Friendship

an open letter to a former friend.

When your close friend becomes an acquaintance.

ImageIf our relationship was depicted in latte art, this would be us. (Image: Bad Latte Art)

Here we are once again. You and I.

Seeing you, it’s like going to the dentist – an occasional appointment which you begrudgingly force yourself to attend.

It’s an obligatory ritual in which we go through the same steps as last time: assess the situation, clean with that pointy thing which I don’t really like, clean with the toothpastey thing which is comparatively better, then rinse! My dentist is a lovely, lovely woman – she is caring, intelligent and pragmatic. We make small talk about our lives and her adult children, whom I know.

Except you are not my dentist and my teeth are no cleaner after having seen you. (more…)

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secret diary.

The confessions of an over-sharer…
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This bears far too much resemblance to my childhood diary for my liking. Yes, I was a 90s baby. (Image: Justice)

Confessional: I have very rarely been a dedicated diary-writer.

Whenever I did write in my Secret Diary as a kid (which was covered in blue sequin material, thank you very much) I was sure to make my entries original. “Ohmygosh, I like this boy!”, “Ohmygosh, it’s SO unfair!” and “Ohmygosh, she is so mean!” were the ideal complement to my ritual “padlocking” of the said diary so as to ward off the Sibling…who wouldn’t have been interested in reading its contents anyway, now that I come to think of it…

Anyway.

Now, it would be fairly safe to assume that this blog is the adult version of my sequin-spangled, flimsily-padlocked childhood diary, open for the interweb to read, right?

Not quite. (more…)

#socialmediafails: part two

Facebook “friends” and friends on Facebook.

ImageI think Ed and I could be friends.

Sometimes the strangest things happen on buses. Whether that be entire wardrobe changes, the disintegration of relationships played out in front of 60 relative strangers or procreation*, Sydney’s public transport certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to… colourful moments.

I had another one of those moments recently – except everyone remained fully clothed and no one shouted at their relatives. Yeah, a little less sexy and scandalous.

I was on my way to uni (truly groundbreaking stuff). As I walked up the back of the bus I spotted a girl whom I’m Facebook friends with sitting just in front of the seat I had my sights on.

Insert the part where we may eye-contact and say hi to each other and briefly catch up.  Insert the part where we don’t make eye-contact and don’t say hi to each other – even though we are now sitting 40cm away from each other.

Sorry. Let’s pause and recap. My “friend” is sitting in the seat in front of me and I am not going to say hi to her. Huh?

Just quietly, WHY THE HELL ARE WE EVEN FACEBOOK FRIENDS?!

Calm down, Alex. 

See, you could be deceived into thinking that we are actually friends. I mean, I know what she is studying, whom our mutual friends are, whom her family members are, whom her boyfriend is, what her boyfriend’s job is, her favourite authors and her pet’s name – all courtesy of our Facebook “friendship”. Well, except for the fact that we’re “friends” who have barely ever had a conversation with each other. But conversation is so passé, darling.

I’m still unsure whether I didn’t say hi because of the social conformity and norms which dictate that we don’t speak to people in certain settings or because the word “friend” has been diluted and no longer carries the value it once had. Either way, I have no idea how this girl and I even became to be Facebook friends in the first place.

****
Since then I ended up hanging out with another vague “friend” of sorts. Yep, another one. She’s a lovely person, but we’ve spent very little time together over the ten years that we’ve known each other. Anyway, we’ve kept abreast of what’s happening in each others’ lives by reading one another’s blogs, Insta-stalking travel photos and having the odd two minute catch up whenever we bump into each other, which counts for something. Right?

Ahhh. Hmm. Perhaps not, Alex.

See, spending some time with her the other week allowed us to go past the superficial “how-are-you-what-are-you-up-to-at-the-moment-oh-that’s-nice-bye!” And it was a pleasure to have done so, because I learnt so much more about her and her life that I could have ever done by Facebook-stalking her. We talked about the future, family dynamics, AFL-honed muscles and unexpectedly enchanting cities.I think social media only allows us glimpses into each others lives, and we orchestrate the glimpses we let others see – myself very much included.

I was reminded of this when I was catching up with a friend over coffee. (An actual friend this time.) Look, it was nice, but I was acutely aware of the fact that the main way in which we’ve kept abreast of each others’ lives recently has been by liking one another’s Instagram photos, Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates. We’ve been friends for years, but honestly, I think that our social media friendship has been a contributing factor to the deterioration of our (actual) relationship. We ask each other about things which we’ve seen the other post about – no longer bothering to feign surprise after waiting for them to bring it up themselves.

It makes catching up somewhat redundant, doesn’t it?

So, with that in mind, I’m trying my best to not write various status updates about my life at the moment. Yes, I think that the Likes would be well into the double digits and gosh, I’d feel sooo totes loved and #blessed. But who am I kidding? My Facebook friends are all nice people, but I’m only close friends with a solid 4% of them and I want to share my news with this 4% in person because they are the people who really matter to me. They’ll be genuinely happy for me because they’ll understand the significance of the things I’m sharing with them.

I guess that’s why I didn’t say hi to that girl on the bus. She’s just a “friend” and not a friend. And those speech marks, small as they are, seem to make a difference.

Alex x

 

* I wish I could say that I hadn’t witnessed that last one in particular, but I kid you not – I did. #stillmildlytraumatised

#socialmediafails: part one

Realising that I’ve let social media warp simple things like saying “please” and “thank you”.

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I’m going to take what I think is a fairly safe bet and guess that you, my darling reader, are pretty good with that whole social media thing. Right? And thus, I’m going to assume that you know a fair bit about social media and its continual impact upon communication and so many other related spheres of our 21st century lives. Blah blah blah. For the love of peanuts, tell me something new!

Well, despite having read plenty of articles on the subject and having spent many hours doing utterly arduous first-hand research in the field, there have still been times when I’ve been surprised by just how much social media had affected my relationships.

An example?

Well, I can think back to a time during the age of social media when I went out of my way to make my friend’s day. Good lord, I busted a gut. I spent quite a bit of cash. Hours were spent planning it. There were tears just getting my arse there. And I’m glad to say that I think I made her pretty happy.

And do you know what I wanted (and expected) in return? A social media shout out. Yes, that’s right: I wanted her to thank me publicly by posting a photo, tweeting or writing an update about what I’d done – which is f-ed up on so many levels that it is giving me mild brain damage. How the hell did I get to the stage where I not only wanted, yet also expected social media glorification in return for what I’ve done? How did it get to the stage where this would be my first response if a friend had done the same for me?

One source of influence which pops to mind are the handful of fashion bloggers I follow on Instagram. Perhaps you follow some too? If so, you’ll notice that when they are gifted another gorgeous skincare collection/bunch of flowers/handbag they make sure to post beautiful images of said gift whilst ensuring to tag the gift-giver, thus directing their followers to the company’s activities, as a way of thanking them.

A particular example of someone who does this on a regular basis is Margaret Zhang: a chick who goes to the same uni and me… and, whom at the ripe old age of 20, also happens to be a prominent fashion blogger (the type that gets to attend New York and London fashion weeks). And yes, I do sometimes feel like a bit of an underachiever when I see what she’s just posted. 

An aside in regards to Miss Zhang: in some ways I find it funny that I enjoy her work so much, seeing as my taste is so very different to hers – but I always enjoy seeing how she pairs really interesting pieces and I guess observing someone else’s style develop from a distance has a beauty of its own… In addition to this, I love the way she writes – it’s always a beautiful combination of irreverence, substance, depth and a sort of lyricism.

Ok. Margaret tangent over. We were talking about social media shout outs.

Here are some photos she has posted over the past couple of weeks:

Image  ImageImage  Image

You’re smart enough to figure out which Insta and description correspond with each other:
A belated Valentine’s Day shout out to her bf. #cupcakes.
A shout out to Tommy Hilfiger for her pre-show flowers and trench coat. #asyoudo
A shout out to her friend who sent her roses.
A shout out to the hotel booking site (and subsequent hotel) used during her stay in London. #LFW

Firstly, how come I don’t get showered with flowers and cupcakes and trench coats?? Hmm?? Answers, people!

Secondly, perhaps seeing posts like these from various sources multiple times a week could help explain my shockingly entitled mindset. See, I’ve allowed this to become my normal…

But the thing is that for Margaret, this is part of her work as a fashion blogger as every time she gives a company or brand a shout out it’s generating them the positive publicity they desire. What’s more, my guess is that some of these brands pay her to post these shout outs as part of their PR strategy and if not, it’s her way of her reimbursing them for their free products.

Except, Alex, you are not a fashion blogger who is being showered in free shoes. Although I obviously wouldn’t complain if that was the case. Duh. No, instead I am me. The thank yous I give and receive are not driving a potential 124,000+ people to my website with a single post.

Fashion blogging aside, most importantly I’ve realised that in this process I lost all perspective. Rather than making my friend’s day, what I was doing for her became an opportunity for me to look good in the eyes of others. If I remember correctly, that’s the opposite of what gift-giving is about – it should be about the other person and not myself and what I can gain from it.

What’s more, now that I’ve thought more about this particular instance, it has become increasingly clear to me that, it was I who should’ve been thanking her, not her thanking me.

So, to my lovely friend, it may be belated, but I hope you had a great day. Thank you for letting me share it with you and, in doing so, for making my day. Thank you for making my soul blossom.

Alex x

imprints.

This post is brought to you by this cheesy song from 1997 and this cheesy song from 2007. Because I love them.

 

A few weeks ago I was suddenly confronted by a startling realisation: that for the first time in my life I was about to lose two people whom I love so, very dearly within the foreseeable future.

And, frankly, I hadn’t really psyched myself up for that.

Now, I should clarify what types of loss we’re talking about: one of these darlings is likely to die sometime soon as he deteriorates with his old age. Thus, his death will hardly be a surprise and he has had a great innings, living a long, happy life.
The other has just found out that she has landed a whiz bang dream job in LA and is thus going to move thousands and thousands of kilometres away in a matter of days.

So, it’s obviously not a life or death situation, but it would also be fair to note that I have never experienced the loss of someone I love in my 22 years of existence.

On the one hand this is a great thing – I feel immensely blessed to not have had anyone I’m close to die. Yet, on the other hand, I see not having experienced grief as a disadvantage of sorts. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not something which I’ve been looking forward to. Rather, I know that it is, in many respects, an essential and inevitable part of life and delaying the first time round is not going to make it any easier when I first encounter it. I also think that it means that I probably can’t empathise with other people’s loss to the same extent that I could if I had lost someone myself.

It all came about rather suddenly. In the case of my old family member, he’s very elderly and has been edging closer and closer to the end of his life for a while now. But a few weeks ago his condition deteriorated quite rapidly. At the time I said, “Well, I hope he’ll last until my birthday.” (Which is in three months.)
Dad: “I don’t think he’ll be around then…”
Me: (Horrified) “Well, at least we’ll have one last Christmas together.”
Dad: “Darling, he may not last that long.”

I was mortified. My stomach dropped. It all seemed so surreal. And I felt so helpless.

I spent the next few hours gripped by tears as I snuggled up to this special man. I had to smell his smell and hold him while he was still present because his corporeal existence and our time together were suddenly so very finite. There was going to be a line drawn, a finish point and it was going to be soon.

In the case of my (rather talented) friend who has scored the awesome job, I’m not going to lie: my first response was selfish. Don’t get me wrong, I am truly ecstatic for her – it’s a foot in the door to her dream job and she had always hoped to move to the States after uni – partly because a large chunk of her heart resides there. I love her and want what’s best for her, but that didn’t stop me from sitting and crying when I received the news (thankfully, via text). Since then we’ve barely been able to see each other because she has, understandably, been hectically busy trying to organise moving to The States with less than a months notice. Fair enough. But it’s all happened so quickly and our time together is now so limited and finite.

I think part of the reason why I’m going to miss her so much is because I don’t have any other friends who are quite like her. And, frankly, now that she’s moving, a part of me would like someone else to fill the gap she will leave. I don’t even know how to fully describe her in words so I’ll have to get back to you on what the shape of her gap will look like.

Often, when I was younger, if a friend moved away for whatever reason I would find myself wishing that I had spent more time with them and invested more in our relationship, but it had become too late. This happened multiple times… which would indicate that I don’t learn from my mistakes quickly. Nice one, Alex.

However, I’m really glad to say that with these two that I did, from my perspective, invest as much of my love, time and energy into our relationships as I could. Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve also had so many happy, hilarious, crazy, content, sad, non-sober times together and I, to employ a cliche, have no regrets.

Of course you could just say, “Why don’t you just stay in touch with your friend, Alex? Skype was invented for a reason, you know! That’d mean you’d only be losing one person rather than two!”

I happily agree with you, amigo. However, I have a track record of being categorically sh!t at keeping in contact with friends who live overseas – no matter how much I love them. Of course, I aspire to keep in contact with my friend, but I’m trying to be realistic, too. And realistically, it may take a minor miracle to make me better at keeping in touch.

So, where to now? I’m not sure really. How on earth are you meant to prepare for loss?

I guess at the moment I am just really thankful for what I’ve had up until this point and I am trying, somehow, to ready myself for what’s approaching.

 

Alex x

A post-script. Since I began drafting this post a few weeks ago my family member’s condition has dramatically improved.. so much so that I think he may well make it until my birthday..

prosecco.

An open letter.
From: my feeling-sorry-for-myself-this-morning self.
To: my beverage-consuming self last night.

Good morning, peach.

Hey. 

So. Let’s chat.

Must we?

Yes. Definitely.

Wait. Which Alex is which? 

I’m not sure. I guess it feels like I’m going to be the school principal and you’re going to be the recalcitrant, rebellious student. Is that ok?

Yeah, whatever. Let’s just get this over with.

Now, Alex –

My brain hurts.

I was talking. Do you mind not interrupting?

(Glares.)

And there’s no need to glare at me, thanks.

(Continues glaring.) 

Yeah, so about your brain hurting. Perhaps, just perhaps, you need to rethink your approach to house parties.

Uhh. Why??

Well, we could start with that ‘brain-hurting’ thing you mentioned. The one where it feels like you’re slowly spinning in dizzy circles.

(Raises eyebrow haughtily) Mmmhmm? Well, perhaps it was worth it, thank you very much, you killjoy.

Note your use of the word ‘perhaps’. Ok, if not the head, how about the nauseated stomach?

Nothing that Vita-Weats and green tea couldn’t fix.* 

Or you could have had something a bit more interesting for breakfast.

Whatever.

Ok. How about the fact that your clothes are covered in dog hair?

I love that gorgeous canine, ok? And he’s old and he isn’t going to be around forever, so I think that he and I have established that it’s ok for me to use him as a pillow when I stumble in at 3am. The clothes? Yeah, I’ll have to pick each hair out one by one, but that dog pillow is worth it.

You don’t have anything better to do with your time than to pick each individual dog hair off your clothes? Wow. You’re fun.

Shut up, you. You evidently have nothing better to do with your time than to berate me.

Touché… but how about your suede heels?

Ok. I do concede that I will, from now on, avoid wearing suede heels to house parties. Thankfully, they are black and thus, they shall be relatively easy to clean.

You don’t say. They’d be beyond help if they were beige.

God forbid. I’m not that much of an idiot, thanks.

Good luck with the green stain on them, by the way.

I have no idea what this is. Actually, I think it could be an avocado dip… which I didn’t even eat. Let’s move on. Anything else you want to add from up there on your high horse?

Oh, yes, actually.

FFS.

Shame about your gorgeous bracelet smashing.

Yeah, actually it is. Do you have to remind me of the fact that I’m going to have to get it repaired RIGHT now?

Did you find all of the beads?

I think so. It wasn’t even my fault. Well, ok. I kind of tripped. Well, I thought that I could steady myself on the (closed) door behind me. But, as it turns out, it was open. And then my poor bracelet took the impact. I think I may have landed on it. 

(Raises eyebrow) Not your fault? Right. Yeah. Totally.

(Crosses arms across her chest.) Well, it wasn’t deliberate.

Ok. And how about have to pay for a taxi ALLL the way home because catching a bus was going to be too much like hard work for your non-sober self?

Yes, not ideal considering my current financial state. Thanks for the reminder, you cow. But it’s just $50. Not ideal, but not the end of the world either. It’s better to get home safely and to hurt the bank account than to not get home safely in the name of saving some money.

Oh, aren’t you virtuous. Well, look out world: Alex is the fountain of all wisdom.

At least I’m not as infuriating as you.

At least I’m not a bad friend.

Ouch.

But it’s true, isn’t it?

This is really unnecessary.

Oh, but I think it is, in fact, very necessary.

(Silence.)

You really hurt her, you know. She may not be one to wear her emotions on her sleeve (or her face like you do), but that doesn’t mean that what you did didn’t hurt her. Because it did. And you really went too far.
Poor form, Alex. Poor form.

(No rebuttal.)

What the hell were you thinking, Alex? Sometimes you act like your relationship means so little to you.

That is not true. I love her to pieces.

Well, act like it, dammit!

I’m really sorry.

Don’t say that to me. Say it to her.

Ok.

One last thing.

Oh, shut up.

I promise it’ll be the last thing I say.

(Sighs with exasperation.) What? What now??

See you next weekend?

(Raises her hand, clenching the first, second, fourth and fifth digits.)

Alex x

* As an aside: I do wish that my anti-nausea remedy was more interesting, but Vita-Weats it is.