting technique. I never actually revealed (until now) that I purposely lied to make this happen – so I guess my whole life has been a lie?

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Look how cute we were (okay, the story in question happened a few years later than this photo)

I’ll leave you with this though and that is, sometimes lies are important – or half truths at least. I wish my mum hadn’t told me the truth of how she found out she was pregnant with me, how, after a booze filled weekend in Melbourne she returned to Adelaide and thought “hmmm maybe I am up the duff”, did the test and a few months later – hello, Alicia’s here! It’s all good, I mean she was married, to my Dad (though if she wasn’t that would have been fine – no judgement, obviously) however what I wish she had lied about (a little) was the vomiting in gutters level drinking that she achieved just prior to finding out that she was with child. I mean sure, I’m proud of her, she’s the lady that truly taught me how to party but it’s just that, every time something weird happens in my life, every time my brain is a little bit erratic and I feel unnecessarily violent I wonder if I can blame it on my Mum. Rather than just accepting my own personal failures like a normal person. So Mum, while I love you insane amounts, I wish that one time you had lied because now there is always going to be a little bit of me that feels like I genuinely can blame you for my failings.

 

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Here’s a photo of my mum before I came into her life and made her cool. She is on the right at the front (the only lady in the picture…) and behind her…MY DAD!

 

That One Time I Got Lash Extensions…

I should probably start this by explaining that I am certainly not the most sophisticated of women; I buy my make-up from the supermarket and I wouldn’t even think twice about eating an entire Dominos Deep Crust all to myself. However, when I was offered the chance to try an eye enhancing treatment thanks to the excellent folk at Essential Beauty, I was intrigued.

Furthermore, when I found out that it would mean I could get flawless eyes without having to wear (and therefore remove) any eye make-up for at least two weeks, well that’s when this lazy girl was sold!

To read the rest of the article, head on over to Adelady.