On the weekend I found a delicate and beautiful white gold and diamond snowflake necklace. It got my attention because many people have called me a Special Little Snowflake throughout my life (mostly out of frustration, red hot hatred or idle dislike). I saw the necklace, laughed out loud and thought, OK, well I am…and I am owning it! So, I bought my Special Little Snowflake necklace and it is very pretty! It looks fucking awesome around my precious little Snow White neck!
Conversely, right now, on a minute to minute basis, honest self-assessment and reflexivity is something I trying to grasp without being too self-depreciating or facetious. I’ve always overshared a lot of my life and I accept that I test as unusually highly extroverted (e.g. I’m talkative, always looking for EXCITEMENT writ large as possible and I’m always interested in other people, fascinated by a story). I described myself today as someone who has always slowed down in the car to gawk at roadkill. ‘Oh, to look for ravens pulling at intestines,’ says the friend who knows me well. ‘No,’ I say thoughtfully. ‘To pay attention to death. To pay attention that something or someone died’.
I’ve always been fascinated by death. My recent Memento Mori tattoo is existential and morbid. I am both. I would love to live in an old rundown house overlooking an old cemetery. I’m often called the Weird Girl or the Death Chick. I was a dark tween, a teenage Goth. I collected murder stories when I was a young girl and stared avidly at gruesome Grimms Brothers illustrations such as the accompaniments to the deliciously gory ‘Bluebeard’ (my all-time fave). I would have liked to be a Medical Examiner if I had been Hard Science Smart. I want to take notice of death. I want to think about the cycle – pre-birth, birth, life, death, dirt. I love Bernd Heinrich’s ‘Life Everlasting’. I read it after I lost my precious father and cried and cried. It made me decide to have a green burial. I wished to really be fed to ravens and re-live ‘on the wing’…but I don’t think Australian authorities would allow this!
In addition to these oddities and eccentricities I can be both overly naïve and paranoid at the same time. A weird paradox, yes. It leads to some bizarre situations and sometimes, my naivety and belief that others are inherently well-intentioned sees me wondering whatever I did to deserve whatever mess I tend to be the architect of. My own culpability needs recognition and thus, I need to disengage from new relationships for a long time.
I met with someone who knows a gentleman who burned me badly. They knew him better than me and laughed at my naïve interpretation of him as ‘creative, intelligent and shy’. What they described was a sly, emotionless and calculating individual who was quiet because they had nothing unique, empathetic or genuine to add. They underscored how much he had benefited from our friendship as opposed to me and pointed out how silly I was in stubbornly thinking of him of a tortured artist-type who deserved some understanding. I blushed, feeling perhaps the silliest I had throughout the whole stupid thing. Several people had outright said they didn’t like him over the years that I was friends with him and one person likened him to a fungus that infested something and slowly overtook it, ruining it. These descriptions horrified me at the time but now…now…I’m listening.
On the way home, there was a place called the Tattooed Barber and I was picking up supplies from the shop next door. I asked the girl what the owner was like, considering the name, he must be EXCITEMENT personified! She smiled grimly and said she hears him yelling at his staff, that’s all she knows about him. I laughed and thanked her. For probably saving me from a likely broken jaw in the future. My psychologist has banned me from dating for 2 years because she thinks my judgment of people is this bad. I let the wrong people in, before I know it, they’re too tight with me and then I see it. I see their inner uglinesses. Likewise, I take bad advice off newbies and misjudge people I’ve known well for decades. I’m just coming to terms with my mistakes. They’re big mistakes and really horrible to face. I want to stop repeating these.
I got an email yesterday from my Vice Chancellor advising me the ‘Respect. Now. Always’ results “shocked” Australian academe. I let out a sardonic little chuckle and didn’t bother looking at any of the results. I have been personally affected by this stuff and have had been ignored, excluded from work opportunities and slut-shamed. People who perhaps could have considered the power imbalance in whatever outlandish story did the rounds did not and I almost was forced out of academia several times because I wondered whether I could really hold my head high and work here, ‘respected’ now or always. But then I remembered how audacious my family have always been. Benbows are often called ‘tactless’…”front-stabbers not backstabbers”…”pains in the arse”. I sure am. My father, aged sixty, beat up a street gang who were trying to rob an elderly couple in Swanston Street, Melbourne with his umbrella! My mother is always giving people what-for. My brother…he is incredible. Let’s just say he gets stuff done. I’ve been bought up not to take shit. I confess: I love professional wrestling and have since I was like 5. My brother said I’d lost my bad-assed-ness to a degree and then was surprised by a recent bout of me being a total stubborn asshole. It makes me think of how Vince McMahon wanted the OLD STONE COLD back…did he fail to properly remember that guy and the hell that he gave him!? LOL.
I often think of the legendary Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s infamous ‘just watch me’ response in refusal to choosing people’s punitive either-or options. Sometimes I have no way out, no Plan-B up my sleeve. But who gives a damn? To use the ever-quotable Joshua Homme in “Smooth Sailing” (from …Like Clockwork):
It’s all in motion
No stoppin’ now
I’ve got nothin’ to lose
And only one way up
I’m burning bridges
I destroy the mirage
Oh, visions of collisions
Fuckin ‘bon voyage
It’s all smooth sailing
From here on out
I got bruises and hickies
Stitches and scars
Got my own theme music
It plays wherever I are….