Monthly Archives: November 2009

Old Friends

When I am done with these exams, I am going to sit down with some movies I have seen before, and some books that have been sitting unread on my shelves for way too long.  For one reason or another all of these movies have been on my mind at some point during the year, and I haven’t made time to watch them.

They are: La Femme Nikita (the original, French), The Assassin (remake, American), Fight ClubBoys On The SideHigh Art (fabulous but incredibly depressing), Alien, Aliens, Pump Up The Volume, Priscilla Queen of the DesertBound, The UntouchablesRabbit-Proof Fence, The Bank, and finally, Proof, one of my all-time favourite Australian movies.

Can’t wait.

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Unforgivable Curse

I honestly didn’t think I was stressed out.  I didn’t feel exactly relaxed, but I really felt like I had a handle on exam prep and all the other crap going on.  Then, on Tuesday morning, I snapped.  I did something incomprehensible, out of character, and unforgivable.  I lost my temper, I was an idiot, and I was cruel.  I don’t really want to talk about it, because it makes me sick at myself, but it’s eating me up.

I will preface this by saying that I am not a Harry Potter nut, but for some reason the best analogy that comes to mind is to say that I used the Cruciatus Curse.  People who know me have said that they know I wouldn’t have done what I did if I wasn’t under so much pressure, and that is true, but it is not an excuse.  I am so ashamed.

So I’ve been torturing myself for three days now and I know I will always think of myself differently because of what I did.  I feel like I let a monster out.  I need to get past this and focus on three more days of study.  But it’s on my mind, as it should be.  I can’t undo it, and I can’t take it back, and I can’t make it better.

Interesting what this year has brought out in me.  Not sure I like it.  Should have stuck to partying too hard… No, I don’t mean that.  I obviously still have some growing up to do and some core life skills to master.  Disappointing, really.

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Lost Something?

There are all sorts of nooks and crannies in the human body – and not just the ones you’re thinking of, dirty person.  Cavities, sacs, potential spaces… and my personal favourite, the Pouch of Douglas.  It sounds to me like somewhere you might keep your car keys or some spare change.

It isn’t.

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I am not a vegetarian

Sometimes it’s best just to dive on in.  I don’t like to say I’m a lesbian, because that is a noun and I don’t feel like I’m a noun.  My sexuality is not my entire being, it is a small but significant part of me.  Significant because other people make it so.

When labels are called for, I tend to opt for gay, maybe queer chick.  Not that I feel particularly queer, it’s just a slightly funkier word.

People try to tell me that it’s easier to come out now than it used to be.  Well, for me it is, because for the last (cough) years I’ve been coming out nearly every day, so yeah, it’s not that much of an effort.  It’s going to be different for everyone, but for me, the biggest step was shedding my own assumption of heterosexuality and all its attendant expectations.

Why is coming out so hard?  Internalised homophobia is a powerful force.  It is the dark little voice in our heads telling us we are somehow flawed, imperfect, deviant, queer.  Other.  Ugly.  Weak.  The social constructs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, are wrapped up in stereotypes and assumptions.  Is this me?  Do I sign up for this?  Am I really like that?  Can I change my mind?

It’s little things, like how do you know you’re a lesbian if you don’t have a girlfriend but I didn’t raise you to be like that and what about children.  Not being able to get a phone account in both our names.

It’s big things, like getting heckled, harassed, beaten up.  Not getting that job. Being kicked out of home.  Not being able to get married or adopt a child.  People counting us as less, trying to prove us wrong.

I was in the army reserves for a while, and I kept my mouth shut.  I segregated that part of my life from all the rest.  I never spoke about my partner, my work, I ducked through the personal pronouns.  I avoided the girls and I let the boys down gently.  I lied.  That’s no basis for friendship.  When I finally came clean, my friends were hurt that I hadn’t trusted them.

Of course, it’s not my friends who are the problem.  Most people catch on after a while that I’m no different.  It’s the jerks who think I’m there for their sexual titillation, that it’s a phase, that I need converting, or that I should be kept away from their kids. They are the problem.

I can understand not coming out.  It’s not easy and it’s not always safe.  And I know in this big boy’s world of medicine it’s not going to always win me fans.

I just think not taking the risk, not trusting that someone will be there to catch you, not believing that people can love you for who you are… I just think it’s sad. That’s all.

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Three Words

This time in three weeks I will be sitting back in my chair, wondering whether my brain can hold any more information, and hoping that I have done enough.  I will probably put my pencil down, slip my sandals on, and wander down to the beach to de-fuzz.  I will probably feel my stomach flip a few times.

Before I started this degree, I knew I would have to develop study skills.  I have never really applied myself to study before.  I know I’ve worked harder and been more focussed than in any other degree, but I’m not convinced that there is any method to my madness.

It’s too late to reinvent myself, I know that.  I’ve accepted that I’m only going to be able to focus on what is interesting to me at the time, and that this will not always have logical flow.  I’m half-way to developing a ‘study system’ – a way of keeping track of what i’m supposed to have covered, and a way of making sure I’ve covered it.  The end of first year med is probably not a great time to be half-way there.  Three weeks out from exams.

It’s ok though, because thanks to my friend moot, shortcrust pastry and thirty-something years of knowing myself, I have a strategy.  Not to freak out.  That’s it.  Breathe, and don’t freak out.

I know I know things.  I know I don’t know things.  I’m increasingly aware of the unknown unknowns, and am doing my bit to address them as they arise.

Last night I had a vivid med school dream, which is probably the first of many to come.  In this one the lecturer asked how gold is absorbed in the body, and I explained that gold was taken up by the stellate cells of the liver.  I think this is probably something to do with me having recently awarded a certain number of gold stars to various people.  Whether this has any deeper psychological, clinical or academic significance is yet to be revealed.

Three exams.  Three weeks to get my head there.

Three words:  Don’t. Freak. Out.

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Martini

I don’t have a Martini now, but if I did, this is how I would have made it:

In a chilled martini glass, pour half a nip of vermouth over two ice cubes.  Swirl gently, letting the vermouth coat the glass; ditch everything but the glass into the sink.  Add three frozen nips of Tanqueray, three drops of bitters, and a twist of lemon.

Consume elegantly.

If you haven’t had the foresight to keep your gin in the freezer, you may use a seperate mixing glass.  Fill the mixing glass with ice, add the half nip of vermouth, coat the ice cubes, discard the vermouth.  Add the gin, bitters, stir very gently, and strain immediately into your chilled glass.

Some people like vodka martinis.  I prefer my vodka neat, straight from the freezer, in a shot glass.  In the former East Germany, I learned to drink vodka like this, with a cola chaser.  That was an interesting evening.

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Happy Birthday, Now Please Fuck Off

Yesterday was my mother’s birthday, so I called, and we had a virtually normal conversation for thirty-one minutes.  Followed by three minutes and forty-seven seconds of infuriating weirdness and a fairly uncomfortable silence.

Until I was seventeen, I thought my mother was this open-minded, accepting, non-judgmental person.  Then she decided I was a lesbian, and subjected me to an overnight train trip from Melbourne to Sydney in which she explained at length, no doubt to the delight of the entire carriage, all the reasons why she had not brought me up that way.  According to her, her gay male friends were fine, but narcissistic.  In her steel-trap mind, lesbianism was not about loving women, but about hating men.

At this point, though she had made her mind up, I had not.  Sure, I liked girls.  But at seventeen I did not feel the need to rule anything in or out.  And I certainly didn’t hate anybody.

Cut to now.  I’ve been out’n’proud for nearly eighteen years.  It hasn’t all been easy, and at times I’m sure I was a caricature of myself.  I did some damage.  I got better.

My mother lives with her father and takes in strays.  At the moment her project is the daughter of a family friend, who is now working with my grandfather and helping around the house.  Or something like that.  The three minutes of weirdness started with my mother telling me how this woman had come out to my granddad and how terrible it is that the girl’s mother is uncomfortable with her being a lesbian.  Hello?  Fuck that.  My mother has never been able to look my girlfriend in the eye.  She uses me for street cred: my daughter is a lesbian and I’m ever-so-together about that.  She needles and she picks and she judges.  She wonders why I can’t just find a nice Jewish lawyer and give her some grandkids.

“Tell her about the Glum,” says my granddad in the background.  “You tell her,” says my mother, who is trying to bridge the monster gap that has grown between me and the old man these last few years.  My skin prickles and I sense that this conversation is not going to build any bridges.  The phone is thrust into his hand.

“Oh Hi.  Carmen* and I were talking the other day and she said, they shouldn’t call it Gay and Lesbian, they should call it Gay and Glum.  Even at the wedding the other day, the lesbians there were all Glum.  Aha ha.”

Right.  Where am I supposed to go with that exactly?  Hate yourself, much?

Silence.

“I’ll give you back to your mother.”  Ok, bye.  Whatever.

“So, what do you think GLUM stands for?” she says.

“I have no idea.”  All I can think is fuck you.  Fuck you.  Fuck you.

Silence.

“Your dinner must be nearly ready.”

“It is, and I’m starving.”

Silence.  Fuck you.  The end.

So, Carmen*, whoever you are, I’m sorry that you and your friends are so goddamn glum.  I’m not.   And that’s probably because I don’t spend a lot of time with people who feed off conflict, negativity, and self-loathing.

This morning there will be a text message on my phone.  It will say “Pinch, punch, first of the month.  Happy November.  Love you xR”.  I will delete it as I do every month, and go back to my cordial detente in which I don’t call, don’t reply to emails, and don’t answer the phone when I know it is you.  Happy Birthday.  Leave me alone.  I’m happiest when I forget you exist.

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