‘What Does It Mean?’ Monday #1 “Hold Your Horses”

Have you ever wondered at the term “hold your horses?” I say it a lot, primarily to baby girl being the impatient 6 year-old that she is, and to our cat Mister F, well because… he can’t wait for anything and meows incessantly when he wants something.

It makes simple sense if you stop to think about it. In a historical sense, it refers to keeping your horses or carriage from moving and holding them still, and this is interpreted in our every day speech to mean:

to not get ahead of ourselves

to not rush

to be careful, and

to not celebrate too early.

“Hold your horses, we’re not there yet.”

“Hold your horses, you don’t know what is around the bend.”

“Hold your horses, you haven’t won the game.”

“Hold your horses, have another think about what you just said…”

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Photo by Daniil Vnoutchkov on Unsplash

First said as “hold your hosses,” it became our modern day interpretation in references like from the magazine Chatelaine in 1939, with –

“Hold your horses, dear.”

Is there a phrase or quote you want me to investigate?

Let me know, and I’ll give it a go!

 

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I don’t have time for this

Time. People think money is the biggie… but seriously, it’s ‘time’ that is the valuable commodity.

It is precious. When someone gives you their sacred time, it is considered special, generous, kind-hearted even.

The downside with this is that there are many that think the absence of your time, is something bad.

In this case, the opposite of something good, such as giving your time, does not equal bad – the absence of time.

It means just that… the absence of time.

No emotion should be attached.

No expectation.

No letdown.

Nothing more, nothing less.

There can be a whole bevy of reasons why you cannot give someone your time. The options in being time-poor are limitless.

There is family – your immediate family, or your extended family.

Parents – you could be caring or assisting for your elderly parents, sick parents, widowed parents. They could need a little or a lot of help. They can live in your home due to their vulnerable state, or they may live on the other side of town and require you to drive once a week for… groceries? Doctors appointments? Company and companionship? And that’s on a good week.

Siblings – you could be helping them with their families, or just lending an ear to some concerns. You could be looking after their kids, driving them around town, or cooking for them if they have been unwell.

Then there’s the whopper, KIDS. Just your own kids, and you can be met with responsibilities of childcare, school, after-school activities, and then the social occasions that come with all of the above. None of this includes the every day routines of keeping your kids fed, slept, washed, entertained and in a state of happy health and learning.

This list doesn’t include your time spent with a developmentally challenged child. It doesn’t include the challenges of a child starting school and dealing with separation anxiety, nor does it include a teenage child, exposed to drugs and alcohol and sex, and the concerns and minefields involved in navigating this tricky field of adolescent development.

This list doesn’t include meetings and illnesses and dentist appointments, nor does it include the hours dedicated to getting your kids asleep, getting them awake, and then getting them to listen to you all other times.

As you can see, that is just one area where you can be extremely time-poor.

Another area is work. Commute to and from, hours spent at workplace, and unfortunately for some the work of bringing it all home… homework.

This does not include school, or study. Again, travel time. Study time, which needs to be fit in around all the other life responsibilities and obligations you have (see above list).

You might have activities of your own: yoga, local basketball team, or that art class you’ve started experimenting in. We all need something to work towards, and the pursuit of happiness and life fulfillment is a worthy one, and one that will make our time on earth a far more enriching experience.

Then there is health, and I don’t mean that of the body… that of the mind. Mental health. The things that plague us in the middle of the night, the worries and anxiety that creep in during daylight hours, and the insecurities that prevent us from moving forward and  make us immobile in our day, that keep our hearts heavy and cheeks tear-stained… those are the ones that make a tremendous and negative impact on our time. Because we stay stuck in it. Unable to go forward. Desperate to take the first step yet not knowing how.

I haven’t mentioned partners. I haven’t mentioned friends. I haven’t mentioned our own ills. I haven’t mentioned our furry friends.

I haven’t mentioned, the routine of eating and sleeping and hygiene and clean clothes.

I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted just reading the above lists.

Oh, that’s right. SLEEP.

You can see the picture I am painting here though. Time is precious. Time is hard to come by.

If someone gives you their time, GOOD.

If someone doesn’t give you their time… GROW UP.

This is what I’ve come to realise lately. There are those who expect nothing from you and are there to lend a hand or an ear when available… and then there are those who look to the past, compare your life with theirs constantly, and expect you to fight and eat and breathe their existence, chasing after them as if they are the Sun, and you the Earth, necessary to orbit around them… 365 days a year.

My response? I’m sorry.

I don’t have time for this.

I’ve come to some hard realisations lately. People who I thought were always there for me are too demanding. They need my reassurance constantly.

I am not your parent. You are a grown person. I have my own shit to deal with and let me tell you, I am doing you a favour by not letting you into that.

I have realised that people I haven’t been able to be there for constantly (i.e. time issue) have recently been there for me in ways I never expected. Happily. Wholeheartedly. There was no “she wasn’t there for this so I won’t be there for her.” No comparing. No judgement. No ill-wishes. No guilt.

I had people who were simply there for me, without question.

It opened my eyes. It showed me my relationships in a new light.

People are always changing aren’t they? And so even those that make us happy/sad now, might make us sad/happy in the future, just as abruptly…

But my main point? Time. Time is of the essence, we don’t have enough of it, and if someone is going to make me feel guilty for failing to make them the focal point in my life…

Sorry not sorry. I should be the only focal point in my life. It is MY LIFE after all.

I just don’t have time for this anymore.

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Photo by Jesse Parkinson on Unsplash

 

 

 

Rainbow after the rain

I have been seeing a lot of rainbows lately.

It’s made me think of them, their meaning and emergence in our atmosphere, and specifically, the metaphor we can use for them.

I saw a rainbow out our lounge room window just the other morning before dropping off baby girl at school. We were eating breakfast, and amidst the grey skies and falling drops outside, I spied one half of a rainbow, across the water:

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But that wasn’t the first one I saw that week, and it would not be the last. It was only when driving home from school later that day, amidst wispy rain, that we saw one again.

As I explained to baby girl what had to happen in order for there to be a rainbow… something struck me, in my casual explanation.

“There has to be rain, and sunshine,” I told her. “And then a rainbow will appear.”

I was immediately flung deep into my whirlpool of deep thoughts, as I often am, tuned in to my surroundings as I am constantly used to taking mental notes… life as a writer, empath, or both.

There has to be rain, and sunshine, for a rainbow to appear.

Huh. Even life was teaching us lessons.

The proper definition of the rainbow occurrence is something like this:

  • It is a natural spectrum that occurs in the sky after rain falls.
  • As sun shines onto falling rain drops, it causes reflection and refraction.
  • The rain drops act like tiny prisms, bending in the sunlight to be reflected back to us as the band of colours that we see as a rainbow.
  • This is why the rainbow is always directly opposite the sun.

Hmm, I pondered. There has to be the presence of both rain, and sunshine.

And if you were looking at it from a non-geological perspective, not focusing on the fact that the planet needs both rain, and water to replenish and renew, to grow and keep things living…

Well, most people tend to regard rain, in their every day life, as a nuisance. Bad.

And they tend to think of sunshine, as a welcoming smile on their face… Good.

And just like the rainbow to the left of my vision as I drove along in the rain, it dawned on me.

Even Mother Nature says there has to be the presence, of both good, and bad, in order for something beautiful and miraculous to occur.

Because that’s what they were, right? Miracles? Considered a sign of good luck in many cultures, with the pot of gold at the end of it the answer to all of life’s problems…

And so on this last weekend, in amidst grey skies and endlessly rainy days, and coincidentally or not, the Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year where we receive the least amount of sunlight…

We also received rainbows. A sign from Mother Nature, that despite this cold Winter, a respite is coming?

That despite the long and hard days, the hours of sunlight per day will be increasing soon?

That sometimes, bad things have to happen, before we get good things coming to us?

Maybe, the raindrops falling from the sky are the horrible hardships we endure, where we question life and the world and ourselves..

And the sun is our effort and determination to not give up, to keep pressing on, and to see it out no matter what. Our Hope.

And our rainbow, is our reward at the end of it all. Glorious, multi-faceted, a glow that takes over our whole life sky. But we had to go through rain, then sun, to see it through.

So remember… the presence of both good, and bad. In order to see a hue of miracles. 🌈

Think of that next time you’re going through a hard patch… you may just find your pot of gold… but it’s important to keep that sunny disposition, even through the rain.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Writing critique

You will not believe the weakness that just arose in me.

The fear. The unbridled dread.

Creeping, creeping. Slowly up through my body. Heat swarming over my face. Sickness dropping in my stomach.

I felt damp.

I felt hot.

I couldn’t. But I wanted to. But I then I couldn’t.

And my finger was held poised, over the button of my laptop, waiting, waiting, hesitating on every sharp intake of breath, to open up…

THE FILE.

The file, of writing criticism.

The file, from the tutor of my online writing course, that contained her very specific and educated, observations and critique of the first 3000 words of my novel.

I held my breath as I quickly ran over her comments. Click here. Click there.

Let out a short rush of air. No don’t relax yet.

Hold on some more. Yep I expected that.

Oh crap. Why didn’t I pick that up?

Okay… okay…

Last comments…

WHOOSH!

Out the air came tumbling. Like an earth embankment crumbling to the ground, and the water in the dam before it rushing forward in furious pressure.

That wasn’t so bad.

Oh wait. There is still audio feedback to be listened to.

Breathe in…

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Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

 

 

You should know her name

There’s something that I want to share at this late hour.

I want to tell the short story, or rather, the little set-up as it were, of how my Mum and Dad came to know each other.

How their families got to know each other. The Ks, and the Gs.

My Mum would visit one of her older sisters who lived with her then-husband in a village that wasn’t quite next door to hers. It took considerable effort to go there, and yet she did visit, and often stay there too.

Do you know who lived across the road from my Mum’s sister?

My Dad. My Dad and his family.

Due to this lovely set up, the Ks and Gs knew of each other and were well-acquainted for a long time. As it is in small villages. Sure the families were spread out and there was a lot more siblings behind my Mum and her sister for the Gs to even start to comprehend… and yet as things are in those places, from those times, of that age… everyone knows everyone.

When my Mum and Dad finally did start to date, they did so for only 2 weeks. They had known of each other for many more years before. But 2 weeks later and there was a wedding celebration happening across the road from where my Mum used to visit her older sister.

♥♥♥

And this is all well and sweet, but sadly this post isn’t only about that beautiful time of my parents’ union. I write this because my Aunty has died. My Mum’s older sister passed away, and we only found this out today, but to be honest she may have been gone for days and no one was to know, she was living on her own and only found after someone had to break into her home when she didn’t answer.

What makes me happy is my Mum telling me tonight that she had spoken to her sister only last week. I am sure my Mum had some sign, as she always does with these things… she had a feeling and followed that feeling, and fortunately spoke to her older sister one last time.

But also, this all makes me terribly sad. Because apart from the whole death factor, I can’t help feeling like if she had passed away here in Australia, things would be a whole lot different. Firstly, people would care more. They would actually give a fuck that an older generation of their family that frankly they would not be here without, had passed. They would pay proper tribute. They would think, and pay respects, and give thanks for her presence in their life.

I honestly…. I met her once. In my whole life I met this Aunty once. But I have a tremendous amount of respect for her, from hearing about her through my Mum, and also, knowing what her presence did for my future, and how my parents came to be together…

It just sucks. She was old, and people will say she was old, and that her time had come…

But it still sucks. She still deserves some fanfare. She had a hard life, she had to witness many people die around her including her own son, and then to be reduced, to this?

To be found, on her own? Is that it?

And so while I see people celebrating Orthodox Easter and posting about eggs and chocolate, I just had to do my bit…

There will always be eggs. There will always be chocolate.

But there won’t always be the woman who introduced your parents to each other.

R.I.P.

M.G., 2019.

 

 

 

Sightings of People as Passionate About (Addicted to) Coffee as I am (SOPAPACAIA) #13

About 9:15am on Thursday the 4th of April.

Where? A 7-Eleven in Mornington.

Sighted: An elderly man shuffling back to a car parked at a petrol pump…

He is old. About 80 I’d say. His white hair matches that of his female driver waiting for him as he makes his way over, ever so slowly…

But his snail pace is more for his state of age than the two coffees held in each hand – however it doesn’t do the journey any harm. No fear of spillage here. He heads into the white Hyundai, his white shoes lifting up carefully so as not to stir the air, as he settles into the car.

I watch them from behind as I fill my tank, as he passes a coffee cup to his companion.

Coffee lovers at all ages… now that is a couple after my heart. ♥♥

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Photo by Tessa Simpson on Unsplash

 

How I handled f%$king writing rejection and lived to tell the tale.

Step 1: Stare at the computer in horror. Do this for as long as you have to, to let it really SINK IN.

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Photo by Pim Chu on Unsplash

Step 2: Physically express yourself. Scream. Cry. YELL. Do all 3 and then some. If you are going to throw something across the room make sure you don’t have any strong attachment to the item, it is not heavy/sharp/strong, and also, you don’t care about your flooring/it is virtually unbreakable.

Step 3: Keep crying and telling yourself self-defeating words. Things like:

“I’m a failure.”

“I am shit.”

“I am a shit writer AND I’m just plain shit.”

“I can’t fucking write.”

“I got rejected for a fucking writing course…”

And so on. If you have come this far you are doing well. Your self-loathing is working brilliantly.

Step 4: Wallow in self-pity. Pick someone who has to put up with you (i.e partner, parent, sibling) and tell them how shit you are. Cry as you are doing so. Tell them all your sorrows, including that time in grade 4 when you walked into a pole at school and your canteen partner laughed their head off at you. Go on.

Step 5: More than likely you have just been yelled at and scolded by your loved one. Go off and sulk for about 37 minutes.

I’ll wait…

Step 6: Ok you’re back. Now I want you to ask yourself…

“Are you going to let this beat you?”

That just jarred you didn’t it? You expected me to tell you to go cut some onions and rub them over your eyelids after all that self-hatred and the pity party you just attended with yourself as the star D-grade celebrity.

But SmikG is getting glass half-full right now and she is gonna whoop your ass.

Sit down! You’re not going anywhere.

Step 7: Ask yourself some more questions. Things like:

“Are you going to let one individual/organisation dictate what you can do?

“Will you someone else control your belief of yourself?”

“Is this one incident going to make you stop writing? Really? This ONE thing?”

At this stage, you may want to wallow in some more self-defeating talk for a couple more moments. Go on, whimper. Sniffle. Get some Kleenex super soft tissues, from the Aloe Vera range you weak piece of shit.

Step 8: “Are you REALLY going to let this get you down?”

“You know… you’re not that shit.”

“You’re actually, not bad.”

NOW we’re talking.

Step 9: Time to recall some famous writer stories.

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J.K Rowling. An unemployed and poor single mother goes from her Harry Potter manuscript being rejected 12 times before finally getting picked up… but even so, her editor encourages her to get a teaching job as it is unlikely she will earn much from writing children’s books.

She is now worth over 1 billion dollars (read, BILLION) with her name to one of the best-selling series in the world with 450 million copies SOLD.

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Stephen King. Rejected his own story, Carrie, only to find his wife had taken it out of the garbage with the note for him to finish it. It was rejected over 30 times, but was eventually picked up and even turned into a movie.

He has over 50 novels to his name, has written hundreds of short stories, and remains one of the great fiction writers of this generation.

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Dr Seuss. He had been rejected 27 times, and was literally on his way home to burn the manuscript when he bumped into an old friend. When he spoke of his woes from “a book no one will publish” his friend (also a children’s editor… how “co in-chi-den-che” – see the Tomei-Downey Jr. movie Only You for reference!♥ ) he read it and it was published.

He went on to write over 60 children’s books and remains a classic children’s writer through the ages.

Step 10: Woah. Now we are feeling just a little bit invincible. Almost like the way we felt when we first ventured into the writing world with fear and trepidation, hovering over the keyboard as we posed those first few words.

But we need something else.

Inject some creativity in your life… in the form of, MUSIC.

My fave go-to: Something loud and pumping, ROCK is real good.

Queen, for example.

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Prince doing his Beautiful Ones where he screeches at the end is also uplifting in a very RAW way.

Or you know, on the other spectrum we can go ‘alternative/new wave rock’ and play something like INXS’ Need You Tonight… you know the story, of how Andrew Farriss famously made the taxi driver who was meant to take him to the airport, wait an hour as he wrote the riff to the song? He then passed it onto Michael, who quickly penned the words to what would become the song… incredible.

You need to surround yourself with genius. Genius thoughts. Genius inspiration. Genius creativity.

Step 11: Ok, we are HERE. Perhaps you feel so unstoppable, so charged, the muse starting to move within you, that something you scribble on toilet paper while passing a bowel movement (why do you have a pen in there?) can be considered LEGENDARY.

“What am I going to do next?”

“What course will I look at?”

“What can I learn from this?”

Start work-shopping ideas to get around your initial rejection.

Step 12: Start with this quote by Albert Einstein: “Failure is success in progress.”

NEXT, sit at your computer.

And start writing.

🙂

 

 

 

Girl, don’t forget

It’s an exciting time when you fall in love. More so, when your man pops the question – there is joy, elation, satisfaction, deep fulfillment and often, a yearn to keep and want everything to be as easy and pleasant as that stage, forever until the end of time.

Keeping things smooth sailing however, sometimes results in us forgetting about ourselves.

Forgetting where we came from.

We try so hard to please, make the family happy, make the relatives happy, live and act the picture of a perfect couple, play the part and smile and laugh… that we often forget, about ourselves. 

Our wants.

Our needs.

It is not a conscious thing. Our self-ignorance is unintentional, as we throw ourselves whole-heartedly into the man, the life, the family that we wish to spend the rest of our lives in. We are so consumed with love and passion, that all else falls behind. All thoughts and desires, goals and dreams and big-thinking falls to the wayside as we embark on an exciting new chapter.

We focus so much on this new part of our lives, on our union with this amazing partner… that we forget about the individual who got there. The individual who has been left behind.

Ourselves.

To my younger self, and to my daughter who will someday read this… and to any other girl out there, beginning to embark on such a romance.

Remember.

Don’t forget yourself.

 

Girl, don’t forget – A POEM.

Girl, as you fall in love, don’t forget

The things that made you laugh, and what lifted you when you were sad.

Girl, as he holds you hand, don’t forget

Your parents who held it before, and who lifted you when you would fall.

 

Girl, as he kisses you sweetly, don’t forget

The lips that touched your head, to mend bruises, to maintain your even breath.

Girl, as he bends on one knee, don’t forget

You are more than a man, a union, a wedding that will consume all of your days.

 

Girl, as you plan your big day, don’t forget

Your parents are happy for you, but struggling to let go.

Girl, as you practice writing your new surname, don’t forget

Where you came from, and how far your maiden name travelled to get to you.

 

Girl, as you get married, don’t forget

Those who cheered you on are still with you, even though you are blind in your happiness.

Girl, when the day is done, don’t forget

To look back on the photos, and observe the smiling faces in the background.

 

Girl, as you go about your life, don’t forget

There is more to your day than pleasing those around you.

Girl, as you argue with you husband, don’t forget

That your parents yelled at each other too.

 

Girl, as you say yes to yet another request, don’t forget

What set your stubborn 16 year-old self on fire.

Girl, as you remember what you used to love, don’t forget

That no one told you to stop loving after all.

 

And girl, when you get to that day, when you realise you DID forget…

It is not too late to start again.

And girl, when you tell your husband what you love, please don’t forget…

That you are your own person, and will do it anyway.

    ~ Smik G.

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Photo by Jennifer Regnier on Unsplash

 

 

 

I never wanted to use the hyphen (-) for a murdered woman again

I attended La Trobe University in Bundoora.

From the years of 2002 to 2005. A couple of my high school friends went there too, however we were all varied in our fields of study.

One such friend and I, though interests apart, chose a general subject to study that saw us come together once a week.

Anthropology. 2 hours a week in the late evening, we would often drive in and then drive back home, taking turns at the driver’s seat, and then once the 2 hours were up, made our long walk over to ‘one’ of the car parks.

There were A LOT of car parks. Back in those years, there were about 8. You had to walk some distance through the buildings and grounds and amidst tall trees and bushes of varying greenery to get there…

But there was nothing to be scared of. I remember even when daylight savings ended, and our walk to the car park was amidst black night, our biggest concern was whether spiders had already set up their webs, and so we walked hands outstretched hoping to God we wouldn’t feel something unsightly crawling on our skins.

The only time I was attacked there, was in broad daylight. It was while walking to a tutorial when something whizzed past my head so quickly and so close, that it stirred the hair on my head. Damn bird.

They were the lethal ones.

Not people. Never ever did I feel unsafe from people.

Days after the fatal assault on Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe, who was involved with the university on an exchange programme and never made it back to her apartment on Tuesday night, and Melbourne and the rest of the country is still left reeling.

Not necessarily because this has never been done before. More, because it continues to.

The feeling of déjà vu is chilling. Only 7 months earlier, a vigil was planned for Eurydice Dixon, who was raped and murdered in Carlton North. Thousands turned up to the silent protest to stand for a woman who was taken unfairly, and also, again so close to home. But that wasn’t the beginning either.

2012 saw the nation horrified at the sudden disappearance of Brunswick woman Jill Meagher. Even before the #metoo movement sparked a chord, 10,000 people marched Sydney Road in protest that once again, a woman could not walk home 5 minutes without being assaulted, raped and killed.

And not even that is the beginning.

Because the problem isn’t with all men. No, far from it. It is the underlying culture that men grow up in, the “boys will be boys,” under-handed sexism, and superior gender that prevails and dominates our everyday life, that is the REAL problem.

It is also the underlying culture that women have to put up with. The cat calls, leers and unwanted attention. The keeping keys on you at all times. Looking over your shoulder. Going out in pairs.

Calling someone as you walk alone.

This is the very act that Aiia did as she walked home for the last time earlier this week. So fearful was she over the 5 minute walk from her regular number 86 tram stop to her apartment, that she would call her sister. To imagine the fear that she held, subdued from her physical space, existing only in her mind, to turn into a full-blown living horror as her sister heard the phone fall, some voices, and then nothing… I can’t even imagine.

I don’t want to. But I remember walking those grounds. I remember the Uni, and how dark everything was at night. I shudder.

As females we message our friends, partners, and family when we get home. Aiia didn’t get to message anyone that night. Her body was found strewn and badly battered, to the point where police are still keeping a tight lid on the horrific details of that night.

“But she shouldn’t have been alone at night,’ my Dad said yesterday as we were talking about it.

And therein lies the problem.

Not with my Dad. The problem isn’t with all of the men in my life, or your life, or even most of the men around us. Because most of the men don’t go around sexually assaulting and then killing people.

But some men DO go around imposing unwanted advances on girls that are alone.

And some men DO go around letting off jeers and whistles and making filthy remarks when a woman walks by.

And sometimes, its these actions that escalate to stuff of full-blown nightmares.

Sadly, females are contributing to this. I say this with hesitation, because as soon as I told my Dad it was not right that Aiia (and every other woman) wasn’t allowed to walk home safely at night, I added

“But, I would never walk alone, and I would never let baby girl do it either.”

We as women, are adding to the dialogue, by saying it is not safe.

The culture remains, and that is the problem.

We aren’t teaching our boys to not rape.

But we are teaching our girls to not walk at night.

Jill Meagher

Eurydice Dixon

Aiia Maasarwe

PLUS so many more before them. Plus those that are not murdered, but are left with permanent life-time bruises and scars that will horrify their minds for as long as they are alive.

How many more names have to be added to this list before a conscious effort is made to change the way men and women are taught, raised, expected to perform, and excused? How many more hyphens have to appear until repeated sexual offenders, are not put back on the streets to walk amongst everyday people, and given umpteen chances to strike again? (as was the case in the man who murdered Jill Meagher).

You will notice I have not named perpetrators. They are not people. They are inhumane monsters who deserve no name, no voice, no life. Theirs should be taken away, just like those they consciously and with evil effort decided to take.

All that is left now is the memories of those girls, all the could-have beens, should-have beens, and the questions over whether any of this, is leading to change, a conscious effort, anything good, at all.

 

R.I.P Aiia Maasarwe. Unknown-2019.

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Photo by Zoran Kokanovic at Unsplash