Category: Personal Essays

I write personal essays, creative non-fiction and memoir. These are “think” pieces where I’m trying to unravel and work out a problem creatively.

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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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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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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After all the doom and gloom of the last year or so, this is an “I’m happy in Hanoi again” post. It’s taken a Stupid Fucking Virus™ pandemic, lock down and a bicycle to start enjoying this city again. After a long winter, punctuated by brief bursts of warm weather, summer — with all its sweltering heat and horrible humidity and ferocious storms — has finally arrived in Hanoi. I’ve packed away put my winter coats, jackets and jumpers (actually, I’ve posted them to Australia in anticipation of my return) and hung my sleeveless shirts and floaty dresses and baggy

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Yesterday, I woke up with a familiar feeling gnawing at my insides, and it wasn’t the upset stomach that had appeared out of nowhere (and that I attribute to a veggie burger or onion rings from my favourite burger joint in Hanoi). It’s a feeling I’ve not encountered for a while — at least a few months, even with not being able to exit Vietnam when I’d planned, and subsequently sitting out the soft lock down in Hanoi when I really wanted to get back to Australia. I had plans, dammit — but I digress. It was my old friend

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It’s no secret that 2019 has been one helluva year. I have lurched and free-wheeled from crisis to crisis, never feeling I was on solid ground. I felt like I was either wading through partially set concrete or scanning for shifting sands or watching out for storm clouds brewing on the horizon. My boat of The Self has been hammered by a relentless ocean of awful situations, pelted with rain and hail of always being on high alert. I haven’t been able to come up for air. And. Just. Breathe. In January, I’d been in hospital with my liver failing.

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Confession time. I am going through what Brené Brown calls a midlife unravelling. No, it’s not a midlife crisis. It’s not a mental health collapse, either, although it feels like it. It’s an undoing. An uncontrolled and uncontrollable breakdown of what has been assumed and is assumed. What was certain is not. What seems to be reality is actually a foundation of quicksand. It’s a curious No Man’s Land of stripped back limbo where I’m questioning my decisions, and the preceding groundwork and reality on which I have based those decisions.

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Regular readers will know that my relationship with my mother was fraught, to say the least. It was characterised by restriction and control and violence. And fear. An overwhelming fear that I was not safe, would never be safe. And that I was not enough. Would never be enough. Of course, this is was from the perspective of a child but some 50 years later, I still bear the scars — scars that still weep with blood and tears in the right situation, which — usually and invariably — involves a man because attachment.

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