Eagle eyes on 2019

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do reflect at the end of a year in preparation for the next.

My Dad used to call me Eagle Eyes.

I have more than an eye for detail. I experience the world differently and I notice details, like every detail. My favourite way to explain this is quite simple:
I am like a TV that is meant to receive 5 channels and I am receiving 20.

I’ll start with a memory, a happy one. My first Christmas memory was of sensory overload driving me under my grandparents dining table, I must have been six. It was a huge oval dark wood table, with two large pedestal supports that had an intricately carved bases. Seated above were eight adults and my two cousins. The chatter was overloading me. I found comfort under the table, running my forefinger slowly over every carving, moving around the round base to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I becoame totally focused and the pounding in my chest and rising anxiety slowed and the chatter above me somehow felt muted, further away.

After a good half hour or more of this, someone said, “Where’s Jacqui?” and my cousins set about finding me. They found me under the table and stared at me, like I was an alien. Then they left me there and told the adults I was under the table. I remember the social embarrassment my mother felt, peering under the table and angrily asking me to come out.  But then everyone just reassured her and I went on happily on my visual and tactile observation of the pedestal carvings.

I used to think, before I fully embraced who I am as an Asperger’s that I was just burning out as an adult. That I HAD to be like everyone else. But the burn outs are far too frequent and have been debilitating. So, it was time to stop and take stock of the real cause.

2018 was marked by the decision in July to stop breaking myself for other people and to stop masking who I really am and work with my autism, not against it. So, 2019 is about furthering what I have learned in the last six months.

So, 2019 is about being okay with being under the table:

  • It’s about my awesome workplace with flexible conditions that mean my sensory issues are factored in (in multiple ways) and that I have been the most productive I ever have.
  • It’s about continuing to work with my people in the Autism community and furthering the cause of the social model of disability. I love being in the autistic space with my people.  It’s beautiful and life affirming.
  • It’s about being okay with my home being my sanctuary and not being persuaded into social functions I don’t want to go to.
  • It’s okay being me, because I am pretty cool with my eagle eyes and unique perspectives. Weird, but cool.

Happy New Year!

Not Famous and Not That Funny – with Andrew Lewis

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-c26hc-a312d6

Garden variety Comedians talking about the struggles of getting an audience in the comedy world where punters are obsessed with the famous. Host Jacci Pillar talks to Andrew Lewis, comedian and radio host. In the early 2000’s and won a heat of RAW comedy at an Irish bar in Frankston, Melbourne town and forged on to do regular gigs. Comedy and performing is his whole life.

Jeanette’s Autism Show: Jacci Pillar Podcast #Aspiecomedy

This is Jeanette’s Autism Show – where autistic advocate and author Jeanette Purkis chats with guests doing good things in the autism community.

In this episode, Jeanette interviews me!

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-3wmmg-a31032

“Comedian, Anthropologist; Autistic-ly solving conundrums people don’t know they have! Her show “Labelled” is a comedic, audio-visual storytelling about growing up Autistic and the politics of neurodiversity. Her serious keynote mental health talk “Normal is a cycle on the washing machine” is about challenging old social norms about recovery from PTSD.  Jacci Pillar is a name synonymous with human narrative and positive mental health messages.  She takes complex issues and turns them into a storytelling journey delivered with energy and warmth.

Jacci has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JacciPillar/

And is involved in the ‘Silently Growing Monsters’ campaign mention in the podcast: https://www.facebook.com/silentlygrowingmonsters/

Enjoy the podcast

Source: Jeanette’s Autism Show: Jacqui Pillar

Dodgy parodies

So I love rewriting poems and songs and performing as dodgy parodies – blends of song and poetry.  Parody so bad you can’t look away! Look out #MICF2019 here I come! Sorry this comes up wrong way up – it should right itself when you click play.  If you like these – like my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JacciPillar/

Here’s the YouTube link if you want to share (please do!)

So then I decided I hadn’t massacred a perfectly good song enough – so I had another crack at both Dolly and Whitney.  Sorry fans!  This one was written specifically for someone who’d had a bad experience with a HR professional…so apologies to decent HR professionals! If you wanna share it YouTube link is here

*WARNING: swearing!*

The Long Haul Imposter and Ageist Wank

Ageism and sexism have always been dance partners. Like peas in a pod. Like flies to shit piles.

I felt invisible until I was 45. So whilst I’ve packed as much as I can into my life, I’ve mainly kept my head down and tried to stay invisible.

Then I started doing comedy. Now as I enter my 49th year I am more visible than ever and here for the long haul.

For the first time in my life I feel my story is important. That all our stories are important. If we are going to get truly intersectional, now is the time.

I wanted to write about the feminist cause and how long it takes to get things done and how we will always need feminism. But then I thought that was best told through my story.

Largely because, now, more than ever I am beginning to see the signs of a new “ism” for me.

I know ableism. This is a reality of being on the spectrum and having some acquired injuries as well.
I know sexism. All too well and I tell these stories on stage as a comedian to remind the world we still need feminism. I have experienced the “tone policing of the patriarchy” where I wasn’t allowed to like myself, let alone be proud of my achievements. Men and women in my circle of influence ran me down for any shred of pride. Until I left that circle of influence.

But this fucking ageism that says I am not allowed to be proud of where I’ve come to because I am now less relevant or need be humble? WTF. This is usually spoken before they know my history, based on zero knowledge of that story. However I’m “older” and these generalisations are usually accompanied by a range of comments about age.

Sometimes the use of humility, “stay humble”, is just another way the patriarchy tones polices women. I’ve done my fair share of self-depreciation sheathed in a supposed “humility”. No more.

I’m not promoting myself as dull for no-one, not even for the Dalai Lama.

As a side note, I’ve been retreating and studying eastern thought on subjects such as humility for a decade now and I’ve met a few significant Lamas. None quite the Rockstar of his holiness, but the contradiction of people commodifying Buddhism to the west so it can be culturally appropriated is not lost on me. I’ll just use mindfulness and meditation as techniques in and of themselves and stop trying to twist humility to serve the patriarchy.

I find it fascinating when women use humility in a way that was once used like “sweet, nice and passive” was once heavily used for oppressing women. Internalised misogyny is something we all work to recognise and manage.

Now I am proud of my achievements, proud of my place on the autism spectrum, proud of my association with feminist action (even before I called it that) – and that new ism of ageism is interfering with my pride.

I am not having any of this ageism wank masquerading as “relevance”. It can fuck off. I’m going to tell my story, whether people think it is relevant or not. Because there will be someone who benefits, someone who walks away from it feeling better or more empowered.  Even one is enough.

I currently work with a group of 40 plus of the cleverest women and men I have ever worked with. I’m not naming that organisation because I like to keep my public face and private face separate. But let me just say I regularly don’t feel bright or clever enough to work with them at all. I feel like an imposter sometimes.

Today my Chief Executive Officer reminded me it was time to let that go and by golly gee gosh (irony alert: isn’t that just such sweet older lady talk, I’m just saying it like some expect me to!) – she is right.  I am one of this crew of clever people. But this story isn’t just about me or the cohort I work with. It’s about how all women survive. It’s another story of survival and resilience. We really do need to honour ALL our stories.

This ageism is interesting, especially when a woman nearing 50 is assumed to have had a “traditionally female life”. Or that her history is not as relevant as younger contemporaries (whether traditional or otherwise). This suggests that we only assign value to whatever story is commodified by popular culture. Still, popular culture tends to, unfortunately, reinforce sexist norms about a woman’s beauty being most important. She is then, either a relic of the past, or, less relevant as she ages. If she dares modify her appearance she is then told to act her age.

Damned if you age gracefully, damned if you age disgracefully, just damned if you age. So age! Age however you fucking want and enjoy every freaking bit of it.

I’m here for the long haul as a feminist as old and irrelevant as some might assign me. As I always have been a feminist, unknowingly for a period, but nonetheless worthy of the label.

So, it matters not what anyone else thinks really. Besides, if I can wear a large vulva costume on stage and sing rewritten show tunes about reproductive rights – I clearly don’t care if certain quarters don’t like me. My audiences have been happy and the audience does not lie.

Desperately staying relevant is the new corset. The foot in our back is the patriarchy.

I was originally an accidental feminist who was most influenced by a father who didn’t believe in traditional notions of gender. I now know that as an AS woman I am less likely to be drawn to traditional notions of gender binaries, so that makes sense. I never understood “girl stuff” vs. “boy stuff”. If I wanted to do something, I did it, aided and abetted by a father who was 20 years older than my peers’ fathers. It wasn’t until I was studying at 28 I discovered the world of feminist literature and then I realised I was quite the feminist. I have worn the label with pride ever since.

I joined the military as a teen because I hated school and dropped out in year 11 and I decided to follow the rather dreadful family tradition of service. I started out a clerk supply in the Royal Australian Air Force, even though I had applied for technical positions. I had done all my trade related subjects at high school, but I was told I did not have the “aptitude”.

A year in to my service, my Commanding Officer at 486 squadron Richmond noticed my tech ability and let me become what he called a “pseudo-techo”. I was trained to do duty crew on the flight line – marshalling, refuelling, towing and doing general checks of Hercules C130 aircraft.  When the bases education officer revisited my recruitment tests, I most certainly did have the right aptitudes and there were tech places when I signed up.  So some sexist creep decided they wanted to limit the numbers.  This is a story I have heard from quite a few women in the forces from the 1980’s and 90’s.

With my CO’s support I quickly applied to become an Instrument Fitter (known as a re-muster when you are already in the services). Off I went to trade training and then went onto to be one of the first female Avionics tech to graduate (this was after becoming an Instrument fitter first).

I found myself part of a total quality team leaders’ group in the Royal Australian Air Force that convinced command to bring in paper recycling. It’s a funny story – I’ll tell it one day. So, yeah, green sensibilities are not new.  Sorry not sorry.

I also need to say that the two women in a unit of 300 had to ask for a toilet to be allocated to us. Then we had to share it with senior officers who went to extreme lengths to keep it to themselves (a story for another day). We were required to walk 500m, only to be abused for taking too long to pee. Yeah, you read that right. This was 1992, not 1942.

When I left the RAAF, I went on to train as a Scuba Dive Master (and there were very few females in the industry).

Unfortunately, I did a round with “the bends”. Surviving two forms, Neurological and Musculoskeletal Decompression Illness after a dive went wrong and I rescued two students in bad conditions. I was treated in a hyperbaric chamber for a few days on 100% oxygen. This was after being flown at low altitude from Maroochydore to Townsville and after a long delay. Horrifying. Painful. Debilitating and almost fatal.

The next few years were more hell and I successfully sued my dive operator for damages, only to get a mere $25 000 after six years of lost income. At that time the insurance giant HIH was crashing and my dive operator was insured with a subsidiary. My payment was limited as part of the government bailout for HIH.

I went on Today Tonight at 23 to raise awareness of the need for a hyperbaric chamber in Brisbane. For bends patients, cancer patients and the gamut of other conditions that benefit from hyperbaric medicine. I got 1000 signatures with others working on a petition. Thank goodness for all those electronic petitions now, I don’t have to walk the streets and talk to people I am literally scared of.  Comedy audiences are further away…over there. Now there is a shiny Hyperbaric Medicine facility at Wesley Hospital.

I have a copy of a dreadful That’s Life magazine with a story about me in it that a friend returned to me last year, she had hung onto it for over 20 years. The reporting was all about my husband’s despair about my difficulties, not about my bravery or my recovery. But that was considered the only thing important in 1994.  It was also part of the narrative that covered up the abuse of women with disabilities or mental health issues.

At 27, a new mum and in the abusive marriage from hell, I decided to go to University, despite still recovering from an acquired brain injury. In addition, I was regularly being misdiagnosed with a range of mental health conditions at the urging of my abuser who actively informed the medical process and who worked hard to keep me sick. It’s hard to cope and heal from significant injuries while being tortured in other ways.

It’s so easy to blame domestic violence on a woman’s mental health, particularly when she is recovering from a serious injury/illness. Any retaliation can be deftly blamed on her and the society that has normalised that violence goes “but the wife was crazy”. It’s a view that, thankfully, today is beginning to fade as we strip back the myths of violence against women.

Interesting how I have thrived ever since I left that relationship. If that is not proof enough, I don’t know what is. I have never remarried and came out as bisexual in my early 40’s.

It turns out that in my mid 30’s I was properly diagnosed with Asperger’s but I rejected it until my 40’s. Every treatment (except for my forays into mindfulness and meditation) up until then was potentially damaging and I wasn’t sure I wanted another label. The earlier PTSD diagnosis was accurate, but that was made worse by abuse.

In the late 1990’s I worked hard to use the techniques a neuropsychologist taught me to rewire my brain. I learned to manage my mental health and what I know now were AS meltdowns, not psychosis. I can now de-escalate them by working with my sensory differences (hypersensitivities to noise, sound and my vision) instead of working against them.

At 34, I graduated from the University of Queensland with Honours in Anthropology (socio-linguistics). I left my husband and went to become a sacred sites anthropologist in Alice Springs.

I lived in Alice Springs for two periods of 9 years and 2 years. I did interesting social justice related work. Drove 26 000 km off road and recorded song and story with local Aboriginal people. Worked with violent men in maximum security educating about family violence. Helped build Indigenous road crews along the Tanami Road. Worked as a homelessness advocate. Worked for Alice Springs Women’s Shelter and for Gap Youth Centre in differing capacities.

In between stints in Alice Springs I did similar work and a bit of lecturing in critical literacy in Cairns in Far North Queensland. I then did 6 months in China teaching English part time while I finished writing my historical fiction book (which is currently with last edits with a publisher – hopefully to go to print in the next year all going well).

Then did a year in Darwin in 2015 (and then back to Alice Springs in 2016). During that time I doing stand up comedy and it has morphed into women’s rights issues based comedy and my solo show about growing up different.

In July I moved to Melbourne. I experienced a low-level sexual assault at work in February in Alice Springs. A random off the street tried to force his way in a building while groping at my breasts. That was it. I’d had enough of frontline work. I struggled with it and got lots of counselling. Had some months off and had to live off the good will of friends in Melbourne for accommodation during that period. It was extremely difficult, but I am glad I decided to take a leap of faith and come home to Melbourne (I was born here, but have not lived here since 1974).

So the sexists, the ableists and the ageists can all kiss my broad, middle aged, cottage cheese, faded tattooed ass.

I’m here. To stay. See you at Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The show’s called Mad Pride. It’s the 4 – 5th April (I’m the 5th) at 7 pm. Firefly Room – Newmarket Hotel. Inkerman St. St Kilda.

Book at http://www.comedyfestival.com.au

Bi the Bi Positive

*Satire* Unsure? Google “satire” before reading further. I shared an article recently about how being sex positive is viewed by the world on Facebook. I’ve been online dating recently and a few things have been brought this into a stronger focus for me. The reactions I’ve experienced to wearing a vulva costume (if they find my comedy page) and to being sex positive are interesting. Add to that the perceptions of bisexuality and it’s a recipe for utter heteronormative wankery. So I thought I clear a few things up (this is tongue in cheek, not a vent, no advice or splaining required, just read and enjoy or ignore):

1. Bisexual does not mean I want a threesome. I usually want someone of any gender who has a brain – with a range of traits I admire. If your brain automatically takes you to “threesome” when you hear bisexual you don’t have much of a brain. *There are sex positive people who are up for a threesome of all sexualities, but best not to make assumptions.

2. Sex positive does not mean I’ll have sex with you just because you offer or place pressure or obligation upon your “sexy” offer. That just makes you a creep. Even if you are not a creep and I lose interest, I’ve lost interest. Try being interesting. I might joke about being “greedy” as a bisexual – but I don’t mean gluttonous. Sex drive is personal and not dependent on sexuality. A little bit like choice of car. Some people drive a 4WD and never go off road, some 4WD drive owners regularly off road and others wish they had a 4WD and complain about everybody who does. Don’t be the latter person whilst secretly wishing someone in a 4WD will pick you up. If you want a 4WD, consider owning one and if that’s for you, own one and drive it how you like.

3. Sex positive does not mean sex all the time, with anybody because you can – it means you are not hung up on what sex may or may not mean to you. It may still mean that sex + people have things that turn them on or off – and they are unlikely to judge others for the same. Sex addiction is something else. Think of it like “I like a drink when I feel like it on a regular or non-regular basis”…not “I want to live above a pub, wear a hip flask and maintain a blood alcohol level at all times”.

4. Sex talk or talk about sex does not worry, shock or delight me in the slightest – it’s neutral. That being said, if you think talking sex all the time is to impress me or get my attention, I’m going to go “sex is a normal, intrinsic part of life, like walking, eating, sleeping and normalising it is important but I don’t talk about sex all day”. If you do talk about sex incessantly, I’m going to ask you if you talk about eating, walking and sleeping at the same frequency. If so, I understand, but if not; your point is?

nb: politicians obsessed with regulating other people’s sex lives need to shut up and sit down. That or get a good dominatrix to sort themselves out (yes Cory Bernardi, I mean you).

5. I wear a massive pink vulva on stage. That’s about being okay with bodies and not viewing them or any part of them as ugly or dirty – not about sex per se. I don’t tell sex jokes wearing the vulva – that’s low hanging fruit. If unsure please read numbers 1 – 4, over and over until you fucking get it.

6. Being open about sexuality does not mean anyone deserves to be a target for other peoples hang ups. It does mean people misunderstand and that’s okay. Again if you have a problem with people openly declaring that they are not heterosexual, then perhaps you need to examine your own attitudes about sex first. Being open is a way to prevent people with hang ups wasting my time. It’s like a sign at a restaurant, no more, no less. The whole fucking universe (literally) is not all straight and some non-straight people are only speaking up because you heteronormatively obsessed people are walking into a buffet looking only for lentils and then getting annoyed cause it’s a buffet.

7. Consent. This one word is like the most important word in the sexual universe. If you don’t fully appreciate it, do some fucking research. Same goes for the necessary sexual and reproductive health precautions.

And finally…

8. Yes, I like “dick”. Sometimes. Sometimes I don’t. Depends on who it is connected to or operated by. Yes, indignant phrases like “but you like dick right?” have been said to me by a few people of the male gender when I’ve not been interested and they are feeling confused. Having a dick does not make you automatically and irresistibly attractive. What makes you attractive is a combination of actions, words and physical and non-physical features. But carrying on about how I should like your dick is not a free pass to anything other than sexual dinosaur land. Remember dinosaurs? Extinct, yes?

Don’t be a dinosaur 🙂 or though I always kinda liked those ones with the really long necks that snorted snot on the kids in Jurassic Park movie.

#sexpositive #heteronormativebullshitcanfuckoff

#bisexual