I Fink U Freeky (& I like you a lot)

This is an excerpt from my upcoming memoir. Thank you for taking the time to read. 

Graphic Art, Graphic, Zine, Visual Art, Visual, Color Contrast, Poster Art, Photo Manipulation, Layout, Graphic Layout, Webzine, Art of the Day, レイアウト, グラフイック, Design, アート, 写真, Psychedelic Art, Indie Zine, Webzine, イラスト, 60s art inspired, 60s color inspired, Indie art, Trippy ArtSam’s family had long been dedicated to finding the best possible treatments for her, flying her around the globe to access the most cutting-edge medical experts and treatments available. It worked for a while. Sam was relatively well, in cancer terms, for the first three years since her diagnosis. That’s unheard of in the brain cancer world; the general prognosis being 12 months. Throughout those first three years, even on her worst day, she was still able to shine through in that magnetic way that only she could. I know I make her sound like Mother-fricken-Teresa or something. It wasn’t like she had rainbows shining out of her arse (although it wouldn’t have surprised me in the least). It was just that she was so utterly comfortable with who she was, and made no apologies about that. It was inspiring. She wasn’t one of those irritating people that everyone meets and thinks is “nice”. That would’ve offended her. No, she was much more interesting than nice. She was the first person that made me understand the phrase “bored people are boring people,” simply because she radiated fun and excitement, and chased them both as if it was her purpose in life. She was the silliest person I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. She probably only talked to me in her normal voice about 30% of the time; she was too busy playing with accents and squealing in delight about one thing or another. She had unwavering confidence that somehow never came across as arrogant. I have no idea how she did that. I’ve tried to emulate it in feigned confidence on occasion, and every time I’ve come across conceded or strangely aggressive. Honestly, if someone could bottle that shit, they’d make a fortune! She listened to you, and made your dumbest idea feel important. If it mattered to you, it mattered to her. In fact, the sillier or crazier the idea, the better! She didn’t carry the burden of striving for happiness. She was driven by fun; I’ve learned there is a huge difference. In theory her secret weapon was simple, she made people happy. In practice, that’s a remarkable talent.

Sam had this way of seeing parts of you that you had forgotten were there. She saw me as the person I wanted to become before life got on top of me, burying me with burden. She saw me as fun and full of life, without worrying about all the heaviness that followed me around. She looked through my debilitating insecurities and drew out the lightest parts of me. Like a prism, her light shone so brightly that it brought out colours that had been lost for decades. When I felt like I wasn’t enough, she would look me dead in the eye, completely serious and say, “do you think I would be friends with someone boring?” and that was all it took. If the most interesting person I’ve ever met thinks I’m enough, I must be pretty great. I think about that a lot, that if I don’t at least try to love myself, then I am insulting the choice of those that love me for doing so.

One of my favourite memories of Sam is the day she sent me the music video of ‘I Fink U Freeky (and I like you a lot)’ by Die Antwoord, the South African hip hop duo. If you haven’t seen the clip, it is the freakiest fucking shit you’ve ever seen in your life, and it’s fantastic. She sent this to me because 1. it reminded her of me, and 2. and I quote, “You should make stuff like this!”. This was the most ridiculous comparison anyone has ever made for or about my music (which at that time was largely acoustic-pop), and yet I have never felt so seen. Watch the clip if you want to see the twisted depths of my mind, and Sam’s totally fucked up and completely accurate image of me!

CASIE STEWART : this is my life

It wasn’t until her fourth-year post diagnosis, after five brain surgeries too many, an impossible amount of lost hope, and severe pain that it became harder to have these quintessential Sam moments. The first time I noticed it I had turned up to her place, ready for our weekly TV binge and bitch sesh. I knocked on the door and waited for the signature shriek of “Coming Schmooooomyyyy!!!!!” as she bound toward the door like an over-excited puppy to greet me, but instead I heard a sleepy, “come in Schmoo” (I don’t think she called me by my real name once throughout our entire friendship). I figured she was having a bad day, not uncommon for someone in her situation. But in actual fact, it was the beginning of watching my favourite person in the world start to die, right in front of my eyes.

The idle teen who choked on soap. : Photo

I remember seeing those commercials on TV as a kid that talked about how “One in three people you meet will get cancer at some stage in their lives.” this big, scary, male voice decreed into living rooms across Australia. Those figures have since grown of course. I felt guilty, because I wasn’t scared and I didn’t really care. Mostly because I didn’t understand what cancer was or what I was supposed to do about it as an 11-year-old whose biggest concern was how I was going to ‘meet-cute’ Nick Carter. I knew it was a bad thing that grew in your body, and if you got it you died, but I didn’t know what that looked like. Movies would have us believe that once you get cancer you have a bit of a cough and a funny tummy, lose all your hair but pull it off with Amber Rose unyielding beauty, then suddenly you’re hospitalised, before finally dying peacefully surrounded by loved ones. It looks simple, sad and tragic, but simple. It’s not like that. Not at all.

utomaru's illustration tumblr : PhotoWhat you don’t see is the elation of hope when results return a positive result, followed by the subsequent devastation when they take a turn a month later. You don’t see that process played out over and over again until all hope is lost, a little scraped away after each new heartbreak. You don’t see the many times the cancer patient may be in and out of hospital fighting for their lives, and the numerous times family and friends collectively prepare themselves for the worst. The amount of times you grieve prior to losing your loved one is shamefully exhausting. You’re forever on borrowed time. It’s as though you’re supposed to be grateful if you’re told the prognosis is three-months and they survive, clutching at life, for four. The gratitude fades, and fear grows daily like a ticking time bomb. Every day, terrified. You find yourself waiting for something to happen. Something to relieve you of the fear, one way or another. You become disgusted in yourself and heavy with guilt for needing relief at all.

What you don’t see is the process of the body slowly begin to shut down, first in subtle ways that are easy to miss if you’re not looking closely. They become weak, tired, and their once ravenous appetite is now bird-like and scarce, but we brush it off as side-effects from the medication. Maybe that means it working. After all, we also need protecting. Overtime, plans start to change more frequently, until you wait until the last moment to leave your house, just in case they are postponed yet again. We adapt. We all do our best to keep things as ordinary as possible. We start to adjust to our new normal on a weekly, then daily basis. Until one day you see your friend, and they struggle to understand simple concepts, their breathing is laboured, and their appearance now very different from the cancer patients you were shown on film. You catch yourself struggling to recognise your friend in the face staring back at you. In time, they will no longer be able to walk, and again we will adapt, but by now it’s harder to pretend that everything will be okay and that things may still improve. Then finally we get to the part in the movie where you are talking to your best friend in a hospital bed, telling her how much you love her and she’s replying “I love you too Schmoomy”, and you’re trying desperately to hold onto the sound of the words exactly as she’s said them because you are scared of what the next adaptation will be.

Rainbow

Sam died interstate, four-years after she was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma. Her entire family, myself, several of her closest friends and their partners were all there in the final weeks to support her. On the 8th of November 2015 I sat by her bedside, gently clasping her swollen hand. It was my 27th birthday. I wore a necklace of a dreamcatcher that I knew she would like and displayed it to her eagerly. She reached for it with one weak arm, then pointed to a card on the flimsy hospital shelf, which was covered in the vibrant, colourful flowers from all the people whose lives she had touched. The flowers were so plentiful they spilled over onto the floor. I took the card and opened it to see it was for me. A birthday card. She was going to die, there was no longer any doubt about that, and she had the forethought to give me a beautiful, heartfelt birthday card. No doubt she had one ready for the following day, when it would be her brother’s birthday as well. Who thinks of that? No one, that’s who, but Sam did.

The final time I got to tell her how much I loved her is simultaneously the most heart-wrenching and incredibly poignant moment of my life. I remember talking to her, telling her how beautiful she is, and giving her a gentle kiss on the forehead. I remember the freckles lining her nose and the weight of her plump cheeks in my hands. She could no longer speak, and the muscles in her face and eyes were too tired to function. Her eyes welled up as I spoke and I noticed the tiniest amount of tension visible between her brow. “It’s okay Schmoomy, I know you love me too.” I assured her. Her brow softened and she closed her eyes. My heart fucking broke.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow Wall Art | PRINTABLE | Pastel Art | Nursery Rainbow Art | Rainbow PrintabWe lost Sam on the 12th of November when she was just 31, the age I am now. I didn’t realise how young it would feel. I was down the hall when I got the news. All I remember is this guttural scream bursting free of my chest, as another group of hospital visitors looked on. I tried to stand up, to run to her bedside, but my legs buckled beneath me. I fell to my knees as Dave weakly patted my shoulder. There there. Sam’s beautiful friend flew down the corridor and scooped me up from the hospital floor. I buried my face in her cushion-like chest and sobbed. She held me, rocking my shocked, limp body like a baby as Dave shuffled awkwardly in his seat. In that moment, I hated him.

 

 

 

Auburn

Auburn is my mother,

Maple leaves a mark from home. 

I snuggle in her gentle arms

As she whispers, “You are strong”. 

 

Auburn is an oak tree,

Sturdy and robust. 

Beneath I write some cheesy song,

About the object of my lust. 

 

Auburn colours romance,

But not a one brand new. 

It’s comforting and worn,

Like your favourite pair of shoes. 

 

Auburn was my father,

Rising with the sun for work. 

His briefcase packed with boring things,

 Now I wish I’d cared to look. 

 

Auburn were her lips when she cackled wild and free.

Auburn burnt the paper as she singed a joint for me.

 

Auburn were her eyes,

Right before I closed them. 

I’d imagined they’d be milky,

Like a fish I’d just unfrozen.

A crude thought I know…

But how was I to have known? 

She’d be as lovely as the day we met,

Hospital bed, her throne. 

 

I sit here blonde and ashy.

She liked me auburn haired. 

Fiery”, she told me,

Like she knew me,

Like she cared. 

 

Auburn was my heart, As it broke not it two but three.

And auburn were my fingers, 

Next to hers blue… 

Leaving me. 

 

You are my home

The Invisible People

 

I like people who have survived or are surviving. I like people who are open with their vulnerabilities, “failures”, and desperation. I like those that despite the protective layers of armour they have built up around them, their heart still bursts free of their chest like a child that has yet to be hurt. Because when you have been forced to survive against all odds, you truly understand the value of even the smallest expressions of love. It’s not that you will always be able to offer it. In fact, in times of survival, when your tap is completely run dry, sometimes all you can do is take from others. The times I’ve been in survival mode have been some of the most selfish and needy of my life. But that is when you learn the value of a kind face, or a helpful gesture. When you feel completely alone in the world it means everything for someone to see you and not overt their eyes, despite how ugly survival may make you. And I’ve been real ugly.

 I call us, ‘the invisible people’. We are the people society either shuns intentionally or simply forgets. The elderly; tucked quietly away in homes. The epitome of “out of sight, out of mind.”. The homeless; who are almost the polar opposite. They are in your face at the station where you get off for work, they interrupt your night out asking for money so that they might eat, or god forbid, spend it on drugs to feel good for a few minutes. These people are not hidden, but they are not seen. I’m not sure which is worse. I get along with criminals and people who live on the fringe of society. It’s so easy to demonise something we don’t understand but if you have really had to survive. I mean, fight for your own life, or that of your families’, not just for a day, but day in, day out, year after year; it’s much easier to have compassion for those that ‘break the rules’ in order to survive. People with chronic or long-term illnesses are similar to the elderly. Friends will come and offer support at first, but as they start to realise that you are not getting better, and this is a life-long adjustment, it becomes boring. It’s human nature to shy away from situations that make us feel helpless, and being with a chronically sick person usually highlights that helplessness in us. But it means that many of us with chronic illness become more and more isolated, depressed and of course, invisible.

 The final semester of my degree (2016) was probably the worst time of my life. I almost didn’t return, and in hindsight it was probably too soon to be back. The short version is this; my relationship of 7-years had ended hideously, against my choosing. I’d watched my best friend deteriorate rapidly from brain cancer and subsequently pass away. And my father had died unexpectedly in the Middle East, from circumstances I still find suspicious. This was all in the space of about 5 months. I think that would be enough to make anyone snap but add to that my crippling co-dependency, co-morbid mental and physical illnesses, and the fact that I was now living alone for the first time in my entire life; I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I cried so much I didn’t even know where the tears were coming from anymore. The breaking of my heart was a physical searing in my chest, and convulsive gripping in my gut, that I was convinced would kill me. I truly believed I would die of a broken heart, and I am now sure that is possible. Every second I was awake I either had a drink in my hand, a line up my nose, or a pill down my throat. On a “good” day, all three. But I didn’t want to be awake. I wanted to sleep through the grief and wake up when it was done…or just never wake up. Either way, I honestly didn’t care. I was not coping, but despite myself I was going to survive.

stoned-in-parisAnd survive I did… by any means. The means of which I chose was drugs and alcohol. Never one to do anything by halves, I did not hold back. Due to an extensive spinal surgery I had in my early 20’s, I had a fairly regular supply of grade-A opiates on hand at any one time. It was a small problem, but manageable, right up until life wasn’t. And therein lies the Cliff’s Notes version of many a drug addict before me. Recreational drug use + ugly bump in life (maybe throw in a mental health issue as well, just for that extra oomph), = full blown addiction in rapid speed. RDU+UB=A². Look dad, I mathed!

Now I'm fucking falling apart and can't fucking breatheWithin three months I went from almost completely weening myself off the opiate pain killers, to getting withdrawal sweats if I didn’t shove something into my nose, mouth or eyeballs in the space of half an hour. Okay, I wasn’t quite at eyeball level. See, there is always further to fall kids! Of course I don’t endorse this as a survival method, but it cannot be denied that without drugs, I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale. Yes, they fucked up my life and health in many ways that will never return to their previous state, but in terms of short-term survival, many days they were the only reason I woke up. Wake up, rack up, snort line, survive (not a bad song lyric actually. Although if you ask 90’s Eminem it probably already is one). This little process would repeat until the day was done or I mercifully passed out. Passing out was the preferred option because then I would get a break from crying, aching, and life-ing.

Freaks • 1932God, I was just so sad. I can’t describe the grief. There aren’t enough sad words in the English language to explain that kind of heartache. Broken. Shattered. Empty. Anguished. Despaired. Tortured. Grief-stricken. Lonely. So fucking lonely. Lost. Agonised. Tormented. Alone. Desperate. Pained. Suicidal.
Put them all together and we are inching closer. I’ve never felt like that before. It was depression, but this was no ordinary depression. This was, end-it-all depression, and it lasted a long time at that intensity. Two and a half years long. So as ugly as I was, and as ugly as the drugs made me, I am grateful for them. They are just one tiny part of my recovery puzzle, but they aided in saving my life.

ViomilaOne of the reasons I resonate so strongly with vagrants, loonies, junkies, and criminals (all said with multitudes of love and affection), is because the only difference I see between myself and them is that I had a supportive family who had the funds, will, and patience to aid in my healing. That is not to be underestimated. There was a moment when my brother dropped everything and drove me to the mental hospital (or as I like to call it; the loonie bin). My insurance didn’t cover my stay there and I had to decide if I wanted to pay the $2500 for a short one week stay, or go spend that same amount of money on street drugs. Two things happened here; 1. If I had been alone I would’ve left, given up on myself and bought the drugs, but I had my brother there to encourage me to better myself. 2. I had the savings in my bank account to pay for the stay. That is a luxury not afforded to many. I may have been a fucking heartbroken, suicidal, junkie, but in that moment, there was no denying I was lucky.

Ladies don't kill, they merely just...interrogate and take away the non-gentleman's breath.

It’s accepted knowledge that people with mental illness are far more likely to develop drug abuse issues, end up involved in crime, in prisons, or living on the streets. Well, I’ve almost got as many mental illnesses as I do fingers, and I was quickly becoming a full blown addict. I was also full of rage, and I was suicidal; meaning I didn’t give a toss about the consequences of my actions. That’s a dangerous combination that could’ve easily lead me to make a seriously misguided decision and ruin the rest of my life.

That's not very nice, now is it?
The grief in me was surfacing as rage. I didn’t know I could be so angry. It was like there was a flame alight inside of me, charring and scolding me from the inside out. I didn’t understand how everyone was walking around so contently while I was on fire in front of them. How could they leave me to burn alive like this! Couldn’t they see I needed their help? I hated them for not seeing it. For not seeing me. My mind was full of violence toward myself and others. But, even though I had given up on everyone, there were still enough people and structures in place that hadn’t yet given up on me.

All-DarksMy psychologist talked me out of ruining my own life on a weekly basis, I had a psychiatrist monitoring my medication, a GP I trusted, and a warm, comforting home to go back to with a loving, if exhausted, family. My mum and brother are my heroes, and I will never forget the last correspondence I ever received from my father. I’d emailed him in the Middle East to let him know I was in the psycho ward (a place I actually remember fondly; a story for another day perhaps). I was unsure how he would respond but he simply replied, “If you had a broken ankle you would be in hospital to mend that too. You are doing the right thing.”. My dad wasn’t always the best with words growing up, but those are some pretty great ones to go out on. Thanks dad.

I was one of the lucky ones. A lot of the people I met who were living on the street could not say the same.

I could no longer relate to anyone at my university. These chipper, healthy, studious, young woman who had goals and dreams to be successful health practitioners (nutritionists) and practiced what they preached. I wore a white coat in the clinic that mocked me as I smoked cigarettes around the back by the bins, and downed my 10th cup of coffee of the day. I was a fucking fraud. My only goal was to get to the end of each day so I could go to the train station liquor store, drink cask wine on the ride home, pass out, and start again in the morning. I related to the men and woman sleeping rough outside the station. We’d smoke together, talk shit and share my lunch. After my dad died I even started filling the pockets of his old jackets with snacks or sanitary products, and handing them out to people in need on cold mornings. I guess I hoped that if I showed someone a small token of love, that maybe it would come back to me. I knew how much I needed it and I didn’t want anyone else to feel as invisible and worthless as I did.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 3There was a selfish element to it, of course. I saw them, they saw me. It was nice. They saw good in me at a time in my life where everyone else thought I was misguided, pathetic and dark. These connections were incredibly important to me. These people who I saw for a quick cigarette in the morning before rushing off to class, were my friends. They were the people I connected to and I looked forward to seeing each day. They didn’t worry about me like the rest of the world. They had their own shit to worry about. But we appreciated each other in the moment and that was enough. That time in my life was horribly depressing and I’m so relieved to say I have finally turned a corner on it. However, it really helped me learn to be less judgmental, and that every single person has something worthwhile to offer if you are willing to be open to receiving.

… Even that one schizophrenic dude who I was having a perfectly pleasant chat with, until he started earnestly describing how he had just tried to steal a gun from a policeman because the invisible aliens were coming to capture him. I mean they could’ve been, what do I know? They were invisible after all! Ah, what a rare treat he was.*

Image result for e coronaI’m by no means perfectly healed. I didn’t “see the light” and transform myself into a content, clean-living, angelic specimen. LOL! The grief is at a manageable level most of the time now, but of course I still get debilitating waves where I feel my heart crushing in my chest. I still live with chronic mental and physical illness, which naturally brings me down (or up if I’m on a manic swing!). I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m not special by any means. Which is great news, because it means that anyone can survive. There was no grit or determination involved. I had nothing left to “fight” with. It was pure endurance. I endured life for as long as it took to survive, and from this place of survival I am now able to work on building a life where I can thrive. I wish I had more advice, as I had desperately wished someone had had for me, but all I can do is leave you with one more quote from my late father, “Just put one foot in front of the other.”. What he meant by this was that as long as we keep moving, no matter how slowly, we will end up somewhere else. Somewhere in the direction of where we want our lives to go. With that I’m learning to enjoy the process over the end goal, and I’ve walked myself out of hell on earth. I am not special. I just survived.

Image result for just keep swimming

*No policeman were harmed in the making of this blog.

 

Nostalgia – ‘That’ Guy

This time last year I was getting ready for my trip to Spain. Missin' it like crazy! :(

Definition of nostalgia. 1: the state of being homesick: homesickness. 2: a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition also: something that evokes nostalgia. – Merriam Webster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

imagem descoberto por 'gabi. Descubra (e salve!) suas próprias imagens e vídeos no We Heart ItA few days ago I had a dream. It was one of those dreams that is felt so viscerally that even upon waking you just can’t shake it. In fact, this particular dream stayed with me all day like a weight on my chest. Now, I am a dreamer by nature. I dream a lot. I have terrible nightmares, beautiful daydreams, and strange fantasies. For better or worse, the majority of my life is spent in my head. But even some of the most gruesome nightmares, or heart wrenching dreams about loved ones passed, haven’t stung me like this.

In concept it was simple; I saw my ex and he told me he loved me. I remember maybe a minute of it, but the sheer intensity, the connection, the detail, that’s what shook me.

i love youI held his strong, comforting arms as he pulled me close. I felt the bristles of his untrimmed facial hair brush my cheek as I burrowed into the crook of his neck. I could smell him. His smell. I had forgotten how sweet, yet earthy it was. Like him; gentle, but grounded. When I looked at him, his blue eyes swallowed me up like pools of water. I could see his every freckle and the deepening crinkles around his eyes. I could see his sadness and his fatigue, but in the way that only I would be able to notice. He was stoic and calm on the outside, as always. I could feel his fingers grip me tightly, keeping me safe and reminding me I am his, but still allowing me space to move and be free. Knowing he could never tame me, and that trying would be futile. He wore his own clothes. His real clothes. Not make believe things I had concocted in my mind. The smell. My heart was aching with a sense of foreboding. Maybe knowing deep down that I was going to wake up. And then he spoke. He said my name. The way only he could say it. The way that reminds you that you belong to someone in the best possible way. The way where you can hear they have said it, let it roll around their mouths and truly felt it thousands of times. It’s not even a name anymore, it’s just you. He gripped my face with his slightly weathered hands, freckled on the backs, with soft palms, and lightly calloused fingers. Hands that have never been raised to me, and only ever brought me pleasure. Hands that know more of my body than I know myself. And he just said, “I love you.”. That’s all he said, over and over. Torturously he repeated, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”. Each time he said it with more certainty, desperate to convince me of the truth behind the words, and with my eyes closed in my nostalgic dreamland, I believed him.

See you tonight.

In truth, he could’ve been saying anything. What he was saying was brutal, but what really stuck with me the whole day was simply hearing the sound of his voice. Three years. That’s how long it has been since I’ve heard that voice. Yet, in the depths of my subconscious, I still know its every nuance. The recreation was faultless. Every infliction and change in intonation that, despite the words being said, would tell me everything about how he is (…was) feeling. Every pause. Every breath between words. The warmth, the timbre, the depth. It was perfect. I was jealous of the words for being inside his mouth. For being part of him. And of all the things he could have said, he chose to say my name. Mine. I felt special before realising my mistake. I’m just a sleepy girl in a room repeating her own name to herself, trying to get it just right. I wonder what my name sounds like from his lips today. I’m sure he wouldn’t even know. I wonder…but I don’t want to know.

The not knowing of the others thoughts leads self to create false world with hopes that never becomeThey say a separation is as painful as a death. For me, this has been true. There are too many significant voices out there that I can never hear again. Voices that have spoken to me before I was even born (my father), and voices of those who have kept me alive with their strength, despite their lives coming to an end. And then there is ‘him’. His voice is still floating around out there somewhere. Saying other peoples’ names with conviction. Avoiding mine. But just like the voice of my father, I will never hear it again. And in his case, I really don’t want to.

Lana Del Rey #LDR #art #This_is_What_Makes_Us_Girls ♡♡♡Nostalgia; a word that paints such a delicate and romantic scene, but in actual fact, is quite cruel. Nostalgia takes (or creates) a beautiful memory and inserts a sense of longing, that by its very nature is unattainable. It is reaching out for something you loved and never being able to touch it again. The nostalgia of my dream created an idealised version of someone who has never existed. The ultimate dream-man, if you will. Whereas in my waking life, this person is demonised as a form of self-preservation. I must make him the baddie in my story or ill never wake up. Why would I if ‘dream-man’ is just a snooze button away? But the truth is that somewhere between these two creations lies some version of the truth. Not a demon, nor a dream. Just a guy doing the best he can. Not someone who could have saved me, or had the presumed power to destroy and break me. Just a guy who entered my heart when I wasn’t quite ready, and overstayed his welcome. Just a guy. 

 

LOL!! Not All The Time But It Happens.. This Girl Talks A Lot Of Shit :)