Monday, March 22, 2010

I am an idealist, a romantic, a bleeding heart. I wasn't always. I used to be very cynical and hard. I changed twice actually.

The first time was in high school. I went to a Catholic girls school at the tale end of the nun era. The nuns liked us to learn typing, short hand and home ec, and left the more obnoxious subjects like history, geography and the sciences to the "lay" teachers. The one lesson the nuns taught everyone was bitchiness. They were a pretty nasty old nest of Queens let me tell you.

Ranging in age from their 60's to their 600's, they were an increasingly bewildered relic of a quaint bygone era, and they knew it. Not above demeaning 14 year old girls as "sluts" in front of their classmates, the nuns taught judgmental ism and name-calling in the same breath as preaching the forgiveness and compassion their favourite guy was so into.

There was a lesbian at our school. Well everyone called her a lesbian and refused to be seen anywhere near her because she had short hair and wore desert boots on free dress day. I thought those criteria were far too arbitrary to be conclusive, but I did get a flier in the mail years later for her one-woman-performance-installation entitled "Dyke Diatribe". The point is, that this baby lesso was very, very openly bullied at our school, and nothing was ever done about it. It was a Colosseum of cattiness where Compassion was in very short supply.

I was hanging out with some pretty tough customers at the time. The kind of girls who wore frilly knickers to school, had boyfriends with cars and had proper sex with them (often in the cars). The kind of girls who quite liked being called sluts by nuns. Anyway, they were older than me and I idolised them. One day, free dress day actually, I rounded the year nine block at lunchtime not far behind our token lesbian resplendent in her desert boots. One of those stunning sluts screeched her name from the second floor above us. I looked up but she knew better. She hunched her shoulders and scooted out of the way of a thick, green, smokers phlegm wad which had been skillfully hocked up and spat at her head. It splattered on the ground in front of me and I just stood there looking at it. I came from a pretty gentile home I guess, because as worldly as I thought I was I had never seen or heard of anything like it in my entire life. I'd heard people call her names before, I'd even seen people empty a red pen onto a pad and post it through the louvres of her locker, but somehow this just seemed beyond the pale.

It was then that I decided I didn't want to be one of the tough girls anymore. I didn't have the integrity to speak to the girl or to ever speak up for her, but I did resolve to pursue popularity by being really nice to people instead of cleverly slagging everyone off to everyone else which is pretty standard teenage girl popularity pursuing behaviour, no?

The second time was in 2007 when all the glamorous TV jobs I'd had in 2006 dried up and I was forced to face the fact that I was not, in fact your average suburban superstar. I'd really hoped I was because I hated so many things about my actual life at that stage that all I could do to cope was believe it was about to change dramatically. It didn't, in fact it got quite a bit worse and I had a bit of a breakdown and slumped into a terrible depression. I was a real misery and it went on for months and months. Anyway, I started going to Buddhism classes and got onto the idea of altruism, of doing things for others with no expectation of anything coming back to me, (except great karma of course). It reminded me of how much nicer it is to be nice than it is to be superior. I'm not great at it believe me, but I try and it makes me feel really good just to try.

Barack Obama went against every contemporary political paradigm this week, when he chose to lead his country, rather succumb to his loudest and richest detractors. His popularity drops, but he leads on. His countrymen, raised on Reagan-omics, the economics of every man for himself, wale in personal disappointment, but he leads on. The world clings desperately to the religion of capitalism and free markets, despising his higher purpose, but he leads on.

I quite like Barack Obama. I think he's a very special person. I think he chooses to do what he knows to be right. He has given every American access to health care this week and it's been a very long time since one many has done so much for so many. Wouldn't it be nice if it caught on.


  1. Great article.

    Meshel, I'd love to share your love for Obama still. But in order to get his health bill passed, despite having a clear mandate to do so from the overwhelming 2008 election, he had to acquiesce to some of the vilest forces in politics and ensure that federal funding for abortions wouldn't be extended.

    He sticks by his principles for as long as they're politically expedient.

  2. I think when you reach the stage of reflecting on who you are, not liking it, AND THEN doing something about it you prove your mettle as a person. To have that epiphany in high school is excellent, a true step into adulthood.

    Really want to encourage you - I think you are one of the funniest people around, you strike me as genuine in all performances & work (i.e. it's not a character, that's who you are), & your honest approach to life is what attracts people to you. Keep going. Be encouraged. Your writing on the blog to date is very entertaining & thought provoking - it's not designed to cure cancer, but it's not trying to be.

    I like it. :)

  3. Ohhh thank god you wrote another blog, your writing is so enjoyable to read, it is both entertaining and though provoking. I love the honesty you write with. Write again soon:)

  4. Great! I share and agree with your sentiments re: Obama. Poor luv...notice how grey he has gone in the past 12 months? I'm SURE he didn't have all those wrinkles before he held the highest office in the USA. I am also an ex Catholic school entire school life! We were filthy little bitches and those Nuns! But we drove many of them insane so that was some compensation! I must admit, my strong girly (read feminist) beliefs stem from those Nuns...all women running the show and visibly SEETHING any time the local priest had to come by to say mass! Hilarious. Keep 'em coming Missy!

  5. I think I change everytime someone points out to me how wrong I can be. I sort of just go with what I know, what I grew up with. I used to be very sarcastic. Kind of still am, but now know when it's appropriate and when it's not.

    I think I commented on twitter some time ago about a homeless program I was watching, commenting on these people spending money on fags and not their kids. You curtly told me you were unfollowing me for my lack of understanding. I was devastated. Mainly because I think you're wonderful. Funny, lovely and with just the right about of "get fuckedness" in you when necessary. From then on, I checked myself a lot more. About a lot more issues. So I guess, what I'm trying to say after 45 hours is that, if no one ever tells you are wrong, you'll never know. So thanks for pointing out when I was being an arsehole. I'm a lot more understanding because of it. x

  6. OMG. Thank you for pointing out when I was being an arsehole!

  7. Who's an arsehole?? Where's all this arseholiness comin' from? Heh, just kiddin'. Hey Minshol, you've got some pretty good people following you on your blobs, haven't you? Yeah, you have. And you are SO nice, yup. So's Obama. He has a special "knowing" it seems, don'tchya think? Now can everyone get back to admitting when they were an arsehole - I love it. (Only because I'm jealous, yeah? Only coz I'd love to know how to be one... all you cunts!) Haa, no none of you are cunks, you're all nice because you can pick a nice person - often it 'takes one to know one.' **BAJOOGAH!!**

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. I love your head Meshel. Thanks for sharing it's innards with us. I hope you keep your blog going (even if you do score a column or such). You have a lot of great stuff going on in there. It's an honour to have a sneeky peek at it.

  10. Great blog Meshel. I too remember those nasty girls from my all girls school in Brisbane. I used to hate free dress days as what you chose to wear (or more to the point what your mother could afford to buy for you) did leave such a lasting impression and judgment would be passed for a long time. Having said that though, everyone always wore the same 80's polo shirt, checkered shorts and deck shoes so it was hardly a free dress day! I think the funniest thing now is that all those girls still live in the same suburbs and now still wear polo shorts and cargo pants of the Lorna Jane variety. How boring.

    What Mr Obama has done for health reform is truly amazing and well overdue. Imagine living in what is supposed to be the most developed country in the world where people on low incomes do not have access to health care?? While we may have faults in our health care system, and there are many, at least health care is accessible to all. As a health care professional, I often am asked the question, should Australia's health system it be federally managed. My response is possibly, but I am not convinced that the Rudd government is competent of doing the same.

  11. You weren't being an arsehole. Not at all. I feel bad I keep writing the word arsehole on your blog. Seriously though, you should know, you've got a lovely heart and a quick wit. A stunning combination. OK, once more, Arsehole.

  12. Hear that? That sound... can you hear it?

    It's the sound of a nail being hit on the head.

    Great post Meshel.

  13. What amazes me about the health care debate in the US is that a lot of good "Christian" right-wingers opposed it, apparently on the grounds that medical treatment is only for those who can afford to pay for it. I wonder what Jesus charged for miracles ...

  14. In defense of bullies..a half-Indonesian teenager at school in Cronulla during the seventies, you can probably imagine-I was the one on the end of the spitting, chair thrown in the back, countless other forms of torture. My mother told me to turn the other cheek, God will punish him in his own way. 30 years on, I have re-connected with my main tormentor via fb. He is a fireman, a bit of a philosopher and an hilarious guy. Not all bullies turn out as you expect them to (certainly not what my tormented mind had imagined for him anyway), how amazing is this karma? Now he is rescuiing people and adding laughter to this previous victim's life.

    Speaking of laughter, thank you so much for your wit in the mornings. My girls and I laugh on the way to school, your comments are quick and hilarious. Much love and joy to you and your family.