It’s International Women’s Day 2021. And while this song seems like an appropriate feel-good anthem for today, in Australia, this IWD comes on heels of several weeks of rape allegations and sexual assault reports within the Australian Parliament. But why not there? They occur in every other type of workplace. In every school. And in many homes.
I am too tired for rage this year. I have been angry about the misogyny and sexism that is rampant in my daily life for more than thirty years. And I am so very tired. So this song is more aspirational than it is accurate. But you never know, maybe one day.
I am not tired enough to keep fighting, though. To keep exposing sexism and misogyny for what it is, where it is, when it occurs. And to keep expanding my understanding of other people’s experiences. So if you want some great books to read by brilliant Australian/Australian-based women, here are a few of my faves for you to choose from. And if you can, please buy from your local indie bookstore.
We spent today in Melbourne for an appointment with the infectious diseases specialist who is treating G’s hip infection, for blood tests, x-rays and an MRI. We will get those results next week.
I am tired. It takes about 12-14 hours a day to do everything I need to do to care for G and get all the jobs done around the house. And that’s when other people aren’t making extra work for me.
It feels like others are able to just go about their normal lives. Australia is largely protected from the worst of the pandemic and these days, restrictions are relatively relaxed. People are moving about and moving on with their lives. And I am standing still.
I let the day go by I always say goodbye I watch the stars from my window sill The whole world is moving and I’m standing still
While watching the Australian Open this last week, they played a short clip of The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights as they cut to an ad break. Both G and I started singing and continued even as the ads began to play.
“This song is addictive,” I said as we arrived at a place where we no longer knew the words. I googled it and brought it up on YouTube. “I can’t explain it but it gives me the same feeling as Robert Miles’ Children and Darude’s Sandstorm. It’s compulsive. As soon as I hear it, I have to play it on repeat until the feeling subsides. Do you know what I mean?”
We tumbled down a rabbit hole of 80s synth and 90s dream trance as we tried to find other songs that filled us with the same feeling. I still don’t know what it is about the composition that makes this music so compelling to me, I just know it floods me with memories I’m not sure I have–flashbacks of nights in clubs, dancing like I’m the only one on the floor, laughing with dates in coffee shops, screaming as I ride rollercoasters at Disneyland for the fifteenth time that day, having friends in my 20s, being liked by people; a life I only imagine.
Which isn’t to say I didn’t have friends, I didn’t go dancing and I didn’t ride rollercoasters–but there is something in this music that drives a nostalgia I cannot name. And I wouldn’t want to. It’s enough just to feel it.
For some reason, YouTube seems to be showing me a flashback of my playlist in 2010 as I search for music tonight. It’s almost impossible to fathom that eleven years have passed since I changed the course of my life. In early 2010, I began treatment for an eating disorder that had comforted me on and off for almost fifteen years. I left a marriage that was nominal only; my husband far more interested in women inside his computer. I had no idea what I was doing. And I was so ill, there was no guarantee I’d live to see the end of the year. So eleven years feels like some sort of achievement.
In December last year, I hit a personal record for the longest time living in the same house. At the end of May this year, I’ll reach another milestone–seven years with my beloved–and not one “break” or break-up. These things may seem trivial but when our future–indeed, our present–has felt as precarious as it has in the last eight months, they are my touchstones. So tonight I’m remembering the woman from 2010 who was brave enough to seek help, brave enough to leave, and brave enough to live. And I’m saying thank you. These songs are for you.
Songwriters: Aaron Short / Alisa Xayalith / Thom Powers
After seven seemingly endless months, we are finally home.
There is a house built out of stone Wooden floors, walls and window sills Tables and chairs worn by all of the dust This is a place where I don’t feel alone This is a place where I feel at home
‘Cause, I built a home For you For me
Until it disappeared From me From you
And now, it’s time to leave and turn to dust
Out in the garden where we planted the seeds There is a tree as old as me Branches were sewn by the colour of green Ground had arose and passed it’s knees
By the cracks of the skin I climbed to the top I climbed the tree to see the world When the gusts came around to blow me down I held on as tightly as you held onto me I held on as tightly as you held onto me
And, I built a home For you For me
Songwriters: Jason Angus Stoddart Swinscoe / Patrick Watson / Philip Jonathan France / Stella Page
Tomorrow, it will be six months since I took G to the hospital for strange stroke-like symptoms. We didn’t know, that night, that it would be months before he’d leave a hospital again. We didn’t know that we’d have to relocate our lives, in the middle of a pandemic, to the covid capital of Australia for his cancer treatment. We didn’t know it would be more than half the year–in fact, into a whole new year–before we’d be back to our home.
And maybe we’ll come back To Earth, who can tell? I guess there is no one to blame
And, while we are on the final countdown to going back later this week or next week, we are are still another six months from the end of rehab. Tomorrow, he has a total hip replacement; osteonecrosis, cartilage destruction, and collapse of the femoral head the result of a joint infection after his second round of chemo. And then, the real work begins.
We’re leaving ground (leaving ground) Will things ever be the same again?
“There is a fundamental reason why we look at the sky with wonder and longing—for the same reason that we stand, hour after hour, gazing at the distant swell of the open ocean. There is something like an ancient wisdom, encoded and tucked away in our DNA, that knows its point of origin as surely as a salmon knows its creek. Intellectually, we may not want to return there, but the genes know, and long for their origins—their home in the salty depths. But if the seas are our immediate source, the penultimate source is certainly the heavens. The spectacular truth is—and this is something that your DNA has known all along—the very atoms of your body—the iron, calcium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and on and on—were initially forged in long-dead stars. This is why, when you stand outside under a moonless, country sky, you feel some ineffable tugging at your innards. We are star stuff. Keep looking up.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson
I am six in my first memory of that sense of longing for the stars, the pull of belonging to the stars. Dad is driving us to Queensland to visit my grandparents and I am lying on a mattress in the back of the station wagon as the car winds its way northwards along the single lane highway. It is one, maybe two in the morning, and instead of sleeping, I am staring out the back window, the sensation that my home is somewhere out there rushing through my veins. And of course it’s in my blood; the very iron in my body was created in those stars.
The first birthday present G gave me was a night at the Sydney Observatory. It was September 2014 and he’d booked the place just for us with our own private astronomer to give us a tour of the Universe. One of the things we saw that night was Saturn, in all her ringed beauty.
So it’s only fitting, that it is Sleeping at Last’s “Saturn”, that reminds us…