How racist am I? Hopefully not at all, but I’m a little confused. I’ve got two distinct groups of friends, and with one group a bit of casual racism seems acceptable, while with the other group, even mentioning race gets you into trouble.
So I grew up on one side of town, went to school on the other, and I reckon that’s a nice little analogy for my life. With my two groups of friends I often feel like two different people, but at the same time. Kind of like a hermaphrodite, but on the inside.
The friends I grew up with have mostly settled down in the ‘burbs, and are into footy, furniture and churning out the kids. Which is fine, they’re a great laugh and one day, I’m not sure I don’t want the same.
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THIS week the NT News and Sunday Territorian kicked off our suicide prevention and awareness campaign, called Speak Up. So in the spirit of speaking up, I share with you the story of my friend.
She was in her late 20s when someone very close to her died suddenly. It was a loss that changed her life. We could all see she was struggling - she stopped eating, she barely spoke, her face was constantly tear-streaked and she was more interested in spending time alone than with us.
Though sometimes we could distract her for short spurts and we’d share a smile or a laugh with her, none of us could take her despair away. None of us could reverse what had happened.
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Given the season of excess that is Christmas, the event seems strangely downsized lately. Many of us bumped Christ a long time ago, whose birthday the event celebrates, in favour of a definition of Christmas that’s less about God and more about making merry with family.
Now that tradition might also be on the wane with some ditching the family bash, in case they’re tempted to bash up the rellies, in favour of a get-together with like-minded people they actually like. Then there are those, like Young Jean Lee, who just want to spend Christmas alone.
Lee, a subversive New York playwright, last year released her own carol singing the praises of a solo Christmas. In it, she enjoys her festive season minus disappointed family, egocentric friends, impossible standards, tension and yelling.
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As a Labor MP who joined the party as a teenager it will be no surprise to learn that, for me, the grand enemy has always been the Liberals. That pretentious blue “L” which appropriates the Australian flag set in the middle of a prissy blue rosette pinned on an overly groomed and unreasonably confident young man was the embodiment of all that was wrong with our country.
It was these types who in government squandered the economic opportunities of the sixties, couldn’t make a decision to save themselves, sneakily avoided packing up the Christmas table, and I am positive were to blame for the fall of Singapore.
By contrast Labor represented a balance of determination and enlightenment. Unlike conservatives who wanted things to stay the same, we had ideas. We fought for the rights of working Australians and we opened up our economy.
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When “they” finally get around to writing the how-to-be-an-adult guide book it must include a chapter on how to be a good friend because it’s fast becoming the first casualty of being a “grown-up”.
I’m not talking about how impossible it is to see anyone that a) you don’t live with or b) you don’t work with anymore or how challenging it can be to make friends when you move to a new place or suffer through a divorce or break-up; but what happens when you hit a certain age and so many of us decide that it’s OK to just stop caring about each other anymore.
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