Saturday, January 19, 2019

2018: The year in Five-Minute Photoshop. Yes, belatedly, it's my round-up of my year's worth of stupid sweding. This is a miserable collection. I was so flat out with work at the end of the year that I worked right up to Christmas Eve, and I didn't get a proper break – basically I just had from Christmas Day to New Year's Day – and I've been so stressed since then, trying to finish off last year's work so I could get to this year's work, that I've been feeling very resentful at having so little time to myself to pursue my own stuff. So I guess I'm reclaiming my time by doing this now.

Here's the original Five-Minute Photoshop post, from March 2012. Then I decided to make it into an annual tradition: here's my round-up of 2013 in Five-Minute Photoshop, 2014 in Five-Minute Photoshop2015 in Five-Minute Photoshop, 2016 in Five-Minute Photoshop and 2017 in Five-Minute Photoshop.

I taught Editing and Publishing at La Trobe University in semester 1 of 2018, and made this little logo as part of my lecture about nitty-gritty sentence structure and grammar. When I got to this slide in the lecture I said in my best Richard Attenborough voice, "Welcome… to Pedantry Park." It's through these fun gestures that I demonstrate to students how cool and relatable I am.

However, by semester 2, when I was teaching one class at La Trobe and three at Monash, as well as proofreading three different magazines and various books and theses, co-hosting a fortnightly podcast, co-writing a novel and attempting to carry on a freelance cultural criticism practice (including attending 3-5 film screenings per week), I was basically at breaking point. I taught three two-hour classes almost back-to-back on Thursdays and had one precious hour for lunch. One week I spent most of my lunch hour in the staff room sweding these three Picnic at Hanging Rock pics.

I don't know what I had thought the book Stuart Little by EB White was actually about – I think I thought there was a human family who had adopted a homeless mouse and treated him like their own. But the actual novel is so much worse – Mrs Little GIVES BIRTH TO A MOUSE instead of a child!! The book is so unbelievably cooked and I will just quote from the Wikipedia page here: "Anne Carroll Moore, who had initially encouraged White to write the book, was critical of it when she read a proof of it. She wrote letters to White; his wife, Katharine; and Ursula Nordstrom, the children's editors at Harper's, advising that the book not be published." Despite this incredibly sensible and well-warranted advice, White went ahead and published this disturbing novel anyway.

Why are there so many films about WWII? There are so many other wars with tales of evil overcome by dashing derring-do! Or if you wanted to make a cynical political drama about war, or a touching tale of love disrupted by the horrors of war, you could set it in any other bloody war than WWII.

I think this was a joke someone was making on Twitter about how as a child they thought the Tina Arena song 'Chains' was 'Flames'. So I got this still from the video and put some flames on.

I developed this emoji for posting on posts about relationships with men.

This file is called "catwitharms.jpg" and I think it might have been sweded in response to a post on Cool Cat Group, a Facebook group that basically is just people posting pictures and videos of their cats. Graham is not very popular on Cool Cat Group, which is devastating to me as I believe he is the most beautiful and hilarious animal in Australia.

There was another post on Cool Cat Group where you were encouraged to fill out this instructional diagram of how your cat liked to be patted. I was too earnest to fill it out jokingly – this is actually how to pat Graham. I spent more time than I should have colouring it in nicely.

I've basically retired from the sweded birthday card game, but I can never resist getting in a dig at Anthony's love for The Chair Movie. However last week Anthony pranked me by gifting me a DVD of The Chair Movie. Good one.

I think about this video all the time. Quotes from it often pop into my head. It says a lot about life, and about cat massage. Relax! You have the best teacher available – your cat! A major whisker watch alert is in effect here! These are the prominent chest muscles seen on proud bodybuilders. Belly-rama! Just start at the rump, rubbing your way out, and follow it to its natural conclusion.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

2017: The year in Five-Minute Photoshop. Yes, it's that time of year when I glory in a year's worth of stupid sweded imagery. I'm actually surprised how little of it I did this year, compared to previous nonsense-filled years. I guess this is growing up? Nah.

Here's the original Five-Minute Photoshop post, from March 2012. Then I decided to make it into an annual tradition: here's my round-up of 2013 in Five-Minute Photoshop, 2014 in Five-Minute Photoshop2015 in Five-Minute Photoshop, and 2016 in Five-Minute Photoshop. Okay, get ready for greatness…

The film A Street Cat Named Bob is about a homeless guy who turned his life around with the help of this very handsome ginger cat (the real Bob actually starred in the film):

But I always saw the title as A Streetcar Named Bob.

"Bob! Hey Bob!"

This is a 1945 aerial map of Carlton, which I annotated to show the streets that were bulldozed when the Commish was built in the 1960s. Look especially at the diagonal line of Neill Street, part of which only survives today as a park-like pedestrian throughway from Rathdowne to Lygon St. And look at Drummond Street, which originally ran north-south from Princes Street to Victoria Street but now breaks off at the Commish and picks up again at Palmerston Street.

Here's the same location today. The point of my doing this was because someone on Twitter was talking about the 'ghost streets' that show up on aerial maps, where the shapes of buildings, parks and other uses of urban space reveal where streets used to be, even though those streets have now vanished. Interestingly, now that the old Commish walk-up flats have been replaced with bourgie apartment buildings, the old street names have been reinstated because people need to drive through the new developments.

Earlier this year there was a lot of fuss made about FaceApp, an AI-based app that alters photos in varying ways – to make you look older or younger, or swap your gender, or add a smile when you weren't smiling in the original pic.

Chad does not smile in these terrifying, dead-eyed selfies he takes of him trying on clothes, which he then sends to his wife Zoe for her opinion. Instead she is unsettled, and she posted a whole bunch of Chad's serial-killer pics and then FaceApped him to add this creepy smile. I then thought, "How can I make this photo creepier? I know – make Chad into Pennywise the Dancing Clown from It."

Gaston from Beauty and the Beast is all about this provincial life. I took a lot of trouble to get the sparkles right – you can't go overboard with them or it looks ridiculous, but you want them to look really blingy. I also offset two identical layers of the text to create the embossed gold effect.

I'm still unsure the extent to which this US local news report was engineered by the journalist, who is reporting from the scene of a wild cougar sighting, but then the camera zooms in to an ordinary cat sitting in the background of the shot. Obviously I sweded up a version featuring my own large cat. The hardest part was the bottom right-hand corner, which was the background of the original shot, but the grass was much browner than my garden so I had to green it up, but also not ruin the blue gradient effect on the banner.

I really thought people on Cool Cat Group (an excellent Facebook group that is basically lots of pictures of members' cats) would find this joke funny, but the admins mustn't have known about the meme, because they didn't approve my post. They must have thought I was just posting an actual screengrab and not a picture of my own cat.

This one tangentially features Graham as well. It is very spiritual. I sometimes like to imagine Ghost Obi-Wan giving me life advice.

I threatened to draw Omar like one of my French girls, hence the Heart of the Ocean round his neck. It is basically a joke about how he would always post these moody thirst-trap selfies of him reclining. Of course, now he has a girlfriend all his Instagram pictures are smoochy pics of the pair of them cuddling. Look, on one level I'm glad Omar is happy.

I always wanted a reaction pic of this Star Trek moment in which Spock mind-melds with a wounded alien – I have the dance remix and I listen to it all the time. It is the soundtrack to my own performative agony and aversive feelings.

This year I co-hosted a freelancers' work Christmas party. I think I chose just the right Santa hat to look as if it's part of the original comic, which of course is emblematic of the experience of being a freelance writer.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Neighbourhood walks. It still feels a little illicit and shameful to say this, but I have started getting into witchcraft. People (including me) have all sorts of negative cultural associations with the Craft: that it means you're a hippie, or a pagan, or a teenage girl going through a phase, or that you're superstitious and believe in silly made-up nonsense. That you're a bit of a dickhead. That you spend way too much time on Tumblr.

But what has attracted me to witchcraft (I feel very weird about identifying as 'a witch' but describe myself as someone who is 'interested in witchcraft' – emphasis on the practice, not the identity) is that it's basically just about being in the world in a mindful way, and about being honest with yourself about the things you want, and projecting this intention and will into the world. Witchcraft is interested in how different natural elements interact with each other: the phases of the moon; the days of the week; plants and minerals and colours and animals. It's also interested in ritual and symbolism.

I've always been interested in all these things. Indeed, my increasingly over-elaborate mummy novel, for which I've done obsessive amounts of research into the folklore of plants, has helped prepare me for witchcraft's interest in 'correspondences': that is, what kind of objects and timings go well with different kinds of spells.

I've also become more and more aware of ritual and magical thinking in the non-witching world: mainstream and acceptable things that are really witchy when you think of them. Consider the birthday cake ritual: what else is it but a candle spell for long life? A coven gathers around an altar on which is set a baked amulet, made from grains that symbolise growth, eggs that symbolise fertility, milk that symbolises nourishment, and sugar that symbolises energy. Combined with the magic of fire, these elements transubstantiate; they become something else.

Candles are lit, symbolising the spell-subject's number of cycles of the sun, then in the darkness the coven chants the spell, directing their energies into the baked amulet in the centre of their circle, and willing happiness to the spell-subject, who blows out the candles to activate the magic. The coven calls on the Sky spirits three times – "Hip, hip, hooray!" Then the baked amulet is ritually sliced with an athame, taking care not to touch the underlying plate, and if it is dirty when removed, the spell-subject must perform an additional fertility spell by kissing the nearest person of their attracted gender.

Another source of magical thinking is the haircare industry. Your hair is dead skin cells and these products are just chemicals – as all matter in the world is – that coat the surface of the hair, but they get fantastical names and properties attached to them. They will apparently make hair glossy, strong and voluminous. If you want curly hair they will help it curl up without frizzing; if you want straight hair they will help it relax silkily. Ultimately it's what you believe these products can do – and how much faith you place in other people's claims about them – that gives them their power.

Yet we don't treat haircare products with the contempt in which witchcraft is held. An entire genre of the media industry is devoted to discussing their use in all seriousness, and they're freely available in mainstream supermarkets, chemists and specialty shops. Even shops that host hair rituals, in which you submit yourself to particular processes and enter into other states of consciousness, are not dismissed as weird or kooky – they are 'barbershops' and 'hair salons', and the career of 'hairdresser' is respectable.

I have started walking around my neighbourhood in a mindful way, looking for magic. I constantly scan the ground as I walk, looking for objects to pick up and use in my rituals: feathers, interesting pebbles (anything mineral goes under the broad heading of ‘crystals’), seed pods and acorns. I notice flowers and crush leaves in my fingers to see if they release fragrance and hence can be surreptitiously harvested as ‘herbs’.

This witchy shit acts like a new navigational grid over my familiar streets and alleyways. I especially like traversing the alleyways, because they make me feel I have a knowledge of the inside of things, the interface side where their making is raw and obvious, because these ways weren’t designed for the nice bourgeois folks who first populated Carlton and North Carlton in the late Victorian era and built these terraces and villas. The laneways were meant for tradesmen and service staff: deliveries of coal, ice and groceries; removal of night soil from the outdoor dunnies at the backs of the properties.

It is a fanciful and privileged act for me to wander these spaces now in a witchy fugue, imagining myself the first person to feel this way about interstitial urban spaces. Is that the solipsism that sustains all flâneurie: the insistence that nobody has ever looked, really looked at these spaces quite like you; has never seen them with fresh eyes?

Yet isn’t witchcraft also alluring because it situates the individual within collective tradition? Unlike the mage or sorcerer who acts alone, mastering arcane powers for his own personal purposes, as if the world of knowledge itself culminated in his use of them, the witch works in covens, in sisterly solidarity. Or even if she’s a solitary practitioner, she recognises her own smallness within larger universes. Her practice helps her attune to natural cycles of daily, monthly and seasonal renewal: the same ones she feels exert themselves upon her body.

Power is not a tool she seizes and wields, but something she senses outside herself: a diffuse but overlapping series of forces embedded in nature. And her practice is about temporarily and partially surrendering her body, her consciousness, her subconscious, to these forces. I like to remember that a wand is just a pointing finger: it has no power of its own but merely focuses attention and intention on what the holder wants.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Secret baby. Over the years I've struggled with the idea of having children. I've always been acculturated to want kids in a vague sense, and I've felt some grief and shame that my sexual failure has prevented this. Other people fear getting pregnant; that has just never been a relevant fear to me. Instead I fear being alone and forgotten. Children represent a sense of genetic posterity, a connection to past and future generations, without which life doesn't have much meaning. Hence Children of Men.

On the other hand, I don't like kids. In recent years I've made peace with this. Last year for Rereaders we read a book called Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed: essays by writers who don't have kids. It struck me how many contributors felt the need to point out that they were fond of other people's kids, as if that mitigated their not having any of their own. Whereas I don't enjoy the company of children at all.

I've wondered if perhaps I might like a kid if it were mine. Everyone says it's different when it's yours. And perhaps I might like parenting if it were an experience I could share with my friends: a rite of passage that creates a community. But it's not a decision you can take back if you regret it later. It's not fair bringing someone into the world unless you're already jazzed to look after them.

In our child-obsessed society, whether or not you have kids cleaves your friendships because, basically, people with children stop being interested in other things, and the children determine their lives. I recently went out to dinner with three friends, all of whom have kids, and I had nothing to contribute to the conversation as they spent the entire evening talking about pregnancy and babies and children. My connection with these friends is now limited to reminiscing about the time before they were parents.

Another time I was invited out for yum cha with some friends and their kids, and the parents spent the whole time wrangling the kids. I just sat there quietly and ate my yum cha and went home thinking, "I might as well not have been there. Why did they even invite me?" (Except I love yum cha and, practically speaking, it's not the kind of meal you can order alone.)

I've had some conversations about this with my as-yet-childless friends, to whom I've found myself gravitating. I've felt tantalised by stories about societies that incorporate kids into adult lives, rather than forcing adults (mainly women) to reconfigure their lives around the needs of a child. Corinne Maier, the Swiss-French author of such polemical books as Bonjour Paresse (Hello Laziness) and No Kids (as well as books on Marx, Freud, Einstein and Lacan), was quoted in The Guardian: “I think it is good for a child to know that her/his mother does not belong to him, that she has her own life and desire, that her world is not limited to her child. It gives the child the freedom to build his own personality.”

So my thinking about kids these days is limited to a very specific fantasy: the secret baby. This fantasy is inspired by a writer of my acquaintance whom I saw in the street one day, hugely pregnant. I was so impressed that she had never so much as hinted at this on social media, when the trend now is to stage-manage and micro-document one's pregnancy from the ostentatious announcement to the side-on time-lapse photos and then the final reveal of a scrunched red thing. But my friend had been keeping up her work, talking about all sorts of other interesting things, being a fully actualised person.

Another friend of mine had a kid and kept on with her life. She'd bring the kid to the pub on Friday night. She'd accept invitations and not make a big deal about leaving when the kid had had enough. She socialised without the kid. She went back to work like normal. Her stories about parenthood centred her needs, not the baby's. It was probably a massive logistical juggle, a series of bargains and negotiations, but she made parenting seem un-disruptive.

So in my own secret baby fantasy, I get pregnant and do not tell anyone. I continue to go about my regular life, wearing my same wardrobe of baggy sacks and stretchy pants, and nobody even notices that I am pregnant because I am already fat. I have the kid (again, in complete secrecy, sharing no photos, let alone those fucking horrifying birth photo shoots), and then keep going with my life as usual. I never post about my baby on social media, and nor does my new status as a mother creep into my work as a writer.

Of course, this is a complete fantasy because having a child is fundamentally disruptive. Babies make loud noises and require constant tending, which means I wouldn't be able to go to film screenings. I would be physically and mentally tapped out, and incapable of keeping up a regular enough workload to support me and the baby. And in practice I would easily crack and talk about the fucking baby on social media, much as I promised myself I wouldn't post about my cat and yet I do. This fantasy would also require a supportive partner, which I wouldn't have.

But whenever I'm feeling angry or upset about our culture's overwhelming celebration of the child, it soothes me to imagine how unlike this I would be with my secret baby that did not define my life.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Walking the white dog. I took the whitest, bourgiest dog ever (sorry Dexter, but you are a golden retriever) for a walk in the white bourgie neighbourhood where I grew up. I was re-immersing myself in pedestrian memories with an earlier, even whiter dog (Alfred, 1992–2008) in these same streets. I thought about how I would yearn here for real life to begin, in all these interstices of suburbia that kids and teenagers sense and gravitate towards: the lanes and half-overgrown parks and deserted train platforms and the rundown old tennis courts and vacant lots and weird tiny slices of unused land backing onto two rows of houses, which feel forgotten by money and the need for niceness, and where you can feel alone. 

The lacquer of capitalism and the soft patina of gentility now cover Tom's house and Greg's house and Cassie's house, none of whose families live here any more. I could disdain this, but I also felt shame today to recognise what I fancifully used to disavow: that I've fitted in here, with my white sneakers and white dog and white skin and polite smile to the teenager raking leaves from the footpath. I felt wrong for having always felt at home in these spaces I thought belonged to nobody, among my weird imported fantasies of flower fairies and nature gods, of dairymaids and duchesses, singing songs of the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa ("Umoja: unity that brings us together!") and Bulgarian laments ("three rifles fired, three heroes fell, three mothers cried") and queer yearning ("if happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why oh why can't I?") without understanding if they had anything to do with me or this place.  Seeing that low brick fence where in year 10 on my walk to school I found a weather-crimped paperback of Bryce Courtenay's Tandia just sitting there, and this trashy and intensely probbo novel was my introduction to South African racial politics.

When your memories spring from stolen land, are they only ever fantasies? When you plant foreign seeds in stolen soil, does the fruit make you sick? All we can do is listen and learn from those whose home this was, is, and always will be.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016: The year in Five-Minute Photoshop. You might see a big change in my annual collection of stupid sweded imagery. This is because in 2016 I decided not to post birthday greetings on people's Facebook walls, so I no longer do up digital cards for my Facebook friends.

I have an ambivalent relationship with Facebook's urging to artificially 'celebrate' people's life events. On one hand, it's nice to get a wall full of nice messages. On the other, it feels perfunctory somehow, as though people are only doing it because Facebook has groomed them to, rather than because I mean something to them. I feel as if nobody even notices if I don't post anything, so I started not posting on Facebook for people's birthdays, and instead texting or messaging them personally. But importantly, this has cut down on the amount of sweding I do each year.

Here's the original Five-Minute Photoshop post, from March 2012. Then I decided to make it into an annual tradition: here's my round-up of 2013 in Five-Minute Photoshop, 2014 in Five-Minute Photoshop, and 2015 in Five-Minute Photoshop. And here are this year's…

This was one of my patented 'Twitter jokes that amuse only me'. Imagine if one family live the most depraved lives possible. And then they die, and are interred in the family vault. What do you call a dynasty like this? The Aristocrats!

I remember spending ages trying to find a picture of an appropriate burial vault, and using the Copperplate font and manipulating the colours to get that chiselled-in look.

This year Kevin Spacey starred in a terrible film called Nine Lives, in which he is a mean awful business tycoon who has an accident and finds his consciousness trapped in the body of a cat named Mr Fuzzypants. Anyway that is the background for this cursed image.

Every year I swede an image for our film critics' end-of-year drinks with one of the year's films. And the breakout star of 2016 has got to be Black Philip from The Witch. Wouldst thou like to drink deliciously? I think thou wouldst.

LOL, this luscious tribute to The Room came from my observation that Juliette Danielle, who plays Lisa in The Room, looks a lot like Renee O'Connor, who plays Gabrielle in Xena: Warrior Princess. Same round, kind of pugnacious face; same stringy blonde fringe. Hai doggie.

I can't remember what this X-Files joke was about. But yet another Room reference can't be all bad.

Everyone in my Twitter feed was carrying on like it was the best joke ever to make up fake opinion headlines and share them as if they were legitimate screengrabs. It's a shibboleth, basically. To the sort of people who follow the #auspol hashtaag, if you for one second take this as 'real news', you are a fool who doesn't 'get' politics and political punditry, and hence can safely be mocked and dismissed wholesale. Reminds me of the roasting one Twitter pundit got once for not knowing what 'butthurt' meant, and thinking it deliberately had to do with butts.

But to me it also says a lot about how nonsensical a lot of punditry actually is, not to mention how easily we digest things posted on social media and don't look into them too deeply. All it takes is googling a headline to figure out if it leads to Fake News from The Failing Australian, seriously. Believe me.

Another Twitter shitfight. I think people were arguing about whether some source of online outrage was or was not misogynist, and it got to the point where people who were saying it wasn't misogynist were in turn accused of internalised misogyny.

In general, the online discourse was very bad in 2016. First some ding-dong tried to scapegoat young people for not being able to afford to buy their own homes, arguing they'd wasted all their money on cafe brunches of smashed avocado. Of course, the millennials fought back. And then this article crashed Junkee's website. So I mashed up one stupid meme with another. Here come dat avocado boi! O shit waddup!

This, I think, was purely a stupid pun that The Price Is Right host Larry Emdur's name sounds like Game of Thrones ding-dong Edmure Tully. And another Game of Thrones swede…

The show never did very much with King Tommen's pet cat Ser Pounce. Apparently this was because the cat was infuriatingly hard to wrangle and it was easier just to forget about him. But in Game of Thrones deep lore there is an ancient and cantankerous cat living wild in the tunnels under the Red Keep who is said to have once belonged to little Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, who was murdered by the Lannisters. So I like the idea that after Tommen's death, Ser Pounce will also lurk beneath the castle, dealing out furry vengeance.

Notice that I actually used a Game of Thrones font, which I had previously downloaded for my Game of Thrones talk at ACMI last year.

So many stupid puns this year. This one was based on a song by another famous redhead, Adele, called 'Hello'. Note that I put the caption in Comic Sans for the proper Pauline Hanson buffoonery effect.

Ahahaha, this one still makes me LOL! I just saw this still from The Force Awakens and it occurred to me that Finn, Chewie and Han look like they're doing the macarena with the storm troopers. What a wild scene that would be. Reminds me of those stupid dancing storm troopers on Britain's Got Talent.

I'm embarrassed to tell you that this was the sincerest of swedes, intended to comfort my fellow progressives after the shocking election victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. But to be honest, it makes no difference how pure and dignified you are when your shambles of an opponent somehow wrests control of the country and turns it into a hellscape of bigotry and incompetence.

At the start of the year I was surprised that there was no Facebook group specifically for female film critics. There are heaps for female film producers and filmmakers, and there's a Female Film Twitter presence, but no Facebook presence.

So I started a group, and put together this header image featuring pictures from cinema of women in theatres. It was important to me to feature a wide range of ages, ethnicities and film genres to signal that this was an inclusive group that wasn't about snobbery. I wanted to highlight the female gaze coming from the audience.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Everyone is beautiful except me. I was sitting at Trotters before, as I do so much I worry the staff despise me, and at the next table was a girl with beautiful hair. She was uni-student age, and her hair was thick and wavy and bouncy and a true auburn colour: a rich, dark red. I wanted to stare at her hair.

I began looking around the restaurant, my eye alighting on beauty of all kinds: someone with a lovely slim figure; someone with long, luscious eyelashes; someone with clear, smooth skin. I'm always noticing and rejoicing in beauty in other people. But I myself am completely repulsive.

It is so disheartening to know that nothing I do can disguise this inherent ugliness; the best I can do is blunt it, or blur the harsh edges of it, so I look okay. I can try to wear my hair in such a way as to disguise the fatness of my face. I can choose clothes that drape tactfully over the horror that is my body. I can try to wear zany, jaunty colours so I look more cheerful than I feel. I can wear makeup to cover my horrible piggish pink skin, and perfume so I don't smell bad. But there will always be a breeze that, unbearably, flattens my clothing against my body and reveals its actual, terrible shape. And my head will always look like a half-melted wax sculpture.

And it's terrible to know that when other people look at me, they are looking at this horrible thing, this foul lumpish object, and they put my name and thoughts and words on it and remember it in their minds and know it as 'me'.

Last week I did a reading, the first public reading from my forthcoming novel, and at the time I felt good about it because people laughed at the jokes and told me afterwards they thought it was funny, and tweeted nice things about it. But then on Thursday, the people who'd hosted the reading put up a photo of me in action on their Instagram. I have a pugnacious expression on my pink, hammy face, two bulging chins, and this horrible girth – my body just kind of bulges out below the armpit to become twice as wide as it is tall.

And they tagged it as me, and I felt absolute horror that my carefully curated Instagram image had been so easily punctured by the undeniable, objective fact of my physical ugliness. I felt an instinctive abjection, the way you might feel when you discover a spider or mouse or some other vermin on your clothes, or in your house: getitoutgetitoutgetitout. I untagged myself and hid it from my profile.

But then there is no getting away from the horror that this is actually how I look to other people. That it doesn't matter how good my work is, or how funny or intelligent I strive to be. I will always look like this. I'll always look ugly.

Sometimes I brood on the idea that I can't ever apply any of the qualities I admire in other people's appearance to myself. For instance, when I admire some cool young girl wearing a floral-print cotton dress with chunky Doc Martens and ankle socks, I'm reminded that if I were to wear the same dress and shoes and socks I would look like a babushka or nonna or yiayia. The shoes and socks would look sensible and orthopedic; the dress would look frumpy.

I also grieve the way that I can't look 'hot', because you just aren't if you look like me. I feel so sad thinking about all the years I wasted trying to dress sexily, trying to get the attention of whoever I was into at the time, when nobody ever saw me 'in that way'. I feel ashamed of feeling attracted to someone because I'm barely even a person to them. I'm just a foul lump of flesh, and I'm just getting worse with every passing year.

Objectively I know other people must be able to look at me and see something beautiful, in the way that I can see beautiful things in other people, but I have trouble really believing this is possible. I seem to belong to a unique category of repellence.

As I told Anthony on Thursday morning in a series of text messages sent from my bed while sobbing, "Nobody would agree to bone me because I look so awful even fully clothed. I feel like a fool for ever thinking anyone would find me attractive. I don't loathe physical contact; I am afraid of other people's inevitable disgust at how bad I am to look at, touch, etc. I try to mitigate it as best I can but believe me I look so much worse naked. I wish I could hide my head and neck too; those Muslim ladies have it figured out. The only thing to do now is to just be very successful using my brain, which is all I have. Better get up and mark more student essays."

He said all sorts of ridiculous things like "You look like Mel, which is good" and "Visual appearance doesn't even work the way you think with dudes" which I know was just him trying to cheer me up.

As a feminist I'm in the predicament of believing I shouldn't have to change my body to be worthy, but also I am realistic about the ways in which men think and speak about women, which is primarily as objects to be looked at. And I feel totally alienated from a culture where women – even feminists, especially feminists! – must perform their sexuality as part of their public selves.

Anyway, it just bums me out to notice beauty elsewhere in the world, because there's nothing beautiful about me.

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