Sting.

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I got stung by a bee today. It crawled inside my shirt and, presumably alarmed, proceeded to sting me firmly on the back of my neck, losing his stinger -and life -in the process.
As I awkwardly held an ice pack on the raised lump caused by his tiny injection of venom I realised that I have been stung by something else; another slow moving poison that is spreading leisurely through my branching veins, slowly but surely enveloping me with a toxic grip.
I haven’t been able to put my finger on that feeling, the something’s-not-quite-right sense of unease that has followed me of late, lurking over my shoulder just outside of my peripheral vision but close enough to make me crane my neck a little in vain in the hopes of a glimpse. Something inside me has shifted, and my happiness has disappeared, at first under the guise of stress, but now, unmistakably, just…missing.
I have a broken heart.
Of that I am completely sure.
Exactly how, or when it happened, I really don’t know. How to fix it? I can’t begin to guess.

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Rage-Crying

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I’m furious right now. I am so freaking mad I just want to violently flip the bird to everything and everyone with my jaw thrust forward, teeth clenched and my tongue pressed fiercely to my lower palate as though poised to spit venom on anyone who would dare come into the path of my wrath. What makes me madder, though, is that instead of punching, kicking, screaming or otherwise demonstrating the depths of my rage through some kind of physical brutishness, I feel compelled to cry.

I am so fucking sick of angry tears. Girls all over the world be rage-crying, and it is the most infuriating thing ever. I am angry because I have been made to feel insignificant, inferior and lesser-than compared to my male counterparts. I am irate that I have experienced sexism, though executed with complete subtlety, endorsed by people I have to answer to on a daily basis. I am poisonous with the indignation that my ideas, opinions and knowledge are considered insignificant enough to be talked over and brushed aside with the dismissive gesture of a father annoyed with a child’s presence. I do NOT want to cry about it. I want to punch about it. I want to punch faces. I want to punch crotches. I want to punch walls. I want to punch everything. I do not want to cry.

Why can’t my body understand that? Why is it that as soon as the shaking, white-hot tremor of rage passes through my body it clenches my jaw, sets my fists and stings at my eyes? Why do I feel the sudden rush of saliva that tells me that saltwater will soon pool in my lower lids, threatening to spill over and reduce me to nothing more than the well-worn image of a hysterical woman, unable to control her emotions, incapable of responding rationally to the situation at hand? THIS IS THE WORST.

Ladies, I know you’re feeling me. Our brains have the hot spits of fury, and our eyes are slopping out tears. There is no way to cover it up; the frenzied blinking below a harshly drawn brow and fevered chewing of the inside of our cheeks and lower lip are a dead give away that we are mere seconds away from a full-blown rage-cry.

We need to get our top scientists working on a cure. Stat. No longer should women be forced to suffer the humiliation of our bodies responding so meekly to the strength and ire in our heads and hearts.

The whole thing makes me so angry I could cry…

 

When Sex Isn’t Sex

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It amazes me that people are able to separate sex from emotions. I’ve tried having Friends With Benefits before with varying degrees of success, but invariably at some point my vagina convinces my brain that all of those endorphins must actually mean something, and I end up wanting more. Eventually the sex just isn’t enough. For me, this starts to occur around the third or fourth consecutive encounter with the same person. My vagina (which I like to personify with the name ‘Ophelia’) becomes increasingly despotic after each orgasm, and eventually she has me thinking things like, “Who cares if he’s a 21 year old factory worker who sells weed to pay for his Ketamine habit- I think we might actually have something special.” (NB this is an actual thought I have had when Ophelia was running the show. I legitimately considered starting a relationship with someone I would be ashamed to introduced to even my least judgemental friends.)

Of course once the spell is broken – in the case of my tranquilliser-addicted delinquent friend this was with the aid of a mutual case of “OMG, you gave me chlamydia!” – I am perfectly capable of objectively and rationally analysing the faults in Ophelia’s plans. At that point I usually want to die of embarrassment or slap myself in frustration – a classic “How the fuck did this happen again?” moment. But it does happen again. And it will happen again. Every time I sleep with someone who isn’t emotionally invested more than once.

I think part of the problem is the difference between what men and women take from intimacy. Generally speaking, I think guys commit acts of intimacy and affection because they feel nice, not because they mean something. Sometimes a dude just wants a cuddle, not a commitment. The issue is that acts of intimacy force me to lower my guard and make myself vulnerable, so a cuddle is never just a cuddle. It will always mean something to me because I’ve allowed someone in. And yes, I am aware of the irony in the fact that I find it more intimate to let someone in figuratively than to literally let them in (to my lady cave of wonders).

I see a big difference between sex and intimacy, and every time the two get mixed together I wind up in a stolen car halfway to Queensland watching my FWB dig a bullet out of his leg while Ophelia screams “Just drive, bitch!” (Okay, that one I made up. But you get my point.) Sex + intimacy = uh oh. As nice as it is, the hand holding/hair stroking/head kissing/face cupping/deep eye contact just creates way too much confusion.

The other sense of intimacy is the one that occurs naturally between platonic friends. It’s normal for a friend to rest their head on your shoulder, or text you to ask how your day was, or say something sweet to make you smile. But it stops feeling normal when the person doing all of these things is also doing all yo’ nasty bizness.

The verdict? It’s possible I could successfully maintain a FWB in the future. As long as he’s a mute with no arms who doesn’t own a phone and hates unnecessary physical contact. Bring on that guy. I’ll sex him good.

Things Single People Want You to Stop Saying to Them

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I’m single. I’ve been single for over two years now, following nearly 9 years of steady not-singleness.

I enjoy my life. I am having more fun now than I’ve ever had. I’m satisfied with how things are but I’m still open to possibilities and change. I don’t feel like I need a relationship, but I’d be open to one with the right person. So people gotta stop hitting me up with questions and statements like these…

(Note: Not a fan of sarcasm? Stop reading.)

1. How come you’re still single?

Ummm… I’m not sure. I’m fundamentally unloveable, I guess. That and I have really ugly feet. Seriously, how am I meant to answer that? The implication is, of course, that I should be in a relationship. Well, let me get right on that by steadily dating the next guy I meet for eight and a half years, all the while reminding myself that my complete lack of joy is ‘normal’ and that ‘this is what people do.’ Cause that worked out so well the first time.

2. You’re so lucky. You can sleep with whoever you want!

Ok, firstly it’s whomever I want. And secondly, OMG WHO TOLD YOU?! You’ve stumbled across the biggest secret of the universe. Yes, simply by being single I have inherited a magic power that enables me to bed all of the handsome and otherwise desirable men who cross my path. One bat of the eyes and they succumb to my will. My only problem is deciding which male model to go home with. “A single woman who wants to sleep with me?” they all think. “Well, there’s just no way of knowing if I’ll ever find one of those again! Better go home with this one just in case.” This is why I’ve slept with so many successful businessmen-slash-humanitarians who look like Hugh Jackman, play cello and spend every other weekend in a log cabin that they built themselves with their strong yet tender hands, and have never hooked up with a chubby, chinos-wearing hobbit in a bunk bed.

3. I wish I was single.

BREAK UP. Problem solved. Oh, what was that? You don’t really want to be single because you love your partner and they love you, it’s just sometimes you wish that your life had fewer responsibilities and more freedom and you want to have your cake and eat it too? Well fuck you. I wish I was shorter. But I don’t really want to stop standing out in crowds and being able to reach stuff on the highest shelf in the pantry without a step-ladder, I just want my pants to fit better. We all got our wishes.

4. Have you tried online dating?

What even is that? I’ve been living in an Amish community for the past ten years and had no idea that people were now using social media as well as specifically designed websites to communicate with one another for the purposes of dating! What a revolution. It must be so easy to find your lifelong love these days – he’s only one click away! That is, if you don’t mind sifting through thousands of boring, stupid or inappropriate messages and requests from guys who pose with their cars and take shirtless bathroom selfies (the mirror kind, where you can see their phone) for their profile pics only to convince yourself that it’s not a compromise to date a guy who wears sneakers with jeans even though he is a lot heavier than he appeared in his picture, and that the relationship that he has with his mother is super normal and you’re so glad she’s joining you at the drive-in cinema tonight and no, of course you don’t mind sitting in the back because mother needs the lumbar support of the passenger seat for her bad back. *sigh* Yes. I’ve tried online dating.

5. Are you putting yourself out there?

What the hell does this mean? Do I go out to places where other single people will be? Yes. (It’s called “the world.” I live there.) Do I brush my teeth before I go out to these places? Usually. Am I ‘approachable’? …Huh? Lost me there. Am I a horse now? Are the men afraid that if they come towards me from the wrong angle or make a sudden move I’ll get skittish and kick them? I’m a girl in a bar wearing makeup and smiling who’s not standing with a guy. Pretty sure that makes me ‘approachable’.

6. Don’t worry. You’ll meet someone.

Oh, good! I’m so glad you said that. For a moment there I thought I’d never meet anyone! You’ve obviously worked out that the main cause of worry in my life is the fact that I am single, and that I am super obsessed with the idea of meeting someone, because, lets face it, no one who is single could actually be happy in themselves or feel like a complete person. You’ve taken a real weight off my shoulders. I no longer have any reason to feel worried. You are the best.

7. Maybe you’re too picky.

Yes, you’re right. An unintelligent, slovenly uggo like me should really start casting my net a little bit wider if I’ll have any hope of finding a man who will be willing to love me despite my many and obvious flaws. I absolutely should stop valuing myself and ignoring any obvious absence of chemistry or common ground in favour of just getting me a gosh-dang boyfriend already. From now on it’s rooster time, boys: any-cock’ll-do.

8. It will happen when you least expect it.

So will the backhander you’re eventually going to force me to give you. Hope you’re not too attached to your teeth.

Nostalgia

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Sitting on my lounge room floor, teaching myself the riff from Tomorrow by Silverchair while Season 4 of ‘Friends’ plays on the TV in the background is a recipe for nostalgia. Throw in a bad fringe that I cut myself that does not flatter my face shape and a cantaloupe scented LipSmackers lip gloss and I’m all the way back in Year 9.

I’ve been feeling nostalgic a lot lately. As I inch towards entering the final year of my twenties (yes, soon my apltly named blog will become my ironically named blog) I’ve become very aware of things that I no longer have. I miss my best friend, who I used to spend almost every afternoon and weekend with and now hardly get to see because of our mutually busy lives. I miss dedicating hours a day to practicing singing, playing guitar and writing songs because I didn’t have a bunch of ‘more important’ things to get done. I miss having a long-term partner and a dog, both of whom I could rely on for the kind of unconditional love that recharges your soul when you’re completely flat. I miss living in a crazy share house with seven other people and scraping together enough money for a $12 pub meal on a Thursday night and still miraculously having enough change left over for a few rounds of shots because it’s Uni Night. Most of all, I miss the feeling that my life was only just beginning, and that it could and would take me anywhere I wanted.

When I decided to leave my ex, it was because I had become aware that I was unhappy. I felt like I was being swept along in life like an insect clinging to a leaf in a river, just resigned to the fact that there was no getting off until the current eventually bumped me into the sticks and debris on the bank, never thinking to actually open my wings and fly. When I eventually made the decision to get off that little floating leaf, it felt good. I spread my wings for a while and really flew, all the while aware of the foaming current below me and that one false move could send me to a watery death. Then my wings got tired. I grabbed onto the foliage of an overhanging tree for a breather, and before I knew it I had floated right back down into that river.

I don’t know what I want, and I am so full of fear that I don’t even know how to think about getting it. But I am tired of pretending to be happy.

And I need to get off this god damned leaf before it sweeps me right out into the ocean.

Over

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Regular readers of my blog may have noticed that the posts have dried up a little of late and have contained very little in the way of dating exploits. This is because for the last six months I have been wholeheartedly devoted to a crush I developed on a friend of a friend. Let’s call him Mark. It’s not his real name. I’ve changed it to protect his privacy, which when you think about it is a kind of weird thing to do because anyone that reads this who knows both of us will know exactly who I am talking about. Anyway, we’ll call this the tale of my fruitless crush on Mark. (Sorry for the spoiler. But no, it doesn’t end well.)

Things began harmlessly enough when after a friend’s celebration drinks Mark and I engaged in a night of heavy-duty dance floor pashing, which developed into some lightweight grinding and a mutual admission that we were gagging to go through with the deed, had either of us been sober enough to carry it out. We exchanged numbers, he texted that night and again the next day, and I proceeded to plan our wedding in the spring of next year and worked out how to break the news to mum and dad that I’d fallen for a ginger. Well, maybe not. But you get the idea – I was falling hard and fast, and as the girls from Geordie Shore would say, there was definite ‘fanny flutter.’

We went on a date two weeks later, a stroll around the museum followed by a walk through the park and an afternoon drink in a beer garden. I was more nervous and more awkward than I have ever been on a date. More convinced than ever that I liked him, I was frustrated by the fact that he was so impossible to read. Blessed with a string of awkward social conditions, Mark’s on-date cues were not like those of other guys. I had no idea if he was interested in me beyond the initial attraction we’d felt that first night. I spent the walk back to my car shedding actual tears of frustration, genuinely unsure whether the date had been a total success or a complete failure.

In the meantime Mark’s fledgling career as a full-time entertainer (nothing suss, I just don’t want to put his actual job title on here because then even more people will know exactly who I’m talking about) began to take off. He was busy with gigs every night and filming for various projects during the day. He had been booked on a tour around parts of Australia that would take the better part of a month and would be heading overseas to perform for another month after that. Our second date was supposed to take place a few days before his tour left but he sent me a text a few hours beforehand saying he had too much work to do, and asking to reschedule. Taking this as a sign that he was not really as interested or as invested as I was, I pulled the pin by replying with a text that said we might be better off leaving things as friends. He was very apologetic but confirmed that he was really too busy to catch up before leaving but that we should stay in touch.

About a month later he was still on my mind as I meticulously groomed and dressed myself to attend a mutual friend’s party. I’d kept in touch with some light banter and Facebook stalking and was secretly hoping he would be there. I feel it’s important to inform you here that somehow in the midst of this crush I reverted to the sensibilities and emotional vulnerability of a high school girl, which might help you to understand some of my behaviour and thought processes outlined below.

Mark walked in late, after a gig, by which time I had gotten completely drunk in an effort to overcome the fact that I only knew two people at the party and was mingling with people I had seen on TV but trying to pretend I wasn’t giddy over meeting. He made a beeline for me as soon as he arrived and stuck to me like glue. Before I knew it, he was leading me upstairs to make out on his friend’s bed until – shamefully – we were politely asked to cut it out and come back downstairs. I was stoked that he was still interested. He confessed that he’d been stalking me on Facebook too (romantic, I thought) and had missed me while he’d been gone. But I was determined not to return to that unknown quagmire of middle ground with him, especially after rolling around on a bed upstairs at a party. I needed some form of assurance. I wanted us to be “seeing each other,” not just friends who liked each other and got drunk and made out at parties. His perception of things was slightly (completely) different – he was about to go overseas for the first time, he wasn’t sure what was going to happen, couldn’t we just have fun? No. No, we couldn’t – because I actually liked him and it would make me feel used. As I got up to walk away I fell for the oldest trick in the book: I like you too. I want to be with you.

Ecstatic, I continued to mingle at the party, convinced that we had reached a mutual agreement, that we were now officially “seeing each other.” As I excitedly relayed this news to my friend Luce, she gently grasped my arm and looked at me with earnest and sorrow. “Amelia. He just tried to kiss me in the other room. I’m so sorry.”

What. The. Fuck. I know I said I felt like I was back in high school, but come on! I wish I could say I laughed it off, shook myself free of those feelings and spent the rest of the party with my dignity intact. I really, really wish I could. Of course, instead I cried. A lot. I was literally so black-out drunk that I don’t remember much of what happened after that point. I was inconsolable. I remember crying in the bathroom, in the kitchen, outside in the alley beside the house (at which point Mark approached in an attempt to either console me or apologise and I screamed at him to ‘fuck off and never touch me again’) in the back garden, in the taxi, in my room. I woke up the next day feeling hurt, humiliated and hungover. My eye sockets were so swollen and puffy they resembled testicles, but at least I was saved by the grace of the memory-loss that accompanies such an extreme level of drunkenness. Until I checked my phone.

It was mortifying.

I had sent him no less than four texts since the shit hit the fan, at which point he had apparently taken my advice to ‘fuck off’ and left the party. They were garbled, juvenile and excruciatingly embarrassing. I immediately deleted my message history and sent a quick text asking him to do the same thing, then I crawled into a hole and died. Later that day he texted back with an apology for getting so out of it and asking if I pulled up ok. Part of me was relieved that he was pretending none of it happened. Part of me was outraged that he wasn’t attempting to explain himself. I was rational enough to figure that there were probably huge chunks of information missing from his memory as well, and I made a decision that I would talk to him when I’d had a few days for everything to settle.

After running the entire scenario past two of my wisest girlfriends and deciding that the best and healthiest option for all concerned was to try and pretend the whole night had never happened, I rang him the following weekend. He admitted that he couldn’t remember much and agreed that it was best to forget the whole thing. He suggested we catch up before his overseas flight which was in a few days time, but I wasn’t ready yet. I told him we’d grab a coffee when he got back.

While he was gone, my hurt disappeared and my feelings returned. I followed his updates on FB and smiled when I saw his face on TV. I went on a few dates with guys I met online but my heart wasn’t in it. I still liked him  a lot. I decided to bite the bullet when he returned and called him to organise a date. Nothing too serious, just an afternoon coffee. I left feeling really positive. It was so nice to see him, we had plenty to talk about, nothing was awkward. I took his flirty banter and the light kiss he planted on my lips as we parted ways as indications that he was still interested. I felt like finally, we were on the same page. I was determined not to get ahead of myself this time but I was excited to be in that particular moment of uncertainty where you feel the possibility of something developing. It was a really nice feeling.

It lasted a bit over two weeks. I attended his birthday drinks last night, excited to see him. I’d carefully chosen the perfect token-and-meaningless-but-secretly-the-result-of-very-careful-planning gift complete with last minute gift-wrapping made from a page out of a Good Guys catalogue. He kissed me on the lips, gave approving looks and complimented my haircut. He seemed to enjoy the gift. He gave me all of three minutes of his time, then proceeded to avoid eye contact with me for the rest of the night.

Luce (ever the bearer of bad news – poor thing!) soon informed me that she’d just been speaking to one of Mark’s colleagues who’d informed her that he had been reveling in his newly found fame, regularly hooking up with a different girl after each gig whilst keeping others (myself included) on the back burner. Obviously this was not the outcome to the evening I was hoping for. I was disappointed; in him, in the way things had turned out, in myself for overlooking the obvious earlier indications that there were serious flaws in his character. I was upset that I’d wasted six months waiting for something that was never going to happen and frustrated that I’d invested so much in someone so undeserving.

Now here’s my problem – how do I get over someone I’ve never actually been under? I feel betrayed even though I haven’t been. I feel like I need closure but I don’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing how much I actually liked (or, more accurately, like – it’s hard to switch that shit off) him.

I made a start last night by leaving without bothering to say goodbye. Oh, and before we left Luce reclaimed the book I’d given him as a birthday gift. Let’s call it a spoil of war.

Losing It

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My dad is losing his mind. He’s always been pretty difficult to navigate, but in the last five years he has gone from being the guy who occasionally repeats a story he told you last week then smirks sheepishly at his mistake to the guy that repeats the same story five or six times in the same weekend while you make increasingly less patient attempts to nod along and humour him. The last time I let him under the bonnet of my car to perform a simple oil change he ended up removing a cooling hose, informing me that it “was pretty much useless anyway.” (Well, no, Dad- it’s probably a vital part of the mechanical integrity of my car, given the fact that it was there in the first place.)

To say that he’s losing his mind might sound like a complete over-statement, and without a lengthy explanation of my father’s mental history it probably is; so to get you up to speed, let me simply state that while Dad has one of the hungriest and sharpest intellects I have ever come across, the scars of his torturous childhood have left him with the emotional intelligence and coping skills of a potato. This paired with a raft of mental illnesses, the majority of which have neither been formally diagnosed nor treated, has created a mess of a human being. He has always tried hard, and he truly loves me and my brother and my Mum in his own mad, fervent and completely irrational way, but he’s broken. He just doesn’t know how to function in the world, and he’s not as good at hiding it as he used to be.

This fractured existence is, at different times, equally entertaining and upsetting. For instance, the time that Dad proudly relayed the conversation he’d had with my 12-year-old cousin asking if he was “getting some poontang” at high school, and then listened in bewilderment and disbelief as I translated the phrase as meaning “having lots of sexual intercourse” while my mother erupted into hysterical and slightly horrified laughter: entertaining. The unconscious yelling and kicking in his sleep: upsetting. The time he mixed up his medication and sleepwalked outside after sleep-unlocking the front door and then proceeded to sleep-tidy the front yard in his underpants: entertaining. The time he stopped taking his meds because he was paranoid that we were trying to get him addicted to them: upsetting. His refusal to watch any of “that gay Masterchef shit” and his complete loyalty to Better Homes and Gardens as his only source of homemaking and gardening advice: entertaining. The time he tried to seduce my best friend with the hopes of starting an affair and then tried to pass it off as an episode of food poisoning: upsetting. The time he  offered to meet Mum at work and take her out for lunch, then refused to take her anywhere but McDonald’s because he didn’t want to eat “another fucking lentil salad” despite the fact that she can’t eat anything off the Maccas menu because she’s gluten intolerant and besides, he doesn’t even like McDonald’s and has never been made to eat a lentil salad in his life: in hindsight, entertaining.

It’s going to get harder. As it is, not many people are aware that all of this is happening beneath the surface. His quirks and irritability are often excused by others as the result of an “off day,” or  being “just his way.” But even at this early stage there are times when I weep in despair – not for Dad, but for my incredibly long-suffering and remarkably strong mother, who somehow manages to keep it together even when he’s throwing plates around the kitchen or hiding the remote from her because it’s the only sense of control he feels now that he is unemployed and spends his days alone. How will she cope when he becomes more erratic, more insular, more paranoid? I can’t handle it. It makes me too sad. I am physically ill with the thought of it.

So, instead, I like to imagine my dad’s inevitable mental decline as his transformation into the full cast of characters from Seinfeld. His growing assortment of irrational neuroses and strong rage impulse are simply the work of his inner George Costanza. His egotism and complete reliance on routine are just his Jerry-isms, no biggie. The ease with which he is irritated by anyone and anything around him can be attributed to the Elaine Benes side of Dad’s personality; while the occasional, completely ridiculous and nonsensical verbal outbursts and physical tics can be put down to a case of the Kramers. 

It doesn’t stop the situation from being what it is, but it certainly makes it easier to live with. And since it’s been a good 15 years since the last episode of Seinfeld aired, there’s a part of me that can’t wait to see what Jerry and the gang get up to next.

Once Upon a Dream

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I’ve been having awkward sex dreams about my male friends and colleagues lately. Of course, I am far too demure to recount the tawdry details of these dreams for you here. Let’s just say that they have featured acts ranging from simple embracing and stroking, to grinding, face-licking make-out sessions, to scenes of hard-core eroticism that feature at least 50 shades of pink (pardon the pun and the rather graphic imagery).

My pattern of behaviour following one of these dreams is always the same: I wake up in a post-coital daze, momentarily satisfied before I am forced to run bare-arsed through some kind of mental and emotional spanking machine of embarrassment and confusion. The embarrassment stems mostly from the complete strangeness of the acts that my subconscious has me perform with the various men in my life. The confusion lies in the awakening of a strong sexual attraction to these people as a result of the rampant dream-humping we have engaged in. From this embarrassed confusion ensues a cloud of awkwardness that proceeds to follow me around in all future interactions with these individuals, causing me to mumble responses to their friendly greetings whilst avoiding eye contact.

The biggest problem resulting from this unending circus of raunchy reveries is that they trick me into thinking I feel things that I don’t really feel. In the past 9 weeks I have developed no less than four completely overwhelming (and troubling) crushes on people I know. These crushes have all been fleeting, gone when the memory of dream-sex has faded beyond a gossamer image of tangled bed sheets and an intangible recollection of satiety; however, in the few days or weeks of their existence these crushes have been fervent, disorienting and completely mortifying, resulting in a disconcerting awareness of my body while any of these people are nearby and causing me to make increasingly awkward shapes with my arms and legs while simultaneously flicking my hair back in an effort to appear nonchalant and sexually appealing in a carefree, effortless way. Hard to achieve, but I think I pull it off. (I don’t.)

The worst thing about these crushes is there is no escape. I spend my waking hours obsessing over the current object of my affection, recalling every encounter I’ve had with them in the last fortnight, desperately searching for pieces of innocent banter that I can turn into signs that they totally dig me, like for real. (For example: “You look nice today” becomes code for “You, me, monkey sex. Now.”) My downtime is spent fervently stalking them on Facebook, playing down the flaws that make them completely incompatible or ineligible as a potential love interest, and staring into space whilst daydreaming about various scenarios where the two of us innocently hanging out as friends suddenly becomes a storm of sexual tension where clothing is ripped and bodies are mashed together as our friends and colleagues look on in horror. It’s all-consuming and thoroughly exhausting.

I don’t know why this pattern keeps repeating. I know that there are no compatible matches among my male friends or colleagues. Even as I stalk and daydream I am aware that I am being completely ridiculous; but it’s nice to have a crush. It’s nice to get that nervous, tumbling, I-just-swallowed-a-jar-full-of-sleeping-moths-and-now-they’re-waking-up-in-my-stomach feeling a few times a day. I’ve been in love before, and I’ve experienced the warmth and comfort of waking up next to the same person every day, knowing that they would do anything for you. But nothing beats that thrill of a new crush; that excruciating awkwardness that takes control of the simplest bodily functions and renders you incapable of remembering how to walk normally or carry out a conversation without nervously laughing after every sentence or agreeing far too emphatically with everything they say. There’s nothing like that bittersweet pain of simultaneously feeling devastated by the fact that they haven’t noticed you yet and blindly optimistic that they will one day.

I guess most people grow out of these crushes as their adolescence disappears behind them, but I think that’s a shame. We sacrifice so much in order to participate in ‘adulthood;’ why shouldn’t we hold onto some of the self-indulgent pleasures of our youth, as long as they’re not doing any harm? I am determined to keep allowing myself to develop intense and ridiculous crushes on men that are entirely unsuitable as potential partners…but hopefully not on any more coworkers. There are only so many photocopy room fantasies a girl can handle.

Life As I Know It

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My life, in hindsight, is hilarious. Right from birth I have been involved in all manner of ridiculous hijinks, beginning with the erroneous entry by a clerk at the registrar’s office of my gender as “male” on my birth certificate. This simple mistake did not seem particularly funny when I stumbled across it as a sensitive and moody 16-year-old whilst gathering all of the necessary documents the night before I went for my Learner’s Permit.

On the floor of my parent’s study next to the open filing cabinet, I stared down at my lap, frantically searching my mind’s archives for the detailed drawings of female anatomy we’d been shown in Year 7 Health, which I had instinctively filed away as potentially life-saving information. Mentally tracing the images, I ascertained that all of the visible bits that define one as a female were indeed intact. But my brain had already started on an alarming course of inquiry with the rampant speed of a runaway train: Why do I have that weird pain in my groin when I push on my belly button? Is it connected to where my testicles used to be?  Is that why I’m so tall? Is that why I don’t have boobs yet? Oh God, is that why I hate wearing skirts and dresses and always do hilarious impressions of dudes around my friends? And that weird scar just under my stomach, that’s got to be from something. Although it could be a stretch mark. No, it’s a scar. I didn’t even get my period until last year; maybe the lady hormones they’ve been secretly giving me hadn’t kicked in properly yet. That also explains the lack of boobs.What if I had both parts when I was born and they decided to make me a girl but they weren’t legally allowed to write female on the birth certificate because I still had a penis at that stage? OH GOD, WHAT IF IT GROWS BACK?!!!

As you can imagine, this train of thought lead me to a very distressing state. By the time I confronted my mother with the evidence of my hermaphroditism a mere five minutes after finding it, I was completely convinced that she had given birth to a little girl-boy combo. I burst into tears.

“Who else knows?” I whimpered, holding out the record of my freakdom.

Baffled though not surprised by my tears (like many teenagers, I was prone to melodramatic states of distress) she took the paper from my limp hand and shook her head slightly in total bewilderment. “What, darling?”

“That.” I pointed mournfully at the offending words. Gender: Male. 

My mother stared at the page with fixed eyes. She mouthed the words. I watched her eyes flicker and scan as she read the entire document from start to end several times, trying to process what she was looking at. Then the penny dropped and I watched her eyes widen in surprise.

Wanting reassurance that her reaction was due to the newness of the information and not due to her years of careful subterfuge being brought to a sudden end, I began to ask. “Am…am I…?”

She began to smirk, trying desperately to hide her amusement at what was, in hindsight, a completely ridiculous situation. “It’s a mistake, you silly girl. I’ll call them in the morning and have it fixed. Go and show your father, he’s the one that entered your birth record.”

Instantly my fear dissipated and was quickly replaced by indignance and rage. “IT’S NOT FUNNY! I have to show this tomorrow to get my licence. People are going to think I’m a freak! You guys are the worst parents ever! How do you not even notice that your only daughter’s birth certificate says ‘male’? WHY DON’T I JUST GROW A PENIS AND THEN YOU’LL BOTH BE HAPPY.”

Yep. That’s how it went down. By the time I saw my friends on Monday it was kind of funny. By the time I had to use my new, anatomically-correct birth certificate to prove my identity when enrolling at university it was really funny. And by the time I started a new job and was sitting around in the staff room with my colleagues, looking for a way to break the ice, it was hilarious. (NB I have since discovered that while it is indeed an extremely amusing anecdote, it is not appropriate fodder for first date material. Needless to say, that one didn’t ever call me again. Lesson learned.)

My life is full of these sorts of ridiculous, there’s-no-way-that-actually-happened-to-you misadventures. In Year 12 I macked on hardcore with a totally hot dude who I assumed was 18 but turned out to be in my cousin’s Year 9 class (yep) at St Patrick’s. My nickname for remainder of year: Polanski. (We’d studied Macbeth the previous year and unfortunately this occurred before Demi Moore and the Desperate Housewives made the idea of cougars seem acceptable.) At the time this whole situation was completely mortifying. I now appreciate the humour in it. Last year I returned from my brother’s wedding to discover an extremely agitated bird in my kitchen due to my dip-shit housemates leaving the back door wide open. During my efforts to remove it, I stubbed my foot so badly that I fractured my little toe. It also managed to shit on me twice mid-flight, once in the eye as I was looking up and trying to herd it out with a broom at the time. Five years ago my dad tried to have an affair with my best friend by turning up at her house while in the city for a business trip and attempting to woo her with the presentation of thoughtful gifts and a totally gross ‘American Beauty’ style prepared speech about the beautiful woman she’d blossomed into. (For the record, he’s no Kevin Spacey either.) 18 months ago I had a wart burnt off my leg, the pain of which resulting in my optic nerve shutting down which caused me to faint dramatically, exposing my underwear to a room full of people and receiving a whiplash injury to my neck for which I was required to wear a foam collar. Last year I was caught in a traffic jam with the window down when a really cute guy in the car next to me started to chat me up; my panicked reaction was to stare straight ahead and inch my car forward until he was no longer in my peripheral vision. A few months after breaking up with my ex I ran into him in the waiting room of my doctor’s practice where I’d just received a new Implanon birth control implant and an STI test due to all the newly-single intercourse I’d been enjoying. One time as I was driving home from work I gave my nose a really good pick, only to look up and see one of my colleagues grinning at me in the rear-view mirror. Last year at a wildlife sanctuary I was bitten on the foot by a penguin. (Okay, so the last one isn’t true, but you’re getting an idea.)

There are several ways to react to this kind of life, one that seems to be built on one ludicrous incident after another. I could lament my ill luck at having a dubious confirmation of my gender, terrible ability to accurately judge other people’s ages, shitty housemates, a sleazy dad, an embarrassing physical overreaction to pain, no flirting ability and a lack of grace in any number of social situations. Or, I could simply shake it off, laugh and embrace these awkward and absurd experiences as being the very things that make up life as I know it.

The Holy Trinity

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All he has to do is make me laugh, be honest and be nice to me. That’s all I need. Seriously, that’s it. It’s the Holy Trinity of man-qualities. The only White Knight I am interested in is the peppermint chocolate kind (which is, in my opinion, a completely under-rated confectionery and deserves to be in far greater circulation than it currently is. Convenience Store Owners- don’t be putting them on the bottom shelf of the candy rack where they go unnoticed and gather dust while your customers reach for Mars Bars like gormless sheep; get those bad boys a prime position so that the masses can be exposed to their chewy, minty goodness!).

I want many things in a man – eyes that sparkle when he laughs and grow intense when he talks about his passions; enough stubble to graze the back of my neck when spooning but not enough to shred my chin like a piece of wet tissue during a heavy make-out sesh; the ability to spend hours debating whether broccoli deserves to be king of the vegetables because he would look better in a crown than an onion would; a love of great food and wine; an adventurous spirit and willingness to try all manner of new bedroom routines and apparatus– but the three things mentioned above are the only things I actually need. Why do they seem to be mutually exclusive?

I realised early in my current caper through single-town that an awesome face and an awesome personality seem to eliminate one another in men. (See graph below for clarification.)

Face Vs Personality

But there seems to be a deeper problem. I can live without a chiseled jaw, great hair and the easy smile of a handsome college quarterback – in the battle of looks vs. personality I am always willing to forgo the gorgeous in favour of the grouse. The problem is that I haven’t yet met a dude who ticks all three boxes in the personality package.

COMBO #1: Honest + Nice

I have been out with quite a few of these guys. They complement you on what you’re wearing, offer to pay for dinner, and don’t steal your wallet when you pass out from boredom into your bowl of mushroom risotto. You know exactly where you stand with these guys at the end of the night because they have texted you to thank you for a lovely evening and to make sure you got home safely. When you respond jokingly with “Dean who?” they send back something like “Dean from tonight, we went on a date. I am the Engineer, remember? We had dinner like an hour ago?” UGH. These are well-meaning, lovely, thoughtful, boring men, who will probably make some houseplants very happy one day.

COMBO #2: Funny + Honest

The Funny + Honest combo is also commonly known as an arsehole. This guy has a smart arsed comment about everything and tells you exactly what he thinks. The problem is that what he thinks is that he’s not really looking for long term right now and just wants to keep things casual – you’re cool with that, right? You’re not cool with that, but you sleep with him anyway because he’s charming and you tell yourself that deep down he has to be nice and he will show that side to you eventually. He won’t. Because he is an arsehole.

COMBO #3: Funny + Nice

This combo is the most frustrating of all. You have a great rapport and get along really well, there’s chemistry and they say and do things that make you smile when you think about them. Commonly referred to by the women they are dating as “one of the good ones,” they instantly gain trust and build a deep attraction through the use of their light wit and genuine interest in conversation. The issue with this guy is that he is too nice to be straight with you so you never know where you stand, and you end up investing far more than you would have if he’d have simply said ‘No, sorry,’ to a second date.

I keep leaving sacrifice after sacrifice at the Altar of Single Women (figuratively of course; I am not killing goats and leaving their carcasses on a pedestal in front of a life-sized cut out of Ryan Gosling, which is what I imagine a real Altar of Single Women would be like)  only to find that the Holy Trinity still eludes me. When you think about it, this “Holy Trinity” is really only a collection of the basic qualities necessary to succeed at being a human being. So why is it so difficult to find?

It’s not a rhetorical question. I actually don’t know the answer. If you do, please help.