travelling home

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this time last year was hard for me. i was readjusting to the world around me and it wasn’t easy at all. i’ve found that this time of year is not easy for anyone. there is so much stress the media and shops pile onto us that our holidays, christmases, new years -everything really- must be perfect. add all this to the shock of arriving home from a long trip, adjusting to summer from winter, new people in your old life, changes in almost everything around you that you were not prepared for and you get a difficult time. for me, you get a ball of anxiety so stressed and nervous about everything that even leaving the house is scary.

coming home from travelling is hard. it always is, no matter how long you were gone for. however i have definitely noticed a difference in returning home from a holiday and returning home from an extended trip. when you go for a holiday, the whole trip is based upon the idea that you’re not at home. you know when you’re going home and you’re prepared for it. you get homesick. but you have to beat it. you don’t want to waste time thinking about home when you’ll be there again very soon. you fight the feeling of homesickness with everything you have to make sure you have a nice time in the new place you are.

returning home from a long trip, the kind that you left and didn’t know when you were coming home or even if you were coming home is a whole new ball game. you’ve spent so much time and energy making this new place comfortable and homely and suddenly you have to up and leave again.you find new places to go regularly, things to do and see, you get used to your new home and the people around you. you put effort and thought into overcoming that feeling of desperate yearning to be somewhere familiar and replace the things you had in your life elsewhere with new memories.

you spend time thinking about home, imagining the way it is. hoping against all the odds that people are thinking about you just as much as you are thinking about them. and of course they aren’t. they have their lives to continue with. but for you, time has kind of stopped. this new place is full of the unfamiliar and some nights you just wish you were home with everything you know and everyone you love. but you make it through it by making your life and home here and creating these new memories.

coming home to everything you fought so hard to forget and replace is really hard. readjusting is difficult, time-consuming and frustrating. and you begin to notice things that you never wanted to, and things you were hoping wouldn’t happen. because the reality is, when you leave, everything else doesn’t stay the same.you’ve put yourself through so much to make yourself belong somewhere new, that the place you always used to belong and where you always thought you would feels foreign and new. you don’t belong there anymore either.

it takes a while to feel that again. you have to go through everything again. making habits and memories. new memories of your old home. but, at least i found, that through this you can learn what parts of yourself you need. what parts you want to keep. what parts of yourself you want to take with you to make the new memories and belong again.

all my love,

charlie

 

 

girls talking about boys talking about girls

 

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Well what colour are his eyes?
I don’t know he’s always wearing shades
Is he tall?
Well, I’ve got to look up.
Yeah? Well I hear he’s bad.
mm, he’s good bad, but he’s not evil.

i remember the first time i listened to the shangri-las, in the car with madz. that seemingly nonsensical statement “good bad, but not evil” resonating with both of us as we daydreamed about the good-bad boys we’d known.

when i first became friends with maddy, i was in a very, very long term relationship. the kind where you imagine your futures together and become a “we” instead of an “i”. this had been especially true for me, as i had been so wrapped up in my love for this boy that slowly, without noticing, i’d been erasing parts of myself that were all my own. i stopped writing, at some point. i never really noticed until i’d started again. maddy scooped me out of the comfortable little hole i had created for myself, and i can never thank her enough for it. for the first time in years, someone wanted to know me as an individual, and i was scared when i realised how little there was left of her, of me. that relationship ended and even though it was beyond painful , i still consider myself so lucky to have had a love that was so good and so strong.

it’s been a while now, and the three of us single gals started to spend a lot of time talking and thinking and dreaming about boys. men, really, but i think it speaks to the idealism and the nostalgia that was really driving us that we never said so. it was always about boys. boys who would be exciting but never mean. boys who would make us feel interesting and interested and care about the dumb things we cared about. i think having a friendship like ours means that once we voice our feelings about something and share them with each other, they grow. we feed each others thoughts and emotions till they become bigger than we expected. sometimes, this is like a superpower. when we pool our creativity it turns into something magical, something good. but with this, it became something a little toxic.

thinking about boy gave us something to look forward to. it meant more nights curling up and watching rom coms, more nights out dancing hoping to catch someone’s eye. for me, i thought it was the natural next step, it meant i was moving on. but the time i spent thinking about boys was time i spent once again neglecting myself. i was a teenager, still in school when my ex-boyfriend and i got together. i had never spent time alone with myself, the adult woman, and focusing my time and energy on crushes with my friends meant i wouldn’t have to. despite all the great things we’ve all been achieving the only achievement that mattered to us was finding The Boy.

one by one, we each began to feel the toll of this. i think the key thing we all realised, or that i certainly did, was that once i had found the elusive Boy, i had no idea what i wanted to do with him. when i gave myself the space to think about it, i knew i wasn’t at all ready to be a “we” again. so what was i even looking for? in so many ways my life is better than it has ever been. unlike when i was a kid, i no longer live in fear. i am surrounded by people who i love, and people who love me back in a beautiful, uncomplicated way. there’s no pain in these relationships. but in other ways, i feel like i’m drowning. i feel too loud in my own brain, like i don’t have enough creative output, i feel too smart or not smart enough, pretty but in a fuckable not loveable kinda way. finding The Boy was a way of deflecting the attention from all the parts of myself i wasn’t ready to deal with, and also hoping to find someone who would make them all seem okay.

realising what this was doing to us has meant that our conversations are once again interesting, dynamic and varied. it’s meant that madz is writing some of her best poetry i’ve ever read, and charlie is creating beautiful art and beautiful food just because she can. for me it’s meant learning how to make music and sounds, learning to put pen to paper without tearing up whatever i come up with.

there are still boys. they still make me feel fluttery in my stomach and we talk about that sometimes. but i approach them as aayushi, a person i think i’m happy to know.

all my love,

aayushi

my shadow

 

 

anxiety has no concrete way of taking over you. when you feel like you’ve built a solid collection of ways to combat it, it’ll come up with an entirely new way of overtaking your entire being and unsettle every part of you.

i thought i’d successfully built up my defence against it. i thought i was ready and waiting. i’d written a list of what to do in a situation when the symptoms occurred. i knew all too well how it worked. how it builds up, paralysing my mind and body. and i knew exactly how to respond to this and what i needed to do to bring myself back to reality.

but, because it’s anxiety and it’s whole thing is to fuck you over it’s decided to take a new form. a new form of intense, mind altering panic. but i don’t know how to deal with it. i don’t have anything in my collection to help. it’s new and different and i’m not into it at all.

apparently my anxiety has decided to take on a new attack method. and it’s on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. i guess it decided the old way wasn’t efficient enough.

it’s called dissociation. everything closes off. mind, body, thoughts, feelings. everything feels entirely numb. you’re cut off from the world. when this happened it was so new to me i had no idea what was going on. i didn’t even notice it was happening. it felt unusual, but not like anxiety. i wasn’t able to recognise it, so i wasn’t able to use my defences like i usually would.

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i suppose now i know, and i’ll be able to figure it out. but i’m not sure. the unfamiliarity made it even worse once i realised that something was happening to me. i had no idea what was going on at all. so i panicked. i don’t really understand how things can change so fast in your body as much as they did on this day. i guess i just don’t know enough about bodies. but it’s incredible how a feeling of being completely separate from the world and yourself as a physical person can change so intensely quickly to everything being overly within yourself. thoughts that won’t stop. locking onto them and not being able to shake them away. and the over-breathing and over-moving that go with the over-thinking.

it’s been a long time tackling this shadow in my brain, and i’ve always known it reacts to different things. and now i know it appears in different ways too. but i know this now. and knowing is going to help me build my collection of ways to deal with it this way too. at least that’s what i hope.

i know i’ll never be rid of it. it’s always been with me and it will always be. we were working together just fine, not great, but fine. another obstacle came inbetween us, but like any relationship, you just need to work out how to make it past that. it’s really hard. but now i think we’re beginning to get along better and we know what one another need. i think we’ll be okay.

all my love,

charlie

national parks: how to breathe better

the best kind of air is national park air. you’re surrounded by untouched flora, you’re protected by trees, you’re finally able to take in the quiet. the sound of traffic is at least thirty minutes away (at least in namadgi’s case), and you feel calm. a few weeks ago, we all needed a little bit of calm. so we went to namadgi national park. booroomba rocks, specifically.

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booroomba rocks is my go-to bush walk. i’ve been coming out here since i was a kid – i was on this track the very first time i saw a brown snake; the first time i heard a lyrebird. i was here the first time i carved my name into a tree, and it’s still there today, tattered beneath flaking bark, amongst other names. as i got older, it continued to be a particularly significant space for me – i was here the first time i told a boy i was very genuinely, completely in love with him, and i’m still sure that the reason i had the guts to say that out loud was because of where i was. so now, booroomba rocks has become a safe place for me – whenever i’m feeling anxious, i’ll end up out here sooner or later. so when charlie, aayushi and i all needed a day to ourselves, we went here.

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charlie packed a picnic, and aayushi brought her tarot cards. we sat at a picnic table and she cast a circle around us. it was cleansing and quiet and the air felt better than ever. we ate bananas, dates and other things i can’t remember. aayushi read my cards and told me what’s coming up for me, and i finally felt a little at ease about where i’m at right now.

we nearly lost the car keys and got trapped out there forever, but we felt fine about it – national parks kinda cast a bit of a spell on you. it’s something to do with the trees, the air, the earth, pushed altogether in this untouched, consuming kinda way. it makes you forget about the world that’s thirty minutes away, and forget that getting trapped out in the bush could probably (most likely) be a pretty sticky situation. it’s the best thing about the bush – especially in a place like canberra. it’s a little slice of calm that’s always in line of view, out by the mountains in the horizon. like a constant reassurance – even if you can’t make it out there right now, it’s always just in reach.

14303734_10153911291607896_1005337361_oall my love,

maddy

speechless, embodied, hysterical

 

i find myself in

small cracks and

big silences

im filling them as best as

i can.

 

i’m sitting in my room listening to girlpool. my bed is warm and alfie my cat is curled up in my arms making it even warmer. i lit a candle earlier but the scent wasn’t as strong as i had hoped. everything just smells burnt.

i want to talk about hysteria. it’s a word that’s used less and less. occasionally we hear about “mass hysteria” surrounding particular fads, a sports team. we know it means to be wild, irrational, loud, beyond control. but the root of the word is located somewhere very specific. somewhere physical, even. hysteria comes from the greek word “hystera” for uterus. and so hysteria began its life as a freudian diagnosis for the irrational emotionality of women. when women suffered from illness, whether physical or mental, that could not be explained, it was chalked up to that most mysterious of body parts, the womb. they figured that the uterus could move around the body wreaking havoc. uteruses have the unique distinction of being historical scapegoats of sorts.

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of course, this concept of hysteria hugely is sexist, it’s also outdated. the term is for the most part out of use, both medically and colloquially. but it’s important to me. i think maybe it’s the most important word in my world and i want to talk about how my relationship with this word has shaped my relationship with myself, with my body and my femininity.

in 1881, bertha pappenheim (better known under the pseudonym of anna o.) was sent against her will to the inzersdorf sanitarium for treatment for hysteria. anna o would go on to become the poster child for psychoanalysis, her case the most famous of all. she suffered from hallucinations, partial paralysis, anorexia and at times lost the ability to speak.

but bertha was also highly intelligent. when she did speak, she spoke of “profoundly melancholy fantasies…sometimes characterized by poetic beauty”. we know the pathology of hysteria is false. so what was happening to her? as medical science improved and doctors were forced to abandon the “wandering womb” theory, since the uterus was obviously fixed in place, they decided that the uterus must emit some kind of vapour. uterine vapour was deemed the cause of most if not all female ailments.

i know that these ideas are dangerous and worrying. but as i read about bertha i felt a strange connectedness to this woman whose pain refused to be easily pathologised. i knew it didn’t make sense. hysteria has been used as a historical tool for oppression. and yet, sometimes i felt so crazy. i still do. sometimes i feel beyond words. despite all i knew about it, i couldn’t help but feel that behind the dismissiveness of the hysterical diagnosis, there was also a sense of fear, of mystery. throughout history there has been a fascination with the kind of secret power that may be held in the womb. i felt that power maybe existed within me.

 

when i was seventeen i went to a lecture performance called she’s lost control by the all girl art collective hissy fit. they talked about hysteria, the disease i shamefully associated myself with sometimes. but they didn’t talk much about 19th century doctors and women shut up in asylums. instead, they talked about rock stars. they talked about the “hysterical performance” of female musicians like kathleen hanna. they way that she would bare her emotions, defiant and feminine and radical. for the first time, i felt the power of hysteria as something uniquely womanly, as something worth being reclaimed.

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i started reading, then. quickly, i discovered helene cixous. cixous was a french feminist philosopher who wrote extensively about the radical power of hysteria. she put forward the idea that the female experience could not be expressed through “rational” language which is inherently masculine. thus, the hysterical woman seeks to break free of the bounds of male rationality in order to better access herself. she implored women to “write their bodies”. armed with the words of women like helene cixous, luce irrigay and avital ronnell who described hysteria as “an inherently revolutionary power…” i felt myself start to change.

i no longer feel the need to apologise for my emotions. if i’m crying it’s not because i’m weak, but because i am not afraid to cry. i don’t see male disdain for female emotions as power, i see it as fear. i write the way i want to write. my language isn’t “flowery”, it’s true to my experience. i experiment with       the          s     p     a    c    e    s     because sometimes that’s the truest thing i know.

i’m sitting in the library now, girlpool echoing in my ears. i am surging w emotion as i finish writing about the word that has hurt me, taunted me, inspired me and remade me. i don’t know exactly what i’m feeling, but i relish it all the same.

 

i’m 

growing fleshier growing

dirtier

growing.

 

with so much love and admiration,

aayushi

 

carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man

 

carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man

Being surrounded by confident, somewhat successful, talented males is hard when you’re a relatively nervous, insecure young woman. The pressure that is put on you to reach their expectations, but not overreach, to be what they want, but also be yourself and to be good at it, but not too good is overwhelming and unsatisfying. We are raised, despite all (apparent) efforts, to be cheerful, smiling, unchallenging and passive. We should not question authority or be too bold with our ideas. We should constantly question whether we are good enough and not ever try to put anything forward if we don’t think it is.

The differences between the way females and males are raised go way beyond wearing pink and blue. Boys are encouraged to be confident with their ideas, to challenge injustices and try to be noticed. Girls are encouraged to be the opposite. To continuously question if we are good enough, to be sure we are questioning something worth questioning if we dare and to never rock the boat or cause too much drama, as it may risk us being titled ‘drama queen’.

The things boys are praised for are the things we are not. And this is what has meant that I, a perfectly capable 22 year old female am still nervous about what my friends with penises think about me and my work. Namely my creative output. I am surrounded by musicians, artists and young ‘entrepreneurs’. Males who decided that they knew what they were good at and took a leap to get better and become known for that. They were confident with their ideas, thoughts and creativity. And amongst them all becoming more and more comfortable with these talents, I sunk into the background in fear of sticking out too much. Afraid of rocking the boat and risking their opinions of me. To the point where now at 22 I hide sketch books, pieces of writing, even sewing until I feel like I am confident enough with that skill for someone else to see it.

My slow deterioration into a shell of myself is easy to see if you look back on what I used to be. A young confident girl who dressed how she wanted, created what she wanted and listened to what she wanted slowly and surely became a young woman who dressed how the males around her thought she should, was afraid to show even her closest friends her creative output and no longer had a single opinion on any music. I felt like my opinion didn’t matter. I was inferior. I still feel like this to some degree.

I’m sick of this. I’m also sick of the group mentality males get where they decide that because they’re together they can openly judge and make fun of a female for trying to do anything that they deem out of the ordinary. I’m sick of boys deciding my opinion on art or music must only exist because another male in my life told me to think that way. And I’m sick of dressing or looking how I think they want me to. They don’t realise how much it affects a person, feeling that they are simply not good enough. It makes you wonder why they keep you around. It makes you wonder what you’re even worth to them.

I know that this is not all men. And I know that the individuals who act this way probably don’t realise that this is what it feels like. But it is hard and it is important to raise awareness of this, to address the issue and make women feel safer in the environments they share with males.

I’ve decided that I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I’m not going to let myself feel this way anymore. I am no longer letting this be a continuous theme in my life. I am starting to call males out on these opinions and let myself be noticed for things I wouldn’t have previously. And I encourage other women to do the same. This silent, almost subconscious sexism that exists, perpetuates the ideas that women’s opinions, thoughts and creations are not as important as that of a males and is slowly destroying females and will negatively affect us well into the future.

These are just my thoughts and opinions based on what I’ve experienced being a young woman part of a scene and friendship group dominated by males. I have been quiet about it for a long time and felt the need to express how I feel and the impact this is having on me.

lots of love,
Charlie

the title and image for this post come from an etsy shop called knittopurltoo, run by kathleen parvin. the link to the shop and this amazing tote bag is below:
https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/KnitToPurlToo
https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/254893785/confidence-tote-bag?ref=shop_home_active_1

mountains, trees and waterfalls

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i think trees give off happiness. at least they do for me. i think they are a big reason being outside makes me so happy. they stand so strong and powerful but also the slightest breeze will make them move and whisper. they adapt so easily and some are so resilient even fire doesn’t really destroy them. i feel like they represent the type of person i wish i could be.

tasmania is 1/5 protected wilderness. so 1/5 protected trees, plants and bodies of water. this trip was about taking a break from our real lives and remembering how to be happy. so for me i wanted to spend a lot of time with the trees, mountains and rivers. the air bnb we stayed at made this particularly easy, the space was incredible. large windows let in tonnes of natural light and looked out upon a creek, behind which stretched a nature reserve with incredible plants, animals and things to discover. however, to get my full dosage of happiness from the plants i wanted to venture out further than the reserve behind our house. and so did the others.

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we went up mount wellington, to waterworks reserve and mount field national park. it was fucking beautiful and i could write some more telling you exactly what we did but really i think the photos say it all. so here are some photos of our nature adventures.

all my love,
charlie xo

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lake dobson, mount field national park

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