Back on Stage WITH A PIANO! F*@k off FEAR!

Image is Jacci standing behind a stage piano, mid song, at Pride of Our Footscray Community Bar, with a colourful mural background.

Being back on stage for Midsumma Festival was awesome – particularly as I faced one of my biggest, life long fears by doing so. That fear was of playing piano and singing in front of a crowd. I also got to share a green room with some awesome people for Pride of Our Footscray Community Bar‘s comedy event “You Can’t Say That in Front of Your Father”.

I battle imposter syndrome and gut wrenching anxiety every time I get on stage and the thought of singing on stage was mortifying prior to 2019.

Then I did some work with Richard Lawton, the author of Raise Your Voice, and it changed everything. If you are battling a fear of speaking or singing, I strongly recommend his book or classes.

I battled messaging from my childhood that says artist pursuits are not valuable or acceptable. But it’s part of who I am and it took until my mid 40’s to overcome those fears and just decide to do it anyway.

And one of the biggest bags I carried around was wanting to learn to play piano and being told, “only smart people play piano and your little fingers will not let you”. Family criticism of my singing voice stopped me singing in choirs and other public places from about ten years old.

I faced it the first time in front of a large audience for a show called Tickets on Myself on opening night of Melbourne Fringe 2019. Then of course…lockdown…and workplace injury stopped me in my tracks.

I am also doing a PhD and so performing is taking a back seat, but it’s still in the car with me!

Whilst I have been singing on stage for a while now, it’s been sporadic and terror filled. So at Midsumma I performed my first song composition after some piano lessons with the incredible Spencer Hughes booked through Scarlett Music. Spencer was so patient with me. The song is a rudimentary tune but fun. Two out of four performances I felt like I killed it, the other two not as happy with, but still well received. But I also got great crowd feedback.

I am often surrounded by other performers who look at me like I’ve got two heads for talking about these fears. And I admit that I wish it had been natural and encouraged throughout my early life so I could feel like they do about performing, instead of carrying this awfully heavy baggage, like I have throughout my life. But that baggage is much lighter now, and may soon just be a handbag instead of a costume trunk.

But being back on stage was awesome and I have to say, I am glad I didn’t give it all up after the last 12 months of recovering from a workplace injury. Performing online and on community TV during that time helped my recovery enormously.

But this was pretty special. And fear can go fuck off.

And now, in honour of this triumph over childhood fear – I am about to relaunch my solo show, including three comedy songs and poetry and story and stand-up! Tardy: Ready and Disabled | Melbourne Fringe

So, Tardy: Ready and Disabled is coming back for one night only! To Fringe Common Rooms (Old Ballroom, Victorian Trades Hall).

Please come along! Particularly if you are interested in disability pride!

Where: Fringe Common Rooms, in the Ballroom (Victorian Trades Hall).

When: Wednesday 23rd June, doors at 7 pm for show start at 7.30 pm. AUSLAN. Relaxed performance for those of us on spectrum – there will be room to move.

How to book online: Tardy: Ready and Disabled | Melbourne Fringe

Mrs. Potato Head Breaks Has’bro’ code

In breaking news this morning, it has been revealed it was Mrs. Potato Head broke the recent scandal taking the Mister out of Potato Head.

Speaking to me this morning, from her safe house in the Hamptons, this is how the conversation went:

Mrs Potato Head revealed “I couldn’t take it any longer. He’s not even a mister. I left him for another woman years ago, she’s a later version of Potato Head than me. And I really feel sorry for Mister, I do“.

I could hear the nervousness in her voice, so I pushed “Really, you feel sorry for him? Or are you really scared?”

“I feel sorry for him, the press has made such a big deal of his limited choices. Of course, I get a choice. I can be a Miss again, or a Ms, or even a Mx. But the brand won’t let him use Master, they are concerned about BDSM references. I really shouldn’t be talking about this, it’s putting me in danger of them inflating my lips again, and it’s already hard enough to talk”.

“Oh, I see. So is there some kind of unspoken Bro code at Hasbro, that you are breaking?”

“Oh definitely. The bro code of Hasbro. You’ll end up a has been, bro, if you speak up about the sexist bullshit we endure at work”. I could hear her struggling to hold back tears.

“I am so sorry you are going through this. But irony is, that you’ve always been gender fluid, isn’t that right?”

“Completely! We all know there are millions of kids out there switching it up and switching my and Mr Potato Head bits around anyway, all quite healthy really. But the HasBro code…”

“What are you putting at risk here talking to me today? Mrs. Potato Head?” I asked.

“Oh please call me Dom. Mrs. Potato Head is just a brand inflicted upon me by the bro’s at Hasbro. I go by Dom, short for Dominatrix. Mister always said I was a ball breaker. I reminded him he had no balls…Oh, I gotta go, Hasbro have been sending me threatening videos and my partner just said we got another one”.

I could hear the commotion in the back ground and a voice crying, “OH MY GOD! The Wiggles, they sent the WIGGLES – Hot Potato!!!”

And then there was a loud sigh…and click. She hung up. I have since tried to make contact with them and they are safe and are seeking legal advice.

I feel a little gleeful, so here is a poem

Going back to Uni at 50 is a wonderful thing,

It makes me want to break out and sing,

But the scariest thing for me on offer,

Is coming out in a few years…a doctor…

And not that kind that starts in proctor…

I’ve met enough assholes in my own time,

But I thought I’d put my glee into rhyme,

And here’s some extra food for my soul,

My first club I’ll join is one most F.O.U.L.

FOUL Friends of Unnatural Llamas

#badpoetry #oweek

The Deadline: Of Death and Gin

A little something I have been working as the 5th generation descendant of Irish-Australian brewery owners.

It’s been delayed a year…but hoping to do some filming and podcasting out at Kilmore in the coming months.

The Deadline combines autobiography, anthropological ethnography and comedy to discuss mental health and addiction taboos. It will tell quirky darkly humorous stories of inter-generational family resilience, Irish-Australian migration and family business to explore if we really have learned any lessons about how we treat mental health and addiction issues over the last 200 years. It will combine research, family history, religious and political commentary to look at changes over time.

Dark humour meets ethnography, family history and critical social commentary on Australia’s lack of mental health services and the taboo’s about talking about intergenerational mental health.

And don’t be that wanker who says you can’t laugh at that…The Deadline looks at our healthy and not so healthy ways of coping through the ways families laugh through trauma. Plus it will mock the system, not people’s pain.

https://the-deadline.org/

And here is the first blog post –

Enough with all the “talk”

So, coming up is International Day of People With Disabilities. And for me it’s also my 50th Birthday.

Here’s a list of gifts that would be nice:

  1. Stop picking on people for how they speak or don’t speak.
  2. Stop picking on people for how they speak or don’t speak.
  3. Stop picking on people for how they speak or don’t speak.
  4. The above on repeat until people start recognising that communication is multi layered, not just dependent on speech.

I sit on the more socially acceptable side of this, being hyperverbal, but I do experience shut down and need more silence and then I am interpreted as rude when I go quiet for days at a stretch. I struggle with tone and pitch, I speak too fast and I get word order “wrong” (whatever that means). Modifying this is exhausting, not just metaphorically, but physically exhausting.

Most of my meltdowns are related to not getting enough solitude away from people asking me to speak – plus related to the hyperacusis and sensory processing pressures I experience. It’s still hard work for me to speak in a “socially acceptable way”.

It literally takes 10x more effort for me to public speak, because I am constantly modifying how I speak for a neurotypical audience, as a matter of survival in the arts world. Then people will still find a problem with it – and frankly I don’t care if they do.

I won’t mask for you, pretending to be neurotypical is harmful to me. I will try out new things that feel comfortable and I think I’ll sing more (because it feels better than this cultural obsession with punchline comedy). But I won’t mask for you.

And if it’s considered inappropriate, well isn’t everyone at some point? All this focus on speech assumes there is some standard way to communicate.

Speech is not superior to any other form of communication. And perfect speech or perfect non-speech doesn’t exist.

#IDPWD #autism #speech #communication

My first comedy parody composition!

So, in March I could barely put my fingers in the right positions on the keys of a piano.

I’ve sung in choirs and on stage. But to play my own music has always been a dream. But it’s also a dream I am terrified of, because I was carrying some memories from a childhood abuser. Never ever underestimate the power of an adult running down a child’s attempts to do something – it can and does lead to a lifetime of anxiety and harm.

But I have an awesome music teacher who knows how to teach someone like me, and I am super grateful to Spencer for giving me the confidence to get there.

So here is my first comedy parody song, complete with my beginners piano playing (which I incorporated in the nature of the comedy performance, good way to get extra cringe-ness!).

It’s in character as the nasty neo-con Bronwin Budget-Slap. Her working class butler has highjacked the teleprompter and changed the lyrics…

#parody #cringeworthy #piano

Wtf is “Millionaires for Morrison?”

Millionaires for Morrison is an Australian grassroots political activist comedy group based upon the US open source project Billionaires for Bush as a contemporary Australian equivalent – Millionaires for Morrison, which to date has four confirmed “Millionaires”, a website in development and a Victorian chapter with hopes to grow it beyond Victoria to chapters all over Australia. 

The plan is to uniquely modify the original recipe to target conservative regimes and raise issues (via satire) of structural inequality to those people who would avoid these topics normally.

In 2021, it’s hoped the “Millionaires” will attend political events and rallies all over the country to sing parody songs and recite poetry about social justice issues, like proper “sheep in wolves clothing”.

It’s an example of what is known as “overidentification” humour (Molé, N.J. 2013: 289). It’s that kind of satire that mimics the kind of behaviour that a political movement wants to change, but does so, in such a subtle way, that it takes thought to appreciate that it is in fact, mocking that behaviour.

The reason for doing satire this way, is when governments start censoring or trying to ban political commentary political satire as the Australian government tried to in 2016/2017; it’s time to, well, up the anti. The Millionaires decided to continue to add to Australian political satire pot that features such legends as Sammy J, Shaun Micallef, The Chaser and Juice Media.

The fact is, left wing, right wing, we are all on the same airplane, headed for a monumental crash.

The tools of the oppressor have been well described in human history, yet we often fail to see them in operation, as self appointed leader of the Millionaires is subtly pointing out with her “Liberal Conversion” video series.

While some decry that democracy is losing out because of party politics, the fact remains that political positioning on a left and right binary, hasn’t existed for a long time. You will regularly hear Australians complaining that a political party they have supported for years, or even generations, has sold out.

Some of our Millionaires parody is more obvious, like the work of Mort E. Morrison, who plays on the endless stream of get rich gurus on the internet. But the ‘overidentification’ irony will always stand that there are people out there, that will believe money fixes everything and is the only human value worth aspiring to, even at the cost to their own communities.

Lots of comedians will tell you they just aim to be funny, and that’s totally cool. But political satire is a different beast altogether, it’s hard to deny it’s more somatic, change making sub texts.

Peak irony: “Millionaires” with IRL identities as members of marginalised communities. The ultimate court jester playbook move, they mock cruel side effects of profit before people every single day of their lives, by simply existing.

Ultimately, it’s not about party politics for us “Millionaires” it’s about conservative thinking and how it excludes human diversity and results in policies that harm people. It’s about issues and largely about how our obsession with money is trashing humanity and the planet.

And while we are on the subject of money, most conservatives would prefer the arts never get paid, but all that means is that we just make content that never ruffles a feather. So, if you can afford to buy us a coffee, you can here. You’ll get something for that too, unlike a neo-conservative policy document that promises the world and gives you a word salad instead. You’ll get even funnier outtakes and serious discussions about satire, social change and the future of democracy.

So, come for a ride with us Millionaires, particularly if you don’t fit what the twin set and pearls brigade finds acceptable or thinks is broken; because we “Millionaires”, are your people.

#millionairesformorrison #auspol

What is this Millionaires for Morrison thing? Australian grassroots political activist comedy group…follow them @millions4scomo

Reference cited: Molé, N.J. (2013). Trusted Puppets, tarnished politicians: Humor and cynicism in Berlusconi’s Italy. American Ethnologist Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 288-299.

Follow Millionaires for Morrison:

https://twitter.com/Millions4Scomo

You Seem Angry

This has been said to me more times than I’d like to hear lately. The last thing I wanted to be known as was the angry old disabled woman. I was never angry with the world for the fact I am disabled. I wasn’t angry with my body. I’m an atheist so I couldn’t be angry with God. I don’t think people who know me would describe me as an angry person. I laugh a lot. I have an extremely sarcastic sense of humour. I’m compassionate, motivated and most of the time pretty badass. I get angry but I’m not an angry person.

Yet here I am defending myself to a stranger online who thinks I seem like an angry person because they didn’t like that stood up for myself, that I tried to educate, that I didn’t take bullshit. They don’t like it when I call out bad behaviour…

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On Difficult Dx Conversations

So I just got some bad medical news and I have some intense stuff to go through before I know the full damage or what to expect. But not much is going to change, I’m just going to be less available for others for a while. Study goes on, comedy goes on. There will be interruptions and some difficult stuff. But I need to focus on my own care, more than ever and I have been trying to build a support team.


Yesterday I reached out in a number of ways for help to select people and it was nearly as difficult as hearing the news my genetics have failed me. I reached out to people because I don’t have family nearby and what family I have left can’t help.


People say “they don’t know what to say”. Well, I decided to write some tips after I spent 30 years of my life caring for my Dad with cardiomyopathy until his death (plus my own chronic illness story).


A few pointers, thinking about the social model of medicine/disability…


1. It’s hard not to react, but try “I’m feeling <briefly insert feelings> about this. But it’s not about me, how are you feeling about all this?


Try and wind back sadness or shock the moment you talk about someone’s difficult diagnosis. It buys into the ableist view that Dx is bad. Dx can prevent you from dying from something you didn’t know you had – or be helpful in understanding why life has been different and make life easier. But also, forgive yourself for reacting, it’s human!


Some Dx may mean you know you have less time on the earth than others…but if you take time to read about this, for many people, they learn to value what time they have left and that’s not always a bad thing. In my case, I’d rather know and have parameters around that, than drop dead suddenly in front of you.


2. Pause for a minute when unsure what you can offer. Try “Thank you for trusting me with this. I am feeling < briefly insert how you feel about it>. I am not sure I have the ability to deal with this as well as I would like to. I want to help, but < briefly express limitations>, so is there anything else I can help with?


It’s not about you and your discomfort or schedule. This information may make you uncomfortable, for the other person it’s much more than ‘uncomfortable’. People who are sick are not a burden, but they often feel like (even subconsciously) they are.

Don’t use platitudes instead of real and genuine communication because you don’t know how to deal with the information – it’s not being helpful. It’s unintentional gaslighting and that’s not your fault, its something we’ve been taught is okay. But it’s another capitalist social convention aimed at isolating people for being sick. “You’ll be alright” “What doesn’t kill you” “This will pass” (I’ve been guilty of this one) “Take all the time you need”, “Things are much better with medical technology now”, “You’re tough, I’m sure you will be fine”. These are just plain dismissive, even though we might have thought they were ‘positive’ things to say.


3. When you mess it up, don’t go silent. There is also not necessarily a need to apologise either. Just say “I didn’t do that well. I’m feeling < briefly insert variations on the two approaches at #1 and #2 above>”.

I think this should be fairly self evident, but apparently it’s not! When you genuinely say you care about someone, ghosting is never okay, whether a friend or any other relationship – no matter how uncomfortable your stuff up made you feel. (Note: this is very different to when someone has abused you – you have every right to put in hard no contact boundaries when someone has treated you with contempt).


4. Be clear but kind about what you can assist or not assist with.

The last thing people getting tough medical news is people around them who are just bullshitting about wanting to help out of some perceived obligation.

It’s hard enough for the person dealing with this, it’s really not about you and if you are genuine about the person affected, you won’t play the appearances game.

And remember it’s okay not to do this perfectly. These are just suggestions, as long as you work to centre the person experiencing the difficult Dx, you word it how it works best for you.


The end.

Little c Courage

Enough talk of resilience. Enough talk of trauma. I want to talk about courage instead.

The Deadline

So, our family has been through a shit-ton of well…shit. I am prepared to accept that there is evidence for intergenerational trauma. But I have been saying that then that also means that there is grounds for intergenerational resilience. But, I want to talk about courage instead.

This tweet (pictured below) made me realise just how much I am really f’n sick of both the word resilience – particularly as Melbourne is in yet another lockdown right now. The tweet from Zandashé L’orelia Brown (@zandashe) reads: “I dream of never being resilient again in my life. I’m exhausted by strength. I want support. I want softness. I want ease. I want to be amongst kin. Not patted on the back for how well I take a hit. Or for how many.”

Resilience, seems like another measurement of the hits we have taken, not a measurement of our own…

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All is quiet on the front

Oh!!! That’s why I am quiet.

The Deadline

Apologies for being quiet, I am contemplating an unexpected house move (argh) and doing a PhD and Midsumma Festival performances. It gets a little busy sometimes.

I have also been reading some documents a little bird in the extended family sent me and digesting those. But I want to talk about the fighting women in my family. The military women and the perceptions of women who have served in fighting forces since…well…since forever really.

My father’s first wife served in WWII as did he. His sister, Anne, was in the Navy in WWII. And me, I served in the RAAF. I recently wrote a piece on sexual harassment in the defence forces for the YWCA. And something I know all of the women who served in my family experienced, was judgement about our efforts from family.

I remember an Uncle (from Mum’s really conservative side of the family) saying…

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WANDERING WOMBS, WITCHES (and orgasms)

A taster…of what I will be writing about next in relation to intergenerational family stories, what my research has uncovered and in particular Jane Brady’s death at 82 in Sunbury Mental Hospital.

The Deadline

I like April people. My Dad was born in April. My son was born in April. Today I had a wonderful chat with another April person in my extended family that I didn’t know existed. They have a similar awesome sense of humour to my other awesome April people I know.

I’ve written about Dad’s birth and his jokes about being born on April Fools Day.

Today is Dad’s birthday and I want to talk about the silly idea that women’s internal reproductive organs are animals and that this thinking existed right up until the early 1900’s. This is not an April Fools joke, this is very real.

A taster…of what I will be writing about next in relation to intergenerational family stories, what my research has uncovered and in particular Jane Brady’s death at 82 in Sunbury Mental Hospital.

The following is from an academic piece (I’ve…

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born five minutes too late

Happy April 1!

The Deadline

I’ve been thinking about my Dad a lot lately and his dark sense of humour and how he engaged humour to soften the blow of difficult times – as the best medicine. Interesting for a man born on the 1st of April 1923 and who resented that date for the rest of his life. CW: low level discussions of end of life conversations.

My Dad joked at the most inappropriate times, but always made it about the ridiculousness of the situation instead of mocking the people in it.

He would often tell me how much he disliked people who played ‘practical jokes’ on people. Being born of the 1st April and growing up in the 1920’s and 30’s in the Collingwood/Fitzroy are of Melbourne meant he never got to experience a birthday that wasn’t filled with anxiety about what someone might do to him in the name of joke.

My father Jack, standing mid way up a very large Eucalyptus tree.  He appears to be late teens, going by other photos I have of him with dates, late 1930's.  This photo is probably a bit telling about future careers, aircrew on Liberator Squadron no. 24 in WWII, seismic line working with CSIRO through remote Australia and a career maintaining and repairing remote lighthouses with the Australian Lighthouse Service.   Come to think of it, these careers were largely away from people and likely linked to his view 'people are the problem' approach to the world.
My…

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Tonight! Talk-ist!

Tonight at 10pm on Channel 31 Melbourne and Geelong, (Ch44 Melbourne) or livestreamed nationally from https://c31.org.au/tv/live/ I am featuring the awesome advocate, model and speaker Jess Cochran (pictured). Videos are available on YouTube too.

In the middle of lockdown I started a community TV talk show, produced by BentTV and called Talk-ist! The plan was to use the basic premises of neurodivergent (ND) communication for the show.

Image is Jess Cochran looking divine with a flower in her hair, lying in an elegant pose leaning against her wheelchair. She is dressed in a black dress with bare feet. Jess is the featured guest on 26th March 2021.

Different people think differently, not only because of cultural background, life experience or professional aspects but because their brains are “wired” to work differently.

Neurodiversity embraces the notion that individuals born with differently wired brains and those with acquired wiring differences have important contributions to humanity.

Talk-ist has a focus on disability and queer pride and features prominently community members and allies.

ND people – we often (not always) don’t do small talk, take conversations off on interesting tangents and love our interests with an intensity that we should like a specialised deck of cards in trivial pursuit.

So Talk-ist was born around three part guest focused interviews (sample YouTube):

Here are some of my favourite moments from guests to date:

Bent TV: Talk-ist | You did what? | Vanessa de Kauwe. Vanessa runs Science Alliance, an award-winning science program for neurodiverse and disabled and gender diverse young people, at the Australian National University (ANU).

Bent TV: Talk-ist | Newsworthless | Ki Hayward. Disability advocate, speaker and consultant Ki and Jacci turn fluff into stuff talking about mobility aids!

Bent TV: Talk-ist | Nerd Wars | Yenn Purkis. Yenn, autistic author, speaker, blogger and neurodiversity champion talks Lord of The Rings and gender.

Bent TV: Talk-ist | Newsworthless | Sally Goldner AM. Rainbow diversity warrior, speaker, consultant, performer and a ton of other skills, Sally and I talk Emu’s in bars!

Bent TV: Talk-ist | Nerd Wars | Anastasia Le. Gender diversity speaker and consultant, radio host and comedian Ana and I chat about Pokémon! Squeeeee!

All my guests have been a joy! I’ve loved doing this. A big thank you! We are lucky to get a show a month in, with my PhD schedule, but when we do…it’s literally some much fun.

So, like check out the facebook page for the show for upcoming guests – Talk-ist | Facebook

Women in Aviation

#womeninaviation #IWD2021 Today is not only about struggle but also celebrating successes. Today, from my first career in aviation, I remember, applaud and honour three pioneers in aviation (there are more than three women of course, but here’s a start):

Bessie Coleman. Bessie Coleman was an early American civil aviator. She was the first African-American woman and first Native-American to hold a pilot license. She earned her pilot license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale on June 15, 1921, and was the first black person to earn an international pilot’s license.

Sophie Blanchard. Sophie Blanchard was the first woman to work as a professional balloonist. Known throughout Europe for her ballooning exploits, Napoleon Bonaparte promoted her to the role of “Aeronaut of the Official Festivals”, replacing André-Jacques Garnerin. On the restoration of the monarchy in 1814 Louis XVIII named her “Official Aeronaut of the Restoration”.

Katherine Wright. The Wright Brothers manager in many respects. She championed and promoted their work (and secured funding) in early aviation in Europe and battled the Smithsonian for them to be recognised. Whole books have been written about her work in early aviation and yet she did her job so well that she is a background figure in the history of flight. Yet, without her, they would not have been able to “get off the ground”, so to speak.

*If you can’t list women who invented things and did things (often for less recognition) in your field of choice or interest – maybe spend some time today seeking out some of this information.