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Rackers

desire, fearless

I have been waking up every day with a desire to live a life that is not my own; dressed in clothes that make me feel – and look – good, meeting new people, and sharing more laughter with those already close to my heart. Going on more adventures that extend the mundane. Exploring more than just the sublunary. Working towards something.

And yet, each day I wake and continue with the monotony. The same two-step slide, yet somehow expecting that to bring about change. I do not alter the current life I live to make way for the one I want. Regressing into the comfort of holding myself back; walking into an invisible barrier only created by the confines of my very own mind.

You can be full of hope and expectation, but you must keep about some of your wits; for the wits will tell you that the expectation without action is nothing more than fatuity. The hope will flake away and leave you only with despair for the life you never gave yourself the chance to live.

In the recognising comes about the knowing that yes, you can change if that is what you truly seek, and it only comes with the resounding efforts of your own. You can – and you don’t have to – but to release the fear, you must walk through it.

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Rackers

5am, 2021

I like 5am. It’s uncomplicated; it’s enough of the morning to make you feel like you’re not awake in the middle of the night, but it’s before all the other souls around you have woken from their slumber. It’s peaceful. There’s so much possibility within that first hour or two between five and seven; the many hours of the day you can fill with something, the amount of things you can get done. I don’t like being up at 5am on purpose, though.

It’s the mornings you accidentally wake, where you have had enough rest that you can slowly roll yourself out of bed. The coffee smells extra delicious at that time. The birds louder as they’re just waking up without the sounds of anything else interrupting their existence. The air colder, fresher, kinder against your skin. Unadulterated humanness within the waking hours. Not quite like the rest of the day, where humanity becomes a lot more apparent.

In a way, 5am in a new day feels like the first few days of January in the new year. Endless prospect, an abundance of hope floating through the air. The idea of what you could make of the year, what you could fill in to the next three hundred and sixty five days, how you will come to remember how you spent your days when you look back on your life.

Alas, this morning I woke at 5am, drank coffee, watched an episode of Friends, and thought about all the possibilities, all the things I could get done through the day. I fell asleep at 8am, slept until 11am, and woke up a little sad. New year, same old me.

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Rackers

alone ≠ lonely

Alone seems like such a loaded word. The synonyms being; by oneself, on one’s own, solo, lone, solitary, single, singly. And yet, out of those eight, alone is the one that feels just that: alone.

It sounds like the dead of the night, when all you can hear is your clock ticking by, each second passing you with each tick.

It looks like the one lone star, far from the brightness of the moon, with everything else covered by clouds & fog. The one lone star, twinkling down at you.

It feels like fresh, cold air seeping through your skin as you stand atop a mountain, surrounded only by hills, trees and the subtle push of the wind.

It tastes a little like tea right before it’s too cold to even think about drinking; but it’s still a comforting taste.

It smells like a waft of fresh flowers, slightly burnt toast and coffee made just how you like it.

It’s remembering that being alone doesn’t have to mean lonely, and each solitary experience cloaks you in a comfort of your own company like a blanket wrapped around your shoulders on a cold, Winter morning.

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Rackers

I sat by the ocean

I sat by the ocean and the feeling of immense… smallness washed over me. The vastness of the ocean and the entirety of the unknown made me feel both as if nothing matters, I am all but a miniscule blip on the face of the universe, but then also that the universe resides within me. That the ocean is also indicative of emotions, and humanity, and all that comes with that. That while nothing matters, everything does. All the world is, is a series of paradoxes. That I could wade into the ocean and forget all that I ever have been as I allow myself to sink within its confines, or I could walk away from it and sink myself back into the mundane tasks of living. Would I be missed? Sure, for a time. But what is time? Is there a single moment where we disappear into the unknown? There is an invitation within the ocean just as there is into the unknown of afterlife. And what is there to say of the lack of existence in the afterlife, just because we no longer exist on this realm? There is so much yet to be discovered within the ocean, some of which we may never know; can not that be said of life after?

Bringing me back from my reverie was the wind suddenly changing, adding a slight bite to it and the tinge of the sky faintly changed; indicating the end of the day was near. I do not know how long I had been sitting there. As I rose, I realised my decision was made for me. While the ocean was inviting, I would always walk back to land; not yet quite ready to discover what is waiting for me on the other side.

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Rackers

allow grief to move at its own pace

Many of you know that I consider myself a spiritual person. I believe in things beyond our realm and much of it has helped me when it comes to grieving and imagining an afterlife/reincarnation/souls continuing on of sorts. Not everyone believes this, though, and it takes people time to come to terms with the way they grieve, the way they want to view life and how they think of their departed.

I was endlessly scrolling through the social inter-webs, as one does, and I came across a video where a young woman was talking about how her boyfriend has passed away. You could see her pain as clear as day on her face, and you could tell that she was no where near ready to talk about it as it was relatively fresh. I can only assume that she felt compelled to talk about it because she had grown a following around her and her boyfriend’s relationship, and people kept asking what had happened to him. She said in the video that it hurts and all she wants is to have him back. Someone commented and said ‘open your third eye, he’s still with you.’

There are not enough words to explain it if you haven’t personally experienced it, and in itself no two people experience grief in the same way. So even if this person who commented had experienced something eerily similar, and got through it with believing that their soul was still with them, it takes away from the physical pain that is losing a human being you loved. You can no longer speak to them, hug them or feel their physical presence. You can feel remnants of them, as if they are present somehow, and you can remember your favourite parts of them and even relive things through photographs and videos, even smells and touching their old clothes, whatever you may have to prove that they really lived. Even doing that is walking an incredibly thin line, because you can lose yourself in the past and waste away your own life.

As much as I like to believe that the ones who have left us are with us in some ways, it’s more of a knowing that they live on within us. And that is fundamentally different to them being here, right in front of you, living life alongside of you. Their life has stopped. They are permanently at the age they were the moment their soul left their body, within this lifetime they are frozen at that time. They are memories, and while they are loved memories at that, they are no longer any more than that. They had a life, but that physical being that is the human experience has stopped for them. You can no longer create anything else with them.

So while your heart may be in the right place when you are trying to comfort someone who is grieving, telling someone to ‘open their third eye’ is just simply unhelpful and can feel a little contrived. Pushing your beliefs on someone who is in the fresh throes of grief is not it, friends. Allow people to move at their own pace.

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Rackers

existing

If I could describe how I feel in a metaphor, it would be that I’m gliding along a corridor filled with mirrors; moving forward at a pace that I can’t control. I genuinely can’t tell if I’m moving forward, but it’s assumed because that is how we speak of time. Sometimes I’m moving so fast that I can’t recognise who it is that reflects along the corridor, it’s all a blur. Sometimes it’s so slow and I can only see a stranger back, but even she doesn’t look like the person I thought she was. And then there are the times that I have a familiar face, the one I know to be mine, and I can stop and sit with myself in the mirror and find comfort with the person looking back at me.

Some days I don’t know who I am or what I’m doing but I’ve perfected the art of pretending; the motions comes so naturally that there is another being inside of me that takes control of pouring the coffee, turning on the computer, even creating the art. Some days I will draw something and the next day I will be impressed with it, because it didn’t feel like me who created it, and I surprise myself with my own talent.

I allow myself to swim in new ideas and immerse myself in the chaos of being inspired because I know the inspiration fairy doesn’t always flap her wings near me. I work myself to the bone but sometimes burn out right before it’s ready. So it, too, would move to the pile of almosts. The voice would creep back in, only quietly at first, and slowly it would get louder. It would push until it was loud enough that I couldn’t ignore it. Anytime I would even attempt picking something up from the pile of almosts, it felt as if I was physically blocked from doing so. I could only stare at it, often longingly, and somehow could never get started on it again.

I am in a limbo. It comes in waves; the times I feel completely content and as if I’m doing exactly what I should be doing – and the times it feels wrong, everything feels off and I can’t for the life of me, remind myself why I do what I do.

It’s someone else entirely who takes over my body when it has the desire to run away. It’s never about dying, and it’s barely about not wanting to exist anymore; it’s not even about wanting to create a new existence. It’s that this other being takes over and I want to push it away, and it so often feels as if the easiest answer would be non-existence. I am merely existing inside while this mask takes over.

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life tips Rackers

rackers’ life tips: part 31

this list is a compilation of things I have posted on my instagram over a few months, but all worth including in the long-standing rackers’ life tips series, back from its year long hiatus.

  1. find solace in the idea you’re not the only one to do or think…anything. I had read a comment from someone saying ‘am I the only one who thinks about what happens when we die?’ – and I slightly (strongly) cringed. I hate the opening phrase ‘am I the only one?’ – you are one among billions of others. you are not the only one in anything you do.
  2. you have to stop making people feel bad for not being ‘productive’ in their down time. just because someone scrolls through their social media for an hour (or two) a day with no real purpose to it, doesn’t mean it’s wasted time or that they should be using it for anything else. people are allowed to switch off from a society that is constantly on.
  3. you likely haven’t yet met all the people you are going to love in this lifetime. this is worth sticking around for, and a comfort during the lonely times.
  4. it’s okay if all you did today was get out of bed to make yourself a cup of tea. make sure you have some fruit or toast, too.
  5. your people can’t know you’re hurting unless you tell them. similarly, your people could be staying silent because they don’t want to overshadow your pain. talk to your mates.
  6. anti-racism work is constant work; you don’t always have to be loud (particularly so you’re not overshadowing BIPOC’s voices), but there is always work you can be doing; whether that’s educating yourself, donating, or challenging yourself and those around you.
  7. intersectionality includes spirituality. you can’t bypass the voices of minorities asking us not to use their practice if it’s hurting their culture. there is a line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation, and it is up to us to educate ourselves & to listen and learn when called out or challenged.
  8. just because you have the emotional intelligence & empathy to understand someone’s actions, does not mean you are not entitled to feel the emotions their actions caused for you.
  9. people shitting you off? turn to your three m-ates:
    meditate
    medicate
    masturbate
  10. not liking something popular doesn’t make you cool. like, you don’t like the current pop fav tv show? ok. you don’t like a song all your friends froth over? ok. you don’t like cult classic movies/shows? ok. you pride yourself on not falling into pop culture?… that’s weird. you’re not cool cause you’re ~ different ~. you’re cool when you talk radiantly about the things you DO like. not when you’re shitting on things you don’t, or giving shit to people who like things that are mainstream.
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Rackers

within 7 years

Within 7 years, a child learns to walk, talk, converse, write their name & even start to read stories. They have memories that stick, they know who they are and who their parents are, what love is.

Within 7 years, a teenager grows into an adult; dealing with hormones, sex, experimenting and learning.

Within 7 years, you grow, recede, and grow some more. You learn and discover more of yourself, your values, your intrinsic self.

Within 7 years, every cell in your body is replaced by a new cell. Every cell who once knew her is gone.

Within 7 years, she had built her family and had her last baby on the way. She had two more 7 year cycles with us. The third cycle sees her baby turning 21 without her.

Within 7 years, I have become accustomed to a life without her and yet not used to it at all. I have thought of her every day, have cried out for her and only wished to be immersed in a mum hug.

Within 7 years, the weight of the words ‘I miss mum’ become heavier because they become lighter for everyone else. Because time has passed, it’s natural to miss her, but it’s assumed the hurt isn’t as present. You tell people it was 7 years ago so they think you’re okay with it now; you’re used to it now.

Within 7 years, you learn that some days the pain feels as fresh as it did on the day you passed. Other days it’s just a distant beat of a broken heart.

Within 7 years, you discover that making constant mistakes is all part of the human experience and sometimes you will let in people who will only hurt you some more. Sometimes, it intensifies the hurt of losing her; others, it pales in comparison.

Within 7 years, you realise that perhaps, time doesn’t heal all wounds. Patience and a desire to heal is the only remedy.

Within 7 years, you learn that grief nestles itself into you. It becomes a part of you, not your entirety, and sometimes it’s so quiet that you don’t even know it’s there; nonetheless, a part of you.

Within 7 years, you adapt to a new normal but some moments, it still shocks you. You go to pick up the phone to call her, or you think of a question to ask; there’s a sweet, blissful moment when you don’t remember.

Within 7 years, you step more into who you are and find more pieces of yourself that reflect who she was. It makes you proud and breaks your heart all at once.

Within 7 years. Ma, I’ve thought of you every single day. I have felt comforted in the idea you’re around somehow, somewhere. I have felt broken, not knowing how to get through to you or tap into the part of me that knew you. I have yelled into the abyss for taking you away. I have cried silent tears, and I have laughed when I remembered small, happy things about you. I have had days where I struggle to remember good moments, and those are the moments that hurt the most. But within 7 years, I have held on to the love from you and pushed through. I love you always.

 

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Rackers

april + may reading

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Grace is a Victorian orphan dreaming of the mysterious African father she will never meet. Winsome is a young Windrush bride, recently arrived from Barbados. Amma is the fierce queen of her 1980s squatters’ palace. Morgan, who used to be Megan, is blowing up on social media, the newest activist-influencer on the block.

Twelve very different people, mostly black and female, more than a hundred years of change, and one sweeping, vibrant, glorious portrait of contemporary Britain. Bernardine Evaristo presents a gloriously new kind of history for this old country: ever-dynamic, ever-expanding and utterly irresistible.

Absolutely one of the best books I have ever read. The style of the writing is like reading a really long poem, but I think it only adds to the story and the way you read it (perhaps it helps that I love poetry). Each character is so complex and fascinating, and they are all connected in different ways (you can google Girl, Woman, Other character map if you get lost like I did). It gives an expansive history of the Black British experience, the insight into the characters’ lives and emotions, the structure of the story, the connectedness of the human experience even over 100 years; it is beautiful, touching, and truly one of the best books I have ever come across.

Come by Rita Therese

Two selves intertwine and it leaves you, in the dance room, making a decision that winged liner is just for work. Because you don’t know which self you are looking at right now, which person you are. The song stops and you break out of your trance and ask if he’d like to extend…

Rita is an escort, one of the best in Australia. It all began on a whim at 18, after she rang the number on a sign looking for nude models. Always the outsider, she quickly learns the sex industry is comprised of many other people just like her and she becomes immersed in this world: the drugs, the late nights, the glamour, being an outcast, the attention and validation from men. Mostly she thrives on how taboo her life has become. Following significant personal tragedy and trauma, the line between Rita’s sex worker persona Gia and her real self begins to blur in a seemingly endless loop of grief, work, sex, love and heartbreak.

In this achingly honest memoir, Rita learns that death and trauma do not always bring grand transformative experiences. Sometimes, in order to go forward, we have to write our own stories and choose to keep living. With its unflinching, compelling and darkly funny narrative, Come announces a fearless new talent in Australian writing.

!!!!!!. I always want to be careful in a review of an author’s first novel, because I’d prefer to be given the same courtesy when it’s my time. The world doesn’t work like that anyway, and with this, it doesn’t matter. I loved it. My only issue was the jumping around of the timeline, but Rita addressed this & said it was the main point of contention with readers. I think it’s enough to move past, though, because she jumps about with reason as her story is broken down into parts (sex, love, death). I shed angry tears multiple times throughout, annoyed at the way people demonise sex work only on behalf of the sex worker, never toward the ones who use it. At the sheer audacity and entitlement from some of the men she encountered, and the way life tried to pull down someone with so much vigour and intelligence; purely because she is a sex worker.

She wrote so eloquently about grief and PTSD. And then there was hope, for her as a human, for the future, for even the option to read such a tell-all about her life; and there was even a bit of sensual fun. I highly recommend this book to everyone. 

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

This was, at times, really hard to get through. In saying that, it was also hard to put down. I can’t quite say that I enjoyed it, per se, but it was fascinating and gruelling. Some of the scenes throughout the book can be quite triggering; some genuinely made me feel ill, some made me angry cry, and others made me feel an annoyance that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Perhaps at the audacity of an old white male, taking advantage of a young woman? Probably. I think you need to go into this book knowing that it touches on some really heavy issues, particularly as the main character (Vanessa) has been manipulated and coerced by this man, that she even doesn’t see anything wrong with the situation when she is an adult (also, obviously, shining light on the trauma that can work it’s way into you and stay with you for a long time).

Mia Culpa by Mia Freedman

Sometimes, when I meet someone new and I tell them I’m a writer, they ask  ‘What do you write about?’ Tricky question. It’s a lot like asking a woman who’s just come home from a girls’ dinner ‘What did you talk about?’  The short answer? 
Everything!
When Mia Freedman talks, people listen. Perhaps not her husband. Or her children. But other people. Women. Mia has a knack for putting into words the dilemmas, delights and dramas of women everywhere. The new rules for dating in the internet-romance age? Yep, tricky stuff. Things are not what they used to be. And sex talk at the dinner table? Appropriate or not? Perhaps not, unless in an educational capacity and even then some things are best left unsaid . . .
With intrepid curiosity and a delicious sense of humour, Mia navigates her way through the topics – great and small – of modern life.

I don’t know how I felt about this? Like, I’m not sure it’s something I would generally recommend to people, but there were definitely some good points throughout it. Some parts made me laugh and nod in agreement, others haven’t aged quite well and it’s only nine years old. It’s a light read, but also reads more like a bunch of articles put together to make a book, rather than a cohesive book in itself. I picked it up at the Lifeline Book Fair, and probably will drop it off there again next year… 

 

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Rackers

do the work

It is not enough to be nonracist, we must be anti-racist. — Angela Davis

Every time you feel uncomfortable, question it. Dig deep into it. Delve into your feelings. Every time you want to step back because you feel like it’s not your problem, push yourself further into it. And do not make it about you. Ask yourself why you feel personally victimised in a situation that is not to do with you? In a time we need to be doing our part in action and change.

Check in. Donate, and do the active work behind the scenes even when this all calms down… Because this will happen again. And we cannot continue to act shocked any time something like this happens, when it is a reality for BIPOC every. single. day. It’s not enough to just share a post on Instagram to let everyone know that you also find it appalling. It’s not enough to say ‘we’re all in this together’… and then not do anything.

Accept that you will never reach a full level of understanding; it is constant work, all the time, and it is having to accept that you will get things wrong – but you must be willing to learn. Talk to your friends (particularly your white ones), your family, challenge them and yourself. Call people out.

DON’T go to BIPOC to educate you. Do not go to them to ask questions and for resources for your education; google, research, ask your anti-racist white friends. Read articles, watch videos and listen to podcasts about white supremacy and racial injustice. Send the BIPOC people on social media cash for what they’re doing to educate you!!! And keep educating yourself!

If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. – Desmond Tutu

DONATE

Directly to Black Lives Matter
The Bail Project
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Australian Indigenous Causes:
Healing Foundation
Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance
The Indigenous Literacy Foundation

READ

Lauren Lately has a great blog post recently on doing the work to become anti-racist with many different resources to get yourself involved in doing the work. A few of our article and book recommendations double up, but I have found her list comprehensive and useful & will be educating myself with the ones I haven’t yet used.

Choose from any of the books/articles listed in this article; books on anti-racism

They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, And A New Era In America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery

Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Davis

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

Australia Day by Stan Grant

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia by Anita Heiss

Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

Becoming Kirrali Lewis by Jane Harrison

Because a White Man’ll Never Do It by Kevin Gilbert

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

List of 10 Important Books on Indigenous Cultures, Histories and Politics

75 things white people can do for racial justice by Corinne Shutack

It’s time to put an end to the gaslighting that occurs every day in Australia by Joshua Waters

Deaths Inside: Indigenous Australian deaths in custody by The Guardian

The 147 dead: terrible toll of Indigenous deaths in custody spurs calls for reform

WATCH

Rabbit Proof Fence

The Hate U Give

13th (Documentary)

When They See Us

The Watson’s Go to Birmingham

Freedom Riders

Malcolm X

Walkabout


This is only the beginning. These resources only just begin to scrape the surface of unlearning bias, of changing the way we think, and of enacting change. Take the time to research and educate yourself, and share your findings with the people around you. Be better. And don’t stop learning.