Being a stepmother is one thing I never would have predicted. My own mother was one and I would have been awfully wary of getting myself into that situation- this was not an especially happy union for several reasons. I have tended to shy away from older partners, or partners who have been further down the road of conventional adulthood than myself. And my avoidance of the demands of being a “proper” grown up has probably hastened the demise of more than one relationship. It’s not good to refuse to grow and I’ve stayed small and gnarled and grumpy, thinking it made me real somehow. I’m no sellout! You can’t make me better myself! I’ve always been suspicious of help, or of anything that comes under the headline of self- improvement. It’s okay for others, but not me. I tend to think of my raw personal material as somehow mixed wrong, a bad batch of human being. You don’t want such a creature getting ideas. So I don’t learn to drive, and I don’t get fancy degrees and I let my eggs wither on the bough (I guess my ovaries are the bough, then. I have a tree inside me! Perhaps I’m a gelfling after all.). I stunt myself- no one is doing it for me anymore.
Tom does not boss me to do things and this is good, it makes me a little more inclined to do anything at all if no one is prodding, hinting or shoving me toward the thing saying “do it! you’ll love it! It’s such a good idea!” Nup. I’ll stay here with my blunt palate, half- baked ideas and bad taste, thank you very much, for they are mine. The first part of “nuance” is nu, and I prefer what is familiar, even if it is unsubtle and silly.
But by being accepting of this mess of a woman who thinks she’s a bear half the time, Tom has brought out something better in me, and so has River. He has trusted me with the little boy, and the little boy trusts me too. Whenever we do stuff together without Tom there I’m always startled and gratified that I haven’t managed to accidentally kill him through some combo of general uselessness and selfish inattention. I see myself as ineffectual and yet somehow lethal, all at once! But I have surprised myself by coming up with sensible ideas, by giving directives that get listened to and (best) by being someone worthy of a forceful hug now and then from a small person who will tell you himself he is far too tough for such behaviour.
So I may have been improving after all. Don’t tell on me.
Sitting in the house with yet more hair dye on my head. Yep, doesn’t seem like I do much else really. I’m thinking I’m going to get the darkest turquoise/green I can make happen on my head, then leave it alone for a few months, as my hair hasn’t grown much and it’s probably from all the abuse I give it.
Okay. So it turned out nicely and is not a hideous brown pinky mess as I had feared I would wind up with. Layering colours can go rather badly, as I have found out. Or as Tom found out- he was the one that ended up with gray and yellow splotches. But this time, I am turquoise, properly turquoise, so hooray! The forest witch aesthetic that has captured my attention currently does not work with pink, but I’m sure I’ll go veering back to space pixie before too long has elapsed- oh my poor, poor hair.
And on the forest witch front- I have tattoo money courtesy of a birthday having just happened, and I am thinking tattoos. A tattoo of a small shy creature. The image in my head is crystallising, slowly.
A friend posted an article = from a Houston newspaper about a video that has been doing the rounds lately of a goth girl getting “made under” while a few relatives cheer her on. It’s something she wanted to try, so it’s really not as though this is some kind of forced degothicising process- she isn’t having her rights violated, but the title of the endeavour was obnoxious -“goth to gorgeous”.
Now, as any teenager who has moped in black and fought with their parents about their hair will know, being goth will get you probably more disapproving stares out in the world than it will get you fist bumps. Possibly because fist bumps aren’t very goth. But that’s ok. However, what’s really not ok is this notion that everybody else’s opinion of how you present yourself is what counts, particularly if you are female. Alternative fashion choices really upset the alt-right these days. For these losers, unusual styling in women is an indicator of the dreaded “feminism”. Oh noes! Their concept of the ideal woman is extremely narrow- pretty much limited to white, thin, preferably blonde and under 25- and any indication of a deviation from that is taken as an affront. And making the boner sad is a crime, or it should be, according to such specimens.
There’s a whole mindset at work here that a woman presenting herself in a way that does not please them needs to be stopped from doing so, because if her appearance isn’t pleasing then she’s doing something wrong, she’s selfish somehow, possibly even useless. What’s the point of her if she’s not making others happy?
I can only imagine the journalist is going to get a lot of howling objections to what he has written here from those sorts of people, the ones who believe that women who don’t live to please others are broken and dangerous. I’ve already been in a seriously unproductive conversation with a female (!) men’s rights activist who believes that women shouting at men is every bit as bad as men stalking women. That internalised misogyny is a heck of a thing…
And once again, my time has slipped down the drain in a froth of laziness and police procedurals. To be quite honest, (and to give myself some leeway on this shameful laziness) I suspect this year may have seen a re-emergence of some actual depression inside my skull. And that depression spread into my other bones and then curled out of me like mist. I did not leave the house much. I did not see anybody- and I did not really feel much about it apart from a sickly sense of knowing that I was missing things, losing people. Nasty, but there was a numbness about it that made it hard to move. I’m told that there is a stage in drowning deaths, one where you stop fighting and it doesn’t hurt anymore. I want to struggle my way to the surface again while there is still a bit of fight left in me. It’s incredibly boring to make a new year’s resolution, but maybe this is mine- to start scrapping again for my self, to beat the numbness and dumbness away, refuse it comfort and space. So I have decided I will sign up for a creative course of some kind. Any sort of pursuit will do, really, I’m not too fussed, and maybe something odd is better than something obvious. I get paralysed when placed in so many situations, maybe its best to just pick something, hold my nose and jump in. And kick like mad. I’m a kicker, I’ll be fine.
I think I’m becoming an angrier person too. I have less time for religious rule- making passing as morality, less time for creeps whining that they “can’t even talk to women now!” when what they actually mourn is an era when women had to put up with the shit they pull and smile about it, less time for homophobic nonsense dressing itself up as concern for children. And on and on. I want to use my anger well. I don’t want to burn myself hard and small and bitter with it. I just need to get it far away from the depressive side of what is going on in here now. I don’t need either of these feelings turning further inward and warping even more. I’m already misusing them- engaging social media trolls is no way to spend personal time if you want to feel better about anything or anyone.
On a brighter note, Tom spent a day last week getting his front and back tattooed with large patterns made of triangles and circles. He’s the bane of his tattooists’ life in one way with all that geometry, but I do get the impression she respects his taste in designs, even if they are tricky to execute. I’m planning on getting some stuff done myself by the same person, but small things- and somewhat cuter things because I can’t really do stark and arresting imagery, I’m just not built for it. She already made me some pretty and stern seahorses for my forearm, but now I want to go into the forest. Dark and shy creatures will nestle on my flesh soon. This thought is a good one. Flutters and shadows.
Somehow adulthood passed me by. I have a job and a lease and bills to pay and a sore knee and a uterus that is creaking to a full stop, but in spite of all that stuff I don’t feel grown up at all. Possibly because I still do a little squeak of joy when I find a book I want to read, or because I still dance at the tram stop to Lucy’s Crown and Le Tigre, and because I still call sex “doing it”. But in less than a fortnight I will be 45 years old. And that seems extremely weird and vaguely unfair. I wasn’t paying enough attention. I’m going to keep dancing and squeaking and doing it, though. No one can stop me, which is one of the pleasures of being 45.
The last week reduced me to rubble intellectually- by Christmas Eve I was giggling and singing at work as I wrapped one present after another, but from exhaustion, not joy. Although there is a perverse part of me that enjoys being that busy, as it leaves me no time to worry as I normally do. And considering what a time- suck that is for me all the time, maybe a busy day is no bad thing, except for how I feel. Which is ow. Owwww. All my bits are cranky with me. My legs spasmed at night. My hands would make devil claws of their own accord. My brain only graced me with dreams of work and puppies (who were at work too). So I’m not entirely sorry that the next week and a half is not going to involve me being in a bookshop.
What should I do with my time when I’m not impersonating an adult for the benefit of relatives and strangers? I’ve got plans of sorts for next year- Chelsea Wolfe is cancelled but Genesis Breyer P-Orridge may still be happening, despite a leukaemia diagnosis. I’m still thinking on seeing Moor Mother. She makes funeral jazz and nightmare blues and I think she’s really excellent and exciting. So why am I hesitating? Am I actually 45 years old in a bad way, and now scared off by the idea of a Thursday night gig? Seems possible right now, as I feel my eyes slide shut. I can’t even concentrate on my one of my favourite warped movies, Alice Sweet Alice. Nuns, murder, creepy little girls, sixties fashions- what’s not to love about it? And it wouldn’t be Christmas if I weren’t watching low-budget mayhem, it’s kind of how I roll.
I like routine. I like to spend my days off in the same way. I like to eat the same meals. Changes to my way of doing stuff tend to throw me, make me nervous. But I’m not like this with my hair. I have about two weeks with any colour I choose before I’m itching to change it. Which is odd in itself. I didn’t have a haircut in 8 years and then one day- boom. All gone and dyed bright red. I guess I was sick of something, and possibly my hair was just the easy thing to deal with. Being tired of being a boring person is harder to remedy. And I get so tired so easily. I sometimes worry about that. Perhaps it means something. Maybe this is depression settling on me again, spreading out feathers and smothering. Or perhaps I am simply in need of proper rest and that lack is making me feel all glassy and jagged inside.
So, I’m taking some time to just be a Nettie on her own this week. Cop shows and sleeping in and- hair dye! I’ve got Aqua Neon slop on half my head right now, and ho boyo, but does it ever smell awful. Like vinegar and cat pee. I guess those things smell sort of similar but trust me, this a combination of both, on stilts. Ick. But it’s worth it for the indecisive wonder of hair that is now two colours! Yep. Who needs to decide between pink or green when you can have both? Not this little critter, who smells bad but feels quite good today, at least about her hair.
Christmas is almost upon me and I’m kind of terrified at the thought of the week to come. This year the season seems to be a tetchy one, and that would go for me too. Less patient, less forbearing. I really curl into myself once I’m alone. But I can embrace my childish side (is it pink or turquoise?) and just think about my present. They arrived on Thursday and Tom got me to try them on for size, then instructed me to erase them from my memory and yes, yes they are boots. Fancy European ones that make me say “das Trippen” in a weird voice. Only 7 days before I get to flounce around looking like a small colourful pirate.
At least Christmas means more dogs. More dogs makes me happy. Heaven for me will just a be a woodland glade full of furry animals getting along with each other and making soup. I’ll have a treehouse, and talking mice for friends, and somehow there will also be pizza. The art design of my afterlife will be half Beatrix Potter, half Bjork video. I’ll be warm, even in the snow. And I do want snow. I’ll have wonderful coats in heaven, for I want to have a pelt just like all my animal friends. Hmm. This is what passes for me being spiritual, it would seem. It’s all about cuddling.
A longer break from this than I usually take. A lot has happened, largely not to me. Last week seemed heavy and unmerciful. It’s over and I have days to hide in at last.
I can see where my mind is by how much my body hurts. At the moment my jaw keeps clamping itself shut and grinding down. This doesn’t sound pleasant, I bet, and it isn’t. I feel like I’m biting down on something unkind and unyielding, and that slowly I’m pushing my head out of alignment with- itself? I need to get better at letting my mind loosen and wander, rather than twist down on itself. On me.
I feel somewhat guilty at focussing on how I feel, though. The hard things have been happening to others, not to me. The helpless, useless, lucky and guilty thing is a weird emotional rictus. Too many reactions. But I’m not going to write about other people’s trouble here because I can’t really do it justice. So I might try and drag myself onto other topics.
I’d like little better right now than to go back to bed, but there’s a guy mowing the nature strip outside and whippersnippers don’t make relaxing sounds. About the only thing my real estate is good at, apart from illegal inspections, is making sure the guy who cuts the nature strip does it whenever I feel tired and cross. Part of my rent goes toward this. And I love nature but hate gardening, so having someone else tend our pocket of tough sharp grass and unkillable shrubs is basically ok by me – but today I feel overfull of complaints so I’m letting the small silly ones leak out.
Yes, it’s possibly to love nature but hate gardening! Redwood trees and glowing mushrooms and shy bunny rabbits have nothing to do with cement edging and flowers in rows. If I had to picture my ideal garden, I would want to imagine bears behind the trees, trees too tall for me to see the top of them. And magical fungi and flowers that hover like lace on the edge of dark green moss. A stream all silver. Deer. Shafts of sunlight and patches of ice. I want to feel like I could disappear into it, and be etched all over with a filigree of lichen or a down of fur.
So, I expressed some interest in maybe getting some health insurance. I have now fielded 8 phone calls since Thursday from this particular company, and that’s since I asked them to call today after 11. I’m not keen on the hard- sell approach- and this feels beyond hard and well into harassment territory. I listened to the spiel on call number 7, and once I had said I wanted 24 hours to think about it the pressure began in earnest. Now I’m tempted just to say no on principle, but I know that bits of me need looking after, and that this has to start soon, so I’m all annoyed and indecisive now. Goddamn you, middle- aged me, needing all this bloody consideration and gentle handling.
Summer has struck and like the contrary little critter I am, I want to wear coats and burrow into a pelt of my very own. I’m a mammal, I can be as hairy as I like! But I can tell the sun is a big and ouch thing today, so I’m avoiding it until I can’t any more. I’m making a bit moreof an attempt to see friends than I have done for- oh, ages? Patrick and I will take advantage of a cheap dinner at one of our local hipster pubs tonight, and I’m pleased about this. Patrick is a pe rson that makes me glad to live in Melbourne. We even met in a most Melbourne way- on a tram and sharing bookshop job war stories. I’ve known him almost longer than any other grown up and he’s great. He’s very tall though. I like sitting- down meetings with people I’m not familiar with, but a big hug from a tall friends makes me feel even more wonderful than being wrapped in a huge furry coat does.
And on that note- I think I’m shorter than I have believed for ages. A doctor measured me about 10 years ago as 154 cms, but I think that might not be true any more. As I said before, goddamn you middle age. The wind doth ram, and I am small and blown about in a world not made for less than 154 cms of Nettie. I get scared of shopping trolleys going feral and smashing me into a tiny stain in the parking lot. If I die in a stupid way, please let it not be that way. I need to get right with heaven before that happens anyway, or so I’m told. Does heaven mind that I am sweary and grouchy and neglectful of everything?