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Brisbane

Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland, the state where I've lived since I was three years old. It's an hour and a half from where I grew up, and where I currently live—just far enough to be an irregular adventure. I never went to Brisbane without a purpose.

There are several different Brisbanes in my memory. When I was a kid, it was just a place that was passed on our way south to visit Dette and Kev, a sign on the road that meant we were over halfway.

Sometimes we visited Brisbane on school trips—like an excursion to the art gallery—but we were plonked down directly in front of the correct building and then picked back up without any ability to connect the art gallery to the surrounding geography. When my parents took me to the theatre, it felt the same: we arrived at the theatre, we saw whatever we had tickets for, and we got back in the car. I had no spacial understanding of where the theatre was in relation to the gallery, or anything else for that matter.

The first …

Subculture

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On my primary school bus—Number 14—there was a boy from Maroochy High who was in grade ten while I was in grade five. He had badges on his schoolbag from bands he liked, and used to share their music on his MP3. We called him Frenchy because his name was Francis.

He told me where he went to get his badges: there was a music store on Birtwill Street that was dark, full of CDs and records (yes, records), and had a wall full of badges from bands I didn't know. Mostly I loved them for the aesthetic—the skulls, the black and red colour schemes, and the swear words. I would buy them and pin them to a newsboy cap I owned, and wear them even though I was barely familiar with the bands themselves.

I used to go to the store with my mum. She was a good sport, buying me black clothes and nail polish, and helping me select pins. There's this fantastic series of photos of me at Christmas at my grandparents' house, wearing a collection of black clothes and accessories that my mum provide…

Buses

Giovanna Coutinho is the person I've been friends with the longest, and I've never even met her in the flesh. When we first encountered each other on Neopets, we were both eight years old. We chatted on MSN, and when that became obsolete, we moved to Facebook messenger. We stopped playing Neopets, and moved on to Gaia Online, and then other things that didn't stick quite so well. We've been mates for 17 years.

Once, while she was still living in Brazil (she's based in the USA now), I told her that I caught the bus to school. She was amazed. Apparently, in Brazil, you couldn't catch the bus. (At least at the time—I'm not up-to-date on current Brazilian bus politics.) She told me that busstops were basically tourist traps: people would mug you if you were waiting in one because the buses were unreliable and unused, and the only people who attempted it were tourists who were probably carrying passports and valuables worth stealing.

This was one of my first enc…

Trauma

I care about telling my truths.

One way that we can help others feel like they aren't alone is by sharing stories that they can relate to, and I try to live in a way that facilitates that. Many of the topics I discuss below are topics that society has shrouded in stigma and has taught us to feel ashamed about, and by speaking out I am explicitly trying to change this narrative.

That said, I am not the only person involved in these stories, and it's not my place to tell other people's tales. For this reason, some stories may sound vague and some parties will remain nameless.

In addition, sometimes we hide our truths from certain specific individuals, not because we are ashamed, but because we think their empathy would be too great. By revealing or remembering our traumas with these people, they are at risk of being harmed themselves. This one would hurt you to read, Mum; I'd recommend skipping it.

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Content warning: Sexual assault, drink spiking, abuse of power and aut…

Hot chips

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It was my birthday. I don't remember which, but I was still living at home and, as a birthday treat, I was allowed to choose what we had for dinner. Dette and Kev (my grandmother and grandfather, on my mother's side) were there, and we were sitting in our usual seats at the dark wooden dining table.

This table—on the carpet in the L-shape between the lounge room and the kitchen—holds the memories of my childhood dinners. When I think about it harder, I remember that we used to sit out on the tiles near the computer room on a table of much lighter and softer wood, and I remember wandering with my parents through Amart looking for the ideal dining table. I remember sometimes eating outside in the indoor-outdoor room, or eventually on the deck they built. But the dinners of my childhood, at first glance, were all at this table in this specific space of that specific house.

Our old dining table became my desk. It went into the spare room, and I used to write on it with such a heav…

Work ethic

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In my third year of ungraduate study, I was in a human geographies class where I was asked to write a report on... I think it was a South American country? The fact that I don't remember is indicative of how little I cared.

I neglected the essay until the night before, at which point I sent an email to my tutor. I was granted a three week extension. I don't really know why—maybe it was because until that point I had been a good student receiving reasonable grades, and so there was no way (in the eyes of my tutor) that I could be lying about my need for an extension. I'm not even sure what excuse I gave, but I certainly wasn't worthy.

What did I do next? Did I use my newly granted three weeks to write my report, and perhaps get ahead on the next assignment for the course? No, I absolutely did not. I waited until the night before, banged out a subpar report (probably while drinking a vodka and juice), and handed it in.

I just looked up my transcript, and apparently I rec…

Red Bull

My first exposure to burnout was in 2010, with the pressure of year twelve exams and the necessary study surrounding them leading me to forget the importance of sleep.

Although it hardly outweighed the displeasure of sitting exams, the one benefit of being in exam block was that senior students could come and go from the school whenever we pleased. Well, that's not altogether true; we were supposed to remain at school once we arrived and only leave once all of our exams were complete, but absolutely none of my peers followed this rule.
We went to the Foodworks a few blocks from the school to buy treats like chocolate frosting and Red Bull. The latter tasted like medicine, but I drank it as I leaned against the lockers, grimacing with each swig like it was hard liquor. It helped keep my brain moving too fast through my exams, which must be—at least in part—responsible for the decent grades I ended up with at the resolution of my high school career.
I didn't revisit the joy of R…