In my dream
There was a cat. It was black cat. It lay sleeping on an armchair. And for some reason I thought it was a good idea to cut off the back legs and the back half of the cat's body. I can’t remember why but it seemed urgent. So I raised the axe and chopped that cat in two. And then watched in horror as both halves of its body kept living. Its long black tail was raised up like a Cobra ready to strike. And its front paws were dragging a tangle of bloody intestines in circles. I couldn’t believe what I’d done. It had happened so quick. And I knew I had to finish it because that cat was in torture.
So I cornered the head of the cat in this little enclosed area. But it had a lot of desks and chairs in the way. And even on two legs and with half a body that cat could move. I was about to dump a brick on its head when it looked straight up into my eyes and screamed into my face.
It was then that I realised THAT CAT WAS ME.
So I’m sitting in the Housing Commission Office and I’m remembering when I came back to Sydney how horrified I was when my parents handed me the forms for public housing. And gently suggested I might want to sign up. ‘Who me?’ I had survived New York hadn’t I? Ok my wings may have been burnt to a crisp but still flapping! Returning to Australia was like coming down from a very long acid trip. My Manhattan Dreaming melted the minute they turned off the seatbelt sign and sprayed us all with disinfectant. Welcome to…
Is that me? Where’s my ticket? And now I can’t even find my ticket. Shit. I’ve lost my place again? You do not exit stage left to New York and then return home to Sydney without a million dollars, a husband or at least a baby. Without one of those you’d better have a return fare. Or a few good friends in Ecuador. Because once you’ve tried to escape the fatal shore and failed, you’re on your own. Your treachery will never be forgiven. Not unless you close your mouth and pull your head in. Not unless you forget everything you learned while you were gone…
Never mind. I wasn’t planning on staying. I just had a little book to write and then once I’d sold the film rights I’d buy myself a small townhouse and all my nearest and dearest a swimming pool and floaties! And then I was going to sign up for one of those ‘Extraordinary Ability Visas.’ (the American equivalent of the Disability Pension) so I could pop back on a plane to New York and get the hell outta here.
What is it with these numbers? They don’t seem to go forwards or backwards. You can’t even anticipate when your turn will come? It required constant vigilance. The room was speckled with Asians and Muslim women with prams. I eyed the competition and tried to imagine us in business class on Virgin with plenty of leg room. And not standing at the same trough, grounded, hungry and elbowing each other for shelter. I never thought I’d be in competition with a boat person. How the fuck did that happen? Life imitated Art and I became the Cultural Refugee that I depicted in the show I first took to America. The critics said I was the ‘It Girl for the New Century’ and perhaps I still fit the bill. If the new century is unemployed and homeless and peri-menopausal. That’s the sort of sucker that I am. My vanity is my weakness. Give me a compliment and I’ll give you a kidney. Thank God I never went to Saudi Arabia. I’d have ended up on some White Slave run. I’m a sucker for the promise of a happy ending. I should have hitched back a ride in a boat full of Asylum Seekers. They don’t get a happy ending either but at least there’s a dollar in that story. Or a documentary on SBS or ABC. Because there’s no market for the tales of washed up Showgirls with attractions to malignant narcisissts. No Show Bags for single sluts in a full throttle Mid Life Crisis…
The Asians kept bypassing the ticket machine and going straight for the reception. I wanted to shout ‘CUE JUMPER’ which shocked me. What had I become? Mea Mea Culpa! This wasn’t how my parents raised me. They raised me to be welcoming and generous. They raised me to care about the Under Dog not to BECOME the Under dog for fucks sake! I should have been back on my feet by now. What had happened to me?
I finished writing the book. Just in time to watch Bernie Madoff get busted. I thought it was a sign my timing was finally right but I was wrong. I’m always mis-reading those signs. Never mind. My whole life had been a Global Financial Crisis. So I published it myself and sold 100 copies. And then I ran out of puff.
The Psychologist said it was Depression. That all my brain pathways were broken. She explained how she could put them back together with the new drugs on the market. That once my pathways were healed I would start to see my future. She made it sound like Humpty Dumpty with a happy ending so I accepted the script and I tried them. But they fucked with my muse. She didn’t like being usurped by the pill box. She was the Alchemist who could take my poison and turn it into Elixer. She was the Mercurial Diva who could put wings on a show and fly me out of here. She’d done it before and she’d do it again. She didn’t need chemicals added to her spin. That was Muse Abuse. And she is the reason I get out of bed. Without her I’m nothing.
So to shake my blues and save what was left of my muse I took myself off on a journey across the country. From FNQ down the white trash express and across to Perth and Adelaide through Melbourne and back here to Sydney. From coast to coast I rattled the bars of my cage and blogged all my tales. And I’d come home to kill the dragon and write my happy…
That’s me! Once a name. Now a number! I scuttled over to Booth 4 to be processed by Grail. At least I think she said Grail? Her name tag was a little twisted and I’d left my glasses in a suitcase stored at Eddies. My life was scattered in three places. And I needed a nap. I had been sent to this office by The Angel in Boots, with the tip I would be processed on the spot. The Angel in boots knew everything about the way the system worked. She was my Angel and my advocate. Without her I’d be lost. But she also warned me that the last people she sent to this office were suing the Department for racial discrimination because they were offered a pad in miles away from a Synagogue. In Maroubra. With thirty five steps which apparently caused a Sabbath Issue?
It sounded like bullshit to me. I was jealous. I have never really been the jealous type but that’s before I became Hhhhh.. I can’t even say that word. That word is humiliating. Now I’m jealous of everyone. Even people with a decent Cardboard box. How did they get that? Did they raid Officeworks? How could anybody in their right mind knock that back a flat in Maroubra for a reasonable rent!! I would kill to climb up those 35 steps and to lock the door behind me. Where was my ‘Sabbath Issue’. I had a good mind to convert. I had not enough Jew in me and far too much Irish! There were absolutely no perks to being part of the Church of Wayward Women. No Pink buck! No poor plate, no shalom and no day of rest. I needed to work on my sense of entitlement. Damn it!
‘Why should you get priority housing?’
Grail looked doubtful.
‘Ummm. Because I’m HOMELESS.’ I spat it like a kidney stone but I had no fire in my belly so it dribbled down my chin. Grail looked me up and down…
‘You’re not staying on the street by the look of it ?’
‘No I have friends. I’m staying with them’.
She didn’t look impressed. In fact she looked a little like Gina Rinehart’s shorter elder sister. I felt like Fairfax.
‘Well your friends can help you get you housing then’
‘Are you kidding me? This is Australia isn’t it? Friends don’t have any obligation to help me get housing? We are the land of come to my BBQ and bring your own sausages. We are not the land of my house is your house. He’s not heavy he’s my brother. We only come to the rescue in natural disasters. ‘Besides I’ve already been through my friends and their couches. You can only stay somewhere once. Maybe twice if they’re old friends. And then only for three days if you don’t want to wear out your welcome. You know I will need a few friends at the end of all this…’
Gayle tuned out and went back to going through my paperwork. I kept talking.
So I’m left with facebook friends. Who are very sweet. But a mystery bag. I don’t know them from Eve. They don’t know me from Adam. They just read my blog. And they like my stories. So they ask me home. It’s all lovely. But then almost as soon as I’ve unpacked they get scared that I’ll write about them. It’s as if I spark up their dreams and then trigger their nightmares. I’m just like Julian Assange with no asylum.’
That was a stupid thing to say but I couldn’t shut up.
‘Besides women don’t really have friends. Not like men. They have Mateship. Girls have best friends in Primary School, up until puberty hits and they just have competition! It’s all a fight for the gene pool. So I can’t land on married girl friends or married male friends or even married pooftas. Married people are heavily insulated. They turn inwards, grow gardens, build bunkers. And you cannot gate crash a bunker. Not unless you’re a marine. And I’m just a Disaster Diva. I threaten to de-stabilise, upstage or trigger. I’m aware of this.
Grail screwed her mouth up like a little cats bum as I spoke. I knew I should zip mine RIGHT NOW. But..
I can’t even look sideways at someone’s flabby fella without them thinking that I’ll do a Wendi Deng on them. Have they had a good look at their men? They are delusional…' Besides I’m celibate. You cannot be sexually active and homeless. That’s just asking for trouble.’
I thought Grail would like that. The idea of me being all stitched up. But she didn’t hear me anyway. She had already stopped listening. Her head was buried deep in my paper work. Taking notes and ticking boxes. I was nothing to her. Not a name, just a number. I folded up my ticket like a fan and slowly looked around the room. The homeless had all gone home. The room was empty. And then Grail stamped my forms and passed them over the table. I said Thankyou. In retrospect that was a little pre-mature. I took the papers in my hands and looked down at the big red stamp. It said
PRIORITY HOUSING –REJECTED.