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Hmm does out of date medication still work?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…
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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’m sorry to be the bitch that has to break it to you but your sole purpose on my Facebook feed is to make me feel better about myself. Not all of you lot – just you (points at the woman posting photos of her children as they suffer asthma attacks on the way to the hospital) and you (family member who keeps posting passive aggressive ‘look at me, look at me’ posts) and you (bloke who thinks starting your statuses with “I’m not a racist but…” makes what you’re about to say okay). Yeah – all you lot, you’re not my Facebook ‘friends’ because I like you, you’re just there because sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think “damn girl you really need to get your shit together” but then I turn away from the mirror, open up my laptop, peruse my Facebook feed and realise that actually I’m not the worst person to ever walk the face of this earth. Far from it in fact and that reminder is all thanks to you guys. Not once do I recall in my twenty five years, ever (and I could be wrong) donning black face, taking a whole heap of photos of myself doing so, posting it on the internet and then acting like it’s the least racist thing that’s ever happened in the history of the world (well yeah it’s not but it’s fairly shitty). No, I do not recall doing that. I do however have ‘friends’ who have and whilst I look at these people with disgust, shame and sadness, I also feel a little bit of affection. Not towards them exactly though but towards their sheer stupidity and general horribleness as a human. I love them just a little bit because they are there, as a constant and present reminder that no matter how dumb I am, no matter what stupid thing I do or say, no matter how shameful I was on the weekend when I got super super drunk and vomited on the window of the Apple store, I will never be so shitty as to dress in black face, let alone post a picture of it on the internet. Sometimes I talk about my friends behind their backs (sorry but sometimes you just have to let it out) but my Facebook feed reminds me that even though sometimes I can be a mean girl, actually I am okay (compared to some) because I have never stooped so low as to publicly call my former best friend a whore on social media (no, I save that for the stage…)
I guess what I’m saying is that life is a matter of perspective and my true love of Facebook comes from the fact that it is the most convenient way to remind myself that I’d have to lose a hell of alotta brain cells to be the worst person I know. Facebook is like watching the love child of A Current Affair and Today Tonight speed dating every soap opera ever made. A beautiful train wreck and I can’t turn away because ultimately…at times I’m kinda dumb, kinda terrible and kinda gross and baby I need people worse than me so I can feel validated. #SorryNotSorry
P.S I am 110% aware and proud that I am probably the person who some people keep to make THEMSELVES feel better about THEIR life choices, for those people I have this: I once went out to the city, pretended to be from the UK (with a terrible accent) and told people I was back in Australia for a funeral JUST SO THAT I COULD GET FREE DRINKS. I am a piece of shit. Thank you and good night.
Isn’t it funny how sometimes the same reason that you hate a thing, a person, or a place can be the exact same reason that you love them?
When I was younger, I hated Adelaide; I hated this small town, with its quiet streets and familiar places. I hated the cliquey nature of all the social groups and I hated that it was impossible to hide – anywhere you went, you would always bump into someone to know. Everyone has these random, ridiculous stories of whom they bumped into and where – sometimes even on the other side of the world; every single Adelaidian has surely uttered the phrase: “ahh, Adelaide”. It’s always followed by a cautious chuckle, of course.
All these things though, can also be brilliant attributes for our wonderful town. Last night I fell head over heels in love with this beautiful town, all over again.
I’d been having a pretty crappy day and anyone who knows me certainly knows that when I’m saying I had a bad day, there is no exaggeration there. It was the kind of day that in which I was thankful that there are plenty of packing crates stacked up in the warehouse outside my office – they’re perfect to hide behind when you’re on the verge of crying or so full of rage that even the friendliest of soul better not cross your path. I felt like rubbish.
After work I was aimlessly wandering around the Central Market Coles, buying chocolate that I didn’t need – claiming it was ‘a gift for someone’ – yeah, I’m a terrible liar.
Feeling sorry for myself, dazed and confused, I hear over my shoulder; ‘Alicia’ – immediately I turned my head to see my beautiful, wonderful friend Sophie. She’s amazing – the kinda girl that can always make me feel better when I’m feeling down – and I quote “you’re a mutha fucking babe and lots of guys wanna touch your butt” – thanks sweetie, I know I can always rely on you to make me feel wonderful!
So she’s there and I realise I’ve got about 45 minutes to kill before I have to be anywhere. She’s walking to dinner to meet her friends (after stopping by home to drop off the toilet paper she’s just bought – yes, we are adults and make adult purchase decisions sometimes) and do I want to walk with her? Yes. I need her wise words of wisdom in my life – even if they mostly include pointing out that many of the people we encounter in our lives are indeed absolute dicks.
We walk to the pub and I’ve still got fifteen minutes to kill, so I go in with her. Almost straight away I walk into a friend from high school. We chat, Sophie’s friends walk in. Sophie’s friends know my friend.
Welcome to Adelaide – where you’re never alone, all you have to do is leave the house and this beautiful city will open up her arms and hold you in a sweet, (sometimes intrusive, invasive and furiously bitchy) sweet embrace.
The last two weeks have been incredibly difficult for my family and I; tragically on the 17th of May my amazing brothers gorgeous fiance was taken from us. She was involved in an absolute freak single car accident, an accident that still doesn’t even seem to make much sense – and how can it ever? She was only 21, with so much life ahead of her to live, so many hopes and dreams but a desire for a humble yet wonderful life. Even though she was the most beautiful girl that most people had ever laid eyes on, she certainly wasn’t a princess (even though that’s exactly how my brother treated her – like she was the most wonderful little lady in the world). She was a tough little cookie, brave and fierce – she was training to be a vet nurse, while working in child care to save up for her November wedding, to start a life with my baby brother. As you can probably tell from her career choices, she really cared for others and for animals – she really truly did! So incredibly compassionate, this wonderful little gem touched the lives of so many people in her short time with us with her words and actions – she was the kind of girl who knew just how and when to give you a warm hug.
In the past week, we’ve all been riding a roller coaster of emotions; at first shock and a hell of a lot of grief, which has at times morphed into anger and frustration – how could someone so beautiful be taken so young? Horrible things cross your mind; mostly complete anger as to why others more ‘deserving’ were not taken in her place – why was someone who was so good taken from us? There were nights for all of us when we would wake up believing that she was still alive, that there had been a mistake, some kind of mix up.
I know that we will continue to feel this way at times but we can also be thankful that we were lucky enough to have met such an all round brilliant person. My heart has never ached the way that it has since we lost Rikki and as much as it hurts, I hope this pain never goes away – because I never want to forget how much joy she brought to our lives and I’m worried that the day it stops aching will be the day that you truly leave. I know though, that I shouldn’t be worried; she will be with us in every sunrise and sunset and each time we see a sunflower (her absolute favourite) or any bright or beautiful thing for that matter, we can all take comfort in the fact that she is still bringing us joy. What has been one of the biggest struggles is trying to think of how we can now all live that extra bit of life for her. When trying to think of what things she may have wanted to achieve in life, the only thing I could think of (apart from her desire to visit Harry Potter world) was her overwhelming urge to just marry my bother and have beautiful babies. It hurts to know this is a dream she can never achieve but if we all make sure we fiercely chase down our own dreams on her behalf, she will live a bit of extra life through each and every one of us.
I was fortunate enough to have the oppourtunity to speak at a celebration for her life after her funeral – a truly special event where we were able to bring some of the dreams that she had for her wedding to life, tasting the food, cakes and wine she had selected, leaving our mark on the finger print tree that she had thought up for her wedding and enjoying the decorations and colours that she loved so much. I have included below what I wrote for her and although I now know that ‘closure’ is something that my family or I will never ever truly feel, every little piece of therapeutic action we take will help us just a little bit. Rest in peace beautiful angel, though the world will be a little less bright without your smile to brighten it up every day, may you fly free and see the world from a better place x x
“A beautiful angel was taken from us far too soon. Rikki you were my surrogate sister, a beautiful little lady who brought so much happiness and joy to the lives of everyone around you. I will always be grateful for the love that you brought into my brothers life – you made him feel so special and wonderful. You two had the kind of love that others can only dream of. Not only did you light up his world though, but also when you came into his life you gained a whole new family, a daunting experience that you took completely in your stride. Where others have fled in fear from out big, boisterous and ridiculous family occasions, you fit right in, even showing us up sometimes. We knew straight away that you were the perfect addition to our crazy clan, boldly claiming your own gift – an inflatable pool toy, at the first Norton Kris Cringle and joining in on our silly games with full gusto. Your second choice for Christmas present, after having the pool toy stolen, was a washing basket full of toilet paper – and you were delighted! Never before have I seen a girl so happy about toilet paper – which I then went on to steal from you, as was the nature of the game! Never will there be a Norton family gathering where you won’t be missed, but your mark on our family will always be there. To us, you were already our sister; daughter, niece, cousin and granddaughter and forever you will remain.
Your vivacious spirit affected everyone you encountered; you were too kind, too beautiful and too courageous for us all to keep up. It has been absolutely phenomenal to hear from so many people about how you effected their lives – receiving messages from people who I didn’t even know you knew, about all the quirky little things you used to do has been so heartwarming. It’s a rare quality, but I don’t think there was a single person you met, whose life you didn’t have an impact on – even if it was just sharing your beautiful smile to brighten up their day. I know that personally I’ll never be able to eat spaghetti again without having a little laugh at your expense – and I’m sure that you know exactly what I mean! I can’t imagine that any other girl could have taken a shed and turned it into a warm and gorgeous home – even though it meant that you once found yourself sitting on the roof in the pouring rain, wearing only your pajamas and dressing gown, laughing while the boys fitted your new fireplace.
You were the crazy girl who got burns on her bum when sliding down the slippery dip at the pub but still went back to do it again, you put me to shame when we went paint balling – telling me that you were scared of getting hit before going in, along with your partner in crime, our beautiful Nicholas, all guns blazing and using up all your paint balls in the first round – and possibly even winning one round if I remember correctly!
Knowing you was one of the greatest gifts that my family and I could have ever received. Thank you for being you.
You followed your dreams with such fierceness and made us all so proud and humbled. You taught us to be brave and to follow our passions in life.
You were a precious gift sent to teach us how valuable life can be; because of you we will always be the best versions of ourselves. You’ve brought us all together here today, just like you matched up plenty of your friends, bringing new and wonderful friendships to this world, because bringing people together was just one of your many talents and thanks to you, your family will forever be ours.
Thank you beautiful, for coming into our lives, I just wish you could have stayed for a little while longer.”