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Languishing On Purpose: A List

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Open Letter to My Daughter on Mother’s Day

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Soup Soothes the Soul

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Why I Stand With Novak

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2022: Setting Writing Intentions

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1. I’m still somewhat out of sorts. It’s got nothing to do with depression because I’m not depressed; I have no trouble getting out of bed, and there is no black cloud hanging over me. It’s got nothing to do with motivation either: I’m committed to being able to run at least five kilometres by the beginning of spring, and to that end, I head out three times per week, rain or shine, to make this happen. And I’m productive: law school has seen to that. I attend my lectures and workshops and submit my essays days ahead of the

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My darling daughter, On Mother’s Day, every year, I like to remember when you were born. You came into the world at 2:07 am on March 24, 1993. It was the happiest, most joyous, wonderful day of my life. When you were born, I held you in my arms—after a two-days-plus labour that ended in a Caesarian Section—and you looked up at me with your huge eyes, so peaceful. So calm. So trusting. I fell in love with you there and then. The truth is: I fell in love with you before you were born. I left your father when

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When it’s cold in Hanoi – the air weirdly humid and the moisture from the air collects on my face, which I blot with a serviette that leaves traces of delicate, white paper on my forehead and cheeks like freckles – the weather is perfect for soup. Actually, in Vietnam, any weather – hot, cold or in between – is good weather for soup. It soothes the body and nourishes the soul. And while I don’t eat phở (beef or chicken noodle soup) thanks to my pescetarian status, I did occasionally eat bún riêu (crab noodle soup sans the pork

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I spent most of last week, glued to Twitter and YouTube, cheering on Novak Djokovic as he took a stand against the Australian government, firstly via the Federal Circuit and Family Court, and then before a full bench of the Federal Court. He won his first case and his visa cancellation was overturned, but he was deported anyway a few days later, using legislation that allowed the Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke, to exercise ‘God’ powers that were intended for terrorists, not tennis players. ‘I consider that Mr Djokovic’s presence in Australia may pose a health risk to the Australian community,

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A couple of days ago, I took an online writing workshop run by American writer, Vanessa Martir. I did a free workshop of hers a while back (and meant to double down with the paid version, but got distracted) and when this one popped up in my feed I signed up, not least because it wasn’t expensive (US$30) and I like the way she structures her classes. Vanessa sends through pre-class readings, which are discussed in the workshop and there are timed writing/thinking sessions to prompts (maximum of five minutes). Given that I’ve pretty much lost my mojo, I figured

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I’ve been to university three times in my life. Three times when I was at a crossroads, where investing in myself and reinventing who I was via learning seemed like the only way forward. The first time was in the late 1980s, at 26, when I was disillusioned with my banking career. The second time was just after I had my daughter at 29. The third time was at 44, when I broke up with the Italian. After the third time, I said that I would never undertake formal study again. Ever. And this was mainly because I didn’t want

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Today I went for a run. No big deal, I hear you say. People run all the time. The thing is: I haven’t gone running for 18 months. Not since I was in Hanoi. This pandemic (or rather, the government’s response to the pandemic) has sucked the productivity right out of me. I’ve had no goals and no direction because there’s so much uncertainty, particularly in Australia. Our leaders are drunk on power and – in their relentless and destructive pursuit of zero COVID – love to  “snap” lock Australian borders and cities because of one freaking case, with the

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I had no clue I was dating a covert narcissist, mainly because my boundaries had been whittled away to nothing by the sense of opportunity and complacency I’d allowed myself to develop in Vietnam. I said yes to everything that crossed my path. I remember having a conversation with another expat about the type of men I was interested in, and I replied: I’m interested in men who are interested in me. No wonder I found myself in an emotional abusive situation. Love bombing, gaslighting, ignoring red flags, intermittent reinforcement, control and manipulation — this relationship had it all. I

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Content warning: this essay talks about sexual assault. Mine. If you are triggered or need help, please contact a Sexual Assault Service. I’ve not thought about it often and when I do, it’s not for long, because I’ve buried it. And I want it to stay buried. But now, at this time in Australia, where women are railing against the government in angry protests about sexual assaults in Parliament House and wider society, where our Prime Minister says women should be grateful they aren’t shot for protesting, I’ve been triggered. The memory is haunting me. It scars my days. Permeates my nights. A naked man, penis erect, hand

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I’m missing Hanoi like crazy. So much so, that when I see pictures, I get quite teary. I have flashbacks where I see myself walking to the supermarket, cycling to Keep Hanoi Clean, strolling to my Vietnamese lessons at Oriberry, chilling in my apartment and waiting for my Vietnammm order while rain pours down in sheets, taking a Grab to the Old Quarter, going out to eat a cheap and cheerful vegan buffet with dear friends. I miss the conversations, the convenience, the connections. I miss the many things to do. That’s not to say that I’m not grateful to

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Buying a new frock is not an activity I relish. I wish it were. I want to be one of those women who catches a glimpse of a something shiny on a rack on the far side of the store, tries it on, loves it and whips out her credit card, all within the space of five minutes. Me? I prowl the floor like a hungry snow leopard, and after much deliberation, grab an armful of frocks that seem promising, try them on, hate them and repeat the process until I end up hating myself. At 57, I blame my

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Being a mother was something I always wanted, despite (or because of?) my own childhood. Let’s just say my own mother was less than nurturing and had a violent, nasty streak that meant my psyche was hammered out on an anvil of fear, forged in survival. I knew I could do better, and I did. I wasn’t perfect, mind you, but damn near good enough. *** My daughter is striking. Olive skin, blue eyes, tall. Taller than I. Her lineage is indigenous Australian, but it’s a heritage that’s hard to pinpoint just by looking at her. She could be Greek,

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