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Wilting in the November sun glittering through the leaves of a trendy boutique hotel courtyard in 2013, I glanced upward to meet the glare of my best friend. It was her birthday, or at least her birthday high tea, and she summoned her closest friends to make offerings to her over tiny disappointing sandwiches, liquefied cream filled cakes, and Veuve. At that point we’d been friends for 7 years, I was at the hospital the day she gave birth, she was at my mum’s funeral. …


This year in June will mark my 7th year without mum, she died in 2013 after a brief yet violent battle with multiple gastrointestinal cancers. During one of my brief daily visits, mum’s on-duty palliative care nurse turned her, brushed her hair and tried, bless them, to put her false teeth back in after they had death-rattled a little too far outside of everyone’s comfort zone. I suppose the bouffant hair and teetering falsies were keeping her going because directly after these loving touch-ups she died. With her hand in mine, while my sister who had been practically non-stop by her side for days was seeing a family friend out. This is something I think about sometimes and wonder if my sister does too, mum was occasionally a bit of a bitch on purpose and this seemed typical of her. …


Unexpected Benefits from Developing a Balanced Video Game Habit

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I am somewhat late to the game, pardon my expression, when it comes to video games. Growing up we had a Sega MasterSystem II, none of my friends did or even had alternatives so without any real context I thought we were weird, also my mum played it more than I ever did — in retrospect to escape her soul crushing depression — so I didn’t hate it or love it, it was just there and if you wanted to play it you had to convince the whole household to stop watching TV, connect the TV to the Sega with a weird adapter that looks like it’s a spare part from an ACME bomb kit, wiggle the cord in just right, just about faint from blowing on the cartridge before gently slotting the cartridge into the… er… slamming the cartridge into the console and praying you picked the controller that didn’t have the sticky D-pad. …


But that doesn’t mean you should, and maybe I need to see a doctor.

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I loathe reading, books in particular. I’ve been reading since I was 4–5, perhaps a smidgen earlier than most my age partly because my mum wouldn’t read to me but instead told me to read to her while she fell asleep. My earliest memories of reading books at school includes sitting in a circle and listening to other kids stutter and stumble through pages I’ve read while trying to avoid the agony of focusing on a truly struggling individual. Reading is something I don’t enjoy and it’s getting worse as I age.

It’s just that reading is a major chore for me, I can’t seem to concentrate. I think about 6 different things at once and eventually I give up after I’ve read the same word 12 times. I love non-fiction and wish I could just download information into my head without spending time reading it a sentence at a time like a chump. …


Thoughts about the conflicting realities of being part of a minority which isn’t a minority.

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Having red hair now is far easier than it used to be, however an experience I had recently at a car wash reminded me that we’re still experiencing casual discrimination based on something as insignificant as hair colour and boy it really stunk my brain up.

Life as a redhead isn’t simple, even if you’ve been adored your whole life, there will be moments that will make you wonder if your parents struck a deal with the devil at some point and the result was your birth, and unless you have siblings with red hair you’re probably going to be able to count your redhead comrades on your fingers, maybe on one hand alone. …


And Pain Management Without Opioids

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I’ve looked on in envy many times as friends have reached for codeine based medication when experiencing migraines or the flu, wondering what it could be like to take something that would effectively take the pain away and make me feel good. Unlike my friends, when I take panadeine or mersyndol (do they even make that anymore?) I come off worse for wear. My body rejects it and I end up vomiting and crying on the bathroom floor wishing my mum would come back from the dead, scrape me off the tiles, tuck me in bed, and maybe make some soup with the toast buttered properly and cut the way I like. The only thing I can’t stand more than pain is nausea, nausea turns me into a pathetic pile of whimpering rubble — something the nurses taking care of me post-op learned very quickly after I was stupidly given codeine hours after waking up from endo surgery which resulted in a delayed discharge because I was so weak from vomiting and trying not to bust open all four of my wounds. There’s anti-nausea medication of course, but sometimes it doesn’t work in time or at all, resulting in purging the whole lot and giving me a whole new set of problems like shame and remorse. …


Very specific advice for people finding themselves in the noxious situation I find myself in every year.

You may have told yourself numerous times that you’re going to stop going, but here you are, making your preparations to go. Maybe booking time off work, or dialling in that potato salad recipe, maybe writing out cards, buying gifts even. Knowing what you’ve been through, you’re probably a high-functioning somewhat anxiety-riddled person who seems much stronger than what you actually feel most of the time. Once again you are accomodating the disruption, just so you can turn up and not be the person not there this year.

You know that person will be there, and you know those people who maybe know what that person did or at least should know accept that person will be wilfully participating in yet another abnormal annual gathering. How long will they keep putting up with it. Maybe this year that person won’t come. Maybe they’ll have died in their sleep, or perhaps some way more violently. …


A harsh perspective on how to do weddings slightly better as told by a divorced cynic.

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Congratulations! You’re engaged, you’re drowning in a small pit of debt so you could afford the most instagrammable ring, the engagement party was a really fun migraine and your aunt’s opinions on it have shadowed every discussion you’ve had with your parents since, but at last the first bit is done and out of the way.

Finally, you can take a breath. You’ll probably need it, because here come the unrelenting questions about when the Big Day is going to be and the months of planning an event that essentially lasts no longer than 30 minutes and costs more than a new car, only to decide twice with all your heart that you’re going to elope before walking straight into the nearest bank to apply for a small loan to put a deposit on a heckin’ sweet venue right in the middle of wine-country aka rural nowhere. …


Post-Cystectomy & Endometriosis Excision

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It has been a massive 12 months. I made some huge changes, including moving much closer to the city which I’ve always wanted to do, and thanks to an incredibly fortunate situation and a supportive partner I quit my job about a month after my surgery. I have no doubt that these things, along with making small adjustments in areas of my life that were causing undue worry, have helped me physically and mentally. I’m happy to say that I have had no massive pain events since my surgery, and even though I’m praying for the day I experience an early menopause, everything has been great. Outwardly, my belly button scar is still healing, I’m attributing this to the fact my skin takes ages to heal or dissolve stitches. I can’t even see the 3 other incision points anymore. …


A short story about the time a pet cat kept returning home even though it was dead.

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I peeped over the back of the couch to see mum ruffling through the plastic bags stored in the kitchen cupboard, selecting one without much thought and heading for her slide-on shoes kept near the door. “The cat is back, I’m going to go up the road and bury it again”. I slid back down and thought about what she said briefly and continued on watching TV. The cat was killed about 5 days ago, the dogs decided it was time to get rid of it I guess and attacked it. The cat in question was mum’s favourite. Long-haired, small, a very sweet puff of white on her chest. I can’t remember exactly what the outcome of the cat murder was, but I think mum gave away one of our problem dogs involved in the debacle. …

About

Lo

Professional amateur writer in Perth, Western Australia. All accompanying illustrations are my own.

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