Category Archives: thoughts

Numbers

Are weird things. Mine keeps changing and I keep changing with it. I just had my 40th and I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means. To me, and to people around me, and how we all have such different ideas on life, and who we are and what impact we want to have on the world.

I’ve really and truly reached and accepted the fact that I am now middle aged. The reality is that most of us live until we’re in our 80’s. 90’s if we’re lucky..some of us may even see a hundred, and hopefully we’ll be lucky enough to still be inside our own brains when that happens.

Growing older has always been a challenging concept for me. There have been many points in my life where I truly thought I wouldn’t make it past certain ages. I have struggled with depression for most of my life, and every year that I survived it for awhile felt like a victory. It still does, but…now it’s just easier. Now instead of wondering if I’ll make it, I’m able to realise that I have, and I like my days, I like my life, I like where I live. I like living.

I’ve lived a life, and it’s one I’m mostly proud of. There are definitely things that I’m super not proud of, but I know I’m not alone in that, so I’ve learned to let them go.

So what have I learned in my 40 years on this planet? Shit, so much. And I know that there’s still so much left to learn.

I’ve learned that people are just people. They’re all messed up and scared and fighting their own battles. Some are more successful than others, some understand things better and are built for things others find really hard to deal with. But everyone has a history, a past that makes them who they are, and a life that’s filled with love, and loss, successes and failures. Because all of us? We all have hopes and dreams.

I’ve learned that having friends in all age brackets is really important. Everyone has something to teach you. Even the people who waste your time. It’s definitely easier to pick these people out as you get older.

I’ve learned that trying new things and proving people wrong is still pretty much the best feeling in the world. Every time someone said I couldn’t, I did. And maybe I didn’t do it amazingly, or stick with it, but I still did it. Trying is really important. Failure happens.

 

You know what, I could go on and write a fucking novel and bore you all to tears, or I could just tell you that getting older is a blessing. I love myself more now than I ever have. I am so proud of who I am, as a 40 year old woman.  And in the words of the magnificent Roald Dahl “Never grow up, always down!”

Because this shit? It goes really fast. And don’t believe what anyone tells you you should be. At ANY age. All you ever have to be, is yourself. People can like you, or they can not. And exa fuckin’ exa to those guys. You don’t need them anyway. Here’s a picture of me being a responsible 40 year old woman.

40bday

40 is amazing you guys. Roll on the next 10 years. And the next, and the next… 🙂

Special thanks to these two amazing human beings for making all my dreams come true. hehe <3

 

Whoa…two years? Really Kelly? >.<

I started this blog nine years ago, after on my last teaching practice in my hometown, my husband set it up so that I could write about whatever I felt like. It was such a godsend to have a place that I knew was mine, and felt safe. Over the years, I let things make it feel unsafe for me, and after a couple of years of pretty good, solid blogging, I just sort of…stopped.

It’s hard to start back up again when you look back over how long it’s been since you did anything, and realise it’s been almost two years.

I didn’t write anything at all last year. Not here at least. I’m not entirely sure why to be honest. It certainly isn’t because my life hasn’t been interesting. I think maybe it’s just become only interesting to me. Or that’s how it’s felt.

I also often feel like I’m being disingenuous, because typically my writing has always been very personal, and putting it online for people to read and pass judgement over filled me with horror. I’ve always sort of brushed things under the carpet. Things that feel too personal, or like I will be judged badly because of my honesty.

I’m at a place in my life now, where other people’s opinions of me no longer matter. I’m almost 40 and I can’t believe that I’ve come all this way only to still feel shame and fear over certain aspects of who I am.

I know that I write my best stuff when I’m being honest, and I kind of needed a really huge kick in the butt to get myself organised. I also needed some inspiration, a change of scenery – because moving to Australia wasn’t enough apparently. So my husband took me to the Philippines and it was amazing.

I’m half way through my second book edit, by the way. That’s still happening. I have to keep reminding myself to stop editing and thinking about everything that’s wrong with it, and just continue writing. I know what needs to be fixed, but then I think about fixing it and end up sighing in despair and putting my creative energy into other things. So the book comes along super slowly. But it comes along…so, there’s that!

To This Day

phillip

 

When I was little, we moved into a house in a newly developed neighbourhood. It was just an average neighbourhood with some state built houses and some private built houses. I guess you would say that it was the lower side of the middle class range. Every house on our street was occupied by young families. It was just one street really. Built into the side of a hill which at the time was full of empty lots and provided ample space for all of us to explore and make huts and set up boundaries where only our groups were allowed. We ran wild in the streets until well after dark, Lord of the Flies style.

There were no shortages of kids to play with. I was one of the younger kids – my siblings both 6 and 9 years older than me were in a different stage of childhood than me – not that that stopped them from letting me tag along and be part of their groups.

There is a strong hierarchy in built into childhood. A ranking of how cool people are, of who is worth playing with, and who isn’t. A solid foundation of bullying that no one really takes any real notice of at the time it’s happening, because being mean is so fun for those who are the ones being mean. They don’t really stop to think about what their meanness does to their victims, not at that age. It’s all just a game.

I had a friend growing up called Phillip. He was one of the kids who wasn’t considered cool. In fact, he and his brother were probably the two kids most picked on in our neighbourhood. We’d have ‘wars’ against neighbouring kids. It was always really serious, and I never understood it. I remember being told off by my fellow allies when I’d cross enemy lines to play with someone new. “You can’t DO that Kelly!” “You’re on OUR side, you can’t just SWAP SIDES!”

“Why not?” I’d ask and always be greeted with “because that’s not how it works.”

But I always wanted to know WHY. Why wasn’t it the way it worked? Why couldn’t we all get along? Why were people so mean to others? I never really suffered anything other than exasperation at my constant defying of the rules. My siblings protected me.

Phillip was the oldest of two boys in his family. He was a year or two younger than I was. Every one called him Shit Lip – it rhymes with Phillip, see? The things they said about him were awful. They accused him of having dropped his little brother on his head, causing his little brother’s “slowness”. I never knew if that was true or not, but I liked Phillip.

When everyone else was gone, I would go to Phillip’s house and I remember knocking on his door and being scared of his father’s reaction. I never really understood why his father would storm to the door looking as if he was going to beat the shit out of whoever was knocking on it – until quite recently. Whenever he saw me, his face would soften and he would smile and ask me if I wanted to come inside.

Phillip’s mum made the yummiest cakes. They gave me juice and fed me sweets and Phillip and I played happily together for hours.

As we grew older, the taunting still happened. I don’t know what school he ended up going to, but it wasn’t mine. I don’t know if Phillip was a victim of bullying at school as well as when he got home, but I do know that we just sort of drifted away from each other and I never really thought much about him.

I remember those days I spent with him pretty fondly though. I remember the feeling of pleasure I would get whenever I defied the rules of our war games and played with the kids we weren’t supposed to play with. I remember how hard my mum worked to make sure I didn’t join in any teasing. I don’t actually remember this photo being taken. I don’t remember Phillip coming to our house much. I know he was pretty scared to leave his property at all because of the way the hoards of kids would taunt him. Calling him Shit Lip, telling him he was the reason for his brother’s slowness. They made up cruel poems about how it happened, and I listened to it all and wondered why.

About 10 years ago, Phillip committed suicide. He’d climbed high up into a tree and hung himself. High enough that the search team never saw him. His father had been going out with them every day to try to find him – this day he happened to look up.

Every time I think of Phillip, I think of how hard things were on his parents. His mother was such a sweet and quiet woman, I never saw much of her aside from when she came to give us cakes. His father always seemed like such an angry man, but I have absolutely no doubts that he was the way he was because of how the neighbourhood kids treated his boys. I remember being told of the arguments his parents had, and now I think I understand why that was. Of course they were fighting, how could they not be?

Those stories turned to his father too. How he was such a bastard, how badly he treated his family, about the yelling people would hear coming from their house. I think about how kind he was when I came to play, and how welcoming he was. How much he loved to see my face at his door and to see me playing with his son. I think about how he must have looked when he found his son hanging from a tree at the age of about 24. Of how helpless Phillip’s parents must have felt because of a bunch of mean kids who saw weakness in their son and exploited it. Of how much pain and humiliation Phillip went through in his short life.

I wonder what sort of man he’d be now, because he was a fucking sweet boy who never complained about how the other kids treated him. He never said a word to me about it. He was always willing to play my imaginary games and keep me company. We mostly did the things I wanted to do, and he played my games without ever complaining if they were too girly or boring. He let me into his life and became an important part of mine.

I always regretted the fact that we drifted apart. Going to different schools and having different things in your life will do that I guess. It hurt so bad when I found out he had died. To have gone through such callous and horrible bullying and to only find one way out is intolerably cruel.

This one is for you Phillip. For you, and for all the other countless people out there who were and are being bullied. There are always people who love you. People who want to be your friend. People who will look past the cruel things that other people are saying and see the real you. I’m sorry it wasn’t enough.

Thank you Shane Koyczan for being such an incredible voice for those kids who don’t have one of their own. x

Thoughts of a Zombie Sympathiser

2012-06-21 14.17.57

 

Last year I was working in a high school, as an English and Media Studies ‘learning advisor’. It’s the best job I’ve ever had, and like many writers – I’ve had a lot of jobs. This one was different every single day, and I got to work with some incredibly amazing students and other learning advisors.

I taught a media studies senior paper on zombies. In the first five weeks, we learned all about George A Romero‘s films, how he used film techniques, for what purpose he used them and how they suited the subgenre of horror – the zombie film.

In the second part of the course, we looked into making our own short zombie films and movie trailers. I have never had so much fun in my life. The course was such a success and the students really got involved! It was so exciting for me to see people truly engage with my class. We had make up artists who weren’t class members come in on their free time to help us with make up. The above photo is credit to some amazing young people whose talents in make up and stage effects just blew me away.

I don’t believe in teaching and not taking part. Besides, who hasn’t wanted to be a zombie? You have to lead by example, and this was perhaps the most fun day I had at work, ever. Of course, I forgot to take anything to remove my make-up with, and it just so happened that that particular day was also a staff meeting day. Good times.

A lot of people don’t understand why I have such an attraction to zombies. I’ve been thinking about it ever since I did a course on Supernatural literature and film last year. Fantastic subject to study by the way!

A good ten odd years ago, Ollie introduced me to the zombie film by way of 28 Days Later. I’ve talked about this quite a bit in the past. I didn’t want to watch it, because zombies seemed like a stupid monster to me. But I got hooked. They’ve become increasingly popular over the past few years – and especially moreso with the introduction of The Walking Dead, adapted from the comic book series by Robert Kirkman.

So what is it, I like about zombies so much?

I think it’s that the zombie is still fully human. They don’t transform into anything like werewolves and vampires do. They remain essentially human. Just dead. Unlike a lot of people, I’m not into zombie films and books for the killing or the violence. I know that sounds pretty contradictory, since the entire essence of a zombie comes about through death. But it’s more than that. If you’ve seen George A Romero’s films, you’ll know that the zombies portrayed in his film take on a personality of their own. They become the symbol of the masses. Confused, dumbed down crowds of humans intent on one thing, consumption.

By the end of his storyline, you feel sorry for the zombie. You’re forced to see the living as the real monsters. I guess you could say, I’m a zombie sympathiser. I like the zombie – much like I like all other monsters of myth and fairytale. The creatures who are misunderstood and hunted for being different. But in zombie films, you also have a small group of survivors. A group of people who fight for their lives and their choices and the right to be different from the rest of the population. The people who don’t want to end up mindless eating machines. The people who can still think, feel and act for themselves. The people who are not just fighting to stay human, but who also end up having to fight other humans in order to keep their humanity. Something you see them struggle with internally as different groups each try to form their own new civilisations – governments who end up warring against one another until only the strongest and ‘best’ survive.

Nothing symbolises the decline of human nature and the base destruction of resources better than the zombie apocalypse. Nothing shows humanity in quite the same way as a human being stripped of both consciousness and life itself, only to be brought back as a cannibalistic, disease spreading eating machine.  The great thing about zombies is that they are a relatively new monster.  There isn’t a folkloric history outside of the Voudon practice. Unlike other monster mythology which traversed cultures, the zombie came straight from Africa to the Americas and has been shaped into the symbol of the human fall from grace. Our not so distant dystopian future if we continue to be mindless about how we treat each other, and the world around us.

It’s not the carnage and killing that appeals to me. It’s the fact that the zombie represents that human in all of us. The consumeristic, world defiling, destroyer of life. I have empathy towards the zombie because in them, I see all of us, and I’m very interested in the reactions that people have towards the genre itself. The violence they think up, the way that they simply choose to ignore the fact that it all comes down to a brutal, mindless violence. That they don’t see past the zombie make-up and pick up the underlying messages.

Teaching that course gave me a huge insight into the workings of young people’s minds. Some of them truly got it, they understood what it meant, and loved the films for both the shock factor, the horror and the uncanniness. The ‘what if’ factor. “What if this happened?” “What’s your zombie apocalypse plan?” “What would you do?”  “Would YOU survive?” Their ability to creatively think and rationalise their own humanity and how to live in a world like that was pretty fascinating. I learned as much from them, as they learned from me.

What is survival anyway? And who are the real survivors?