To the ones who broke our hearts,

There are some things we would like to know, some of them big things, like ‘why wasn’t I enough?’ and ‘of all the lies you told me, why couldn’t you have left “I love you” out of it?’ and some small things, like ‘how long before I can delete you on Facebook?’ and ‘what the fuck is the Netflix password?!’

But we would also like you to know some big things, like ‘people told me not to trust you’ and ‘I wish you happiness (eventually – if, in the meantime, you have an embarrassing sexual experience, or your winning lotto ticket goes through the wash, I would be OK with that)’, and some small things, like ‘you’re lucky I didn’t punch you in the face when you snored’ and ‘I really enjoyed looking through Becky’s ‘Bali 2011′ photos too, and especially liked all the heart eyes emojis you left’. We will miss some things, like the Sunday ice creams and the spontaneous road trips, but not others, like the road rage, or the fact that you still think American Pie is the funniest movie you’ve ever seen. Even after we watched Shaun of the Dead together.

Mostly though, to the ones who broke our hearts, we would like to say this: we will be OK. We’ll be better. We’ll be enough. Not thanks to you, but in spite of you. And we don’t even need the fucking Netflix password because it’s on auto login anyway. 

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Best to wear baggy pants. Just in case.

In the Handbook of Life (if it existed) (if it does and no one’s told me this whole time then I cannot be blamed for not having my shit together) (I can), I imagine there is a chapter dedicated to “Moments When You Will Feel Like All The Air Has Been Sucked Out Of You And You Don’t Know When You’ll Be Able To Breathe Again” (a cumbersome title, but hey, I didn’t write the book). In that chapter are no doubt a mixture of happy moments, like seeing your child for the first time (unless, like me, you were flying high on post-surgery drugs), or having the person you love propose to you (obviously hypothetical, but I’ve heard good things), and very awful moments, like goodbyes that might mean forever.

Not to make light of any of those very serious scenarios, but there is one moment that will blindside you every single time it hits you, and it is best illustrated with a quote from the cinematic masterpiece of our time: Mean Girls. Sometimes, you will feel as though your “stomach is going to fall out [your] butt”. I’m talking about the moment you have, for the first time since a breakup, any indication that your ex has moved on. Whether it comes in the form of a passing comment from a mutual friend, a loved up Instagram post, or (fucking hell) an actual real life encounter, and regardless of whether or not you harbour any residual feelings, there is a brief moment where you don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or throw up. Now, don’t get me wrong, this has only happened to me a couple of times in my life; I don’t have palpitations if I see someone I went on a few dates with out with someone else, I’m not a maniac. However, on the rare occasion it does happen, I don’t see it coming, and I have to check that my stomach is still where it should be.

I don’t know where this reaction comes from, and why it’s reserved for certain people and not others. Maybe it’s innate anxiety about being confronted with someone who is all the things I couldn’t be. Maybe it’s just a pathological hatred of small talk, made worse by intrusive thoughts like ‘I’ve seen you naked’, and ‘You like your own Facebook statuses’. Whatever it is, it’s fleeting, and it serves its purpose because sometimes, you know, you need a really good reason to quote Mean Girls.

It’s been done before. Sue me.

A letter to my child. When she is old enough to read. And swear.

Hey babe. I’m your mum. I’m not sure who let that happen, and I’m not sure about your feelings on the matter, but I’m pretty happy about it. I will apologise for that haircut you had when you were nine though – who knew a ten dollar ‘do would be such a bad idea?

Now, I don’t know what the world will look like when you are as old as I am now. Actually, there is a lot I don’t know. Like why people put dogs in their handbags. Or how America’s Funniest Home Videos is still on air. However, there are some things that I do know, and in case I haven’t told you them by now (and since my memory is already shockingly selective) I’m writing them down for you. On the Internet. Obviously.

Firstly: Someone will break your heart. It doesn’t make them evil, and it doesn’t make you stupid, but you’re allowed to think both of those things. For a little while. If the same person breaks your heart again though, well shit girl, you might be a little bit stupid…

You might also break someone else’s heart. That also feels shitty. Forgive yourself. Eventually.

Please be kind. Sometimes it’s really easy to be an asshole. I know, because I’ve been one. A huge, gaping one. Sometimes being kind is hard, but so is learning to walk, and I’m sure you’ve got the hang of that by now.

If you don’t know the difference between your and you’re by now, there is a chance you may not actually be my kid. And if I ever see you write defiantly where you mean definitely, well, I’m sure it won’t be too late to adopt you out.

There are two things I hope I’ve taught you to say. The first is I’m sorry. Sometimes it won’t be enough, sometimes it will. Sometimes you won’t realise how much you needed to say it, or how much the other person needed to hear it. Say it and mean it, even if it’s hard. Especially if it’s hard. The second thing I hope you know how to say is I love you. Some people will try to tell you it’s overused. Fuck. That. If you feel it, say it. Be vulnerable, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that’s weak.

Sometimes the only thing to do is to dance around your house in your underwear. It’s cheaper than therapy, and if you forget to close the curtains it makes the neighbours laugh. Or have you committed, I don’t know what your neighbourhood is like.

The last thing I want you to know is this: Sometimes the world is a really ugly place. Usually it’s hard to understand why. Often it will make you feel sad, or angry, or defeated, or afraid. Please don’t let it make you bitter. Let it make you compassionate and brave, and let it remind you that we are all connected. Don’t take the ugliness into your own heart, or you will miss the things that are beautiful.

You’re alright kiddo. As far as sidekicks go, I’m glad I’ve got you. I love you.

It’s not contagious. 

Recently I attended a party for some dear friends leaving New Zealand. It was a great night: too much food, too much alcohol, an awesome band, bunk beds, a trampoline, and some spectacular dance moves. However. I had to navigate a bizarre conversation with someone I can only describe as a dickhead. After chatting to this person for a while, he asked me the question I dread since having a child: “So, what do you do?”.

Now, I am under no illusions that anyone actually wants to hear what a stay-at-home mother does all day (you will never catch me spouting shit like ‘shaping a young mind’ or ‘most important job in the world’. Fuck, I’m lucky if this kid can stop eating paper and bits of fluff for long enough so I can give her an actual meal), but if you ask, be prepared to feign interest. If I’ve listened to you wank on about insurance for ten minutes, you can at least pretend to care, for just a moment, about the small person who grew in my body. Don’t let this be you:

Him: “So, what do you do?”

Me: “Ah I recently had a baby, so at the moment I stay home to look after her.”

Him (whilst I watch his brain short-circuit): “Oh wow. Ok. Do you have a picture of her?”

Me: “Yeah, here she is.”

Him (clearly struggling with this interaction now): “Oh she’s really cute…”

Me (rejoining the conversation of the people around us to save him from the awkwardness he obviously feels): “Yeah she’s pretty cool.”

Him (after a silence of approximately ten seconds): “Ok. Um. Well, I have no idea what to say now.”

He then made the quickest exit I’ve ever witnessed. And avoided me for the rest of the evening. And by avoided me, I mean couldn’t even look at me. Did I accidentally blurt out to him that if he spoke to me for any longer it meant he’d agreed to be my kid’s new dad? Are a few sentences about a person I spend close to 100% of my time with too many? Did he have so little experience speaking to people with children that he thought they did nothing else, and could speak about nothing else? Quick answers: no, no, and it fucking looks that way.

For anyone wondering, I deliberately try not to talk extensively about my child, for the exact reason that I know a lot of people can’t relate, or just don’t care. And that’s fine. But let’s just remember that most people don’t want to be defined by what they do. I also, among other things, graduated from university, lived overseas, make the perfect cheesecake, can fit my whole fist in my mouth, and once got banned from a hostel in Austria. And none of that is information I’d offer up if all I was asked is ‘what do you do?’.

I’m sure our friend is much more than just a guy who works in insurance. For a start he also has no tact and is terrified of babies. 

Single and ready to…do whatever the hell I want OK?

As a single woman, I find people are often willing to provide me with unsolicited advice or encouragement about how to get out of this sad state of being ‘without a man’ that I find myself in. In case there was any confusion about how well-received this advice is, I would like to offer my own words in return – on behalf of women everywhere who define themselves with so many more interesting and meaningful words than ‘single’.

– I do not need to stop looking because that’s when love will stumble onto my doorstep. I am not looking now, and it’s not because I’m hoping it means Mr Right (URGH) will show up. It’s because my life is not defined by whether or not I have a significant other. I am significant. On my own. 

– I do not need to ‘go to places men go’ in order to increase my chances of meeting one I might like. As far as I can tell, there aren’t many places I’m likely to find men and not women. Except maybe 50% of public toilets, and prostate exam rooms. Hanging around places like that will more likely find me an arrest than a date. 

– I don’t need to ‘go out with him just once’ because I might like him. I don’t need to put myself through an hour of awkward questions because the payoff could be something so much greater – a boyfriend. I don’t have to endure a blind date just because I should be grateful for the chance to not be alone. I’d prefer if I met someone through something that was actually enjoyable, rather than an experience that makes me want to stab forks in my hands. 

– Don’t tell me that my humour/intelligence/independence/beehive hairdo is intimidating. If that’s true, fuck whoever is intimidated. I shouldn’t be made to feel like somehow that makes me flawed. The kind of people, not just male, that I want to meet are not intimidated by humour/intelligence/independence/fabulously coiffed women anyway.

– I am not ‘without’ because I am single. My life is not lacking, or empty, or lonely, or less meaningful because I live it as one, not as half of two. Being single is seen as being a transitive state, i.e., no one is single forever, just in between relationships. But whether or not I remain in this ‘transitive’ state is not important to me, and if my relationship with myself turns out to be my longest one, then I am not to be pitied for that.

Don’t mistake any of this as scorn or dismissal or hatred towards people in relationships. I know so many people in happy relationships, and I love them. I will go to engagement parties and weddings until my shoes wear out, but when I show up alone, pour me a drink instead of throwing me a pity party.

Good girl. Bad idea.

image image

Welcome to Tinder. Let’s not pretend we’re not all using it. Or know people who are using it. Or wish we were using it. Or wish we weren’t using it.

I regularly switch between despair, bemusement and concern with regard to Tinder. Despair as I search my mind for the moment I gave up trying to meet men in any conventional way (answer: when I hit 25 and ran out of fucks to give/when my usual method of alcohol and shit yarns was proving futile). Bemusement as I wonder if the first kind of approach is successful – if I had replied “oh my god, A BLOW JOB? I thought you wanted to go for a drink or something weird, had I known a blow job was on the cards I would have eschewed those movies with a firm hand”, would he have been ecstatic or confused? Speaking from my knowledge of him as someone who called me a whore for not giving him a blow job, I’m going to place my bets on confused. And concern for De, because while I’m very happy for him that he is a bad boy with good lips, I think his space bar might be broken.

I am under no illusions that I will meet the love of my life on what is at heart, a casual sex app. It’s just that, if I was ever to sleep with someone I’d never met but for a few hastily typed words on a screen, it would take a lot more than “Hey Bonnie, can I be your Clyde?” to make it happen. (The answer, by the way, is no. Unless your name actually is Clyde. In which case, my deepest sympathies)

I’ve woken up in some strange places,

But I think the strangest was waking up in 2014 on my friend’s floor in Berlin, Germany.

Last New Year’s Day I woke up in my flat in Wellington, New Zealand, and the house was full of empty bottles, orphaned shoes, hefty hangovers, and some of my best friends.

The beginning of a new year always makes me a bit anxious. People are busy making resolutions, and all I can think is ‘Fuck. By the end of the year there’ll be a whole new army of beautiful, thin, healthy, successful, motivated assholes who have used this year wisely’. I can’t help but think that a new year causes us to approach resolutions with a list of all the things we’re not, or things we failed to do the previous year. Fuck that noise. I’m fully aware that I didn’t save a significant amount of money, lose a significant amount of weight, or give up a significantly unhealthy habit. It’s easy to be aware of all the things you don’t quite get right. It’s easy but I don’t know that it’s helpful.

So. This year, instead of worrying that I’m still not a size 6, that I still drink too much, and that I still have an ability to save money that would give some people a coronary, I have decided to pick two things that I didn’t fuck up, and that I can actually (and it’s hard because we’re not supposed to say this sort of thing) already be proud of. And not because I picked an arbitrary goal and gave myself 365 days to achieve it. Life is too short, and too fucking great to worry too often about how you measure up.

So here they are. The big two. Only two because, well, let’s not get too ambitious here folks.

1. Finishing university. Not ‘getting good grades’, not ‘working really hard’. Just. Finishing. I’ve said this before, but I am fucking amazed I graduated. I was a shitbag student. I think my grade average was about a B (on an optimistic day). And I did that with minimal work, maximal drinking, and a couple of anxiety attacks. So, no. I’m not proud of my grades or work ethic, but I am really proud to have sat in the Michael Fowler Centre with some of the best people I have met in my life, and know that we did it together. Also, that day half of us were hungover as all shit, which sums up our university experience nicely.

2. Moving to a foreign country. On my own. Where I knew no one. And none of the language. This one I am still coming to terms with. I know that I am here on a time limit, and that in six months I’ll be home again, but moving to Austria is one of the most terrifying things I have ever done. There are things no one tells you when you move to a foreign country, the most important being ‘you know how, at home, you would always walk up to a person drinking by themselves in a bar and ask if they’d like to join you and your friends? No? Exactly. Good fucking luck’. Making new friends is HARD, and at 25 it feels a little bit embarrassing to admit that. It’s so much easier when you’re five and people sit next to you because they like your shoes. The other hard thing is watching people at home continue without you. This gets easier, but at the beginning, jeeeeeesus. FOMO was my middle name. And my first name. And my goddamn last name. Generally, for jumping head first into this, I am really proud of myself. My comfort zone was, I think, getting a little too comfortable. 

So there they are. My two self-administered pats on the back. I also aim to live this year with kindness, good humour, adventure, and love. But that is not a resolution. That is just not being an asshole.