The Apple Rose

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When I left for the USA at the start of October, the thought of letting someone in made my body curl inward. The suggestion of sleeping next to someone made me want to cry. Going to work had been such a struggle. Speaking to people, sexualising myself, being sexualised, disrespected, adored – all of it was too much. Breaking my own heart and deciding on having my womb raked when I wanted to keep the autumn leaves was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.

The guy who was 50% responsible  claimed absolutely no responsibility, he did not help me when I asked, he expected thanks for telling me I was doing the wrong thing by considering the alternative which he did not welcome. This cavernous human being was so incredibly awful that I had to send that little spirit on rather than let it enter this world with him as a father. This misguided, egotistical narcissist was so lacking in sensitivity as to flippantly tell one of my dearest and most intuitive friends about how the other girl he got pregnant two weeks after me was so cool about it, she just dealt with it like you’re meant to, without making a fuss, without being difficult, without being a bitch and making him feel bad. This moron was so self involved that he would say this to a woman in her second trimester of pregnancy while she stood with her face perfectly composed, hands lightly shielding her belly from anything he had to send forth to the baby girl growing in there. She called me when she arrived home, shaking with rage and disbelief. I was at work, about to go on stage. I was trembling. I was still pregnant. My legs felt like they’d disappeared, as though my torso was hovering above 6 inch heels, each guiding the other out into bright lights and an onslaught of loud.

My friend had withstood the pathetic tirade of this squirming lumbricus as only a queen can, “I will not be conquered by a fuckwit Billie. I just won’t, and nor will you.” This woman knew the extent of he and I. She was our number one supporter in the beginning but swooshed her skirts in his blind little face at the end. Dismissed by royalty. He’ll be flailing, nothing more than brainless matter at her feet til kingdom come, taking any breath shared in the same room to mean she doesn’t see him for who he is, as if the sharing of oxygen alone will absolve him of himself. What a douchebag. What a dickhead. I could not curse a child with him for life, when in 8 weeks I went from one of the happiest versions of myself to the most broken B side mix tape of the shittiest band ever known to man. Imagine how fucked up you’d be, if you had to have him as a dad? Imagine the cycle of pain and suffering as this child, my child and his, spun its way through relationships with family members, partners, its own children? I could have no part in this. Cycles have to be broken.

By the time I left Australia I’d emerged from the worst. I still didn’t smile from my heart, but I wasn’t overtly grieving or consumed by anger either. I went straight from La Guardia to Brooklyn and a guy I’d never met in real life before. He took me out of NY and away to East Hampton the evening I arrived. It was so calm and pretty out there. He was fun and silly like the old me. He reminded me of all my favorite parts of the girl who had been buried in snow for months. There was a rose bramble growing in a car park over some whitewashed  fencing. The roses smelt like rose, lemon and apple. Felt like all the answers were sitting in that moment when I had my face in those petals and let my heart fall in. Sharing those seconds, elongated with magic, a stranger standing right beside me, face mushed next to my face, arm resting against my arm. I was suddenly clear. My thoughts felt like my own again and I laughed when I realised that somehow, I felt beyond safe with this man. That moment felt like home. He had absolutely no idea. I hadn’t breathed a word of anything to him. It wasn’t an outpouring of secrets and acceptance of my darkness that brought me close to him.  I don’t know why. I felt like myself. I exhaled. Finally. All my shit, started to melt off me. I could feel myself as broken but getting ready to stir and shift the pieces. Later that day I wrote. I hadn’t written anything much for months. I hadn’t had the reserves of strength it takes to put all this down and still be able to press on with my day having played the painful history over in my head. The reality of it sitting in solid, ordered characters confronting my face with lines and lines of pain in words on paper.  That afternoon I lay on my stomach in the lounge room and I wrote. I wrote with my hair draped over covert tears as they made their escape down my face before I myself absconded from the room and passed out for hours. Exhausted. My Home Fire cooked our first supper like a boss named Jesus and I woke up to a table laden with food and butter and warmth.

I forgot about it until a couple of weeks later when I’d moved on to North Carolina. When I dug it up again I found my little love prayer for the future. Loneliness is inherent in most people i know, or maybe it’s just me. But we are creatures to love and be loved. That’s just how it is.

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I want to breathe unhindered.

To feel the cold wind,

the golden syrupy sunshine,

to smell the apple rose right down to where my heart lies beating,

whispering in rhythms.

Tell my all of the magic that emanates from simple things.

I want to give my love to someone and know it will be treasured,

to show myself.

Give my heart and have it held in open palms,

a baby bird to be cared for.

Share my joy with me.

Feel the same light glide inward across fingertips that keep me safe from any darkness they made themselves.

 

Cradle my head.

Uncrush my heart.

Dint by dint.

Scratch by scratch.

Smooth the scars from my skin.

Kiss my lips with dew drops.

Press flowers into my hair.

Love me.

Without fear.

Let my face always look upwards to yours and trust my neck wont break.

My head won’t roll.

My heart won’t bleed in rivers from me,

cascading down my legs,

pooling at my toes.

 

Vibrate. With me.

Let each cell jump with joy and noticing.

Have each moment this smile lingers,

bask in the assuredness of its immortality.

Answer me in songs,

speaking five tongues.

Dance with me in rhythms nobody else cares to know.

Leave the giant blooms of the oriental lily.

Wade through heavy curtains of its smell they made.

Leave its stems in the crystal vase to stew in money.

Walk a little farther.

Come, bury yourself in me.

I am the apple rose.

IMG_1034Final two photos taken by Misha Jenkins on Instagram @miloscameros.

EAT, SLEEP, RAPE, REPEAT. 

After a particularly harrowing night last week I haven’t been able to quite shake the blues after witnessing the fucked up aggressive behavior toward women and the ignorant attitudes (the most alarming was from a fellow dancer) that continue to enable this current trend of violence against women and rape culture as “not ok but to be expected” in certain contexts, or the old “She was wearing this,” “She does that for a living,” or “She looks like a girl who would….” .

The excuses I hear from men behaving badly over and over again about the conniving sorcery of the vagina as it renders men helpless in a flash of gash, robbing them of their basic sense of human kindness. The definition of ‘violence’ has become one so extreme and obvious as to obliterate the subtleties and manipulations most often deployed in order to effectively be violent….and not get caught. Basically the general feeling is that if you don’t get punched in the face, or visibly bruised, or raped, you haven’t really been a victim of violence. It hasn’t been that bad. Could’ve been worse.

I’m still processing why the other night has effected me so deeply. Nothing that fucked up happened to me in particular but I was there. In the thick of it. The extreme nature of the people involved in the events has burnt something into me. Rolling hills of fear, discomfort, sadness, adrenalin, disgust, anger, tension, violation, humiliation, embarrassment, confusion, disbelief. I keep seeing the faces and hands…fingers, hearing the roars, profanities and cries, feeling over and over again the sensation of being numb in myself but hurting on behalf of everyone else and beyond. Maybe those girls have forgotten it by now. I haven’t. I want to be able to sweep it to the side, watch my sadness for human kind float away like particles of dust. I don’t actively watch the news anymore. I haven’t since 2008. But even still, ensconced in this little girl’s bubble of a world that I have constructed for myself, the stories of brutal rape and senseless victim blaming in India, of some fat Asian’s stupid rape culture t-shirt at Coachella, the girl in Melbourne being stabbed to death in the light of early evening, have all made it through my strawberry flavoured hubba bubba barrier.

Photo sniped from thump.com and please note that @JemayelK is the guy who posted the picture, not the dickhead wearing the shirt.  

No one was violently raped the other night. Not as such. Not with a dick anyway. I don’t know. Does a finger shoved up a vagina or asshole without consent count? Does a giant Maori man fucked off his face on drugs licking a girl’s vagina while she is facing the other way, or the same giant biting another girl hard on the shoulder, or his Sydney Lebanese friend digging both hands into her ass so hard that I could see the dints of his nails and fingertips, count as violence? I’m inclined to say yes but for some reason, the reactions of people who are told this story or who were actually there, seem to indicate no. This is what makes my heart hurt days later. This is why my eyes still sting with the threat of tears. This is why my throat constricts and my breathing pauses as I actively try NOT TO FEEL IT. I am trying not to feel the way I SHOULD feel when I was in the same room over a period when all of these things were happening. Some things I was aware of, some not. I was doing my best to manage my guy, to distract him from the fingering, the arse smacking and grabbing, ear licking, that was going on around us so that he wouldn’t expect the same. His octopus hands were doing their best to wander, his energy within our dynamic was threatening to fracture, to stray from me and become a part of the pack. My eyes were on him. So I did nothing. I said nothing.

My sister is a science writer. She says we are in a unique position as strippers to have insight into many elements of primal behaviour that have stood their ground through centuries of evolution. Now she has me reading scientific papers on aggressive fucked up chimpanzee behaviour and the hypothesis that these correlate with that of humans due to both biological AND cultural similarities. I’m learning that sexual coercion and collective violence are common in both. That it’s not just an imagined phenomena that men are more likely to fuck your shit up, and that women go for men who will fuck their shit up. And that one of the biggest differences between Great Apes and homosapiens is that the male homosapiens SHOULD be advanced enough to over ride their biological compulsions to be total fucking assholes, and that the females SHOULD be advanced enough to know that they have other choices than to take it like a bitch. And it’s up here on my high horse, where the air is brisk and fresh, and everything seems so clearly laid out before my eyes, that I have to marvel at myself. It was only 6 months ago that I allowed myself to be violated. I did not defend myself. I did not speak out. My brain over rid my instinct and I paid that milk eyed toad faced predator and left without a word of complaint. When I was 14 years old I was in the room as my best friend was molested. It was subtle, it wasn’t obviously violent. Even so, I thought I knew something was wrong. I did nothing. I said nothing. I did nothing because all my life I have been trained not to speak up. I was taught as a child not to question people in a position of authority or care. As adults women are told not to be hysterical, not to over react, not to be emotional. To handle things without ‘causing’ drama. It’s always on us to fix our reactions, to tolerate the behaviour of others and adjust ourselves to cope. It’s wrong. This needs to change.

After a night like that all I want is to be held. To have a man I care for show me what it’s supposed to be like. Contact. Intimacy. Care. Tenderness. The right way to be naked in front of someone. The right way to be touched and admired. To be desired for more than my instagrammable arse and my perky boobs. The right way to have someone inside me. To be really seen, and valued, instead of just looked at and chucked a hundred dollar bill. To be wanted for more than just 10 minutes of possession.  To have someone see me as I really am as their eyes move over me, trace their fingertips from my forehead to my toes, up the back of my legs all the way up again to cradle the crown of my head. Just to remind me that that kind of thing really exists.

R.I.P. Macini

My laptop has perished. I can’t say I’m sorry. He was always slow and disobedient. Quite frankly if he weren’t so good looking I would’ve ditched him for a different model ages ago. I’m leaving tropical paradise and heading back to Australia to get my spare but can’t do any writing til then.

Have a few people who contacted me via FB message that I still need to reply to. I’m sorry it’s taking so long! I want to have the time and head space to respond thoughtfully. Throwing myself into the paws of my animals and the arms of my friends will get my head and heart back to where they need to be. I’ve been so homesick since the incident with Ze German. Was too overwhelmed last week to respond to a lot of the words that came my way over the last 8 days. My hands are so sore they are crip typing. So it’s just as well I’m getting the enforced break.

Thank you so much for all the support and sharing of your sorrows last week. It helped me immeasurably. It was absolutely not expected to have so much interaction with this blog. I feel a little sheepish to admit that I just write to help myself. But it makes me really happy to think I helped so many people by sharing that story. It had over 4000 readers and I had close to 80 personal emails to reply to so I think it’s safe to say that, unfortunately, sexual harassment and assault – whatever you wanna call it – is really trending right now. Off the charts!

See you next week sometime.

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The Big O

  
People often feel a little guilty about objectifying us girls when they visit a strip club. I guess that’s one thing to feel bad about if you’re an asshole about it. But it’s also condescending to think of strippers as victims of objectification. I mean really, no one seems to feel sorry for the 14 year old Kate Moss in that Calvin Klein campaign. It’s the very thought that turns it from an appreciation to an objectification.

It’s what a lot of women like to think so they can feel sorry for us and be safe because obviously we are all fucked in the head, which therefore makes us less appealing, and therefore less likely to steal the husbands or boyfriends of theirs that we have absolutely no interest in stealing. These concerned girlfriends and wives obviously haven’t heard that thing about how crazy girls are the best fucks in the forest because if they had they’d be increasing their benzodiazepine intake to allay their fears of members of orthodox or born again church groups; women living in isolation on self sustaining farms in bum-fuck-no-town-no-where bunking on mattresses stuffed with sustainably farmed organic straw in shipping crates collecting the hair shed from their bodies to reverently stuff the pillow of their long haired guru; and of course girls in mental hospitals who can be unpredictable and on all kinds of meds. And they certainly would not see the correlation between the benzo use of themselves and the latter. No need to worry so much about the strippers or the crazies. The kind of bitch who will go after your hapless man, powerless like a deer in tit lights, will not be contained to just one industry. That kind of bitch, is that kind of bitch, no matter how she makes her money.

It’s what a lot of men like to think so they can feel like nice guys when they ask you “What are you doing in a place like this? Doing a job like this? You’re such a nice girl. Funny. Smart. Beautiful. Sweet…” As though they are really, no I mean really seeing us as humans. As if you can’t be all of those things and take your clothes off for money. As if you can only be all those things if you star in Disney kids shows (ja cause Britney and Lindsay are such awesome idols for your children), or work with special needs kids, or work behind the counter at Baker’s Delight getting paid $12 an hour and stuffing your face with samples of sundried tomato pull apart bread all day long – I only say this because that’s what I’d be doing…. No offence intended for anyone who actually does work at Baker’s Delight. OMG and shit quality custard tarts!!! I would smash those all day every day til I was sweating sweet gooey custard that I could collect from my arm pits and scrape back into empty pie shells I bought from Woollies on a Saturday morning, refrigerate and then eat all over again in the afternoon.

On the nights that my humour is still in tact and guys ask me what I really do for a living, what income in a respectable trade I need to subsidise, I often tell them I work with people with special needs. People who dribble and sometimes even vomit on themselves, don’t understand social etiquette, have addiction issues, anger management problems, mental retardation coupled with sexual perversions, autistics from across the entire spectrum and people with Aspergers disease who don’t understand emotions and how their words and actions effect others.

“Wow! Really?? That’s so saaaaad. Those poor people. How long have you been doing that for?” Sometimes they get it. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I let them in on the joke. Sometimes I don’t.

“Yes, I really do work in community services…..in a way. Yes, sometimes it really does bring me down. It can be pretty intense. Yeaaaaaah.”

Sometimes nasty ladies of the 9-5 circuit come in and objectify us too. They sit at our podiums specifically to snarl and snigger at us and talk about our cellulite, or how their bff 4 eva sitting next to them is waaaaaay hotter than that girl on the stage, or how she has been going to Pole Divas for nearly 2 years now and is totally so much better at that descending angel inversion than that girl is…oh, and waaaaay hotter too. I imagine this last type of girl actually ends up demonstrating this inversion on a pole at 1 Oak in New York’s west side, or any which one of Melbourne CBD’s unsuspecting sign posts in the wee drunken hours of her “later that night” montage. Unashamedly displaying her g-banger and the half of her butt cheeks that drew the short straw and didn’t get to hang out the bottom of her skirt that night. This epidemic of pole rape is sweeping its way across many nations like wildfire. And it’s not due to globalization or climate change. I hope it never stops because it’s insanely entertaining and hopefully therapeutic cause these girls obviously have something they need to express that isn’t seeing the light of day or the dark of night frequently enough.

On the flip side of that female market there are also many feminists out there defending our rights as real people with real feelings and to them I’d like to say thanks for the sentiment of care but without delving into a muff that I don’t know that much about having never done that myself, us kids are alright! And if we aren’t, it’s not due to being objectified by strangers. If this were the case I’m pretty sure every girl who walks the street out there in pretty much every country, fat or thin, short or tall, would also be in a high risk category and worthy of an armed defence force and pamphlet literature containing A LOT OF UPPER CASE BOLD text.

To be honest, sometimes it’s a relief to be the object of my own heart’s desire. To just be a shell of a girl. Shiny and bright. Under lights that erase the imperfections of my body that I notice daily. Languid limbs dancing slowly to my own song on a pole in the middle of a snow globe. Suspended in time with glitter falling all around until the floor is covered in a life that seems brighter than the shit day you just had, the Aunty you visited in a hospice last week who’s skull is the most prominent feature of a face that once had a sparkle you’ll never forget. It can be your 20 minutes of peace that set, or your one accumulated one hour of happiness that day. Unless they play top 40 Katy Perry, Skrillex or any one of the empowering Pink ballads on the system. In which case your day is still fucked and the soundtrack to your nightmares has been decided for you by the DJ who is too busy getting a blowjob in the booth to care what kind of ear violation he is subjecting you to.

Objectification is in the eye of the beholder. Hold onto it, or let it go but please don’t spoof into my sparkle globe with your condescending cunt or cock confetti.

   

Saigon Sorrows

I wrote this in Febuary 2013.  It’s taken almost 2 years for me to hit the button that will force me to take just one more tiny step in processing the suffering that has coloured my blood since I was a very little girl. Dedicating it to my dad, from his youngest. I truly hope he never ever reads it.


For my entire adolescent and adult life I’ve felt sad and disappointed by my dad’s performance as my father. I felt as though he failed my sister and I. Often it was us who played parents to him as we traversed our way through his depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. His inability to happily exist within society and our family hurt me. Our adoration and love as children was never enough to make him happy. As a child of the 80’s, raised on Disney, and a teen of the 90’s and avid watcher of old romantic films, this was devastating. My sister idolized him well beyond the point where she realized he was not the man she thought he was. She moved to Sydney to live with him and my step-mum when she was 14. It didn’t work out. She was living in a half way house run by a kick ass nun (thanks for caring for my sister Sister) from her school by the age of 16.

Dad left Australia in 1997. He wanted to give back something to the region he felt he had helped to destroy. Vietnam was too much for him so he has lived in either Cambodia or Laos ever since. I was 17 when he left the country and I felt abandoned. Didn’t he know he was going to miss everything? Didn’t he care? He came to see me perform in a school production of West Side Story just days before he left. I was embarrassed for him to see that side of me. It seemed too personal for him to get a glimpse of me doing something I loved when he was about to up and leave us. It made me want to cry to think of him standing there and being proud of me. Having that moment where he saw his little girl through the eyes of hundreds of other people, but got to feel special, to enjoy the feeling of his heart swelling, because he was my dad. He didn’t deserve it. I wanted to cry at my own bitterness. I wanted to flip the bird and tell him to get fucked. I wanted to scream because I didn’t really want to tell him to get fucked. I really longed for him to show us that he was our dad who loved us more than anything, and to stay in the country to be close to us.

When I was 21, I moved to Sydney for uni. He had given a list of orders written with military precision to my mother and my ex-stepmum to sort through his things from his storage unit. My sister and I were to distribute everything amongst us women and set some things aside that dad particularly wanted. Some of these were obscure….antique silver mandarins, antique daggers, my grandfather’s war medals. We didn’t know where they were and couldn’t find them. He came home to Australia and accused my mother and stepmum of conspiring to steal his belongings. I told him he was being ridiculous. That mum had never asked him for, nor had he given her anything. He lost his shit in the middle of Oxford Street at lunch hour. Shouting that I was a nasty little bitch and that we were all against him. I turned around and walked away. A few days later he called mum to tell her that she had done a bad job in raising us, that my sister and I were not good people. Deceitful and selfish, horrible little women, a far cry from Louisa May Alcott’s cherubs. These incidents, his absence of 15 years and his tendency to flip out when he returns home have all contributed to the demise of our relationship. From that day on Oxford Street, I was no longer daddy’s little girl. He doesn’t even know the half of it.

As I type – tappy tap tap – I am in Ho Chi Minh city. The streets are overflowing with civilians buzzing with festivity for Tet, the New Year celebrations. Years ago my dad told me he had returned to Vietnam in the hope of tracking down some of the Vietnamese people who had befriended him during his time here in the American/Vietnam War. He came from a fucked up 1950’s nuclear Australian family. Standard. My grandmother was a tortured soul who needed attention more than anything else. She would walk my dad and uncle to the country bus stop and in floods of tears she would tell them that when they returned from school, she might be gone. Forever. What a gal. My grandfather had been in the navy in WWII and was a violent drunk. He busted my grandmother having an affair and thought my father was the child of another man. He picked on my dad. Dad had brown hair, sad brown eyes, and big ears. He didn’t like sports like his younger brother, he liked books and languages like some fucking faggot. My grandfather had an ill temper and once flew into a rage and knocked my 12 year old dad out cold. It wasn’t until I was born, with blonde hair and blue eyes, just like Poppa, that he believed my father was his son by blood.

I have always known that my dad treasured the bonds he made in Vietnam. The Vietnamese taught him their language and they got along great. I have the photos of his time in the War. Serious children with rifles almost as tall as they are. Him smoking ciggies and playing cards with other soldiers. I’ve always known he was damaged goods. At times as unpalatable as the 14 year old cans of tinned tomatoes we found in mum’s cupboard last Christmas.

Just before he left Australia he wrote me a letter telling me that he had had a Vietnamese lover. Dad had held him in his arms as he died. I can’t remember exactly what happened. I only ever read the letter once and then buried it in a box with all my other letters from over the years. The shock of finding out my father had had a male lover was overwhelming. The pain of knowing what he had suffered and lost was even greater. I chose not to acknowledge it. We have never spoken about the letter he wrote me and sometimes I wonder if I imagined the whole thing.

A few years ago dad told me that he came back to Vietnam in the hope of finding some of the locals who had befriended him. He went to the War Museum and there he saw the names and faces of every single person he was looking for. They had all been murdered in various horrifying ways over the course of the War. Men, women and children. Today I visited this museum and I was quickly reduced to tears. The pressure from the heat and my heart left me struggling to breathe as I floated my way up stairs and around rooms walking through the terrors that woke my dad every night that I remember with him. I looked at photographs and read captions. I saw faces contorted by suffering and also hope. With each name and face I couldn’t help wondering who my dad had been looking for? Which faces did he find on those walls? I imagined his heart racing as he wandered the exhibits, breaking over and over again with every familiar face he saw. I finally understand the weight of my father’s sorrow. And it is as heavy as fuck. I finally understand that tenor in his voice when it used to fall really low, low, low. Down to a whisper. The film of water over his eyes that was sometimes inexplicable. The heaviness of his spirit.

I’m glad I finally faced my own fears and came to Vietnam. I’ve always wanted to come, but never have. I’ve kept it at a distance, knowing that it would be a very personal experience. I have found and placed another piece in the puzzle that is my father. Dad gave me all his old albums from the storage unit and they are filled with photographs that he took of my sister and I as children. You can feel his love shining at us through the lense. He was not perfect. He often was not there, even when he was in front of us. He didn’t cope with us growing up and holding him accountable for his failings. But he loves us and deserves forgiveness and a real chance to bear witness to our lives and to be a proud father. Cause actually, my sister and I turned out alright and I know that might make him happy to know.

Except for the whole job thing. I don’t want him to see his little girl through the eyes of the thousands of other men who have gazed upon me. A lot of them have known me better than he ever will. I’ve spoken to some of them about the things that matter most to me, that make me laugh or break my heart. He’ll always be my dad. I will always love and respect him. I accept him as he is. But he will never know me as I am.

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