The Think Circus

Thinking. Changing. Evolving.

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Childfree or childless?

            The term most often used to describe a woman without a child is simply childless or childfree.

            It is, of course, not so simple because both terms are laden with negative connotations. Child-less insinuates a missing or lack of child, whilst child-free suggests a limitation or restriction of said child. In either case, women (for these terms are used mainly for women not men) who are not compelled to have children are often considered unhappy, selfish, unloving, cold, cruel, hateful; rarely is a positive adjective thrown in. By societal standards ‘childless’ or ‘childfree’ women have no value because all women should apparently want to want to have children - that is what they are ‘designed to do’.

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            Well, oopsy, oopsy me.

         As mentioned earlier, men are rarely described as childless or childfree because men simply happen to not have children even if they never want to have children at all. In fact, men are hardly ever questioned about their reasoning not have children. Women, on the other hand, are grilled, bombarded and lambasted with questions about their desire to remain ‘barren’. They also have to defend themselves from vitriolic innuendos about their personality and value as women. These women who decide that children will not enrich their lives will undoubtedly be interrogated at some point or they will be given the once over teamed with an icy, ‘Oh, you don’t want children?’

         You’d think that having children is the only way to define a woman’s personality and value as human.

            In 2004 the proportion of women between the ages of 15 – 44 who do not have children was 44%, which is up from 35% in 1976. There seems to be a trend toward ‘thinking’ about whether or not having a child is ‘right’, and I applaud such considerations. In the past, people have had children because it was expected, and too often they have not fully considered the effect this will have on their lives. Even today I hear parents uttering, “I didn’t know it was going to be this hard.” 

           There are numerous reasons why women and men choose not to have children: financial, independence, over population, fear, responsibility, personal well-being. And there are just as many reasons why people do have children: to be loved, to be cared for in old age, to teach, to share, to continue their name. None are right and none are wrong – it’s individual choice. And selfishness, often used against women without children, can actually be argued for both. I never grill a parent about their choice to have children, so why it is okay to grill me about mine not to?

            I don’t doubt that children enrich the lives of people who want them but as a women who doesn’t have the urge or inclination to be pregnant and raise a child, how this could possibly enrich mine?

            Why can not having a child be an enriching experience for me? Some say I’ll change once I have them, but really I ask, is that a guarantee? No, of course not.

            There are indeed parents who have children and don’t feel the euphoric joy one is told they will feel, instead they pretend they do and persevere to raise their children as best they can. They know they have done something incongruous with their inner desire and are too afraid to admit it, instead they feel compelled to continue the charade otherwise society will harshly judge them.

            And it isn’t that I don’t like children, though this is often the assumption. I do like and love them, but I don’t show this side of myself when I’m around my friends’ kids. Why? Because then I have to listen to, “See, you’ll make such a great mother”, “Are you sure you don’t want children, look how good you are with them”, or “I put money on the fact that you’ll have a kid eventually.” It’s these condescending comments that keep me from engaging and playing with children because it boils my blood when they are said to me. Is it really that weird to like children but not want any of my own? And no, I won’t change my mind, I’m 38 years old, I think I know what I do and don’t want by now.

            But, whether you decide to use ‘childfree’ or ‘childless’ to describe me it will inevitably infuriate me because it assumes the default position is to have a child when in fact the default position is to not have a child. I don’t know anyone to date that was born with their child. So why am I the one who is ‘less’ or ‘free’? To be without a child is the default position. I am not less anything nor am I free of anyone. The parent is the one that changed their position; they have added to their circumstance.

            How would they feel if I referred to them as child-burdened or child-accessorized? I am no less free without children than parents are burdened with them, and I am not less without them than they are accessorized with them.

            So, you ask, how do you describe a woman without a child? You don’t, because it shouldn’t bloody matter!

Filed under childless childfree women childfree by choice childless by choice choice

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How do introvert’s celebrate?

I don’t have a Sex in the City type of friendship with any of my female friends. I mean, sure, we go to cafes to brunch, bars to drink, we talk about sex, but there is only ever just two of us, not the quintessential four. And for me this get together happens at most once a fortnight or a month, but even that is stretching it. I have more than four friends it’s just that we never all go out together because after one horrible night out, which ended in one friend verbally abusing me on a Balmain street because the other friend (who she met through me) gave her a filthy look, I decided that bringing my friends together was a terrible, horrible idea. 

This predicament tends to become more of a problem around my birthday, but now after years of explaining to my friends that the very thought of having a celebration, even a small get together, makes me dive to the nearest corner, assume the foetal position and rock myself gently until I’ve recited Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech at least ten times, it hasn’t been so much a problem. Until, that is, I achieve something else. FYI: I don’t see birthdays as an achievement but it seems other people do. I’m an introvert. I blame my fellow high school students for that, though it was probably inevitable considering I insisted that showering twice a week was more than enough for anyone to smell fresh. I was dubbed ‘Smelly Pauly’ - and it doesn’t even bloody rhyme!

But I digress (and now shower daily, sometimes twice a day).

Introverts are often shamed into silence until now - check this awesome TED talk. After seeing this I realized that I too have been attempting to do what comes unnaturally to me. Susan Cain brilliantly expresses how introverted people are often ignored and shamed because their ‘antisocial’ behaviour is anathema to traditional extroverted and socially acceptable behaviours. “Why are you being so mellow,” was a question asked by one of her childhood camp friends when all she wanted to do was read a book. Is it really that shocking that some people do not want to be loud and boisterous and party, party, party?

My idea of a celebration is different to the majority. Celebrating for me is often an individual and sole experience – and people often express pity for me when they hear this. But I relish being on my own, so when I celebrate an achievement I’m the only person I want to be with. Strange? Perhaps. But, think about it. There is no one other than me that can truly be proud of my achievement. In fact I think it rather condescending when someone tells me they are proud of me. What, didn’t they think I could do it?

When I completed finishing my Communication degree a couple of weeks back, it was no surprise that everyone I knew wanted to celebrate – but they wanted to do it in their way, i.e. go out, drinks, dinner, dancing. It wasn’t until I was skyping a friend who asked how I wanted to celebrate that I realised the pressure I was under, not only because of the amount of individual celebrations I would have to attend but also having to do it their way. Introverts make up 60% of the gifted population but only about 25-40% of the general population. It’s no wonder that my friends find me odd at times when people like me represent, at best, less than half the population.

What I wanted to do to celebrate was get a nice bottle of red and sit in my garden and paint – quite simple, and if someone wanted to join, well bonus! I didn’t want to get all dolled up, drive somewhere, order a meal, have drinks, then drink and drink some more till I was legless. I wanted to stay home and be creative. I am never at a loss of things to do when I am on my own: I also read, write, garden, exercise, cook, watch movies, paint, draw, etc. For me the traditional way of celebrating by drinking and eating and going out and having lots of people around doesn’t suit me in the least. I like my friends, but that doesn’t mean I’m like my friends. So, sometimes I wish my friends would want to celebrate the way I want to and not the way they want me to.

Although, there is that secret fantasy of mine about being in the South of France in a vineyard seated behind a large wooden table with my friends. The table is covered in a red and white gingham tablecloth with wine and bread and cheese and fruit atop it. And we all, including me, can suddenly speak French (I don’t even speak French now but it’s my fantasy so shut up!) whilst someone in the background is brilliantly strumming a guitar.

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In reality I know I could never feel truly comfortable in this situation, but it just looks so damn appealing in French movies.

Hmmm,  I wonder how French introverts celebrate?

Filed under introvert celebrate friends time alone french

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Tramp Stamp wisdom

At a recent party a young male mentioned that he wouldn’t associate with any woman who had a ‘tramp stamp’. A tramp stamp, in case you don’t know (I didn’t), is the term used for a tattoo a woman has on her lower back. When I queried his reasoning he replied something about these women being a certain type of woman.image

Until that moment it had not come to my attention that long term homeless women were being branded on their lower backs to protect us from them. 

But, before I started an online petition he elaborated on the term.  I can’t quote him verbatim as I was a little tipsy when having this conversation. Yeah, I know, I’m such a slut! It appears that his definition of tramp stamps was relegated to women who were obviously promiscuous, which translates to having too much sex for his liking.

I argued that not only was that a wild generalisation but quite a stretch to assume one’s tattoo had anything to do with their sexual habits, and not that it should matter anyway. Based on his theory, I suggested we could then irrefutably state that men who shave their heads are all skinheads, men who wear a kufiya are all terrorists, and men who have full arm tattoos are all Maori, which came as quite a shock to my Italian friend who convinced himself he was African American. Ironically, ‘sexist boy’ was aghast that I could stereotype men in such a way.

Later that evening I saw his girlfriend flashing a recently inked tattoo. Hers was some motivational word in Chinese characters, like faith or love or something, on the right shoulder blade, not that that means anything, so I don’t know why I mention it.

So I walked up to him and said, “Hey, you know what they say about women who have Chinese words tattooed on their right shoulder blade? They have idiots for boyfriends.”

Filed under tramp stamp sexist women opinion tattoo back shoulder idiot sexual habits

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All alone at a party?

You’ve been invited to a party but the only person you know is the host. So, what do you do when you don’t know anyone at a party? I’ve got five clever ways to help you maintain your friendless dignity. 

 1. Pretend to have diarrhea.

 Let’s face it, if don’t know anyone, you’ll need something to do, and what you do needs to look natural. What’s more natural than diarrhea?  Not only does this give you an excuse to go to the toilet numerous times, it also gives you an excuse to spend a considerable length of time in there. Trust me, you won’t seem awkward. Think of all the activities you can do in there: you could Twitter what’s inside the medicine cabinet, you could take selfies in various areas of the bathroom to post on FB, you could fill shampoo bottles with hair dye (we’ve seen this in screwball comedies and it’s pretty funny, right?), and you could even dribble some saliva on the toilet seat for the next person.  But don’t forget to clog the toilet or your game is up. Come prepared with your own bag of brown elixir. Me? I tend to save my cat’s but you could save your dog’s, or your own if you prefer. 

2. The “fake a slip, oops I spilt my drink” trick.

Indeed there are several ways to meet people. There’s the ‘Hi, my name is ….’ (boring), the “Hi, how do you know the host’ (cliché), the ‘Hi, you have chocolate on your nose, nope that’s a mole’ (this has yet to work). But the guaranteed way to talk to someone is to slip and spill your drink on their chest. Can’t you see the conversation starter already? ‘Oh, I’m so sorry’, to which they’ll reply ‘no that’s fine’, to which you’ll say ‘here let me get you a napkin,’ to which they’ll reply ‘okay thanks’, to which you’ll say ‘maybe if I rub a little harder it’ll get the stain out’, to which they’ll reply ‘Get the hell away from me’, and so on. It works every time. You might even get an AVO against you so you’ll know where they live. Win/win.

 3. Call a nerd/geek/inbound call centre person.

 Contrary to popular belief (and clichés) getting on your iPhone is the only way to appear important and popular. The truth is, you don’t want to talk to random party people because you’re the cool one - yes you are; oh yes you are; yes you are; and don’t you ever forget it! This is why befriending nerds, geeks and call centre people comes handy. They are all ecstatic that someone -anyone - has called that they always answer and they’ll talk to you for as long you need. Don’t feel bad about using them, you’re doing them the favour by calling them. 

 4. Take up smoking.

 Everyone knows smokers are lonely, miserable people who instantly befriend other smokers in order to have lifetime buddies. I know a lifetime seems overwhelming at first but don’t worry for smokers it’s only a short lifetime. So, if you find yourself being cool and all alone by the wall, check you’re not under the air conditioner, then go outside and befriend a puffer. Go on, do it, grab a cigarette and live a little (see what I did there?).

 5. Turn up high

 Nothing but crack and heroin will get you friends so quickly. Besides the fact that you won’t ‘give a shit’ but could simultaneously shit your pants (it all comes full circle), you’ll soon be seeing a plethora of friends. During one of my trips I had Johnny Depp, Ryan Gosling and Mickey Mouse sitting next me. It was so cool! No wait, that was the time I was masturbating on the lounge, but that didn’t work out so well at that party. Remember you probably won’t see these hallucinatory friends tomorrow, but they were there when you needed them and that’s what friends are for.  So let’s finish on a high (see what I did there again?), all together now:

            Keep smiling, keep shining,

            knowing you can always count on me,  for sure

            That’s what friends are fooooor

            For good times and bad times, 

            I’ll be on your side forever mooooore

            That’s what friends are fooooor.

Awww, this song is going be stuck in your head all day now - you’re welcome.

Filed under alone at a party alone drugs diarrhea nerd geek call center person AVO party

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My True Short Story in 300 words

My mother pressed me close and my aunt, who was bottled beside her, held my sister just as tightly. I was five and my sister was seven, and neither of us knew we were witnesses to a crime. I certainly didn’t know my mother and aunt were the criminals. The length of my mother’s sentence if caught, for it would undoubtedly be prison, is anyone’s guess. My sister and I would then be shuffled back and forth until my mother was freed  - if they let her live, that is.

But they weren’t the only criminals in that car, there were two others. A sanguine couple in their early twenties were also fleeing. And there were still two more, making a total of eight, but they weren’t criminals, they were the drivers, the heroes.

The car was a Volkswagen, so small you swore it had a lawnmower for an engine. We were crammed in and it was muggy. The smell of my mother’s sweat was soothing as it drenched my blouse so I nestled my head deeper into her armpits and tried to sleep. I listened as her heartbeat synchronized to my blood flow. At first it was the reassuring sound of a single piano key tapping to the rhythm of a metronome. But it started to beat faster and harder and it drummed in my ear so fiercely I pulled away.

I perused the cause of my mother’s anxiety and beyond the windscreen I saw a narrow dirt track with a dilapidated sign beside it.

                ‘What does it say?’ I asked my mother.

                ‘Welcome to Austria.’

                ‘Why are we going there?’

                ‘To be free’, she said.

When we passed the sign my mother and aunt, and the young couple beside us, weren’t criminals anymore.

They were refugees.

Filed under short story 300 words refugees criminals

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The argument that Cats are smarter than Dogs.

Cats are smarter than dogs, and quite frankly anyone who has ever lived with a cat can verify this.

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Horrifically there are humans - usually those that insist on living with canines - that keep rejecting this simple yet undeniable truth. These lovers of ‘man’s best friend’ may stubbornly refuse to admit a feline’s superiority, but if we simply observe the different reactions between the superior cat and inferior dog in a similar situations then we may be able to prove how Cat’s are smarter than Dog’s.

Take this scenario:

The human subject sits on the lounge watching mindless reality TV (obviously a dog lover), or reading an intellectual book of poetry (undoubtedly a cat lover). In a moment the Human will get up to go to the toilet. The Dog, who has now sprung to attention, follows the Human to the toilet. Once there, the Dog waits and waits before simply following the Human back to resume their original position. Why did Dog follow Human? There was no purpose to Dog’s rousing, he didn’t need to use the toilet; he followed because he is simply stupid.

Cat, however, wouldn’t bother following Human; instead she takes this opportunity to re-position herself in the most comfortable seat – the one Human just vacated. Why? Because it’s been warmed, and it’s cushier. What a smart, smart Cat. 

So, here we have a clear scenario that demonstrates that Dog (interestingly similar to the proverbial Sheep) is simply a follower - and ‘follower’ is actually the euphemism for ‘stupid’. Therefore, based on this result, one can surmise that if Cat is smarter than Sheep - which irrefutably she is - and Dog has the same mental capacity as Sheep (who is indeed stupid), then one can conclude that Cat (meaning all cats) is smarter than Dog (meaning all dogs).

One can indeed conclude that Cats are smarter than Dogs.

One CAN conclude that, yes?

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Short Story 300 Words

            Yesterday afternoon, which is somewhat exaggerated because it had only just struck twelve, I discussed, during an impromptu vino get together with friends (i.e. I turned up at the local pub), that I will be spending fifteen minutes tomorrow contentedly completing a writing exercise for my degree. Then suddenly (i.e. just like that) I awoke from yesterday’s conversation to the morning sounds of today: a flock of one thousand cockatoos arguing near my window, next door’s three hundred dogs barking about their loneliness to every passer by, and my megaphone Blackberry chiming to the tune of  ‘Fame’. Some days I really don’t want to live forever. Today it probably had less to do with the white-feathered annoyance outside than the previous nights drinking, but I still wanted those damn yellow crests to be cushioning my sleep.

            Little by little I lifted my head off the pillow and prayed my nervous system wasn’t on speaking terms with my brain. Typically it was, and the collision of trains inside my skull was as painful as listening to Tony Abbott speak, which was how I got in this state in the first place.

            After leaving the pub I decided to go home and engage in a drinking game whilst watching Question Time, and every time Tony said something inane, which is his talent, I skulled a glass of cask wine; I may be thirty-seven but I’m still a destitute student.

            I popped some original Berocca and stumbled towards my Mac. But the walk that was supposed to take me ten seconds to complete, today surprisingly, took me two. Today, rather than walking over the rug that was between the desk and me, I instead tripped over it and flew directly – head first – into the glass desk where my laptop lived.

            The glass desk – made of steel obviously - was fine, the laptop was fine, even the rug – a five-dollar flea market purchase - was fine. I, however, lost a tooth. And my dentist, who charged me $1295 for a porcelain tooth so I don’t resemble a hillbilly, is also fine. 

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Me and Vivian

She deludes herself that I’m not creeping around, wanting methodically and confidently to take over. I got her into the state that everyone tells her she should be ashamed of - being drunk. But, she needed me, and I convinced her to have just one. Slowly she sunk away until she was gone, forgotten, and there I was.

                                             *****

Vivian is the first to get out of bed, she wakes the kids, makes breakfast, prepares lunch, kisses them good-bye, and cleans the house, cleans the house, cleans the house. Everything is systematic and organized to time; to be on time to open the door to welcome the kids home, to welcome Barry home, to make dinner, to wash the dishes, to prepare for tomorrow. Tomorrow will be the same as today, but she’ll make it feel different. She’s supposed to make it different from yesterday, everyday, for everyone.

                                              *****

It’s ten o’clock in the morning, and I know she’s been thinking about it since she woke at six.  No one is around. Go on, I tell her, have a glass. Go on, no one can see you. Scull, scull, scull! And just like Alice from Wonderland, she does. She drinks. No one could live such a predictable lifestyle without some act of rebellion. I am her rebellion. I double it for her. I make it stronger. I make it matter. As me, she becomes real.

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Observations: At my local cafe.

     The navy coloured sandals under his chair, one slightly in front of the other, waited patiently until they needed to be used again. He sat cross-legged, superior above them. His ink hair sprouted up from his cranium and fell like water spurting from a fountain. A circular earring the size of fifty-cent coin with a pentagram welded in the centre stretched his lobe and created a five holed view to his neck. The hood of his red sloppy-joe relaxed around his neck but barely hid the tattoo that cunningly crawled up his neck. And when he turned to the left, his skin reached up and I could just make out the tattoo - Haro Kiti.

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                    ****************************************************

    The fat man didn’t care he took up more space than the slender thoroughfare between the tables and counter could handle. He loosely swung his arms around anyway. He wore a white polo shirt with green, navy and red stripes that encircled his balloon frame the wrong way. His breasts were indeed breasts. They rhythmically bounced off his gut with each step, and his pants squeezed him so tight they cut him in half. I would have mistaken him for a fat woman if I didn’t see him confidently scratching his scrotum which resided under his over-fleshed escarpment.