Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Relaxing in Bilbao

Soft jazz plays. I’m the only one here, apart from the receptionist who only occasionally makes noises indicative of efficiency. Outside the sun is shining, but I dream of dreary skies. I’ve booked the hotel across the car park. This changeover marks the beginning of the end of my Basque stay. It’s been a reassuring return to Spanish grace, however I’m impatient and some good things aren’t best savoured when the traveller is distracted.
I will say that a 2 day stopover in Zaragoza was a clever way of cutting up the journey. Two 4 hour bus rides are far more palatable than one 8 hour one. It helped that the city had a lovely patina, and soaring peaks to gaze longingly at. Floating up and down a Main Street or two, I indulged my senses with pretty patterns, vibrant colours and the promise of something tasty with every step.
You’d think I would be sick of jamón y queso, but their quality is consistently mouthwatering. You quickly forget to try to mind that it’s on offer all the time.
Another curiosity is how few American visitors can be found. I’m staying in a tourist hotspot near the airport, yet I believe I’ve only heard a solo feminine voice introduce American tones into my jumble of foreign impressions. It’s the Brits that dominate amongst the English speakers, though internal tourism seems to be making up the bulk of the hotel customers.
It’s not hard to find Americans in Rome or Reykjavik, but the abundance of Spanish speakers in their home country makes for an emphatic absence. Do they have limited engagement with Latinxs? Do their forays into learning this “second language” of the nation only advance so far?
There are no Australian voices at all, but that can be excused given the non-negligible matter of geographical proximity.
And yet, here I am.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Reykjavík to Barcelona

The number of churches I saw in Reykjavík in seven days: 1. 
The number of churches I saw in Barcelona in one afternoon: 2.
Spain feels familiar in soothing ways, even though the pollution irritates my respiratory system. The kindly gentlemen who display restraint with their drama, even as their features suggest incipient catharsis. I, too, am searching, but afraid to suggest the wrong kind of vulnerability or enthusiasm. Since friendship is based on willing to make yourself vulnerable, I stutter, look on jealously as the world continues to turn with my fears proving once more unsubstantiated. 

Barcelona edges closer to 
The word I mainline in my quest for identities
You’ll have me longing
For a very simple kind of salida
Don’t know what to do with you
Now that I’m in here

Stealthy correspondence, a cynical encapsulation
Of what would be the essence I could
Come closest to capturing

Catalan flags still up
Gorgeous touches erupt
Into my vision
Necessitating detours

Pursuing division
So I can represent myself as whole
What’s really to fear
In an Icelander’s love of Beyoncé?
What’s really to learn
When you can’t break through
Neither to yourself nor other
Just remaining locked 
On autopilot, go!
Bad habits may lead me elsewhere
If the price is right

Monday, 27 August 2018

We've all got problems

It's been pointed out to me recently that I've spent very little time playing the compromise games that characterise much employment. I have suffered in many ways, both heightened and of lesser significance, but I don't know what it means to have to conceal my sexuality from el jefe.

Every so often, someone will also urge me to enter the workforce despite my protestations. My "disability" being invisible, I often look a lot healthier than I am. People don't realise that I am constantly anxious. My practiced calm fools them all. I don't even mind admitting something akin to Generalised Anxiety Disorder on top of all my other mental health problems. Hey, how many people even read this blog? If you're reading, you're probably familiar enough with me to understand how I could be a ball of nerves underneath all that cool-as-cucumber. And I welcome your familiarity.

Questions of being medically incapable to join the modern labour force aside, I have two conflicting wishes: a) to subject myself to as few forms of domination as possible, and b) to give myself enough economic independence so as to relocate to a different part of the world.

I have intermittent commitment to writing a book. But I'm not quite there yet. I need -- not a room of my own but -- an apartment of my own. One where I have peace of mind through solitude, and the emotional space to set up shop. With my current arrangement, I am guaranteed to tear my hair out if I start a writing project longer than a blog post that I complete in one sitting.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Writerly Imagination

It used to be that I did too much writing and not enough reading; now I've turned the tables. I don't trust my literary voice. I concern myself with niggling self-doubt which pauses my progress effectively. What now?

When I first started blogging on the now defunct Orble, I wrote five times a week. Now I'm exceeding my own expectations if I write five times a month. 

Interesting things do happen - it's not that I have a shortage of material. Yesterday Mehreen Faruqi was sworn into the Senate, reminding me that there are a dearth of diverse women and queer people out there to draw inspiration from, as the news reel conducts its censoring out of the kind of people who really matter (to me). My catalogue of straight, wide, middle or high class, cis men grows, while the people forced to be smarter than the status quo compete amongst each other for the crumbs the media throws their way. 

This time last year I was three weeks away from travels, but 2018 leaves me uninspired. I've been on holiday before, and it's wonderful - up to the point when I come back with no funds, and my dream of relocating seems even further out of reach. 

I'm romantically inspired by a gorgeous genius, however I may be able to spend more time with them by saving further and spending a longer time period overseas when the time arrives. If I spend that time in one city, I could call it a temporary relocation and have it actually work to that effect. It may not be permanent, but it would teach me about independence and responsibility. 

*

Right now I'm reading The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke, and What A Life Can Be by Carolyn Dobbias. I've noticed I've been able to reflect further on my thought processes, with the help of the books I follow up and down the screen. Perhaps continuing my current schedule of reading is fine, and adding the element of writing (plucking it out of all the spare time I allow for) is not so intimidating a priority. We'll see.

In the meantime, I'm struggling. 

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Turning

Things haven't been alright for the longest time. Perhaps it's unrealistic to yearn for the kind of simple conviction in the integrity of the world I was only able to hold on to in my first decade and a half. I'm not clear on what I'm fighting, half the time. I've lost sight of a little, and upped the ante a lot. I've relaxed into my inbuilt resistance - the impulse to sabotage the very thing I aim towards.

I've lost my bearings today. I turned a corner in the hospital and warmed to old selves, new selves, old meets new. What the hell am I going to do?

Disturbed but still swinging
Perturbed with periods of relaxation
Investigating the core cause
Sizing up the inscrutability
Of my kaleidoscope of secrets
I find my fallibility lacking

And who are you? 
The unknown reader
A hazy image of you
Becomes my inspiration

They say to write for yourself, but I'm informed by every soul that has had my mind wandering in their direction
I'm unable to stall, diligently angling for the next question


Monday, 28 May 2018

So I reported to the police, and...

The process shook me up. I was asked about my history of being abused, my mental health diagnosis, what I was wearing (which I'm not sure how to interpret, because the officer was female, and she also asked what the perpetrator was wearing), the victim-blaming "Why does this keep happening to you?" and the dismissive "What do you expect us to do about it?"

When I came home I just wanted to curl into a ball and stay there for hours.

Here are some positive outcomes:

- They believed me
- They filed a report, which means they can, amongst other things, check to see if this woman's behaviour is a trend
- I assume the report will have consequences for official statistics on criminal activity
- I was offered a lift back home (I declined)

Lessons learned:

- If something like this happens again, go to the police immediately. They said they would have been able to collect evidence from my clothing.
- They don't have access to CCTV train footage from a month ago.
- Don't expect the police to share your feminist values, compassion for victims of sexual violence or keen sense of justice. But tell them anyway.


Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Towards binormativity

I have a saying about the small but virulent group of anti-GLBTIQ protesters who show up at the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade every year: "Those taking part in the parade are the happy queers, and those protesting are the unhappy queers." As homophobia fades in Western society, the unhappy queers become more self-accepting, and until such a point is reached that they're willing to come out to themselves (and others). One day, they will join the celebrations. While we wait for this cultural shift, we happy queers can enjoy our status as innovators of love.

The characters of the film I viewed today (Rabbit Without Ears) would not be protesting Pride parades. They're not that extreme. But they do constantly seek to differentiate themselves from gayness by making fun of people who represent this 'other'. In the final scene of this German film, the protagonist gets 'revenge' at a heartless taxi driver by making him look gay in front of his colleagues. The film then cuts to a shot of the happy heterosexual couple kissing triumphantly. But what is actually happening here? Gayness takes up so much space in the narrative, that it needs to be examined as inextricably complementary to the whole. For gay content to directly inform the 'fairytale ending', it must be associated with romance and sexuality.

We could say queerness is part of the shadow self in Rabbit Without Ears, as the male protagonist constantly accuses others of it (projection), but can never acknowledge the homoerotic undertones constantly present in his interactions with his close colleague, or even fleeting encounters based on antagonism.

As homophobia fades, we can expect to see gayness continue to take up ample space in public discourse, but in more and more favourable ways. The visibly out will only grow in number and influence, and I look forward to the disappearance of the currently ubiquitous 'gay jokes', and the conscious acknowledgement of desire.

Perhaps in fifty years time the West will have shifted enough so that very few identify as exclusively straight or gay. When there are so many options available out there, why limit yourself to any particular group? Binormativity (or pannormativity) would be a welcome change.