12 Dates of Christmas (Part 2)

G’day! You can read Part 1 here if ya like. Enjoy! – DD

4. Dinner with an Orator.

Look. Every human being on earth has their own unique identity. We’re all a complex combination of skills, values, personality traits, genes, education, environment, family, culture, class, gender, upbringing, occupation and hobbies. To reduce anyone, or any group of people to crude stereotypes would be pointless. Surely. But as old Joseph Campbell realised, sometimes patterns form and behaviours repeat and if you look at similar stories some similar archetypal characters emerge. Once you see these characters they start popping up everywhere and are a bloody useful storytelling device.

You’ve now met two Really Nice Guys. Now meet The Orator. AKA The Monologuer or The Non-Stop Talker. Who knows what inspires these mind numbingly boring soliloquies? Is it nerves? Are they so nervous that they feel they’re wholly responsible for filling all the silences? Is anxiety limiting their capacity to think of anything other than their own internal turmoil? Or is it arrogance? Are they that uninterested in anyone else’s anecdotes that the idea of asking a question is out of the question? Or, perhaps conversation is such a multifarious science, such an enigmatic art, that it needs to be learnt or nurtured. What do they think such speeches will achieve? What’s motivating this filibustering?

Whatever the psychology is behind it, the effect is always the same. It positions me as an audience member with three options:

  1. I can aggressively assert myself into the conversation and turn it back on myself: Oh you’ve recently purchased a clothes dryer? That reminds me of when I recently purchased some waterproofing oil for my Drizabone that I purchased as a burlesque costume! Something I also recently purchased were pots to put in plants inspired by each place I’ve lived!
  2. I can try and steer the conversation towards something more interesting: Oh you’ve rattled off a list of countries you’ve travelled to? But what did you learn in Bali? Oh you hate your job? But what’s the best thing about it? The perks, huh? What are those? Discounted white goods? WHAT’S WITH THE WHITEGOODS PEOPLE? IS THE SAME DRONGO WHO INSTRUCTED MEN TO ‘NEG’ WOMEN IN THEIR PICKUP LINES NOW ADVOCATING DISCUSSIONS OF WHITEGOODS? IS OWNING A BRAND NEW FRIDGE SOME KIND OF STATUS SYMBOL I MISSED THE MEMO ABOUT? WHERE DOES THIS COME FROM??? If you wanna talk about Dyson vacuum cleaners however…
  3. I can sit back and let ’em go. Nod and smile and try to sneak glimpses of his watch. Focus on mindfully eating the delicious Malaysian cuisine I’m eating for dinner. Start making a mental list of Christmas presents to bake.

I tried Options 1 and 2 on this date. It went for 53 minutes. It was at an incredibly fluro lit Malaysian restaurant in the city. Neither of us got in touch afterwards.

No pash. No second date.

 

5. Late night drink with a Wild Card

Did I mention that dates 3, 4 and now 5 all happened on the same day? 3 and 4 were pre-arranged and we met through OkCupid, but Number 5 I only arranged through Happn as I walked to the tram from Number 4. We’d had a little bit of banter online and had exchanged numbers. He has a professor and his profile pictures included him sitting near a campfire. Happn has less search criteria or mathematical algorithms based on lengthy surveys, so all you get is a location, an occupation, a few pictures, a few lines of bio, a list of things you mutually ‘like’ on Facebook and if you have any mutual friends. We mutually liked Scott Ludlam, La Mama Theatre and the ‘I Fucking Love Science’ Facebook group. Bodes well.

It was only 9pm when I finished with Number 4, the second Orator of the week, so I texted this Wild Card bloke who I didn’t know that much about and we arranged to meet in 20 minutes at The Standard in Fitzroy. My old housemate used to love this pub for it’s decent food, ambient lighting and lack of douchebags. The fellas behind the bar are also fairly easy on the eye, despite their painfully hip hairstyles. I’ve never found the ironic mullet or ironic bowl cut attractive. I find city irony rules too hard to follow. Don’t ‘ironically’ love the Backstreet Boys and then hate on me for preferring 5ive.

I digress. I got there first (which made me feel smug af), order a neat Jamos (student budget) and find a table in a corner. He arrives wearing a cap and drinks red wine. We talk about theatre and politics and ourselves. He is well travelled, highly educated and if we had done the OkCupid surveys we’d no doubt have a 90+ match percentage. It’s interesting, but not thrilling. He is very cool, not showing much emotion. This calm confidence is attractive, but not as much as the infectious passion of The Conversationalist earlier that day.

We agree to go and see some shows together.

No pash. No second date.

 

6. ‘Coffee’ with another Orator

I wrote the other week that I could tell within 3 seconds of meeting a first date if chemistry existed. Just as chemistry can grow over the 59.57 minutes of the date if there’s a connection through conversation, charm, confidence, intellect or wit, so to can the initial promise of chemistry plummet.

I was trying not to judge based on occupation, but sought out dates with a similar level of education. So the morning after my 3 dates in one day, I gave another ‘finance industry’ guy a go. This one was a babe, and as he found me in Mr Tulk he flashed an incredibly babin’ smile. First 3 seconds boded well.

Then he opened his mouth to speak. Then he didn’t close it for the remaining 59.57 minutes of the date. Another Orator. At one point I noticed I hadn’t said anything of substance for a while so I stopped even saying “Yeah” at the end of his sentences to see if the lack of noise from my side of the coffee table would prompt him to ask me a question. I waited 17 minutes. He asked me a question, then looked at his watch as I began to reply.

Afterwards he sent me an “I had a really great time today” message and I replied 12 hours later with a thumbs up emoji. Look I know it’s a limited sample size but so far the data points towards a correlation between the finance industry and Orators. So, sashay away ‘finance industry’ dudes.

No pash. No second date.

 

yellow tulips in hanging basket

I grew these tulips from bulbs from my mate’s farm in Tassie. No real reason for putting them here other than  to show them off because I’m super proud of them and if you ever go to North West Tassie you should totally hit up the Table Cape Tulip Farm it is A Grade beautiful.

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12 Dates of Christmas (Part 1)

Dear Readers,

Before Christmas I went on 14 dates in 13 days. I didn’t set out with a specific goal in mind, honestly. I do know online dating is a numbers game though. Surely it’s a mix of chance/fate/luck and deliberate investments of time/energy/headspace and then persevering through enough bad dates that you strike gold with a few good ones. Surely.

I went through phases of being interested in online dating this year, but mostly I was either focusing on my health, focusing on my studies at uni, or focusing on babes at uni. (More on that later.) (NOT!) (Look, sure, I pashed a babe once or twice but if it had worked out I wouldn’t be on these dates would I? We are now good friends and it’s fine I’M FINE. So cool your jets! Sheesh!) (Srsly I am fine, see below – now feeling very ace! There were a rocky few moments but now I’m ready to open up this old heart of mine again.)

I have to go back to uni on January 9th. Landing a man (Jeez, who am I? Mrs Bennett from Pride and Prejudice?) by 9.1.18 wasn’t a realistic KPI for this project but I at least wanted to feel like I’d put a bit of effort into my love life this year. After finishing uni for the year in October and working in Canberra for all of November, the Melbourne summer sun was beckoning and I had the luxury of some unfilled days. I was also feeling physically and mentally pretty ace. As Jermaine would say – conditions were perfect. 

I’m not sure why I’m justifying this to y’all. Perhaps I’m insecure about being perceived as either desperate or heartlessly pragmatic or more of a writer than a romantic- numbering dates and reporting to an audience about them. Surely it’s fine to know what you want and work hard to get it, right? Surely it’s ok to apply the same organisational principles to your love life as you do to your work or study, right? Surely by now y’all know by now that I’d much rather a good date than a good story, right? I want nothing more than to kill this blog off and be like “soz guys, been on 7 dates with one bloke and it’s going so well that I have no more shitty dating stories to share rn. In a year we’ll probably move in together and co-parent some pot plants kthxbye.”

Whatever, I did it anyway so I should just own that shit and be cool about it, right?

Right. Onwards. So here for your reading pleasure the next couple of posts will be some of the best/worst/blandest. I hope y’all had the merriest of Christmases and are getting some kind of break over this summer. I have spent today in my PJs alternating between reading on the couch and writing this to youse. #bliss. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed crafting something out of these moments for you. 

Fondest Regards,

-DD 

hanging pot plant saltbush

No pets, no kids, no house, no instagram account, nuthin’ but #potplantporn #silverfallsandsaltbush

 

1. Lunch with a Really Nice Guy. 

We had a 96% match on OKCupid. During pre-date banter phase, he offered to send me a cup of chamomile tea in an Uber. It’s the most pragmatic/romantic offer I’ve ever received online.

We sat on stools with backs near a bar at the window at the Moroccan Deli-cacy, both facing outwards to the street, avoiding the awkward ‘avoiding eye-contact forced staring at each other across a table’ situation. I’m a massive advocate for both parties facing the same direction while conversing. Try it! To improve conversation with your younger brother, try watching telly together and talking in the ads! To improve conversations with teenagers you’re trying to mentor, try driving them somewhere and yarning in the car!

Back to the Deli, where our initially polite conversation deteriorates into a detailed account of his recent purchase of a washing machine. I begin to question the reasons people decide to tell certain stories in these circumstances –  when you’re trying to impress or connect with someone who you might want to later pash or date or sleep with or enter a partnership with or eventually move in with and co-parent some pot plants with. This will become a recurring theme. More on monologues later.

The food is delicious. I spill it on myself. Three times. He doesn’t mention it. He seems like a Really Nice Guy. He won’t end up being my boyfriend but perhaps a RNG was exactly what I needed after a long time between online dating drinks.

He pays for lunch. I always offer to split bills but hey, I’m a student so I’m not gunna fight antiquated chivalry too hard. Even when I graduate I never have and never will earn as much as these blokes do. Gender pay gap aside, I’m a bloody teacher/artist, they’re a bloody dentist/Department of Immigration employee/IT contractor in the finance industry. Side note: if you’re that ashamed of working for a bank that you consistently refer to your place of work as ‘the finance industry’ and refuse to say the word ‘bank,’ maybe you shouldn’t be working for a bank? More on devastating career choices later.

We wander down the road to look at some indoor pot plants. It feels too soon, like the equivalent of watching ‘What to expect when you’re expecting’ or going to a pet shop. Neither of us buy anything. He texts me later, not to suggest another date but to say thanks, which I find very classy and reciprocate.

No pash. No second date.

 

2. A contemporary dance show with another Really Nice Guy (RNG)

Another OkCupid over 90% matcher, who I’d been in vaguely in touch with for a few months.  Facebook friends (feel free to become one here!) will have got the scoop on this already, so skip ahead if you cbf re-living the magic. Ha.

I had a nice enough time watching and then discussing the show over a glass of champagne. I decided pretty early on that I didn’t want to take things further and began to dread the inevitable moment when next steps were discussed. Do you want to go for a walk? Which really means: do you want to spend more time with me now? Which really means: are you attracted to me? All of these were asked with the extension of a hand, an open palm, that after trying to laugh off I took in mine.

The whole time we walked along that somewhat romantic St Kilda Pier I was furious with myself. I didn’t want to be walking along that pier. I didn’t want to be holding that man’s hand. So why the hell was I? Was it that I didn’t want to be rude, or didn’t know how to be honest and respectful at the same time? I’d just spent a month working with teenage girls, talking about being strong independent women. What a hypocrite! I couldn’t even tell a polite man I didn’t want to hold his hand.

People often comment on the bravery of online dating. Of putting yourself out there, assuming the act of asking is the courageous part. When perhaps the bit that takes the most guts is looking someone in the eye when you’re asked the question and saying no. Knowing how to pick up on the signals your body is giving you, those gut feelings. Knowing how to listen to your instincts. Having the courage to be honest and real, but with kindness and grace, acknowledging that being vulnerable and strong is hard for both of us.

He texted afterwards to invite me to another show. I said I’d be glad of a show buddy but didn’t feel anything more towards him. I tried to push the chorus of ‘Nice Guys Finish Last‘ out of my head. Then wondered which dating apps the punks used. The hippies. The artists. The bushwalkers. The birdwatchers. The poets. Anyone but the Really Nice Guys.

No pash. No second date.

 

3. Afternoon drink with a Conversationalist

Another OKCupid high percentage match, who I’d bantered with a bit earlier in the year. He texts me 15 minutes early and I reply I’m running 5 mins late. I’m perpetually late so early people make me feel guilty. This doesn’t bode well, but when I arrive I can’t find him. Then he arrives with shopping bags in hand – excellent! Instead of sitting around fuming he amused himself! He gleefully shows me his purchases – we’re back on track.

That track runs smoothly and joyfully for a good hour and a half. I’m not sure if I was just excited that good banter with babes does still exist, or if I just have always found conversational competence an extremely attractive quality. But man alive did it feel good! I was asked questions about myself! My jokes were laughed at! His stories made me want to know more!

I have never had a bad first date at the Kent St bar on Smith Street in Fitzroy and this was no exception. The tunes there are consistently good, the decor is old in a good way and the bar staff remain friendly even when they twig that you’re obviously on a first date.

When farewelling him I said “Hey, I’d really like to see you again. Whaddayareckon?”  A second date was mutually accepted as a good idea but no solid plans made.

No pash. Second date has yet to occur, despite my not very subtle prompting texts.

 

PS: The good thing about playing the numbers game, is you can never get too excited or depressed about any one date or person, because you’ve got plenty more lined up in the wings. Before I went to sleep the day I dated that Conversationalist, I went on two more dates, not with RNGS but with a Wild Card and an Orator. More on those tomorrow. Yep, tomorrow! – DD

Rain

Dear Readers,

The thing about deserts is they can be dry as all get out for months, years even, but when it rains it bloody pours. Then all those hardy as hell seeds that have patiently lain dormant all that time burst through the soil and bloom something beautiful. That beauty stretches up towards the sun and remembers what it’s like to dance in the breeze. It’s catching. It still somehow knows what to do, even if it was starting to forget the infinite possibilities of where to grow and how incredibly delightful it could be. Wildflowers spread across the undulating plains until the red dirt is painted in ridiculously glorious purples, whites, yellows and pinks and dustbowls become fields of soccer-field green grass. 

The land, the world, the whole fucken universe is indeed a strange and wonderful place full of magic and poetry and fuck it’s good to be alive! 

Last week there was a week of really high temperatures here in the city. True. Not in a metaphor way but actually hot weather. It’s a different heat here to the humid Pilbara or dry old Alice. Then this week, one afternoon the cool change came through, as storm clouds gathered and the wind picked up. Then it hit, a heavy downfall that turned my street briefly into a creek, bringing the neighbours out to stand on their front porches and film it with their smartphones, then it was over, leaving leaves behind all of our car tyres. 

Today the sun’s back out and there’s a lovely cool breeze. I’m sitting in the hallowed La Trobe Reading Room at the State Library of Victoria – my old creative haven. I’m sitting next to an old friend from the desert, both tapping away at our laptops and occasionally chortling quietly at dumb memes. 

Y’all are probably reading between these very obvious lines and deducing that good things are clearly happening in my neck of the woods. So much is happening that I don’t know quite where to start. There are so many stories to share – some lows, some highs, some gratefuls, some lolz, some ‘can you believe these bland af blokes’, some ‘what a douchebag’ stories and some ‘it was the hottest thing ever’ stories. Some of those aren’t my stories to tell – the lame shit dudes use as their opening lines – seem like easy targets and cheap laughs at someone else’s expense. My stories are still evolving and I’m bloody excited about them. I’m drafting them, I promise! They’re on their way! 

I know it’s cruel to tease like this, but after so many lonely and sad and real and true blog posts from small towns I wanted to share with y’all that shit is going really well here in the city.

I’m in the right place.

The time is right. 

Thanks for sticking with me. 

More soon, I swear! 

Yours excitedly, 

-DD

 

Chemistry

Dear Readers,

It’s been a while but it’s summer in the city and I’m back! If you’re new here, welcome! Get your bearings here or just dive straight in.

I hope you’re all real well.

 

It’s good to be back.

 

Fond Regards,

 

-DD

Yesterday’s dates began with riding my bike in the heat around the corner to a date at The Great Northern hotel with a man I met on OKCupid. We had a 94% match and had hiking profile pictures. Similar level of education. Looks good on paper.

The thing with chemistry is you know of its existence or lack thereof within 3 seconds of meeting someone face to face, in real life, in the flesh. I’m sure it’s a chemical thing. If it ain’t there then the banter had better be good and the moves had better be smooth. Confidence and quick wit can go a long way.

So as I walk into the pub and scan the faces, looking for someone who also looks like they’re looking for someone, my heart drops a little when a bearded man waves. It only drops a little though, and looks forward to lifting. For the next hour and a half it will try its damnedest to looks for reasons to lift.

He bakes: lift! He’s a playwright: lift! He WAS a playwright and then gave up ‘the arts thing’ for a job at the immigration department that he ‘just fell into with a whole lot of other smart but lazy people who couldn’t be bothered to find something else’…. sink.

I use my latest line: ‘I’m just going to check the time because I said I’d meet some friends of mine… oh crikey in half an hour! I’d better head off but thanks for the soda!’

I ride home and check my phone. A babin’ carpenter on the soon-to-be-deleted Plenty of Fish app has invited me to the night markets. POF has no percentage match function and I have little in common with this bloke but he has a winning grin in his pictures and I want company at this gig. So I convince him to come to a storytelling gig instead at Buck Mulligans, an Irish Whiskey bar in Northcote.

A dear friend introduced me to Mulligans in winter when the fireplace was roaring and cosy nooks were aplenty. It’s a different vibe tonight, with a PA set up and everyone respectfully listening to cute anecdotes about Christmas. This ain’t no Moth, but there’s nice lighting.

I’m standing near a bookcase scanning the crowd when in from the beer garden wanders a man with a winning grin. I use another new line that seems to work when I can’t remember the name of who I’m meeting or if I can’t match their face to their photos, ‘Are you who I’m looking for?’

He’s a babe.

The heart soars.

We sit close.

It’s there. The easy laughs. The conversation that flows effortlessly without the need for questions about our jobs or families or Christmas plans. The strong desire to reach out and touch his face. The feeling when our hands brush as we share a whiskey, or when my his knee touches my thigh under the table.

At about 11 I tell him I’m going to see Star Wars at midnight with my housemate (who is now really my friend). I offer him a lift to North Melbourne, or halfway there, and we start wandering to my car. I really want to pash this guy. When I’m about ten metres from my car I check my phone. It’s 11.27! I told my housemate I’d pick her up at 11.30! I panic. I rescind my offer to give him a lift, give him a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek and race to my car, firing off an apologetic ‘I’m on my way’ message to my friend.

When I get to my house I send him an apologetic message, “Things I should have done: 1/ given you a lift halfway and 2/ kissed you goodbye properly.” As we drive to the movies my mate wonders if it’s like Murphy’s Law. Maybe the best way to get a hot date who you want to pash is to organise an activity afterwards that could prevent you from pashing on.

By the time we get to the cinema he hasn’t replied to my text. Did I screw this up? These doubts fade as Star Wars excitement build. Popcorn! Peanut M&Ms! Being at the mall at midnight! Reclining cinema seats! Adam from girls! Carrie Fisher! Intergalactic shoot em ups! Light sabre fights!

As the credits roll I check my phone. “Enjoy the movie. We’ll kiss properly next time.”

A Paradox

I’ve got nothing to write.

I could seek out things to write about, but I’m finding fewer reasons to share.

I stopped writing because life was exciting but still real and raw and related to some of you, My Dear Old Readers. I didn’t want to be a dick in a small town.

Then I found I didn’t have any other stories to share. No moments worth capturing. The best part of my day would be looking at my phone and realising there’s still enough time before bed time to watch another episode of House of Cards. Eating a piece of I Love Chocolate Torched Macadamia Dark Chocolate. Having enough light and good weather to go for a run in. Pruning the lemon tree.

Then I was bored by my own brain. I found I’d already written anything I wanted to say. I sat down with my sadness and stared it in the face. It was a deep, abiding, gentle sadness born of loneliness. I thought and felt and decided again to leave small towns and study teaching. I thought a lot of thoughts but they had no beginning, middle or end and they were nothing new. They were all about myself. I got so bored of being sad that stress became a haven. I’d throw myself into work, stimulated by anxiety. That pattern now repeats itself less often and to less extremes. I feel more hopeful and have genuine moments of connectedness and joy.

No stories though.

I started to think the validation I sought from my carefully curated online persona was not ultimately satisfying in a long lasting way. Perhaps it fed an unhealthy narcissism.

I read David Brooks’ ‘The Road To Character’, which challenged and solidified things. Namely that not everything about ourselves – about myself – is inherently good. I’m not a unique snowflake, my inner core is not a beautiful precious sunflower that needs constant showering with self love and affection. Our character is something we must actively cultivate, prune and shape. Being the best we can be can only come by striving against the parts of ourselves that aren’t so great, our struggle against sin. A meaningful vocation is one driven by a love and commitment to the craft itself rather than the fruits of that labour – approval, esteem, money.

My main motivation for sharing my writing seemed more self-serving than not, more about making myself feel good than making others feel anything or do anything, nor was it about devoting myself to the craft of writing. My secret childish dreams of turning all this writing into a memoir seemed rather self involved and lame now, feeding an ego driven desire to be famous.

I’ve written before, “If I die, I hope my fucking legacy isn’t just a bunch of badly written stories about bad dates.”

I’m trying to focus my creativity and curiosity outwards, rather than inwards. There are more stories in the world than mine, maybe I’ll help tell those someday. For now, I’ll dedicate myself towards a different vocation. I went to the uni open day today. Now I’m sitting in the La Trobe Reading Room at the State Library. I want to learn how to be a really good teacher. I want to be a good human.

This isn’t the end of the ol’ DD, just gunna keep giving it a rest for a while. I wish you all well and I thank you for your patience and gentle support over the years.

With much love,

-DD

Being alone in public

I’m sitting upstairs at the RSL at a table for one. It’s a big room with a wooden floor and a low roof. It has fluro lighting. It feels like the mess halls in the Pilbara, except with more old people and families and no hi-viz. There’s no serve yourself buffet, you have to order your schnitty at the bar. Instead of listening to the big screen TVs blaring Masterchef, there’s Anthony Callea on repeat.

 

A few weeks ago I threw myself a party here in Tasmania, down the road in a shearing shed. It was an excellent party. I sung and danced and everybody danced and had a good time. At one point I was singing ‘You’ve got a friend’ and everyone was waving their arms in time and singing along to the words I had printed out on signs and I just milked it for as long as I could and we all repeated that line over and over, louder and louder. In that moment I had a few thoughts simultaneously:

1) I love everyone in this room

2) They all love me

3) Maybe, just like happiness, maybe sometimes loneliness is a choice. Maybe all I have to do is call.

4) I really love this place. As lonely as I sometimes am here, I love this community, these people, this place.

5) It’s going to be really hard to leave, and I’d better be damned sure I really want to.

I spread the glow of that party for as long as possible – calling friends and reliving the memories and only looking at a few photos of the party each week.

 

 

It lasted three weeks. Now I’m sitting in this fluro lit RSL listening to Anthony fucking Callea. The idea of giving this up and moving to the city to increase my likelihood of meeting suitable men seems somehow more plausible now, although it still feels lame and desperate. Maybe no one’s really judging me. Maybe it’s just me. Realising I’m an adult now. This is real, adult life. Right now. I’m living it.

 

Six years ago I wrote:

30 used to seem so far away. All the things I thought I would have achieved by then – a house, a husband and a child. I guess if that shit was still my priority, I wouldn’t be ‘wasting my time’ in barren Alice Springs. I know that I’ll be single for as long as I’m here. I’m still ‘too busy’ to settle down.

 

I’ve been looking over everything I’ve written over the last fifteen years, like a high school student scanning a key text for overarching narrative through-lines, plotting character development and identifying key themes.

Two years ago I wrote from the Pilbara:

I can’t wait for friends and family to just be a normal part of my life again. Not something that I get excited about for weeks in advance.

 

Last year, after I’d only been in Tasmania for a month, I wrote:

I’m already lonely. I forgot how hard it is starting over. Maybe it’s different this time, maybe I’m leaving behind more than I’m moving toward. Maybe work is no longer enough, maybe I know my gypsy days are numbered.

 

I know that Melbourne won’t be an easy answer.

At the end of last year I sat upstairs at the Thousand Pound Bend in Melbourne, alone in public like I am now, but with better ambience. I wrote:

I used to think that drinking alone in public was a bit fucken miserable.

This used to be the place where I danced in the dark at No Lights No Lycra. Now it’s dimly lit with lots of dark wood and maroon leather and old books. Some strangers are laughing softly in a booth nearby. There’s some foliage in a glass jar and a candle on my table in between my laptop and my whiskey.

This miserableness isn’t as loud as anxiety. It’s a quiet, gentle hum in the background that I only tune into when all the noise of being around friends, being busy at work and stimulated when I visit the city.

I don’t know if it’s small town blues, work that sometimes brings more weight than wonder, being on the edge of learning, nostalgia, saying goodbye to my grandmothers, realizing my parents are no longer my moral compass or that those happy free single art babe women I looked up to maybe aren’t as happy as I always thought they were.

Maybe I just need to run more and meditate and do the self-care things. Or maybe I just need to sit with this feeling. Listen to what it’s trying to tell me.

Perhaps I already know. Perhaps it’s been telling me the same thing for the past nine years.

That I don’t want to be alone any more.

That what I want now, more than anything else, is to share my life with someone. More than I want to do interesting work. More than I want to be near my family and friends. Maybe whatever I do, wherever I go, this vague sense of emptiness will follow, if I keep travelling, on my own.

I’m ok about being a bit miserable. I’m mostly ok with being alone. But maybe my faith in the idea that I won’t be alone for much longer wavers sometimes, when my joyful hope that it will end gives way to pragmatism.

Being alone takes faith.

It takes courage and strength.

Tonight, it also takes cheap Irish whiskey, a candle and some softly laughing strangers nearby.

 

 

Yesterday I went back to the shearing shed where I held my party. My 30th birthday. I found this sign on the floor where I’d left it, as if the universe knew I needed reminding that even when you’re alone…

 

you've got a friend

Top 5 Posts of 2015

Dear Readers,

Welcome to 2016 y’all! I spent my first waking hours of the first day of this year crawling out of a tent on top of a mountain and looking at the sun rise over the Brindabella Ranges. I took some photos, sat on a rock for a bit and tried to meditate, ate muesli, then hiked outta there with my parents.

 

IMG_4122

 

Could I get any more fucken wholesome right now?

I don’t really do resolutions, I might pick a word for this year at some point, so for those of you who want summink real inspirational, read this thing and just get on with it.

So Operation #puttingitallouttherein2015 is probably officially over. I’ve been trawling through fifteen years of my own writing, trying to make peace with the chapters already written before I write the next ones. Like a high school student cramming for an English exam, scanning their prescribed text for overarching narrative through-lines, plotting character development and identifying key themes. One of those themes was loneliness, but that’s a bigger story for another time.

For now, here’s my recap of my writing year. Pretty self indulgent I know but whatevz y’guys, it’s my blog. This may only appeal to the die hard DD fans (I know there are at least two of you), so apologies to those who aren’t interested in the stories behind this year’s 5 Most Popular Stories. Youse can go read that inspirational link instead.

1) That one where I thought I had cervical cancer (Spoiler: I don’t)

The piece that got the biggest response last year was this one.  I held on to it for ages. Then I stopped blogging for a few months to just work solidly on it with an editor. I had so many hopes and fears for it when I finally pushed the publish button on WordPress.

A bunch of you, you regular Very Dear Readers who are part of the the DD community, sent me private messages sharing your own stories and feelings. I always get a thrill when people let me know something I’ve written has resonated with them. That’s what storytelling is, right? Making people feel or think? Sharing our experiences to communally make sense of them? To put ideas and feelings out there so they can be validated or challenged?

I knew lots of us had similar experiences but we weren’t talking about them. I was confused about fitting my empowered young liberated woman vibes into my Catholic upbringing and family values. I was confused about having flings for the first time in my late twenties, about having to face the possibility of infertility when I thought my work and my art were my priorities. I was confused about living in such a sex-positive culture, that encouraged women to be sexually empowered ethical sluts, but didn’t really talk heaps about sexual health. A culture that didn’t really offer much sympathy to anyone with sexually transmitted infections because it was ‘their choice to bring it upon themselves,’ but did sympathise with those whose choices with drugs like alcohol, meth and cigarettes led to injury or illness. Some people take risks in their cars, in hang gliders, in pubs. I took risks in the bedroom.

Is it our families or our culture that leads to these feelings of shame around sexual health?

How can we be sexually empowered and responsible? How do you have an honest respectful conversation that will still lead to sex, when you’re naked and a dude says ‘Yeah but it just feels so much better without a franger.’ How can we talk about this stuff without being boner killers? Is it about offering your own status in the hopes that they will too? “Aww man, this is perfect, you’re a total babe, there’s ambient lighting, nice music and I had an STI test last week so I know I’m not going to give you anything, conditions are perfect!

Some stories you craft lovingly for months before setting them free, some stories just pour out of you into cyberspace and you’ve got no way of predicting if it’s going to hit any notes with anyone, anywhere.

2) The one about the flood

This one was the second most popular post this year. It was the simplest and quickest to write. I didn’t know the young people I wrote about very well, but everyone we meet becomes part of our story in a small or a big way.

Toward the end of the year I wrote more about death after watching my grandmothers die. These posts didn’t get as much of a response, but they were intensely personally and totally cathartic and also very easy and quick to write.

 

3) The ones about The Author who vomited on the boat to Tasmania

Oh man. Remember this guy? Who, in response to my four part story, started up his own blog devoted to telling his own side of the saga? Who taught us all not to forget all our instincts just because someone says YOLO?

I try to blog ethically. I should rephrase that: I blog ethically when it suits me. Some men I date I end up spending a lot of time with, I get to know them pretty well and care a lot about them. When I write about these men I always share what I write with them before I post it online. I think that’s common courtesy and basic respect to give people a chance to respond before it’s in the public domain.

The Author published his final two blogs about me before showing me. They included a photograph of me and detailed descriptions of things we did in bed. He removed them once I asked him to, but I was shocked that ‘common’ courtesy perhaps was not so common.

There are two types of men who appear in this blog who I’ve not shared my writing with: a) babes who I totally want to see again some day, and b) babes who would be impossible to write about honestly if I knew they’d read it. In both cases I try to disguise their identity completely, resist writing too much about them and only write what I would be confident to say to them if I saw them in person after I’d had a whisky.

 

4) The one where my teenage heart is dramatically broken overseas

These posts didn’t get a massive response, but for me, they were a pretty fucken big deal to write. I’d been holding on to that story for ten years!

I don’t feel this writing was me at my vulnerable, honest best. As I wrote it, I knew I’d be sharing the story with the man who featured in it, so I held back. It was painful to write and I knew it would be painful to read.

 

5) The one that has a photo of an animal made out of a vegetable

Possibly my most popular post of all time! There must be a lack of photos of animals made out of vegetables online! This post was really about me trying to pick up an organic farmer at the Karratha Agricultural Show two years ago! It consistently comes up in the search terms people use to find this blog, along with:

  • Where to meet single hipster men in Melbourne (lots of variations on this theme, including ‘Why are there so many hipsters in Melbourne?’ ‘Where can I pick up cute guys in Melbourne?’ and ‘How do I meet middle aged singles in Fitzroy?’)
  • Whatever boils your potato
  • Nigerian girls latest swag
  • Swag dance shag
  • First date ideas Karratha (someone is getting lucky!)
  • Mariah Carey in Alice Springs (someone is getting disappointed!) 
  • FIFO Dad poems
  • Lonely outback woman looking for a relationship
  • Could a Mormon breakdance? (My personal favourite from 2013)
  • Sample Hat Made Out Of Vegetables (lots of variations again, including ‘I want vegetable bird images please’ and my personal favourite ‘Vegabal animal’)

So there you have it. 2015 in a tidy little nutshell. I reckon I’ll be getting stuck into another longer piece which might take a while. Thanks for sticking with me, for getting involved and commenting here or on Facebook

Wishing you all good dates and great stories in 2016!

With love and thanks,

-DD

 

reflection in river photo

Rare selfie reflected in some remote Tasmanian river