October 20, 2014

And just like that.... I was gone.

Last week I disappeared. I had a general anesthetic on Tuesday morning, was home by Tuesday afternoon, and was completely stoned on Endone until Thursday evening. I lay in bed for forty eight hours, dozing and staring at the ceiling and doing absolutely nothing else.

Endone is a morphine derivative and even the tiny doses I took had a profound effect on me. I couldn't think. I didn't want to think. I didn't want to do anything but stare at the ceiling. I had no interest in watching TV or reading a magazine or eating or chatting to a loved one. I was perfectly content to lay on my back and just BE. It was probably the first time in my life I have experienced that kind of serenity, and - if I stay healthy - hopefully the last.

It is a weird thing, not thinking. Can you imagine not thinking? I don't stop thinking for a moment. Even now, writing this post, I have worried about the article I just wrote and whether my editor will like it, the piece of toast I just ate and how I'd really like another, how the makeup I'm still wearing after my TV appearance  is making my skin crawl and I need to take it off, and that I can't keep on procrastinating with my taxes. I hate doing my taxes. I was thinking that, too.

Since finishing that sentence I thought of the party I was at last night, and how I told one of my close friends that his daughter used to be 'funny looking'. I was a little drunk at the time, but it's really no excuse and I am quite mortified by my behaviour. I am thinking about a chart on introverts I saw this morning, and how it was a revelation because I am not at all introverted. I am thinking about my best friend and why she hasn't returned my message. I am thinking about the mess in my apartment and how I plan to clean it soon. And I am really thinking about that second piece of toast.

"We become what we think about all day long," wrote Emerson, and he has to be right, because really, what else could we be? We are not our bodies, we are not our jobs, we are not our status; we are our thoughts, and our thoughts dictate who we are. I am me because I worry about the things I worry about, because I care about the things I care about, and because I contemplate the things I contemplate. No-one else has my thoughts, hence, I am unique in this world.

Last week I was nothing. I had no thoughts, so I wasn't me. I was a generic body, lying in a bed, staring at the ceiling. I occasionally rallied enough strength to be a simulacrum of me. When my children came in to kiss me goodnight I said the things I knew Real Kerri would have said. But I didn't feel it. I felt nothing. Just air and ceiling and a deep, deep peace.

Now I'm back to me. And with all the worries and petty concerns and ruminations, I wouldn't go back to the serenity. Without my thoughts I am nothing. Without your thoughts, neither are you.

September 20, 2014

Are You A Fussy Dresser?

This morning I had nothing to wear. Seriously. Nothing. Annette Sharp would have had a field day if she'd seen me out at Westfield because I looked like a friggin' hobo. I was wearing jeans, old black boots, a baggy, misshapen top over a slightly longer baggy, white top over an even longer hundred-year-old slip thing whose colour can only be described as 'puce'.

I went out in search of winter tops because a) all my winter tops are hideous, and b) I was cold. I have no problem shopping for summer clothes - I love shift dresses and will wear them happily every day for three months - but I hate winter wear. Hate it. I inevitably spend the winter months poorly dressed and freezing cold, because I just can't find clothes I like. It's not that there aren't nice things out there, it's just that they're not for me. I am a fussy dresser (think fussy eater, but with clothes) and the list of things I don't wear runs a mile long.

Orange, Tight, Polo Neck. I Am Hyperventilating

My Will Not Wear List

  1. Heavy winter knits. They scratch and make me too hot.
  2. Shirts. I cannot wear clothes with collars. I hate really structured clothes and the collars make me feel like I'm choking.
  3. Crisp fabrics such as linen. They make my skin crawl.
  4. Cowl necks. They are horrible.
  5. Polo necks. I am way too claustrophobic. I can't even dress my kids in polo necks; seriously, the very idea makes my neck constrict.
  6. Scarves. Probably the claustrophobia thing; also I feel like they're wearing me instead of the other way around.
  7. Polyester. Any man-made fabrics make me sweat.
  8. Anything tight fitting from the hips up. I wear skinny jeans and leggings, but my top half needs to be in loose clothing. It's not a weight thing - I wear bikinis in summer, I have no issue with my body - I just feel hideously uncomfortable in body hugging clothes.
  9. Orange, green, yellow, purple. I wear black, white, neutrals, navy, pink and silver. That's it. Other colours are for Wiggles or Teletubbies.
  10. Applique, beading, lace, leather patches. Just.... no.
  11. Belts. I would rather wear a bandage around my waist.
  12. Anything 'tricky' or hard to wear. If the sales assistant has to teach me how to wear it, or it can be worn in several different ways, or it needs to be draped, or belted, or tucked, or anything other than 'slipped over the head' I am out.
  13. Anything too voluminous. I like loose fitting, but not enormous.
  14. Anything too long. I am about two foot tall. If I wear long coats or skirts I look like one of the Olsen twins.
  15. Baggy pants. They make me look like an Oompa Loompa.
  16. Anything that needs dry cleaning or ironing. Because BusyWorkingMum.

So it is a little limiting. Today, however, I did well. I found a plain black fine knit top, and loved it so much I bought it in cream as well. (Okay, so my mum paid for the cream one. THANK YOU MUM.) I will wear one of them every day and feel well dressed until summer. And then next winter will roll around, and I'll have absolutely nothing to wear again.....

What about you? Are you a fussy dresser?

September 11, 2014

Why Arianna Huffington is Wrong

Arianna Huffington is an impressive woman. She is an impressive woman who continues to make money from her website, the Huffington Post, which does not pay its bloggers. Though she has staff on the payroll, she does not pay the people whose blog posts appear on her site and generate page impressions and, therefore, income.

Last night at Carriageworks Annabel Crabb asked Ms Huff why she did not pay bloggers. She responded that she didn't need to. She believes that people want to write, and they will write anyway, and she offers them a platform - much like Tumblr or Facebook - on which to express themselves. They gain valuable exposure, which is payment enough. And besides, why should she pay them? They are willing to write for free!

She also (very cleverly) pointed out that Annabel's guests on her TV show are not paid. So that's pretty much the same thing, right?

Well, let's take that point by point.

  • The Huff Post is a platform, but it is not a site like Tumblr or Facebook. The latter are free-for-alls. Anyone can post, anyone can write. But the Huff Post is not a public platform. Only a select few get to write for the Huff Post. They are chosen specifically so that their words will earn income for the company. So the comparison is invalid.
  •  Yes, many people want to write. Many people enjoy expressing themselves creatively. And yes, as Ms Huff states, they will write anyway. But writing for yourself is like painting for yourself. It's lovely to express yourself in a painting or work of art. You can't expect to be paid for that. But if someone wishes to take your painting and hang it in their own environment, so that other people will be lured into that environment and spend money, they should damn well pay for it.
  • Not paying guests on a TV show is not the same thing as not paying a guest writer. A guest on a TV show is an interview subject, and it is anathema to journalism to pay for interviews. Whether or not Annabel pays her interviewees is utterly irrelevant. I can guarantee, however, that her producers pay the writers, the camera operators, the makeup artists, the directors, the lighting people, and everyone else involved in the making of the show. And that is the only appropriate comparison.
  • Underpayment or non-payment of particular professions is a serious problem from a feminist perspective. Traditionally, women have engaged in roles which are performed for love, rather than money. Teaching, nursing, social work etc have been underpaid for years because the people performing those roles - usually women - will do them anyway. This does not make it right. These people who are working in fields they are passionate about deserve payment as much as people working purely for money.
  • Yes, there are thousands of people willing to work for the Huff Post unpaid. They are willing to work unpaid because they feel they don't have a choice, because the systems in place - the systems maintained and perpetrated by the Huff Post, among others - give them no choice. And this is the very definition of exploitation: taking advantage of people who feel they have no choice.
Arianna Huffington is an impressive woman. But until she pays all her writers, she will not be the inspiration I am looking for.

September 7, 2014

I Am Truly Disgusting. Laugh It Up, People. Laugh It Up.

It appears I am falling apart. Not only do I have some sort of a low grade sickness that irritatingly has not manifested in a fever (for which I could take to my bed, like some 19th Century maiden who has received bad news), but just hangs around, dripping out of my nose and tickling my chest... I also have something disgusting on my tongue.

I was eating my dinner the other night and felt something hard and abnormal in my mouth. It wasn't a tooth (teeth are hard, but quite normal), and it wasn't a piece of food (I had swallowed all of those, though there is always room for dessert). It was stuck to my tongue, like a ganglion, or a cyst.

I assumed it was a pimple, because what else would one have on one's tongue if not a zit? I get zits in all sorts of places - or at least, I used to, when I was 13. And I still do, occasionally, at 45, though really not on my tongue. Quite frankly, I have no idea what I was thinking.

When I looked in the mirror I saw that I had a very strange sort of white rash on my tongue. Which clearly meant that I had tongue cancer, and was going to die soon, probably by the next morning. I was sad, but resigned. If anyone was going to die an ignominious death from tongue cancer, it would totally be me, because of absolutely no reason at all.

But when I went to the chemist (because they know more than doctors, and are free, even if they don't really know more than doctors), he told me solemnly that I had tongue thrush. I was horrified. Who the hell gets tongue thrush? I immediately assumed it was passed on to me by a sexual partner, but was informed that a) it was not transmissable, and b) I did not have a sexual partner. (Okay, so the chemist didn't know b), but I figured that one out for myself.)

So now I have to put pink drops on my tongue four times a day, in between wiping my snotty nose and surviving coughing fits and rocking in the corner in deep shame for having tongue thrush in the first place.

And in other news, the pink drops are delicious. So this hideous illness has an upside after all. Life is, indeed, fulfilling to the extreme.

August 20, 2014


I woke up this morning to news of journalist James Foley being killed in the most horrific way in Syria.

I'm not going to dwell on this story. I am not going to exploit his tragedy on my blog.

What I will say is this:

In recent times, the news has been more and more horrific. The Middle East. Iraq. Syria. Children in detention. Ebola. The suicide of a beloved comedian. The list goes on and on.

And life on a personal level is challenging. Of course it is. For you, no doubt, as it is for me.

I need an antidote. I need to restore some kind of faith in humanity. I need to remind myself that there is wonder and beauty and goodness in the world. I need to tip the balance.

And I need your help.

I am hoping you can share with me - and with each other - some positive stories. Just a line or two. Events or people who reminded you that there is hope for us all, that there is light and love and happiness and the potential for peace. You could share them in the comments, or share them on Twitter or FB or Insta or on your own noticeboard at home with the hashtag #FaithInHumanity.

Maybe we can remind each other the world isn't such a bad place.

I will start:

Several cafes on the main road in my suburb feed a homeless man. People regularly stop and offer him clothing, food and shelter. He is respected and cared for by the community. #FaithInHumanity

August 7, 2014

Fuck Off - Why MC Had To Go

So Mike Carlton has been sacked resigned from his position at Fairfax.

I'm not going to comment on my feelings about that, though anyone who follows me on Twitter will know I did not exactly rent my clothes and tear my hair in lamentation.

I am aware that many of my fellow Fairfax columnists and other journos are dismayed at the precedent set by his sacking resignation. What goes on in correspondence between a columnist and a reader, they feel, should not bear any relevance to their work as a writer.

Well, I respectfully disagree.

I am a freelance writer, but write for Fairfax and other publications on a regular basis, and appear weekly on Channel 7. When I am interacting with people on social media, I represent myself, but I also, by proxy, represent the organisations that employ me.

These organisations choose to use my words and my image. They choose to use my 'brand'*. And so if my brand becomes something that they feel is discordant with their own brand, then I would expect my services to be terminated.

In other words, if I go around telling people to fuck off, if I go around hurling thinly veiled racial insults, if I am rude and disrespectful in my dealings with my readers, I would expect my brand to be compromised, and I would expect to make myself unemployable.

The thing is, every journalist and columnist in the world has experienced dissent and trolling. In the past month I've been accused of child bullying (because I criticized Bindi Irwin for telling girls how to dress), of being part of the Zionist Genocide Plot (because I expressed the view that posting images of dead children is disrespectful to grieving families), and of demonizing fathers (because I wrote a piece about a new campaign to highlight incest using Disney caricatures). Oh, and someone called me a zombie. I'm still not exactly sure why.

When I received these helpful pieces of feedback, there was just one thing I wanted to do. I wanted to tell those moronic correspondents to fuck the hell off.

But you know what? I didn't. Because a) it is isn't helpful, and it's not going to change their minds; b) I don't wish to lower myself to their level; and c) it's just rude. People are entitled to their opinions, even if those opinions are different to mine. And being rude to someone who is rude to me isn't going to help the situation one iota.

So in each and every case, I wrote the same message: "Thank you for your considered response to my opinion piece."

And if the person continued to abuse me, I used a very powerful little tool. I pressed 'block' and 'delete', and they were gone for my life.

I am far from perfect. I have allowed myself to engage in endless debates with people online when I really should have just exited quickly and stopped wasting my time. But I do try very hard to retain humour and courtesy. Because if we can't do that, then the horrible conflicts overseas that are not the responsibility of any person in this country are creeping into our own lives, and that would simply add to the tragedy.

*Yes, it's a wanky term, but you get my point..

July 3, 2014


Flaunt your curves this summer.

Supermodel Blah Blah flaunts her post baby body.

Large Actress Hoosiwhatsis proudly shows off her curves.

Flaunty Flaunty Curve Curve Curve

I tell you, if I see one more headline like that I'm going to take my own curves and wrap them around the neck of whoever wrote that stupid article and suffocate them till they repent.

Seriously. What is it with women flaunting their curves? Women do not flaunt. Okay, the occasional actress or model poses for the red carpet with certain parts of her thrust at a pleasing angle, because she's trying to take a nice photo, and it's her job to look alluring. But these headlines generally appear under pictures of women walking down the street, or standing in front of the camera doing nothing much at all.

You don't see headlines screaming about men flaunting their curves. "Jack Nicholson flaunts his curves at the beach on Sunday!" "Jonah Hill flaunts his curves in Armani at the premiere of his new movie."

No. Because men do not flaunt their curves. Men simply occupy their bodies. They live in them. If they are big men, if they have rounded bellies or fat arses or a broad chest they are not accused of 'flaunting' them. That is just the shell surrounding their personhood. As well it should be.

So why the fuck are we women referred to as 'flaunting' our curves if we dare to have them? Well, I suspect it's some kind of deranged backlash to the whole 'thin is best' culture that we are trying to shake off. It's okay, the magazine headlines are screaming. You don't have to be thin! Curves are good too! And so women who have curves are seen to be flaunting them with pride. We are happy to be curvy! We want to show off our curves to the world!

But that's bullshit. Curvy women are not necessarily flaunting their bodies any more than skinny women are necessarily flaunting theirs. They are just walking around in the bloody things, because you know what? They don't have a choice. It's not like you can browse through your body wardrobe and decide, hey, I want a curvy look today, let's put on the size 12 bod and have some fun with it! No. We wake up every day in the same body and it just IS.

There are days when we all feel good and flaunt ourselves, curvy or thin, short or tall. There are days when we feel crap and want to hide away, curvy or thin, short or tall. But to automatically assume that a women is 'flaunting' her body, no matter what she looks like, no matter what she is wearing, no matter what she is feeling, is incredibly disrespectful and objectifying.

Please magazines. PLEASE stop referring to women flaunting their bodies. Just write 'Here is actress Dum De Dum Dum standing in front of a building wearing clothes.' Because you know what? That's all it actually is.

Or talk about Jonah Hill flaunting his bloody curves. And then we'll have something to discuss.

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