I don’t know how to think about these things

The things we cling to and call our culture confuse me

In our short history

The hardships we choose to remember turn to myths

This war story we tell ourselves

 

I don’t know how to think about these things

So I go the dawn service

I think about my great uncle

I listen to the trumpet

Everyone stands still

A silent ritual

 

Then a kid reads a rhyming poem he wrote about Gallipoli

Then the RSL rep says “If a dog attacks a 2 year old child it gets put down, but if a man attacks a child he only gets 2 years. Use your votes wisely. We’re dishonouring the memory of the sacrifice of the fallen heroes by becoming wimps.”

Then he says “Let us work together for peace and human kindness.”

Then he says “We’ve got a genuine First World War German Rifle so bring the kids and have a look at that over breakfast.”

 

I don’t know how to think about these things

So at home I listen to those war ballads

I read those online discussions of our national identity that we have every year

On January 26th and April 25th

 

I still don’t know how to think about

The things we cling to and call our culture

The hardships we choose to remember

These stories we tell ourselves

 

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And the ANZAC legends didn’t mention mud and blood and tears
And the stories that my father told me never seemed quite real
I caught some pieces in my back that I didn’t even feel
God help me, I was only 19
-from ‘I Was Only 19′ written by John Schumann, originally performed by Redgum

But the band played Waltzing Matilda, as they carried us down the gangway.
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared, then they turned all their faces away
And so now every April, I sit on me porch, and I watch the parades pass before me.
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march, reviving old dreams of past glories
And the old men march slowly, old bones stiff and sore.
They’re tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, what are they marching for?
And I ask myself the same question.
-from ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ written & performed by Eric Bogle

You’ve not been forgotten

Dearest Neglected Readers,

I have two small snippets of news which will have to suffice instead of a proper post:

1. I have deleted all of my online dating profiles. Oasis and RSVP hit the dust years ago, but after two less than impressive Tinder dates in Tasmania I recently deleted the app. Yesterday I deleted OKCupid. Both times I felt instantly lighter. It’s over to you now universe.

2. I have been avoiding writing. There’s a big story from last year I haven’t written about yet but I didn’t know where to start and it scared me. Tonight I finally sat down and pumped out 2,448 words. I haven’t got to the end bit yet. None of those words were about dates. It’s going to take me a little while to craft this story properly- I gotta get it all out first, then structure it, then cut the crap out of it so you’re left with nothing but solid gold. Ha.

So, three questions, loyal members of the DD community:

A) Will you still be around when I finish this thing? Even if it takes a while?

B) Will you even wanna read something that’s not about dates? It might not be funny either?

C) This blog has strayed far from it’s original purpose (I no longer live in the desert or go on many dates) but it’s youse who motivate me to keep writing, so I’m keen to know how far I can take y’all on this journey. So… *cue daggy voice over from a parent in the 90’s who has just discovered the internet* You’re invited to participate my first ever super fun online survey! You can tick more than one box! Box ticking bonanza!

I’d love to hear from you, so please click something on the poll above, comment away down below or join the convo on Facebook, just search for ‘desertdates’ on FB if that link didn’t work. So many interactive options!

Thanks y’guys,

Fondest Regards,

-DD

PS: I am gunna live in Tasmania for at least another year. Everywhere here looks like a real pretty picture, but here is just one:

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How To Talk Someone Into Sleeping With You: The Art Of Conversation

Dear DD,

On a first date, how do I talk a girl into liking me, being my girlfriend or having sex with me?

Regards,

Confused Men of Australia Inc

 

Dear Confused Men,

I’m so glad you asked! You’re already on your way. Here are some steps:

  1. Stop talking
  2. Ask a question
  3. Listen
  4. Repeat

Best of luck,

DD

 

Dear DD,

Thanks, but what should we ask?

Regards,

Somewhat Less Confused Men of Australia, Inc

 

Dear Somewhat Less Confused Men,

You’re getting the hang of it now! Here are some entry level questions:

  1. Ask me exactly the same question I just asked you.
  2. Ask me to tell you more about something you already know about me.

Here are some more advanced options:

  1. Duck to the bathroom and skim through my online dating profile, pictures, online banter – these are all good convo starters
  2. Go backwards. Ask about my childhood, studies, adventures, favourite memories.
  3. Go forwards. Ask me who I want to be, what I want to do.
  4. Go hypothetical. Ask what I’d do if I won a million bucks, if I were in a zombie apocalypse, if I only a week to live, could curate any music festival lineup, could have any six people to dinner, be anyone else for a day, have the perfect day or have any super hero power.
  5. Go deep. Ask me what I really give a shit about.
  6. Go well. Be polite. Be different. Be confident. Be open. Be kind.
  7. Go now. If we’ve been yarning for an hour, call it a night before you run out of things to ask. Leave on a high rather than waiting for a low.

I genuinely want to know who you are, but I want you to know me too. We can’t get to know each other if one of us monologues or feels like an investigative journalist interrogating all night. It should be like tennis. I ask you a question, then you’ve got the ball. You have it for a while then hit it back to me- both of us take responsibility for keeping the ball in the air. On a first date it’s pretty rare that we’ll be relaxed enough for witty repartee, but we can try to draw out something from each other that interests us enough to want to see each other again to find out more.

I am thrilled that you have the collective self awareness to incorporate and ask questions! I sincerely wish you all the best and I look forward to far fewer boring dates from now on!

With increasingly fonder regards,

DD

 

 

PS: For tips on squashing small talk see here and here. 

Valentine’s Day: A Solo Survival Guide

Dear DD,

I hate Valentine’s Day. I just want to be able to leave the house without my own singledom slapping me in the face six billion times as the whole world celebrates what I don’t have.

How can I make it through the day without crying on the couch watching ‘She’s All That,’ or going on a jealous rampage, flipping candlelit tables and stuffing red roses into the drooling, lovesick faces of happy couples?

Signed,

Grumpy and Lonely in Karratha

 

Dear Grumpy and Lonely of Karratha,

First up, I am truly sorry that you happen to live in K-Hole. I’m quite sure it’s the only reason you are single. Secondly, Grumps mate, I feel ya! I’ve been there buddy. You might be very Happily Single for 50 weeks of the year but the fortnight leading up to V-Day you become Pretty Uncharacteristically Desperate. That entire aisle of red love heart themed merchandise at Woolies, the ‘for someone special’ tagline added to every ad on telly, the overheard plans of people in couples, the romance novels on decorative display at the local library – all this noise can test even the toughest of lonely hearts.

Despite the fact that Karratha is now a city and not a shire (controversial!) there’s still no cinema for you to see ’50 Shades of Grey’ at, there’s no cool anti-capitalist hipster bands playing anywhere and you probably don’t have any single mates to hang out with either. They’re probably on the east coast being each other’s Valentines, going dancing and having a great time.

Soz to add to your (probably constant state of) FOMO but it looks like you’re gunna have to get yourself through this one. Don’t let small town syndrome strike you down!

Just avoid the Centro Mall. Avoid restaurants. Don’t attempt to circumnavigate the CBD solo and unassisted. It’s not the day for self-dates reading a book in a cosy café corner, that’s if the café has any tables for one. You’ll cringe at so many cute couples you’ll end up a cranky cynic hell bent on preaching anti-consumerism to waiters who aren’t flirting with you, they’re just giving you good customer service.

In fact, don’t just avoid the ‘CBD’ avoid Karratha. The only way you can truly escape is to get outta town. Here are some simple steps:

Step 1: Ask some old people where to go and head bush for the day. Tell someone where you’re going and pack plenty of water, fuel, swimmers, good shoes, hat, suncream and the unhealthiest snacks you can find.

Step 2: Crank your favourite tunes and podcasts in the car. Call up those east coast single friends with your hands free headphone set thing. Stop whenever you damn well feel like it. Take some photos. Pick those flowers. Get as many Cornettos and boxes of Pizza Shapes from shitty roadhouses that you want.

Step 3: Drive for at least an hour. See that country changing. Pull over and stand on top of your car to get a good view. Walk over to that tree over there. Sit on that nice rock in the shade then close your eyes and do some breathing in and out for a bit.

 

tree sunset karijini pilbara

Take off your shoes and feel the sand. Call out to the country if you want. Step into that waterhole slowly. Keep going. Slow though, so you can feel it tingling up your body. Let that freezing cold water cover you all the way up to your shoulders. Stand there shivering for a while. Look up at those cliffs and how those trees just seem to grow out of the rock.

See those little clouds in that big blue sky above you.

Listen to those birds and that silence.

Take a deep breath in.

Close your eyes.

Duck dive down.

Go on! Put your head under the water, I dare ya! I can 100% guarantee it will feel amazing.

Lie on your back for a while, faff around in the water for a while, then repeat Step 2 in the reverse direction and sleep happy in the knowledge that tomorrow your photos will win the internet and chocolate prices will be slashed.

You’ll be right, Grumps, you right.

Best wishes,

-DD

The Story So Far

Dear Readers,

I’ve reckon I’ve cleared all of 2014’s stories out of the closet. Before I start to tell you about Tasmania, where I now live, I’ve selected some of my fave sentences about places I’ve lived since the beginning of this blog and squashed them into one story. Every line is a link to the original posts where the sentence/paragraph appeared, so get clicking!

I’ve been asked a few times for dating advice so that’s what I’m working on next. Please feel so very welcome to send me your love/dating/singledom/small town living queries in the comments or on Facebook! 

Hope you’re all going swimmingly,

-DD

 

Mt Gillen, from ANZAC Hill

 

In my first year in Alice Springs I’d lie awake at night with wet towels on my head. Whenever I’d feel the slightest hint of a breeze I’d jump up and squash my face up to the fly screen and smile.

I tried to teach myself the harmonica. I lived next to a major intersection, railway and ambulance station. In the summer months a drinking camp would establish itself in the nature strip across the road. Lots of romantic bluesy background noise for my lonely harmonica.

I slowly got used to the smell of my own sweat and the fact that there were no recycling facilities. I discovered the joy of swimming in an outdoor 50m pool with the sunset reflecting in the water.

 

alice was luxury pools and glass filled dry riverbeds

bylaws and bushlaw, humbug and friendship and centrelink

alice was red dust in freshly washed white sheets

 

alice springs

 

I wasted most of my daydreams on unattainable break dancing Maori Mormons- polite, hilarious, could spin on their heads, sing four part harmonies and they were saving themselves for Jesus. Or their wives. Either way, not for me.

The first two messages I received on online dating sites in Alice went like this:

So, wat u do for work, jus art n shit? I work for dept justice yep that means prison warden lol. Prison! What a lolfest! ROFLfest in fact! Spelling aside, where am I supposed to go after my chosen career had been summed up with ‘n shit?’

I drive trucks got my own truck so we cud go 2 ayers rock if u want cud be good way 2 get 2 no each other but sorry it wud hav 2 be 1 way unless u wanna come 2 adelaide A free 6 hour one way trip to Uluru with a complete stranger with no appreciation for punctuation? What a great idea for a first date!

I met a cowboy at a rodeo. We held hands and walked out of the dance hall. There was a fork in the road. ‘Your swag or mine?’

 

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In the Pilbara I met pissed big burly mining dudes who considered accidental eye contact as an invitation. They ogled in a manner just as irritating as sandflies attacking exposed flesh at Beachville. Unforts these dudes were impervious to Deet.

Off-chops middle aged women said nice things like “Damn girl, you’re a GREAT dancer and your tits look FUCKEN HOT in that dress, sweetheart!”

I discovered mornings.

The world was waking up and it was bigger and more wonderful and closer than I remembered.

 

I know You Can’t Hurry Love. You Just Have To Wait. But I started to think that maybe the middle of the desert on the wrong coast of the country was perhaps the wrong place to wait.

It’s hard to play the field when you live 7 hours away (by plane) from said field.

I wanted someone to meet me backstage after my show with a bunch of corny flowers they picked out of a nearby garden on the way to the show. Someone to make playlists for and to miss when I’m away.

‘Oh, but it’ll happen when you least expect it!’ say my happy-in-love friends. Git fwarked.

 

melbourne city at night

Melbourne was this overwhelming metropolis with excessive buildings that stretched upwards and squashed sideways and hid the skyline. I’d been transported to some other world. From my world where there was no postal service, no Triple J reception, no tofu in the supermarket, no traffic, no good reason for anyone to wear anything other than thongs, shorts and a T Shirt and no good reason for there to be any more than 5 people in a room at a time.

I loved crossing the road at Flinders Street Station. All those people, all in one place, all going somewhere. I felt part of the human race.

I watched the dressed up and the drunks strut and stumble along Swanston Street. Was everyone playing this game except me?

I’m gunna Get Back On The Horse. There Are Plenty More Fish In The Sea. I’m going to canter along on that damned horse whilst casting my fishing rod out into a nearby river. Or I sit on a horse on a fucken fishing trawler. I’m a horseriding fisherwoman.

Schmoebs (August 2014)

 

Today I floated in the ocean

I let it take me where it wanted me to go

Which wasn’t far at all

But I gave in anyway

 

Then I shat, showered and shaved and did my hair and put on a dress

To go over the road to watch a footy game I didn’t follow on telly

because: small town

 

 

Most days I wear baggy shorts and loose cotton teeshirts

because: old religious ladies and teenage boys and cultural sensitivity and sun smart and heat

 

 

I am a man here in the desert

I am practical and I am hard

I think that’s bullshit sometimes when people talk

I cover my flesh and let my leg hair grow

I drive around listening to gangsta rap and Tina Turner with twelve year olds

I avoid eye contact as I hand over bags of food and mumble sorry for your loss

 

 

I told my parents I was taking anti-depressants. It was a weird conversation.

I don’t even want to do a good job anymore, I just want to do it and then go home, wherever that is.

I don’t give much of a shit about anything now

I can’t think of things to say

I can’t pretend I’m happy to see people in the morning

I am not in my real life

 

 

In the city, I used to think about what I wore almost every day

I would even do my hair and strut around walking to the tram in time with the music on my iPod.

 

 

But up here I have seen some zebra finches and two early whales on morning walks.

 

Things are generally OK here I guess.

 
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